The most controversial video games of 2021


Fighting words

Players are passionate about their hobby. The Internet is passionate about… everything. Put those two things together, and you get a lot of heated opinions. A game could cure cancer or reverse global warming, and a vocal segment would complain about its level design. Let’s face it, the internet loves controversial games.

The games on our list aren’t bad. In fact, many of them have had good results. These games are not disappointing either. Well, some people think so. What they are is controversial. They generated a lot of discussion and disagreement. In some cases, the developers have listened and made changes. In other cases, controversial games are what they are, whether you love them or hate them.

So, in totally arbitrary order, here are six games that a lot of people got upset about.

There was a lot of pressure on Return to be the first major PS5 system seller of 2021. Developer Housemarque delivered a sci-fi-themed roguelite with a Soulslike fight. He had strong production values. It was pretty uncompromising, at least for a mainstream triple-A title. Returnal also had a few bugs, but they were eventually fixed.

Patched or not, the biggest gripe about Returnal was with its mid-level save mechanism. There were none. Death Anywhere caused the level to restart from the start. The procedurally generated items didn’t help. While roguelike fans are used to this mechanic, casual action players are not. They complained, and loudly. The upshot is that Returnal now has a mid-level save system, but whether that improves the game or removes a core concept is open to debate.

Diablo II is one of the most beloved and influential action RPGs of all time. The twenty-one-year-old game has imprinted its mechanics on generations of hack-and-slash looters. Blizzard and Vicarious visions joined forces for Diablo II Resurrected, which gave the aging game a graphical facelift. Unfortunately, that’s about all he did. Many of the more boring aspects of the game remained. Diablo II’s character balancing was still off, movement wasn’t smooth, and inventory was still painful. Risen lived in Neverland, not quite a remake, but little more than a re-skin.

The controversy here is that for many gamers the biggest issue was with Blizzard and its parent company. Stuck in lawsuits and stories of workplace violations, powerful players in the gaming industry – and consumers – are calling on Blizzard to crack down. Many players think it is wrong to support the company by purchasing its products. Others sympathize with the creatives stuck in the middle. There is almost no way for Diablo II Risen not receive collateral damage.

Deathloop Deluxe Edition

Arkane’s Deathloop is a first-person shooter from the studio that created the Dishonored games. Deathloop is a sleek action game set in a 1960s alternative. It was a critical hit, but many players were less satisfied. Players were confused by Deathloop’s systems. They thought low level enemy AI was too easy. The invasion mechanism was strange and didn’t work well.

The developers have listened. Recent patches and updates have made enemies more difficult. AI invasions are more difficult. Other quality of life changes made Deathloop easier to play, without changing the base game. This raises a question, however. Are consumers always right? Bugs aside, should the developer stick to their vision?

There are a lot of arguments about Aliens: Fireteam Elite. It’s a third-person action game set in the popular Alien universe. It’s a Left 4 Dead clone, but in space and with aliens. Even though he can to be played solo, it was designed for cooperative play. In fact, without a couple of friends, gambling is a boring chore. Same with buddies, the action is repetitive. While it does a pretty good job of honoring the Alien franchise, the level design isn’t very interesting.

So where is the controversy? It sounds like a bad game. In this case, the disagreement is about the single player campaign. It just doesn’t work without other humans. And yet, the developer claims it does. AI companions are ineffective. A roguelike mechanic also punishes the player for failure. Aliens: Fireteam Elite should have been a multiplayer-only game.

Battlefield 2042 proximity sensor disabled

A compilation of new ideas and missing favorites, Battlefield 2042 is the poster child for controversy. Of all the games on our list, it could represent the most divided opinions.

Fans of a long-standing franchise like Battlefield generally hate changes. They especially hate changes that aren’t backed by solid mechanics. Battlefield 2042 introduced a lot of new things like wingsuits, grappling hooks, and a sort of weird hero class called Specialists. The additions ranged from just ok to awfully bad.

The list of what’s missing is even longer. There is no server browser, no stats page, no in-game voice chat. Additionally, there is no way to create a squad and movement options are limited. In addition, there is no campaign. At all. The content of the seasonal pass is MIA until 2022.

What is it is beset by an immense number of technical problems and bugs. Just a sampling includes rubber bands, respawn issues, and issues that get players stuck in the geometry of the world. The developers note “rare cases that can cause severe flickering in our lighting systems, which can potentially trigger those with photosensitive conditions.”

Despite the enemies who hate the game, some players enjoy the setting of the near future. They love the typical Battlefield chaos and action. Random Tornadoes are exciting, and playing Specialist seems to be a hit with some. While Battlefield 2042 isn’t an outright failure, it’s certainly a very nuanced success.

new world 1.1 update pastor walsh

While the order of the controversial games on this list is arbitrary, New World needs to be at the top of the list. Or the bottom. Either way, Amazon Game’s flagship MMORPG has been in the news almost daily. Usually, not in a good way.

The problems started from day one, with huge queues and waiting times. This is often the case with new MMOs, but Amazon didn’t seem prepared. Some gamers were shocked when running the game at high graphics settings stuck their very expensive GPUs. The game had bugs, and almost immediately players started exploiting them. Some gamers have used in-game chat to crash the operating systems of unsuspecting gamers. The problems did not stop.

While other MMORPGs have issues with player-led economies, New World does not have a provider NPC. In addition to the usual exploits and bugs that players have taken advantage of to trick items, there are bigger issues. Currently, New World’s gaming economy is in free fall. Instead of inflation, the opposite is happening. Players accumulate coins. They barter with each other instead of spending money on player vendors. Money is worth less and less.

While there is fun to be had in New World, the game increasingly feels like a collection of bad ideas. Amazon Games is struggling to fix leaks on a ship that continues to take on water.

Honorable mentions

What did we miss on our list of controversial games? We haven’t talked about Outriders, which started out very hard, but continues to grow its base. Should Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy be on our list? Some people loved the writing and the story, others missed the similarities to the movies. Let us know!


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