There are some fantastic games out there. From new releases to the good ol’ classics, everyone has those games in their lives that make them say, “This is absolutely perfect.”
But are they? Are any of them truly perfect? For every innovative mechanic, flawlessly executed element, and memorable moment, there are usually small problems bleeding through the cracks.
Three of our experts have taken a look back through six of their favorite games, both new and old, to find the absolute worst parts and bring them to light. The elements are not dealbreakers, but they are often worth more discussion than they receive. Take a look.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Shrines
As I said in our Game of the Year article, Breath of the Wild may have the best overworld I’ve ever seen. There is so much to see, explore, and interact with in this beautiful version of Hyrule. It’s easy to tell that this was the focus of the game – it’s right there in the title. However, when you descend past the overworld, the game’s beauty begins to fade.
Breath of the Wild replaces the usual full dungeons of the series with a handful of large puzzle boxes and over a hundred little wannabe dungeons called shrines. These shrines make up a sizable chunk of the game’s overall content, and for the most part, they’re bad content. Just bad.
Most shrines require Link to use his rune powers such as bombs, magnets, and ice pillars to overcome them. Instead of steadily ramping up the challenge and mixing in new elements, most shrines simply require a one-off rune gimmick to complete. Not a single shrine, to my knowledge, demands the use of multiple runes in the same puzzle. Over the course of more than 120 shrines, the “challenges” remain pathetically basic.
The physics-based nature of these rune powers, coupled with the sheer volume of shrine puzzles, leaves room for incredible amounts of potential that Breath of the Wild does not access. A good puzzle challenge introduces an idea, like conveyor belts or changing a ball’s path in midair, lets the player get used to it, and then gradually mixes in more elements to build on that idea. In these shrines, there are plenty of ideas, but no building. For the majority of them, you just do the thing once and you’re done. Congratulations. Now do that 119 more times.
I believe the developers at Nintendo were afraid to add difficulty to shrines because of the open nature of the game. Players can access shrines in any order, so what’s to stop them from finding the hardest one before they’re ready for it? I understand the concern, but simply leaving the shrines as unfinished, half-assed ideas is obviously not the best answer.
Instead, there could have been groups of shrines that are only accessible after so many spirit orbs have been gained via other shrines. A gentle gateway system could have allowed for much more innovation in shrine design by keeping unprepared players away. Failing that, perhaps the bonus chests in each shrine could have been placed behind some additional, harder challenges involving familiar mechanics, instead of just sitting out in the open.
There are other, smaller complaints to be made about Breath of the Wild, such as enemy variety and weapon durability. However, each of these are forgivable when taken in context of the game’s many grand achievements. Over a hundred wasted puzzle shrines, however, is a little harder to sweep under the rug. Breath of the Wild is still a fantastic game, but hopefully next time we’ll see a marvelous overworld coupled with something more satisfying down below.
Super Mario Odyssey – Filler Moons
Odyssey is a joyous romp of new ideas mixed with intense nostalgia. Mario’s movement options and the game’s soundtrack are two of the greatest game elements I experienced in 2017. Still, Odyssey suffers from a similar problem as Breath of the Wild, but in thise case it’s much more serious.
Mario’s latest adventure is all about collecting power moons. And when I say all about moons, I mean it. There are almost a thousand of these suckers spread throughout the game’s many kingdoms, and collecting them is probably close to 90% of what you’ll be doing in the game. Collecting moons is the point of the game, but unfortunately, much of this main content sucks.
The developers threw in as many moons as they could muster to make the game’s content sound massive, but the majority of these moons are nothing special at all. Dozens upon dozens are just lying around for you to walk into, with no challenge or obstacle. You get moons for chasing rabbits. You get moons for looking at a ship. You get moons for sitting on a bench. You can buy moons. In the postgame kingdom, you literally get moons FOR GETTING MOONS.
YouTuber Joseph Anderson categorizes every single moon in Odyssey in this video, and the results are not encouraging. Well fewer than half of the moons in the game present any kind of meaningful challenge or interaction to obtain. Power moons are the main driving force behind the gameplay, yet this mainline content has so much filler in it. Way too much filler.
Super Mario Odyssey is a fun game, but it’s unusual for a 3D Mario game to have this much worthless content in its main element.
Prey – Mr. Lonely, Morgan Yu
Prey was easily one of the best games of 2017, if not the most underrated. Unique gameplay, a fun story, and a beautiful environment to explore in the form of Talos I were just a few of the reasons I was able to sit down and play for eight hours in a row without noticing how much time had passed.
One of the things that held Prey back from being one of my favorite games of all time is ironically also one of the things about it: Talos I. The space station in which the game takes place is massive, filled with plenty of different nooks and crannies to explore. Understandably, there are a lot of different things to find in the large expanse of the station.
And while I loved finding audio logs about DnD and other adventures that happened before the Typhoon took over the ship, Talos I was very lonely. Yes, that’s somewhat the point I suppose, as it is a survival horror game. But after eight hours, I had only seen about one person face to face that wasn’t under mind control, and he still tried to kill me!
I suppose I just would have liked a bit more small NPC interactions, as opposed to listening to all the stories after they happened. If Prey had more of these, it would have made exploring the massive space station a bit less lonely.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – The Ending
Deus Ex is one of my favorite series of all time, even having only played the modern day remakes. Its emphasis on choice in all things and its exploration have resulted in some of the best video experiences of my life.
The most recent installment in the series, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, is no different. As soon as I got used to the mechanics again, it wasn’t long before I was climbing through air vents and finding a bunch of side stories to occupy most of my days. From a serial killer who targets augmented people to a Versalife Bank heist, the side stories and earlier main plot quests were phenomenal.
I found myself not wanting to complete the game and its main story. Once I did finish the game, that mindset was justified, as the ending was…not there. Chalk it up to a bad build up or content being left out for DLC (which never came), but the final mission of the game was half-baked and felt more like a mission you’d play before the final boss.
Instead, it just looks like I am going to have to patiently wait for a few more years for another Deus Ex game.
BioShock: Infinite – The Ending
BioShock: Infinite is my favorite game of all time. There’s no question about it. The exploration of the multiverse theory sits right up my alley: I truly appreciate a mind bending story, especially when it’s done so well (see my review of the TV show, Dark). Unfortunately, BioShock: Infinite is more than just an excellent story; it’s a video game as well.
The details put into this title are so astounding that it’s almost hard to believe. This amount of detail allows players to imagine what could be, what could’ve been, and what is. “Infinite” is a very fitting title, for the number of possibilities that the ending provides you are exactly that: infinite.
In the game’s own unique way, the endless possibilities that the ending provides you is a great aspect of the story. But I would’ve liked a more conclusive ending, one where the players could reach out and grasp the implications of the characters’ choices. Don’t get me wrong, the final scene was one of the main reasons why BioShock: Infinite had such an impact on me. And although 2K Games has stated that they’ll be continuing the franchise without Irrational Games, I’m concerned about how the multiverse theory presented in BioShock: Infinite will be explored in upcoming titles.
Will Anna/Elizabeth play a part in the future of the franchise? With so many possibilities, I find it hard to grasp how such a central character like her, to not only “Infinite” but the BioShock universe as a whole, will be implemented into this not-so-certain future. To me, the ambiguity left by BioShock: Infinite sets up a difficult roadblock as 2K Marin attempts to integrate meaning into the franchise’s future.
Overwatch – Balance
One of the biggest titles to drop in 2016 was undoubtedly Overwatch, the multiplayer sensation that has taken the world of eSports by storm ever since its release. Strategical combat is the name of the game, while precision remains to be essential in order to have success on the battlefield. Though one of the most engaging and exciting games to be given its own eSports league (The Overwatch League), Blizzard has always had an issue with balancing Overwatch’s heroes.
Like any developer that consistently releases playable heroes for their games—League of Legends, Brawlhalla, or Dota 2—Blizzard will always have a balancing act to maintain. With so many being released all the time, newer characters tend to feel a bit more overpowered than the older ones. Games that use this format tend to nerf newly released heroes more than they do to older ones because of the issues that may be presented when it comes to actual gameplay (not PTR).
In Overwatch, there’s an abnormal amount of unbalanced heroes. So much so that it’s kind of annoying at times. And I tip my hat to Blizzard for continually attempting to balance these characters, those such as Mercy, Junkrat, and Reaper. In my opinion, the changes they’ve made to Mercy have helped, yet the Revive ability should still be removed from the game completely.
And don’t get me started with Junkrat, a hero that requires barely any skill (right behind Symmetra that is). His basic attacks and abilities do too much damage for the amount of skill he takes to play, which, ultimately, makes him feel like a hero meant to be used as a troll more than anything else.
Then there’s Hanzo: the trolliest character in the game. People tend to pick him because they think they’re good at him. It’s either they’re amazing or they’re terrible. There’s no in-between. Hanzo doesn’t add anything to a team’s composition unless he’s picking off the enemy team, so choosing him is always a risky move. Not to mention that his Scatter Arrow ability can kill the majority of heroes that aren’t tanks—sometimes Orisa though—by simply shooting it at their feet. It’s ridiculous. He’s ridiculous. Blizzard has thankfully noticed the problem this ability has been causing and may change/remove it in the near future.
So for all the issues they have in balancing their heroes, Blizzard does listen to their community and that’s a great sign for the future.
There we are, just a few of the surprising problems found in otherwise outstanding titles. What do you think of this list? Were some of these issues not issues for you? Are there other great games with terrible flaws that you would have included? Let us know!
Some of Caleb’s earliest memories involve watching his father battle Ganon in A Link to the Past on the Super Nintendo. Since then, his love of gaming has steadily grown, along with a passion for the written word. When not playing games or writing, Caleb can be found watching Doctor Who reruns, finding Star Wars plot elements in everything, or loudly explaining the history of the Elves. They never let him finish…