The week's highs and lows in PC gaming
Every Friday we gaze into the PC Gamer palantír and seek out the key moments of the past week, both good and bad. These are those…
Cory: We’re doomed, again
id Software finally—finally!—showed off the new version of Doom Thursday night at QuakeCon 2014 (running on a PC, natch), and it sounds exactly like what I want from the franchise. Ian’s eyes-on report described some vicious, frantic combat with lots of demons. Massive weapons will return, and there are even some welcome changes, like more verticality. Double-jumps and jetpacks? Hell yes. Doom’s new engine, id Tech 6, looked fantastic as well, according to Ian. Here’s hoping it feels smoother than id Tech 5 does in Wolfenstein: The New Order. I’m ready for more Doom—it was my first love on the PC, and it’s a franchise I’m dying to see return to glory.
Ben Griffin: Through the 4K looking glass
My eyes are stinging as I write this because I've been up all night trying to make Braid work at 4K. Any irreversible vision damage will be totally worth it, though, because with tears currently rolling down my cheeks I'm happy to confirm we have resolution lift off. I tend to spend more time taking pictures of games than playing them these days, and that's because I've found SRWE. Better known to its friends as simple runtime window editor, it essentially lets me run any game at any resolution. I simply boot up my chosen game in window mode, enter my desired width and height in the programme, and like a particularly nerdy magic trick, it becomes that size in realtime. From there it's a matter of pressing print screen, copying the file into paint, and saving it as a mahoosive 4K png.
Whereas before my options were limited to blockbusters with built-in 4K support—games like Elite: Dangerous and Project CARS—now I snap anything, from Fez to Phantasmagoria. Want to see Clive Barker's Jericho in 3840x2160p? Give me an evening and some eye drops. Thanks, wizards of the Internet.
Evan Lahti: Counter-Strike should GO for it as an e-sport
I passed the 500-hour mark in CS:GO this week, and I couldn’t be more excited about the possibility of a massive, International-style tournament for the game, as one Valve employee hinted at the possibility of. One of the reasons it’s been tough, historically, for FPS games to gain traction as e-sports is that the perspective they’re played from, unlike lane-pushers such as Dota 2, doesn’t provide an omniscient spectating experience. If any game in recent history has a real shot at it, though, it’s GO. The current tournament CS:GO scene isn’t bad, but it’d obviously benefit from Valve’s direct involvement and investment. Oceanic Qualifiers leading up to the ESL Championship in Cologne start tomorrow.
Tyler Wilde: Dota 2 on ESPN 3
The International is being shown on ESPN 3. I’ve never done more than timidly dip my toes into Dota 2 (we leave the deep end to Chris Thursten, who explained everything we need to know about the tournament), but I love this news. OK, sure, ESPN 3 is the sports network’s online streaming service, not a cable television channel, but Valve cozying up to a global sports network is a big deal. I want to be clear about why, though. It’s not about elevating e-sports or being legitimized by outsiders—we don’t need to see ourselves as underdogs trying to gain exposure among ‘mainstream’ sports. It’s a big deal because it might expose more eyeballs to something really cool, and I hope it makes them curious. And maybe soon I’ll be ragging on ESPN’s Counter-Strike commentators while gesturing at the TV with a pint of beer, and not just all their baseball commentators.
Andy Kelly: Minecraft x DayZ = Indie breakout
This week a survival game called Unturned became the fourth most-played game on Steam, toppling giants like Skyrim and Football Manager—and it was developed by a teenager. It’s a remarkable story, and the kind you only find in PC gaming. The game isn’t particularly imaginative or inspiring—a DayZ clone with Minecraft visuals—but I love that developer Nelson Sexton was able to make a game in his spare time in Unity and become one of Steam’s big hitters. A large community is growing around the game, with Twitch streams attracting thousands of viewers, and I expect its popularity to grow rapidly over the coming months. It helps, of course, that the game is free, with the option to spend $5 on a ‘gold’ upgrade. I’m no fan of the free-to-play model, but if Sexton is making a tidy profit from it, more power to him. There’s no shortage of inspiring indie success stories, but this is one of the best. You can read my Early Access review of Unturned here.
Wes Fenlon: Different ways to skin an FPS
Nothing I've seen from Battlefield Hardline has interested me so far. I gave Battlefield 3 a shot and had some fun squadding up with friends, but I spent far too much time trudging across oversized maps or being sniped from someone perched on a rock half a mile away. Hardline was an opportunity to do something really creative and asymmetrical with cops and robbers, but it just looks like a skinned BF4. I'm pleasantly surprised, then, that Visceral seems to be taking some of the community's criticism to heart. The devs are toning down explosions, adding more interactive elements to environments, and even tweaking the HUD to distinguish it from BF4. Hardline may well be a reskinned Battlefield, but at least it's going to be thoroughly reskinned.