Crippling server issues are getting in the way of Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem's big launch

Update, 02/16/2020, 12:30 pm PST: In a full statement posted to Steam, Wolcen Studio has explained a bit more detail about the reasons for the game servers' extended downtime: "After applying a hotfix last friday, users reported that their characters were missing, their stashes emptied, and their endgame progression wiped." The servers were shut down to prevent this issue from affecting "a large amount of players" while it was fixed. The statement continues, "Unfortunately, other complications appeared in the process that led us to continuously push back the ETAs we provided for the resolution of the situation, and we're still working hard to fix these issues and make sure that the game works properly Online [sic], which can still take some time."  There is no ETA on the servers returning. Wolcen Studios has posted updates every day since the servers went down.

Update, 02/13/2020, 4:00 pm PST: Wolcen's developers have given another update recently. "Servers and server capacities are currently being deployed and will be fully functional in a few hours," reads a Twitter update. "We're also preparing a hotfix for progression reset issues. We will push that hotfix in a few hours as well."

Original story: Another day, another online game launch hampered by widespread server issues. It's a story as old as time, and this version involves Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem, a gorgeous action RPG that graduated out of Steam Early Access today. Though Wolcen has been dominating Steam's best sellers list all week, today's full launch is proving enormously successful, with a current peak of over 60,000 players—a number that keeps on climbing.

Sadly, all that popularity seems to be crippling Wolcen's online servers. A few hours after launch, the developers at Wolcen Studio began acknowledging connectivity issues on Twitter, and there doesn't appear to be any end in sight. 

"We're still working on the server issues and we are currently in the process of increasing the amount of information processed on the database per second," the latest update reads. "We still have no ETA to provide for the moment but we'll keep you updated."

If you try playing the game right now, don't expect a smooth ride. I was able to create a new character and jump online, but was booted out to the main menu in the middle of an early boss fight due to a network error and haven't been able to get back in a game since. It's frustrating because Wolcen does have an offline mode but it requires making a wholly separate character, and there's no way to transfer an offline character to online. You either have to commit to playing alone or wrestle with the unpredictable servers. 

Judging by Wolcen's subreddit, it's clear I'm not the only one struggling with these issues. Still, this kind of thing is to be expected with any online game—especially ones made by small indie studios. Wolcen's developers only number around a dozen, and I can't imagine how much work it is to keep up with how popular the game has become.

Kickstarted for $400,000 back in 2015, Wolcen (then called Umbra) was originally designed to be much more open world. Over the course of the past 5 years, it changed into a much different game, which was met with resentment from some of its Kickstarter backers. Over the past year, though, that perception of Wolcen improved dramatically as the pieces started to come together, forming a kind of Warhammer meets Path of Exile action RPG. And, today's server issues aside, people really seem to love where the game is now.

All of that is to say that Wolcen looks really cool—but if you're going to buy it today, don't expect to be able to play it unless you're okay with committing to offline mode.

We'll update this story with updates from the developers as they work to fix Wolcen's servers.

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.