Getting Bugged by the Launch Now, Patch Later Video Game Release Mentality

In my last column, I had mentioned the new game Cult of the Lamb. The game had just released. Right after posting my last column, I immediately asked to review the game. Since getting the title, I have been obsessed. I think for the first three days after receiving it that my every waking moment was consumed by the adorable and fluffy lamb cult leader. I will be writing a full game review for Cult of the Lamb shortly, but I wanted to take advantage of this space to specifically zone in on a major issue lamb cultists like myself are currently experiencing, the bugs.

This isn’t my first time hearing about a game releasing with major bugs. The biggest offender in recent history that immediately comes to mind is Cyberpunk 2077. I wasn’t too caught up in the hype for this game, despite Keanu Reeves’s best efforts, so I’m not intimately familiar with the details, but it made major gaming news for how terribly unplayable the game was initially at launch. Sony even pulled the game from its online store and issued refunds to unhappy early customers, an almost unprecedented phenomenon.

Editor’s Note: Cyberpunk 2077 had a lot of problems at launch, but eventually the game got a lot better for next generation consoles and even when running on older PlayStation 4 or Xbox One hardware.

No Man’s Sky

This “launch now, patch later” mentality has inundated the gaming market, with over a dozen different cases of games being unbearably buggy at launch. Some notable examples of this include Fallout 76, WWE 2K20, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, No Man’s Sky, and Battlefield 2042. After gaming consoles gained internet connectivity, video game companies have used the ability to patch a game post-launch as an excuse to release unfinished games instead of pushing back the launch date in favor of releasing a fully finished and tested product. While this has become a common practice, consumers have dwindling patience for these types of issues especially with the price of AAA games increasing.

Now back to Cult of the Lamb. My issue with the bugs in this title isn’t so much that they are game breaking, although at times they can be, but with the sheer number of them. Twitter and Reddit are packed with user complaints of bugs in this game ranging from cosmetic and annoying to game breaking.

One of the major bugs centers around the ritual mechanic within the game. The main way to increase follower devotion is to perform various rituals for your cult members. These rituals cost resources, one of which is sometimes a specific cult member. Your cult loses devotion when one of their members dies. The best way to get around that is to sacrifice the elder members in a ritual. Your old cult member dies, you get free bones and meat, and the rest of your cult gains a large helping of devotion. The only problem is that it’s a gamble if the essential cult member will be available for sacrifice.

Only six members of your cult are available at any one time for this, meaning often there are instances that I have to just let the cult member die naturally and deal with the consequences. The bigger issue with the rituals, however, is that they can cause the game to soft lock. During the soft lock you can save the game and exit out, but you will lose whatever non-member resources were spent to cast the ritual. Also, the only way to surefire prevent the ritual from continually soft locking is to completely close the game and relaunch it. Knowing this trick definitely lowers the frustration level when encountering this glitch, but not everyone knows to fully exit the game. Several help columns have even claimed that the spent resources will return when you reload the game, but this has not been my experience at all.

The only game breaking bug that I’ve personally experienced is with the game sometimes blocking off an essential area. Early on in the game, I was not able to return to the crusading portion of the game. A wall of black smoke prevented me from fully exiting my camp. Thankfully, after completing my current mission at the camp, the roadblock was removed. Another game breaking bug I’ve seen is that some players are unable to collect shells, which are an essential resource needed for something later in the game. I have not played far enough in the story to need shells, so hopefully this one will be patched before I get there. Some players have complained of bosses turning invisible, and I’ve seen one video snippet of a horde of spiders overwhelming the player which resulted in an almost instant KO. I have had one specific type of boss go invisible on me, but thankfully one of its attacks shows an arrow before it launches itself at the player. You can also see a small shadow if you look closely, so I’ve been able to track it that way.

Most of the more minor bugs center around the camp life of your cult. In addition to the ritual bugs mentioned earlier, some players have experienced issues where quests cannot be accepted, or they’ve automatically failed. There are also lag issues at the start of a new day. If I’m in my camp when a new day starts, the game freezes for a good five to ten seconds. I’ve also experienced significant lags when I have more than twenty followers at a time. This can be terribly frustrating when trying to cook meals for your cult, as mistakes result in burnt food that wastes resources and cannot be eaten. Another bug in camp is when the followers do not always listen to your working orders. No matter how many people I tell to work in the farm, I only ever see a few followers working. I also have issues where my flooring decorations disappear when I come back to base from a crusade.

Despite all these bugs, more people seem to be enjoying the game than not. While I have seen comments from players wanting to rage quit or at least shelve the game until a major patch is released, the majority of social media comments are positive. These bugs can be undoubtably incredibly frustrating, but there are still a large number of players who are enjoying the game, myself included. Even after encountering the ritual soft lock bug numerous times, I’ve never wanted to put the game down for more than a few hours. Just after launch, the Cult of the Lamb Twitter account boasted that there were over one million sales of the game. Some people responded spitefully, which is understandable. Instead of acknowledging the many issues of the game early on at launch, PR was celebrating how much money the company was making. However, a quick scroll through the comments shows that most people were singing the title’s praises.

It is worth noting that a major patch for Cult of the Lamb has been released across most, if not all systems. This patch has notably fixed the ritual soft lock issue as well as the six cult member ritual limit. Several other bugs have been patched as well. Hopefully, the future of your cult is a little brighter with these fixes.

Let me know in the comments if your recent gaming has been affected by bugs. Until the next time, stay cool, be you. Bye!

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