This week’s One Off The List chronicles the best bugs in PC games that ever existed.
The Oxford English Dictionary describes a bug as: “kind of computer oops”. This is the result of faulty coding, unsuitable texture, wobbly physics or (sometimes) a briefcase. Developers must fight bugs day and night to protect the digital realms we call our playgrounds. Sometimes they lose this battle and a bug voraciously enters our game, ready to disturb us. But sometimes this bug is not a boredom or a game breaker, but rather the funniest thing there is. Here are 9 of the best bugs in PC gaming.
Hitman’s Return Case
An undercover agent is nothing without his gadgets. Silver coins, a wet fish, exploding rubber ducks. But Hitman’s most entertaining non-lethal gadget was the result of a bug. His briefcase is said to be used for smuggling sniper rifles and explosives into public spaces while looking like a famous businessman. Come on Hitman 2 release day, the briefcase had other plans. It can fly long distances when launched. It might round off the corners. He returned to his career with the tenacity of a mother hawk in search of her chicks. It was such a wonderful bug that the developers simply turned it into a bonus weapon and called it “Briefcase Mk II”, rather than removing it from the game altogether.
The Abyss in Microsoft Flight Simulator
When you fly a Cessna 208 light aircraft into the abyss, the abyss launches into you as well. Or it crushes you at a microscopic geometry point and the game crashes. I do not remember. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 offers some of the most dazzling views in PC gaming. The earth is accurately recreated from insane amounts of map data. But in some cases the numbers are a bit off and what should be an ordinary country plot turns into a gargantuan sinkhole, the kind you would see appear in a Christopher Nolan movie. Only a little more confusing than the otherworldly monolith on the outskirts of Melbourne that also appeared in the game.
Half-Life 2’s Infinitely Fast Backward Bunny
The programmers of Half-Life 2 haven’t set an upper limit on your reverse speed. And why would they do it? After all, who would try to gain speed by running backwards? In practice, you would need to do something really silly, like jumping endlessly up and down with your back turned, to even get the momentum. I can’t imagine a player would do that. You would have to be obsessed to want to go that fast in a video game. Motivated by a strange urge to run at this speed. Some kind of speed fanatic. A kind of game runner. A kind of fast sprinter. There is probably a word for it. In short, an interesting bug.
The gruesome faces of Assassin’s Creed Unity
It’s heartwarming to know that beneath each blockbuster’s beautifully sculpted face hides the same basic organs that all humans have in common – a mind-boggling pair of joke shop eyes and a fancy tooth set. Ubisoft found this issue and described it as limited to certain types of graphics cards and then fixed it. But not before the images of these horrific creatures have been widely shared and etched forever in the collective skulls of Assassin’s Creed players everywhere.
Putting a Bucket on a Trader’s Head in Skyrim
If you put a bucket on someone’s head, they can’t see you stealing a wheel of cheese. Is this a bug? Or is it some incredibly powerful game design?
Momentary invulnerability in Halo
Story time, young people. In this wrinkled but respected shooter, there is a power-up called an overhield. When you pick it up, your magical Spacehield charges up with extra oomph. But some players have found that this charge takes a few seconds, and in this brief window the player becomes invulnerable. This resulted in players planting dozens of dormant grenades under the in-game warjeep, and at the exact moment an unbeaten volunteer picked up a shield and jumped into the car, the grenades would explode. The car and passenger would be sent flying through the air, completely immune to the normally deleterious effect of the massive explosion, and would reach parts of the map previously inaccessible. A golden age of acrobatic jumps ensued, and peace reigned throughout the land. The end.
This is a mandatory joke, please take a step back, please do not engage.
People falling from the sky in Red Dead Redemption 2
There is no such joy as the joy of seeing a ragdoll man fall from a high place. When it was released, Red Dead Redemption 2’s cut was overflowing with physical bugs. Wagging horse carriages, endangered John Marstons, horses that would die instantly and catch fire as they stepped over a very specific piece of land. But the best bang for my buck was the random rain of pedestrians, characters, and equine friends. People would fall from the sky for no reason. Sometimes during cutscenes. Remember also that you could abseil down a cliff with your own vomit? Red Dead 2 has been touted as the pinnacle of realism and craftsmanship in the industry. But it also demonstrates a universal truth that I have repeated many times: Video games are still comedy, whether they like it or not.
Quake rocket jump
The weapon that has become a feat. The feat that has become a feature. The functionality that defined a genre. I used the slogan from Ridley Scott’s epic historical drama Gladiator as the format for this introduction for two reasons: 1. I’m running out of ways to talk about bugs. 2. The rhythm of this phrase has stuck in my brain since 2000, the year Quake 3 Arena stood next to Deus Ex and an entire industry put down their rocket launchers for stealth mechanics and something that is called storytelling. You could use a rocket launcher to shoot at your own feet and fly through the air like a beautiful soccer ball. And isn’t that some kind of story? I suggest: yes.
One off the list of …
Last time around, we tested the courage of the 8 toughest Vikings in PC games. But one of them was deemed too soft by far. His… Ax of Mordhau.
“Ax lad must face the fate of all the gentle Vikings,” says Juror Justin of the list. “He should be banned from this hero room for an overproduced and gritty drama series along with all the other so-called Vikings.”
And so it came to pass that the meek was cast out. I’ll be back next month, list the goblins. But for now, I’m going out.