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Upcoming video games that will probably disappoint fans

Anticipation can be a tricky thing in the world of video games. It's easy to get swept up in hype, especially during E3 season. New game announcements, fresh looks at gameplay for previously announced titles, and cinematic trailers all work to build expectation to a fever pitch.

However, even the best trailer doesn't always mean the best final product. At the risk of sounding cynical, sometimes it's good to take stock of what we actually know about these upcoming projects. That way, it's easier to digest if they fall short of the lofty expectations of gamers everywhere. With that in mind — and with fingers crossed in the hopes that these turn out to actually be good — here are some upcoming video games that might not be quite as impressive as you'd hope. Let's try to figure out whether or not fans should try to hedge their bets just a little bit.

Gears 5

Gears of War 4 wasn't a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. No, the problem was that, despite a change-up in the cast of characters, the fourth entry in this Microsoft franchise ultimately felt very predictable, without much in the way of innovation. As The Verge said in their reviewGears of War 4 was "as safe a sequel as you could imagine." It should be mentioned that this was a mostly positive review, but the point remains that much of Gears of War 4 felt like more of the same old bloody song and dance.

So it's with a bit of cautious optimism that we see Gears 5 trying to switch things up yet again. For one, the lead protagonist of the new entry is a woman, a welcome first for the franchise. For another, there's a new co-op mode in this game, called Escape. Unfortunately, this new mode has been described by Screen Rant as "nothing special," which leads to worries that the innovation is yet again being implemented in the wrong places. Hopefully Gears 5 won't just feel like Gears 4.5 and can stand on its own.

Doctor Who: The Edge of Time

Doctor Who is an institution in the realm of science-fiction television, running for more than five decades and garnering fans the world over. Sadly, there has never been a truly great Doctor Who game. Even one of the better ones released, 2010's Doctor Who: The Adventure Gameshas been described as "formulaic, more interested in giving players the chance to fight the usual villains than telling original stories."

That's why it's hard to get excited about the upcoming VR game, Doctor Who: The Edge of Time. Putting aside the fact that it comes from a smaller studio (as it's not always a bad thing to have fewer cooks in the kitchen), the trailer just doesn't get the blood pumping like many of the Doctor's high-flying adventures. The presence of Thirteenth Doctor actress Jodie Whittaker is a nice get, but even previous games that featured the stars' voice talents didn't turn out great. Only time will tell if this one will meet the same fate. 

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2

This game is in the strange position of trying to live up to the memory of a game that was already rather flawed. Phil Savage of PC Gamer watched a pre-alpha stage demo of Bloodlines 2, remarking afterwards that the new game "looks messy, but in that sense it's a faithful sequel." In the same report, after viewing footage of the demo for Bloodlines 2, PC Gamer's Tyler Wilde remarked, "The combat looks a bit rough." This is particularly worrisome when you consider, as mentioned by Den of Geek, that combat may have been the original Bloodlines' "worst feature."

The game certainly seems further along in development than one would expect for a game that was announced relatively recently. With Bloodlines 2 releasing in March of next year, does the studio have enough time for the combat system and enemy physics to be fine-tuned before gamers sink their teeth into the latest installment in the Vampire: The Masquerade saga? The first Bloodlines was rather infamously rushed and dumped by its studio in an unfinished form. Though it went on to become a cult classic, is there a chance that same lightning can strike twice?

Shenmue 3

There's always a bit of trepidation surrounding a sequel to a beloved game, even when it hasn't been nearly two decades since the last installment. Following its announcement in 2015 and a successful Kickstarter campaign that brought in more than $7 million, anticipation and nervousness has been building for Shenmue 3 to hopefully bring some closure to the cliffhanger ending of Shenmue 2. However, when Shenmue 3 finally arrives in August 2019, fans who are hungry for more of what they loved may find themselves wishing the finished product felt a little more modern.

After playing a demo of Shenmue 3Endgadget's Nick Summers noted that the game felt just like the old ones, but that this wasn't necessarily a good thing. While it recaptured the charm of the first two, Summers mentioned that the demo featured "atrociously bad" voice acting and "stiff and generally lifeless" combat. Perhaps it's true that the game would have been received better if it had come out over a decade ago, as posited by Screen Rant. As it stands, Shenmue may turn out to be something of a relic, as well as a letdown years in the making.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake

The long-awaited Final Fantasy 7 Remake certainly looks impressive, with its hyper-realistic character animations and Square Enix's reveal that the first chapter of the episodic release alone will consist of "two Blu-Ray discs'" worth of content. The combat system is also promising, as it will combine classic turn-based Final Fantasy combat with the later entries' real-time fighting. 

Despite the excitement surrounding this return to one of the franchise's most beloved installments, it's easy to imagine Final Fantasy purists being put off by the major differences from the original's style. Folks who may not have loved Final Fantasy 15 may not be too keen on this remake embracing a combat system similar to that game. Not only that, but the odd release strategy of this new game may be off-putting to fans. The massive first episode is scheduled to drop in March 2020, whereas a release date has not yet been announced for the following chapters, which may make for a loss of narrative momentum between chapters.

Death Stranding

Guys, what even is this game? Not even Mads Mikkelsen knows, and he's in the dang thing. Since its initial announcement, Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding has been the subject of endless speculation. Is Norman Reedus fighting ghosts? Whose babies are those? Did Kojima really up and name a character "Die-Hardman"? These are the questions on everyone's lips, and that's even after Kojima and company dropped a nine-minute trailer on an unsuspecting populace.

The point is, this game has been in the public consciousness since it was announced in 2016, yet we know very little about its storyline or how it will even play. Is it possible that, following the reception of the ominous and wonderfully confusing P.T., Kojima has finally gotten a little too weird when left to his own devices? Keep in mind, this will be Kojima Productions' first game since leaving Konami. In the pursuit of something memorable, is it possible that Death Stranding will overshoot its mark in a big way? Hopefully the final product is at least slightly easier to follow than its marketing has been.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

This new iteration of the Wolfenstein franchise has the potential to reinvigorate a longstanding shooter series and has already made the exciting choice of focusing on female lead characters, perhaps giving a new storytelling perspective to the usually macho Wolfenstein franchise. Unfortunately, elements of the first trailer for Wolfenstein: Youngblood look like more of the same, at least in terms of the combat. In other areas, it's unclear how much this will feel like the Wolfenstein we know and love.

Make no mistake, Youngblood has a heavy emphasis on co-op gameplay. This seems to be a choice well suited to its new twin protagonists, the daughters of series hero BJ Blazkowitz. In an interview with Venture Beat, Machine Games' Jerk Gustafsson explained that Youngblood will have a much less linear narrative than previous Wolfenstein entries, as well as a lighter tone. 

In other words, there's a chance that new players may feel like it plays too similar to other shooters out there, while established fans maybe put off by the more playful feel of Youngblood. Hopefully the game will split the difference when it launches in July.

Blair Witch

The idea of a survival horror-type game utilizing the mythology of the Blair Witch series certainly seems like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it's been done before — three times, in fact. In the early 2000s, there were three Blair Witch games, all with connections to the film series that were extremely tenuous at best. The first one was a quasi-sequel to Terminal Reality's horror game Nocturne and took place in the 1940s, for crying out loud. The other two weren't much better in their attempts at bringing the Blair Witch's legend to video games.

Still, why the trepidation toward this one? Well, the trailers certainly look promising, but it's hard to imagine the found-footage style of the films translating well to a video game narrative. Not only that, but the game's announcement came a mere two months before its release date, which constitutes something of a red flag with this franchise. The most recent Blair Witch film employed a similar surprise release strategy, premiering to an audience who didn't know they were seeing a Blair Witch sequel, and it was not exactly received warmly. In other words, this could be the … well, the Blair Witch of Blair Witch games.

Watch Dogs: Legion

It's almost not fair to worry about a Watch Dogs game at this point, but the series' track record kind of encourages that. The first two entries of the action/hacking franchise overpromised and, depending on whom you ask, underdelivered. The first game featured weak AI and graphics that were downgraded before release, falling short of those shown in early demos. The second game likewise released without some of the features that had been promised (mainly parts of the multiplayer mode) and was described as a whole by VG24/7 as "clunky as hell."

That's why the newest installment, Watch Dogs: Legion, is best approached with cautious optimism. Eurogamer notes that the main gameplay hook, the ability to play as basically anyone in Legion's London, may not be as much fun as it sounds: "Perhaps this is the reality of having to turn this complicated system into an actual video game … Legion's character classes felt like variations on the same theme." This also results in less attachment to the many, many playable characters. It could be that Legion's ideas are too big to be implemented smoothly or distinctly, much like the previous entries in the series. 

Battletoads

There's plenty of cause for fans to be excited for the new Battletoads game, especially when one considers that it has been over two decades since the release of the most recent game in the series, the Battletoads arcade game. However, it's best that gamers go into this revival with their expectations dutifully managed.

In a hands-on preview of the game, Destructoid mentioned that the difficulty level is in line with the original games, but noted that the beat-em-up level they played was simply "fine" and that "it got the job done." Which isn't a damning review, but after waiting 25 years, fans are likely not going to be content with something that's just "fine." This brings to mind another attempt at reviving a dormant beat-em-up series, 2017's Double Dragon 4, which was so slavishly devoted to the original games that it failed to innovate in any interesting and fun ways. Battletoads will have to walk a fine line to avoid the same fate.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

The upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a "soft reboot" of the Modern Warfare sub-series, and there are plenty of reasons to get excited. It's meant to be a return to the gritty, realistic combat from the earlier entries in the Call of Duty franchise, taking place in a much more "morally gray world" than its predecessors. 

The worry here is that, in the pursuit of producing a return to form for the increasingly uninspired series, Modern Warfare may end up being a swing too far in the wrong direction. It could end up feeling, as Digital Trends put it, "aggressively familiar," with too much fan service and too little innovation. Digital Trends also said, "Modern Warfare's campaign is a return to the comfort of earlier titles, and I doubt it'll prove as effective as the developers seem to hope." If Infinity Ward can strike a balance between innovations in gameplay and the series' familiar tropes, then they may have the comeback that they're aiming for. Otherwise, it could just feel too safe, which is the last feeling an action game needs to inspire in its audience.

Skull & Bones

In theory, Ubisoft's Skull & Bones is a sure-fire win. The idea of a PVP game in which players would take control of a pirate captain and sail their crew through treacherous waters, battling competing crews for control of the seven seas? That sounds 100% awesome. What's worrisome is that Skull & Bones, despite first being shown off by Ubisoft in June 2017, has been delayed twice.

The first delay was announced in May 2018, with Ubisoft explaining that they needed "more time to develop" the game, pushing Skull & Bones' tentative release into the 2019-2020 fiscal year. In May 2019, Ubisoft announced that not only would Skull & Bones not be making an appearance at E3 2019, but that the game would be pushed out to an even further, unannounced release window. The same reasons were given, so hopefully that truly is the case. In addition, Ubisoft assured fans, "As soon as we're ready to share more, we'll do so." Hopefully they're in a sharing mood soon, because the constant delay feels like more of a red flag than a black one.

Contra: Rogue Corps

Let's be honest: it's been a hot minute since we've had a decent Contra game. The once-great action franchise never quite got a foothold in the 3D gaming era, with the most recent effort being the spin-off game Hard Corps: Uprising way back in 2011. Contra: Rogue Corps is an all-new twin-stick shooter for the Nintendo Switch, which is exciting. However, the new game seems to be embracing a juvenile sense of humor that feels entirely at odds with the tone of the franchise's earlier installments. How else can one explain the swearing and the cartoon panda?

Contra has never taken itself super seriously, mind you. It's just that Rogue Corps feels very off-model in strange ways. From the foul language and cartoonish designs to the drastically changed combat of this new game, it's barely recognizable as Contra. Game series have to grow and innovate, sure, but when updating a series that carries a lot of nostalgic baggage like this one, it's hard not to feel like the series' name was slapped on a barely related game in a bid to gain more interest.

Pokémon Sword and Shield

The release of a new Pokémon game is always treated like something of an event. However, in the case of the upcoming Sword and Shield, the pre-release hype has come with a bit of controversy. One worry has risen from the competitive gaming scene: that players will abuse a new feature called Dynamax, which enables trainers to transform their Pokémon into a giant, volatile version of itself, potentially unbalancing the game's battles. 

Even more controversially, the game will feature a much more limited Pokédex than previous generations, with players only being able to capture the "Galar region" Pokémon on this new adventure. Compounding this smaller number of monsters is the fact that, unlike other games, players will not be able to transfer Pokémon from other games into this new one, which will likely leave many longtime Pokémon fans with a Poké Ball-sized hole in their hearts.

This is supposedly being done in order to accommodate "higher quality animations" for the individual Pokémon, but it's still a disappointment for longtime fans. As pointed out by Nick D'Orazio of Inven Global, "This decision, while practical, is against the franchises oldest and most sacred goal: Gotta catch 'em all!"

Starfield

To be fair, it's hard to accurately judge Starfield, considering how little we actually know about it. Officially announced in 2018 with an mysterious teaser trailer, Bethesda's Todd Howard has revealed that the game has been in some form of production for the past several years. In fact, Bethesda started active development on Starfield around the time when Fallout 4 was finished. Furthermore, Howard has said that Starfield exists in a "playable" form, suggesting it's further along in its development cycle than gamers had realized.

That's why it's a bit of a shame, as well as a surprise, that Starfield wasn't shown at E3 2019. Given the disaster that is Fallout 76 and the fact that Bethesda plans to keep much of the same engine from its previous games for both Starfield and the upcoming Elder Scrolls 6, one can't help but feel like the lack of any further footage from Starfield constitutes something of a red flag.