Though perhaps an obvious fact, it can be easy to forget sometimes that video games take a mammoth amount of time, talent, ambition and money to be willed into existence. Given the sheer amount of stuff that can go wrong with such labours, it should perhaps come as little surprise that video game history is littered with ambitious efforts that have been released in a less than fit state to say the least. Well, in a bid to turn that frown upside down, here are six very different games that were seen to have issues at launch but which managed to redeem themselves with a steady stream of post launch updates.
Assassin’s Creed Unity
When it was released all the way back in December 2014, Assassin’s Creed Unity was clearly designed for hardware that just simply didn’t exist at the time. With the evocative sprawl of 18th century Paris caught in the throes of revolutionary war, the largest crowds ever seen in the series (even now) and a massive engine upgrade over previous titles to boot, Assassin’s Creed Unity was always going to deeply tax PC and console hardware across the board. What folks probably didn’t expect however, was an absolutely horrifying avalanche of bugs glitches that did everything from crashing the game outright, to causing the faces of various character models to essentially fall off, leaving a semi-comical, googly-eyed crimson mask in their wake.
Essentially patched to within an inch of its life after release, Assassin’s Creed Unity is not only largely bug-free in its current state, but now we also have gaming hardware that is capable of showcasing Ubisoft’s ambitious series effort in the way that it was meant to be played. Though far from the best in the series, Assassin’s Creed Unity is still worth diving into, not least so that you can appreciate the breathtaking technical ambition that seemed so impossible to achieve nearly a decade ago.
With more than three years since the release of the previous Battlefield title and with EA confirming that Battlefield 2042 would not only be ditching the class-based system of previous games but also its traditional single-player campaign too, it’s fair to say that enough eyebrows were raised to tilt the Earth off of its axis. Sadly at release such fears weren’t only well founded, but EA also found itself beset by all manner of issues such as chronic balancing issues, server connectivity and a distinct lack of short-term post release content.
Since its release in November 2021 however, EA has been diligently patching away at the game, not only eradicating the various technical maladies that have plagued it since launch but also reinstating the class based system from previous games and providing a steady injection of seasonal content to boot. If you skipped out on Battlefield 2042 at launch, or simply grew disillusioned as an early player, now looks like the best time to dive right back in.
Revealed some eight(!) years before it would actually release, the weight of anticipation behind Cyberpunk 2077 was such that developer CD Projekt Red was never going to be able to meet such lofty expectations. What didn’t help of course was that Cyberpunk 2077 launched in a sorry state to say the least, with a veritable kaleidoscope of bugs that all served to undercut the immersion of the meticulous Cyberpunk world that the Polish studio had spent so very long crafting. Worse still, last gen console versions of Cyberpunk 2077 were arguably at the qualitative nadir of Cyberpunk’s 2077 initial release, horribly compromised by poor visuals and unacceptable performance compounding all of those aforementioned bugs and issues even further still.
Despite the poor showing of Cyberpunk 2077 when it was initially released back in December 2020, CD Projekt Red was steadfast in its desire to see the game meet the promise of its early reveal and so began providing frequent updates in earnest. With thousands of bugs squashed since release, a much more technically accomplished native version for current gen consoles and a boost to the performance of last gen versions of the game, Cyberpunk 2077 is now an eminently playable action RPG rather than the broken mess it was at launch. Riding an all-time high of Steam concurrent users, buoyed by the success of the superb Cyberpunk: Edgerunners Netflix anime show and the enticing prospect of the Phantom Liberty single-player story expansion that will be launching later in 2023, it’s reasonable to say that Cyberpunk 2077 has made something of a startling recovery from its less than inspiring debut in December 2020.
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
While non-linear RPG Disco Elysium was warmly received on PC and had long since exorcised any defects or issues after its initial release, the same could not be said for the console debut of Disco Elysium: The Final Cut. When Disco Elysium: The Final Cut released on PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch platforms it was to be frank an omnishambles of epic proportions. From objects in the game world that couldn’t be interacted with to broken quest lines, missing dialogue, full on crashes and a range of other glitches, it seemed tragic that one of the best RPGs of the last decade was hiding under nearly impenetrable layers of technical dreck.
Clearly realising the task ahead of them, developer ZA/UM set to work quickly with a furious patching schedule that fixed up everything that was wrong with Disco Elysium: The Final Cut on console. No longer will you find bugged quests, unsightly glitches or pad-squeezing crashes but rather the same endlessly wry, witty and blissfully deep sleuthing odyssey that PC owners had enjoyed for so long.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Packing and remastering a quartet of legendary FPS titles into a single, cohesive offering on new hardware was always going to be a challenging endeavour. That said, it certainly seems like the folks involved with the development and porting process maybe didn’t quite realise just how challenging it would be. When Halo: The Master Chief Collection released in 2014, matchmaking was absolutely fraught with connectivity problems, giving players an extremely frustrating experience to say the least.
Though Halo: The Master Chief Collection released nearly nine years ago, Microsoft and developer 343 Industries have committed to getting the game shipshape over the long term and set up the MCC Insider Program as a means to playtest upcoming changes to the compilation. The end result is that not only have the initial connectivity issues long since been solved, but a whole heap of additional features have been piled in on top including the Halo 3: ODST campaign, the Spartan Ops side-missions from Halo 4’s original release and full cross-play functionality to name just a few of new fangled bits and pieces.
No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky wasn’t necessarily ‘broken’ at launch from a technical perspective in the way that many other games in this list were, but it did arguably fall far short of the promise hinted at in its earliest trailers, a sentiment that even the developer, Hello Games, would readily agreed with soon after its release. Embarking on a seemingly never ending campaign of improvement, not only have Hello Games remedied many if not all of the original glitches and bugs that were present at release, but the determined studio has also added intergalactic fleet support, mechs, multiplayer support, additional quest content, a visual overhaul and full blown VR support to name just a few of the features that have been implemented since launch – and all for free.
As it stands, No Man’s Sky is one of the true feel good, comeback stories of the industry. A video game that was not only redeemed by post launch updates but also one that arguably soars far beyond what even its earliest and most ambitious trailers promised. No Man’s Sky was quite simply patched into excellence and epitomises the love that Hello Games has for its audience.