The Professor’s Most Overrated Games of 2023

We’re well into 2024 and for many of us, the woes of 2023 are long in the rearview mirror. But as we approach Spring and have now seen a few new releases of varying success to kick off the year, it’s given me pause to reflect on some of the hyped releases from 2023 that ended up fizzling out faster than my Hinge DMs. While we haven’t seen any epic meltdowns in 2024 as of yet, one can only hope that we have learned lessons from the past that we will not repeat. Of course that’s probably just wishful thinking, but it’s still early enough into the year that I can hang onto that last shred of hope. 

For this micro list, I’m focusing on games that were hyped up considerably ahead of their launch, and ended up being commercial busts for one reason or another; overly buggy, uninspired plot, misleading marketing, or any combination of that and more. There are plenty of lists targeting “overrated” games that are mostly just hot takes (you’d be shocked how many “overrated” lists have Baldur’s Gate 3 on them). I want to look at games that were ridiculously overhyped and underperformed, since we can all agree that this is the type of thing that makes us afraid to get excited for future releases. Like how even mentioning Mass Effect 4 sends me into a full-on existential panic. 

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

cod mw 3
The definition of insanity is every Call of Duty game. Because they’re exactly the same.

The Call of Duty franchise spits out games faster than McDonalds sells Big Macs, and they’ve all seen varying levels of critical success. The latest installment to the franchise has kept up the spirit of lackluster and unmemorable story campaigns, but this time around was particularly thrashed for the campaign’s length coming in at a whopping 6 hours. My personal opinion: if a AAA game studio is pushing out a game with a story that’s shorter than a workday, it’s too short. Christopher Judge, the voice of God of War’s Kratos, said as much during the Game Awards and got a lot of heat for it, even though he’s right. The campaign itself has been called “uninspired” and a “glorified DLC” in terms of its playable merit, once again relying on its multiplayer offerings to shoulder it through another year. 

At this point, it feels like Activision Blizzard needs to shift its focus to nurturing its existing titles and online services rather than pumping out a new campaign on an almost yearly basis, and trying to charge $70 for swill that’d be better spent at a Taco Bell drive through. 

Starfield

starfield
Gorgeous? Absolutely. Underwhelming? Depressingly.

This one’s a painful one to put on the list. To say I was excited for Starfield would be the biggest understatement of 2023. I’ve always been a fangirl of Bethesda’s RPGs, with the most profound love in my heart especially for Skyrim and Fallout 4. The formula hasn’t changed much over the last decade and a half, but it hasn’t needed to; the fully realized world, the compelling quests, and the unique characters have always made the games a treat to play. Bethesda was ambitious with their plans for Starfield, and I don’t fault them for that. But with too much focus on making a game so vast, the efforts to make that world feel real and tangible fell flat. I didn’t get invested enough in the actual stakes of the world to feel compelled enough to continue, and ultimately my playthrough fizzled out around 25 hours in. I’m sure someday I’ll go back and finish it, if only because I’m stubborn and don’t like to leave games unfinished on the shelf, but there are plenty more things catching my eye these days that it falls further and further into my backlog. 

Which is a shame, because the moment I was able to land my ship on Enceladus, and scale the highest peaks to gaze at Saturn as it towered over the skies, still sits with me as one of the most special moments I’ve ever had playing a video game. But there is nothing there narratively to make me care enough to go back to experience it again. 

Redfall

redfall
This game had no business being this bad with a premise that seemed so fun.

Probably one of the bigger flops of 2023 and for a myriad of reasons. After delays of more than a year, Arkane, the studio that brought us gems like Dishonored and Deathloop, dropped their first Microsoft exclusive with Redfall, and boy was it a bust. Players commented how the game appeared largely unfinished and was laden with bugs and other performance issues. The game received further criticism after reports that the studio was frequently understaffed due to employees leaving and managerial direction being unclear and chaotic. 

Redfall suffered dramatically from executive mismanagement and set a foreboding tone for the future of Microsoft exclusives, and really the concept of studio exclusives as a whole. Not a whole lot has gone right for Microsoft exclusives over the last year, and Redfall was the first of many whistles blown in warning. 

Final Fantasy XVI

ffxvi
Clive really was such a stick in the mud, which was 90% of the game’s problem.

Probably a bit of a hot take for this list, but still worth mentioning. While the game wasn’t a commercial flop like others on this list, it quite frankly just isn’t a standout within the series. For a franchise known for such immortal titles like Final Fantasies XII, VII, and VI, the sixteenth installment did little to stand on the narrative shoulders of its predecessors. The story is uninspired and predictable, and laden with cliches and tropes surrounding an oppressed class. And to make matters worse, Clive is about as engaging and relatable as a steamed carrot. 

While the gameplay is a refreshing shift for the franchise, the story did little to capture the essence of the Final Fantasy universe. And while it isn’t a bad game by any means, it certainly doesn’t stand out from the crowd. I can’t imagine in another ten years that this game will stand out within the franchise, but who knows? It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been proven wrong.

The Day Before

the day before
No commentary needed.

Arguably one of the greatest failures in recent memory, Fntastic’s open world zombie MMO The Day Before was one of the most hyped titles slated to hit Steam. With hundreds of thousands of players wishlisting the game on Steam, and Fntastic doling out extremely cool looking trailers and gameplay videos to keep the hype going, the expectations were through the roof. 

But the warnings became apparent with long swaths of time with little to no updates on the game’s progress, and continued delays on release. 

By the time the game did finally release at the beginning of December, the final product was a shock. Players waited hours to be able to access the game’s content, it was laden with bugs, the in game settings and objects looked generic and pulled from other games, and many of the promised features and equipment were nowhere to be found. The backlash was swift; over half those who purchased the game refunded it within hours, and the response was so intense, Fntastic announced just a few days later that they would be removing the game from Steam and shutting their doors. 

The Day Before is not the first game to flop due to poor performance, but it presents a master class in consequences when a game is falsely advertised and released unfinished. Some have gone so far as to call the game a scam, since the final product was nowhere near what was advertised. At the very least, it does solidify for me that pre-ordering games is far riskier now than it ever was in the past. Probably safer to wait until a week or two after release, no matter how good those pre-order perks may look. 

Was there an overrated title from last year on your computer or console we didn’t mention?  Let us know in the comments!

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