Reviewed on PC

ASUS Prime B350M Motherboard
AMD Ryzen 5 1600 Six-Core 3.69 GHz
GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB)
16GB RAM DDR4 (2x8GB)

Generally speaking, I don’t tend to get too excited for many upcoming releases nowadays. I certainly do look forward to some special titles, but I always have a pretty good idea of what to expect from those games before they release. I guessed that Forza Horizon 4 would be a great game but would suffer from feeling too similar to its predecessors. It was.

Conversely, World War 3’s disastrous launch was a complete curveball to my predictive skills. I can’t even remember the last time I had felt this disappointed about a game’s launch. I had expected Polish studio The Farm 51 to deliver a fun Battlefield-like large-scale warfare FPS; I wanted a real successor to the modern military themes that DICE are leaving behind. The Farm 51 has failed to deliver and the primary reason behind this is one of the most important for a shooter: performance.

World War 3’s launch performance issues are a staggering mix of poor server support and a painful lack of optimization. Things were off to a bad start when after 30 minutes of play time, I hadn’t even seen the main menu yet. Instead, I was greeted by a loading screen reminding me what game I was supposed to be playing. It hadn’t crashed, it was just loading… for 30 minutes.

The majority of these issues are explained as a lack of RAM by many in the community, and it’s a theory that makes a lot of sense

I had some free time to waste. I caught up on Twitter, made some food, read emails, all while waiting for an entire half hour to actually play the game. This pattern continued for my first three attempts at booting it but on attempt four the loading screens were over and the gameplay was finally about to begin. Interestingly enough, I think the developers dropped a patch that directly fixed this initial issue as I was playing the game.

With the loading out of the way, what can you expect while you’re playing? Much like any PC game, it really depends on both your setup and your luck. The Steam Discussions, in-game chats and official forums all report varying experiences. Some are suffering horrendous issues like myself, others get a great, high performing experience representative of the machine they’re playing. I wasn’t one of those lucky individuals.

The biggest problem is the games constant hitching and audio issues that peak whenever you do, well, anything. I’ve managed to see the game rise to a somewhat stable level when idling or driving around, but the moment a gun’s trigger is pulled all performance vanished. At least… sometimes, sometimes it carries on running fine! Other times, I can get the game to visibly freeze for two to three seconds just from repeating a single action.

The majority of these issues are explained as a lack of RAM by many in the community, and it’s a theory that makes a lot of sense. No matter what settings you choose throughout your time in World War 3, performance never changes. From Low to Ultra and everything in between, no manner of settings could remedy my problems. That said, I hit the recommendation of 16GB, so that really can’t be used to explain away my miserable experience. Despite having a minimum requirement of 8GB, World War 3 has been seen using over 11GB while doing something as simple as loading.

You can tell that a lot of thought and care went into World War 3

World War 3 is littered with bugs and glitches, although that can be explained away by the game’s Early Access label. Perhaps the oddest glitch I experienced was when my game hard froze as I was lying down capturing a point. After a not-so-quick ALT-F4 reload, the game was back to normal… until I tabbed out and in and reloading the same exact frozen screen I had to force quit out of 30 minutes earlier. How does that even happen? There was also the time where my game brought up a crash diagnostic before it had even crashed, failed to send the data automatically, then failed to send the information I manually put in and finally, the game actually crashed before the diagnostics report also crashed seconds later.

So, what if you can get past the poor optimization and actually run the game properly? Well, there’s actually a good game under there. You can tell that a lot of thought and care went into World War 3. It’s a game that takes a lot of attention to detail and strangely specific areas of the game look gorgeous. For example, the customization screen features some of the best gun visuals and customization I’ve seen in a long time. There’s also a really impressive amount of content depth for an early access title. Three very sizable maps, a great selection of guns, large variety of attachments and tonnes of cosmetics to kit your soldier and weapons out with. Currently, you can only play as a male soldier but The Farm 51 have stated intentions to add a female option in the future.

Games can feel a little slow at times as all classes bar the lightweight one simply don’t move around quick enough to get anywhere with any real urgency. Vehicles are there to help with this but they aren’t always going to be available. The vehicular combat is pretty satisfying with one exception – the vehicles are very powerful and when a team gets a good start and calls in the support killstreaks you can get stuck in a nasty spawn trap, snowballing situation. It’s very difficult for the receiving end to get out of this and while this issue wasn’t unheard of with older Battlefield games it feels amplified here. Allowing enemies to just park vehicles around predictable spawn patterns and farm away was hardly ever going to be a good idea. The lack of jet fighters to fly contribute to this issue further as you can’t quickly fly over the spawn trap and begin an objective flank behind the enemies lines like you can with Battlefield titles.

When the frame rate and latency don’t get in the way, World War 3 offers some of the best gunplay I’ve seen in a while. After the many hours I’ve spent dragging myself through mediocre shooters like PUBG and Call of Duty: WWII, it’s nice to actually play a game where the gunplay actually feels fun to use.  The map design does a great job of complementing World War 3’s wide range of weapon choices too with even the largest, open scale environments facilitating for close quarter combat and sniping alike. Berlin was particularly enjoyable, even if it took three attempts to load, with it offering the best range and quantity of conflicts of the three currently available maps.

Beneath the game’s cripplingly poor optimization and server issues, there’s a fantastic Battlefield spiritual successor lying deep in there somewhere. It’s extremely frustrating that as much as I want this game to succeed, it would be wrong of me to recommend it in its current state for £24.00. My primary concerns that I think the developers should focus on right now would be to clean up their server problems and address the overwhelming RAM usage World War 3 currently suffers from. Core gameplay mechanics and content depth are already exceptional for a game this early into development but these mean little when bottlenecked by its bigger issues. The Farm 51’s latest production needs time before it can fulfill its potential but until then I’m going to recommend you stay well away from what has ended up being a thoroughly disappointing launch.

World War 3 is available now on Steam.

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