If at first you don't succeed, panic
In the world of video games, glitches are a fact of life. That most games don't explode into a boxy mess of discordant tones and tiny squares is a feat of modern computer technology, so most of the tiny, glitchy hiccups players experience when a game first launches are forgivable. Maybe the player character climbs on top of the empty space immediately to the left of the horse she's trying to mount, or maybe servers struggle some in the first weeks of an MMO launch. Annoying as these things may be, they're small problems in the grand scheme of things, unlikely to forever mar our enjoyment of the games that contain them.
This article isn't about those glitches. While the best games can be forgiven their minor and quickly fixed problems, the needle on the clemency gauge drops dramatically in the face of NPCs that twist into knots, weapons that don't function, and frame-rates slower than a flip-book. And there have been some very big titles that feature all of these and more in their opening days, weeks, MONTHS, YEARS?!, giving them the dubious honor of World's Glitchiest Games on Launch. How bad were these launches, and did the developers reclaim any of their dignity afterward? Read on, and prepare to wince.
Skyrim patches in dragons that fly backwards
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim roared onto systems across the world in 2011, but its FUS RO DAH of a launch was marred by a dragon's share of technical issues. While the Xbox 360 version suffered from a handful of problems, the real victim was the PS3, which saw a product so glitchy and lag-ridden that it was virtually unplayable. A patch was quickly released to fix those issues, which helped exactly nothing and made dragons fly backwards. It eventually got so bad we added a note about it to our otherwise glowing review and gave the game an Anti-Award for its trouble.
Where are they now? After a multitude of official patches and a rebound from the community, the game is in good working order, and all dragons are flying in the correct direction.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 was the world's worst Sonic game
It's been nearly two decades since Sonic Adventure introduced all sorts of new dimensions that his 2D-trained brain couldn't adjust to. He officially hit rock bottom in Sonic 2006, which was so infested with bugs that burning it to the ground was the only solution. Far beyond basic clipping and lagging issues, it isn't uncommon to see characters frozen in place, dropped through the map or otherwise manhandled by the game's bad design. It was the kind of terrible that leads to famous internet rants and casual designation as the Worst Sonic Game Ever.
Where are they now? There's not much you can do to pretty up a tire fire, and you just have to let it burn. And so the proposed Sonic reboot sits broken to this day, a warning to all future Sonic developers, so a Sonic game this terrible would never again come to be
Sonic Boom IS the world's worst Sonic game
Or not. Falling short of the standards set by Sonic 2006 (somehow), Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric shipped with even more bugs than its predecessor. Among its many crimes against design, you see characters that phase through each other during cutscenes, enemies that show up and immediately vanish, and heroes who are launched across the screen by what I must assume is an invisible trebuchet. Even the best thing about this game is a glitch that allows Knuckles to jump infinitely, blessedly letting you finish the game in less than an hour. Basically, Sonic Boom is a testament to the terrible power that glitches can have over a major release - like an angry god destroying a civilization with a hurricane, except digital and with woodland critters in tennis shoes.
Where are they now? A substantial patch was released for players in Europe earlier this month, improving frame-rate and navigation. But it also gets rid of the jump glitch. Ergh. Choices.
Dead Island features purgatory and flying trucks
When it first shambled into stores in 2011, Dead Island might as well have been called Dead on Arrival Island. Not catchy, but true. While surviving on the zombie-infested tropic of Banoi was never meant to be easy, it was made significantly trickier for launch players, who suffered vicious framerate issues and quest completion tracking gone necrotic. That alone wouldn't be enough to get it on this list, but those were just the gnarly appetizers, because then constructed weapons started disappearing like magic from player inventories, zombies froze in space, trucks flew through the air with the greatest of ease, and players started falling into a bizarre purgatory beneath the crust of the game world. Man, forget zombies, the laws of physics just ate it in a big way.
Where are they now? Though it took some serious doing and more than one hefty patch, a collaborative reporting effort between fans and developers fixed the worst of the bugs. Though I think most of us wouldn't mind if they left the unlimited money glitch.
Ride to Hell: Retribution is literally the worst
You kinda have to know what you're getting into when the nicest thing that can be said about a game is, "It's so bad it's funny!" Since that's pretty much everything everyone has said about Ride to Hell: Retribution since it came out, few of you reading this right now would be shocked to discover how bad this game is, due in no small part to its treasure trove of glitches. But the poor suckers who played it on launch weren't so lucky. They powerslid their way right into a mess of horrifically rendered character models, disembodied guns that shoot through walls, and NPCs getting blasted off the map (or just far enough to defy gravity). Between all of those and plenty of other glitches that're just flat out weird, this game has more than earned its illustreous 19 point score on Metacritic.
Where are they now? It's safe to say that all of these bugs remain, since this game has remained virtually untouched since release. That's really for the best - I'm honestly surprised every copy wasn't simultaneously burned and flung off a bridge.
Assassin's Creed Unity loses face
Here we are: 2014's poster child for WHAT THE HELL IS THAT levels of buggery. This one was particularly problematic because you never knew when or if you would get some mind-bending glitch. Maybe you'd get through the whole thing without a single framerate hiccup, or you could get ghostly NPCs and a trip below the map. And if Arno's inability to kiss with his eyes closed wasn't disturbing enough, some of Unity's worst glitches break the game entirely, leaving players unable to attack enemies, revive partners in co-op, or leave a building with doors wide open. Plus, the glitches have no problem interrupting a nice conversation. Rude!
Where are they now? Ubisoft released a whopping 6.7GB patch last December to try to iron out some of the most chasm-esque wrinkles in Unity's design, which promptly glitched out itself on the Xbox One and forced players to reinstall the game entirely. Merde...
Star Wars Galaxies has bad aim
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a pretty messed up MMO called Star Wars Galaxies. Though by 'a galaxy far, far away' I mean Earth, and 'a long time ago' I mean 2003, but none of that changes how horribly glitchy the whole thing was (and 2003 was a pretty long time ago anyway). On launch, it wasn't uncommon for your character to clip through a spaceship wall into the uncaring void of space, or continually missing his/her blaster shots despite having it pointed directly at the enemy's head. Player and guild chats would also vanish at random, a painful prospect for an MMO where teamwork is key. Come on now game, as a wise man once said, "Do or do not..."
Where are they now? Fixes to most of these bugs were rolled out over the first two years of the game's lifespan, but oddly that fix-it spirit ended up being Galaxies' undoing. Apparently overhauling a game to be 'more user-friendly' despite input from the actual users can have disastrous consequences.
Total War: Rome 2 has reality-bending boats
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Unless it involves massive amounts of glitching. Maybe try to curb that. When Total War: Rome 2 marched into the hands of excited fans in 2013, any celebratory fanfare died in the face of frame-rate and download issues so bad that some players couldn't even get the game to function. On the more hilarious end of things, extremely confused AI and ancestors of Kitty Pride were staples of the game on launch. I mean, I'm pretty sure boats aren't supposed to phase through matter and soldiers can't fly. I feel like I need to consult the History Channel.
Where are they now? The first patch for Rome 2 dropped within days of release, though it took a few more substancial adjustments before it was in working order. I guess you could say Rome wasn't patched in a day! Not sorry.
Battlefield 4 will see you in court
Battlefield 4 set a new standard for glitchy launches in late 2013, when servers with poor constitutions, broken matchmaking, and a system that blanked on critical progression stats made the game virtually unplayable. And those were just the basics. I can't personally recall another time when a game release was so massive and massively glitchy that lawsuits were involved. But Battlefield 4 made it happen, with glitches that caused freak environment regeneration, invisible dimension-hopping helicopters, kill trading, and of course falling through the world.
Where are they now? To its credit, developer DICE jumped on things immediately and actively pushed back future projects to get Battlefield working. But only one of the lawsuits has been dismissed so far, so there's still that invisible killer chopper to deal with.
Well that's embarrassing
While glitchy launches are all too common (see every MMO ever), you gotta give many games credit for keeping damage to a minimum and not ending up on this list - or if they do, for actually trying to fix things. Which of these glitchy launches made your blood boil and your controller fly? Are there other, equally hilari-bad launch glitches that I missed? Tell us in the comments below - Ill keep count of how the WoW mentions.
Want more awesome glitches? Check out 11 gaming glitches that will make you laugh until you vomit and Top 7 Major game features you didn't know were originally glitches.