When Sony and Microsoft first told us how the updating architecture for games on the PS4 and Xbone was going to function, I and a few other members of Sanctuary Crew, and heck the gaming scene in general were excited to hear you could start playing when a certain percentage of your game had installed, that your patches would download in the background of system operation so you could keep playing and install at your leisure. You could put your system into a suspended state just focused on keeping everything up to date so you could play when you got home? It seemed like the future of console gaming was getting closer to the bastion of the PC. Sure I and others figured there would be exceptions for things like online only experiences such as MMO’s, and really once this generation got rolling it seems for the most part to be delivered as promised. Until recently.
The biggest offender from my experience has been the two recent releases from WB games, Mortal Kombat X and Batman: Arkham Knight. I’m not talking about the issues with the PC versions of these games mind (both of which have had their own issues.) No, I’m talking about my PS4 copies, and one particularly egregious issue, the continued insistence of being connected to the internet at all times or ALL modes are locked, and also this weird micro-update system they’ve rolled out. Now, while I didn’t have the issue so much with MKX on release, Hawke and I had to put off playing a couple rounds because he was constantly being hit with only a fraction of the game being downloaded and playable despite the assurance of his console saying the game was fully up to date and ready to play. Many other players complained of similar issues and when all was finally ironed out, everyone seems to have moved on their merry way. Even so, PSN outages or personal internet access burps will happen, and suddenly I’ll be locked out of being able to access even single player modes. Why? I’m not always in the mood to hop online and fight other players. So why should my enjoyment be hinging on having the option to? Weren’t we finally going to be entering an age where this would start to go away?
So let me tell you about how not only is it not going away with WB Games, but it’s actually gotten worse. This week we saw the release of the final Batman game in the Arkham Trilogy by Rocksteady. So I went in early on release day to snag a copy for my PS4, figuring the game would be incompatible with my PC and wanted to sink some hours in before work. I had 4 hours available, what followed was almost 3 of waiting for updates, and being told I was not allowed to play the Story Mode because I didn’t have a fully updated game.
After 10 minutes of dropping my disc in, my PS4 cheerfully informed me that Batman Arkham Knight was installed and ready to play, and that it would be dowload updates otherwise. With my remaining time I loaded up the game and then was informed that because my game was not fully up to date, network features would be disabled. Knowing what I did of prior Arkham games, I was cool with not having scores posted to leader boards, I didn’t really care about that, I just wanted to play as Batman punching out criminals and scaring the shit out of the henchman working for the remaining villians of Gotham City. Apparently I wasn’t allowed, as selecting the Start New Story option brought up a progress bar saying that I didn’t have the newest version and I would need to wait for all updates to be installed. In frustration I turned off the game, noted it said it would take another 45 minutes and set my PS4 into Rest Mode, deciding to get myself a sandwich and watch some tv.
Sandwich and TV completed I turned my PS4 back on and was told Arkham Knight was fully up to date and ready to play. Upon getting to the Main Menu I was once again informed that my game was NOT up to date, and that I was still not allowed to play Story mode because with the game not fully updated, network features were disabled, and then flashed up a NEW window with a new progress bar, telling me it would take about 30 minutes to download this new update that apparently PSN didn’t know about.
Are we really still needing to do this? Oddly enough the game that seems to have used the PS4’s update architecture the right way is actually an MMO, and is a game that I’ve had a rocky relationship with. Destiny. When PSN detects an available update for Destiny it will install it, and can hop right into the game. If Your PS4 missed an update, and Destiny loads up then it will bring up the now downloading updates screen and drop you into character selection once it’s done without needing to restart. Now, obviously to play Destiny you need a connection to play, but how is it Bungie can work properly with PSN’s update framework while WB apparently staunchly refuses and insists on using a system that’s proven not to work well on ANY platform? If a game says it’s ready to play, the game needs to be ready to play. If I highlight the game and hit check for updates, and the game says it is up to date on the dashboard, there should not suddenly be surprise patches waiting in game. It is 2015, it’s time we start getting on track, and I want to buy more games. I just need to trust I’ll be able to actually play them when my console or PC tells me I can.