Update: Initial complaints of the game from Xbox users appear to be isolated incidents and the main issues are with the PC version.
The highly anticipated and long-awaited ‘Batman: Arkham Knight‘ is finally out, and the reviews are overwhelmingly positive so far… On the PS4. The Xbox One and PC, however, are completely different stories.
After just a few hours of being available, Xbox One users are unhappy and PC players are practically revolting on the internet. On the other had, it’s difficult to find any of the major review outlets giving a bad review. However, according to Forbes.com this is probably due to Warner Bros. Interactive only giving out review codes for the PS4 debug kits. From all accounts, the PS4 version of the game is actually really, really good, with a Metacritic score of 91 and a user rating of 7.2 as of the writing of this article. For the Xbox One, the user rating is less generous at 5.2. PC users, however, are giving it a dismal 2.0. Steam is the largest platform for digital game distribution on the PC and its user rating system shows only 30% of over 4,000 reviews are positive. (And in my opinion, Steam reviewers tend to be rather generous in granting positive reviews.) That’s an absolutely abysmal rating for a AAA title on Steam. Common complaints include game-crashing bugs, poor optimization, and being locked at 30 framps per second (fps). While 30 fps is still pretty common for most console games, personal computers almost always have more powerful hardware than consoles which leads to PC gamers having a more refined palate and insisting on a smoother 60 fps.
This is, quite frankly a real problem in game development for AAA titles. A rather depressing number of high-profile games by big name developers and publishers, especially games ported to the PC from consoles, get released in what is basically an unfinished state. What’s even more depressing is that more often than not, the developers and publishers get a pass since the patches tend to come quick and fast. While it’s nice to get patches quickly, what kept them from releasing the game in a state that didn’t require such intensive patching in the first place? And to rub salt in the wound, there are some indications that Warner Bros. Interactive and Rocksteady knew darn well that the game would be buggy on non-PS4 systems. First is the aforementioned fact that they only gave out review code for the PS4 to reviewers. Second is that last night, just hours before the game released, the minimum system requirement specs were adjusted on Steam. The adjustment also indicated that “that there are some known issues with the performance of ‘Batman: Arkham Knight’ for PC owners using AMD graphics cards. We are working closely with AMD to rectify these issues as quickly as possible and will provide updates here as they become available.” Call me cynical, but I find it hard to believe they haven’t known about these issues for a lot longer. It’s almost as if they’re trying to deceive to consumers while still being able to claim “transparency.”
It’s just one more example out of many that you can’t always trust large corporations to put out a polished product or be honest about any defects. The silver lining is that the game will be patched and it will almost certainly run well in the future. If we look at the previous games in the Arkham series we find that they have been pretty buggy on launch, but were later patched and now all of them are almost universally considered to be excellent games. So for now, unless you own a PS4, you should probably hold off on buying Arkham Knight. At least until it gets patched up in the next few weeks or months. As for myself, I’m holding off until the Game of the Year edition. It’s just a lot easier and usually cheaper since it has all the DLC and pre-order exclusives bundled with it. Sure I have to wait a while, but I get to play the entire story at once instead of waiting for the next DLC bundle to come out. Besides, I have a depressingly large backlog of games to play until then.
What do you think about this? Are you upset about yet another buggy AAA release? Are you holding off on buying or do you plan on forgiving Warner Bros.? Or are you just a smug PS4 owner who wants to rub your currently superior gaming experience in our faces? Go ahead and let us know in the comments.