Tue. Jul 5th, 2022

Four Tiny Tina's Wonderlands players stand angrily and wonder why crossplay and multiplayer servers do not work.

Image: Gearbox

Borderlands games are always best enjoyed with friends, so it’s a bummer that players of the latest entry, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, have had to fly solo — at least, if they’re trying to play online, or make use of the ballyhooed crossplay feature. For the past two weeks, the latest in Gearbox’s series of loot-shooters has had some seriously wonky server woes.

This isn’t exactly a surprise; online multiplayer games launch in various states of “busted” all the damn timeand the Borderlands series itself does not have the best track record. But it’s a bit different than your typical case of server woes. For one thing, sure, while the servers are busted, they’re not engulfed in a headline-generating five-alarm fire the way launch windows for, say, Outriders or Diablo III famously were. For another, while issues persist, the game’s official channels have been oddly silent about the matter.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlandswhich came out late last month for Xbox, PlayStation, and PC, is the first Borderlands game to launch with full crossplay. Like previous Borderlands games, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands facilitates online groups through Gearbox’s proprietary online service, Shift. You can also use the service to redeem “Shift codes,” single-use tokens that award you a rare piece of gear in-game. (One kind soul assembled a Twitter bot that announces availability for and releases Shift codes.) You can monitor the status of Shift via its official Twitter account.

On March 25, Wonderlands‘official launch day, the account noted how, even though players might see a notification saying they’ve been disconnected from Shift, they’re actually fine; it’s just an errant pop-up. Three hours later, Gearbox said it noticed “reports” of “instability,” and spent the next few days chronicling its efforts to improve functionality. On March 29, Gearbox rolled out an update intended to address crashes on all platforms. By March 31, the studio said that “most players” are in the clear, with “Limited cases of disconnections” through the world’s worst holiday.

“We’ve seen some reports of players disconnecting from online play,” reads the account’s most recent tweet, posted on April 2. “If these issues persist, please restart your game!”

Unfortunately, restarting your game does not always seem to do the trick. In response to the account’s tweet, players say that reboots do not fix connectivity woes, and when they do, it’s only a temporary salve. (Funny aside: One player even pointed out how they could not even submit a ticket through the Shift support page.) Over on the game’s subreddit, there’s a thread, closing in on 1,000 comments, where players commiserating about how they can not play with friends online. Connection issues seem to be most keenly felt during crossplay sessions, but it’s still not exactly smooth sailing with traditional matchmaking on the same platform.

Earlier this week, for instance, I partied up with my colleague Zack Zwiezen, both of us playing on Xbox Series X with wired connections. We made it about 75 percent of the way through the tutorial segment before Zack disappeared into the ether. We could not get a game going again for the rest of the evening. Zack also told me how he’s run into serious crossplay issues while playing with his fiancée, on PC and Xbox. They often can not start a game, he said, despite both playing off the same modem. In the rare instances where they can get one going, it’s laggy and desynced AF. Zack told me how one player would kill enemies, see them die, and have them pop right back up as if nothing happened.

Hey, at least there’s splitscreen!

Representatives for Gearbox declined to answer queries on the record and directed Kotaku to the Shift status Twitter account instead.

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