The week's highs and lows in PC gaming
Each week PC Gamer probes the previous seven days to scientifically establish what rocked our world and made us despair for its future. As usual, we begin with the good stuff…
Tyler Wilde: It’s my birthday as I write this, so that’s nice. Or is it? I’m never sure whether or not I’m supposed to enjoy getting older. I did enjoy playing Watch Dogs recently. I’m disappointed by the fidelity-breaking parts of the world (the dumb pedestrians, the lack of consequences for terrorizing Chicago), and by the lack of experimentation in the story missions I played—but where it’s open-ended, where I can choose my own plan of attack (or plan of sneaking), and where hacking is a real tool for survival, I’m happy to say that Watch Dogs diverges from GTA and leans in the direction of Far Cry. I’m most surprised that I’m looking forward to the story. I can’t tell if Ubisoft wants Aiden Pearce to come off as a badass, or if he’s supposed to be the way I see him: a loser who messed up his life and his family by running around in a trench coat acting like a big time tough guy when he’d be better off at home watching Hackers again. I like my goober version of Aiden, so I’m sticking to it.
Wes Fenlon: We're two weeks into our Dark Souls 2 coverage, and I'm still over the moon with the work that modder Durante has done for us. First, he analyzed the Dark Souls 2 PC port. Then he wrote a tweak guide for the average user to make the game look better. And now he's debuted a brand new tool with us that he calls GeDoSaTo that enables downsampling, texture modding, and other graphical enhancements in Dark Souls 2 and other DirectX games. It's still a work-in-progress tool, but I can't wait to start taking 8K screenshots with GeDoSaTo on the Large Pixel Collider. And the fact that he's helping gamers mod Dark Souls 2 the very minute the game launches on PC—that's just too cool. I'm glad we can help spread the word.
Evan Lahti: Hell yes, Rising Storm got a big update. The indie-developed WWII FPS is one of our favorite games over the past few years, but it could certainly benefit from a larger playerbase. It’s great to see Tripwire pouring more content into it in addition to making its sibling game Red Orchestra 2 temporarily free earlier this week.
Tim Clark: It’s entirely improper for someone of my age to get excited about box art, but Dragon Age: Inquisition is delivering almost Frank Frazetta amounts of epic here. Luckily, we’ve had plenty more to go on that just the box art this week. Like Chris’s huge interview with the game’s executive producer, info on the game’s digital edition bonus content, and this very saucy looking gameplay trailer. Although it’s of course right to remain cautious given that not everyone thought Dragon Age 2 was an unalloyed triumph, but the delay to The Witcher 3, and the fact Bethesda will surely revisit Fallout before doing another Elder Scrolls game, means Inquisition effectively has the high fantasy field to itself.
Andy Kelly: FRACT OSC is a first-person exploration game that sees you wandering around a bizarre, abstract world that shifts and pulses with music as you solve puzzles. It’s initially confusing and a bit aimless, but as you feel your way around its surreal, vivid world, it starts making a weird kind of sense. It doesn’t hold your hand at all, which demonstrates a trust in the player I wish more developers would have. As you solve puzzles you unlock different parts of a giant step synthesizer. You can create bass lines, pads, and synth leads, tweaking volume, tone, filters, and pretty much everything you’d expect from a VST, but represented in 3D. I know nothing about the developers behind this, but they already have my attention. If you like exploratory games, music, and puzzle-solving, it’s pretty much a must play.
Tom Senior: My game library shrank drastically last week thanks to a severely throttled internet connection (more on this later), but Dark Souls somehow worked, even with its cumbersome Games for Windows Live wrapping. I'm glad. My abortive first attempt ended in frustration, and not because of the game's oft-mentioned difficulty. It's easy to play it wrong. The bonfires scattered throughout the world offer comfort and replenish your health flasks, but bring nearby monsters back to life. I would run and re-run an area to amass souls and level up, locking myself into a cycle of boredom. I was trying to game Dark Souls as an RPG, when I should have been mastering Dark Souls as a combat game.
Now, with light armour and a fire-enchanted club I dodge under each enemy's thrusts and swings, and deliver crunchy critical hits to their exposed spines. I'm moving through each area at a satisfying pace, and can finally admire how the world has been intricately knotted together. I've been locked into the game by a scuppered connection, so perhaps this the Stockholm syndrome talking, but now I love the mystery and melancholy vibes of Lordran. I hope Dark Souls 2 can capture that too.