It’s that time of year where developers and publishers push themselves to breaking point in order to meet the all-important Christmas shopping release window. Frankly, it’s a pattern that crippled many of last year’s biggest games.
We’d love to think that lessons have been learned, but with another dementedly-packed season lying just ahead, it’s not hard to predict that some of the year’s biggest remaining games are going to have some serious issues at launch. They’re all games we can’t wait to play, but we’d certainly advise waiting for the reviews, or maybe holding out until those unchecked issues have been fixed post-launch. Games are expensive, so preorder wisely.
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
We’re cautiously confident that Ubisoft have learnt their lesson after the hot mess of Unity. With no online component to put a strain on development and QA, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate could, and should, be a much smoother affair. A few previews have been making the rounds recently, and they’ve been largely promising from a technical standpoint. Ubisoft have been much more open about the game. As optimistic as we are though, we’d advise caution ahead of any preorders. After Unity, I think it sends the wrong message to publishers by blindly preordering a sequel. Ubisoft need to ditch release-day embargoes on reviews too if they don’t want to raise suspicions.
Star Wars: Battlefront
The upcoming open beta will be a great way to determine how steady Star Wars: Battlefront will be around launch. Frankly, we think the final game is going to be overwhelmingly popular on launch day and the servers are going to be stretched to breaking point. DICE’s launch of Battlefield 4’s MP was a mess, which hopefully they will have learned from, but ultimately the raw enthusiasm from Star Wars fans and gamers is going to a stern test for EA and DICE. We’re not saying don’t buy the game, after all it looks fantastic, but perhaps be prepared for the first week or so to be a little rough, so why not wait and play something else until it’s sorted? You’re not paid for QA work after all.
Rainbow Six: Siege
Ubisoft and smooth online launches just don’t happen. So when they’re releasing a game purely built around online gameplay you can bet we’re going to brace for impact. The current beta has been a bit of a shambles with players being locked out or not getting their keys on time and so on. It’s been extended to October 4th at least. Another concern is with the game itself. Lasting appeal is certainly an issue; much like it was with Evolve (remember that game?). At least Ubisoft aren’t locking away huge portions of the game behind a pay wall.
It’s a Bethesda RPG. So that’s pretty much a guarantee that it will be brilliant, but riddled with bugs for weeks (or maybe forever). After all these years between Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4, you just know we’re all ready to buy it anyways. So, if you’ve got anything else to finish off, maybe do that before starting Fallout 4. Hopefully, any launch glitches will just mean the odd floating head or crash rather than corrupted save files. You have been warned. Ha, but like I said, we’re all going to be there on launch day.
Rock Band 4 / Guitar Hero Live
Both of these games are going to cost a lot of money and to be honest, we’ve not seen any rock solid pricing information on how much DLC tracks will cost, so we’re advising to wait for the reviews or until you’ve managed to test one out for yourself. We’re leaning slightly towards Rock Band right now as you’ll be able to use old instruments and you’ll eventually have access to any tracks you bought last-gen -in the same console family at least. We’re very interested to see how the new axe in Guitar Hero Live turns out with the new button arrangement too.
Metal Gear Online
Konami struggled to even get Metal Gear Solid V’s FOB (Forward Operating Base) online features working at the game’s launch, so how they’re going to be able to cope with actual multiplayer is anyone’s guess. And you can forget about quick fixes too if the lengthy wait for the Quiet mission bug was anything to go by. We don’t mind waiting for a while, but if we have to login into the game via complicated Konami accounts again as we found with earlier MGS Online titles, we’re not going to be happy. The potential for micro-transactions getting in the way is huge too.
It’s not all predictions of doom and gloom for the remaining big games of 2015. Actually, we’re quite confident that some of the big titles are going to launch in very good shape. Love it or hate it, the Call of Duty series has smooth launches compared to its rivals. The recent beta forBlack Ops III was plain sailing when compared to betas from Rainbow Six: Siege and Street Fighter V for example.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is a big deal for Microsoft, so they’ll be keen to ensure Crystal Dynamics have all the QA resources they need to make the game one of most popular action releases of the year. Hopefully they had enough cash left over to ensure a smooth launch for Halo 5too.
Sony’s big exclusives are all out already (minus the Uncharted 4 beta, which starts in December), leaving just Nintendo to talk about. To be honest, Nintendo are very reliable when it comes to releasing polished and glitch-free games. It’s incredibly rare that we have to report on any glaring QA mistakes by the Japanese giants. And it’s this care of their products that has us thinking that Xenoblade Chronicles X on the Wii U in December could be something very special indeed.