Face Off

Face Off: Are silent protagonists superior?

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Are mute heroes better than verbose heroes? Does a voice-acted player character infringe on your ability to put yourself into the story? In this week's debate, Logan says "Yes," while his character says nothing. He wants to be the character he’s playing, not merely control him, and that’s easier to do when the character is silent. T.J. had a professional voice actor say "No." He thinks giving verbalized emotions and mannerisms to your in-universe avatar makes him or her feel more real.


Face Off: Do boss battles have a place in modern games?

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In this week's Face Off debate, Tyler goes left, then right, then left again to dodge Evan's precisely timed barrage of attacks against traditional boss fights in modern games. Are they an outdated trope which should be reserved for arcade-style experiences? Is there some common ground, where boss fights and modern ideas can coexist?


Face Off: Is it ethical to pirate a game you've already paid for?

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In this week's Face Off debate, T.J. climbs the mast with a cutlass in his teeth to proclaim that if a company already has its share of his plunder, he should be able to recover his lost booty in whatever way is most expedient. Please, no more booty analogies, says Logan, who believes that piracy is gross, even when you might be entitled to the thing you’re pirating, and prefers that we don't hasten the collapse of civilization by participating in it.


Face Off: Is League of Legends a better game than Dota 2?

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Every week two editors debate a new topic—it's a binary exercise we use to seek common ground conclusions or identify fundamental differences. The "my MOBA vs. your MOBA" argument is a heated one, so we reached outside our walls to SOE game designer and former PC Gamer Senior Editor Josh Augustine for his expertise. Josh was our resident League of Legends authority when he was here, so he's arguing on its behalf, while T.J. stands up for Dota 2.


Face Off: Is Crysis 3 the best-looking game ever?

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In this week's debate, Evan argues that Crysis 3 is the best-looking game in gaming, while Tyler isn't wooed by its tessellated vegetation and volumetric fog shadows. It's undeniably impressive tech, but does Crytek still wear the graphics crown?


Face Off: Do romance options hurt storytelling?

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Player-directed love stories are typically accomplished with "romance options." The options are characters, and in the mechanic's simplest form, if you do and say the right things to an eligible character, he, she, or Asari will fall in love, bed, or both. But can love—and more importantly, good storytelling—blossom from dialog options and cutscene trysts?


Face Off: Is the RTS genre dying?

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Last week, Ironclad Games’ director and co-owner Blair Fraser called the RTS genre “a dying market.” The genre convention of base building is “done,” Fraser says, and while a handful of games like Company of Heroes “may be profitable,” it’s his belief that RTSes are “very niche.”

Hearing these comments from a strategy studio we respect sparked our own discussion: what’s the state of real-time strategy? In this Face Off debate, T.J. and Evan talk about the health of the genre, and debate whether its popularity has waned to never return, or if it’s actually seeing a resurgence.


Face Off: Should single-player games always be playable offline?

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Requiring an Internet connection to play seems to be becoming the DRM du jour for high-profile, non-Steam games like SimCity and Diablo III. Why do developers consider a constant hand-hold with your ISP to be an acceptable requirement for playing an offline game? Even if it deters pirates, doesn't it simply inconvenience legitimate customers?

In this Face Off debate, Logan and Evan debate whether this form of DRM represents a fundamental attack on gamers' rights, or whether its effects are actually an overstated inconvenience that (gasp) might actually have benefits?


Face Off: Are modern games difficult enough?

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Are hard-as-hell indie games enough to satiate our hunger for a challenge, or should mainstream developers quit trying to appease everyone and start really testing us? In this Face Off from our archives (originally published October 2012), Executive Editor Evan Lahti gives former Senior Editor Josh Augustine a hard time for his willingness to take it easy.


Face Off: Does calling it a "beta" justify selling an unfinished game?

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Are qualifiers like "alpha" and "beta" used too liberally to justify selling unfinished products, or are monetized testing phases beneficial to PC gaming? In this Face Off debate, Tyler goes pro on the latter: sell what you want, he says, because it's the player's job to make informed buying decisions. T.J.'s on Con Air, and says that if players can buy the game it should be called what it is: released.


Face Off: What was the best decade for PC gaming?

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Face Off pits two gladiators against each other as they tackle gaming's most perplexing conundrums. This New Year's Eve edition is a chronological throw-down: which decade gave PC gaming the most? Podcast Producer Erik Belsaas says it was the '90s—the origin of modern PC gaming. Executive Editor Evan Lahti insists it was the '00s, with its speedy internet, better PCs, and shinier graphics engines.


Face Off: Single player games can be too long

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Face Off pits two verbal gladiators against each other as they attempt to tackle gaming's most perplexing conundrums. This week we decide if single player experiences can be too drawn out, or if more is always better. Grab some popcorn and get ready to see these two contenders duke it out with argument uppercuts and logic bombs.