May 18, 2021

Outriders Can’t Catch A Break

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outriders behind cover

Screenshot: People Can Fly / Square Enix

It’s been a long week-and-a-half for the loot-shooter Outriders, a game rocked by eleven days of missing functionality, server issues, and player uproar. The latest wave of problems started Friday afternoon when developer People Can Fly pushed out a patch for PC and PlayStation consoles, with an Xbox version to follow at a later, unspecified time.

Then, at 6:17 p.m. ET, People Can Fly said the PlayStation 5 version of the patch would also come late. The following morning, that PS5 patch went live. By the afternoon, the patch for Xbox consoles was live, too, but for a good 24 hours or so, crossplay only existed between PlayStation 4 and PC players.

That’s a notable divergence from how crossplay has functioned—or not functioned—since the launch of Outriders. During the demo, Outriders supported crossplay across all platforms, albeit in a beta state. Though you could often party up without issue, juggling players across platforms tended to result in disconnects and framerate stutters. Square Enix told Kotaku at the time that Outriders would “have a 1.0 launch version of [the] crossplay system at launch.”

After Outriders launched, crossplay between PlayStation and Xbox worked but was nonfunctional between consoles and PC. Of course, once PC players were officially able to join the fray this weekend, many console players were not. Funny how these things happen.

At the moment, crossplay appears to be fully back online. (I’m playing Outriders on PS5 and haven’t been able to test it out with PC players yet, but I played for several hours last night with a friend on Xbox Series X. We only disconnected four times.) But other issues remain.

For one, there’s the matter of inventory wipes. Over the past week and change, players have reported total inventory wipes: They’d log in, only to see all of their hard-earned weapons and armor completely gone. The patch that went live over the weekend purports to “a multiplayer crash that could result in client players having their inventory wiped.” And yet, as Luke reported last night, some players are still seeing their inventories disappear in a flash. (People Can Fly says, in the event of an inventory wipe, you should “immediately force close [your] game” and reopen it.)

People Can Fly is planning a fix at some point in the future in the form of a bulk restoration for lost gear. Unfortunately, the developer said it would likely only be able to restore gear of epic (purple) or legendary (yellow) tier, consigning anything rare (blue) or lower to the data dustbin of history for good. What’s more, some stats on restored gear may not show up exactly as they were.

And then there are the issues of rebalancing. Though Outriders is an entirely player-vs.-environment game—with no public plans of a player-vs.-player mode—People Can Fly detailed some nerfs. Most notably, the Trickster class received a significant increase to the cooldown for its high-powered Twisted Rounds ability. These changes stoked furor, with players taking to social media to describe the choice as “bullshit,” “bullshit,” “fucking bullshit,” “bullshit,” and other phrases of that nature. (You needn’t look far to find comments that cross the line. The Outriders team has been hard at work through the weekend two weekends in a row now. But even if that wasn’t the case, harassment is never, ever justified.)

As compensation for the woes players have experienced with Outriders, the developer will also give a legendary weapon and some titanium—a top-tier resource used in the game’s crafting system—to the highest-leveled character for players who logged into Outriders before yesterday. So, no, you won’t be able to create six characters and score six legendary weapons. Don’t get any ideas. (People Can Fly has yet to announce a date for this “appreciation gift.”)

It’s a bit of a bummer because underneath all of this lives a truly excellent game: a rock-solid shooter with rip-roaring gunplay, a compelling loot hunt, and some seriously kick-ass powers. The story, too, grows on you, despite what you may think in the opening moments. Let me put it like this: Outriders is the first game in a long, long time that’s made me itch for the workday to wrap up so I can start playing. And these issues haven’t appeared to hamper the game’s success—at least not yet. Outriders is currently the third-best-selling game on Steam and the second-most popular game on Xbox Game Pass, according to the digital storefronts for both retailers.

The question, of course, is whether or not Outriders can keep up the momentum despite the extra baggage. If these issues persist, players will naturally bleed off, frustrated at the game’s forthcoming and burned by fixes that don’t actually fix anything. But on the other hand, there’s not really much else to play right now. And People Can Fly has done yeoman’s work in communicating problems, solutions, and timelines to the playerbase, with at least one update or missive fired off every day since launch. It just remains to be seen how long those players will put up with a game that is currently less than perfect.

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