November 6, 2013

Battlefield 4 Freeze and Sound Loop

I have been one of the "unlucky few" that found Battlefield 4 to be unplayable initially due to the game constantly freezing with a sound loop (the last sound played repeats without end).  During the first five days after the game's release, I managed about 20 minutes of play time and never actually completed a round due to freezing up.  Thankfully, the single player campaign worked, most of the time, so I managed to get through about half of that.  I also spent a fair deal of time looking into the freezing issue and trying to find answers, and testing out my attempted solutions.

I have managed now to play a few hours with only one freeze.  Unfortunately, there are still server crashes, so I can never be sure my game would not have frozen if the server hadn't crashed.  What I finally did that seemed to help the most is to run the game in "Borderless" mode instead of "Fullscreen".  You can change this option in-game under the video settings.  However, I cannot be absolutely certain this is the ultimate fix; it just happens to be the most recent thing I tried before it started working.

In my research, I found a multitude of things seemed to work for other people, some of which are contrary to what I did (such as rolling back video drivers).  I will not go into much detail on those; rather, I am simply going to list the things I tried in hopes that some part of this will help others get the game to a semi-playable state before a patch gets released.

  1. Updated to the latest video drivers (I have an AMD card, so it was version 13.11 beta 8)(go here for NVIDIA drivers)
  2. Manually updated Punkbuster
  3. Turned off the Origin overlay (the function that allows you to hit Shift + F1 to access Origin while in-game)
  4. Update to the latest drivers for my onboard audio (I thought I was updated, but my motherboard site did not actually have the latest drivers, so this took a little research)
  5. In the Battlefield 4 settings file, change the GstAudio.AudioQuality setting from 0 or 1 to 4.  I am not sure this changed anything for me, but others have claimed this has fixed the sound that cuts out on the Lancang Dam map.
  6. Reinstall DirectX to be sure it is latest version
  7. Reinstall .Net to make sure it is latest version
  8. Repair the BF4 install (in Origin, right click on BF4 and select "repair installation")
  9. Disabled HDMI audio drivers in the Windows Device Manager because it is not used, and I was trying to eliminate all conflicts
  10. In the in-game console (accessed via the tilde "~" key), type "RenderDevice.RenderAheadLimit 1" (without quotation marks).  This limits the number of frames your CPU pre-renders for the GPU, which can help cut the load on your CPU.
  11. Close everything - I went through the task manager and closed all non-essential processes
Despite all these things, I still experienced freezes until I changed to borderless mode.  I played the game with HWMonitor running both before and after all these changes, and never found my CPU or GPU to be overheating, ruling that out as a cause for the freezing.

Hopefully, my game will continue to work without freezing, and the recent R7 update for servers will end the majority of crashes, and I can go on to enjoy Battlefield 4.  If my game does freeze again, I will likely try closing AMD's Catalyst Control Center (I left it on as an essential process because my GPU gets too hot of the fan is not running 50% or higher).  I remember having a similar sound loop and freeze issue with Bad Company 2 that almost completely went away when I uninstalled MSI Afterburner, so BF4 may be having a similar video device program conflict.

One thing I should add is regarding the in-game sound.  After updating my sound drivers, I lost VOIP.  I could see people speaking in my squad, but could hear nothing.  I also had sound cutting out really bad.  I went into my Windows playback device settings and changed the speaker settings from 44100 Hz, 24-bit to 192000 Hz, 24-bit.  The next time I started the game, VOIP had returned, so it seems it does not come through on the lower frequency Hz.  I still have sound occasionally cutting out (last night on Operation Locker, there were no gun or other environmental sounds, just the sounds of soldier's voices), so I am going to try changing GstAudio.AudioQuality back to 1 to see what happens.

Update: I played for quite some time last night. My game froze up a couple times within a out 3-4 rounds. I checked the settings and realized it had reverted back to full screen. I changed the setting and encountered no more freezes. However, BF4.exe stopped working a couple times, which really isn't any better than a freeze, though that thankfully seemed to happen between rounds, and may have been connected to me Alt + Tabbing out to use Battlelog to change my load out. Also, even with the audio setting change, Golmud Railway and Lancang Dam have serious audio cutout issues. I also kept hearing a squeal, like a locking noise, when I was not in a vehicle and no one was nearby to use a locking weapon. 

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