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.
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 Gamepass at launch.
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