The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Tim Clark

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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!

THE LOWS

Samuel Roberts: Problems on the H omefront

Allegedly there are walkouts going on at Crytek UK over unpaid wages this week. If it's true, that's obviously unfortunate to hear for everyone involved—at the time of writing, Crytek is yet to officially comment on this Kotaku story . I saw Homefront: The Revolution at E3 and actually thought it was a lot better than I was expecting it to be (mainly because the original Homefront was ugly, short and featured a QTE where you jump in a mass grave)—it's an open world shooter in a Far Cry 3 mold, encouraging players to craft their own approach to liberating Philadelphia one region at a time by scavenging for parts and creating weapons. I'm not sure it'll blow anyone away, but I'd at least like to see it completed.

Tom Senior: Falling behind in the tech race

Technology never stops. There's a sad moment soon after every PC upgrade when progress inevitably overtakes you again. The week before last I upgraded my PC, threw out a six-year-old motherboard—I'm amazed it lasted this long—and updated to an i5 4670k. Not a top-of-the line chip, but a solid gaming CPU with overclocking potential.

Today we learn that Intel plan to unleash their octo-core in September. The logical corner of my brain notes that games don't make enough use of four cores, so having eight will be unnecessary, especially for a thousand bucks. In my gut I can't help but feel as though the world of technology has sprinted past me again. In a year or two I'll have to put down a bit more money to catch up, only to be overtaken once more. It'll be sixteen cores, then cores within cores, then quantum computers that manifest as crystalline bottles of nano-gas. The race will never end.

Phil Savage: Trouble in paradise

Tropico 5 is the first game in the series to feature multiplayer. I like Tropico; I have a friend that likes Tropico. Playing it co-operatively was, in theory, the perfect way to spend an afternoon. In practice, though, it's an unsatisfying experience. We spawn on opposite ends on an island, separated by a lake and a fog of war. It seems strange we're so far removed, but fine... it's early-days for our joint dictatorship, and there's building, banking and bribing to be done.

Even then, we eventually realise that there's no meaningful interactions to be had. We're having the same experience as if we'd started simultaneously single-player games while chatting over Skype. Well, almost—there is one difference. Because its multiplayer, I can't find a way to save, so we also lose our progress, too.

Andy Kelly: Spacey sells out

A new Call of Duty trailer was released this week, showing more of Kevin Spacey's role as the villain. Oh, Kevin. The Spaceman is one of my all-time favourite actors—I loved him in American Beauty, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Usual Suspects, and even Superman Returns—but I'm disappointed in his agent, or whoever it was, for convincing him to appear as a rent-a-thesp in a Call of Duty game. The agent probably said it was a great way for him to 'stay relevant' or 'engage with youth culture', and Spacey probably said, oh, why not, my son will have something to brag about at school. Why, Spaceman? Why?

Tim Clark: Call Of Duty's chronic DLC

As Andy pointed out, this should probably be one of the 'highs' this week. Because after all what's more hilarious than getting blazed and capping some fools? Without getting into the rights and wrongs of casual drug use, isn't this whole thing just terminally uncool? It's the DLC equivalent of putting a 'take me to your dealer' poster up in your room. I dunno. I'm pretty old, but I feel like wearing the cannabis leaf on your clothing, virtual or otherwise, is about as edgy and rebellious as an FCUK slogan. I suppose Activision knows its market for CoD these days, and they're clearly after the bro-est common denominator, but to me it's a shame that the moustachioed brilliance of Modern Warfare feels like a different series now.

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