The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Phil Savage

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Every Friday, the PC Gamer team pile into the war room to fight over the best and worst of the last seven day's in gaming. Up first, the best bits. Read them quick, before the bombs fall...

THE HIGHS

Tom Senior: Cutting the nonsense out of Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed is a series based on an ancient war between Templars and Assassins, relived through a magic machine that lets you run around in genetic memory imprints stabbing historical figures and having coda chats with them in a digital void. That's an acceptable level of strange if I still get to run around beautifully rendered bits of history, but after that great big guff-pill I'm invited to swallow a parallel plot involving a precursor race of powerful mega-beings destroyed by an ancient solar flare. It's too much. I am all guffed out.

Thankfully, Assassin's Creed: Unity will take another run at the modern-era metafiction bits that have haphazardly tied the series together since game one. Assassin's Creed 3 brought an ignominious close to Desmond's tale, and Black Flag, which I loved , revisited the modern world with a series of first-person sections that were at least short and intermittent. As much as I'd quite like them gone altogether, I'm glad Ubi are trying to reset the series and refine their ideas. Hopefully similar pruning will be applied to climbing and the Assassins' mostly-redundant combat actions.

Wes Fenlon: Grim Fandango remastered is coming to PC

We knew it was coming—there was just no way Double Fine's re-release of PC classic Grim Fandango would stay a Sony exclusive . Still, there was no better news this week than the confirmation that the remastered Grim Fandango is, absolutely, definitely, for sure coming out on PC. Even if Double Fine didn't touch up anything about the game, I'd be happy to see it pop up on Steam. eBay is currently the only way to buy the game, and it's not cheap. But it sounds like Double Fine plans to remaster the game to some extent. I say all it needs is support for higher resolutions and less awkward keyboard controls. Maybe they'll even throw in mouse support, like modders did a few months back . Then Grim Fandango really will be the greatest point-and-click adventure ever made.

Tyler Wilde: Humble 2K Bundle is nutty

For $20, you can get BioShock, BioShock 2, BioShock Infinite, Mafia II, Spec Ops: The Line, The Darkness II, and XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Oh, and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. You get that, too. Way to one-up the Steam Summer Sale.

Phil Savage: Diving deeper into Dota

I've been watching The International. In itself, that isn't particularly notable, but this year I've been understanding The International too. Valve now run a newcomer's stream , and for those like me with only a passing understanding of the game, it's proven to be an invaluable resource.

Previously, all I knew about Dota 2's e-sports scene was that when a player activated the ghost boat, it made me happy. Now I know that Kunkka's Ghost Ship is an ultimate skill that not only deals damage, but also provides a rum buff to allies. And I know that its speed makes it difficult to land. And I know that Kunkka pairs well with Shadow Demon, because Disruption complements the Admiral's casting delays. It's given me a deeper appreciation of the game, which further compliments the surface pleasure of seeing a ghost boat sailing across the screen. DIGITAL SPORTS!

Samuel Roberts: Alien resurrection

The news that Alien: Isolation will feature two additional episodes based on the 1979 movie is, I think, the only DLC announcement of the past year that has made (most) people genuinely excited. Reuniting key members of the cast, including Sigourney Weaver (!) who actually seems pretty impressed by the story Creative Assembly has created, it makes me wish the entire film could be adapted into Alien: Isolation's run-and-hide paradigm. Either way, with both episodes confirmed to be on-sale after release, whether you pre-order or not, the idea behind this shows Creative Assembly is on the right track in pleasing the film's massive audience.

Cory Banks: Microsoft Flight Sim and X-Plane coming to Steam

One of my first PC games was surprisingly realistic: playing Microsoft Flight Simulator on my uncle's blazing-fast 386. It was inscrutable: how do you turn the plane on? How do you make it go forward? He had a giant manual sitting on the desk, and I searched for every keyboard shortcut needed to finally get a Cessna up in the air. And then I crashed both the plane and the PC.

So it's a blast from the past to have Dovetail bring MS Flight Sim X to Steam . And even better for true flight sim fans, X-Plane 10, the newer, better flight simulation, will also land on Valve's service. The timing is perfect, since the recent surge in space combat sims has more and more PC gamers thinking about new flight sticks. I don't know if I'll ever master actually landing a plane, but I'll definitely spend a weekend trying.

THE LOWS

Phil Savage: Hobby-grade word jumble

When a new lane-pusher is announced, the PC Gamer team reacts variously with indifference, scepticism and uncontrollable screaming. But for me, the low point of the week wasn't the reveal of Gearbox's Battleborn . Instead, it was what Randy Pitchford said about Battleborn.

“Battleborn is: FPS; hobby-grade coop campaign; genre-blended, multi-mode competitive e-sports; meta-growth, choice + epic Battleborn Heroes!”

I don't know what half of that means, but I do know that “hobby-grade” makes me angry. The whole statement says nothing. It's a mash of meaningless buzzwords; a grab-bag of Zeitgeist-chasing non-entities that capture little of what a game is or means or can be.

Also, in Battleborn's press release, Pitchford called Borderlands 2 a “shooter-looter”. Randy Pitchford has broken words.

Samuel Roberts: Kinect for?

I am baffled by the $199/£159 price tag for Kinect 2.0 on Windows. To put it context, this is pretty much the same unit that Microsoft has made optional with Xbox One very recently, and is now being sold on eBay pre-owned for under £40. While I'm really looking forward to seeing what developers do with it on PC based on hacks of the original Kinect , I can't help feeling like £100 would be a fairer price.

Cory Banks: Trolls kill Divinity: Original Sin's global chat

I've played almost 60 hours of Larian's fantastic Divinity: Original Sin, and I don't feel like I'm anywhere near the end. But I've been stuck a few times, and it would have been nice to have a helping hand. Larian founder Swen Vincke, who I spoke to earlier this week, says the developer originally included a Global Chat feature in the game for just such a reason. But because people are awful to each other in chat rooms, Larian turned global chat off . After the surge of jerks dies down, the team may turn the feature back on, but right now it's still off. Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us, trolls.

Wes Fenlon: Alien: Isolation's VR support is only a demo

The best thing I played at E3 2014 was probably Lucky's Tale, the charming Oculus Rift 3D platformer. The second best thing I played, though, was Alien: Isolation, which becomes even more frighteningly claustrophobic and tense with an Oculus Rift strapped to your head. Our recent preview of Alien: Isolation on the Rift conveys just how much physicality VR adds to the experience. After 10 minutes, I was convinced that was how I wanted to play the entire game. So I'm bummed to hear Sega say that right now, the VR build is just a prototype , and there are no plans to fully support the Oculus Rift for the final game. Maybe that's just because the consumer Oculus Rift headset will launch sometime after Alien: Isolation. When that headset is out, I hope Sega and Creative Assembly update the game to support it. This is how horror games are meant to be played.

Tom Senior: Clueless about Dwartress

I am my own low this week, for not knowing how to play Dwarf Fortress. It's probably one of the best games on PC, and therefore one of the best games in existence—a limitless story generator that simulates extraordinarily detailed fantasy worlds. It just takes a day or two to learn, and this week's update should make it more newb-friendly than ever, once the Starter Pack mods and applications have been updated to work with the 2014 build. I'm going to devote some time this weekend to finally learning how to play properly. Hopefully I'll be enjoying stories like this in no time.

Tyler Wilde: Potato Salad Simulator, anyone?

Crowds do weird things. For instance, a guy asked for $10 on Kickstarter to make a potato salad and raised $45,000 instead. And here's another one: Goat Simulator is the number two bestseller on Steam at 40% off. Goat Simulator is fine, and cheap right now, but for a joke that is kind of funny for a bit, number two on Steam is pretty incredible.

I expect Potato Salad Simulator will be announced any time now. Or has the 'Simulator' joke run its course? What will the next thing be? I know I sound like an old man yelling at a cloud , or like I'm mad at other people's success (maybe a little, sometimes), but ironic spending baffles me. If you want a cheap, funny game, grab Zork: Grand Inquisitor from GOG . You'll feel better about it, trust me.

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