Like Bizarre Creation’s Blur, Brink is a fun yet flawed multiplayer game that was released with major online connection problems, instantly crippling its chances of success.

But where the company line for Blur was that the connection problems were “isolated issues”—insisting that the online was working fine for the majority players, but that they were looking into it—Bethesda refreshingly acknowledged Brink‘s at-times nearly unplayable multiplayer almost immediately. Not only did they announce a series of patches, but also that there would be free DLC arriving in June.

Eventually June became July, and July became August. Friends became less patient and traded the game in while it still had value, or considered doing so, but I held onto it. And now here we are: it’s the first week of August, and the patches and free Agents Of Change DLC are finally here. So what’s the verdict?

The Patches

First, let’s talk about the patches. The first patch was only a stopgap solution, comically changing the default to a 4-on-4 that would only allow a maximum of eight human players (with a separate 8-on-8 mode for people who weren’t experiencing problems), and some still experienced persistent lag problems even then.

Logging on recently, the online ran so smoothly for me that I didn’t even realize at first that I was playing an 8-on-8 match, which appears to be the default once again. I was astonished! They actually fixed it.

The friendly A.I. have also been modified to no longer be complete wastes of space! One of our constant complaints doing Campaign co-op was that it sometimes felt like you were doing it all by yourself, the rest of your team amounting to little more than a bunch of MeatSims. Playing recently, I was shocked when A.I. teammates were not only helping me with a repair objective, but actually managed to finish it without me when I died!

The patch also includes various weapon tweaks for the sake of balancing. They’re so subtle that you might not notice unless you’re a big stat nut, but you can read about all of those changes here.

Unfortunately, they haven’t fixed everything. When starting up a co-op Campaign match with friends, the friend with the highest rank still has to be the one to start a match; friends with a higher rank than you can’t join your match (even if invited), and the setting of “My Rank Or Higher” in this instance apparently doesn’t mean what you think it’d mean.

There are other similar issues with the structure of the menus, but I won’t get into those since they’re more just confusing than an actual inconvenience (what does “Visibility: Everyone” mean in Campaign when there is no Campaign match-making?).

Agents Of Change DLC

The actual DLC consists of two new maps (with a Security and Resistance side to each), two new weapon attachments, two new character outfit sets, and five new character abilities. It also raises the level cap from 20 to 24.

The maps are fantastic, taking you right into the Founder’s Tower that is used as the game’s logo/icon. Rather than feeling like leftovers or throwaways, these end up being some of the most well-designed maps in the game.

The new weapon attachments are a bayonet and a weapon shield, which make for interesting possibilities. The new character abilities include a tactical scanner that is universal to all character classes that allows you to see how any enemies are currently buffed, plus four class-specific abilities: an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for Operatives, napalm grenades for Soldiers, pryo mines for Engineers, and field regen units for Medics.

As far as free DLC is concerned, this is pretty fantastic. It’s definitely a game I’d recommend to people to give a try now. But it’s also a game that’s more fun with friends, and in waiting so long to fix things and release the DLC, enough people have gotten impatient and sold their copies that Brink may have lost its chance at ever gaining more than a small, cult base of players.

Even worse, the Agents Of Change is only free for two weeks, after which it will be priced at $10. I think already think Halo, Call Of Duty, and Gears Of War map pack are over-priced at $10, and not only do those tend to have more content (except Halo‘s standard three-maps-per-pack), but they also have a large enough base of players that the percentage of people who will actually pay that price is higher. Brink is going to have such a small number of players who will ever be willing to pay for this DLC, that I think it would’ve been a smarter move to keep it free, as a permanent incentive to anyone thinking about buying the game over the next year.

But what do I know? I still play Blur.