It’s the sign of the times, people. 2020 marks the final year of the current gen consoles as we descend into a new age of gaming defined by teraflops and high fps. To this day, I continue to game on my launch Xbox One console from 2013, a true dinosaur that just barely chugs along. It’s ugly, clunky, massive and heavy – the antithesis of the recent Xbox One X. The second delay of Cyberpunk 2077 from September to November, though unsurprising given this year’s ghastly track record, is for the best as it allows developer CD Projekt Red to iron out some bugs and deliver a fantastic experience on par with The Witcher 3. Their official Twitter broke out the news on June 18, “…Cyberpunk 2077 is finished both content and gameplay-wise…but with such an abundance of content and complex systems interweaving with each other, we need to properly go through everything, balance game mechanics and fix a lot of bugs”. Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto states it perfectly, “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad”. As we move past the halfway point of the year, developers’ minds are on next gen, but I thought it would be fun to look at previous games that launched with a rather bad reputation.
STAR WARS JEDI: FALLEN ORDER
Respawn’s Jedi Fallen Order is a fantastic game that mixes popular mechanics defined by other games within the vast Star Wars universe. As a fan of Respawn’s Titanfall series and the Star Wars cinematic universe (well, the one that ended in 2007), I quickly hopped on the hype train for Jedi Fallen Order. In almost every aspect from story to Dark Souls-inspired combat, Jedi Fallen Order nails it, delivering a unique experience with a little something for every kind of gamer. While all of this holds true, the game also ran abysmally on my Xbox One launch console.
Gameplay constantly staggered, every cutscene was plagued with texture pop-ins, and some of the more open planets on Cal’s radar consistently dipped in frames. During my initial playthrough, I experienced a hard crash near the end of the game that forced me to backtrack through 20 minutes of gameplay, and each unique environment appeared muddled and hollow. I scoured Reddit, gaming forums, and Twitter to look for any sign of similar experiences, but I came up empty handed.
Normally, I overlook graphics in turn for innovative gameplay, but the overall presentation and performance of Jedi Fallen Order was so unacceptable that I couldn’t wait for the credits to roll. Considering the overwhelming critical reception and impressive sales figures, EA plans to create a trilogy. Sorry Cal, maybe next time.
PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS XBOX EDITION
We’ve all probably heard about this or have seen the Crowbcat video on YouTube covering its launch, but I felt it necessary to include in this list.
PUBG was a huge hit back in 2017 before Fortnite took the world by storm for its unique approach to the Battle Royale formula. When it launched, it was littered with bugs and glitches, which should have been completely indicative of the Xbox edition. Released nine months after its initial PC launch, PUBG was a mess in every aspect of game development. Though still technically in Early Access or Microsoft Game Preview, PUBG’s Xbox debut was premature and utterly unacceptable. Players interested in the game from word of mouth probably expected the same experience as the PC version, but instead were offered something that was arguably unplayable. The servers were atrocious, the graphics blocky and untextured, and the core gameplay riddled with game-breaking bugs.
I cannot stress just how unplayable this game was at launch, not to mention the fact that it was consistently horrible across all Xbox console iterations. This was a disservice to console players, especially considering the fact that triple-A games with more than double the budget of PUBG release perfectly, even without Microsoft’s affiliation. The overall experience has since been updated and improved, but I implore you to explore the PC option instead.
Avalanche Studios and id Software’s Rage 2 proved to be completely unnecessary. Critiqued for its trivial completion time and underwhelming, lifeless open world, Rage 2 reportedly sold less physical copies than its predecessor.
Avalanche and id’s joint development sounded like the perfect combination – and in some respect, it proved to be just that. The sequel’s gunplay is on par with that of Doom, delivering fast-paced, visceral combat intertwined with some fun, arcade-y vehicular segments reminiscent of Avalanche’s Just Cause series. My biggest issue with the game, while understanding the sheer size of its world, is the pause menu. I tried to avoid using it as much as possible considering that nine times out of ten it would inadvertently crash my game, requiring a console reboot. The time in between gameplay and the pause menu often delayed up to 30 seconds, simultaneously destroying the pace of gameplay that was already hampered by egregious interruptions.
Rage 2 is not a bad game by any stretch, but considering the fact that the player has to consistently utilize the pause menu to check out the map and upgrade his or her character and abilities, this issue persists and completely ruins the experience.
Dayz is a massively divisive game on both Xbox and PC. Some claim that modded servers are the best way to experience Bohemia Interactive’s zombie survival sim, while others openly avoid the game entirely. As a fan, I can confidently support the claims stating its problems and overpriced entry fee.
Similar to PUBG’s Xbox rendition, DayZ is a literal nightmare on consoles. It’s buggy, ugly to look at, and just generally devoid of genuine fun. Since its console launch, it’s received some extensive patches, with developer Bohemia Interactive available over social media platforms to discuss patch details and general feedback.
TheXboxHub’s own Gareth Brierley agrees, “…it doesn’t feel like a game that has graphically come out today, instead with visuals you would expect to find from a good few years back”. On top of the visual shortcomings, the game’s controller mapping is clunky and unintuitive, adding to the underwhelming presentation.
Best to stick with the PC version on this one, and I’d recommend joining the official DayZ discord to meet and chat with veterans.
Some of these entries have since launched their 1.0 update upon leaving Xbox Game Preview, but it’s the high price points that should be especially critiqued. It’s become common practice these days to release a half finished game for a price. Their business model encourages player feedback and dedication to pave the way forward for its future, but that doesn’t necessarily justify the purpose. I can’t begin to understand the complexity behind game development and tight deadlines, but when others in the industry continue to set the standards for what games should be, it’s tough to deny the existence of the unacceptable.