The week's highs and lows in PC gaming: E3 2015 edition

Deus Ex


Tom Senior: Deus Ex
Eidos Montreal are rendering my favourite flavour of dystopian science fiction, and for that Deus Ex has just pipped Dishonored 2 to become my high in a stunning week for PC gaming.

I thought we would receive only a cursory glance at the game in action, but yesterday a 25-minute chunk of footage confirmed some of my hopes for the sequel. It's beautiful—darkly textured, lit with sparse pale golden light and covered in destructible clutter. The assault rifle roars now where in Human Revolution it sputtered, and it still cracks satisfyingly in half when you reload. I'm a stealth player normally, but I'm tempted to go loud in Mankind Divided, if only to play with the improved guns and spear enemies with Jensen's armblade projectiles.

The new abilities are a derivative, it's true, but I don't mind. The dash mimic's Dishonored's blink; Titan armour is a cooler version of Crysis' armour mode; the bullet time sections channel FEAR. If the abilities are fun, they deserve to become options in Deus Ex' armoury. The joy of Deus Ex is that it can become the game you want it to be, and a wider selection of tools will only let me craft that experience with greater finesse. It’s going to be immense.

Tyler Wilde: Sea of Thieves
One game you might have missed—partially because it was initially announced as an Xbox One exclusive, even though it isn’t—is Rare’s “most ambitious game” yet, Sea of Thieves. Based on the look we got, it’s a multiplayer, first-person pirate game—the trailer shows multiple players exploring islands, finding treasure (angering skeletons), and manning a ship as a crew. Rare’s style is impeccable in the trailer—which is said to be real-time gameplay, but let’s not take that at face value just yet—and the idea of taking a crew of friends to scour the seas for treasure is appealing as hell. My very optimistic view is Star Citizen-lite on the sea, but of course, such a complex-seeming idea could falter in lots of ways. Getting players to work together, with systems that allow that (who gets to be at the helm?) is tricky, and sometimes messy or not as freeing as it seems in scripted trailers. But it's something I look forward to learning more about, and that's a happy thing.

Hitman Slide

Phil Savage: Absolution for Hitman
I get cynicism as a concept. If you assume everything will let you down, nothing will let you down. There's a logic there, but it's no way to live. The hope and anticipation are half the fun, right? What I'm saying is that I really hope the new Hitman isn't a stinking pile of Absolution.

It's certainly making all the right noises. Its levels will be bigger than Hitman: Blood Money, and its post-release missions and locations will all be delivered as free updates. It sounds like it's taking a semi-sandbox approach, and that suggests areas with multiple paths to target and plenty of opportunities for creative assassination. I also love the idea of one-time missions. For me, most Hitman games are completed in a flurry of revisionism, as I repeatedly try new things in search of a Silent Assassin rating. It'll be nice to get out of that comfort zone; to be forced to mess-up, improvise, and ultimately accept the final outcome.

There's still plenty that could wrong with the game, and many ways it could not live up to my expectations. But I choose to cling to the hope that this is the Hitman game I've been waiting nine years for.

Tom Marks: Metal Gear Solid 5
The more raw gameplay I see of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, the more excited I get for it. The freedom you have in choosing how to handle a mission is intriguing, but I think it’s really the pace of each gameplay loop that interests me. Select your loadout, drop into a remote area, travel to the mission, gather intel, execute you plan, then escape. The latest video actually spurred me to buy MGS5: Ground Zeroes last night while it was $5 in the Steam Summer Sale. While it’s beautiful and fun, I yearn for The Phantom Pain’s base management aspects, if for no other reason than to attach balloons to everything I see. We didn’t really see much new stuff from MGS5 at this year’s E3, but after the upsetting talk of Kojima being taken off the game, it was comforting to even see more of the same.

Also, a special shoutout to Cuphead, because that game looks downright adorable. They absolutely nailed the 1930’s cartoon look they were going for.

Fallout 4 Slide

Evan Lahti: All-in for Fallout 4
I’ll let Tim pat us on the back for Tuesday night’s PC Gaming Show, which was an exciting, anxious, gratifying thing to pull together. Otherwise, Fallout was the standout of E3 for me. I think we’ve all become so used to big game reveals being the start of a years-long trickle of information and details that it was gratifying to see Bethesda to go so all-in on showing plenty of Fallout 4 ahead of its surprising November release. Bethesda’s presentation was lighthearted, refreshingly low on marketing jargon, and it hinted that Fallout 4 is embracing the series’ silliness: weaponized teddy bears, DIY art projects, and over-the-top radioactive creatures.

Tim Clark: Let's do the show right here!
An obvious one for me this week, but hey at least I’m not opining about Hearthstone, so enjoy that while it lasts. My high is of course the first ever PC Gaming Show. I can honestly say helping organise it was the hardest thing I’ve ever been involved with professionally, but if you’d said to me at the start—and bear in mind we only began work on the show three months ago—that Blizzard, Microsoft and No Man’s Sky would be sharing a stage we helped set up, I wouldn’t have believed you. And if I did believe you, I’d have immediately started panicking.

The sense of relief now it’s done is overwhelming. As is the pride I feel at what we were able to create in our first year. I appreciate all the feedback you’ve left in the comments here, and rest assured we’ve learned plenty of lessons (some obvious) about the show could be improved. Thanks to everyone who watched, all the people who made the event possible, and especially to Sean Plott for being an absolute superstar throughout. There aren’t many presenters who’d keep smiling and joking in between hunching over a trashcan after a playing VR demo. A total hero.

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