With E3 2017 coming very soon, there is, as always, intense speculation regarding exactly what games will be announced or revealed. However, whether the launches of these games will go smoothly is completely another matter. In an attempt to crush your excitement and hope entirely, let’s take a look at 7 of the worst game launches of all time.
7. Battlefield 4
When the company every gamer loves to hate, EA, comes out to publicly state that the launch was ‘unacceptable’ you know it must be pretty bad. Battlefield 4 was released in late 2013 to positive reviews with critics, but the real problems emerged within the multiplayer of the game. Game crashes, terrible netcode and, possibly most irritatingly, server crashes in which players would lose all progress made during the match.
While the impressive features Battlefield 4 had were praised, EA DICE simply could not ignore the complaints being sent their way. They did later acknowledge the issues related to multiplayer and matchmaking that players were experiencing and said that no further expansions would be released until these issues were fixed. However, this proved to be only slightly true as the game’s second expansion, Second Assault, was released despite a large amount of the persistent problems plaguing the title still having not been fixed and some netcode and server issues still existing.
6. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Another huge shooter franchise, Halo: The Master Chief Collection was meant to either provide a graphically updated nostalgia trip or bring new players into the Halo story before the release of Halo 5. The Collection itself contains Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4. All of them with significant graphical upgrades, and Halo 2 specifically being given a complete redesign in a similar vein as Halo: Combat Evolved had been given with the original release of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
Similarly to the above entry, the game received stellar reviews from critics but yet it is the multiplayer where the problems happened to surface. It was impossible for many players to play at all, and although this was fixed for some players, these problems and other bugs persisted even after 343 Industries promised to patch them out. They did eventually offer Halo 3: ODST as a free download for people who played the game since launch, along with some other goodies. Despite this, and the apology, the player base was significantly harmed and some bugs were never fixed, ruining the launch of a collection of some of the most beloved games of all time.
5. Assassin’s Creed: Unity
Expectations were high for the Assassin’s Creed series after its immense, swashbuckling success with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. However, the next game immediately hit controversy after creative director Alex Amancio excused having no playable female characters by explaining they would be too much work to animate. Despite this, the game was still riding high on the success of its predecessor and certainly aimed to reach its height, however, somewhere along the line something was majorly amiss.
The game was released, and although there certainly were elements to be praised within the game, the bugs undeniably present were comically prevalent. The chances that none of the reviewers who received pre-release copies noticed the vast amounts of falling through the floor, clinging to invisible ledges and sometimes NPCs, terrifyingly, not having any faces were slim, yet due to embargo agreements reviews were not immediately available and the game had a full 12-hour window before these bugs were fully revealed to the public.
Yet this wasn’t the end of the problems with Unity as the game required several huge patches to try to fix all the glitches and bugs, and this did include a little problem on the Xbox One as the patch mistakenly forced players to download the entire game rather than it simply being patched. While the game came much closer to resembling a complete game after a series of these patches, the stain of Unity on the series has still not truly gone away.
4. Batman: Arkham Knight
As the successor to Batman: Arkham Origins there was a significant amount of hype surrounding the release of Arkham Knight. The game itself introduced a huge amount of new features to the series, and allowed the player access to all of Gotham City. This, along with the vast array of characters from the Batman universe, led to positive reviews for the console versions of the game. It’s the Windows version where the problems existed.
Performance problems and bugs, even on high-end systems, led to many complaints and bad user reviews of the game on Steam. This controversy soon led to the game being pulled from sale in order to solve these issues. Rocksteady, the developers, released a statement confirming they were working with their PC development partner, Iron Galaxy Studies, to resolve the problems plaguing the Windows version of the game. Once the game was rereleased, it was still strongly criticised for the technical issues that still existed leading to refunds being offered until the end of 2015 for anyone who owned the game.
3. Too Human
As far as the setting goes, Too Human was certainly a unique game. Set in a future where Norse gods are fighting against Loki’s cybernetic army in order to protect humans, it grabbed a lot of attention before it was released. Although it had been teased back in 1999, it wasn’t until 2005 when Too Human began to be developed for the Xbox 360. The demo, released on Xbox Live in July 2008, was announced to have been downloaded more times than any other action demo had been in its first week on the marketplace.
The game was released, and received relatively mediocre reviews. It was criticised for little variation among its locations, short length, and its lack of manual camera control. Now, this wasn’t as bad as the previous games on the list for sure, but none of those were forced to be recalled and all existing copies destroyed as Too Human was.
The developer Silicon Knights had sued Epic Games whose engine, Unreal Engine 3, they had used to create the game. Claiming Epic Games had shown a lack of support, and claimed they had missed their deadline to provide a working version of the engine for the Xbox 360. This turned out to be the wrong move however, as Epic Games successfully counter-sued Silicon Knights for using Unreal Engine 3 without paying its royalties. Silicon Knights was forced to recall the game that had been on-and-off in development for almost ten years. The game was ultimately a disappointment, and the failure of the game along with the court case is likely the main reason behind Silicon Knights going bankrupt in 2014.
2. Total War: Rome II
Total War has always been one of the biggest games in the RTS scene, and one game that fans had loved was the original Total War: Rome. When Total War: Rome II was announced the expectations were immense, and fans were excited to jump back into an era they had loved in the past. The game was marketed significantly, and had achieved more than six times the number of pre-orders that the previous game in the series, Total War: Shogun 2, had received.
The problems arose quickly, and became extremely apparent when a reviewer complained he had to redownload his entire review copy due to various problems. Performance issues, bugs and a variety of disappointing game features such as capture-the-flag style battles, and awful balancing between different units led to many fans being disappointed in the game. Some considering it a step back from its predecessor. Its release was followed by an apology and a promise of regular patches to fix the problems being reported. It wasn’t until the Emperor Edition was released that most of the major bugs were fixed, and this also included a variety of upgrades for free. Despite this, the entire year of bugs and constant problems could not be ignored and the Creative Director Mike Simpson stated that he hoped “we can fundamentally treat our releases differently in the future.”
Possibly one of the most notorious games of all time, SimCity was released in 2013 and received generally positive reviews before release, although several reviewers were cautious about the mandatory network connection required to play. This led to a response from General Manager of developer Maxis Lucy Bradshaw, claiming the engine used, called GlassBox, “works by attributing portions of the computing to EA servers and some on the player’s local computer.” This led to many arguing that this was blatantly wrong, as the EA servers were not used for anything other than the social aspect and interaction between cities.
On release SimCity was a disaster with many users, both reviewers and players, being unable to connect to the servers. Many reviewers either delayed their reviews, or downgraded them to reflect the massive problems and the disabling of “non-critical” gameplay features. More servers were supposedly being added rather quickly, and in just a few days Bradshaw stated that the server situation had improved and although there were still some problems, most had been resolved.
However, many players were demanding the game be patched in order for players to simply play offline. Maxis argued that this would take a massive amount of work, and would not be done. It was not long after this that it was discovered that the game could be made to play offline by just editing a line of code, completely disproving the claim Maxis had made. It wasn’t until over a year later that Maxis finally patched the game in order to make offline play available for all.