While this year has been an incredible year for Gaming, nothing is quite perfect. In between massive quality releases, a handful of disappointing titles let gamers down in 2023. Some let fans of franchises down by underwhelming compared to past entries, others took advantage of loyal fandoms to exploit a beloved IP, and some were just downright awful. Bonus points to a few games on this list that managed to do all three.

Without further ado, here are the most disappointing games of 2023.

Atomic Heart

Atomic Heart Key Art

Atomic Heart got lots of hype in the lead-up to its release, especially for Xbox fans who were eager to receive it day-in-date on Game Pass. Going back to view the game’s initial reveal trailer from 2018 – just shy of a HALF DECADE before launch – we can still see why. Atomic Heart promised chaotic, action packed FPS Gameplay with a compelling aesthetic. Both reminded gamers of Bioshock, so fans watched the game with eager eyes hoping it would bring them back to their glory days in Rapture and Columbia.

While some enjoyed the game – with major outlets like IGN even giving it an 8/10 – many were underwhelmed. Atomic Heart had some performance struggles on launch, especially with frames per second. The game also felt a bit juvenile at times, with some excessively sexed-up robots, awkward cringey dialogue, and lackluster writing. Atomic Heart also seems to have failed to make a lasting impression, with very little discussion around the game, even just a couple weeks after the game’s launch in February 2023.

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

When Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora gameplay was first revealed around E3 2021, a lot of people were immediately hooked on the premise. James Cameron’s Avatar films are known for their spectacle above all else. The sense of scope and scale in them is jaw-dropping, even if their plots and characters can be forgettable at times. Nevertheless, with a gorgeous established world in Pandora, the concept of visiting the Na’vi Homeworld in a Next-Gen game was exciting. What we actually got wasn’t quite as special as folks had been lead to believe.

One would think that a game based on the highest grossing film of all time – famed for cutting edge technology and jaw dropping visuals – would be similarly impressive. In reality, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is pretty forgettable. If you’ve played a Far Cry game in the last decade, you will be familiar with the core gameplay loop. It’s truly unfortunate that a Major AAA Game set in the Avatar universe is so average. Not to mention, the game was originally set to release in 2022, and BARELY made it out in December 2023. For a long anticipated game, from one of the highest grossing movie franchises in history, a familiar and bloated open world shooter is far from ideal. Still, if you want to try it for yourself you can buy it on sale or play it at no extra cost with a Ubisoft+ membership.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Campaign)

Makarov with members of his Konni Group from the MW3 Campaign

If you’ve read my work here on our site or watch our YouTube and TikTok feeds, you’ll know that I am a Call of Duty super-fan. With the return of the iconic villain Makarov, the Modern Warfare 3 Campaign was my most anticipated to date. Though actor Julian Kostov gave a great performance, he was not given nearly enough screen-time to thrive in this exceptionally short Call of Duty Campaign. These games usually have brisk narratives, but I was able to complete my Full Playthrough of MW3 in UNDER 4 HOURS. This is blatantly unacceptable for a AAA release with a $70 price tag.

Not to mention, the content itself found in the campaign was less than average for the franchise. A bulk of this campaign was comprised of the dreaded “Open Combat Missions”. While I grew to enjoy them on replays, they were basically filler Hitman missions that played out mostly on Warzone levels. Since the MW3 Campaign doesn’t do anything particularly inventive in its gameplay, it tried to make up for it by going over-the-top with controversial set pieces revolving around Acts of Terror. These, in my opinion, went too far and were borderline excessive to try and emulate the shock value found in “No Russian” back in 2009. Just when the journey got interesting, COD fans had the rug pulled out from under us in a sudden, abrupt cliffhanger ending that makes MW3 feel like a side story. Perhaps it is meant to set up the true conclusion to the new Modern Warfare universe in Infinity Ward’s next title. With all this being said, I can see why this year’s Call of Duty is the most critically panned to date; even if I do love its Multiplayer and Zombies modes.

Forspoken

Forspoken Key Art

For the first couple years of the 2020s, it felt like Forspoken was a centerpiece at every major PlayStation event or Geoff Keleigh show. Boasting a beautiful new Fantasy world, Amy Hennig and Gary Whitta in the writers room, and the backing of Square Enix, this should’ve been a blockbuster hit with RPG fans. Instead, the game underperformed both critically and commercially, failing to meet the expectations of fans and the publisher alike.

The game has been maligned for its shallow story and cringeworthy dialogue, with the protagonist often coming off as if she’s in a lesser MCU film. Would-be fans were very disappointed with the writing, especially when it comes from some of the minds behind Uncharted and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

The Lord of the Rings Gollum

Gollum looks absolutely cursed in this screenshot from a Viral Tweet

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It may be hard to remember now, but there was a time when people were genuinely excited for Gollum to launch. This was the very first game announced for what we called Next-Gen at the time, and it ties into the Tolkien’s beloved The Lord of the Rings franchise.

Upon final release Gollum is shockingly bad. The gameplay is frustrating, repetitive, and boring. The visuals are laughably bad, and Gollum’s character model is childhood nightmare fuel. The image above speaks for itself, even without factoring in all the bugs and glitches you’ll encounter if you’re brave enough to suffer through this game. The developer even released an infamous apology on their Social Media feeds for the absolute state of the game shortly after launch.

Redfall

With a lackluster lineup of exclusives in the Xbox Series X|S launch window, Redfall NEEDED to hit. Unfortunately, this swing and a miss tainted Arkane’s catalog of great games. The studio has been celebrated for gripping, linear, single player titles like Deathloop and Dishonored. The announcement they were to make an Open-World, Co-Op FPS was puzzling. Redfall also had a lot of bugs and other technical issues on launch. For some most egregiously, Redfall was locked at 30 FPS.

The game was already in development when Xbox acquired the studio, and Phil Spencer has admitted he wishes they intervened more in the project. Apparently, development struggled so much that some members of the team have been quoted as saying they recall wishing Xbox higher-ups would pull the plug on the project. Here’s hoping that Arkane’s next project, Marvel’s Blade, is far better for the sake of their staff and fans alike.

The Day Before

The Day Before is far worse than just a bad game. A mere 4 days after its early access launch in early December, this anticipated Open World MMO revealed itself to be a complete scam. The Day Before appeared in its initial announcement and marketing cycle to be an exciting new IP. Though the gameplay looked highly derivative of The Last of Us, there appeared to be some fun to be had. The announcement trailer sold would-be buyers on an Open World MMO, where players would traverse an urban landscape on the East Coast of the U.S. to find gear to help them survive against Zombies.

The game had plenty of delays and questionable trailers, but it finally came to Steam Early Access on December 7th. Well, at least for a few days. The game is an absolute disaster, and developer Fntastic knew it, opting to pull the game from sale and announcing their studio would be closing. The game broke several promises made to the players, including the genre of game it was. The Day Before is decidedly not an MMO, is plagued with more performance issues than its lackluster world is with Zombies, and lacks any depth in Story and Gameplay. The game also lacks even the most basic Multiplayer features, like voice chat. Even if you somehow manage to find a way to purchase the game – like through a steam key reseller – just don’t.

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The Walking Dead Destinies

We here at Strangely Awesome had our doubts about this game from day one, given the low-effort announcement trailer and the track record of publisher GameMill Entertainment. And yet, I tried to stay optimistic. The concept of The Walking Dead Destinies intrigues me as a hardcore fan of the show. Being able to revisit the first four seasons and make key decisions which can totally reshape the narrative intrigued me. When I played the game, it was the only thing about it I was able to enjoy.

As my fellow writer Nicholas Mullick said here on our site, this game “continues the streak of disappointing TWD games“. This is game is unforgivably buggy. I spent most of my 6 hours (before I gave up) either playing with little or no audio, waiting through terrible load times to reload a save in hopes a gamebreaking glitch would fix itself, or being bored to death of the game’s stale combat. Like I said, the concept is intriguing but absolutely wasted on a soulless, unfinished cash grab that takes advantage of The Walking Dead faithfuls. As one myself, this is the game that burned me the most this year, as I was excited to revisit one of my favorite franchises. I expected some considerable flaws, but I was blindsided by what would one of – if not the – worst Video Games I’ve ever played.

Let us know what you think of our list in the comments or by reaching out to us on Twitter @AwesomeGameCast. For some more uplifting reflections on this year in Gaming and Entertainment, check out our Best of 2023 lists.

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