Yesterday we did the highs, and today we do the lows. These were the more disappointing moments of 2017, according to our PC Gamer global team. And yes, you'll find some loot crate chatter in here. Let us know your lows of the year in the comments.
Andy Kelly: Andromeda flops
I didn't like Mass Effect Andromeda for a lot of reasons, but the main one is that it utterly fails to make you feel like you're an explorer in some uncharted galaxy. The premise is perfect, voyaging through the stars to find a new home. But the execution is disappointingly inept and unimaginative, with nothing out there that feels truly alien.
Say what you will about Interstellar (I love it), but that film really nails the idea of the planets they visit being so wildly outside of the rules of Earth, making them as terrifying as they are awe-inspiring. The giant waves, clouds of ice, and so on. But the planets in Andromeda had none of that. A desert, a jungle, an ice world. Your classic sci-fi archetypes.
And the angara, the only real native race you encounter, have human-shaped faces and a relatable culture and politics. It cheapens the Mass Effect universe when you can travel to a new galaxy and it's basically the same as the Milky Way. BioWare wasted an opportunity here, and that's why Andromeda was a major letdown for me this year.
Samuel Roberts: Horror show
I thought I'd love Resident Evil 7. The demo suggested they were going for something a bit like PT—an original and shocking horror game. And it is for about an hour, even if it's never close to PT's levels of scares and invention. By the end of the game, though, as I shot a procession of goo monsters, and took down yet another boss by shooting the same weak points over and over again, I felt like Resident Evil was in the same shape as when I started. If anything, the boss fights and set pieces were less interesting than Resident Evil 5, which seems to have gained the reputation of taking the series in the wrong direction. But it's definitely a better, more entertaining game to me.
I think I'm among the few that didn't love it. The Baker family as a series of bosses should've been interesting, but I didn't find any of them that scary, except when you'd find the dad lurking in the corridors of the house after you thought you killed him. Resi definitely looked the part: the colour palette was nice and grimy, the VHS tapes were pretty cool—especially the SAW-style death trap one. But it didn't really reinvent the series for me. If it was in third-person rather than first, I genuinely think it'd be considered an average entry in the series, maybe slightly above the first Revelations game.
It doesn't help that the VR mode was launched exclusively on PlayStation. Hopefully we get to try it in January. It's not that Resident Evil 7 was the worst game I played in 2017—I enjoyed it a load more than Rime or Perception—but I thought it'd be a grand new chapter.
Tyler Wilde: Mass disappointment
I'm not a huge Star Wars fan, but I enjoyed The Last Jedi. I like that it didn't play to the expectations set by The Force Awakens, which I think is the inferior film. So I have a hard time understanding why certain Star Wars superfans absolutely hated The Last Jedi—but I can sympathize. As a big Mass Effect fan, I found very little to like about Mass Effect: Andromeda. Many people I know enjoyed it just fine and probably look at me the same way I look at The Last Jedi discontents. Sorry! Though I waffled over my feelings about it for awhile, when I look back, I really didn't like it.
What begins as a story about, and potentially a critique of, colonialism instead backs the Milky Way's expansion throughout Andromeda—with an early nod to noted rich person Elon Musk, of course—so long as invading aliens can stand in as the true evil. Minor conflict with the indigenous angara is easily resolved by having that common enemy, and outside of the angara, the villainous Kett, and the ancient Remnant robots, no other intelligent aliens are found in Andromeda. Humanity (and its alien pals) thus becomes a savior of the locals, an ahistorical theme which skims over all kinds of ethical points: as the more technologically-powerful party, are the Milky Way settlers refugees or invaders? Why have the colonists chosen to replicate the old militaristic power structures they left behind? Delete the Kett and focus more on inter-alien relations—both between those from the Milky Way and the civilizations they encounter in Andromeda—and I think you'd have a much more interesting game. The Krogan rebellion and distrust from the angara are easily the best aspects of Andromeda, but are set aside to make way for war against Borg-like, done-before, alien monsters.
On top of that, I found the plucky 'Chosen One' protagonist dull, as well as most of the supporting cast (whose reasons for leaving their entire galaxy behind are largely ridiculous), and rehashing the original trilogy's focus on ancient aliens and their super-powered artifacts works against making Andromeda feel like a mysterious new frontier—same shit, different galaxy. And these are just criticisms of the story. I'd take over this whole article if I detailed my issues with the sidequests and combat.
Chris Livingston: Take-Two vs Open IV
While this one does have a happy ending, it was still a deeply unpleasant and easily avoidable mess. Back in May, the creator of OpenIV, a GTA modding tool, received an email from Take-Two Interactive requesting any further work on OpenIV be halted. When modder 'GooD-NTS' asked for more information on the matter, Take-Two's legal department mailed a cease and desist notice to his place of work, accusing him of violating Russian laws. GooD-NTS decided, after some deliberation, to stop updating the mod.
It's worth keeping in mind that, at the point of this C&D, OpenIV had already been around for nearly a decade, available for modders and mod-users to play GTA 4 and 5 with modded content. It was relied upon for dozens if not hundreds of mods as it allowed GTA game files to be edited. Its creators had also taken measures to ensure OpenIV couldn't be used in GTA Online, only in single-player.
Naturally, there was an explosion of outrage from gamers over the shutdown. A petition garnered tens of thousands of signatures and Rockstar's games were heavily review-bombed on Steam. One machinma maker created a video depicting Take-Two and Rockstar executing modded characters while others wondered how they'd be able to create new work without OpenIV.
After a tumultuous few days, Rockstar began talking directly to the modder and soon OpenIV was back and being updated again. Which is, frankly, what should have happened in the first place. Legal action should be a final step, not an opening move. Modders who spend a decade adding content to a game clearly have passion for it, and mods, as I've said before and will no doubt say again, add value to a game. Even if you don't actively support mods (Rockstar doesn't, hence the need for OpenIV in the first place), don't treat modders like enemies. Bringing the legal department of an enormous corporation to bear on an individual who simply loves to create new content for a game on a volunteer basis is a terrible, terrible look.