Update: Ubisoft have tweeted an apology, saying they're working as fast as they can to get the servers back online.
So, like many others, I'm very excited to play Far Cry 3. After Jim's review, and many similar elsewhere, I've been dying to play it and finally have the chance. Today is my day off, hooray! And so far I've been treated to a horrible, horrible time, and all at the hands of the technical mess that is Uplay and idiotic mechanical choices. And right now? Ubisoft's servers are down. On launch day. You can still play in offline mode, but ho boy, this isn't a good start.
Right now, this is what the game looks like:
I can't move from this extraordinary vista, I've no way of interacting. My skill menu looks like this:
I don't feel very skillful. And this is all because currently the Ubisoft servers are down.
I've seen the unskippable intro three times now. It's good! The first time I saw it I was very impressed by the acting, and not uninterested in the action. The second time, a few minutes after the game had crashed on me and I was forced to watch it again, I wasn't so impressed. It's extremely long, and there's absolutely no reason on Earth why it shouldn't be skipped. The third time I was genuinely pissed off. The third time was because I'd deliberately quit out of the game after finishing watching the intro, chosen the oddly ambiguous "save" from the menu, and quit out to entirely rebuild my PC to see if I could get the glitching smoothed out. New Windows install on a brand new SSD, just for you, Far Cry 3. Then I had to watch the intro again. This was after trying to find the save location, via an appeal on Twitter, to learn it's either:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\savegames\0c7ddfbe-d92d-4270-8cf9-3493a81f0c2d\46\
Read the damned rules, Ubisoft.
That took me until late last night. So this morning I figured, a day with Far Cry 3! Woo-hoo! Loaded Uplay, no problems, launched the game and it told me it couldn't connect to the Ubisoft servers. I knew that the publisher had ditched their evil always-on DRM crap, so knew this wouldn't any longer be a problem, and indeed the game launched just fine. Until the first time I tried to pull up a local menu. Going back to the game, you see the above. Go into the menus again, and the same. Quit? Not possible. So all that progress? Gone.
The way around this is to set Uplay to Offline Mode. But this isn't something Uplay feels the need to alert you to before launching the game. Instead you're forced to load a broken version, that lets you play for a while, then throws multiple tantrums. As I write, the windowed version of the game I had switched from because of its oddities has now entirely crashed, not letting me open nor close it. Task killing is the only option left.
So the question I'm left with is: What does Uplay offer me?
And the answer is nothing whatsoever. It's an obstacle between me and my game. Even Steam lets you run a game directly from a shortcut. But here I have this unwieldy front-end, that insists on my clicking through it to launch the game, and meddles in the background throughout. It's clearly trying to emulate Steam in a number of ways, just like Origin does, with its own options to switch to it while a game is running, and unwanted and unrequested attempts to cloud save my data. But in reality it takes away immediately practical things I want from my games, like to run them without having to fiddle with an unwanted extra piece of software that's currently crippling the game, and to save to a local directory in clear, easy to transfer save files. That Far Cry 3's servers are down this morning, on the day the game sodding well comes out, is beyond belief.
The good news is I can play the game. The bad news is I have to jump through so many pointless hoops to do so. I really do think Uplay was made with good intentions. Ubi saw the opportunities Steam offers, and wanted them for themselves - which is absolutely fair enough. No one should bow to Valve's monopoly if they can create something that rivals it. They also wanted to create community-based features, and offer bonuses and gimmicks for players - it's part of their desire to stop being the Big Evil and start rewarding legitimate customers rather than punishing them. But they've made such an arsed up mess of it, and it desperately needs to just go away.
I want to double click the Far Cry 3 icon on my desktop, and see the game load. It's a single-player game, and it requires no online features whatsoever for how I'm trying to play it. But right now, doing that makes for a broken game, and a pissed off John on his day off.