The Biggest Video Game Disappointments of 2018

Year In ReviewYear In ReviewWe look back at the highs, lows, surprises, and standouts in and around video games this year.

2018 was the best of times, and the worst of times. We’re here to talk about that second bit, though we’re keeping things focused on video games. If we went any broader, this would take all day.

As we do every year at Kotaku, it’s time to take a look back on the highs and lows of the last 12 months. Today, we’ll focus on the lows. (See: the biggest disappointments of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.) We posted the best surprises of 2018 yesterday, so now it’s time for failures, mistakes and outright disasters.

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Screenshot: Kotaku (Fallout 76)
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Fallout 76 is just a big ol’ mess.

Fans were skeptical when Fallout 76 was announced at this year’s E3, but many were willing to give it a shot. It was a new kind of Fallout, one in a collaborative world, where players would be able to build bases like in Fallout 4, work together, or nuke each other. It was a risk—and it didn’t pay off. The game launched with extravagant bugs, a lifeless world, and unsatisfying multiplayer. As the bummer cherry on top, the $200 Power Armor edition of the game shipped with flimsy nylon bags instead of swagged out canvas ones. The lowest point, however, was when the support site bugged out and started revealing players’ personal information, including home addresses, to other players. Yikes.

President Trump trots out the “violent video games” canard.

It was like time traveling to 2003: After a deadly mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, Trump met with video game executives and watched a reel of violent video game clips. While it was amusing that Giant Bomb’s Dan Ryckert somehow ended up on that video, the idea of the President of the United States entertaining the idea that the severity and frequency of mass shootings in this country might be caused by violent video games is ridiculous. It simply is not true, and only acts to serve as a distraction from the real legislative problems in this country that make such shootings so tragically commonplace.

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Photo: Blizzard

The Shanghai Dragons can’t manage a single Overwatch League win.

The point of an underdog story is that they might, at some point, catch a break. Not so for the Shanghai Dragons, who ended the season with 0-40 record. Zero for forty. They played forty games, and did not win a single one of them.They may hold a special place in my players’ hearts for signing Geguri, the first woman in the Overwatch league, but new signings weren’t enough to turn their luck around.

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Fortnite accounts keep getting hacked.

Fortnite is one of the most popular video games in the world at this point, which makes it all the more unfortunate how poor a job Epic has done securing players’ accounts. They get hacked all the time, and some players have had their credit card information compromised as a result. There’s actually a thriving economy based off of hacking and then selling accounts, and one hacker told Kotaku that Epic’s account security is “top kek.” What has Epic done about this? Not too much, it appears. If your kid is using your credit card to buy a Season Pass for Fortnite, keep an eye out for any weird transactions.

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Illustration: Sam Woolley (GMG)

Tumblr bans adult content.

Tumblr was a great way to artists who like to draw boobs to keep a portfolio, make announcements to their audience, and engage in a thriving artistic community. On December 17th, those artists will have to look for a new internet home. After years of problems with pornbots posting spam and other users posting child pornography, Tumblr banned all adult content. While getting rid of the aforementioned issues is good for the site, it’s also a move that people who use Tumblr find way too extreme. On top of that, Tumblr’s algorithm for finding and flagging adult content is hilariously busted. With competitors like Pillowfort and Are.na breathing down Tumblr’s neck, the site may be done for.

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Telltale Games abruptly closes up shop.

In 2004 a trio of ex-LucasArts employees banded together to revitalize the adventure game genre. The studio they founded, Telltale Games, spent 14 years creating episodic adventures based on beloved properties like Batman, Sam & Max, The Guardians of the Galaxy, Game of Thrones and in the company’s most popular series, The Walking Dead. Then, in September of 2018, citing poor game sales, the company laid off all but 25 of its employees and began the process of shutting down. Employees were caught off-guard by the closure, with many hard at work on the ongoing Walking Dead series late into the night prior to layoffs. Staff was let go with no warning and provided no severance. The entire situation was dreadful. Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment worked out a deal to bring on some former employees to complete the final two episodes of The Walking Dead’s final season, but that does little to soften such a harsh end for a beloved, prolific studio.

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Image: Sony

The PlayStation Classic isn’t as classic as we’d all hoped

Following Nintendo’s two successful forays into the retro console market, Sony surprised us all with the announcement of the $100 PlayStation Classic. Like Nintendo’s offerings, the PlayStation Classic would be loaded with 20 of the best games the original console had to offer. Unlike Nintendo, however, Sony’s idea of what constitutes the best games their console had to offer differed greatly from what many fans had in mind. Dreams of a dedicated Suikoden II machine were dashed when Sony revealed the full game list. No Gran Turismo? No Wipeout? No Star Wars: Masters of Teras-Kasi? We were bummed. Bummed enough for a podcast episode about it. And when it came time to review the finished product, we found it lacked passion. But hey, you know who has passion? The hackers who’ve already got other games running on the PlayStation Classic. It’s a labor of love for them.

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Pro gamers and streamers can’t seem to stop saying awful things.

Hey kids, here’s a tip. If you are going to get into a growing, high-profile activity like esports or plan on making your living streaming in public, maybe check the racist, homophobic, transphobic and misogynistic comments at the door. You know, like good people. If you’re super-popular streamer Ninja, don’t rap the n-word. In fact, don’t use that word at all, no matter who you are. Don’t type “faggot” into your team chat. While we’re at it, don’t suggest people kill themselves.

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See those links? Each one leads to someone being at best thoughtlessly cruel, at worst purposefully so, and we reported on far more similar incidents in 2018. There’s enough of that bullshit in the world at large. We don’t need it in gaming.

Image: Nintendo
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Walugi will never, ever be playable in Smash Bros.

Yesterday we celebrated the inclusion of Samus Aran’s archenemy, Ridley, in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Today, we lament the exclusion of Luigi’s archnemesis, Waluigi. Why does Nintendo treat the purple-clad, red-nosed evil version of Mario’s brother so horribly? Why does Wario get on the Smash Bros. roster while showing his ass crack and passing gas, while Waluigi keeps his pants on and gets excluded? Is it because Waluigi is horrible, or because he’s really fucking horrible? The world may never know.

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About the author

Mike Fahey

Kotaku elder, lover of video games, toys, snacks and other unsavory things.