February 12, 2013 Some of my first and fondest RPGs were PC exclusives, and my PC continues to deliver some of my best gaming experiences with titles like The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. The PC isn't immune to bad games, of course, and I've encountered my fair share of shlock, but there's another class of games even more irksome: the overrated. Here are the five most overrated PC RPGs in order from least to most offensively overrated. These are critically acclaimed and often fan-favored RPGs that left me disappointed, frustrated, and wanting.
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I confess to having cheated to beat Bloodlines. The reasons are twofold: (1) the game
, and (2) I wanted out and I wanted out fast. I don't like leaving games unfinished, so I cheated a little to get a few items I should have been able to obtain naturally. I remember not being able to escape a certain area and its overpowered enemies. I also remember a lack of funds and a poor economy. An open-world FPS RPG that treats vampires with maturity sounds like a great idea, but poor storytelling, cheesy characters, and shoddy design (not confined to bugs alone) spoiled the concept. I had fun for a while, but the game became increasingly irritating and frustrating as I played. The story is praised highly, as is the atmosphere, but I found the former amateur and the latter broken by countless glitches and gameplay hiccups.
Metacritic score: 80% • My score: 70%
Met with decent critical acclaim, Fallout 3's little brother seems a cult classic in the making, with many fans of the series preferring the spin-off to the original. In two or three years, I imagine New Vegas seeing even more love from those nostalgic for the previous generation. Fallout 3 stands as one of my favorite games of this generation, but New Vegas left me feeling hollow. I have no qualms with the gameplay (largely identical to its predecessor's), but I never felt connected to the story and setting, which are so much a part of the Fallout experience. Vegas itself seemed tiny and the area surrounding repetitive and dull, full of ugly yellows and a less irradiated look compared to D.C. The factions removed all nuance from character interaction, although you're unlikely to remember any of those characters. Obsidian has once-great writers on their team, but their talent has either been lost or diluted. Despite a few memorable quests, New Vegas can't even compete against Fallout 3's better DLC modules. Against Fallout 3 itself, New Vegas crumbles.
Metacritic score: 84% • My score: 75%
BioWare's worst major release. Obsidian did better with the sequel, which was enjoyable, but instantly forgettable. My sole memories of Neverwinter Nights include spending hours with a complicated toolset to create an ugly cave with a harsh blue light and excerpts from an unnecessarily hideous setting. Despite universally appalling and claustrophobic graphics, Neverwinter Nights' most dire sin is surely its lack of BioWare's signature characters. I don't remember the plot, but every BioWare game deserves a few indelible characters, and these companions were laughably lifeless. The combat must have been somewhere between terrible and awesome, because I have no memories of battling, yet I played the entire game. Maybe it replicated D&D rules well, but so did the Infinity Engine games. Those had come before, and they were so much better.
Metacritic score: 91% • My score: 70%
I just don't get it. It's not even my love of compelling settings and stories that makes me avoid this subgenre and its typically throwaway narratives. I love gameplay as much as the next RPG fan. I'd even argue that gameplay is the most important aspect of every game, because that's what makes them a unique art form. But clicking to kill and loot and level up for hours upon hours has always made for some of my most tedious gaming experiences. The progression might be addictive to some, but to me, it's just repetitive. Managing all that loot becomes a chore, and I've never been one to amass power for its own sake. After a few hours, I get bored, and I know the gameplay will never change and that the game will never surprise me and that there's really no end to it, so why bother? I just don't get it. There's something about the loot-based hack 'n' slash RPG that resembles a factory, and sometimes the workers begin to resemble robots. Count me out.
While the entire series sees far too much critical and popular acclaim, Oblivion deserves even less of it than any other Elder Scrolls title. The games I dislike aren't necessarily bad games, and the games on this list aren't necessarily the worst. Indeed, some of them are fine, just overrated. Oblivion is a bad game. Oblivion is a failure and by far the worst game on this list.
Aside from a wide open world — an admittedly impressive technical achievement — Oblivion has no merits. The story is pathetically simple, and any narrative that inflicts so many Oblivion gates onto the player should receive no acclaim. There are no characters to speak of, merely quest givers and badgering guards. The setting, touted for its enormity and density, is nothing more than Fantasyland X with forgettable lore. The combat is repetitive and tedious, particularly against monsters scaled to one's level. Who can forget goblins as powerful as the greatest demons (or Uriel Septim's corpulent glowing wax face)? Exploring almost randomly generated dungeons to fend off hordes of these super goblins proves worthless unless one happens to find a magic staff at the end of it. And when that does happen, the game is broken. Everything dies at the end of a magic staff.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is the most overrated PC RPG of all time.
Metacritic score: 94% • My score: 68%