Art has a habit of producing the art critic. Games, movies, novels, and television shows are constantly released and critiqued, and usually sway to one side of the good vs bad scale. But sometimes, fans of the medium will enjoy a critically panned title or hate a universally acclaimed one. And gamers are no different.
While I usually agree with the consensus of the larger gaming audience when it comes to the outcome of most titles, there are a few that leave me scratching my head. Those that have me wondering, “Why on earth would anyone like this?” or “How am I the only one who thinks this is the best thing ever?!” In every generation, whether those on console, handhelds, or PC, I inevitably play a few titles that fall into one of those two categories.
That list seems to be growing as I consolidate my opinions on what makes a good and a bad game, but it’s always fun to see what others hated that most people enjoyed. Games that make you question your sanity or those that have you singing to the stars while others leave it on their shelves to collect dust because they simply don’t get it like you do. With that said, here are the 20 most overrated games on this generation’s home consoles. And don’t worry, I made sure to throw in a few PlayStation and Xbox exclusives to keep it fair!
20 Grand Theft Auto V
The biggest game of the last decade is also one the most highly praised. Grand Theft Auto V sits at a staggering 97 on Metacritic, one lower than GTAIV. With such a huge cast of characters and hundreds of millions of dollars thrown at the game’s budget, it inevitably had to be superb right? Well, not really. GTAV’s biggest problem in its campaign is just how boring so many of the missions are.
Sure, the first heist is among the most memorable gaming moments I’ve ever experienced, but it’s all downhill from there as the trio of Michael, Franklin, and Trevor start to take on more pedestrian missions. Picking up clothes from a shop, taking out waves of AI targets, and pulling an ordnance out of the ocean to then pick a boring turret fight with enemy helicopters had me bored out of my mind. More heists, please!
While I thoroughly enjoyed many aspects of Playdead’s spiritual successor to 2010’s LIMBO, it was a complete letdown in the payoff department. INSIDE guides the player through an incredibly atmospheric, post-apocalyptic world with mysteries and questions around each corner during its short 2-hour run-time. But then it decides to never answer any of the questions the player has.
The first 90 minutes of the game is an intense buildup and the last 30 minutes is a confusing mess. I’ve played INSIDE three times and I still couldn’t tell you exactly what it’s about. While the developers decided to not reveal all the plot points, they could have helped the player by at least explaining even one single aspect of INSIDE’s convoluted story. At least let us know what that secret button was for!
18 Dishonored 2
The first Dishonored was a breath of fresh air for the stealth genre and a game that enthralled me during the week of its release back in 2012. The beautiful architecture and art-style immediately caught my attention and the impeccable level design made for some awesome missions and daring escapes.
But its sequel is just more of the same. And while that’s not always a bad thing, there’s a serious sense of déjà vu when you enter the gray and dead world of Dishonored for the second time. Instead of relocating to exotic environments that would completely change up the franchise, the developers seem to have chosen the cheaper option, using the assets that they were comfortable with to create just another Dishonored game instead of a genre-defining epic.
DOOM is one of the best shooters I’ve ever played. But that’s only when you take a break after each mission. DOOM has incredibly fast-paced and satisfying combat as well as smart enemy AI and superb levels to kill aliens in, but if you play the game for any extended period of time, its flaws will start to show rather quickly.
DOOM is essentially the same game level after level after level. Do a bit of first-person platforming, collect some ammo, kill some aliens in the exact same manner as you killed the last batch of aliens, and repeat that process for eight hours. It was physically grueling to get through DOOM’s campaign in just a few sittings while my friend leisurely enjoyed the game one mission at a time. And just to rub it in, DOOM 4 was also the reason my beloved RAGE 2 was cancelled. Double whammy.
16 Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare
The 67th Call of Duty title simply isn’t a good game. Now while the multiplayer is slower than the incredibly hectic and nausea-inducing Advanced Warfare, it never reaches the heights of the Black Ops games. And its campaign, while incredibly flashy and ‘cinematic’, is really just the same old Call of Duty campaign that we’ve come to know and dread.
My biggest problem with the game is how ambitious its campaign seems to want to be, only for it to turn around and deliver another generic firefight with the exact same controls and shooting mechanics we’ve been using for a decade. While there are a few stunning missions and moments, it seems that Call of Duty’s gun play is out-of-date and the series really needs a complete overhaul to hold players like it did during Modern Warfare’s heyday.
15 Rise Of The Tomb Raider
A theme you’ll notice in this list is one of simultaneous praise and criticism. Overrated games are, by their very nature, titles that have some good in them. In the case of Rise of the Tomb Raider, that would be the superb plot that sets up a third game in this new saga, the leaked Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
But the sequel to 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot just isn’t as fun to play. The controls seem to have taken a massive hit compared to the brilliant set of mechanics in the first. I couldn’t fathom why the two games just felt and played so differently, and that soured what was otherwise a great campaign. But like they say, gameplay is king. And Rise of the Tomb Raider isn’t very fun to actually play. It’d make a great movie though, if it wasn't a video game adaptation!
14 Far Cry 4
I’ve never really liked Far Cry besides the first few hours of Far Cry 3 as I was introduced to a gigantic world that was free to explore. Like with Grand Theft Auto, I’ve always found the missions to be way too simplistic and boring. And that’s no different with Far Cry 4.
While Far Cry 3 was a different enough experience to forgive any minor errors, the fourth game in the franchise is essentially a copy and paste job that doesn’t push the series forward in any meaningful way. And the villain character, whose name I unsurprisingly can’t remember, was nowhere near as iconic as Far Cry 3’s Vaas. It really is the definition of insanity to do the same thing twice and expect different results. Unfortunately, Ubisoft didn’t get the memo.
Being such a huge fan of Hitman: Absolution, and screaming at the top of my lungs when the sequel was revealed at Sony’s E3 2015 conference, it is with sadness that I have to put the episodic Hitman adventure on this list. Many fans seem to have enjoyed the Telltale-esque approach, but that ruined a great stealth game for me.
While the second episode, Sapienza, was one of the best stealth missions I’ve ever played, the rest of the episodes are over too quick and the story that connects them is almost non-existent. I mean, the villain isn’t even part of the game and I can only assume the developers are saving him for the second season. That just isn’t acceptable and this new episodic Hitman shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.
12 Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin’s Creed is probably in my three favorite franchises of all-time, so it shouldn’t come as I surprise that I didn’t like an Assassin’s Creed game that really isn’t an Assassin’s Creed game. Sure, the ship combat is superb but that’s not why I play Assassin’s Creed. I want to be boots on the ground as I hunt down a target and vault off ten storey buildings with a hidden blade in tow.
The love for Assassin’s Creed IV is so apparent that Ubisoft just announced Skull and Bones at E3, which is essentially an entire game based off Black Flag’s naval system. I, of course, am not interested. Assassin’s Creed games should feel like Assassin’s Creed games, and while great in many aspects, Black Flag just isn’t a good Assassin’s Creed game.
11 The Last Guardian
The Last Guardian’s two central characters form the most sincere and emotional bond I’ve ever witnessed in video games. Some of the visual moments in the game are downright stunning and there are a few action-packed set-pieces that rival the Uncharted games. But none of that matters when the game is impossible to control and every other room is an obtuse puzzle the player has to solve.
After playing ten hours and finding out I wasn’t even halfway through, I finally realized why the developers put a trophy in the game to beat it in under 35 hours. It’s puzzle after puzzle and it will eventually make you lose your mind. I want to beat it but every time I think about the 4,000 puzzles I will encounter in the last third of the game, I continue scrolling on my PlayStation and just hit Netflix.
10 FIFA 14
I’ve played thousands of hours of the FIFA games since FIFA 06 and the only one I barely remember is FIFA 14. As the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launched in the fall of 2013, two versions of games like Battlefield 4, Assassin’s Creed IV, and FIFA 14 launched on both the PS3 and Xbox 360 as well as the next-generation HD twins.
FIFA 14 sort of came and then went by without much of an impact. While its predecessor, FIFA 13, and successor, FIFA 15, are some of the most beloved games in the franchise, FIFA 14 is almost never spoken about in FIFA fan communities and for good reason. The game only looked a tad bit better on the new consoles, making little use of the all-new Frostbite engine that was finally introduced into the soccer simulator. While FIFA 11 and FIFA 16 weren’t that great, FIFA 14 is completely forgettable.
There’s a good bit of fun to be had in Titanfall’s multiplayer suite, but the evolution its sequel took in 2016 just proves that the first game was highly overrated. Sitting at an 86 Metacritic score, it seems that reviewers were a bit lenient on the game as it launched without much content. Its community quickly died off after a few months forcing Respawn Entertainment and Microsoft to release the map packs for free, a mistake the developer preemptively solved as the sequel came with free maps from the get-go.
And it’s faux single-player campaign wasn’t what fans wanted as they played out more like short tutorial missions than the cinematic campaign found in Titanfall 2. While the first game sold tens of millions of copies, it is the sequel that will be remembered fondly for its excellence in both the multiplayer and single-player departments.
Firewatch simply isn’t that great. Not to spoil the game, but the story doesn’t really go anywhere. It starts off slow but there’s a sense that its going to become an ambitious plot that is way more high stakes than the player expected only for that to come crashing down as you walk through environments that don’t look anywhere near as good as they did in the game’s trailers.
Developer Campo Santo rightfully deserves the praise it received for the performances of its two main characters, but the same cannot be said about every other aspect of Firewatch. The more I think about it, the more disappointed I am in a game that should have been the flag bearer for the ‘walking sim’ genre. It seems to have sold a fair amount of copies, so let’s hope the Santa Monica based developers give it another go in their next title.
7 Gears Of War 4
Like a lot of the game’s on this list, particularly Infinite Warfare, Gears of War 4 is just more of the same. And that’s coming from someone who has barely played the franchise before this point. Gears 4 was my first real go at a Gears game and, within minutes, I felt like I had played it for a thousand hours – and not in a good way.
The campaign is full of the same two enemies and the same three weapons, as the fantastic set-pieces and horrible vehicle sections were the only things that were able to break up the monotony. And the story also wasn’t all that impressive. Is it great to see a grizzled Marcus Fenix make his return? Totally. Is it fun to mow down hordes of orcs and ogres repeatedly? Not so much.
I've had plenty of fun matchmaking with friends in the middle of night fighting other heroes in Blizzard's highly popular Overwatch, but is the game really the next great shooter? Blizzard's first new IP in decades has a staggering 91 score on Metacritic, with a gluttony of perfect 100 scores to boot. And while I’ve had my fair share of fun, it seems like many players started to get bored of the hero-shooter rather quickly.
While Overwatch still has a large player base, the infatuation with the game that everybody had at launch simmered down quickly, and I would bet the reviews would be a fair few points lower today. Overwatch is fun, but it is in no way a historic shooter that ranks up there with the likes of Halo 2 and Call of Duty 4. The hype could only last for so long.
5 Forza Horizon 3
When Microsoft spun off the mainline Forza Motorsport series into an open-world arcade racer with the Horizon games, I took it as an invitation to pry myself away from my beloved Gran Turismo and give the Forza series a real shot. The high scoring reviews also piqued my interest and I jumped into the second Forza Horizon game with huge expectations that quickly turned into disappointment.
Horizon 3 rolled along and I decided to give it one last go. The problem with these games is that they are faux open-world racers. You can’t actually go outside of the pre-set tracks and road paths or you’ll end up hitting a bunch of trees or not being able to drive up a small hill. The Forza Horizon games need to embrace their open-world setting instead of allowing it to be a hindrance.
4 Middle-earth: Shadow Of Mordor
Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis System is probably the only true innovation in the video game space, alongside the planet hopping system found in No Man’s Sky, for the last decade, so I understand the inflated scores the game received. And I say inflated because the only thing Shadow of Mordor nailed was its new enemy system. Everything else, from the story to the environments, was incredibly poor.
I’m not much of a Lord of the Rings fan, but I was excited to jump into the world of Middle-earth to learn a thing or two. Unfortunately for me, the environments were all samey with green pastures going as far as the eye could see. And the game’s story wasn’t all that great with one of the worst endings in recent memory. If the game’s sequel, Shadow of War, can fix those issues, we could be in for a great LOTR experience.
3 Dying Light
I somehow willed myself to beat Dying Light before checking on what others had to say about it and coming away shocked at the rampant praise. Like Shadow of Mordor, Dying Light focuses on one aspect and ignores the rest. In this case, the game’s first-person parkour movement mechanics which are incredibly impressive, but that's about it.
The story is shockingly bad as I never cared about any of the characters. The world looks fine but I would have loved a bit more variety. And the amount of technical glitches inevitably left me on the brink of deleting the game altogether in rage. Developer Techland has the potential to deliver a killer sequel, which is almost guaranteed after the game’s huge sales numbers, if they can fix the lingering issues and polish it up for a bug-free release.
2 Watch Dogs 2
Watch Dogs 2 tricked me for about 25 hours until I finally caught on and figured out just how mediocre it was. After setting the first game in a drab and grey Chicago, Ubisoft decided to expand their color pallet and set the sequel in the gorgeous San Francisco Bay area. But that’s the trick: don’t get fooled by the world.
I spent a good 15 of the 25 hours I have played Watch Dogs 2 simply exploring the world at my own leisure. Robbing cars, being chased by cops, and taking in the sights. But when I actually went to play the game’s missions, that’s when everything fell apart. While the first game has a boring world, it provided great stealth and hacking missions. The sequel flips that formula around, putting the player in the middle of some really boring missions. A classic case of graphics over gameplay.
Prey somehow has an 84 score on Metacritic. It’s a title whose design is so completely botched that I frequently asked myself if I was misunderstanding the core of the game. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t played it, but Prey thinks its a linear horror game, and also an RPG, as well as a platformer. It just doesn’t know what it is and the plethora of mechanics and features really doesn’t help.
Prey throws a million things at you in an otherwise superb world full of sci-fi goodness. Even thinking about it now almost makes me a little angry. Frustrating the player should be the last thing a game does, but Prey’s entire campaign is just a lesson in bad game design. It doesn’t know what is is, and nor did I. And that’s never a fun gameplay experience. To think we almost got a cyber-punk RPG!