War(ts) And All: Battlefield 4 Servers Get Anti-Lag Uprade

By Nathan Grayson on April 28th, 2014 at 9:00 am.

Battlefield 4 is kind of like Humpty Dumpty. It launched, pretty much immediately face-planted off its precarious perch, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men still haven’t managed to fully put poor ol’ Humpty back together again. There’s a good game in there somewhere, but lag and a smattering of related (and unrelated) issues threaten to drown it beneath the Megalodon-infested seas. So DICE has finally elected to bring out the big guns in the form of new server hardware. The question is, did it work?

New server hardware, according to DICE, should get rid of rubber-banding – a type of lag in which the server chokes and teleports players back a few steps – in 64-player matches. The studio explained in a blog post:

“We have invested in new hardware to resolve [rubber-banding issues] and deployed new higher-performance servers this week. In preparation, we conducted a significant amount of testing before installing the new servers to ensure they would correct the issue. We are already seeing performance improvement with 64-player matches and expect this to continue.”

“While the process took longer than we would’ve liked, we wanted to be 100% sure it was done right and that the long-term solution was properly in place.”

The effects of this update should be especially pronounced in the new Naval Strike DLC, which has apparently been a big ol’ ball of rubber bands since day one. Here’s hoping DICE is right, seeing as that sort of thing is pretty much a deal-breaker in a reflex intensive FPS like BF4.

EA and DICE’s wartorn opus has improved since launch, but slow and steady isn’t the best approach to a race when you’re supposed to have already crossed the finish line. I have no doubt that they’re trying, but still… yikes. Who’s playing BF4 these days? How much better has it gotten? Which issues still bother you the most?

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41 Comments »

  1. SkittleDiddler says:

    One problem down (maybe), 999,999 left to go.

  2. Sublett says:

    Honestly, I’ve invested a reasonably amount of hours into BF4 (171 hours according to http://battlelog.battlefield.com/bf4/soldier/Sublett/stats/354577345/pc/ ), and the rubberbanding has never really been an issue for me enjoying the game. It’s more about good positioning and hitting people out in the open.
    Sure, it is certainly an issue when talking about BF4 as an eSport, but casually, the rubberbanding never prevented me from playing well in a round.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      It’s ruined more than one game for me. This really resonates with me (not my vid):

    • Screamer says:

      Ill leave this here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_yRPrqq7IQ

      BTW. Sticking your head in the sand or behind a rock no one can shoot you from and saying “LOOK everyone the game is fine, just look at my K/D (e-penis)” is not a sign everything is OK with the game.

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      Bradamantium says:

      I’ve only put in a couple dozen hours, but I have much the same experience. Things might get strangely sticky now and again, but 95% of the match plays as smoothly as expected, other bugs notwithstanding. Titanfall, on the other hand, likes to turn into a Power Point with a “RETRYING CONNECTION” box for minutes at a time every other match…

      • Excelle says:

        Agreed 100%. I have over 100 hours put into BF4 (more than BF3, but almost certainly less than BF2!), and I’ve only had the occasional problem. Titanfall is much more buggy and crashtastic by comparison, so often I’ve just given up trying to get into a game and gone elsewhere.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        I’d agree, honestly after the first month when the game was crashing all the time I’ve found BF4 to be fairly smooth. I’m really unsure how people are having so many problems such as rubber banding and lag etc when others seem to have none of these issues. It ofc could be an optimisation issue on their end.

  3. Dobleclick says:

    Please note this “new hardware” thing is only console-specific, where DICE/EA has ownership of the servers. For PC the server hardware is handled/rented by 3rd-party hosting services. In any case the rubberbanding issue was mostly console-specific anyway.

    Concerning ongoing issues, what bothers me most is still the horrible “netcode”, a term the community is using to pinpoint several different issues, which in some cases aren’t actually caused by netcode. To sum up a few things in this regard: Insta-death, which seems related to player lag and the servers being lenient for high latency players. The direction an enemy soldier is facing not corresponding to their actual direction (so you might think he hasn’t seen you, when in actuality he’s already facing you), which seems a netcode priorization issue. Revivable players acting as “invisible walls”, where grenades and other explosives bounce off at the location where the player died for some reason. And finally, missing or inaccurate audiovisual cues when being hit. Clients do a terrible job in telling the player when they’re being hit, or from where they’re being hit. Often 3 or 4 individual bullet impacts are “summed up” in the client in a single audiovisual cue, which gives the impression you’ve been cheated/instakilled.

    The above list isn’t exhaustive either. At the current state of the game, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

    • John Connor says:

      Pretty much this. The game is basically unplayable unless you’re a masochist who enjoys bullshit.

    • Gwyddelig says:

      Aye – this is console-only. I am surprised that RPS are reporting on this in the way they are given that PC players are not going to receive any benefit whatsoever from this. Indeed, EA/DICE’s policy of only having a comparatively small (compared to BF3 or BFBC2) number of approved third-party server providers means that there is little chance of one investing in better gear to gain market share. The unspoken rule of oligopoly is that you only have to be no worse than the next guy to rake it in. There is no meaningful consumer choice and hence no competition.

  4. Hunchback says:

    BF4 is the first BF game i haven’t bought in a long while. I am really a big fan on the BF franchise, and i feel quite weird not having this one, especially consdering it goes go back to commanders, which was one of the major issues i had with the latest BF incarnations.
    However, i felt like commanders were really the only “new” (“well” forgotten old?) thing, and it was not worth dropping 50 bucks on it. If atleast EA weren’t the usual dicks that would then release 10 more DLCs that cost the same price as the original game to get them all, splitting the community into groups of people that have this or that DLC… but alas, i guess that’s never gonna happen.

    I am a bit sad to not have played this, the game looks gorgeous, and watching those vids, even if they are parodies showing bugs, i can’t help it but feel very nostalgic.

    BTW, how come they have problems with “netcode”, when online FPS is basically ALL DICE’s been making since forever, and the previous games were ok? This isn’t even a real new version of Frostbite, is it?

    • buzzmong says:

      That’s implying BF3 didn’t have any netcode problems. It did.

      • John Connor says:

        Nothing as bad as BF4′s problems. The game seems to be built so that what you see and what the server sees can be completely different with no fucks given. It’s unplayable unless you’re completely oblivious.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Medal of Honor 2010, Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3 all have serious stability and performance issues similar to what are now being encountered in BF4, just on a smaller user scale. Levolution simply makes them more blatant.

    • AdamDenton says:

      Astute question OP, I would very much like to know the answer to this also. And why are there issues like the one raised by “youtuber” [pardon] JackFrags, where there is an invisible ‘shield’ created above felled players? Have these always been problems in the Battlefield franchise that players simply haven’t been attentive/irate enough to notice until now?

      • Hunchback says:

        I’ve never experienced any rubber-banding or invisible shields in BF BC2 or BF3. So no, i don’t think it was something the whole community just didn’t notice before. Doubt anything that major can remain unnoticed more than 1h after launch, anyway :P

      • SuicideKing says:

        Mild rubber-banding with BF3, i remember, but no invisible shields, no.

        • AdamDenton says:

          Dobleclick seems to have given a succinct series of reasons for BF4′s shortcomings further down this comment thread. One of the causes may be ‘levolution’, by which we can infer inventing awful sounding portmanteaus will *always* lead to trouble.

    • Gwyddelig says:

      I’ve played it a fair bit and I am enjoying it (a good 95% of the time anyhow). If you’re a little chary of it though, keep an eye out for an Origin sale and get it on the cheap. It’s worth a few hours and the new expansion pack is gorgeous.

      it’s not as stable as BF3 and the “netcode” (in reality a whole suite of issues) is considerably poorer. I would say though, that it’s a fairer game – while landslides DO happen, getting entirely spawn-trapped in your base is less of a problem. Some of the map design is leaps ahead of anything in BF3.

    • Dobleclick says:

      To answer the question regarding new issues on the same engine as BF3: DICE just chewed off more than they could swallow. The whole “levolution” marketing gimmick has a huge impact on network data being sent to/from clients/servers. All this for a thing which no player really cares about after the first few hours. Add to this hundreds of weapons, customizations, emblems, minor destruction, up to 70 clients connected to a server (instead of previous 64), and you got your answer. In addition, the engine is obviously not exactly the same, and they’ve clearly prioritized an over-abundance of “features” rather than getting stability, performance and a solid core gameplay.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Don’t forget, they sat and implemented a Mantle backend too, which I’m sure contributed to some (if not many) of the issues the game’s been having.

    • shadow9d9 says:

      Built in VOIP, which BF3 didn’t have, is reason enough. Of course, not everyone is a team player, but when you get in a group that reciprocates, nothing else compares. Then, you have the ability to swim underwater, much more balanced aircrafts, new maps, some neat map transformations, why not get it?

    • dmastri says:

      One of the problems is the server tickrate. It’s 10hz. Most multiplayer games are at least 33hz, or 66, or even 100. Essentially, this translates into how often the server processes changes to the game state. So regardless of how good your ping is, a low tickrate basically adds server side lag and is the reason why what you see in BF4 is often not what is really happening, i.e. getting shot by people not looking at you.

      Here’s a good video illustrating the problems caused by the low tickrate in BF4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8C0COfAHHf0

      Of course the BF4 problems go beyond this. All the prior BF versions have had this same tickrate and they didn’t perform this badly.

  5. Hunchentoot says:

    Same old story with the BF franchise, in a couple of years it’ll be awesome. But by then the next broken instalment will be getting rammed down our throats most will fall for it again, hook, line & sinker.
    When BF4 works it is spectacular, i’ve had some incredible games, the teamplay elements and the huge variety of maps and game modes keep me coming back despite it’s, still, many issues. But never again will i pre-purchase anything from EA, i’d think twice about pre-purchase from anyone but a kickstarter for that matter.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Yeah they always sucker people in with the “first DLC free if you preorder” thing that they do which makes you feel that you are getting something for nothing. Unfortunately you then have to deal with a buggy mess of a game for months while they gradually fix crap. It all boils down to the fact that they have to rush the game out because EA are obsessed with this CoD style 2 yearly release cycle. If they just spent a bit longer making the game I’m sure a lot of the problems wouldn’t exist. Overall I’d say the game is still good but I’d suggest to people wait a while and pick it up in a sale.

  6. Sacarathe says:

    They need to fix the issue where players with a ping of 5 have a major disadvantage over players with 120, I played bf4 with ping 5 for 4 months and sucked, as a single objective indicator I used k/d, it was 0.75, now playing with 120 its 1.2. It’s so lame.

  7. Dude (Darloc) says:

    The “netcode” is not the only problem, some other bugs are around that feel like the netcode is involve but are something else.
    Lvlcap did a interesting breakdown of those: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_lmRXycbM8
    Shame really, I like this game a lot from a balance point of view and find it more interesting than bf3, no definitive uber class (hello bf3 assault), or gun (hello M16A3)… The last dlc maps are also by far the best of the bunch.

  8. DanMan says:

    What’s an “Uprade”?

    Anyway, I had played BF3 for about 200h and haven’t bought BF4. I don’t feel an urge to, either. I probably wait for BF5. One, because this late in the game you probably get your ass handed to you more than is healthy. And two, judging from the beta it’s only BF3.5 anyway so… (not to mention the bugs – oops!)

    They should make it a subscription instead of (annual) retail releases.

  9. Robert H. Dylan says:

    Philosophically, one might consider all angry internet noise about Battlefield ‘netcode’ as something non-dual from the essential aggression and stupidity of hyper-militaristic gaming generally. That is, what fans call ‘banding’, ‘lag’ and ‘non-optimized code’, may themselves be considered inherent properties of their own, uncritical discourse about the violent ideas underlying the war games they enjoy so freely: http://alienfiction.com/2014/03/16/battlefield-netcode-as-inherently-un-fixable-trash-talk/

    • Unclepauly says:

      Dumbest thing I’ve read in a while, you completely just took two minutes of my day and sucked it into the ether.

      • PoLLeNSKi says:

        Seconded. A game having lag issues which players rightfully complain about has nothing to do with why players play those games or the content thereof.

      • Robert H. Dylan says:

        Please let me try again to explain: ask yourself, “At what fuzzy point does ‘playing a game’ begin and end?” Just as there exits the concept of Metagaming – parallel layers existing above the ‘base’ game – perhaps all talk about / around Battlefield is just as important and interesting a phenomenon as The Game Itself. Indeed, such angry talk about Netcode could be considered part and parcel of ‘Battlefield’ – just as vile racial epithets and rampant casual misogyny often seem essential core features of the whole CODBLOPS / XBOX Live experience.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Not sure how any of that is relevant to valid concerns about performance issues in BF3, but whatever floats your boat.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          I think I get what you’re saying, but it’s still kind of insane. Like saying weird misprints in books shouldn’t be corrected in subsequent editions because academics like to talk about them sometimes.

          Or like you shouldn’t edit your comments for sense because then we all get to then discuss how they don’t make sense.

    • green frog says:

      Please tell me this is not for real and both this post and your blog are a parody.

  10. Moraven says:

    And you wonder why other devs focus on smaller player count and maps…

    But when we have had BF 1942 which worked well for large player servers (other than sniping, that was always off) and BF3 seemed fine, have to wonder what they did to all their code.

    • DanMan says:

      They did what every sane developer does NOT: Rewrite the whole thing. Except for the broken bits, of course. They kept those.

  11. mpcarolin says:

    I recently caved and purchased bf4 during the recent sale. Yes, I’ve experienced a bug maybe once or twice (that I noticed, at least), but honestly it doesn’t ruin the experience for me at all. It doesn’t have a fraction of the refinement of say, Counterstrike, but it’s still a blast to play.