Editorial

Forget Battlefield: Hardline, everyone should play Team Fortress 2 instead

Tom Senior at

Sorry, Battlefield: Hardline, it's nothing personal. Your cops and robbers CTF battles have the subtlety of a playground pile-on, but I've managed to extract a few moments of fun from the chaos. I like the violent, bass fart of your P-90, as I did in Battlefield 4, and Battlefield 3. And I like the way you use the Frostbite engine to fill the air with floaty bits of burning chaff even though I have no idea where it all comes from. The problem is the competition. There's just so much more laughter and joy to be had in a seven year old free game called Team Fortress 2.


Why Minecraft's new EULA is good for the game

Phil Savage at

At the start of the month, Mojang developer Erik "Grum" Broes reiterated to server owners that charging Minecraft players for perks was against the rules of its end-user agreement. It sparked a vocal backlash from the community—particularly the moderators and patrons of the game's largest servers. Shortly after, Mojang officially updated the rules around server monetisation—relaxing certain criteria, but expressly forbidding the selling of non-cosmetic game features. Eventually, Notch stepped in, defending himself from criticisms of being "literally worse than EA".

Clearly then, Mojang's response hasn't placated the largest communities in the Minecraft multiplayer scene. So is there any validity to their concerns? I've rounded up some of the arguments for and against the new EULA, and have emerged largely in agreement with Mojang's plans. Let me explain why.


The Stomping Land alpha review [updated with editor's note]

PC Gamer at

The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Tim Clark at

It's an E3 special, as our team at the show (and back at the office) pick their personal favourite moments, and some less cheery stuff…


Visceral on why Battlefield Hardline feels so similar to BF4: "Because it's a Battlefield game"

Tyler Wilde at

Battlefield Hardline is an odd patchwork of action crime flicks and large-scale Battlefield 4 warfare. I've been playing the closed beta, and though speeding down a freeway in a cop car is a new experience, it feels a lot like BF4—except that seeing a uniformed police officer wielding an RPG is uncanny. A few days before the E3 reveal, I asked Visceral Games VP and GM Steve Papoutsis to explain why, for instance, the cops and criminals have military-grade weapons.


Three Lane Highway: learning to take a hit, and other thoughts on trying too hard

Chris Thursten at

Three Lane Highway is Chris' sometimes silly, sometimes serious column about Dota 2.

Yesterday I discovered a phrase that I like. I was reading this article about faster-than-light travel in the Washington Post, an article that includes probably the most exciting picture of a spaceship on the internet at the moment. The article links back to a previous interview between io9 and leading NASA engineer Harold White in which he describes the search for his "Chicago Pile moment".

"Chicago Pile moment" is his own coinage, and refers to the development of the first nuclear reactor in Chicago in 1942. It generated very little power, looked like a stack of bricks, and took up most of a large room - but it was proof that nuclear power was a possibility in practical terms. After the Chicago Pile, building a viable reactor was a matter of improving on proven principles. It's the difference between trying to tame the yeti in your garden and trying to prove that the yeti exists at all.

Why Halo: The Master Chief Collection belongs on PC

Chris Thursten at

I've always loved Halo, and I've always believed that it should have had a bigger presence on PC. That sentiment is probably enough to get me drawn and quartered in the comments below—we always get a few people who believe that a holiday in console land warrants permanent exile from the PC's glittering clubhouse. I don't feel that way. If we ignored what consoles we're doing we'd never have brought Dark Souls to PC. If we don't pay attention the games that they're getting and we're not, we miss out on our chance to broaden the range of experiences on our chosen platform.


The lack of playable female characters in Assassin's Creed Unity is more than just "unfortunate"

Tim Clark at

Seeing a synchronised murder squad butcher their way through an 18th Century Parisian ballroom was my first ‘wow’ moment of E3. I watched Microsoft’s press conference huddled around a TV in our office with staff from various magazines and web sites, and as the hooded assassins continued cutting a swathe through French noblemen, a female colleague from our video department noted that at least she’d be able to play as a woman in the co-op mode. Another colleague made the point that it still meant playable female characters were being segregated outside the main mode, or only allowed to star on niche formats like PSP. It turns out they were both being too optimistic.


E3 is about games that look good in trailers, but what are the games you want?

Tyler Wilde at

Scroll through our coverage from the past couple of days and you'll see a lot of tough-looking men and a couple tough-looking women frozen in action: firing a gun, reloading a gun, ducking away from an explosion, leaping over a victim, driving a motorcycle. These are the big PC games of E3: multiplatform games that look great in carefully composed screens and trailers, here to promote consoles. They may turn out to be great—Evan enjoyed Rainbow Six Siege, for instance—but they all feel familiar.


PC gaming could use more Nintendo-style charm

Tyler Wilde at

Right now, Steam's featured games show me a brooding warrior, a corpse, another corpse, readied space marines, another brooding warrior, a lone survivor, a Nazi, a brooding soldier with a sniper rifle, a snarling dinosaur, a ghost, a brooding hacker, and a lost astronaut. It doesn't sound like a diverse set, but it is: some are indie, some are from big studios, some tell linear stories, some generate stories with the systems-based gameplay I love most. The PC has the most variety of any platform, but it's missing one thing: smiles. Can someone please smile?


Why EA's E3 documentary reveals missed the mark

Samuel Roberts at

EA's conference was the strangest of the three I attended yesterday. Laid out more like an awards show than an E3 presentation, with dinner tables instead of places for everyone to sit, the publisher hit viewers with a strong mix of announcements and demos (kudos for breaking up the melodramatic sports trailers with explosions, dragons and a battleship on a golf course, too). Reveals took a different format this year, with mini-documentaries accompanying games that weren't quite ready to be seen in action yet. For Mirror's Edge, Criterion's next project, Star Wars Battlefront and BioWare's brace of new titles, EA focused more on the behind-the-scenes work and gave us only a few bits of new footage to dissect. I'm not sure it's an approach everyone is fond of.


E3 2014 predictions from the PC Gamer team

PC Gamer at

The Electronic Three is nigh. Next week, the entire gaming industry will descend on E3 2014, eager for big announcements at flashy press conferences and as many video games as can fit in LA's massive convention center. There will be new PC games and new PC hardware. That's all expected. But what about the unexpected? What E3 announcements will blow our minds? Is this the year Gabe Newell finally walks onto a stage and says "Half-Life 3 is done, and you can play it right now," and we all leave E3 early?

Probably not. As we psyche ourselves up for E3, the PC Gamer staff have made some wild and not-so-wild predictions about Oculus and Steam Machines and the biggest surprises we'll see at this year's show.


Why I love Smite's 4v4 Siege mode

Wes Fenlon at

A month ago, Smite introduced a new game mode to stand beside Conquest, its traditional 5v5 three-lane battleground. Siege cuts the three lanes down to two and adds lumbering siege tower minions, earned through kills and clearing jungle camps, that can quickly knock down towers by themselves. The smaller map and siege tower minions make for a shorter, faster-paced game, and I was still trying to decide how I liked it compared to Conquest when Hi-Rez added another wrinkle. In the latest patch, they cut Siege down to a 4v4 mode, and now Siege produces some of the most fun, fast-paced lane-pushing matches I've ever played.


Three Lane Highway: why Dota 2 isn't really about heroes at all

Chris Thursten at

Three Lane Highway is Chris' sometimes silly, sometimes serious column about Dota 2.

It is the most human thing in the world to want to be the coolest person in the room. Competition for status is written into our society and culture. It is why we valourise the assertion of individual will and downplay collective success. It's how teenagers figure out who they are. It's how democracy (sort of) functions, how movies get made, how lies pass into general acceptance. It's a process we can't shake, a process that generates politicians and celebrities and bullies and—to the point—some really, really shitty Dota players.

Three Lane Highway: $18m is an awful lot of money to spend on magic books and other thoughts on the Compendium

Chris Thursten at

Three Lane Highway is Chris' sometimes silly, sometimes serious column about Dota 2.

Somewhere, in the offices of a distant videogame publisher, a mid-level business guy is crying. He's crying because a couple of years ago he was all like "we should sell an internet magic computer book for our competitive online game" and his bosses were all like "lol no". He's crying because everyday he has to fill out reports with words like "outreach" and "conversion" on them. He's crying because the Dota community has, at the time of writing, spent $18,867,328 on internet magic computer books.

Diablo 3 celebrated its second birthday last week. Here's why I'm still playing

Tom Senior at

The best thing about the black hole spell isn't the way it scrunches nearby enemies into an orb of writhing limbs, though that is nice, it's the way it positions an entire horde into the radius of a single meteor strike. With two clicks I can drag a mob into a tiny space, and then scatter their broken ragdoll forms across the scenery with a massive explosion.

Yes, I'm playing Diablo 3 again. The lure of this week's 100% increased legendary drop rate—introduced to celebrate Diablo 3's anniversary—proved too great. I thought I'd just dip in and grab a couple of legendary items while the going was good, but idle curiosity quickly turned to fervour. Diablo 3's legendaries drop with a CLANG sound that elbows ambient battle noise aside. Legendaries fire a golden laser into the sky to announce their presence. The beam is to treasure hunters as the bat symbol is to Batman, a call of duty for obsessives seeking ever sweeter loot.


Three Lane Highway: why The International's prize distribution should change this year

Chris Thursten at

Three Lane Highway is Chris' sometimes silly, sometimes serious column about Dota 2.

Last year I arrived in Seattle a couple of days before The International began. Being ahead of schedule meant spending a few afternoons hovering around the hotel where the players were housed, watching the group stages and trying to grab interviews with whoever I could. Some of that material ended up in the feature that I subsequently wrote about the tournament, but a lot of it didn't.

Every player I spoke to was keen to point out that the prize money wasn't as important to them as being able to say that they were the best in the world at something. Despite that, many players felt dissatisfied with the way the prize pool itself was divided up.

Why an Unreal Tournament made by modders is the best (and only) decision Epic could've made

Evan Lahti at

Thursday was stuffed with good news for FPS players. We announced Killing Floor 2, learned that Unreal Tournament was being thawed after seven years of hibernation, and, bonus some guy taught us how to Counter-Strike with a steering wheel.


Three Lane Highway Revisited: anger as failure, and other thoughts on empathy in Dota

Chris Thursten at

Three Lane Highway is Chris' sometimes silly, sometimes earnest column about Dota 2. The following was originally posted on the Three Lane Highway Tumblr in September 2013 - we're republishing it today as Chris is currently on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic. Enjoy!

In 2005 the late David Foster Wallace gave a commencement speech to graduates at Kenyon College, Ohio. I’m going to quote a few paragraphs of it below, but before I do I want to lay out why it is relevant to you, a person who presumably came here to read about Dota.

The majority of the things you need to learn to be good at Dota are not things that will make you good at real life. You are probably never going to land a sick Sacred Arrow on a fleeing mugger. You won’t place wards at strategic locations around your cubicle to let you know when you should be alt-tabbing away from Reddit. You’re not going to invest an unexpected tax return - sensible as it might seem to do so - in a courier upgrade and the first parts of a Mekansm.

A console gamer asked me what three PC games he should play — here's what I told him

Evan Lahti at

One of the pleasant parts of writing about games is just meeting the people who share your weird career. I went to a media dinner at PAX East this year and had the chance to get to know some editors that I hadn’t met before. The guy sitting next to me happened to be primarily a console gamer, but that actually ended up being a neat opportunity for us to have a kind of cultural exchange. I got to learn about the state of Kinect games and Halo, and he got to hear me explain the appeal of Arma, a game that inspired me to memorize the NATO alphabet.

I took his business card and emailed him a few of my favorite Arma videos by Dslyecxi and CHKilroy, hoping they would give him a sense of the beautiful coordination that’s possible in a systems-driven, moddable, massive-scale multiplayer game. A few days after PAX East, I got a wonderful reply—our conversation and the videos I’d passed along had inspired him to build his first PC in 15 years.