Cubase 8.5.1. - Project stuck on "Loading Mix Console"

Just recieved Cubase yesterday, updated it, started a large orchestration, worked all day. Super happy with the work flow and features. However, today, none of the versions (manually or autosaved) want to be opened, they all get stuck on “Loading Mix Console”. I searched google and it seems that the usual problem in this case is incompatible plugins, but the only thing I had in the project was a single instance of Kontakt 5.5.3.
Then I start a new project, input Kontakt with a couple of patches, close the project and re-open it, it works fine for the time being, but I have a creeping feeling every time I’m opening Cubase that a project will refuse to open.

Any help?

(P.S. Bonus question, probably not a bug but my own ignorance: It occured to me that exported audio from Cubase is quieter than the level I mixed it at, so I created a 1khz sine wave at -6dB, exported it and when I open the resulting .wav in Sound Forge it is at -12dB. Can someone tell me where in options do I turn off the attenuation or whatever it is, I searched all over the manual and could not find it)

Thanks in advance.