Back 4 Blood Will Require An Always Online Internet Connection And That’s Terrible

Back 4 Blood Will Require An Always Online Internet Connection And That’s Terrible
Image: WB / Turtle Rock

Back 4 Blood looks cool. I’m a big fan of co-op shooters like Left 4 Dead. But last weekend developers Turtle Rock Studios confirmed that when B4B launches later this year it will require an internet connection. Even if you want to play alone. This is a bad decision and yet it keeps happening.

The news of the game being always online flew under the radar a bit as it was shared in a tweet reply during E3. But the tweet was spotted by VG 24/7 and others post-E3.

In a response to someone asking about why the game says it requires an internet connection on the PSN store, Turtle Rock confirmed there will be no offline mode at launch. Though the studio did add that it is “looking into ways” it could support such a mode in the future. That’s nice, but it doesn’t change the fact that yet another game will be online only for no good reason.

We recently experienced a similar situation with Square Enix’s Outriders, which requires an always-online connection as well. That game launched with terrible server issues and still, months after launch, people are dealing with random disconnects and server outages. Even when they are just trying to play alone for an hour or two. The moment you lose connection to the servers in Outriders the game boots you from your mission, leading to loss of progress and wasted time.

I don’t know how Back 4 Blood’s servers will be at launch, but history tells me to expect the worst and that means outages. With no offline mode, this means you won’t be able to play the game, even all by lonesome. This is no good.

Image: Square Enix / People Can Fly Image: Square Enix / People Can Fly

Things get even worse when you think about the future. If Turtle Rock is unable to patch in an offline mode, there’s a very real chance that if the game’s servers get shut down one day it will be impossible to play Back 4 Blood. While this is true of many MMOs and battle royale games today, which require servers to function, it at least makes sense. MMOs and online-only shooters are built around playing with and against others at all times. That isn’t the case with games like Outriders or Back 4 Blood, which both can be played alone (even if their developers heavily encourage co-0p.) Back 4 Blood supports solo play with bots.

I really hope Turtle Rock is able to eventually patch in some support for offline play, so that the game can remain playable years and years after the servers are killed. All online games that can support an offline mode should have one.

Until then, I expect a story on Kotaku a few days after Back 4 Blood launches with a headline that goes something like “Back 4 Blood Players Frustrated After Server Outages Continue.” History is after all, oddly predictable.

Back 4 Blood releases on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC on October 12, 2021. It will be available on Game Pass at launch.

Comments

  • I mean, this should have been taken as a given.

    It’s not ok and people should definitely put the heat on the publisher, but this is not a surprise.

  • “Though the studio did add that it is “looking into ways” it could support such a mode in the future.” heres the thing. every game is an offline game until you specifically program it to have online functionality. the only “looking into ways” you have done is how to ensure the game is online only for DRM purposes.
    the borderlands games are all co-op games that have never required an internet connection. thats how it should be done.

  • Why is it that devs completely ignore all the stuff Battleborn did really well, and insist on copying what is probably one of the big reasons it died so horribly instead of at least seeing some tail end support like Brink? Heck, isn’t this approach to solo games partly how Ubisoft effectively killed the Settlers series despite starting to improve the games?

    Oh well that’s another one like Outrides that has gone from “enthusiastic wishlist item” to “might remember to check it out when it’s pretty much free in a Humble monthly bundle”.

  • The number one goal of game-makers and publishers is to sell as many copies of their game as possible, even at the inconvenience of the players, who (they’re thinking) have already paid for the game anyway.

    I’m guessing Turtle Rock is worried about single player players getting their hands on a (free) cracked version of the game upon release. So TR have implemented an online-only requirement. I assume they’ve done the sums and estimate more people are going to play a cracked version than boycott the game due to always-online.

    One big downside of this is these games become very finite, as they’re dependent upon servers to play in SP. Those servers will go down sooner or later.

    • But they haven’t done that math, because every study released on piracy shows that that isn’t true at all.
      But the big wigs are still just too spooked by piracy to ever let that sink in.

  • “and thats terrible” typically is said with a note of sarcasm and dismissiveness. Which is a very strange article header to have.

  • I read this as: “We built all our bot logic and the AI Game Master thing into our servers, not the client”.

    It isn’t necessarily true at all that this game has been written such that it could be deployed in an offline environment. That decisions could have been baked in a long time ago and had nothing to do with DRM. Not defending it, just saying we can’t jump to conclusions here.

    • But as dozens of other games show (days gone, COD zombies, left 4 deads etc) you can do very well with all the AI client side. So the big reason to do it sever side is to force an online only setup to ‘reduce’ piracy.
      So while the conclusion may have been gotten to by the wrong type of jump i’d say its 95% likely to be the right conclusion in the end. Its only done to prevent piracy.

  • The issue I have with always online games that could otherwise not be or have p2p options instead is what happens when the central server goes down? or is shutdown because the studio collapses?

    We are heading into a future where businesses going out of business is a very real threat, lots of these central server run games are going to just go poof overnight one day….

  • Another thing to remember is if game has singleplayer achievements and stats, those will need to be uploaded during gameplay to Steam. If they are offline, then the game can’t do that.

    If it saved that information for next time it’s online then it could be abused etc.

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