Spooky free-to-play open worlder Once Human is out today, and the devs have some crash and performance tips


From Zenless Zone Zero to The First Descendant, we seem to be experiencing a free-to-play explosion. Despair, ye time-constrained adults, for your carefully engineered shortage of pocket money offers no bulwark against the onslaught of games that want a slice of your evening or weekend. Today’s big release, Once Human, at least features a giant schoolbus on monster legs, together with a less exciting but customisable van that just has wheels. In this open world survival shooter, you are a “Meta-Human” making your way around a landscape corrupted by Stardust, which has warped the scenery and will slowly drive you nuts.

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You’ll get to chop down trees, build bases and craft/obtain weapons of colour-coded rarities. It’s a familiar blend, but I’m intrigued by the touches of Control-esque and Ghostwire-adjacent monster and level design in the trailers. I’m going to try the game out this evening. I’m hoping it’ll be a bit like The Division 2’s Dark Zones but New Weird. On which note, developers Starry Studio have done a launch FAQ in advance of the probably inevitable release day bugs.


Let me pack it down for you: at launch, you only get one character per account. Once Human is cross-platform, but not on Steam accounts, for the moment, “due to their inherent limitations”; the developers suggest using NetEase’s Loading Bay launcher instead, which I don’t have much experience with myself. The game also doesn’t officially run on Steam Deck right now. More vexingly, it doesn’t yet support controllers either. “Our development team is actively working on changes to bring controller support as soon as possible,” the FAQ promises. “We expect to complete this by August.”


Once Human will get seasonal updates with new scenarios offering different rules and environments, with players able to carry resources between seasons via their “personal domain” at Eternaland, which sounds like the name of a web3 Second Life rip-off but is seemingly just a customisable base. There will be separate PvE and PvP servers at launch, with a tiny quantity of PvE stuff exclusive to the PvE server.


Now then, how about some system requirements! The below are apparently what you’ll need to run Once Human at 1080p.

Minimum:


OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)


CPU: Intel Core i5-4460


RAM: 8GB RAM


GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti, 4 GB or AMD Radeon R9 270


DirectX: Version 11


Available Storage Space: 60GB

Recommended:


OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)


CPU: Intel Core i7-7700


RAM: 16GB RAM


GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, 6 GB or AMD Radeon RX 580


DirectX: Version 11


Available Storage Space: 70GB SSD

For 60 fps performance:


OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)


CPU: Intel Core i5-12400F


RAM: 16GB RAM


GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 3060 or AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT


DirectX: Version 11


Available Storage Space: 70GB SSD


Sound a bit demanding? The developers are aware. “Once Human offers a high-quality audiovisual experience,” the FAQ explains. “This requires a large amount of storage space for HD images, textures, sound effects, and map files. Additionally, as an MMO survival game, we aim to render long viewing distances so that players can see structures in the world as far as possible. We are continuously working to optimize the game for the best possible experience.”


On a similar note, Once Human doesn’t yet support DLSS “due to the ongoing optimization and integration of certain features”. It does support DirectX 12, but this might cause “a slight frame drop” compared to DirectX 11.


Starry Studio have also put together some elementary tips to improve performance – in particular, lowering the resolution, lowering texture quality and special effects, and lowering the rendering quality. The developers further note that if you do try to plug in a controller – including “pedals and gearbox controls for driving games, or joysticks for flying games” – there may be compatability errors that lead to crashes.

If you are reading this in a distant future of a few hours from now, after Once Human goes live, I hope the advice has helped. Past experience of free-to-play launches suggests that there will be many a gremlin to exorcise. And beyond that, who knows? Once Human was the most popular demo during Steam Next Fest 2024. Again, there’s no shortage of competition right now in the loot-ridden realm of F2P, but perhaps it’ll be another one of this year’s breakout hits.

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