The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The highs

Samuel Roberts: New Deus Ex about to arrive

Has it really been five years since Human Revolution came out? Well, yes is the obvious answer to that—tragically, it has, which is an unusually long wait for a sequel these days. The results appear to be worth it based on Andy's review of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided that went up today. He explains that while the writing and social commentary is clunky in Eidos Montreal's immersive sim, the actual design of the game is pretty amazing, building on Jensen's powers and providing a bunch of surprising situations in which you can experiment with them.
There's plenty of scope to play the way you want to play—and while there's just one city hub this time around, Prague, the different sections, and way the environment changes, impressed Andy. I can't wait to jump in when the game finally arrives on Tuesday. 

Tim Clark: Troublesome priests

This week we published the results of our “Make Priest Great Again” card design competition. I also turned 40, and having worked in games media for a disgusting amount of that time, I can safely say I’ve never seen a reader response like it. Within the first 24 hours we had over 2,000 entries. My initial reaction was abject panic. But having enlisted the help of a couple of pairs of extra eyes, and some gmail filters to collect the submissions into a single folder, judging began. Eventually we were able to create a not-so-shortlist of a couple of hundred cards to give to Sottle, who also roped in some pros to help. The winner has received the 60 packs prize, and I asked him if he pulled any sweet legendaries. He sent me back a screenshot of a Yogg popping out. Well, of course. 

Of the many lessons I’ve learned from the contest, (foremost of which was “don’t use your own email address, Tim, you idiot”), is that Blizzard has an insanely passionate community that is desperate to be listened to more. So many of the frustrations around Hearthstone, from Undertaker Hunter, through Secret Paladin, to the recent brouhaha over the Priest class, boil down to players wanting the devs to be more responsive when it comes to balance. That said, judging by many of the outlandish entries we received, card design is a much trickier business than people give it credit. Particularly as Resurrect and Priest of the Feast seem to be a pretty good combo after all. In any case, I hope Team 5 took some note, and thanks again for all the effort, it was a humbling thing to be part.  

Chris Thursten: Some men's sky

I'm in agreement with Andy about No Man's Sky, although I agree with much of the fair criticism in Chris' review. On paper, I acknowledge all of the game's flaws—but they just don't matter that much to me from moment to moment. Returning to the UK after the Dota 2 International and jetlagged to hell, I've really enjoyed my time in space so far. I've taken it extremely slowly, extensively exploring on foot and trying to come up with names for every animal I come across (and many of the more interesting plants and rocks.)

It's a gentle writing exercise disguised as a survival game, which is great because I like gentle writing exercises and hate survival games. Something I really enjoy is feeling like I'm 'done' with a world—I've named everything, seen a lot, and it's stopped surprising me—and then, finally, I climb into my starship and point the nose at the next world over the horizon. So far, and maybe I've been lucky, each new world has surprised me. The last world I roamed over was a giant blue ocean dotted with flat-topped pillars of rock. After that I found a temperate forest of red-leaved trees, something I didn't think the game was capable of generating.

I fully anticipate that I'll get bored eventually, but I'm 12 hours in and I'm not bored yet. I've had worse value out of £40. 

Chris Livingston: Game over

Love it, like it, or hate it, it's always just such a relief when you finally get your hands on a game you've been looking forward to for ages. If you read my review you know I have mixed feelings about No Man's Sky, but I'm just happy it's finally here and I was able to play it, even if I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped.

Something else that makes me happy: being able to put a game down after forty or fifty hours, take a deep breath, and begin looking forward to something else. Deus Ex, Tyranny, Dishonored 2, and Civ 6 are on my list to start getting all itchy about. Half the year is gone but we've still got a lot left to come. 

Joe Donnelly: Touch the Sky(rim)

This week, while everyone’s been crater-deep in No Man’s Sky—for better or for worse—I’ve been wandering around the snow-covered plains, rolling pastoral fields, and barren desertscapes of Skyrim total conversion mod Enderal: The Shards of Order. 

As you might’ve spotted Jody Macgregor discussing, SureAI’s hobbyist project is five years in the making and delivers an Elder Scrolls experience that’s both wholly familiar and entirely new at the same time. Letting players loose in a map comparable in size to that of its source material, Enderal includes new characters, storylines, quests, dungeons, towns, class systems, levelling, enemies, items—the amount that’s been tweaked and the level of detail in doing so really is quite remarkable, especially given that this is the work of a small team operating for the most part in its spare time. 

Assuming you already own Skyrim, Enderal is also completely free—why not give a bash?  

James Davenport: a Humble giveaway 

Through the slow accumulation of Humble Bundles, I’ve inevitably doubled up on keys for games I already own, so I figured I’d hide a little giveaway in my high of the week. Nuclear Throne, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Outlast, and a few more are crying out to be redeemed, but, I’m not just going to hand them out willy-nilly. Share your own highs of the week below (then DM me on Twitter pointing to your comment so I can share the codes in private) and I’ll start handing out codes to the comments with the most heart. What’s heart? Effort, sincerity, and all that jazz. It doesn’t need to be paragraphs long, just real.