The Week's Highs And Lows In PC Gaming

Tim Clark at

Each week the PC Gamer team clambers onto a really big couch and recounts the best and worst moments of the past seven days. On this page you get the good stuff. On the next page, the not so good stuff. Guess which one the Oculus buyout is in…

THE HIGHS

Andy Kelly: I rarely get giddy over technology, but I loved the GDC video demo of Ubisoft Massive’s Snowdrop engine. It’s too early to say whether The Division will be any good, but there’s no denying it’s a handsome game, backed by impressive tech. As someone who appreciates good world design, I like how the software has been designed to make the environment artists’ lives easier. That explains those hyper-detailed streets in the first Division trailer. I hope the game matches their quality.

Tom Senior: I experienced an enjoyable burst of existential ennui during a long session with Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls this week. There's a thread of humour running through the expansion that gives the fourth wall a good prod, even if it never fully breaks it. One character laments that Diablo will inevitably return again as he always has done and always will. Another complains about being trapped in an "endless game" between heaven and hell. There's a slight weariness among the supporting cast, as though they know that killing Malthael won't end the eternal boss rush that began with Diablo's release in 1996.

I started to see the game from the perspective of the townsfolk. There they stood, never talking to one another, never eating, never sleeping. The only excitement in their lives happened once every few hours, when a manic level 70 wizard teleported into their village to sell a load of clothes. Sanctuary is located somewhere between heaven and hell, and I suppose that those NPCs are all trapped in a horrible purgatory, cursed to serve as room-meat in a wizard’s amazing adventure. I felt sad for a moment, then I lasered a boss in half and got over it.

Phil Savage: Galactic Civilizations 3 is coming! I'll not be jumping in to this week's early access launch – I'm too much of a pacifist to play a 4X before diplomacy is added—but anything that brings us closer to its eventual release is enough to make me smile. Specifically, this week, it was the unveiling of the first game footage. It might not seem like much, but various interface and map changes suggest what could be vast improvements on the previous game.

And what a game GalCiv2 was. Its AI felt like the Deep Blue of the 4X strategy genre, only without the accusations of cheating. For a taste of why it's so challenging, your life can be immeasurably improved by reading Tom Francis' excellent GalCiv diaries. Wait… It costshow much?

Cory Banks: I haven't encountered a lot of cheating in Titanfall, but I know it's there. Which is why I'm glad Respawn announced that it's finally acting on the data its anti-cheating system has detected. But it's the way cheaters will be punished that delights me most.

Instead of outright banning offenders, Respawn will let cheaters continue to play – but only against other cheaters. “You can play with other banned players in something that will resemble the Wimbledon of aimbot contests," the team wrote on its blog. "Hopefully the aimbot cheat you paid for really is the best, or these all-cheater matches could be frustrating for you. Good luck.” Seriously, how rad is that?

Tim Clark: As a lover of both stupidly high-end graphics and weirdo horror fiction (I’m currently reading The King In Yellow off the back of all the references in True Detective), I can’t wait to see more of The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter. Both Phil and I were so struck by The Astronauts’ startling use of photogrammetry to create eye-wateringly realistic visuals that we decided to write about it this week – here and here. Oh, and Andrzej Poznanski’s blog post explaining how the technique works really is worth your time. Come for the lucid explanation of a complex graphical technique, stay for the spinning screenshots!

Evan Lahti: Nvidia’s announcement of the Titan Z adds a “ludicrous” GPU tier to the market. The benefit of a $3,000 graphics card doesn’t seem like it’ll be proportionate to its cost, but do we care? There are plenty of reliable Toyotas, Fords, and Audis in PC gaming—I love that we have a fully absurd, Bugatti-of-a-videocard again. It’s aspirational and ridiculous, and we’ll look forward to benchmarking. Selfishly, too, it’s a reason for us to upgrade the LPC.

One more bright spot: Smite came out this week and I’ve been having a terrific time with it. Fellow MOBA-curious FPS players should give it a look—it’s a WASD game.