I posted this in the #support channel of the official Sandstorm Discord server but haven't made any progress yet:
Sorry if this is not the right place to raise this. When I start Sandstorm, I see the Insurgency Sandstorm logo with my character behind it. He is moving "swaying" for about a split-second before he freezes. It then stays frozen for a good 4-5 minutes. During this time, I can see the RAM increase from 2 GB to 2.5 or even 3 GBs and Task Manager shows as "Not responding". Then the main menu finally loads and my character (and the background) is moving again. I can see in the top left corner than I am connect to Steam (green check), but an orange clock for NWI services ("Connecting to New World Services..."). This never connects how ever long I wait. If I click on the + party button in the top right, the whole game crashes with a popup to send a crash report. If I play Local or Tutorial, NO PROBLEMS at all. I get FPS of 60+ for Medium detail, and 30-50 FPS for High detail. If I try to play online anyway (ignoring the "Connecting to New World Services..." status in the top left), any game mode i choose shows me "Loading playlists..." indefinitely
My system is older: i7-920 at 2.67, 16 GB of RAM, Geforce GTX1080, Windows 10 (1903)
I've tried, uninstalling/reinstalling from Steam, verifying game files, reinstalling Easy Anti-Cheat on its own, running in windowed/fullscreen, disable overlays for both Steam and NVidia, turned off Windows Firewall and real-time protection completely. I opened 27000-27036 for both TCP and UDP on my modem router, rebooted it, tried with/without a VPN. I deleted the folder "C:\Users<username>\AppData\Local\Insurgency\Saved\Config\WindowsClient" and also disabled IPv6 for my network adapter as suggested by someone in the #support channel. Also, I play Insurgency and Day of Infamy without any issues (I have a dedicated DOI linux server in a VM that works just fine too).
I've Googled my symptoms to no avail. I'm hoping someone here just might have seen this issue before. My gut feeling? I feel like the inability to connect to NWI services is what's causing the long delay at the beginning, but I don't know how to troubleshoot that any further. I am so frustrated after hours of troubleshooting... if I have to start packet captures to play this game, I think I'd rather just eat my $15 and leave my honest review online
Thank you for any feedback or suggestions!