The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Tim Clark

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Every Friday the PC Gamer team revisits the week that was, turning the wheat into delicious bread and the chaff into… What even is chaff? Can it be burned? Anyway, you know the drill: good stuff on page one, less so on page two…

THE HIGHS

Tyler Wilde: Justice! After a monument to the players of Eve Online was vandalized at Fanfest , damaging public property and targeting another player whose name was scratched out, the culprits have been identified and “permanently removed” from the game. Legal action may be on the table, too, judging from CCP's initial statements.

Fanfest is a celebration. I went last year and loved it, and loved all the Eve players I met, and it's a shame such a friendly community is being cast in such a poor light. They take the game very seriously, but they also know it's a game, and that all the piracy and betrayal is just part of the fun—until a few take it too far. Scratching an art installation might seem like a minor crime, but CCP's firm response sends an important message: taking in-game rivalries into the real world is never OK. I'm glad the vandals aren't getting away with it.

Evan Lahti: We fundamentally have no idea what it'll be like, because zero lines of code have been laid for it yet, but jumpin' giblets Unreal Tournament is finally awaking from its seven-year slumber . Epic's plan to couldn't be more promising; I'm outlining the genius of its collaborative roadmap later today on the site. It'll be a return to our favorite gun in PC gaming and one of our favorite modes (Instagib), but might also bring another viable competitive shooter to the PC alongside CS:GO, which essentially stands alone in that category at the moment.

Wes Fenlon: It's been a great week. Unreal Tournament is coming back as an honest-to-god free, not free-to-play, game, as Evan has already said right there above me. But the highlight of my week has definitely been our exclusive first look at Killing Floor 2. I spent about 12 hours at Tripwire's offices talking to them about the game and seeing it in action, and it was a blast to write about.

I love that they're focused on a fairly underrepresented genre, the co-op wave-based shooter. And they're doing it the old-fashioned way—Killing Floor 2 is a simple game that harks back to the shoot first, ask questions never style of '90s FPS. Of course, the technology they've worked into the game for procedural gore and permablood is all new. We talked about so much stuff, I ended up writing a separate short feature on Tripwire's approach to weapon design and breaking out a separate interview with John Gibson. I just wish they'd told me when the damn game was coming out. I want to play it.

Phil Savage: I've been without internet this week and, besides suffering the occasional itch of phantom websites, it's been a good excuse to dip into my Steam backlog. The biggest surprise has been DmC. I'm not going to say it's the best third-person brawler—I've played Bayonetta—but whenever I felt like I was done with its frantic hacking and/or slashing, a clever concept level kept me moving forward. The best of these is called The Plan, and involves Dante breaking in to the big-bad's evil lair. As he infiltrates the tower, chalk drawings are overlaid throughout the level as a stylistic flashback to the heroes' plan. It's inventive and interesting, and a great example of how to use aesthetic flourishes to keep the player guessing.

Tim Clark: My debilitating, I'm-almost-certainly-going-to-end-up-living-under-a-bridge addiction to another game (see this week's Lows on the following page) has meant my Don't Starve save sits, frozen and no longer loved, around the 270 day mark. I haven't even managed to tear myself away long enough to try the excellent looking Reign Of Giants DLC beta. However, the announcement that the game will—contrary to all Klei's previous protestations—be getting a multiplayer component this summer, is both a surprise, and enough to tempt me back. I'm curious to discover how having friends on hand to help will alter the game's famously harsh vibe.

Will there be new ways of resurrecting your chums when they die? Could there be new threats that have to be tackled together by players? Might there even—*shiver*—be a PvP component? The studio is still being shy on details, but the prospect of foraging for Beefalo dung with three fellow survivors is enough to pull me back in. Much like Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III. “Just when I was out!”

Tom Senior: I like to ride the cutting edge of videogame technology, so this week I installed Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines released in, er, 2004. It's really good. It's as though all of the people on the internet who've dubbed it a smart RPG with a satisfying branching narrative and neat social mechanics were right after all. I'm still busy navigating the many entwined subquests hidden around the detailed starting hub.

I've broken the Masquerade (the vampire code of conduct) only once and retained most of my humanity, in spite of the bit where I drank the blood of a vagrant and then vomited it all back up on the floor and ran away. If, like me, you've wanted to try Vampire Colon The Masquerade Dash Bloodlines for ages, I'd recommend it, as long as you don't mind bursts of weak combat between the interesting vampire society stuff. Be sure to check out Wes' guide to getting it running smoothly with the essential unofficial patch.

THE LOWS

Tom Senior: I like to ride the cutting edge of videogame technology, so this week I installed WWII stealth game Velvet Assassin released in, er, 2009. Okay, I've been stuck in a strange time warp this week. Unlike Vampire, literally nobody has recommended Velvet Assassin to me. In fact, I've been actively put off it. I was was advised that it was shonky and strange, and not in a quirky 'flawed experiment' sort of way. Bad games can still be entertaining, but games like Velvet Assassin sit in the valley of bland, forgettable mediocrity, which is worse.

Guards spotted me through walls. The endless Nazi bunkers were dull to explore. If you backstab characters using the assassination prompt, you'll kill them, but if you equip your knife and stab them manually they turn around, mildly annoyed, and shoot you in the face. Playing Velvet assassin wasn't fun, but it was useful. Seeing games get it wrong only increases my appreciation for the games that get it right. Speaking of which, I've still got some Dishonored DLC to finish.

Phil Savage: : I don't really care about Dark Souls. I've played the first one a bit, and it seems okay. But it's not really my thing. That's a problem when you work in an office full of people who play and talk about games. From every direction, I'm hearing about death after death at the hands of some giant meat-slab with a bastard-huge weapon, or the first frightened few steps into the sprawling caverns of twisted nightmares. I've overheard theorycrafting, whispered secrets and endless amounts of boasting. It's great when a game can build that sense of community; that shared feeling of discovery and adventure. Unless, you know, you're not taking part.

Evan Lahti: I have to admit, Sunset Overdrive looks like a great time. I've always enjoyed Insomniac's games, especially the charming Ratchet & Clank series—they produce some of the most entertainingly whimsical games in the business—and I lament that we're we continue to game in a time where console exclusives (Xbox One, in this case) are a thing now that all of the platforms are essentially running on the same, x86 architecture. There's always room for another open-world mayhem game on PC. I guess we'll just have to wait to hear more about the next, rumored Just Cause game will be like on PC.

Wes Fenlon: The entire gaming industry is still figuring out Early Access. Is this a great way for developers to balance their games based on fan feedback, or is it a dangerous precedent for 'pay first, play later' that leads to messes like The War Z? Unfortunately, I think the answer is both, which means we're going to see a lot more incidents like strategy game Towns shutting down mid-development. The developers ran out of money and could no longer support the project, leaving many promised features unimplemented. It's a bad ending for everyone. The devs aren't running away with millions of stolen dollars, but people who paid for the promise of a better game are left high and dry. Hopefully, as Early Access becomes more common, we'll see more success stories and fewer abandoned, disappointing projects.

Tyler Wilde: I'm also sour about an Early Access game: Earth: Year 2066, which was pulled from Steam . I played it, and I can't imagine anyone honestly believing that this hobby project, or participation in its development, was worth $20. Not only that, it was promoted with stolen artwork and the developer swatted away all criticism warning others away. It's so frustrating that brilliant games like Starbound are being undermined by opportunists on Early Access, and if Steam really is becoming even more open, I worry about its uncurated future.

Tim Clark: Look, don't ask what I'd do for 1,600 Hearthstone Arcane Dust right now. I said don't. But yes, I'd do that. And probably also that, even with my parents watching. Have I hit rock bottom this week? Hard to say. I certainly haven't been winning much, which has resulted in petulant deck deletions, reflexive card pack purchases, and an increasingly foot-stompy approach to not having the Legendaries I want. (“My kingdom for a Cenarius !”) I've essentially become the Veruca Salt of Control Druids. Hmm, maybe that'd be a good deck name?

I've also taken to obsessively listening to the Value Town podcast while walking my dog, Batman , and trying to kid myself I could play a few cool hands with Kripp and Trump . Despite the fact there is literally no-one I can't lose to. This is what a psychotic break looks like isn't it? Still, it's nothing an ultra competitive tournament against my colleagues next week won't cure. At least the bloody hounds have been nerfed .

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