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Lawbreakers PS4 launch code hitches and stutters

UPDATE: Massive improvements in patch 1.04.

UPDATE 9/8/17 3:37pm: Good news for prospective buyers of Boss Key's Lawbreakers. The hitching and stuttering issues that heavily impacted gameplay on launch day are now massively improved. "PS4 players, the @lawbreakers hitching fix is live! Thanks for your understanding. Now go kick some ass," Boss Key announced on Twitter.

The patch notes for update 1.04 cite "hitch improvements" and we can confirm that the frequency of the problem, not to mention the length of the stuttering (now 100ms at its worst) represent a night and day difference from the sub-optimal experience we played yesterday.

Original story: Gravity-defying multiplayer shooter Lawbreakers suffers from profound hitching issues on PlayStation 4, making the game difficult to enjoy at launch. Gameplay on PS4 stutters at critical moments, often ruining one versus one encounters. Meanwhile, our tests reveal that PC runs without any similar problems, based on the limited time we've spent with the title so far.

Developer Boss Key Productions states that it's aware of the issue. While the cause isn't fully spelled out, the fact that no such hitching occurs while playing alone in a custom game may suggest a network problem. Regardless, the developer pushes this warning message via the game's menus:

"We are currently aware and investigating a hitching issue on PS4 when joining/leaving a match or changing roles. Thanks for your understanding while we work to resolve the issue."

The issue is profound enough that you don't need frame-rate analysis tools to notice the problem, but for the record we've measured in-game stutter on PlayStation 4 Pro maxing out at 316ms - pretty much one third of a second.

Lawbreakers typically runs at a silky-smooth 60 frames per second - but the stuttering issue manifests randomly from the player's perspective and sees the game freezing for 316ms at its worst, based on our testing.

It's also worth noting that in our case, the issue manifests randomly at any point - not just when joining/leaving a match or changing roles, as Boss Key suggests (unless of course, such an action from another player triggers the problem).

Lawbreakers exited its beta phase last week - and didn't appear to have this issue during the testing period. This 40 minute run of PS4 Pro gameplay shows a smooth 60 frames per second throughout. To reiterate though, the developer stresses that it is aware of the issue and is working on a solution, but it's disappointing to see the game ship in this state.

For the time being anyway, it's worth approaching the PS4 version - available on the PlayStation Store now for £25 - with some level of caution. If you do decide to dive in, expect gameplay to be disrupted by sudden, erratic jumps in motion. Hopefully we'll see the issue resolved sooner rather than later and we'll report back as soon as a fix is in place.

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About the Author
Thomas Morgan avatar

Thomas Morgan

Senior Staff Writer, Digital Foundry

32-bit era nostalgic and gadget enthusiast Tom has been writing for Eurogamer and Digital Foundry since 2011. His favourite games include Gitaroo Man, F-Zero GX and StarCraft 2.

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