The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

PC Gamer

Every Friday the PC Gamer team scan their memory banks to identify the incontrovertibly best and worst moments of the last week. Then, when confronted with the sum total of human ecstasy and misery, they write about PC gaming instead...

THE HIGHS

Tyler Wilde: Not crying wolf

Episode four of The Wolf Among Us came out on Tuesday, and not only is it good , it arrived just a month and a half after episode three released. I hope Telltale sticks to this newly speedy schedule. Four months passed between the first and second episodes, which is way too much time for those of us who like keeping up with the series as it happens (and are as forgetful as I am). Waiting for the whole season and binging is nice, but playing episodes at release gives me the opportunity to discuss them with people who also just played, and that's part of the fun for me.

Evan Lahti: Arma marks a million

Arma 3 quietly crossed the 1 million mark this week. Not to cheerlead for a franchise I love, but it's a signal of PC gaming's health that a game with a reputation for being impenetrable and graphically demanding has done this well in less than a year. When I say health, I don't mean simply in terms of the number of PC gamers on the planet, but how open-minded and curious many of us are about new experiences. It certainly makes me want to write about Arma more. And try its silly new kart racing DLC .

Chris Thursten: Rising through the ranks

I've been playing Blade Symphony since it came out, but I've been having a great time with it this week. After an initial run of success I managed to totally tank my global ranking - down from 600 to about 22,000. In the last couple of days I've crawled back up, and I'm now sitting at 742. To get there I've had to totally rebuild how I play, how I respond to opponents, and how I make sure I'm in the right mindset to win my duels. As a fencing dork and someone who used to be obsessed with Jedi Knight, I'm in heaven. Providing that the community stays active, it's shaping up to be one of my games of the year.

Cory Banks: A welcome delay

It's not often that I'm happy about a delay, but Valve pushing back the Steam Controller until 2015 is, honestly, a good thing. We have not been all that impressed by Valve's controller prototypes—I thought the first one was okay , but Evan really disliked the second one. It's good that Valve's hearing that feedback (and the feedback of other users, too), because getting this right might be the single most important part of the company's SteamOS initiative.

It does, unfortunately, mean that we likely won't see the full launch of SteamOS this year, either. But I'd rather wait than have to suffer a crappy controller.

Andy Kelly: A new home for horror

I played two hours of The Evil Within this week, and it's everything I hoped it would be. It's no secret that I love Resident Evil 4, and as you can read in my hands-on preview, it feels like its spiritual successor. A lot of horror games on PC these days are little more than elaborate games of hide and seek, but Mikami's game has systems to exploit and opportunities for creative play. Rather than go for cheap scares, the team at Tango Gameworks seem to be focusing on tension-building. Like the Resident Evil games did so well (the good ones, anyway), you always feel like you're right on the edge of running out of ammo. If they can keep this up throughout the whole game, and it doesn't do that thing where you suddenly become so powerful and overloaded with supplies that it's no longer scary, it could be great.

Tom Senior: When hackers play hide and seek...

If you're going to nab ideas for your open world adventure game, Dark Souls is a good place to go. So I keep thinking as I experiment with Watch Dog's 1 vs 1, hacker vs. hacker multiplayer mode, which lets players invade other games for a round of hide and seek. You jump from manipulating predictable AI enemies to facing a living, thinking human being with hopes, dreams, and infuriatingly good hiding skills.

I found one opponent by wrecking up a crossroad. I dispersed the NPC crowds with some warning shots, hacked the traffic lights to create a traffic jam and then started scanning from car to car. I was 91% hacked when a sports car launched into reverse just metres ahead of me, and sped off into the distance. I tried to shoot out their tyres, but they successfully fled the scene. I got points for stopping the hack, my opponent got points for escaping. We both walked away with a story to tell—great stuff. This sort of encounter bodes well for games like The Division, with its strong multiplayer focus.

THE LOWS

Tyler Wilde: Star Citizen stuck in the hanger

The Star Citizen dogfighting module has been delayed again , maybe briefly. The news isn't necessarily a sign of troubles at Cloud Imperium, but the missed deadlines are starting to tell a story I don't want to hear more of. It's the story of a famous game developer who accrued over $44 million dollars with one of the most ambitious game pitches ever...and way, way overpromised.

I don't think the Star Citizen story will be so tragic. They make me nervous, but delays are an established part of software development, and just because one piece is taking a while doesn't mean the complete package isn't coming together in the process. But if I had payed for Star Citizen, as much as I'd want to encourage quality over deadlines, I'd also kind of want something to play. The backers are owed it, and I hope they don't have much longer to wait.

Tom Senior: I'm scared to go inside my own computer

My office graphics card keeps overheating, leading to sudden resets and strange glitches . Andy advised me to take it into the stairwell and give it a good seeing to with a vacuum cleaner. Could the GPU fan, choked by dust, be failing to cool my chips? Probably, but I haven't been inside this thing for months. As the Tutankhamun tomb discoverers were rumoured to have fallen to diseases trapped in the chamber's stagnant air, I fear a facefull of vile machine dust could be my end. An irrational fear, certainly, but I've always been a tiny bit afraid of messing with machines since watching Superman 2 as a kid and having nightmares about that ending. Brrrr.

Chris Thursten: Struck by space envy

I'm pretty heartbroken by the closure of Mythic, but I believe Cory plans to go into more detail about this particular loss to the industry. The studio might not have had a good run lately, but Dark Age of Camelot will always be the game that defined my adolescence.

With that in mind, my low of the week is going to be that I'm not playing Elite Dangerous yet. Everytime I turn around I see Andy having some kind of spectacular space adventure and I think why isn't that me . I've started to regret the life decisions that have placed Andy and I on separate roads; him in a spaceship, me refreshing Twitter at my silly Earth-bound desk. I try to rationalise it, to argue to myself that I'd rather wait for the final game, but then Andy jumps into hyperspace and it's all like whoooooosh and I'm like fuck you, Andy, fuck you.

Cory Banks: Farewell to Mythic

I hate studio closures. I especially hate the closure of Mythic Entertainment , the developer of classic MMO Dark Age of Camelot. One of my most treasured memories in gaming involved the Realm vs. Realm combat that Camelot introduced, and I had plenty of nights spent defending the Albion relic from Hibernian invaders. It wasn't my first MMO, but it was one of my favorites, and an important stepping stone for the genre.

Unfortunately, Mythic's other game, Warhammer Online, didn't do as well. It shut down in December 2013, and the studio focused on free-to-play mobile games that honestly were far beneath what it deserved. My heart goes out to those affected by the studio's closure, and here's hoping they find new roles where they can get back to making great games.

Evan Lahti: No love for Uplay

Uplay , you goddamn monster . Ubisoft's cumbersome DRM layer has always felt as uncomfortable as the wool sweater grandma forces on you at Christmas, with its weird, proprietary achievements system and other features no one uses. This week, though, it got in the way of a lot of people playing Watch Dogs, seemingly cracking under the weight of many players verifying their legitimately-purchased copies of the game. Our buddy Will Smith had the worst experience I heard:

I can't imagine what it's like for gamers who have kids, or get home late, or anyone who has to carefully set aside time to game to have to deal with that. After Diablo III , after SimCity , it's unbelievable that big publishers aren't fully prepared for the scale of their own launchers. With pre-order stats as an indicator, they should be able to anticipate these issues. In cases like these it still feels like PC takes a backseat to multiplatform games' launch on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Andy Kelly: An unwelcome delay

The delay of the Steam controller is a shame. I think it's time PC had its own bespoke 'official' controller. Currently it's the Xbox 360 pad, which is fine, but I want something more suited to the format. I love the idea of using those weird trackpad things to both play twitchy shooters and strategy games, dragging the cursor around in lieu of a mouse. Civ on the sofa? Yes, please. But it's promising that Steam are delaying it, because it shows that they're not rushing the thing out and putting some serious thought into its design. After all, if you get hardware wrong, you can't just patch its problems away. I can't wait to get my hands on one in 2015.

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