If you're reading this, chances are you already know the debacle CD Projekt Red has been under, thanks to the disappointing release of Cyberpunk 2077. This is after eight long years and three delays! Although it's working pretty fine on rigged-out gaming PCs, it's console players who have been suffering, especially those with current-gen hardware which CDPR's CEO claimed last month to be running "surprisingly good, I would say, for such a huge world", not to mention that many promised features didn't even make the final cut. The writer thinks that statement actually meant "shocked that the game even runs at all".
Anyway, to celebrate(?) the dumpster fire that is Cyberpunk 2077, we figured what better way to lick our wounds than to reminisce the times other AAA games disappointed us as much as Cyberpunk did.
In terms of scale, Final Fantasy 14's awful launch is probably the closest to Cyberpunk's. Initially released in September 2010, the original version of FF14 was a huge letdown in almost every aspect, causing so much backlash that it partly caused Square Enix's 2010 profit to tank by a whopping 90%. However, not wanting to tarnish the Final Fantasy reputation, a new version of FF14 - subtitled A Realm Reborn - was created from the ground up with a new game engine, fixing everything that was wrong with the last one. Fortunately, A Realm Reborn was extremely well-received, and it has since been updated with three major expansions - the latest Shadowbringer was hailed as one of "the best Final Fantasy in years". Could a happy ending such as this come to Cyberpunk?
From misleading buyers with a cheaper version of a supposedly-premium bag to ridiculous pay-to-win elements and overpriced cosmetics, the online-only Fallout game disappointed everyone with its empty world (no NPCs?!), uninteresting quests, and many, many questionable decisions Bethesda made to "improve" the game. Fast forward to today, numerous updates have been released that drastically upgrade the Fallout 76 experience, most notably the Wastelanders expansion that reintroduced NPCs (non-playable characters) and a better campaign and questline, a return to the beloved Fallout formula. Though Fallout 76 didn't get to be the online survival Fallout game it wanted to be, at least its current state is still more enjoyable than the initial version - plus, more is yet to come!
To give an idea of how bad WWE 2K20 was, this year's WWE 2K21 was cancelled and replaced with its spin-off, WWE 2K Battlegrounds, which was never done before in the history of WWE video games. Horrendous glitches and character models that look like they "crawled out of a PS2-era wrestling game" are just the tip of the colossal iceberg that is the problematic WWE 2K20, with Gamespot claiming it as the one that made the series "hit rock bottom". Unlike the last two games we mentioned, there's no happy ending for this wrestling game, but 2K Sports' decision to skip this year's edition could mark the sign of a comeback in the next one.
Not only did Star Wars Battlefront 2 introduce a single-player campaign (albeit one that's lackluster), but the EA DICE game also set the "microtransaction controversy" in motion during its beta trials stage, much to the dismay of fans. Behind its faithfully impressive visuals and gameplay, lay a baffling pay-to-win system where one can acquire gameplay advantages by paying with real money, a blasphemy for a multiplayer online shooter. Even though they can be purchased with in-game currency, players would have to grind up to 40 hours just to get a top-tier hero like Darth Vader. At least they removed microtransactions before release, and fixed the game economy and balanced out character progression, making it a well-liked game once again. However, the damage was done, and EA lost US$3 billion in stock value by 2017.
How can we talk about game launch disasters without mentioning the infamous-turned-famous No Man's Sky? Back in 2016, the sprawling space adventure by Hello Games was hotly anticipated due to its sheer ambition, allowing players to explore a procedurally generated universe and carry out anything a space traveller would do. But, in reality, many promised features of the game were missing at launch (sounds familiar?), a hollow husk of what it should've been. Since then, the indie studio has been dead-set on redeeming themselves, churning out updates quietly like nobody's business until now. And now, No Man's Sky is the game it's always meant to be and more, with the addition of VR support, sentient organic ships, mech suits and even abandoned, alien-infested starships to explore for loot.
Looking back at how many hopeful turnarounds these initially-horrendous game ended up becoming, one can't help but wonder if Cyberpunk 2077 will meet the same fate as them. For the sake of CDPR's reputation and the fan base, chances are high that the Polish company will follow suit to redeem themselves, no matter how long it takes.