I know that it has been almost a year since Need For Speed Rivals released. I didn’t play it back then knowing how horrible EA’s PC optimisation is at launch. But you would think that 8 months would be enough time to fix their own game, wouldn’t it? Oh, how wrong I was.
I downloaded the game overnight on my measly Aussie connection and was all ready to launch the game. You know, see what all the fuss (or lack thereof) was about. Rivals launched fine but I was met with a black screen. No sound, nothing and no crashes. Just a black screen. Restarting the PC didn’t help. And I have a Core i7 2700-K (no overclock) with a Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X and 16GB of DDR3 ram. So, I can safely say that meeting the system requirements wasn’t an issue.
I looked into the game folder and found a DirectX redistributable, To my surprise it installed a couple of files and I thought that the problem had been fixed since this is usually why most games fail to run. But no, the game wasn’t having any of that.
The next logical step was to update my video card drivers. Since I already had the latest one, Catalyst 14.4, I decided to install the 14.7 beta drivers. Although the patch notes didn’t mention anything about Rivals, I figured it was worth a shot. Nope, the same black screen problem.
I searched online and found that EA actually has a help file from December 2013 about the issue. So, they’ve know about it for almost a year and hasn’t fixed it. It says to Alt+Enter out of fullscreen and into windowed mode to play the game. I tried Alt+Enter and Alt+Tab but the windowed mode still had the same problem.
I contacted EA’s customer support and got the run around of sending them diagnostic stuff such as my system configuration and DxDiag files, and the run of the mill updated drivers and stuff. It didn’t help. But to EA’s credit, they actually have someone available over live chat unlike Steam’s almost non-existent customer support.
Looking into the forums, it seems a lot of users are having the problem. The last post is from February 2014 and says that the issue has been fixed. Nope, not for me and others as well. It seems specific to AMD video card users who have their PC connected to a HDTV via HDMI. But then others without a similar setup have the same issue. None of the workarounds listed worked for me since the game wouldn’t even run in windowed mode.
More research revealed that versions of the game from ye land of Arrrrr! Mateys worked fine. Could it be the case that EA can’t fix their own game but need those Captain Jack Sparrow wannabes to fix it for them? Well, at this point I had nothing to lose. And I had already paid for it. Plus, all my other options were exhausted save for buying a brand new HDTV or switching over to the green camp from my Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X. Nope, I didn’t have the cash to burn just to get a $50 game t work. So, in the name of video games journalism onward I forged! Reluctantly, kind of. After another overnight download, I had my answer. And guess what, it ran fine the very first time. No blackscreen, no Origin, no hassle! Played for about an hour no problem.
I again tried running Origin’s version of Rivals and had the same black screen. So, I uninstalled Origin’s version and pointed it to my “other” installation. It then proceeded to download a 2.03 GB update and voila! EA managed to break that game too since I get the dreaded black screen again.
Now, I’m not even going into the whole locked to 30FPS things to keep parity with consoles debacle. But not being able to run a game I paid well for is pushing it. Especially since the guys from the land of swashbucklers and The Black Pearl have it working with no hassle. So you should get your act together fast if you want to keep paying customers who put up with your broken games and always online DRM (looking at you SimCity). The only redeeming feature is EA’s Great Game Guarantee but at the end of the day I just want to play a game I paid for without much hassle. Is it too much to ask for, EA?