The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Tim Clark at

Every Friday the PC Gamer team enter our custom sensory deprivation tank to recall the best moments and buried memories from the previous seven days…

THE HIGHS

Samuel Roberts: Civ: Beyond Earth gets dated
One announcement that had everyone unanimously excited this year was Civilization: Beyond Earth, Firaxis’s spiritual successor to ‘90s timesink Alpha Centauri. This week it got an official October release date: huzzah! Earlier this year, our exclusive reveal of the game detailed the immense tech trees that touch upon high concepts from all your favourite sci-fi novels and movies. Civ V remains in the top ten most-played on Steam, and I think Beyond Earth will find the sort of audience that Alpha Centauri never quite did back then. It’s sci-fi Civ! These are truly the end times for the rest of my Steam library.

Tom Senior: Cheering along to Dota 2
I love watching sport, so I've been spoiled by the convergence of the World Cup, Wimbledon and the ESL One Frankfurt Dota 2 tournament. I surprised myself by watching and enjoying most of the ESL Saturday heats, equipped only with the most basic understanding of how Dota 2 operates. Sport taps into a deep human drive to manufacture drama wherever we can—a drive that manifests in comments threads, Twitter scandals, tabloid rags and marathon gossip sessions at the local pub. As Chris touches on in his thoughts on games that become sports, sport provides an agreed-upon space that communities use to generate drama endlessly.

This effect is so powerful that I don't even have to understand the mechanics of every hero ability to enjoy the ebb and flow of a Dota 2 game. I enjoy watching Fnatic knowing the additional issues surrounding their lineup, and I enjoyed Alliance's 80-minute marathon win over Cloud 9, without understanding precisely how they did it (Chris later explained). The crowd's display of passion, and the excited commentary overruled my ignorance, and I was rewarded for my time.

Andy Kelly: Spintires sells 100,000
There isn’t much to Spintires, as my review explains, but I really liked it. Some accused me of giving it a hard time, but 60 is not a bad score on PC Gamer. See our reviews policy for more. Anyway, I’m glad to hear that the game sold 100,000 copies of Steam, because niche games by indie studios being able to sell that much is why PC gaming is amazing right now. The big publishers wouldn’t touch a Soviet truck simulator with a shitty stick, but digital distribution lets these mad, wonderful ideas blossom and actually become successful.

Phil Savage: Gilding the Guild Wars
The first update of Guild Wars 2's new season is live. In many ways, it feels like a direct response to previous updates. People weren't happy about the lack of dragon-related plotlines; so now there are dragon-related plotlines—sort of. So far, it's a small seasoning of dragon on top of a familiar character stew, but the new instance-focused story journal ensures that each episode will advance that tale.

People also weren't happy about the lack of new, permanent content; so now there's new, permanent content. It's called Dry Top, and its labyrinthine rock formations do a lot with a relatively small space. There are events, bosses and an hourly sandstorm to navigate—it seeds community-focused co-operation into an area that mostly exists to advance the season's story. ArenaNet have learned a lot over the course of Season 1. Now they're filtering that knowledge into an area that will grow larger over the coming updates. Hopefully, by the end, we'll have a full zone filled with reasons to keep coming back. And a new dragon. I really want a new dragon.

Tim Clark: FIFA 15’s facial prowess
As brilliant as the World Cup has been—and good grief, it really has been brilliant—the games are now too spaced out to prevent me from thinking about the transfer window any longer. As an Arsenal fan, I tend to live vicariously through FIFA’s Manager Mode, spaffing 100s of millions on a string of Vidals, Cavanis and Benders in a way Arsene never will. I set myself all sorts of weird rules about buying players, though, like I can only go for ones we’ve actually been linked to in the press, (which, handily, is all of them), and I’ll also only buy those with bespoke faces.

Obviously in the real world, almost everyone has a bespoke face. But in the game players are brutally segregated between those deemed worthy of having a unique model, and those who get stuck with a lumpy generic face. The team at EA has been doing sterling work building the bespoke face pool, but it still rules out some of my more leftfield picks. (Sorry, Serge Aurier.) Anyway: the high for me this week was seeing how good the engine, and those faces, are looking in this video. My kingdom for Marco Reus and his sunkissed blonde quiff!