The week's highs and lows in PC gaming
Tom Senior: I like to ride the cutting edge of videogame technology, so this week I installed WWII stealth game Velvet Assassin released in, er, 2009. Okay, I've been stuck in a strange time warp this week. Unlike Vampire, literally nobody has recommended Velvet Assassin to me. In fact, I've been actively put off it. I was was advised that it was shonky and strange, and not in a quirky 'flawed experiment' sort of way. Bad games can still be entertaining, but games like Velvet Assassin sit in the valley of bland, forgettable mediocrity, which is worse.
Guards spotted me through walls. The endless Nazi bunkers were dull to explore. If you backstab characters using the assassination prompt, you'll kill them, but if you equip your knife and stab them manually they turn around, mildly annoyed, and shoot you in the face. Playing Velvet assassin wasn't fun, but it was useful. Seeing games get it wrong only increases my appreciation for the games that get it right. Speaking of which, I've still got some Dishonored DLC to finish.
Phil Savage:: I don't really care about Dark Souls. I've played the first one a bit, and it seems okay. But it's not really my thing. That's a problem when you work in an office full of people who play and talk about games. From every direction, I'm hearing about death after death at the hands of some giant meat-slab with a bastard-huge weapon, or the first frightened few steps into the sprawling caverns of twisted nightmares. I've overheard theorycrafting, whispered secrets and endless amounts of boasting. It's great when a game can build that sense of community; that shared feeling of discovery and adventure. Unless, you know, you're not taking part.
Evan Lahti: I have to admit, Sunset Overdrive looks like a great time. I’ve always enjoyed Insomniac’s games, especially the charming Ratchet & Clank series—they produce some of the most entertainingly whimsical games in the business—and I lament that we’re we continue to game in a time where console exclusives (Xbox One, in this case) are a thing now that all of the platforms are essentially running on the same, x86 architecture. There’s always room for another open-world mayhem game on PC. I guess we’ll just have to wait to hear more about the next, rumored Just Cause game will be like on PC.
Wes Fenlon: The entire gaming industry is still figuring out Early Access. Is this a great way for developers to balance their games based on fan feedback, or is it a dangerous precedent for ‘pay first, play later’ that leads to messes like The War Z? Unfortunately, I think the answer is both, which means we're going to see a lot more incidents like strategy game Towns shutting down mid-development. The developers ran out of money and could no longer support the project, leaving many promised features unimplemented. It's a bad ending for everyone. The devs aren't running away with millions of stolen dollars, but people who paid for the promise of a better game are left high and dry. Hopefully, as Early Access becomes more common, we'll see more success stories and fewer abandoned, disappointing projects.
Tyler Wilde: I’m also sour about an Early Access game: Earth: Year 2066, which was pulled from Steam. I played it, and I can’t imagine anyone honestly believing that this hobby project, or participation in its development, was worth $20. Not only that, it was promoted with stolen artwork and the developer swatted away all criticism warning others away. It’s so frustrating that brilliant games like Starbound are being undermined by opportunists on Early Access, and if Steam really is becoming even more open, I worry about its uncurated future.
Tim Clark: Look, don’t ask what I’d do for 1,600 Hearthstone Arcane Dust right now. I said don’t. But yes, I’d do that. And probably also that, even with my parents watching. Have I hit rock bottom this week? Hard to say. I certainly haven’t been winning much, which has resulted in petulant deck deletions, reflexive card pack purchases, and an increasingly foot-stompy approach to not having the Legendaries I want. (“My kingdom for a Cenarius!”) I’ve essentially become the Veruca Salt of Control Druids. Hmm, maybe that’d be a good deck name?
I’ve also taken to obsessively listening to the Value Town podcast while walking my dog, Batman, and trying to kid myself I could play a few cool hands with Kripp and Trump. Despite the fact there is literally no-one I can’t lose to. This is what a psychotic break looks like isn’t it? Still, it’s nothing an ultra competitive tournament against my colleagues next week won’t cure. At least the bloody hounds have been nerfed.