Many gamers have been having a great time destroying animals and evil despots ever since Far Cry 4 came out last month. For others, it's a different story. Despite receiving several patches designed to address its performance issues, these players are still struggling to get the game up and running properly.
The specific technical issues that Far Cry 4 players are experiencing vary across platforms, but I've managed to identify a few trends. Along with the occasional bug, console gamers are mostly suffering from periodic server outages that hamper Far Cry's online multiplayer performance. Some aren't able to access these modes entirely, others have simply given up trying after being kicked out of co-op sessions or player-vs.-player matches. PC gamers have been reporting the largest amount of problems by far, many affected players saying that the game continues to crash at launch, or runs into a number of glitches that are either game-breaking or just plain irritating when it does manage to start.
More often than not, it's difficult to assess the full extent of performance issues with a game -- particularly one as popular as Far Cry 4, that appears across multiple gaming platforms spanning a number of different hardware generations. Kotaku writers who are playing Far Cry 4 on PC haven't experienced any of the game-breaking issues that other PC gamers have identified, and continue to report. At worst, Kirk had a problem with the game's framerate stuttering. But he was able to fix that in a relatively painless way.
I asked Kotaku readers how the game was performing for them yesterday, and the responses I received in the comments to that post and by email were pretty evenly split. Players on PC, Xbox One and 360, and the PS3 and PS4 all said that they were loving the game and experiencing no meaningful problems -- at least at present, after updating their games with the patches that Ubisoft has been regularly putting out for Far Cry 4. The other half, however, are getting pretty fed up. Most of the affected PC gamers I heard from told me they're barely able to get the game up and running in the first place, so much so that they weren't able to tell me anything about how its online multiplayer is working for them since it takes an hour or more of single-player gameplay to unlock co-op.
Console players who have encountered issues highlight a more narrow range of issues than their PC counterparts. Usually, these focus on the game's two different multiplayer. I've seen many more complaints about co-op than the 5-v-5 "Battles of Kyrat" competitive multiplayer, but that may be due to their relatively popularity.
The main problem across PlayStation and Xbox consoles is that Far Cry 4's servers are unstable. Players continue to lose their connections in the middle of playing, or have a hard time connecting with their friends or the general Far Cry 4 community. Dropped connections also lead to other frustrating problems such as lost progress or having items and skills disappear inexplicably from a player's roster.
Assessing the legitimacy of complaints like these, and what they might mean for the overall state of Far Cry 4, is tricky for two reasons. One, Far Cry is still generally considered a shooter that puts single-player first, so many players I heard from hadn't yet tested out multiplayer. Some weren't interested, others got frustrated after a few dropped connections and gave up. And then there's the whole other set, who are just having a great time with the game:
I've been playing Far Cry 4 on my PS4 since the game launched. While I encountered bugs from the very beginning, most of them weren't substantive enough to ruin my game. As I wrote shortly before Thanksgiving, the game's problems were really more charming than anything else.
Things have taken a serious turn for the worse over the past two weeks. Every time I've tried to play online co-op with friends over that time period, I was barely able to do so. I'd frequently lose my connection regardless of which one of us was joining the other's game. This Wednesday evening and one night last week, it took me nearly two hours just to establish a connection secure enough to actually play on. I spent a lot of time staring at this screen, in other words:
When I'd finally make it into a co-op session, I'd run into a more serious crop of bugs and bizarre hiccups than the ones I'd seen pre-Thanksgiving.
At one point when playing on Wednesday night, for instance, my character respawned in a weird third-person perspective without a head. The friend I was playing with told me that the game was still working fine for him at that point, it just looked like I was walking back and forth for no particular reason.
He killed me, and I respawned back in the comfort of a first-person perspective. Shortly after that, we ran into a sherpa that looked like he was bouncing up and down in my game. Again, my friend did not see the same thing as I did:
Following our encounter with the half-sherpa, half bouncy ball, we ran into another issue where a car kept teleporting across a small patch of Far Cry 4's open world:
I ran into many similar problems throughout my time playing Far Cry 4 online this week and last. These visual glitches are rarely game-breaking, though the overwhelming amount I've encountered recently has made turned them into an unpleasant reality of playing online. When I can actually play online, of course -- I consider having to wait for more than two hours just to get something running to be borderline unplayable for the majority of gamers who can only indulge in their preferred hobby for a limited amount of time on any given day. It still runs fine in single-player. But as I noted in my original review of Far Cry 4, co-op is easily the best part of this excellent new shooter. Ubisoft should recognise that and make sure it's operating smoothly so that more players can appreciate it as well.
Of course, the problems I just described only represent my individual experience with Far Cry 4. But the game's performance issues are noteworthy because I've continued to hear from other players experiencing similar problems.
Ubisoft, meanwhile, has continued to release patches across all of the game's platforms that claim to fix the exact issues that I've continued to see players reporting. A late November patch, for instance, was supposed to address the game's online stability on the PS3 and PS4. But based on my own experience testing out the PS4 version and other player reports, their problems have actually gotten worse since then. Another patch for the PC version of the game was released just last night, and Ubisoft says that it "fixes various control and graphics issues." It will take more time to see if that patch will be the one to repair the game once and for all, but the last few PC updates haven't proved unanimously successful.
I reached out to Ubisoft to ask if they were aware of persistent issues with Far Cry 4's performance, and will update this story if I hear back.