The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The highs

Evan Lahti: The Elder Scrolls: Legends

Playing a card game again has been like getting back together with an ex-girlfriend. There’s an initial, rosy period of ‘we can make this work,’ the optimistic glow that comes with reunion. Then the reasons you broke up begin to re-emerge: they’re sort of shallow, you have to buy them a lot of packages just to get closer to them, and every moment with them is a reminder that you’re ignoring other, cooler games just to grind out digital rewards.

I’m really enjoying The Elder Scrolls: Legends, which just went into open beta yesterday. I haven’t played Magic: The Gathering for years, and I skipped Hearthstone entirely because WoW’s art style doesn’t suit me. Legends’ story campaign a great introduction to the mechanics that mixes in some good flavor, and I love that you have to make story ‘choices’ along the way that determine which reward you receive. Mostly I’m amped about deckbuilding in a context where everything feels new. I fear how much our resident card-tographer Tim and I are going to enable one another’s habits.

Alex Campbell: Titan X initial testing

It’s always fun to get my hands on new hardware. Most recently, I got the chance to test out Falcon Northwest’s new Tiki, which is equipped with the new Pascal-based Titan X.

The Titan X is a monster, to be sure. But for gamers, the 1080 is looking like it’s the better card by far. The Titan X’s lower clock speeds keep it about on par with the 1080 in most games, which can be misleading for many considering its $1,200 price tag. The Titan X makes up for this with a wide memory bus and 1,024 more CUDA cores than the GTX 1080, and 500 more than the previous Titan X. Basically, this card is for computer scientists and creative (read: photo, video, CAD) workers who make use of those CUDA cores. The Titan X can game for sure, but it’s built for people who are trying to more than just frag friends. 

Tom Senior: Prey do tell

Quakecon gave us our first look at Prey this week, and there’s a lot to like. There’s a bit of Dead Space, a bit of Bioshock, and some enemies that look a lot like the oily aliens once trailered for the old XCOM cover shooter that was eventually reworked as the Bureau. None of those games let you turn into a mug, however, and none of those games featured enemies that could hide as ordinary objects such as chairs.

I don’t think I’ve played a game where an ordinary piece of scenery might come to life and try to latch itself to my face. Alan Wake’s villains could possess vehicles, but Prey’s shadowy creatures seem to be more menacing. There’s more. The E3 trailer suggested that Prey will feature warped realities. The latest trailer shows a stabby handheld device that is probably responsible for your character’s bloodied eye in the teaser reveal. I wonder if this gadget has the power to warp your view of the world. It looks like perception will be a strong theme, and that has the potential to drive a lot of scares.

Tom Sykes: Signal boost

The Signal From Tölva looks to be exactly my cup of tea, what with its STALKER-like A.I., its gorgeous sci-fi setting, and its adorable robots drawn by Ian McQue. I'm particularly glad that, unlike Sir, You Are Being Hunted—Big Robot's previous game—its world isn't procedurally generated, as that should allow for a more consistent, designed environment that I can hope to learn over the many hours I'll probably spend on the planet Tölva.

That's the sad thing about procedural generation, isn't it? You've barely any chance to get the lay of the land in procedurally generated games, before you suddenly die of thirst/hunger/dysentery, and you're deposited somewhere similar but eerily different. Meanwhile, I can still recall much of STALKER's fixed environment, after traipsing across its irradiated hills so many times. 

Chris L.: Sky high

Most of the No Man's Sky news this week was something of a low: someone got ahold of a leaked copy and both streamed it and talked about it at length. More copies were sold from stores either by employees who didn't know the release date or knew but didn't care, and more streams showed up, not just from fans but on major gaming outlets. Everything about NMS feels weird and vaguely troublesome right now. Even the PC launch date, something that shouldn't be that hard to nail down, is still a little hard to nail down.

The high part? This is all happening because people are damned excited to play a videogame. I include myself: I'm very much looking forward to it. I guess I'm a little disappointed that so much about the game slithered out before it was meant to, but I know most of it is due to the fact that people are passionate, excited, and curious. Sometimes the results of that kind of excitement aren't great, but the passion itself is wonderful. And, at least some of it has been fun.

Samuel Roberts: Future stocks

Buried in this week’s Take Two financial results was the reference to some ‘future projects’ in the works at Rockstar Games that will be ‘revealed soon’. This is very exciting news, obviously, especially as everyone’s assumed it’s a sequel to the never-released-on-PC sandbox western Red Dead Redemption, a follow-up that would be more likely to come on PC in this day and age.

Of course, it could be something else, like a sequel to LA Noire, Bully, or a revived version of long-assumed-dead espionage game Agent. Part of me also speculates if a substantial expansion to GTA Online might involve bringing a new environment into the game. Or, perhaps, an existing one, spruced up. Either way, I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough on Rockstar Time, which is like Valve Time, only slightly more reliable.