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Streaming The Division’s PC beta isn’t impossible, but you’ll need a hefty rig

The Division beta technical problems

Update 29 Jan, 2016: Streamers, including us, are having serious problems with The Division.

With The Division’s beta kicking off today, we’d planned to stream some of it for your hungry eyes. Unfortunately, that’s proved to be a bit tricky. While our CPU (i5-3570K @3.40 GHz) met and surpassed the game’s minimum requirements, and performance was actually perfectly reasonable, usage was up to 100% the entire time, leaving us unable to stream – unless people were willing to watch a video that jumped between 5fps and 30fps. 

Read why Matt thinks the Division will be a great RPG.

The problem lay with streaming program OBS trying to encode video while The Division hogged our CPU. The game ran fine, though fluctuated in how much power it took between 70% and over 90% just while running around some early areas. Once we tried to turn the stream on, the CPU would max out and still not be able to encode the video fast enough to send it out smoothly.

Having looked around the various streams on Twitch, it doesn’t look like there’s a single one running perfectly from PC, although many of them are watchable. There’s minor FPS drops on every stream, getting worse depending on the streamer’s hardware. The issue is likely one of optimisation, meaning there isn’t much we can do and it’s unlikely Ubisoft will issue a patch for it given the length of the beta. However, here are some possible solutions for streaming The Division PC beta:

  • Set OBS to above average or high priority in your CPU. We did this and it helped a little, but since the CPU was maxed out and bottle-necking anyway we didn’t want to harm our hardware leaving it running like that for too long. Plus, we were still getting hitches.
  • Downscale your stream. If you normally stream at 1080, try switching to 720. Lowering your FPS from 60/45 to 30 might also help. Have a look at this thread on the OBS forums for other possibilities.
  • Wait for release. We’re not being sarcastic – the beta’s only running ’til Sunday anyway, you’ll have a much more enjoyable time playing the full version and it will be optimised better. You (and your viewers) can all go in blind together.

The game itself was completely playable, but even on another machine with the recommended CPU (i7 3770k @3.5ghz), we experienced extremely high CPU usage. Let us know if you’ve found any workarounds in the comments below.

The Division PC mission UI

Original story 27 Jan, 2016:The first publically available playtest of The Division is starting tomorrow on Xbox One and coming to PC on Friday. It runs through the weekend and you can get access either by signing up and hoping you’re allowed in or pre-ordering the game. Ubisoft have released their known issues list and it’s bad news if you use a capture card to record gameplay, along with a series of other problems.

Posting on the official forums, Community Manager xMiiSTY listed off the problems that could occur. Here’s everything that influences the PC and any workarounds they detailed. First the biggie, for anyone trying to externally capture their gameplay for YouTube or streaming on Windows 10:

  • Capture cards – Players using Windows 10 will experience corrupted video signal output when using an external video capture card/device. Models affected: Atomos Assassin, Elgato Gaming HD60, Atomos Shogun and potentially more.

As with any major game release in the modern era, community-produced video content will be a big part of how it persists. Ubi’ll want to get this one fixed quick. Now on to performance issues you might encounter:

  • [Performance] Textures – World textures may render very slowly after a player respawns.
  • [Performance] VSync – Players using VSync will experience significant FPS drops. Workaround: Don’t use VSync.
  • [Performance] Windowed/Borderless modes – FPS may drop below 20 when the game is played in windowed or borderless mode. Workaround: Use fullscreen to maximize FPS.
  • [Performance] Nvidia Graphics – Players may experience graphical corruptions and visual artifacts when using Nvidia Graphics Cards.
  • [Performance] Proximity Voice Chat – Players may experience problems when communicating with Proximity Voice Chat in the Dark Zone such as poor audio quality or temporary interruptions. Workaround: Proximity chat is currently limited to 8 players at a time.

Most of these seem fairly minor, but again you wouldn’t expect them in a full release. I’m not sure how they will fix the proximity voice problem though, and it will still mostly come down to the quality of connections available to players. On the Nvidia front, make sure to grab the latest drivers – they’ll often release ones specifically designed to tackle betas of this sort and they’re due for an update anyway.

Now the more serious gameplay issues:

  • [Gameplay] Population – In instances where the Dark Zone is overly crowded in a small area, players may experience performance issues such as delayed damage or animation glitches.
  • [Gameplay] Saving Private O’Brian – The second wave of enemies does not always attack the player if they eliminated the first wave too fast. Workaround: Exiting the mission area and re-entering it will reset the mission.
  • [Gameplay] Unable to shoot – Players may be unable to shoot or switch weapons after exiting Chelsea Pier. Workaround: Restarting the game should fix the issue.
  • [Gameplay] GPS – The GPS in the World Map may send the player to dead ends or through areas outside the Beta map area

I’m guessing it wasn’t worth the effort to rehook the way the game works out routes to deal with just the smaller area in play during the beta. However, that first problem could be seriously catastrophic if the game gets more players than they’re expecting and it persists to day one. Finally, the odds and ends:

  • [Interface] Languages – After installing the game in any other language than English, the game will still launch in English the first time. Workaround: Select your language in the language selection screen on first launch of the game.
  • Character selection – Players may experience graphical corruption around their character model in the character selection screen on resolutions higher than 1080p.
  • [Bug / Glitch] Falling through map – Players will fall through the map when joining another user that is watching the Intro Cinematic. Workaround: The player will be teleported back to his checkpoint once exiting the playable map volume

And that’s your lot, with a few extra PS4/XBO specific problems listed in the post. Chances are plenty more issues will be found while stress testing those servers and running around the world, even in just two days. Hopefully Massive can get them all fixed by March 8th and we can get on with killing each other for the last tin of beans in New York. If you’re in the beta, it startsFriday, Jan, 29 at 04:00 PT / 07:00 ET / Midday UK / 13:00 CET. Are you excited?