2013: The Greatest or Most Disappointing Year in Gaming?

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As most gamers should know, the passing of the current year always seems to evoke the feelings that it was a better, more interesting, more disappointing, or more dangerous year than the previous twelve months. The community and industry of gaming is not an exception to this phenomenon, with the constant refinement of technology and increasing number of overly anticipated titles. It appears as though there is an increasing number of entries in flagship franchises, exclusive first or third-party titles, reboots of franchises, or games that are promising the latest in gaming innovations. 2013 was chock full of all of this and more and the final results of the year beg the question, “Was this the greatest or most disappointing year for gaming thus far?”

It could go both ways.

Image Courtesy of Gamester81.
Characters from some of the year’s hottest titles.
Image courtesy of Gamester81.

2013 kicked off quite strongly. It was the year where next generation consoles would finally fall into the hands of anxious gamers and new entries in popular series such as Bioshock, GTA, Pokemon, and Batman would make the rounds.

The year started off with mixed feelings, as the new reincarnation of Dante in DMC left gamers either elated or sorely disappointed. Ni No Kuni came to America around the same time. It was heralded by JRPG fans and is arguably one of the best games to come to the west for some time. Both titles quickly faded into the horizon, however, as the next group of big blockbusters entered the arena.

Dante's new hair color was just one of the many complaints of the new game. Image courtesy of Gamingbolt.
Dante’s new hair color was just one of the many complaints of the new game.
Image courtesy of Gamingbolt.

March brought two games that the public had been awaiting for years. Bioshock Infinite was hailed by both critics and players alike for its fantastic story and unique world. However, some regarded its shooting mechanics as poor in regards to the high quality of the rest of the game. Tomb Raider suffered from the opposite problem. While the gameplay was undeniably the most fun and exciting part of the experience, the story felt weak to many. However, both games are regarded as two of the best titles of the year, with Tomb Raider even appearing on SheAttack’s Top 10 Games from the 7th Generation.

March also brought the mediocre God of War: Ascension and the let’s-forget-that-ever-happened Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. I’m not going to elaborate further on The Walking Dead because, like I said, let’s forget that ever happened. Survival what?

Tomb Raider's Definitive Edition hits shelves February 4, 2014. Image courtesy of Nixxes.
Tomb Raider’s Definitive Edition hits shelves February 4, 2014.
Image courtesy of Nixxes.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and Fire Emblem: Awakening stormed the handheld scene during this time as well with both garnering quite positive reviews. Awakening in particular has been lauded as the best title to come to the 3DS thus far, bringing back life and new fans to the Fire Emblem franchise. The addition of Animal Crossing: New Leaf stole every last minute from gamers and left many feeling quite satisfied with their 3DS purchases for the first time in a while.

June also brought the hottest new and PS3 exclusive title of the year, The Last of Us. Landing near perfect reviews from across the internet, TLOU managed to win Game of the Year on IGN and make a comfortable home in the lists of many gamers’ “Best Games of the Last Console Cycle.” June also brought us, Deadpool: The Game, a game quite differently received. Both were released within the span of a week and a half.

The Last of Us took gamers through an emotionally poignant journey.  Image courtesy of GiantBomb.
The Last of Us took gamers through an emotionally poignant journey.
Image courtesy of GiantBomb.

The summer seemed quiet, with anticipation brewing for the countless titles spewing out in the fall. However, one lone title, Pikmin 3, became the first truly great game for the Wii U. Grand Theft Auto V was the next behemoth to drop, gathering almost as much accolade as TLOU. The release of Pokemon X and Y brought a fresh take on the long-running series, and giving gamers another excuse to polish off their 3DSes. However, the rest of the year seemed to spiral downward after these two titles.

Batman: Arkham Origins and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, while being good games, managed to be two of the biggest disappointments of the year. Many gamers regarded Black Flag as a fantastic pirate game, but not a fantastic Assassin’s Creed game. People played it to fire cannons at ships and search for treasure, not to learn more about Templars and their latest evil plot. Similarly, Arkham Origins was a pretty good action game, but it brought nothing new to the highly praised Batman series and felt much more restricted in scope than previous entries.

An amazing pirate game, not an amazing AC game. Image courtesy of Justpushstart.
An amazing pirate game, not an amazing AC game.
Image courtesy of Justpushstart.

However, by far the biggest disappointment of the year was none other than Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls. People either loved it, hated it, or thought it would make a much better movie. Interactive story games can be hard to give an overall opinion to, but most gamers agreed Heavy Rain had a better story and brought innovation to the world of gaming almost four years prior.

Super Mario 3D World was the second title of the year that managed to bring in sales for the Wii U, gathering mostly positive reactions from Mario and non-Mario fans alike. However, the game failed to leave a final impact for the year.

So now that big question from way up top should be answered. Was 2013 the greatest or most disappointing year in gaming? I would have to say it was both.

2013 will forever be remembered as the year that managed to give players The Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto V, Bioshock Infinite, and Pokemon X and Y all within mere months. Also, the sheer amount of big games released this year seems to be much higher than usual, although the introduction of new consoles is probably partially to blame.

Pokemon X and Y updated the franchise and kept the series fresh. Image courtesy of arkeis-pokemon on Deviantart.
Pokemon X and Y updated the franchise and kept the series fresh.
Image courtesy of arkeis-pokemon on Deviantart.

However, the disappointments this year seemed to come in a large wave towards the end of the year, leaving a bad taste in many gamers’ mouths. Next generation consoles have still failed to leave any noticeable mark just yet as well, and the year neither began nor started with a big bang.

While it can be argued that great successes and huge disappointments are normal and occur every year in the gaming world, the problem this year was the noticeability of the two extremes.

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Gabby first delve into the world of gaming with Pokémon Red. Being a 90’s kid, it was practically predestined for her to discover the wonder of the Gameboy. From there on, Pokémon, Zelda, Mario, Kirby, and Sonic became the staples of her gaming diet. At the age of nine, she received her very first home console: the GameCube. She entered the world of JRPGs and simulation games such as Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. With the purchase of a PS3 in 2008, she began the third chapter in her gaming life, embracing RPGs such as Fallout and Mass Effect, action-adventures like inFamous, and even shooters. The well-rounded gamer is also an avid anime fan and devoted cosplayer, and has a fondness for film, writing, and photography that she hopes to take to the professional level after college.
  • Hiddenemerald

    I can’t agree with ACIV being a disappointment 😀 Easily one of my favorite gaming years ever, and ACIV is a HUGE reason why.

    • I personally am really enjoying Black Flag right now as well, it just doesn’t really feel like an Assassin’s Creed game to me. I’m not a huge fan of the franchise though, so that doesn’t really matter to me, hah.

  • Nice article, Gabby! I honestly busted out laughing out loud at the Walking Dead comment lol. Holy crap!

    • Thanks Nia! And good, it’s a game that needs to be laughed at. And to think I was interested in it at first. O__o

  • I believe the problem with this year was just how over hyped a lot of the games were; which could explain why some people were so disappointed by it. The promise of “NEXT GEN!” turned out to just be a tech upgrade and some interface tweaks, and all of the “10 OUT OF 10 WOULD BANG” scores that games got were arguably undeserved and hyperbolic. That’s actually how i’ll remember 2013; as the year of hyperbole.

    • You’re definitely right about that. Everything keeps getting more and more over hyped each year to the point where it’s impossible to actually meet those expectations.

      Thanks for reading!

  • I’m going to be a rebel and go with the third choice that is invisible, 2013: neither the biggest disappointment nor the best year in gaming. 2013 to me was a solid year for games and gaming. However to me there were many other years that were better, 2010 and 2011 were better, although it was worlds better than 2012, which to me was pretty disappointing. I spent most of 2012 looking forward to 2013 to be quite honest. There were a lot of great titles that came out this year, not to mention the start of the next generation of gaming consoles. Hopefully 2014 follows suit.

    • Very rebellious. ;P And yes, it seems 2012 was an extremely disappointing year for a lot of people. Hell, I’m drawing a blank trying to remember what I played in 2012, so I think that’s a pretty bad sign.

  • Depending who you talk to, this could go either way. Some people really loved 2013 and some really hated it. I enjoyed 2013 because I finally got heavy in the PS3, thanks to the Last of Us getting me used to the controller..i was able to play other ps3 games and catch up on old ones. Right now I’m playing DmC and love it so I’d put that as a good thing for 2013. Same goes for the 3DS games I played, Luigi’s Mansion, DK Returns, and Zelda LBW.

    The Xbox 360 was the disappointment of my year. Lack of first party games…Gears of war Judgment was a nightmare of a game. Hated it but I’m kinda thankful because maybe its what led me to put more time in the PS3 and venture out and buy a 3DS. So I credit 2013 for that! Great article… you put in work! And happy to see my article was linked too! (top 10 games of 7th gen) and I wanna say Tomb Raider was one of my favorite games of 2013 before I go! great article again great work.

    • Ugh, you’re comment made me realize I forgot to put in my thoughts about Xbox having a relatively bland year. Ah well, it’s already too long to begin with. 😛 And yes, Tomb Raider was one of my favorites of 2013 as well! One of the few I actually finished. And no problem, your article immediately popped up into my head when I mentioned it, hah.

      Thanks Erica!

  • BillB

    People will forget about Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us. They were both mediocre, Bioshock had a convoluted pretentious story with weak gameplay, Last of Us was a movie disgisued as a game with bad gameplay. Neither of these titles will be remembered, only by fanboys with nostalgia.

    • …So was there anything you actually liked this year then?

  • omg I totally forgot Bioshock and DMC came out this past year XD shows how much I retain in video games each year. DMC was good considering I haven’t played any in the series. So badass. Lots of special stuff in 2013 but the year as a whole, not so much imo.

    • Yeah, seems like more people liked DMC if they were new to the series rather than older fans.

      Thanks for reading, Char! 🙂

  • jb226

    You missed one of the biggest disappointments from the year on this list, Aliens: Colonial Marines….I was excited for the game when I saw the trailers, but I never played it after the amount of horrible press it got. The biggest disappointment for me personally was easily Arkham Origins…Like you mentioned, it was a good action game, but what made the Arkham games great was the story and the world that Rocksteady invented around it, WB Montreal recreated the combat decently enough, but the story was just totally forgettable, which might be even worse than a horrible story, at least I would remember that. Coupled w/ the fact that the game was buggy as all hell, and it’s definitely put a dent in an otherwise flawless franchise for me. Hopefully Rocksteady can come back for one more in order to right the ship before they move onto other things

    • I didn’t even bother putting Colonial Marines in the article because I think a lot of people were expecting it to be terrible. xD

      • jb226

        hahah yeah that is a good point there. I had decent hopes because Gearbox was making it, and those bullshot first trailers were pretty great looking. I’m a big Alien nerd though. Hopefully Isolation ends up decent but I’m not betting on it

  • First off, good article and I’m liking the new site layout. Second, I certainly wouldn’t put this year as the best year. As with almost every year, it was a mixed bag of great stuff and disappointments. The Indie scene as always put out some great stuff. Bioshock: Infinite certainly was a cut above the rest but constant disappointments from Call of Duty (which some people STILL didn’t expect) to perhaps most egregiously imo, Total War: Rome II, made it a mixed bag. I also have this feeling that games are getting progressively hand-holdy as time goes on, with the next-gen console releases going totally overboard. Most AAA games, even Bioshock and Last of Us, weren’t as good as they could be if they had put a little more onus on the player to be able to figure stuff out by themselves. I tested the nostalgia blindness factor and I don’t think it plays as big a role, because extremely difficult games from the Indie community that put the weight on the player’s shoulders end up being very engrossing for me.

    Also the Stanley Parable is probably the best surprise I had this year.