Game criticism is a tricky subject to approach. On one hand, there’s the games that are universally adored by both critics and fans. On the other hand, there are those that are much more subjective. People are diverse, they like different things, and that’s where critics can come across as somewhat foolish at times.
Because while games like The Last of Us are socially poignant, culturally significant, and philosophically on-point, games like Dynasty Warriors are just downright fun. This is where the disconnect between critics and players comes in, with the former failing to realize that some gamers just want a form of escapism without having to tackle such taxing subjects.
This current generation of gaming has only highlighted this issue further, with many games receiving scathing reviews for their faults. However, sometimes the criticisms are unfair. These 15 games were unfairly maligned for various reasons, but in reality, they’re better than they got credit for upon release. And with the advent of updates and patches, many of these titles have improved considerably since their initial assessment.
Maybe re-reviews should come into effect, but for now, get your peepers on our list of 15 current-gen games that are better than the critics say.
15 Homefront: The Revolution
Okay, we said better, not much better. Homefront: The Revolution falls into that category, but it deserves more than some of the scathing reviews that have been leveled at it.
Sitting at an atrocious average score of 48 on Metacritic, the game had some clear fundamental issues that hampered it upon release. Not least of these was the frame rate, which was lambasted for its inability to stay at a stable number. However, many updates later and these issues have been all but eradicated, meaning we can finally judge the game on its gameplay and not on its technical issues. For fans of Far Cry, there’s a lot here that will take your fancy.
Taking over outposts, completing side missions, exploring the open world – it’s not ground-breaking in any way, but it’s also not the complete pile of manure that some critics have called it.
14 The Crew
Few racing games can match The Crew when it comes to size and scope. It basically gives you the U.S. to race around in, visit landmarks and pull off killer stunts – what’s not to love? Well, many critics were turned off by the hollow multiplayer component, as well as some technical problems, with it receiving a score between 61-71 on Metacritic, depending on the platform.
Despite this, developers Ubisoft have been hard at work improving it. Since its release, multiple patches, updates and two huge expansions have considerably wiped out a lot of what plagued it in the beginning. Greatly improved graphics, steady frame rate, extra modes, more cars – seriously, there’s a wealth of content here that petrol heads will adore.
Sure, it’s not the limitless MMO that some gamers were expecting, but it is an adrenaline-pumping thrill ride through America – making it the ultimate road trip for those wanting to explore the game’s picturesque locales. Oh, and it’s got Kyuss on the soundtrack. Sweet!
13 Ryse: Son of Rome
There was a lot of hype surrounding the Xbox One exclusive Ryse: Son of Rome. And from reading the reviews, you’d think it was a major failure, as it has a Metacritic score of 60. However, if you can see past its faults, you’re in for one hell of a gory treat.
Much of the criticism was aimed at the fighting, with many reviewers scoffing at its repetitive nature. However, while the combat might not be revolutionary, it is insanely satisfying. On top of the blood-splattering fun are some absolutely stunning visuals – totally worthy of its then next-gen expectations.
Throw in a decent plot, enthralling cinematics and a surprisingly well done multiplayer mode, and you have a title that is certainly better than the critics would have you believe.
12 Killzone: Shadow Fall
As with any launch title for a new console, expectations are usually unrealistically high. The PS4 was no different, dropping with Killzone: Shadow Fall as its showcase game. However, some critics were less than kind about it, leaving it with a 73 on Metacritic.
It was labelled as being uninspired, with a poor multiplayer mode. For this writer though, the positives certainly outweigh the negatives. More than three years after its release and this one is still a visual treat. The campaign is very fun, if somewhat lacking in originality. And the multiplayer is a great addition to the game’s hard metallic core.
Mainly though, Killzone: Shadow Fall is a satisfying and thoroughly competent launch title, even if its grandiose expectations didn’t fully materialize in the finished product.
Sometimes bad timing can play a huge role in whether a game is well received or not. Take the multiplayer-focused Battleborn for example. Despite being a very robust title, it was overshadowed by the game-changing cracker Overwatch.
The reviews preferred the latter too, giving Battleborn an average grade of 69 Metacritic. They cited the undercooked mechanics and ugly graphics as reasons not to pick this one up. What they failed to acknowledge, though, was the unique spin developers Gearbox gave to the established MOBA genre. They took the unique charm of Borderlands and fused it with an irresistible, co-op centric, smorgasbord of features.
Tons of characters, bucket loads of loot and some fiendish boss battles all add up to make Battleborn a highly underrated FPS. Overwatch may still reign supreme, but Battleborn is a very viable alternative.
10 Lords of the Fallen
Can’t get enough Dark Souls punishment? Well, don’t miss the game’s spiritual clone; Lords of the Fallen. Yes, it’s unapologetically linked with the popular series, with gameplay, layouts and visuals eerily reminiscent of FromSoftware’s fiendish franchise. However, it also happens to be a really good game.
These comparisons were a double-edged sword for the RPG, with critics shredding it for being too reminiscent of Dark Souls, giving it an average grade of 68-73 depending on the playform. If you can get past these problems though, you’ll quickly realize that this is a worthy knock-off. It’s accessible to newcomers and much less numbers driven, allowing the tense combat to be the star of the show.
It’s a shame that it doesn’t do enough to mould its own personality, but it does provide exactly what you’d expect – tense gameplay, dense atmosphere, and a very smart progression system. You won’t be replacing it with Bloodborne anytime soon, but you may find yourself delving into its deadly heart more than you initially thought…
9 Senran Kagura: Estival Versus
The Senran Kagura series has become synonymous with a more adult-centered niche of video gaming. It features some charming anime visuals, unique storytelling, and a well-oiled combat system. But let’s face it – it’s mostly known for its ‘jiggle’ physics.
There is something somewhat troubling about the depiction of its female roster, but most reviewers couldn’t see past this when Estival Versus dropped last year, giving it a 67 rating on Metacritic. Sure, it’s quite debased at its core, but the barrage of boobs on show mask what is in fact a very fun hack-and-slash title.
The reviews were predictably tepid, with many critics pointing out its questionable objectification of woman. However, if you can get past the quite perverted and in your face style, you might actually find yourself enjoying the gameplay.
8 Just Cause 3
Another title that faced harsh critiques was the third installment of the Just Cause series. As someone who got bored quickly with Just Cause 2, I was surprised at how much enjoyment Just Cause 3 provided.
No, it’s not anything earth-shattering, but it is a blast (in more ways than one). However, many critics felt that its framerate problems and pointless activities made it a poor entry in the series, leaving it with an average of 73 on Metacritic. But it also has the awesome dual tether gadget and arguably the greatest explosions to be found on current-gen consoles. Seriously, they’re incredibly visceral. Debris flying unpredictably through the air, buildings toppling into other buildings, jaw-dropping domino effects – blowing structures up never felt this satisfying before.
If you love sandbox games, blowing stuff up, and insane physics – you’ve come to the right place. Just Cause 3 is only happy to oblige.
7 Shadow Warrior
Remember when first-person shooters were mindless fun? So do the makers of Shadow Warrior. The game is a reboot of the 1997 PC release of the same name, but it was scrutinized by critics, and labelled as repetitive and unfunny, leaving it with a 73 on Metacritic.
Well, humor is subjective, so you should find out for yourself whether this is your cup of tea. However, it’s harder to criticize the old-school shooter mechanics that underpin it – the kind that will have you reminiscing about the blood soaked ridiculousness of Duke Nukem and Serious Sam.
Of course, there are more advanced FPS games on the market now, but that’s also exactly why you should give this one a chance. It takes the tried and tested arena chaos of old, and merges it with the high-end graphical qualities of the present. The Duke himself would be proud of this one.
6 Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo
Commonly referred to as the greatest rally driver of all time, Sebastien Loeb got his very own next-gen car game in 2016, entitled Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo. It’d be easy to ignore this in the sea of racing titles currently available, but you’d be missing out.
The critics didn’t help its cause much either, blasting it for not being up to date technically and for including a poor multiplayer component, as it has a terrible 63 rating for the Xbox One on Metacritic. What they fail to point out, though, is just how dead-on developers Milestone got the rally game feeling. Sure, it’s not as accomplished as Dirt Rally, but it’s a damn fine attempt.
A wealth of content will ensure you come back to this one too, with tons of events, cars, tracks, modes and customization options for the completionists out there. Buckle up – this is one bumpy ride that you don’t want to miss.
5 Assassin’s Creed Unity
It goes without saying that Assassin’s Creed Unity launched with some real problems. From graphical discrepancies to technical bugs – this clearly wasn’t the finished product. Compensation was even offered to those who were dissatisfied with their purchase.
For very patient gamers, however, several patches helped to alleviate the problems. So with that said, let’s talk about what makes it a fine entry in the series’ history. Everything you’ve come to expect from an Assassin’s Creed title is here, but with the added implementation of interiors and an interesting co-op function.
An intriguing plot, satisfying combat, stellar historical context and a likable protagonist make Assassin’s Creed Unity one of the most underrated current-gen games available. You can get this one for cheap now, so a trip back in time to the French Revolution may be just what the doctor ordered.
The 2014 PS4 exclusive Driveclub left critics feeling cold, mainly due to its intense focus on community-driven gameplay, leaving it with a score of 71 on Metacritic. And while this aspect doesn’t really pay off, it’s not a valid reason to dismiss everything the game does right.
Graphically, it’s awe-inspiring. Cars gleam in the sunlight, dirt latches onto vehicles, and rain drenches the camera. It’s all a joy to behold. The weather system is unpredictable, making races unique with every playthrough. Multiple tours, tons of free tracks, scores of vehicles, and even the motorbikes expansion couldn’t save this one from its sullied reputation. Sadly, developers Evolution Studios closed down last year.
Pay no heed to those who criticized Driveclub and take a punt on this underappreciated cracker. This truly is an intuitive and engaging racing sim, and should be held in higher regard than it currently is.
3 No Man’s Sky
Ah, No Man’s Sky. Few video games elicit more venom than this insanely hyped exploration/survival title. Many gamers felt they were duped by advertised features that weren’t present in the final build, among them being some multiplayer functions. If you can let your anger subside for a bit though, allow me to tell you about the things that it got right.
First and foremost – this is an exploration game, plain and simple. Don’t go in thinking of it as a first-person shooter; it’s not. Secondly, the procedurally generated worlds are just as jaw-dropping as developers Hello Games stated. Thirdly, it has one of the best soundtracks ever created for a video game thanks to musical wizards 65DaysOfStatic. And fourthly, well, you should pick it up and find out more for yourself.
Of course, it’s not the world beater that it was promoted as being. And the game’s reluctance to give players what they want is somewhat irritating. However, it is a stunning technical achievement by an indie developer and, with the recent updates, is one that’s constantly improving. Maybe we’ll get the game that so many players were pining for after all.
2 Mad Max
Gaming adaptations of films are notorious for failing to please gamers. Despite that stigma, it’s a shame that 2015’s Mad Max wasn’t given the credit it deserved.
Critics weren’t bowled over by the action-sandbox title, citing unpopulated environments and forgettable combat as core issues, leaving it with a 72 Metacritic score. I’d argue, though, that the barren landscape was exactly what drew me into the game’s dangerous atmosphere. As for the combat, it’s gritty and intense in a way that adds to the feeling of survival that lies at the heart of it. Graphically it’s a stunner, with gorgeous lens flare and sun-soaked vistas.
It’s hard to pinpoint just what makes the game so enthralling, but the way in which all of it is so cohesively tied together is what kept me coming back to it. From an execution standpoint, the game is first class. In the case of Mad Max, the whole is greater than the sum of its rusty parts.
1 Dying Light
Sometimes a video game comes along that nails almost everything that it attempts. Well meet Dying Light – a game that fuses first-person shooter elements, RPG customization, and survival horror scares to create a unique experience like no other.
This is the game that Dead Rising and Dead Island wishes they were. Bizarrely, many reviews didn’t see this as a game changer upon release, as it only has a 74 rating on Metacritic. It was criticized for trying to merge many different gaming genres (God forbid a developer tries something new), as well as its so-called boring missions. Sorry, but there’s much more to love about Dying Light than there is to hate. Unique day/night gameplay, beautifully detailed environments, nail-biting chases, and a head spinning number of weapons are just some of the great things that this zombie slasher has going for it. Oh, and one of the most expertly integrated co-op functions on the current generation of consoles.
It’s also built up a very loyal fanbase, thanks in part to developers Techland constantly patching, updating and expanding the already brilliant foundations laid. Seriously, do yourself a favor and get this non-conformist gem – you won’t regret it.