Day One Broken
Day one patches are very cool. Once I’ve removed the shrink-wrap from my brand new £35 game, I'll race to feed disc to console so that I may be among the first to download the precious, launch day curative patch. Before I'm allowed to play my new game, I’m invited to kick-start the final stage of development by pressing X and helping un-break a product that was otherwise fit for release. I love being involved. Of course, it’s not only consumers who adore day one patches. The promise of a digital band aid enables publishers to convince platform holders that their latest game isn't really broken at all, just temporarily not quite fixed, and is suitable for release. Clearly, this is a wonderful situation for all involved.
This week's Medal of Honour: Warfighter is the latest big release to rely on a day one fix to get through Sony and Microsoft's oh-so strict certification process. Warfighter’s is no simple backward-flying-dragon or culturally-insensitive-picture-on-the-toilet-wall-removing-patch, but a huge glob of digital corrective fluid which covers issues both bizarre and game altering.
Some of the more amusing corrections (you can find the full list on EA’s website) include allowing 17 year old Japanese people to play online, making sure that the start button works, making normal, not easy, the default setting, removing unresponsive controls and preventing uninvited strangers from joining invite only sessions. The patch also fixes a glitch where aiming causes the player to float away from cover. Unannounced corrections include a higher pixel count for Bin Laden’s dead beard, 20% more Oscar Mike and explosions that are more respectful of army veterans. Despite the cure-all patch, Warfighter is still a silly word.
It’s easy to pick on Medal of Honour: Warfighter, and I’d highly recommend doing so. Despite rather enjoying the first MoH reboot – the campaign was short & sweet and the multiplayer did some interesting things - I decided very early on that I was anti Warfighter, as the day one patch is merely the icing on an unappetising cake, one that is made of tomahawks and Linkin Park tie-ins. With its delusions of realism, including developer Ready at Dawn’s peddling of real-life weaponry through the MoH website, it pushed all the wrong buttons. Until yesterday’s super patch, I had been more than content to simply ignore it.
The day-one variety is the worst kind of patching, the lowest point of the “release now, fix later” trend that has plagued this generation. Debilitating glitches should not escape Q&A, especially in a single player experience, and any game featuring such issues should not be considered fit for release. For most of us, a patch like Warfightererers will be a five minute (15 on PSN) inconvenience the first time we boot up the disc, and an indication of other issues that might be lurking elsewhere in the game, but what about the poor sod who doesn’t have an internet connection, or is just unable to hook their console up to some tasty broadband? They will be unsuccessfully prodding the start button for hours on end and will be stuck with a soldier who floats away from walls; it probably won’t matter, as they’ll only be playing on easy.
Perhaps the patch will fix everything and Medal of Honour: Warfighter will be critically acclaimed, or maybe the early maintenance is fair warning of a game rushed and of poor quality. Whatever the case, I’m happy to resume ignoring Warfighter and get back to working myself up about the prospect of an Unfinished Swan - lazy fucking developers.