This is one of those pet peeve posts for every modern gamer out there. Recently, I downloaded January’s PS Plus game Steep on my Playstation 4. I don’t exactly know when this trend started, but I’m getting awful tired of games not fully downloading but still letting me play in some way. In other words, it’s always a bummer to find out that the game you are playing is somehow locked behind the second half of a download.
In this particular case, Steep ropes off more than half of the map while you wait for the game to complete the download. It even has an on screen prompt that politely states to roam around because “Sorry, your game isn’t done downloading yet”. Generally, I’m not one to complain about such things, but then I took a look at the notification on my PS4 and thought, “Why not just wait to notify me when the game is ACTUALLY finished?”. Do you see that small black line in the download? That’s apparently there to say the game is partially playable. Anyone ever explain that to you before? Yeah me neither.
A little misleading to say the least. But here’s the thing, I started asking around, Eric in particular, to see if he had run into other games that are deployed in this manner. Eric then gave me a few more examples that use this strategy: Assassin’s Creed Origins, Injustice 2 and Star Wars Battlefront. According to Eric, Battlefront at least had a mini game, but personally, I find these things to be a bit nauseating. First of all, my PS4 is outright lying to me about when the game is actually playable, or at least stretching the truth. Second, I don’t want to spend another 3-4 hours playing some crappy mini game just to pass the time. I’d rather play something else in the meantime.
I then thought back to my recent experience with Mafia III, another PS Plus game I received for “free”. I now know that I received the same message as Steep above: READY TO USE. I started the game, and then was greeted with an install screen. This wouldn’t have been that bad if there was something to do, but there was only an on screen percentage and no real indication of how long it was going to take before the game got started. It took 4 hours before I could start the first mission. I did a little digging on this topic, simply searching “Mafia III PS4 install time”, and found this gem of an article. I’m happy to know I wasn’t alone in feeling like someone was pulling the old switcheroo on me.
One of the worst experiences I had with this delivery strategy was with Fifa 18. EA had announced at E3 this past year that a trial version of Fifa 18 would be available to everyone. Like a typical gamer, I added it to my library, then forgot about it for a few months. This was my critical mistake. The game installed half way but what I didn’t realize was there was never any way for me to play this game: the trial had expired. What I did encounter was the game dropping me into a single player match, Real Madrid versus Atlético Madrid. I watched the cut scene, got used to the same penalty kick with Ronaldo, then played the match till its completion. What ultimately happened is that the game wouldn’t launch after the singles match because the download wasn’t completed. The game then encountered an error that forced me to restart the game. I remember quitting and replaying that same match maybe five times before the game finally finished downloading, only to provide me with a message like, “Thanks for playing our trial edition, purchase the full game to play now!”. SHIT.
So yeah, this is me being a bit nit-picky tonight. I don’t think this trend will color my impressions of any of these games. But usually when Im ready to go and excited to play a game, knowing that I need to wait longer for the real experience to open up just feels stupid. It’s just another one of those things that’s shoehorning players into spending all of their time in one particular game. What’s that? The game isn’t fully downloaded yet? Why don’t you sit here and sink some virtual baskets, or shoot at a goal. I don’t need this. I need the full game.
So if there is one change I could ask for, maybe stop this trend? I haven’t yet run across a mini game before the full download that seems worth my time. I’ll be paying extra close attention to those progress bars from now on. But I’d rather have that PS4 notification state, READY TO USE and know it means it.