Our readers share the worst, most absurd glitches they’ve ever encountered

Glitches, at least to some degree, are a tolerated part of gaming. We expect that, every once in awhile, something is bound to break. Sometimes these glitches are harmless bugs that make characters move weird or objects act unexpectedly. But sometimes you encounter a whole different kind of glitch that either ruins the game entirely or leaves you scratching your head as you try and figure out what the hell is going on.

Last week we asked our readers to share stories of their best encounters with glitches. Over 100 of you responded and we’ve taken our favorites and compiled them below. Some are sad, some are bizarre, and others are downright hilarious. 

Zalbaar the Magnificent 

A lot of glitches fall into basic tropes like character animations breaking or textures being swapped. But baedeker's story makes me laugh because of the sheer absurdity of it. It's like if someone made a crossover between Star Wars and Duncan Jones' Moon.

Commenter: baedeker

Back in 2003, I was playing Knights of the Old Republic, and I had gotten off the first planet Taris and was on Tatooine. Obviously going between planets I was entering the ship, Ebon Hawk, quite a few times. What I started to notice is Zaalbar had duplicated within the ship. Game worked fine so I found it funny and carried on, thinking the doppelganger would disappear once I re-entered the ship. I left the ship and re-entered after doing a few quests to see Zaalbar had replicated himself another two times. There were now four Zaalbars looking in the same direction standing next to each other. I re-entered the ship, and there were now eight, then 16. At this point Ebon Hawk's hull was filled with a the horde of Zaalbars. My game was running at 2 fps and made using the ship very painful. I think I gave up on the playthrough as I finished a few times before. Later down the line I found I had the Double Zaalbar Glitch which must of doubled the double glitch.

Super Civ 

Listen, I'm not much for min-maxing but when you build a civilization so powerful that you can discover new technology and knowledge just merely by thinking about it—like this is the Matrix or something—that's pretty crazy. This obviously wasn't a glitch due to some shoddy code, but because the developers never imagined someone would push the limits of the game this far.

Commenter: Jimmy

Back when I was playing Civilization 2, I ended up making one "super civilization." My production in some cities and total science research level went so high that it literally broke the production and technology counters. The game displayed that I would discover new technologies every "-1 turn" and some cities could also produce the most complex buildings in "-1 turn." At first, it didn't have any real effect because buildings and research were still actually completed in one turn. However, it ended up completely breaking the game because one turn would not end because I was endlessly discovering future technologies and the game kept spamming the technology tree for a new tech to research. At first I was like "LOL!!! Ok, let's crank this up and complete this game with a ridiculously high score." But I ended up realizing I would not complete the game if my turn would not end. Out of curiosity, I kept spamming new technology research just to see if it would end at some point, but got bored after 20-30 minutes and I just started a new game, making sure to never break that science research level again.

Your own worst enemy 

I don't even know what to say about this one.

Commenter: Darkrage.nl

Crusader Kings II: I had a character who was supporting his own assassination plot led by his son. After several failed attempts he finally succeeded by poisoning his own wine.

The Flying Dutchmen

We had a lot of submissions about the Assassin's Creed series which are, unsurprisingly, very buggy games. But this story comes with photos which, to me, only enhances the hilarity of a bunch of sailors hanging on for dear life as their ship ascends into low-orbit like a space shuttle.

Commenter: Awesome!

I played Assassin's Creed: Black Flag for the first time last year. I went into my ship's cabin and came back out onto the deck only to find my ship had acquired a taste for something greater than water.

Fashion faux pas 

I'm not a good judge of what is fashionable these days (or any day) but something tells me Zloth's bold reimagining of the mini skirt would set the fashion world on fire. His story about his first capital ship in X3: Terran Conflict is harrowing, however.

Commenter: Zloth

Well, there was the time (might have been while beta testing) in City of Heroes where texture for miniskirts got rotated 90 degrees. Wouldn't have been a problem except there were supposed to be slits on the sides.

Or X3: Terran Conflict where you would save and save and FINALLY earn enough money to buy your own capital ship, so you would go to a star base and purchase one of these huge ships. You would order it to go somewhere and watch as your massive investment would undock and slowly tip its nose downward, away from the station, in order to thrust away. Of course, that meant the tail of the ship went upward—right into the starbase. The shielding would drop like a rock, then the hit points, and then your pride and joy would turn into a star for a couple of seconds. Hope you saved your game. 

Murder mystery 

Bad enemy AI is sometimes frustrating and sometimes hilarious. This story in particular made me laugh out loud just because of how stupid it is.

Commenter: doplerradar

Assassin's Creed 3 DLC. It was so buggy. Enemies were complete idiots, occasionally they'd try to shoot me while on the other side of a wall, and a wolf got stuck in a hay bale once. One time they executed a woman by firing squad and the officer went up to the body and said "What happened here?"

The real monster 

The Witcher 3 is an incredible game but, holy hell, is it buggy sometimes. We've all heard stories of Roach's shenanigans and the weird squat-walking bug that makes NPCs strut around like the Minister of Silly Walks. But MrGlobbits video is particularly funny to me because—oh my god what is going on with his head!?

Commenter: MrGlobbits

One day while walking through Novigrad...


Hacking is a serious thing in most multiplayer shooters. But if I was in Martin's shoes, I'd happily do whatever I needed to in order to get away with bags full of money in Payday. Who knew that no-clipping was a viable strategy for bank robbery?

Commenter: Martin Cummerou

The very first time I played Payday: The Heist, I clipped through the map and ended up underneath it. I figured this would be the end of my short career as a robber, however, I found out (because I was bored) that I could shoot enemies from below the map, and they could not shoot back. So I proceeded to kill every single enemy that spawned while the rest of my team hid and got the loot. My team then thanked me by running away with the loot.

City of Ghosts 

Of all the glitch stories shared, Branovices is my favorite. It's the kind of bizarre thing that you can't help but laugh at. How a city with a population of zero ended up collapsing into civil unrest almost reads like satire.

Commenter: Branovices

I founded a new city in SimCity 2000 and started setting everything up, but no one was moving in. No matter what I built or how much I lowered taxes, the population was zero. Then it got weird. My nonexistent citizens started complaining about how bad the nonexistent traffic was. Eventually the situation became so intolerable to everyone (no one?) a riot broke out. 

To recap: A city with a population of zero had a riot over traffic congestion.

These were just a few of our favorite stories. Head over to the comment thread from last week in order to see the rest.

Commenters were edited for clarity and grammar.

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.