Having played a lot of 2019 games this year I ended up down a rabbit hole of 2019 game of the year lists alongside Waypoint’s end of the year/ decade pods and one thing that struck me in particular was the presence of The Outer Worlds on lots of people’s lists. I remembered loving it when it came out, I preloaded it in advance on Game Pass and completed it in a fortnight having really dug the b-movie sci-fi style and the silly satire of late capitalism.
However, I got about 4 hours into my second playthrough and just stopped playing. I completed the DLC that released earlier this year more out of a sense of obligation than anything else and the entire time it felt like a chore. I’ve also noticed people have either completely forgot it ever happened or are far more critical than they were once they had some time away from playing it.
So it got me to thinking. What other games have Waypointers considered to be one of their favourites of the year that they swiftly changed their mind on or just plain forgot about?
Why was that? Was it very of its time? Were you bowled over by the hype? Did your tastes change? Or is it the immediacy of compiling an end of year list which means that the stuff you just finished has a better chance of figuring in your thoughts?
Super Mario Odyssey. I remember having a lot of fun with that game and not much else. The only game of 2017 that I actually remember in any detail is Nier: Automata (which has grown in me in the meantime).
Fire Emblem: Three Houses was unquestionably my game of 2019 and I have nothing but fond memories of playing it and the general story. However, I have tried multiple times in 2020 to tackle the final DLC and/or a new game only to get an incredibly sour taste in my mouth and put the game down. Similar to how you put it @NotThePars, it felt like a chore. Now, I have fallen off a lot of (if not all) games in 2020 because they started to feel like a chore or obligation but none of them have been games that I gleefully put +100 hours into the year before and thought I could play indefinitely as I did with Three Houses.
It may be cheating to talk about this year, but this was how I realized Hades wasn’t my GOTY. For basically my entire time playing it I thought it would end up as one of my all-time favorites, but it turns out, without the momentum of continued runs, it just kinda faded from my mind. I think that might be the nature of a run-based game for me — I usually prefer games that discretely end, and I stop playing them once they do. It’s brilliantly made, but it overstayed its welcome in my brain, and once I was tired of it it just drifted away.
Conversely, the game I will pick, despite honestly being a much more flawed and derivative piece of work, has managed to stick in my brain since the summer without fading. I just can’t stop thinking about a particular moment, and sequence, and place, and nothing has been able to shake that from my head.
Hmm, I won’t say that I forgot about it, but I was really high on Doom (2016) after first playing it. But I’ve never really managed to get back into it since. Its limited level design sticks out too much, with the arena combat design making most encounters feel very samey since you can always replenish whatever ammo you require. Added to that there’s the bunch of systems which I feel work against the game, like two (or even three?) types of upgrades, side missions and too much dang lore.
It still has some high points, like the characterization of Doomguy, the movement, and the extravagant animations and art design. But I feel like I quickly moved on, or back, to the more simple design of classic Doom.
In contrast, while the shooting isn’t always perfect in the new Wolfenstein series, I still regularly think back to the story, missions and characters of them – in particular the second game.
Not Kentucky Route Zero. I never forgot about it and it’s GOTY because this is the year everyone who said they’d only play it after all the episodes were out had to put their money where their mouth is.
Oh right, XCOM: Chimera Squad was this year. What a great example of the devs not only pulling off the vaunted “smaller game where we experiment with some new things” but also, it shows quite a lot in game that the devs had set down limits on what would constitute a small project and stuck to them. Likely, it gave them an idea of tasks from the jump, understanding of where they shouldn’t keep adding, and the ability to make a clear production schedule. Tell me there was no evidence of crunch and that might be the real Best Direction of the Year.
This has to be Metal Gear Solid V for me. Quick history, big MGS fan here from the PS1 game onward, and you could basically pencil in my game of the year whenever a new one dropped. And while it wasn’t my favorite game that year, I adored the Monster Hunter-meets-Pokémon twist on the formula that was Peace Walker. And V hit, a game that played incredibly well, looked gorgeous, and had David freaking Bowie on the soundtrack. I put it as my 1A/1B GotY with the Witcher 3 that year. But then, I sat with the story. Everything about that game’s narrative was just so… unpleasant. Child soldiers, gross misogyny, disability and disfigurement being reduced to fashion. None of it was appealing, and none of it tried to say anything. It was a hodgepodge of half baked ideas that didn’t amount to much, and didn’t even matter in the context of the series’ cannon. In retrospect it felt more and more like a 50-hour black void of time.
Though I have no interest in Death Stranding, I’m happy Kojima moved on. It seems better for everyone involved.
I recently played through the entire Dark Souls trilogy in a couple months time. I loved DS1 and while DS2 is certainly flawed, I still liked it more than I didn’t (the reveal of the king was particularly memorable). However, after hearing how bad DS2 was, while then also hearing how DS3 was possibly the best in the series, I was surprised with how much I didn’t care for DS3. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad game, it just felt way too familiar, and worse yet it felt like the team had fully committed to PREPARE TO DIE in how combat was designed. Not only was it way too fast, but many bosses also had quirks on top of that, and frame-delayed attacks, and multiple phases, and multiple ranges for attacks. It was just too much, it wasn’t the fun sort of challenge I had enjoyed in DeS and DS1, it just felt like they were really trying to make this final entry as hard/epic as possible (though this obsession w/ challenge for challenge sake started in DS1 and really picked up in DS2). I remember feeling that DeS and DS1 were challenging, but ultimately it was about learning how the areas/enemies work, then from there it was just about executing. To me, those earlier games felt manageable if I was paying attention and learned how to approach each encounter. DS3 felt like it was mostly a reflex test for how fast I could press the roll button. So, while I understand the players that deeply enjoy DS3, it definitely wouldn’t make it anywhere near my top 10 of 2016.
Mario Maker 2 is a 2019 game I thought would be a forever game, and I have only played it once in 2020 to check out the final update. It was so forgettable, in fact, that in a different thread I mentioned that I hadn’t touched it in 2020, but going back to my gaming journal I realized that I HAD played it this year, and completely forgot about it.
It’s a good game! It actually would probably be a perfect game if there was just better level curation and search options. I found a few creators I loved who eventually stopped making levels (including many forum members!), and when they stopped I just slowly forgot about it.
Quick correction, it was Midge Ure’s cover of Bowie that opens the game. My man, the real force behind Live Aid, will be overlooked no longer!
Agree though. I’ve had a go at replaying it again this year for the first time in 4-5 years and… It’s fine? Death Stranding is a much more complete game given they had the time to finish it but it does have the same problems of Kojima trying to fill in hours of exposition with emails and logs likely just weeks before it was finished lol.
I was wondering myself whether DS will be like V in being a game I thought a ton about when I first played it then forgot about a few months later. I hope not as it was a unique gameplay experience but they put a pretty firm bow on the game by the conclusion.
Remember Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons? I didn’t until I tried to come up with an answer for this question.
I think my rationale at the time was the extremely ludo-centric ‘it does something only games can do’ argument. Lol what a nerd. Anyway, A Link Between Worlds or Gone Home were miles better than that admittedly interesting and gnarly lil tale.
It’s definitely something worth playing but I’d need to see it on a list to remember it came out in 2013.
This is interesting because I feel the opposite: I think that DS1 and especially DS2 are way too punishing. Specifically, humanity adding to your item discovery in DS1 means that if you lose your souls, you don’t just lose money/experience, it also makes it harder to farm for things. In DS2 your max health decreases every time you die, which makes it more punishing when you’re trying and retrying a difficult boss, which is normally my favorite part of these games.
I realized recently that I don’t enjoy exploration in games and instead just want good, engaging action games. This is probably the main reason I love DS3 more than DS1 and DS2 since the game is more linear and the bosses are faster and more varied, like you said.
My 2015 GOTY was Ark:Survival Evolved, solely because I played on a PVE server with a bunch of friends. It was an absolute blast, but that server eventually stopped and so I never touched the game again.
Having 500 hours in the game did help a lot for making the Ark 2 trailer even more hilariously awful though.
There was a month where I really liked Darksiders 2. Today I could not tell you more than 2 things about that game.
The original Uncharted kinda gives me this vibe. It’s a fun game that nowadays has been copied so thoroughly that no part of it really sticks out too much. It wraps up very neatly as well. Perhaps the most interesting part is when it veers into sorta horror territory near the end, but the controls don’t really support non-cover gameplay well so that part becomes frustrating. Decent game that time has passed by.
Octopath Traveler.This was a game I was really excited about before, and even while playing. I finished like two of the stories. Put it down and then never thought about again.
Really this was a game I wanted to like and not a game I actually liked. I was desperate for a traditional turn-based JRPG and this was the closest thing I had that year. None of the stories were particularly great. The combat was fine, maybe even awesome at times. But the way there was virtually no character interaction in that game was just awful.
Bravely Default it was not.
Shadow of Mordor came out in a weak year and won Giant Bomb’s GOTY as result, IIRC. I really enjoyed it at the time! The way it expanded on the Arkham combat system was great, and weeew the nemesis system!!! But actually, thinking back on it, neither of those things stand out to me as particularly special. I don’t love that combat anymore, and by the end of that game you can clearly see the limits of the nemesis system. Never bothered with the sequel. The story and character mean nothing to me, even as someone who once upon a time had a big soft spot for Tolkien lore. Frankly the only think that stands out in my memory as fun and cool is riding wargs
Octopath Traveller has some of my favorite JRPG combat of all time (like, almost Persona 5/SMT good to me), and it’s just a bad, bad game.
Echoing this because I loved the combat in both Octopath and Bravely Default but boy did both games painfully drive home how much I personally need some semblance of a story to engage with a game. Bravely is also one of those games I always forget about until a new game in franchise is revealed, I am momentarily intrigued by the look and combat, and then remember how the original game totally unraveled for me.
Bravely Default actually has party interactions and a halfway decent cast. (Ringabel and Edea would beat out most Final Fantasy party members in my opinion.) Besides having a surprisingly dark story for what is just FFV on the DS. I remember that having child slavery and murder in it. There’s one good twist in it that makes everything you’ve done really dark in retrospect. Actually, people don’t talk enough about Bravely Default, that would rank easily in my Top 10 of classical JRPGs.
Bravely Second though is super boring.