If you play video games in the 21st century, you’re no stranger to this: A popular game launches that demands an internet connection. Interested players buy it, can’t access the servers, and can’t play the thing they paid for. The latest offender is Outriders, a class-based loot shooter from developer People Can Fly.
Outriders launched yesterday to a sputter of sorts across platforms. Some players were unable to get past the initial load, stuck on a perpetual “Signed in!” screen. (The key there was simply to practice patience, life’s rarest virtue.) Some couldn’t even get to that initial frozen screen, while others ended up getting kicked from the game in the middle of missions.
Last night, I teamed up with Kotaku’s Zack Zweizen to test out the co-op. We’re both playing on PlayStation 5, and both of us have relatively stable internet service. It took us 24 minutes to party up. After about an hour of play, I got booted from our session at the start of a mission. It took us another 11 minutes to party up again.
We’re not alone. Social media channels are rife with users sharing similar experiences. (My personal favorite? A Reddit post headlined, “Are the servers on Enoch too?”) Kotaku’s John Walker tweeted that the Xbox servers went down when he was at the end of a mission and then wouldn’t let him back into the game at all.
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These connectivity hiccups have persisted into the game’s second day, something People Can Fly acknowledged in a tweet. As of this writing, the Outriders server status website lists multiplayer as “operational” and core components as having a “major outage.” (Hmm…) Earlier today, core components were marked as “operational,” while the multiplayer service showed up as “partially operational.”
“We’re aware that a small percentage of players are encountering certain issues and our teams are proactively gathering information and working on updates and fixes,” representatives for Square Enix told me yesterday via email.
That an online-only launch has gone awry isn’t exactly surprising. We’ve seen it with Fall Guys, The Division, Destiny, and Hitman 3 (kind of). What’s curious here is that People Can Fly has held fast to the line that Outriders is not a service game—like Destiny or Avengers or The Division—and is rather one that you can pick up and play as “a complete experience out of the box.” Though Outriders shines as a cooperative game, it’s also designed to be played entirely through as a single-player experience, and yet, you need an internet connection to play.
“We have a lot of things in the backend so you have to be connected to the internet to be able to play,” People Can Fly’s Bartosz Kmita told IGN.
This is, needless to say, a total bummer. Obviously you need servers to allow for multiplayer connections, and obviously it’s impossible to predict exactly how many players will swarm those servers on day one. (People Can Fly said that more than 2 million players tried out the game’s free demo. Those numbers were revealed before Square Enix, Outriders’ publisher, announced that the game would be available on Game Pass at launch.) But I feel like the game’s intention of being single-player means you should be able to just load it up and play. Friends are nice, but they’re ultimately unnecessary for Outriders to work. Don’t get me wrong. I’m loving the game and am having such a blast so far. I just wish I could reliably play it.
Update: 4:00 p.m. ET: People Can Fly took the Outriders servers offline.
Update 6:04 p.m. ET: People Can Fly said that Outriders servers were back online everywhere except the United States.
Update 6:46 p.m. ET: The U.S. servers are apparently back online.