The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE HIGHS

Andy Kelly: Ramp it up
After a long absence, I’ve returned to the lawless world of Grand Theft Auto Online. It was the new Cunning Stunts DLC that drew me back, which has added a series of absurd new stunt races to the game. These TrackMania-esque events throw all logic aside and cover San Andreas in massive loops, corkscrews, flaming rings, ramps, and boosters. These huge, abstract constructions wrap around skyscrapers, and the lack of barriers on the edge of the track makes every shunt from an aggressive player terrifying.

So much has been added to GTA Online since I last played it, which was over a year ago. I always found it fun, but slightly limited in scope compared to the single-player. Now there are more things to do than I could ever possibly find time for, but I'm loving being back in that world and causing mayhem with other players. It's one of the prettiest, most entertaining open-world sandboxes on PC, and the Cunning Stunts stuff expands it in a really fun way.

James Davenport: 10 PRINT “YEE-HAW!”
Quadrilateral Cowboy, the “twentieth-century cyberpunk” first-person programming game from Blendo Games finally has a release date: July 25th. That’s 10 days from now, and after years and years of ongoing development without an end in sight, it’s a pretty big surprise.

It’s a departure from Brendon Chung’s previous first-person games, 30 Flights of Loving and Gravity Bone—both were narrative experiments (and super great), but Quadrilateral Cowboy adopts a slower pace. You have a portable hacking deck that can tap into security systems and manipulate them completely. Problem is, you need to write the code that does the manipulating. Woah! Nerd alert! I love puzzles, Chung’s signature blocky art style, and could use some programming exercise, so I’ll definitely being picking it up on the 25th. Let’s share our wacky solutions.

Tom Senior: Spaced out
This week’s No Man’s Sky trailer got me very excited about the chance to explore a universe of procedurally generated Chris Foss landscapes. Naturally, the video shows some of the more colourful planets the game has to offer, but I’m almost as excited about the bleak, ruined wasteland planets. Our Andy Kelly encountered one in his hands-on time a while ago, and it speaks to the variety of environments waiting in the game’s vast galaxy.

No Man’s Sky will be an interesting test of the promise and limitations of procedural generation. Will the galaxy live up to fan expectations, or will the logic of the procedural generation system become readable? How many zany zebras can you see before the formula becomes apparent? Still, if the game manages to sustain a sense of wonder for a dozen hours I’ll be happy.

Tyler Wilde: It’s EVO time baby
Street Fighter isn’t primarily associated with PC gaming, but it’s still within our remit, which gives me the chance to say: hell yeah, it’s EVO weekend! I was getting a little low after Summer Games Done Quick ended—I’ve been staying up obscenely late, not always purposefully, and watching absurd feats of skill is a nice way to pass the time. EVO is full of absurd feats, and it’s always fun to see what Diago brings. Andi’s got a few other reason to pay attention to this year’s tourney, which will be the first to be broadcast on ESPN 2 in the States. Or you can watch the livestream as usual.

Wes Fenlon: Videoball is here!
Finally. After I first wrote about Videoball two and a half years ago, it’s actually available to play on my own personal computer. The minimalist sports game released on Steam on Tuesday, and I’ve only had a bit of time to play it so far, but I’m still infatuated with the depth of strategy and action it packs into a single button press. Every action is performed with just one button, but the length of time you hold that button changes everything. I’m afraid Videoball doesn’t have much of a chance becoming the go-to electronic sport on PC—Rocket League just has such a strong playerbase at this point—but I hope it can carve out its own niche. It deserves it.

Joe Donnelly: Double trouble
This weekend, Supergiant Games’ action-RPGs Bastion and Transistor are on sale with an 80 percent discount. I already own both, but I now want to replay them so much that I’ll likely do so over the weekend—stuff the ever-burgeoning backlog, it can wait.

For those uninitiated, Bastion was Supergiant’s first game back in 2011 (the sale marks its fifth birthday, see) and tells a wonderfully whimsical tale of dystopia, fractured worlds and coming of age. It’s also got some ultra-cool fighting mechanics, awesome narration—courtesy of Logan Cunningham—and each hand-drawn environment is prettier than the next. Its follow-up, 2014’s Transistor, although not linked storywise, tells a similar tale of fallen societies and underdogs but with a futuristic, cyberpunk spin.

Right, so I’m gushing here, but with Bastion going for £2.19/$2.99 and Transistor for £2.99/$3.99 (or the pair plus both OSTs for £6.98/$9.86) why not take a gamble if you haven’t already? If for nothing else but to shut me up.