Image: COD WW2 Zombies
It was Sledgehammer's turn to take the latest military shooter franchise back to World War 2 this year, and over the weekend gamers on all platforms looked forward to slugging it out with bolt-action rifles and '40s era weaponry.
But throughout the weekend, the COD WW2 experience was miserable thanks to some horrific rubber banding.
Players noticed some severe problems towards the end of last week, and Sledgehammer blew the horn early on Saturday morning to let everyone know: yes Houston, we have a problem.
#CODWWII MP connectivity improved from earlier, but dedicated servers are currently off-line. Expect normal P2P performance including host migrations. We'll be sharing updates throughout the day on current status.
If you have a support request, please reach out to @ATVIAssist.
— Sledgehammer Games (@SHGames) November 10, 2017
Peer-to-peer servers are always a bit hit or miss. You can have a perfectly satisfactory experience provided your internet connection is up to snuff, but not everyone suddenly wants to bear all that upload without warning. A lot of residential Australian connections don't have great upload to begin with, anyway.
And that's even when you just have one or two devices connected to the network. When you've got multiple consoles, phones, PCs and IoT devices all over the house, that's a lot of demand on your bandwidth. It's a recipe that's ripe for instability, which results in lag, rubber banding, and an all-round shitty multiplayer experience.
A lack of dedicated servers has always been one of the biggest complaints from PC gamers; it's a large reason why the boycott around Modern Warfare 2 started, as unsuccessful as that was.
But the reasoning is pretty straightforward: dedicated servers offer a better, more consistent experience for all. They also don't give advantages to the one player who's hosting, and for the most part, you don't get multiplayer matches that play out like this.
— Haydn Williams (@HaydnExport) November 10, 2017
— tino (@tino005) November 12, 2017
Complaints have been flooding in on social media to the official Activision support Twitter and Sledgehammer Games. The problem is felt worldwide, but for what it's worth, this summed up about half of my multiplayer experiences over the weekend.
A summary of this evening's experience https://t.co/HpNdVfrlDX
— Alex Walker (@dippizuka) November 10, 2017
That was over the weekend, which Sledgehammer presumably spent the entirety of putting out fires. The situation wasn't resolved, however, and the company announced earlier this morning that while connections were more stable than before - not so much rubber banding, thank God - things weren't completely back to normal either.
STATUS UPDATE: Thanks everyone for your support. Connectivity remains stable as we work through server tests. We’re still on P2P for now. Also, we've identified a code issue at the root of post-match disconnects. Fix is in test and we hope to patch later today. Stay tuned.
— Sledgehammer Games (@SHGames) November 12, 2017
Of course, that wasn't the only problem to crop up.
In some instances where players were getting into matches and playing just fine, people found they were being disconnected from the server - which resulted in no stats being recorded, and reduced the amount of in-game rewards players would have received.
If that wasn't bad enough, COD WW2's Headquarters social hub also had connectivity issues. So to fix things, Sledgehammer flipped a switch turning everyone's social hub into a solo affair for the interim.
It's been a miserable weekend for COD fans, put simply. So it's no surprise that around an hour ago, the company published a blog post outlining that the server performance issues had been caused by the previous COD WW2 update:
Online Connectivity – While our previous Game Update which released early Friday solved several critical needs, unfortunately it also had an adverse effect on server performance. As a result, we moved to P2P (listen) servers. Overall, the game is stable, however we know that P2P brings things like Host Migrations and other issues that make for inconsistent gameplay experiences. Our objective to return to dedicated servers is our highest priority.
Dedicated Servers – This weekend we rolled out various test solutions in limited markets in order to fully analyze real-world conditions without risking disruption. This level of data and diagnostics is helping us work toward a permanent solution as quickly as possible. We’ve begun to test dedicated servers today in the US. We’ll watch this test closely, and once we analyze the results we’ll look to expand.
Game Disconnects From Server - After much testing, our engineering teams identified the root cause of this issue, which can also result in lost stats and post match lobby freezes. Later tonight, we plan to deploy a patch across both consoles worldwide. We’ll monitor the results, and keep everyone updated.
Headquarters – As we focus on the return to dedicated servers as our highest priority, we will continue to utilize a solo-HQ experience. Players can still invite friends, which we encourage everyone to try. But we get it, HQ is best enjoyed with a thriving, fully populated social community interacting together. So hang in there while we address the most pressing concerns first.
A separate post on the Activision support site lists all the currently known issues with the game, including: players losing all their ranks and stats; having their classes reset after equipping weapon variations; long load times with the Headquarters social hub; players not receiving in-game items with their digital preorders; and players getting stuck at the end of matches, not able to progress from the scoreboard or action report screens.
It's not that surprising for a blockbuster release to have a few hiccups in its launch week, but it doesn't typically happen to Call of Duty and certainly not to this extent.
Update: Amended opening paragraph for sensitivity; apologies.