Xenoblade Chronicles right away allows you to explore (to an extent until you advance the story). But each new area is open and you spend a few hours checking the area out. Also has a great combat system.
I did not might the first part FF13 as much as others, but I was noting there is light at the end of the tunnel for people that can't get over the first segment.
Star Trek TNG took until 3rd seasons to be great, with a few gem of a episodes. Just how some TV shows start off. And they will lose viewers if the start sucks, but hopefully they come back if/when it comes good.
Now we have Firefly which was brilliant from the start and... yah. /cry