Destiny, Watch Dogs Fiascos: What Did Critics Expect?

Destiny didn't fare as well as expected with critics, but why?

Destiny didn’t fare as well as expected with critics, but why?

One could argue that the two biggest games of 2014 thus far are also the two biggest disappointments.

Statistically, you could point to the aggregate review scores for each game; currently, Watch Dogs holds a Metascore of about 79 (80 for the PS4 version, 78 for the Xbox One version, and 77 for the PC version), while Destiny comes in at 77 on PS4 and 78 on Xbox One. These scores aren’t bad, of course, but they’re far from the 9+ scores just about everyone anticipated.

So, what happened? Is it possible that in both cases, the expectations of critics were simply skewed in some way? They’re not supposed to be prisoners of hype, one way or the other, but perhaps that played at least some role. Then again, the campaigning for both titles could’ve had an effect as well, as Ubisoft and Activision essentially promised the world with both games. When faced with the reality, critics rebelled.

It was loaded with ambition and potential but did it fall shy in terms of execution?

It was loaded with ambition and potential but did it fall shy in terms of execution?

But these are just theories. It’s interesting because historically, huge games have often fared well with reviewers. Big budgets, high production values, and delivering precisely what the fans want has typically resulted in high scores. However, it seems we’re seeing a shift: Many major critics appear to be more interested in innovation and creativity, especially in regards to the new generation. In other words, if a game is to be considered truly “next-gen,” it must feel fresh.

Watch Dogs was chastised for falling short despite its obvious ambition, and Destiny was docked for a mediocre narrative and repetitive gameplay. In both cases, it seemed clear that many critics were disappointed in how the games felt. We saw many reviews that said Watch Dogs played just like any other open-world action game, and that Destiny isn’t any different from any other FPS. The combination of various new elements in each production were appreciated, but the developers didn’t do enough with the concept.

At least, that’s what it looks like. We could be seeing a marked shift in how many of the industry’s more prominent critics analyze a game. If the developer and publisher crows about something, they better deliver, and the same ol’ same ol’ won’t get you as far these days.

5 thoughts on “Destiny, Watch Dogs Fiascos: What Did Critics Expect?”

That’s an interesting perspective. It seems like critics really were expecting the be-all, end-all with these games, so they weren’t being realistic when approaching the reviews.

It’s a little disconcerting that huge-budget titles aren’t faring so well, though…

That concerns me too. SO many big titles this year are falling well short of expectations.

This is why I’ve spent the majority of 2014 in the digital world. I can find unique, really cool games that take up plenty of time. These big-budget games are starting to be like flashy action blockbuster movies…all flash, no substance.

Yeah, I’ve played a lot more digital games in 2014 than I thought I would. The bigger games just haven’t done it for me so far.

But I’m expecting great things from Assassin’s Creed Unity, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, etc.

Critics have been approaching these games properly, as far as I’m concerned. The titles aren’t getting a pass just because they’re flashy. It’s about time that critics start to focus on what matters!

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