A year ago, this was nearly double the capacity of an entire Xbox 360 game, but now Dead Rising 3 players are being forced to download a monstrous 13GB title update just to be able to play online. Containing a few performance tweaks and what is very likely to be DLC content, this outrageous mandatory drop is a stark reminder of what we can expect from this new console generation; the ability to easily deliver content patches resulting in developers wasting our time after the fact and addressing issues that should have been ironed out before release.
However, it's also thrusts one of the Xbox One's most under-rated features into the spotlight... and suggests that things might not be as bad as they first appear.
For the record, Dead Rising 3 is brilliant. Rather than pushing for "1080p 60FPS OMFG!?!1" in a soulless tech demo, Capcom Vancouver converted the Xbox One's horsepower directly into fun and massive numbers of simultaneously-rendered zombies. However, this lead to an irritating degree of texture and detail pop-in alongside other technical issues, which the team have finally decided to tackle post-launch.
We like the idea, but in practice it requires a light touch. The culture of releasing games unfinished before patching them up over time has become commonplace on PC (even leading to the exciting Early Access model), but on consoles, it still feels lazy and wrong. Convenience is still the only major selling point of a console over a gaming PC (barring those tasty digital prices... and variety... and visuals... this isn't the time for that discussion), so developers need to ensure that tweaks and improvements are delivered in small bite-sized patches that let us get back to the action as quickly as possible rather than waiting for a colossal mandatory download. Or, to be blunt, actually make sure that games release without the need for extra downloads and downtime - those all-too-prevalent day one patches included.
Certification exists for a reason. Come on console manufacturers, use it to improve AAA quality rather than grind indies down.
It's certainly annoying. Not just because our time is precious and saving it should be publishers' top priority on consoles, but that hard drive space comes at a premium on Xbox One. 500GB will fill up fast since we have to install every every single game, and we currently can't manually organise our content to free up space. Plus, those on limited data plans can only grit their teeth and wait for the inevitable throttling or extra charges. Surely this state of affairs is absolutely unacceptable?
I was planning on covering this patch yesterday, but as a hack who actually likes to fact-check their material, I held off on the story while waiting to verify the size and installation time of the update myself. Throughout the day I logged onto my Xbox One, fired up Dead Rising 3 and found the game to be playable with no hint of a patch or update anywhere. Us Europeans often get the back of publishers' hands when it comes to new releases, so I assumed that the rollout had been staggered here in the UK.
Nope. What had actually transpired was very different. Without any effort on my part, my Xbox One had automatically grabbed the update, downloaded it and installed it in standby mode the night before, leaving the game ready to play straight away. Better yet, the update actually overwrote most of the game's pre-existing installation, leading to only a net increase of about 2GB in total file size all told.
Microsoft's "Always-On" mantra raised eyebrows last year, but it's great to see that those two much-maligned words have actually translated into meaningful time-saving benefits for us gamers. With our consoles able to conduct busywork while we're asleep or at work, it's clear that being always connected has its perks, and lets us game on our terms. It's something we can look forward to over the coming years, especially if updates are kept small to ensure that they're always hidden behind the scenes. And, erm, if Microsoft gives us more control over the amount of data we're willing to download on strict broadband plans.
Though this might be small comfort to gamers who just wanted to play some Dead Rising 3 with a friend mid-update. Just because you can do something doesn't always mean you should, so now that the rushed-out launch titles are giving way to games with much more time to iron out any creases, we hope that developers do their best to keep the post-launch patching to an absolute minimum. Our time is valuable. Earn it.