Saturday, October 29, 2016

Battleborn - 3/20 hours

This game is on thin ice with me. It is colorful and fast-paced. The banter between the characters and villains is often hilarious. The character designs are both interesting and distinct. And the difficulty is just about right for my skill level. I have only one complaint, but it is so major that it very nearly outweighs all of its positives put together - when you play single-player, if your connection is unreliable, the game will seriously lag.

I was not surprised when the hotel's wifi ruined my attempt at a multiplayer game. Some nights are better than others, but when you're sharing a connection with a hundred other people, unpredictability is the rule. So it was with regret that I had to bow out of my game with Jondera, but I figured I would be able to practice on single-player and get ready for another attempt in the morning. Except that every time I tried it, I experienced the same catastrophic rubber-banding that derailed my multiplayer attempt.

It turns out there is no way to play this game offline and by oneself. I went online to try and find a fix for my technical problem and every source I found said that's just the way it is (though I did learn a new bit of gaming jargon - "rubber-banding" which is what they call it when your computer's latency causes things to appear as if they are teleporting around the screen uncontrollably). The reason for this is that the single-player and multiplayer modes use the same character progression and something about being always online makes it harder for cheaters.

I don't know enough about online games to know whether that makes sense or not, but it seems plausible. However, I am not a cheater (at multiplayer games, I will and have cheated at single-player games whenever I feel like I'm stuck) and I'm not so invested in online multiplayer that stopping cheaters is all that important to me, so I feel like I'm losing out on playing the game for the sake of a feature I don't want or need.

Which is a shame, because I did actually manage to get one full game in last night, possibly because there was nobody awake to share the router with between the hours of 2 and 3am. That game was incredibly fun. I didn't quite beat the level, but I came close enough that I feel encouraged to try again with a different character. Sadly, every other attempt I made was killed by network latency (I even managed to get rubber-banded off the edge of a cliff - that really stings when you have a limited number of lives).

The lesson I learned from all this is that I should play this game exclusively at home. I don't know if the Prologue relied on the same online infrastructure as the story missions, but it worked perfectly when I played it yesterday. My hope is that my stronger, more reliable home network will be enough to let me play Battleborn properly. If it's not, I shall be very put out.

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