Mordhau's breakout success has its servers under siege

Update, 5/1/2019, 10:00 am, PDT: I've received a statement back from Marko Grgurovic of Triternion that better outlines Mordhau's server issues and how the team is addressing them. 

"Part of our server infrastructure couldn't handle the large amount of requests involving rewards, so it got slowed down to a crawl. We've been doing maintenance and upgrades and optimizations throughout the whole day and night, and it's doing much better now. Of course at the same time we also hit a new all-time high of concurrent numbers, so it can be a bit of an uphill battle, because we're a tiny studio with only two programmers on the team. The rewards have been top-priority, so we've lowered the official 64 player servers to 48 while we work on that, it helps keep them under control, but not entirely (some regions fare better) -- servers will be tackled next and once we get them in order we will be bringing them back up to 64 players as well as adding more. I wouldn't be able to give you an exact time on these, we're more or less working nonstop on getting them resolved and monitoring the situation."

To summarize, Grgurovic says Triternion's first priority is to fix the rewards and progression bugs, then improve the server stability to eliminate lag spikes and bring the player counts back up to 64 players. Finally, it'll begin working on matchmaking and server browser improvements.

Original story: Mordhau, a first-person medieval combat game where you can decapitate one another with polearms, is a very fun game. It's also very laggy. Since it launched yesterday and has crawled up to become Steam's global top seller, Mordhau's servers are buckling under the weight of all those would-be knights trying to stab one another. It's really spoiling the fun of its extremely deep combat.

Developed by indie studio Triternion, Mordhau is a lot like Chivalry. Its best mode is a 64-player team death match with a series of objectives to fight over and a very funny battle royale mode that inevitably comes down to who can get a horse first. But unlike Chivalry or Mount and Blade's multiplayer modes, Mordhau also offers extremely robust character customization and very fatal combat with a variety of weapons. Also dismemberment. Lots of dismemberment.

As you can expect, nuanced first-person melee combat—where a single well-timed swing can lop your head off—requires a stable internet connection to work well. But, right now, Mordhau's servers just aren't up to the task. Since it launched yesterday, servers have been plagued by excessively high and constantly fluctuating ping and some bugs that weren't awarding players with gold or experience points.

Triternion has acknowledged the issues and released several hotfixes, including one that temporarily has dropped the servers down to 48 players instead of 64. But after playing a few rounds this afternoon, things still aren't good. My connection is far more reliable, but the high latency still makes combat often feel unresponsive and weightless.

It's gotten to the point where I'm a bit frustrated with Mordhau. There's clearly a good game here and the few times I've been on a server with good latency has been really fun. Someone hit me with a throwing axe and I pulled it out of my chest and threw it back at them. The subreddit is also overflowing with amazing clips of gory beheadings or hilarious shenanigans. But until the servers start working better, I think those who haven't yet bought Mordhau should wait to see if it improves.

The good news is that Triternion seems to be making progress very quickly. The difference between launch day and today are noticeable, so I hope tomorrow things are even smoother. But until we know for sure, buyer beware.

I've reached out to Triternion to get some clarity around the server issues and timeline for expected fixes. I'll update this post if I hear back.

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.