The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

PC Gamer

Every Friday the PC Gamer stares the previous seven days in the face and refuses to blink. Find out what we loved, and what we've tried (but failed) to blank out…


Wes Fenlon: About to wade into Witcher lore

The best news of the week, for me, is that The Witcher 3 is coming out in early 2015. Not spring or summer. February 24, 2015. And, no surprise, the game looks stunning. It has an almost impossibly high bar to live up to, at this point: a vast, beautiful open world, 100 hours of story and sidequests, and the Witcher's traditionally excellent morally grey choices. I'm pumped to go after the Wild Hunt, the horsemen of death we've mostly only seen in Witcher backstory. I'm almost excited enough to start reading the Witcher novels. Dangerous territory.

Tim Clark: FIFA finally gets with the programme

It's fashionable to beat up on EA, and this year the company will have been pleased to have avoided completing a hattrick of consecutive 'worst company in America' awards. I've always thought that level of hatred was ludicrously hyperbolic, though. EA makes some pretty good games and, notable exceptions like the Sim City launch apart, does a decent of bringing them to PC. However… The decision last year not to bother using the new Ignite engine for the PC version of FIFA 14 was pretty contemptuous of our audience. So I'm delighted that it's now been confirmed that this year's game will be on par with the next-gen consoles. Expect more info very soon, but I'm confident you won't be disappointed.

Phil Savage: It's a Wild world

The only thing I've played this week is Wildstar. Sure, I probably had time to squeeze in a quick game of Minesweeper, but why would I want to? It's Minesweeper. At this point, it's a definite high—Wildstar, not Minesweeper—but I've written loads about it already, so let's pick something else. My other highlight of the week was this Source Filmmaker short . It's the Hotline Miami 2 trailer, only done with the cast of Team Fortress 2. It's everything that's great about the Source Filmmaker's flexibility: exciting, fluid and of an unbelievably professional quality. It's just a shame TF2 isn't really like this.

Cory Banks: The One pad to rule them all?

I love gadgets. I love to hook up a whole mess of peripherals and see how they work with my PC games. Yes, the keyboard and mouse is great, but so are joysticks, keypads, and even controllers. So I'm thrilled that Microsoft finally released PC drivers for the Xbox One controller . It feels pretty good in my hands, and the idea that we'll have PC games using the controller's trigger rumble is pretty cool. More gadgets on my PC is a good thing—here's hoping Sony releases an official solution for its stellar controller next (though you can make the DualShock 4 work on PC now with some tinkering).

Sam Roberts: Cops and robbers make a comeback

I can't say Battlefield has traditionally captured my imagination, but I'll play the absolute shit outta Hardline, which this week got its first trailer after a number of extraordinary leaks. Say the word 'heist' to me and I think of three things: Heat, Payday and GTA V (still not on PC, boo!). Hardline is the Battlefield interpretation of a multiplayer cops vs robbers game, and it looks like big, stupid fun, and looks like it features the kind of ludicrous crime scenarios that have never been documented in the history of man. Can't wait to learn more about it next week when someone awkwardly plays it on stage at E3.

Tom Senior: I want to hack into a wolf

I was peering over Sam's shoulder as he played through Jordan Thomas and Stephen Alexander's indie project, The Magic Circle . It buries its lede behind a series of in-jokes laser targeted at experienced gamers and game designers, which is all good fun, but I'm really excited to play it for the AI manipulation. You can tunnel into NPCs and objects and give them items or change their behaviour, which lets you roll through the world with a posse of sentient bricks and vicious wolves. There are some very neat moments that take a sledgehammer to the fourth wall, but to mention them would only spoil things. It's clever, it's funny, and worth getting excited about.

Andy Kelly: Vanishing's potential is easy to spot

The first proper trailer for The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was released this week. I've already seen a bit of the game—you can read my preview here —but this looks way more polished. Their 'photogrammetry' tech has created some really impressive environments, and I'm a sucker for anything set in American forests (Alan Wake, Twin Peaks, The X-Files, etc.) Who could have imagined that the minds behind Bulletstorm, a game whose hero says things like “Son of a dick!” as he blows peoples' heads off, would create something so seemingly subtle and thoughtful.


Phil Savage: Falling behind in the space race

Star Citizen released its dogfighting module this week, and already I'm worried. I've not played it, but I've seen the response, and it's not been overwhelmingly positive. I have played Elite: Dangerous, and—its absurd beta entry price aside—it's shaping up to be something extremely special. The look, the feel, and especially the sound all sell the fantasy of an exciting space adventure. It's even exciting when it's boring, as Andy revealed in his trading video .

The difference is that Elite feels like a whole project, while Star Citizen seems fragmented. The Cloud Imperium team are doing amazing things with the small details, but it's hard to discern how it'll all translate into a full project. It's almost like they can't see the universe for the trees, and, even with nearly $45 million raised, I'm yet to be convinced that they can deliver on the big picture.

Wes Fenlon: The past can be an annoying place to visit

The low point of my week was trying to get a 10-year-old game to run on the Large Pixel Collider for my next Pixel Boost . It wouldn't work, and it took me about half an hour of tinkering to discover some old hardware acceleration simply doesn't work with three monitors hooked up via Nvidia Surround. When I was Googling around for a solution, I found lots of doom and gloom message board posts claiming Nvidia had abandoned development of Surround and left it with lots of issues.

Thankfully that's not true, judging by recent Nvidia drivers, but it's still tricky to get running. On the bright side, Nvidia just updated the GeForce Experience to support Shadowplay capture up to 2560x1440. I just used it to capture Watch Dogs footage , and it's so nice not to deal with the framerate hit of FRAPS.

Tim Clark: Craving cards

I'm getting pretty antsy waiting for Hearthstone's Curse of Naraxxmus expansion, which has still only got a vague release date of 'summer'. I suppose I should just be grateful the date isn't listed as 'when the blood moon rises over Blackrock Mountain'. And I get that the drip drip of new cards—oh hai, Void Caller —is designed to build anticipation, (and give deck-building savants a chance to dream up evil new constructions), but look… I'm ready to go now, Blizzard. You've already had quite a bit of my money. Prepare to receive some more. Please ?

Cory Banks: Doing VR a disservice

It's okay if you don't think the Oculus Rift is a huge deal—the first development kit made me actually vomit—but it's another thing to think the technology behind it is actually negative. Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick told Bloomberg this week that the virtual reality headset is “anti-social technology,” which just feels too dismissive for my taste. Will I want to use the Rift in a crowded room? Probably not, unless my friends are willing to do the same. But virtual reality has the potential to keep people close when they're not in the same place, just like social media does now. Maybe that's why Facebook purchased the company in the first place.

Andy Kelly: All about EVE

CCP losing staff is bad news. They say it's on the publishing side of things, and the games won't be affected, but I wonder if there are deeper problems at the company. World of Darkness being canned must have cost them a pretty penny—you can read the details of its demise here —and I hope it won't affect their grand vision for the EVE universe, which is the subject of my cover feature in this month's issue of the magazine. Valkyrie is one of the most impressive VR games I've played, and Project Legion is an intriguing sandbox shooter with elements of Borderlands and DayZ (you can read about all this in the mag).

Sam Roberts: Nah nah nah nah, no BATMAN!

Arkham Knight being delayed until 2015 is pretty disappointing, meaning this year is left a little thin on big games as they all get pushed back to next year (The Witcher 3, The Division). This is a bigger loss for me, though—I'm a huge fan of the Arkham series and I was looking forward to titting about in a Batmobile that is blatantly too deadly to adhere to the Caped Crusader's moral code about killing people. That still leaves Dragon Age: The Inquisition and Assassin's Creed Unity for this year, along with Battlefield Hardline – but not an awful lot else.

Tom Senior: In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only mild disappointment

Every now and then I revisit Relic's Space Marine. It's a simplistic brawler with an essential twist—it's set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. An adolescent obsession with that fiction has left me with a vivid impression of the neverending wars of the 41st millennium, and it's something games have never come close to capturing. Take Space Marine: Relic nailed the blood-spattered livery of Ultramarine power armour, and the satisfying squelch of an Ork collapsing under a commander's big blue boot, but missed the dark tone and scale that make the universe compelling.

The first mistake is to think of Space Marines as good guys. They're genetically altered interstellar fascists who worship an emperor entombed inside a Giger-esque machine sarcophagus, tended to day and night by an army of half-man, half-machine fanatics who brand their own flesh with litanies to their possibly-dead ruler. Space Marines are monsters bred by humanity to fight the bigger monsters amassing in the dark corners of the universe. I hope to explore that version of the 40k universe, one rendered with the extremes of the fiction intact. I have visions of fighting on a battlefield with thousands of enemies swarming around the feet of walking war machines the size of skyscrapers. Sadly, Space Marine can't deliver. I live in hope that a game will one day, I just don't want to wait until the 41st millenium to play it.

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