Although we're not even at the halfway mark of 2019, gamers are always looking forward. They can't help themselves, which is why gaming sites everywhere are beginning to talk about 2020 and what that means. Yes, we're not very far off from the next-generation of consoles — the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Next. It's hard not to get excited about what our next generation of consoles will look like, but it's still important to not merely ignore the current generation. The PS4 and Xbox One have been around since 2013, and if the new consoles come out in 2020, that'll be seven years of being primary consoles on the market.
That's fairly impressive all things considered, but this generation hasn't been perfect. It's had more than its fair share of ups and downs. Everything from delays to troubles dealing with learning how to properly monetize games in a post-DLC world has caused us to wind up with more than a few mediocre video games. Yet not every major title to come out this generation has been the worst either — we've had no shortage of some truly incredible games that came out nowhere. Everything from games beloved by the most core audiences to titles which took the world by storm and brought millions of people into the world of gaming. This generation's seen it all, and this list is here to look at both the ups and the downs, as we cover 20 of the biggest disappointments (and 10 of the biggest surprises) of the PS4 and the Xbox One.
30 DISAPPOINTMENT: SONIC FORCES
Never let it be said SEGA doesn't want Sonic to work. In 2017, the company released two separate titles featuring gaming's favorite hedgehog: Sonic Mania, a throwback to the character's 2D roots, and Sonic Forces, a game in the current vein of Sonic titles. While Mania was a success, Forces became far more of a mixed bag. While people loved the customization, developer Sonic Team ran into trouble when it came to the gameplay. The level design was a mess, and Classic Sonic wasn't as fun to play — a problem compounded by how Mania let everyone revisit Classic 2D Sonic.
29 DISAPPOINTMENT: STATE OF DECAY 2
State of Decay 2 is the victim of a couple of major issues. For one, the love people had for zombies has cooled since the days of the Walking Dead's first season nearly a decade ago. But even that would've been shrugged off by core gamers if not for the second problem: this game just wasn't terribly fun. It's riddled with bugs (unfortunately common in a world where every problem can be fixed with a patch), and players were constantly forced to search for weapons, ammo, and food to the exclusion of any other part of the existing gameplay loop.
28 SURPRISE: TITANFALL
"Yes, but have you seen Titanfall?" That one sentence echoed around the gaming world in the aftermath of the introduction to developer Respawn's first-person shooter, a new IP in which players would not only get to jet around stages in enhanced exo-skeletons, but get giant freaking robots as killstreak rewards. At the time, it felt like the kind of cool new thing that could only be done on a next-generation console. Easily one of the best new IPs to come out of this generation, the quality of this series has never been in doubt through both of its games.
27 DISAPPOINTMENT: RYSE: SON OF ROME
It was probably unfair of gamers to place high expectations on Ryse. Like most games at launch, Ryse was visually stunning but there wasn’t much beyond the pretty appearances. But, because it was the start of the generation and it was one of the only games available which wasn't cross-gen, Xbox fans lined up to purchase the hack and slash title. Unfortunately, while decent, the campaign was far too short and was lacking in any kind of satisfying combat. Even the game's multiplayer only resulted in fighting waves of horde mode alongside friends.
26 DISAPPOINTMENT: SHADOW OF THE TOMB RAIDER
Lara Croft's third adventure since she was rebooted at the end of the PS360 gen, this was unfortunate all around. The game launched in one of the busiest Fall seasons in memory, against everything from Spider-Man and Dragon Quest to Assassin's Creed: Origins and Red Dead 2. But it didn't help that the game simply...wasn't as good as its prior two installments, despite some neat additions like quests and difficulty settings for combat, puzzles, and platforming. Studio Eidos Montreal also reduced the combat despite adding even more ways to take out enemies, and the story was largely uninteresting and made Lara fairly unlikable.
25 SURPRISE: BLOODBORNE
As the popularity of FromSoftware's action RPGs was beginning to grow, the company partnered with Sony to bring fans something new. Set in a world which drew on heavy Victorian-era gothic elements for its art design, players got to experience some of the crispest combat this side of a Platinum game while trying to stop a blood borne disease infecting the town of Yharnam, causing its inhabitants to transform into monsters. The game was one of the best-received titles of the entire generation, and is considered by many to be one of the greatest games of all time.
24 DISAPPOINTMENT: SEA OF THIEVES
This should have been a slam dunk. People love pirates, and people love Rare, a developer renowned for amazing games. It looked great, but ultimately ran into the same problem as No Man's Sky: no one knew what you did in the game. Sure enough, it released and the title was as barebones as critics had suspected. There was very little story, progression was non-existent, and the only enemy type seemed to be skeletons and the occasional shark. More than anything, it seemed to be designed for pirate crews to fight one another, though lately it’s managed to fix itself.
23 DISAPPOINTMENT: THE QUIET MAN
No one was even sure what this game was supposed to be when Square showed it off during their E3. And now that it's out...people still aren't actually sure what this game was about. Human Head Studios brought us a game with live-action actors in full motion video for most of the game, with not nearly enough focus on other gameplay. Worse, the game was lacking in forming a coherent story, introducing supernatural twists but never giving players the proper build up, so it felt more like something out of nowhere instead of paying off existing parts of the game.
22 SURPRISE: MONSTER HUNTER WORLD
After a slow start to the generation, Capcom has slowly been making a comeback. First, it was putting the survival horror back in its Resident Evil franchise, then it was turning one of its most popular domestic IPs into a global sensation. Monster Hunter had always been incredibly popular in Japan, but it didn't translate to other places the same way. It wasn't until Capcom revealed they were finally bringing the game to PS4 that the worldwide audience took notice. Though longtime fans were concerned, Capcom perfectly toed the line between welcoming newcomers and retaining the complex hunts people loved.
21 DISAPPOINTMENT: DYNASTY WARRIORS 9
For a game like Dynasty Warriors, where gamers become influential fighters from a key point in Chinese history and use those fighters to mow down dozens of foes at once and hundreds over the course of a single stage, the ninth entry of this game committed an ultimate sin: it was boring. It was meant to be a reinvention of the franchise, creating an open-world that players could easily traverse, but didn't go far enough. There's no shortage of characters, there's certainly no shortage of enemies, it just lacked the excitement that came from games of days past.
20 DISAPPOINTMENT: ANTHEM
BioWare has the misfortune to land on this list twice. Despite having the most interesting trailer at E3 2017, the truth behind Anthem is a mess of egos, mismanagement, and an all around troubled development cycle. The core gameplay loop of Anthem is fun enough — players fly around an alien world in Iron Man-esque armors, killing monsters and trying to keep a group of bad guys away from a dangerous maguffin. While that's "simple" enough, it's trapped underneath a cycle of endless load screens and baffling design choices. Plus it's a loot game with boring loot, and there's no excusing that.
19 SURPRISE: NIER: AUTOMATA
2015 will go down in gaming for having one of the greatest E3s of all time. It wasn't just nostalgic game reveals like Shenmue 3 or new IPs like Horizon, but surprises like this. Take one of the best auteur directors in Yoko Taro, combine him with PlatinumGames, developers known for intense, creative and fun gameplay, and you get Nier: Automata. The game felt like an updated version of old-school JRPGs, one that didn't have the budget of a Final Fantasy but presented a unique world and addicting gameplay. It's no surprise it was nominated for multiple "Game of the Year" awards.
18 DISAPPOINTMENT: MARVEL VS. CAPCOM INFINITE
For whatever reason, Capcom and fighters had issues this generation. The Marvel vs. Capcom franchise is one of the most beloved in the FGC for the insanity that comes with three on three combat, so when Infinite was first revealed in 2016, fans went crazy. But the excitement tempered quickly, beginning with the reveal that the combat had turned into just two on two tag teams. Combine this with poor art design and that Capcom being unable to use either the X-Men or Fantastic Four characters, and we wind up with a game which sold half of what the company expected.
17 DISAPPOINTMENT: MIGHTY NO. 9
Mighty No. 9 is one of the saddest stories to come out of the current generation. After years of seeing Capcom leave the Blue Bomber on the shelf, fans were excited to see its creator Keiji Inafune announced he was going to make Mighty No. 9, essentially a Mega Man game without the restrictions of Capcom. The game was funded immediately, and cleared stretch goal after stretch goal and became one of the most funded Kickstarter games ever. But after a lengthy development cycle, fans were rewarded with a mediocre title that lacked the satisfying gameplay of old Mega Man games.
16 SURPRISE: ASSASSIN'S CREED: ORIGINS
In 2017 Ubisoft had one of their strongest E3 showings, unveiling both new IPs and sequels to loved games. Most noteworthy though was Assassin's Creed, which received a complete makeover, turning the game series far more down the RPG path. As players experienced the story of the origins of the Assassins, they got to explore the beautiful, golden sands of Egypt as Bayek, the very first assassin. Bayek would help villagers in different cities doing side quests, while collecting loot to improve his abilities and stats. The game served to revitalize one of HD gaming's first franchises for the new generation.
15 DISAPPOINTMENT: THE ORDER 1886
Like many of the games on this list, The Order garnered a bunch of early excitement thanks to an exciting E3 presentation. Those who got to actually play the title early didn’t seem to carry the same excitement though, and when the game finally released we saw why. Despite a cool looking universe, The Order is a better movie than a game, with nearly a fourth of the game’s chapters being completely cinematic. Combine that with identical QTE-based boss battles and not nearly enough chances to use the cool guns, and you get one of the most disappointing games of 2015.
14 DISAPPOINTMENT: VALKYRIA REVOLUTION
SEGA's Valkyria Chronicles was one of the most beloved games of the PS360 generation. Its unique setting and tactical gameplay made it a standout in the early half of the generation. For various reasons, the series’ popularity died down, so it came as a surprise when SEGA revealed a spin-off to the series, in late 2015. But when Revolution launched, it was hard not to feel let down, with the game’s combat was woefully lacking compared to the original series, never able to decide if it wanted to be an action game or a strategy game, instead of failing at both.
13 SURPRISE: SPIDER-MAN
After introducing three long-awaited IPs during their E3 in 2015, Sony decided to show off the new hotness the following year. Showing off multiple new games, the publisher once again won over fans' minds with their games, but there was one title that truly came out of nowhere: Spider-Man. Outside of Batman, superhero games don't generally have the best reputation, but Insomniac went the extra mile and gave fans everything they wanted out of a Spidey title. A powerful story, the appearance of multiple villains and fan-favorite supporting characters, and all the sweet alternate costumes Spidey nerds could ask for.
12 DISAPPOINTMENT: EVOLVE
Evolve was likely the first sign something was going wrong with this generation. Developer Turtle Rock studios had something great on their hands with a unique multiplayer IP. Four of the available players would become hunters, while the fifth would be a monster, forced to hide for as long as it could while working to make its way through "evolutions" until it was strong enough to kill all the hunters. But the game was lacking in content, while there was enough DLC to rack up hundreds of dollars in additional revenue should players buy it all, though few people stuck around long enough for it to all release.
11 DISAPPOINTMENT: WATCH DOGS
"Two months are enough to visit Los Santos." With that single sentence and a shot of the original Watch Dogs' signature character Aiden Pearce, Ubisoft threw down the gauntlet against Rockstar's magnum opus, Grand Theft Auto V. Unfortunately, the game immediately ran into issues when Ubisoft was forced to delay the game. It would come out seven months afterward, and prove to be...polarizing, at best. Though many gamers would find enjoyment out of its satisfying gunplay and the plethora of mini-games, the main character had all the charisma of a piece of toast and the story was predictable and tepid.
10 SURPRISE: APEX LEGENDS
Even though Respawn's Titanfall series has always done well critically, it's never quite managed to be a breakthrough franchise for the development studio. Both of their Titanfall games ran into issues which kept them from reaching the heights they should’ve. That's why Apex Legends is such a wonderful surprise. An addicting battle royale hero shooter, Apex Legends launched the Tuesday following the Super Bowl as an unexpected shadow drop and became instantly popular, getting fifty million (!) players within its first month alone. A well-deserved success for a studio that's put in a ton of hard work since this generation began.
9 DISAPPOINTMENT: STREET FIGHTER V
Street Fighter V isn't necessarily disappointing to most fighting game fans, as it remains one of the most popular amongst the Fighting Game Community. However, it started out lacking all sorts of things to sell to a casual gamer: there was no story or arcade, so players could basically only train and play online. Combine that with a tiny roster of fighters (that's expanded greatly since through DLC, to be fair), and very suddenly it's easy to understand why the game only sold two million copies after several years on the market, until it's Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition released.
8 DISAPPOINTMENT: NO MAN'S SKY
"What do you do in No Man's Sky?" The question that was a meme prior to No Man’s Sky’s release, became a reality once it hit the store shelves. A procedurally generated open galaxy game, No Man's Sky promised sci-fi fantasies for everyone: trading, aiding different factions in massive wars, discovering new planets. It was all on the table...until most of it wasn't. After a lengthy development cycle the game released without most of what it promised...leading everyone to only wonder what anyone could do other than travel to planets that no one else would ever see because the game was so big.
7 SURPRISE: OVERWATCH
Blizzard games being successful is nothing new, so in some ways, Overwatch isn't much of a surprise at all. But the way they managed to create this gorgeous, colorful superhero universe, populating it with tons of intriguing new characters that all get interesting vignettes to color in the wider universe is something to be applauded. OverWatch was the runaway success of 2016, and continues to build on the overall popularity of the burgeoning eSports world. The apotheosis of the Hero Shooter, Overwatch became so addicting it put nearly every other version of the genre to bed, reigning supreme even three years after its release.
6 DISAPPOINTMENT: FALLOUT 76
When the higher-ups at Bethesda explained a sequel to their popular Elder Scrolls series wouldn't be seen anytime soon, fans speculated what else the company could be working on. There were rumors (later confirmed) that one of the two titles before Elder Scrolls' follow up would be a sci-fi title known as Starfield, but the second one was up in the air. But E3 2018 finally showed us exactly what they had planned...an online, multiplayer version of their popular RPG Fallout. Excited as gamers were, this title needed far more time in the oven, as it was filled with game-breaking bugs.
5 DISAPPOINTMENT: MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA
Despite a negative reaction to the ending of the first trilogy, there was plenty of excitement for BioWare’s next entry in their space opera franchise, Mass Effect. But when the game actually launched, calling it a disappointment might have been putting it mildly. The game had a metric ton of flaws, including issues with facial modeling that resulted in the gaming world having enough memes to last the rest of the year. All of that without getting to the game’s story, which is uninteresting at best and leaves a bunch of questions unanswered.
4 SURPRISE: PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS
When PUBG Corporation's Brendan Greene sought to take everything he learned from his work on mods to create PUBG, it's doubtful he knew he would be creating the next major genre in gaming. It's a simple concept: one hundred players parachute onto an island with increasingly shrinking space, and are forced to end one another to be the last person standing. Almost from launch, the game began breaking record player counts weekly. But its legacy extends beyond that, as everyone from Epic Games to major publishers like Activision and EA has their own version of the idea on the market.
3 DISAPPOINTMENT: STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT 2
Battlefront 2 is what happens when companies assume consumers will always just spend money without thinking what they're spending it on. After releasing a disappointing initial game, fans thought EA had it figured when they claimed only cosmetic content would cost money in the sequel. But then they were introduced to EA’s "Star Card" system, which was literally a Pay to Win system. This ignited a debate everywhere online for months, causing even Disney themselves to step in, but the damage had been done. Shame, because without the microtransactions Battlefront 2 is a good game.
2 DISAPPOINTMENT: DESTINY
For some, this will be a bit of a controversial pick. However, Bungie pitched Destiny as gaming's Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, but what we got was a title focused on grinding a small number of maps for endless loot. Offering online co-op play in a vast world set in the far future, the trailer teased a romp throughout the galaxy to protect humanity from threats beyond the stars. And that's what people got...only in a far reduced fashion than anyone expected, with most of the story stripped out and what was there leftover being pretty awful.
1 SURPRISE: FORTNITE: BATTLE ROYALE
Fortnite began as a tower defense game and had some minor popularity, but after deciding to add a "Battle Royale" mode inspired by PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, the game immediately turned into something far bigger than anyone could have predicted. It may not be the first battle royale title, but it made the genre its own with its own wacky additions to its already colorful world. Easily the biggest success story in gaming since the Wii's appeal to core gamers and grandmothers alike, Fortnite's complex simplicity has turned streamers into stars and shown a whole new generation of kids the joy of gaming.