2018 had many great announcements, releases, and moments, but it also had a lot of horrifying moments too - and we're only talking games here. In fact, there were a lot of 2018 gaming disappointments out there - so we're going to list a few.
We're specifically focused on the PC, as usual, so let's run down the Biggest Disappointments in PC Gaming 2018. Some of these affect the consoles or gaming as a whole, but most will be especially important to PC gamers - whether they be individual massive game letdowns or more general trends. Let's have a look, shall we?
The Beginning of the End for Steam
2018 was the year where Steam, the biggest platform in the world, finally faced true challenges. The loss of EA to Origin was always a bitter pill, but we felt that more as EA being greedy and controlling rather than a sign of a larger problem. Ubisoft may have their own launcher, Uplay, but you can still buy the publisher's games on Steam.
2018 was different, as it seemed all major publishers were jumping Valve's ship. Blizzard's Battle.net started getting major non-Blizzard games, such as Destiny 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (COD had previously been a Steam exclusive). Bethesda kicked off their own digital launcher, starting with Fallout 76 and probably continuing to Rage 2.
Worst of all, a true competitor appeared in the form of the Epic Games Store - which has the backing of the biggest game in the world, Fortnite, the biggest graphics engine, Unreal, and one of the richest publishers in the world, Tencent. it has a load of exclusives already, games are jumping to it from Steam, and the profits split is better. As PUBG and Quake III Arena learned, Epic are good at taking other people's ideas and making it better and more popular.
Now instead of just installing Steam, us gamers have a dozen different clients installed for probably just a couple of games each way. So much for unifying PC gaming. Steam better sort itself out... but then again, what games are coming to it anymore?
Console Exclusives are Still a Thing
Look, gaming industry, we thought we were past this. We understand you console manufacturers have to have a little pissing contest now and again, but leave the PC out of it. Things were getting better - Microsoft made all their Xbox exclusives start coming to PC (although we're still waiting on Halo), and Playstation Now allowed us to legally try Sony games like Bloodborne. Then you had to pull a 2005-2007 on us.
We're reasonable - we do not expect Super Mario Odyssey or God of War to appear on PC just yet. Those are internally-owned and developed IPs. What we DO expect to see on PC are a) third-party games, and b) licensed games not owned by console publishers. And yet here we are - Red Dead Redemption 2, once again Rockstar, does not launch on PC for no reason whatsoever. And no release date or confirmation of the PC version. Why? GTA5 and GTA Online were fantastically successful on PC!
Then we have the licensed games - specifically, Marvel. Spider-Man was published by Sony, so is a PS4 exclusive. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 was announced, and that'll be published by Nintendo, so it's a Switch exclusive despite the Ultimate Alliance name being owned by Activision.
Yes, these publishers helped finance the games to make them great. But as licensed console exclusives, they'll be dead by the end of the generation. Licenses move on, and they'll never get re-released. What if you want to play the best Spider-Man game a few years from now? You will, and you won't be able to. It's on PS4 and you have a PC and PS5. Tough tits. Welcome to the GoldenEye club. Sigh.
I could just say "Fallout 76" here and save myself some work, but I better elaborate. Bethesda, and the Fallout series, is hugely respected, and the games are highly anticipated. The idea of a full, proper, new Fallout game with real people added in was exciting. Then the beta hit, then the final game released, and the dream went sour.
Fallout 76 has fun to it, but it's less than half a Fallout game. There's no NPCs, no Dogmeat, and no weird and wacky characters to meet. The online side consists of a few players (just 24 per world in fact) occasionally meeting each other, with no benefit to cooperation. Worse, the online stifles other great things about Fallout - so nothing you do matters, there are no real consequences, and VATS is totally neutered. There's good in Fallout 76, but it's probably not worth digging out, and you'll be bored of it after a certain amount of time. Oh well.
Command and Conquer Returns
The Command and Conquer series is near and dear to our hearts, and it's been far too long since the screw-up and cancellation of C&C Generals 2, and the different type of screw-up and release of Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight. First we received word of a new Red Alert, but that turned out to be a China-only mobile game (which is awful, incidentally).
Then we got to E3, and EA got us all excited with a new Command and Conquer game, which turned out to be a 1v1 multiplayer-only mobile game called Rivals. Joy. Just what we didn't want from a Command and Conquer game.
Fortunately, this one has a happy ending - we got the announcement of proper remastered versions of the original C&C and Red Alert. Phew, that was a close one. Speaking of mobile games, though...
Blizzcon and Diablo Immortal
It's utterly up to Blizzard whether they release a mobile version of Diablo or not, we're sure it'll do well, especially in China. But the huge disappointment came at Blizzcon, when they announced Diablo Immortal - which we're still in awe of how Blizzard utterly mismanaged fan expectations.
There had been rumours of a Diablo announcement at the show - which, we should point out, has incredibly expensive tickets. The final announcement of the day is meant to be the big one, the epic reveal that the show buzzes about - and Blizzard chose then to reveal the mobile-only Diablo Immortal, to a predominantly PC-focused audience. It was a screw-up so large it crashed Blizzard's stock. Ridiculous.
The Death of Telltale Games
While a lot of these disappointments make us angry, this one just makes us sad. This was the year that Telltale Games, the developers who revolutionized both the adventure game and the licensed game, closed. Too many mistakes, too many games at once, too many problems, too few sales.
What's worse is, they were finally beginning to turn things around and correct those problems. Their last full game, Batman: The Enemy Within, was arguably their best game, with an ending that actually changed based on your decisions. The Walking Dead: The Final Season added a more dynamic third-person camera. The Wolf Among Us: Season 2 was much-requested. And the new engine would cut off the ugliness of the older engine at last. But it was all too little, too late. Farewell, Telltale.
Probably the least-known game on this list, but if you do know it, you're angry with it. Underworld Ascendant is the Kickstarter crowdfunded proposed sequel to the Ultima Underworld games by Looking Glass - which started the "immersive sim" genre and lead to System Shock and Thief at Looking Glass, and then outward to Bioshock, Deus Ex, Dishonored, Prey and more. Ascendant was being worked on by several veterans from Looking Glass and Irrational, so the pedigree was there. It should have been fantastic.
It wasn't. It was a catastrophe. It bore no relation to the Underworld games, which were underground open-world games with multiple factions to interact with and non-linear design - Ascendant has none of these, really, or at least cheaply done. It was a buggy mess with poor design decisions, such as the bewilderingly bad save system - which doesn't work. It's a profoundly unsatisfying and just plain bad game, and the knowledge that this team - along with Warren Spector! - is working on System Shock 3 manages the impossible, and actually makes us sad that System Shock 3 is coming. Shame.
Those are our picks for the biggest disappointments in PC gaming this year! Are there any we missed? Let us know in the comments!