I spent a week playing a pre-release copy of the PlayStation 4 racing game Driveclub, and in that time I found it to offer striking visuals and a unique online multiplayer social experience. Then it launched. And everything went to hell.
Since Driveclub's launch last week, the game has been plagued with persistent server issues that, due to how central the online multiplayer features are to the game, have hobbled it in some pretty severe ways.
Let me explain a couple things first. I'm not much of a gamer, but I'm a fan of our colleagues at Kotaku and their new approach to reviewing games, which is less about early reviews and more about on the post-release experience. And since I gave Driveclub a mostly positive review, I too felt compelled to report on the problems it has had since the launch.
That's the key there — "since the launch." Travis and I had pre-release copies of the game, and all of the car's features worked just fine for us. I started a club, Travis joined it, and we successfully raced online against other players, whom I'm guessing were testers, industry folks, other journalists, or whoever else gets pre-release games. Everything went smoothly.
My review came out on Oct. 7, the day the game launched. On that day, I fired up the game to double-check a few things, but the online features weren't working; the game couldn't connect to the servers. I figured it was a problem on my end; Travis thought the same. But we should have realized it wasn't just us.
First, a free PlayStation Plus version of the game was supposed to be available to subscribers, but that was delayed because of the server problems. Those same server problems have hobbled multiplayer problems over the past nine days, which as Kotaku reported as well, effectively cripples the game.
You can still play single player Driveclub, but certain cars and features can only be unlocked when you start a club and participate in online racing. And when the servers are down, you lose access to those cars and features.
Basically, Driveclub kind of sucks if you aren't online, and over the past week players have been dogged with server timeouts and other connection problems. Bummer.
For their part, the developers at Evolution Studios said on their Facebook page that they're working on it:
Over the next 24 hours we are rolling out a new game update alongside server upgrades that will help to improve server performance, clubs and multiplayer functionality.
We are also running essential diagnostics periodically to help us continue to improve server performance, which may disrupt online play for you when you get connected. This will be kept to a minimum.
We're glad that more of you are getting to play online but we are sorry that many players are still having a hard time getting connected. We are working around the clock to improve connectivity and will keep you informed as we continue to make progress.
Let's hope so. As of this morning, I still couldn't connect for online play, though I could access my club, which is an improvement over last week.
Still, I kind of now regret giving Driveclub such a positive review. Like an old Alfa Romeo, it's good when it works, but that doesn't happen terribly often. If you're a PS4 owner, I would recommend you wait until the server issues are ironed out before investing in this game.