[IMPORTANT NOTE: All of my personal experiences that’ll be detailed here are from the Xbox One version. I’ve only played it on an Xbox One X, which is detailed as an X-enhanced title. All of those should be kept in mind.]
The remaster Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled (CTR for brevity’s sake) is upon us! But…this doesn’t come without some odd news. Yesterday, June 21st, marked the official release of CTR with news of an update ‘fixing’ previous reports of online issues. Said online issues were vague to me, as I only skimmed the article’s title while it was still in pending. I’d already bought CTR and was ready to play it after work. The Xbox One update had already rolled out by that time and the campaign ran just fine. But my first online matchmaking games were grating experiences.
Finding people for a lobby didn’t appear to be much of an issue. Once in-game, it was less of a normal race and more of witnessing every online user (or bot) transport from place to place. What you see with your character is like racing in any other game; everyone else around is consistently pulling Houdini tricks left and right. And this harms racing even further when considering how ill-prepared one can be for any offensive attacks. You can’t really time out when to use a bubble shield against a missile if said warning appears when you’ve already been hit—according to the game. Bear in mind, I’m experiencing all of this after Beenox talked about handling XOne’s “online concerns” via twitter (1).
After 2-3 games, I’d had enough with matchmaking, especially since extended exposure can give me a light headache. Lo and behold, a friend who’d pre-ordered CTR got on and we decided to play a private match with bots. I was explaining this dreadful experience to ‘prepare’ him—and also to vent some more. To my surprise, everything runs perfectly fine for me when I invite. I subsequently won that first race. But I also discovered that he experienced those issues I’d previously discussed. He gets the reins and invites me this time and, sure enough, I’m back to experiencing teleport-racing.
All of this leads me to saying this has to be the worst case of host advantage I’ve personally experienced. People tend to rag on games like Gears of War's (x360) online multiplayer but this is on another level. I’ve only done some light perusing from other sources but I’ve yet to find any link to suggest CTR runs on dedicated servers, which only annoys me more just because this remaster deserves said treatment. Even if not going that route it would’ve been fine if the servers didn’t seem like such a mess right now.
I’ve currently raised complaints on Beenox’s twitter channel and Activision Support’s twitter channel has personally asked me to contact them via PM (2). I intend to do that after this blog goes live because I wanted to bottle these early impression whilst they’re fresh in mind. Perhaps I’ll send a link to this as my response. Last I checked, Beenox said they’re STILL working on these online fixes for the Switch version so I can’t say how much of a horror show that might be (1). But in regards to any of the three versions, I wanted to make this blog as a platform to describe their current experiences as well. Maybe I just had bad luck when I decided to play? Perhaps these issues will blow over in a matter of days, but I was so annoyed because of how quiet critics seemed to be with these issues. It’s like another Gears of War 2 quagmire at launch: where I don't see any prominent site pointing out these objective flaws, leaving potential buyers ignorant in the process.
This blog may be outdated by next week. But what if it holds off one interested buyer from putting down their money until these issues are rectified? I’d say it’d be worth it. Please feel free to share your experience here too.