The image of an in-game rendered soldier from a presentation slide at GDC was used this week to run teaser stories about the next Call Of Duty game. Yes, that's right, the next CoD will contain soldiers. I don't have anything against Activision's world-conquering series. I don't play it, but people like it, so whatever. But it says everything about the paucity of the series' ambition that a close-up of the hyper-realistic pores of a face is considered newsworthy.
Before Ghosts came out, they wouldn't shut up about that dog and its fur. Now maybe they'll do a series of elaborate 'making of' documentaries about that guy's pores, and how you can make out individual blackheads if you look really closely at his nose. Call of Duty is formulaic because Activision won't dare mess with the formula. It's the gaming equivalent of a Marvel film. A dumb, flashy distraction. But I really wish they'd make some attempt to innovate beyond frivolous visual details.
I'm afraid that the dream of net neutrality is dead.
The Wall Street Journal reported
that the FCC soon plans to introduce new regulations that would allow Internet Service Providers to charge different prices for the data they're carrying. This is doomsday scenario I outlined a few months ago when I wrote about
how net neutrality affects PC gamers
. Companies like Comcast could charge Netflix or Valve more money for a faster connection to their end users, since their services require vast amounts of data. Those kinds of costs will likely end up being passed down to people like us.
And it's not just about the money. If the Internet isn't open and equal, ISPs could charge us more for access to certain sites, or block services entirely to promote their own stuff. Comcast's Video on Demand vs. Netflix, for example. I think something like that happening is less likely, but I'm still worried about it, and unless some good news comes out of the FCC soon, things aren't looking great for the Internet as we know it.
CS:GO has been my main game for four months, and it's wonderful. What it's made me unhappy about, though, is how absurdly few shooters we have on PC that feature competitive matchmaking. Across the other genres, StarCraft II, Dota 2, Hearthstone, League of Legends, and Smite all offer skill-based matchmaking. Can you name another FPS with a smart matchmaking mode? I love dedicated servers, but CS:GO's five-on-five, structured, carefully-balanced competitive mode is so reliably tough and fair (save for the handful instances where I've been matched with hackers) that it's the only thing I play. It makes me long for the return of arena shooters. I'm hoping something like
will help fill this near-void.
I spent the beginning of the week getting over a flu I picked up at PAX. It was horrific. If you ever go to PAX, douse your entire body in hand sanitizer every two hours. Drink a bit of it, too. I'm also very disappointed, as
I touched on in my From The Archives column over the weekend
, that I can't play along with the NHL playoffs on my PC. I'm not mad at EA and 2K for focusing their sporting efforts on the consoles—a few years ago, I'd probably have made the same decision—but I do hope someone plugs the gap. On PC, where modding and customization reign, it doesn't even matter to me whether or not sports games are licensed by the NHL, NBA, MLB, or whatever. It would be convenient to have the rosters and stats built in, but if not, I'll figure out how to get 2001–02 Evgeni Nabokov in his number 35 solid black jersey into the game, don't worry about that.
While I'm delighted with our first guide article for Hearthstone, which details the decks that are dominating the current metagame and explains why they're so effective, I'm also conscious of the fact we've probably just helped unleash even more Zoo Warlocks onto the server. Which, as shown
, is unfortunate. However, next week our expert will be showing you how to build your own killer deck, so perhaps a PC Gamer reader will come up with a perfect countermeasure for all those Zoos. (Other than fire, obviously.) To help the process, we'll also be listing our 40 favourite cards soon. I'd be curious to know which ones you think are must haves in your decks. Hit me up
with suggestions. Job done.
My internet router has existed in a state of near-death for a week now, allowing only the faintest breath of data to reach Steam's authentication servers. At times like this I'm reminded that my digital library is a transient thing, reliant on systems that may one day fail, or fall to market forces. Will Steam last forever? Gamespy's shutdown has inspired some
quick action from 2K
, but what will happen when Games for Windows Live meets its maker? Dedicated fans have been known to set up their own servers to save games from the scrapheap, but often it's down to publishers to maintain a game's online infrastructure, and that may not always be in their financial interests. Physical media is hardly infallible—I've lost a few golden oldies to dust and disk scratches—but the death of third-party authentication systems threaten to take relatively recent games out of circulation. I can only hope Dark Souls survives the GfWL cull.