The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Each week the PC Gamer team wonders if you’d notice us recycling pithy riffs on hot takes here.

The highs

Tim Clark: Witching hours

No, you stayed up until 2.30 last night playing The Witcher 3. And why not? It is, after all, sitting pretty at #1 in our Top 100, which we just published here. Having installed a new 1080 last weekend, I wanted to play something ridiculously good looking, and good grief it delivers. I didn’t finish the game last year, so the chance to go back to it, plus the two chunky expansions, is an absolute treat. The sheer size, beauty and tonal consistency of The Witcher 3’s world must be terrifying for anyone else making a high fantasy RPG. 

Sometimes I just wander around, marvelling that something this grand in scope can exist on our computers. That people have painstakingly built every windswept nook and haunted cranny of this sprawling landscape.  A worthy winner for now, then. Quick thanks also to Wes, for encouraging me to switch to the alternative movement scheme. It takes the weight out of Geralt’s shoulders and makes him feel less like a heavily-laden shopping cart and more like controlling the unkindled Dark Souls 3 dude. 

Samuel Roberts: XMBae

I haven’t had the chance to try this, yet, but it seems to me that this week’s PS Now news was pretty huge. It basically gives PC players access to a significant amount of the PlayStation 3’s backlog via a streaming service, including the excellent HD editions of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, as well as Naughty Dog’s superb Uncharted and The Last of Us games, for a fixed monthly fee. Even if you just try it for one month and blitz through those, it’s a much cheaper and easier way of playing them than buying a PS3 and tracking down each one.

If your internet connection is good enough and you’ve got a controller handy, it’s probably worth doing. It’d be nice to see them add PS4 games down the line, too, as that currently looks like the only way PC players will get to sample From Software’s Bloodborne and Bungie’s Destiny. 

Evan Lahti: First contact

Last night I had the bright idea to boot up a new 4X game at 10 pm on a weekday. I have no regrets, because I got to enjoy Master of Orion’s charming opening. (See the video above.)

I enjoyed Stellaris, and I’m looking forward to giving it a second go once it’s populated with new features and mods in another few months. But where Stellaris is contemplative, even occasionally serene (especially in its exploratory early game), it completely lacks the personality of Master of Orion. When a Silicoid is pissed off because you’ve been spying on them, you’re greeted by a two-ton pile of humanoid rock with glowing stone eyes. When you colonize a planet, you’re treated to a short cutscene of your colony ship landing on some animated concept art. I don’t know yet whether MoO is the return that this classic 4X series deserves, but I’m enjoying its first hours a lot.

James Davenport: PAX prep

PAX West (formerly PAX Prime) kicks off next Friday, so Tom Marks and I are headed to Seattle where we’ll be checking out a ton of games and reporting back for you folks. Personally, it’s a pretty big moment for me. I bought a plane ticket to Seattle back in ‘09 and hit up my first PAX as a teen all by my lonesome, but now I’m on my way to cover one for one of Teen James’ favorite outlets. Bonkers stuff. 

Reminiscing aside, there’s so much to see. It’s incredibly overwhelming. Tom and I are both champions of smaller games, but the sheer density of intriguing indie games means it will be impossible to cover all the ones we want. (I see email when I close my eyes.) If you’re going and if you see Tom, be sure to say hi. I’ll be the sweaty dude hiding behind him. Throw me a cracker and I might come out. If you’re not going (bummer!) be sure to keep your eyes trained on PC Gamer. We’re going to be popping coverage out all weekend and then some. 

Tom Senior: Double plus good

N++ is out this week, and as Shaun correctly observes in our review, it is excellent. I haven’t had chance to play a huge amount of the PC version just yet, but I poured hours into the Playstation 4 iteration, and feel as though I’ve always been playing some iteration of N since it started life as a browser-based experiment. 

It’s a sparse and beautifully simple platformer with perfectly tuned jumping. Your character’s momentum is a vital resource you’re managing all the time as you bounce around each stage. Your ninja can make huge floaty jumps, but also possesses a sense of weight that demands nuanced control. Luckily, you have 1,000+ levels to master it. If you’ve ever had a passing interest in platformers, N++ is essential.

Andy Kelly: Second helping

After finishing Mankind Divided for my review, I'm playing through it again—this time in New Game+ mode. It carries your augmentations over, meaning all those high-security locked doors, heavy object-covered vents, and punchable walls can be bypassed from the start. And, as a result, I'm finding an incredible amount of stuff I missed the first time around.

Prague is an amazingly complex, detailed space, and I love all the little self-contained stories you stumble upon when you're shamelessly breaking into people's apartments and reading their private emails. I've been playing in New Game+ for almost ten hours and I've only just visited Task Force 29 to complete the first major story mission.

It's one of those games that constantly rewards you for being nosy and trying to outsmart the developers. For example, break into the casino and steal the calibrator before Koller asks for it and the game acknowledges it. There may only be one city hub in Mankind Divided, which is disappointing, but it makes up for it by being stuffed with distractions. 

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