The biggest game in the world right now is Fallout 4. It is critically praised and popular beyond all belief. The game probably broke some sales or “biggest entertainment launch” record (whatever that means). Most of the reviews spotlight the same incredible features: improved main storyline, large open world, fun sense of immersion, countless things to do and find. The same negative things also seem to crop up in most reviews: bugs and glitches by the handful and an overall feeling of jankiness. But Fallout 4 is a great game despite the overwhelming bugs. Reviewers and consumers seem to have embraced the game as one of the year’s best.
A little over a year ago, Assassin’s Creed: Unity was released to middling reviews and absolutely scathing consumer feedback. The game was an unmitigated disaster on multiple fronts. Missions were buggy. Graphics turned character faces into grotesque freak shows. Even stalwart die-hard fans of the Assassin's Creed series disliked Unity. The 2015 franchise entry, Syndicate, was noted for the relative lack of bugs and improved quality.
So why is there a double standard? Bethesda games have always been known to have crazy bugs. From Daggerfall to Fallout, bugs and glitches have been actually regarded as a funny feature, almost charming. Skyrim, which is widely regarded as one of the best games in the last 10 years, was almost unplayable for many Playstation 3 owners because a whole host of bugs. Assassin's Creed: Unity, however, is viewed as a lost cause.
The difference in perception has to be the quality and ambition between the two franchises. While Assassin's Creed has promised an unparalleled open world experience, it has settled into being a conventional open world game. The series suffers from the yearly grind of sequels that feel rushed and tedious.
Meanwhile, Bethesda games are released years apart and while the formula doesn't change, the exploration and scope dwarfs other open world games. The amount of items, customization, RPG elements, and modding put the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games in another category.
Bethesda games might not get a "pass" for bugs and glitches, but the enormity and ambition go a long way in softening the negatives. Every one of their games feel like a must-see event. Assassin's Creed has a fraction of the scope, and a new one is released every 12 months. Fair or not, the bugs feel truly devastating.