In my free time lately I’ve been getting into the superb online multi-player in EA and DICE’s Call of Duty baiter, Battlefield 3 on Xbox 360. For anyone who’s not tried the series, it’s a large scale multi-player military shooter with wide open maps and a variety of land, sea and air vehicles with which to play. While it’s enormous fun, especially if your fellow players work as a team it’s unfortunately riddled with game-breaking bugs. Some players seem worse affected than others and the issues seem to be spread across all three of the game’s platforms; Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.
There was one of these bugs that I seemed to encounter in the majority of games I played and it left me very close to putting the game on the shelf and waiting until DICE released a patch. Fortunately, I persevered and eventually found a workaround. The bug in question was what I’ve seen referred to as the “no weapon” glitch. It happened when spawning, either at the start of a new round or after a death. Once choosing kit and deployment, I would then spawn with all of my HUD present, including crosshairs but no weapon visible on screen. When this happens, the player is unable to shoot any weapons, use their knife, throw grenades or use equipment. Basically you’re just a big walking target and once it’s happened in a game, there’s no getting rid of it.
I tried everything I could think of in-game to get rid of this issue: getting killed, suicide, changing class, switching team, jumping in and out of vehicles. I even tried removing the HD content pack which comes on the disc as an optional install. All to no avail. The only remaining option is to quit out of the game, which unfortunately then leads to an endless loading screen. All extremely frustrating and occurring far too regularly for my liking. The video below shows the glitch in action (on PC).
I was close to giving up on the game and shelving it when I rather stumbled across a workaround. As standard, whenever I start a new game, the first thing I do is install it onto the hard drive on the Xbox. It cuts down on the noise from the optical disc drive (in most cases anyway) and often leads to faster load times. However, not all games can support it properly and in some cases (such as Halo 3) it can actually prevent the game from running. I decided as a last resort to delete the install from my hard drive and give the game another chance. I joined the first multi-player game I could find and got going without any issues. I died and respawned a few times and didn’t encounter the issue. That was a week ago and I’ve not encountered the problem since.
So what causes the issue? I can think of 2 possible explanations for it that could either cause the issue independently or in conjunction. Option 1: the hard drive could be partially corrupt or contain some bad sectors. Option 2: there’s some kind of caching issue with the textures the game uses for weapons, which prevents them from loading properly when installed to HDD. I’ve had some problems in the past with games freezing or failing to read while installed (Gears of War 3 and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood spring to mind) so it’s highly possible that my HDD isn’t as stable as it should be. I hope not as it’s only an 11 month old Slim model.
Whatever the cause of the problem, it seems that uninstalling the game from HDD and just running it from the DVD drive does the trick. On the plus side, the game doesn’t seem to utilise the disc that much more than it did while installed. Leave a comment below if you’ve encountered this issue and let me know whether this worked for you or if you’ve come across another workaround.