It can take more than two minutes to respawn in the Xbox One version of the new open-world action game ReCore, though sometimes it takes just three seconds. Traversal inside the game's handful of major zones is smooth, but transitioning from one to another, which players are encouraged to do, can take 30-60 seconds. These loading time issues are surprising to see in a game published by a first-party like Microsoft and are already affecting response to a game that is only coming out today.
A video of one of the game's two-minute respawns made the rounds on Twitter this past weekend.
ReCore loading time after death pic.twitter.com/vNqbsDRg6z
— Press Start Kofi (@PressStartKofi) September 10, 2016
Some reviews hitting today also cite the game's long loading times, similar to the ones I've experienced playing the Xbox One version of the game. I haven't been able to test the PC version yet, though a reviewer at PC World said load times for them, using a generally fast-loading solid-state drive, were about 30 seconds.
Microsoft is aware of the issue, telling Kotaku in a statement that: "Your experience with the game includes the Day One patch consumers will receive on September 13. We are aware that even with the Day One patch, players can still experience long load times in a couple areas of the game. We appreciate player feedback and are committed to improving where we can."
It's unclear just what new patches are underway and what they can or will address.
Update: We’ve tested the PC version ourselves on a machine with an SSD, and the loading times are much shorter. Respawning after death took around 26 seconds on PC, compared to two minutes on console. Using fast-travel to warp from one region to another took about 18-20 seconds, a little less when going back to HQ. That’s compared to 30-60 seconds for fast travel on console.
ReCore is an unusual release. It's an original game featuring a main character, Joule Adams, who teams up with robotic buddies to explore and fight through an alien desert expanse that is full of massive, mostly wrecked terraforming stations and equipment. It's from an all-star set of studios, including the Japanese Comcept team headed by Mega Man lead creator Keiji Inafune and Microsoft Game Studio, though the primary developers are Armature, a Texas indie helmed by the lead creators of the acclaimed Metroid Prime games. The game is getting a full disc release and can also be played on PC via the new "Xbox Play Anywhere" program, but is selling at launch for just $50.
Fittingly, ReCore also presents an odd specimen when playing it. I haven't finished the game, hence the lack of a Kotaku review just yet, but I can say that some of its well-designed fundamentals are tripped up by incompatible technical restrictions. The game wants players to explore its big world and wants you moving from zone to zone and back to HQ frequently, but the slow loading times for those transitions make that backtracking excessively arduous. As with the Prime games, players gain new abilities as they play that should make them eager to try them out to access previously inaccessible areas. If only fast-travelling back didn't involve a two-minute wait.
The slow death respawns are also vexing. ReCore generally isn't that difficult, so the risk of dying is usually minimal, but wandering off the main path will get a player into some tough battles. Oddly, the game appears to be able to revive players from certain kinds of deaths very quickly. One room in an area of the game called The Warren requires some careful jumping and climbing over a pool of toxic, fatal green liquid. Sometimes, when I fell and died in that room, my character would respawn in just three seconds. Other times, possibly because I had gotten zapped by lasers that are also shooting through the room, my death would trigger a full reload that took about 75 seconds.
Some major releases, such as Uncharted 4, are nearly devoid of loading times, though open-world games tend to require more waiting. I'm playing The Witcher 3 on my PS4 and it can take about 90 seconds to reload after I'm killed in battle. Moving from one end of the map to another using that game's fast-travel warp system usually takes 20-30 seconds.
Loading times aren't exactly extinct from modern gaming, especially on consoles. But if the game they're part of wants players to backtrack a lot or fight tough enemies, then they can be a problem. So far, ReCore's long loading times are an incentive for me to play better to avoid getting killed but also a dis-incentive to explore, which is a shame considering how visually interesting its world is and how fun it tends to be to explore its nooks and crannies.
I'll be testing the game on PC as well and will be checking if the game's performance on console is patched. I'll have a review coming up, in which I'll try to avoid mentioning Metroid Prime in every single paragraph.