Payday 3’s Online-Only Feature Makes It Completely Unplayable

Finally, an online game you don’t need any friends to play with.

Story Highlights

  • Payday 3 finally made its launch debut after over a decade since its predecessor, Payday 2.
  • Unlike the previous title though, Payday 3 made the controversial decision to have an Online-Only feature, meaning that the only way to play the game would be Online.
  • This Online-Only feature meant hours of time spent in queues and a lack of servers to play in, leading to tens of thousands of negative reviews.

Starbreeze Studios’ decision to launch Payday 3 on early access on September 18th, confirming the leaks back in June, was supposed to be a celebration for its 1.5 million wishlisters. After all, the only problem they knew about was the studio’s controversial decision to use the Denuvo DRM anti-cheat engine, which was soon fixed just days before its launch.

However, these first 5 days ended up being a proper mess thanks to the game’s over-reliance on its online-only feature. Even now, with the full release, players are still stuck waiting forever to find a server for matchmaking, even when they just want to go solo.

Take it this way, the official Payday subreddit holds an event each day where they see whether the servers are going to be working normally or not. And guess what? They’re on a 5-day streak of losses, stretching into the 6th day without any end in sight.

DAY 5! LET’S HEAR IT FOR DAY 5 EVERYBODY!
byu/Mr_Headcrab inpaydaytheheist

Payday 3’s launch week 3 has been a real headache for not just Starbreeze Studios, but also for everyone else involved, especially those who just want to enjoy the game offline. You see, Payday 3 insists on being online all the time, even for solo players looking to start their own private heists.

As a result, solo players have been dealing with the same annoying errors and long queues that multiplayer fans have been facing since the dawn of co-op gaming. Ever since the game hit our virtual shelves, players have been complaining about these server problems and the fact that there’s no option to play offline. Things got so bad that even Starbreeze Studios’ CEO Tobias Sjögren himself had to give a formal apology.

Back At Rock Bottom

According to Steam, the game launched with over 77,000 concurrent players, even claiming the top spot in sales. But that number soon dwindled to a mere 7,000 or so players not even 24 hours into its launch. The culprit? You guessed it. The game’s matchmaking system, or lack thereof.

It seems like the servers are taking a real beating, and since this game insists on being “always online,” you’re basically stuck playing the tutorial if the matchmaking isn’t working. Even if you’re trying to gather a full squad for a private match or a friends-only game, you’re likely to find yourself trapped in a never-ending “searching for match” limbo.

STOP DEFENDING THESE SCHMUCKS its been 72 hours since launch.
byu/Wooden_Recover1256 inpaydaytheheist

The major issue here is that Payday 3 forces everyone to play online, with no option for a co-op or single-player offline mode. This means you’re stuck with matchmaking, even if you just want to play by yourself. And to make matters worse, you can’t even choose your teammates, so you might end up with some tryhard who messes up your stealthy heist by going guns blazing right from the get-go.

Playing with annoying randoms might not sound great, but it’s still the better option because it means you were fortunate enough to actually get into a game. The servers have been a total disaster since the launch, forcing players to endure long queues just to play solo, if they can even get in at all.

Matchmaking Errors in Payday 3
Matchmaking Errors in Payday 3

Payday 3’s Mostly-Negative Review Status Doesn’t Paint A Pretty Picture Either

Right now, it’s sitting at “Mostly Negative” reviews on Steam, with only a 31% positive rating after over 23,000 reviews. And if you think that that’s a lot of negative reviews, keep in mind that these are the reviews left after Steam deleted almost 6,000 negative ones, which many players are claiming to be “damage control” by Starbreeze Studios.

The reviews themselves are exactly as you’d imagine them. One player went straight to the point by saying, “Going online-only was a massive mistake“, while another chimed in with, “Imagine waiting for over an hour and still not being able to join a private game.” Another witty, yet true, review from a frustrated player says, “It feels like the developers created this game just to pull off the biggest heist of all time: robbing us of an offline mode.” 

Some of the more detailed Steam reviews also criticize the game’s progression system, which seems to be widely disliked based on both user comments and a quick chat with pretty much any Payday 3 reviewer. Most of them agree on one point, the game is pretty good, but they aren’t fans of the progression systems or the server problems.

https://www.reddit.com/r/paydaytheheist/comments/16renhw/so_your_heist_was_a_success_huh_well_too_bad_you/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

Finding A Server Is The Least Of Your Worries

Server problems are pretty common when it comes to launch day for most multiplayer titles, and they usually get sorted out as things calm down and traffic disperses in the weeks following the release, which developers over at Starbreeze have also noted. But, unfortunately, Payday 3’s always-online design is still going to leave some players feeling let down for various reasons, especially for those with low-end PCs or dealing with ping issues.

It turns out that because of this online-only approach, even if you somehow managed to find yourself a lobby, whether it’s private or public, things can get pretty dicey if you don’t have a solid setup or you’re stuck with slow Wi-Fi. Game crashes might be the least of your concerns.

Another video game company that suffered similar problems at launch was Blizzard with its release of Overwatch 2. I mean, some players had to wait for over a day just to get a shot at playing, and that’s not even counting all the missing features they were promised. Luckily, Payday 3 doesn’t have that latter problem, at least not as many as Overwatch 2 did.

Overwatch 2 Queue Times
Overwatch 2 Queue Times

New Players Are Being Turned Away By All The Negative Reviews

The Payday series holds a special place in the hearts of co-op gaming fans, and a big reason for that is the fantastic support it’s received over the years. Payday 2 had a long run with constant updates, even though there were some complaints about the console versions not getting quite as much love as the PC crowd. Still, it managed to keep its status as a fan-favorite among Xbox and PlayStation players.

So, when there were promises that Payday 3 would be much better supported on both PC and consoles this time around, fans were eagerly anticipating a fresh addition to the series. But now that it’s finally here, all of these problems have left players feeling pretty frustrated. Which, in turn, is causing newcomers to rethink buying the game as well.

Twitter Man just stop it
byu/TheOrphanCrusher inpaydaytheheist

Keeping all of these frustrations in mind, a lot of new players are feeling wary about diving into Payday 3, especially with its online-only feature. Those with other specific goals in mind are being turned away due to the lack of communication with matchmaking and the uncertainty of who you’ll end up with on your team, which can make it really tough to achieve your own objectives.

So, for those who want to keep a firm grip on things, playing solo becomes the only reliable option, even though it means giving up the chance for some cooperative action. However, they’ll still have to deal with waiting to find a server to set up a private lobby in. Something which, at this point in this article you already know is a task of its own.

As for the official Payday X, better known as Twitter, account, they’ve been keeping track of all these problems too. So far they’ve mentioned “slow matchmaking” on September 21st, had a full-on “matchmaking outage” on the 22nd, and even shared that they’re “seeing players able to create lobbies again,” but cautioned that there might still be a few issues they’re ironing out on the 23rd.

What Can Be Done To Fix It?

While the account is busy giving fans their daily updates, it’s been getting roasted throughout this whole ordeal by players who either can’t play the game or are simply yearning for an offline mode. Right now, Payday 3’s online servers are still going through a rough patch, and that’s only adding more fuel to the community’s frustration.

While most of the complaints have centered around the game’s lack of an offline mode, those endless matchmaking waits are still a pretty big thorn in players’ sides. While giving the game an offline mode seems like the easiest way to address the problem, it would mean completely reworking the game’s code, which means it’s going to be a while before that update rolls through, if it does at all.

And that’s exactly what’s happening right now, as Starbreeze CEO, Tobias Sjögren, has confirmed that they’re thinking of adding an offline mode. If those plans do go through, this would mean that the game’s DLC will have to be delayed indefinitely until a new update rolls through, adding the much-needed feature.

For now, though, fans are crossing their fingers, hoping that Starbreeze takes these concerns seriously and fixes things up pronto so that they can get back to their daily dose of high-stakes heisting and pistol-whipping some innocent cashiers.

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Ahmed Mansoor is a News Writer who has a deep passion for single-player adventure games. He loves to keep tabs on the gaming and technology industries and loves to break stories that interest his audience. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and several years of experience writing for games. Experience: 3+ Years || Education: Bachelor's in Journalism || Written 600+ News Stories.

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