The week's highs and lows in PC Gaming

THE HIGHS

Samuel Roberts: Irrational Behaviour
Remastered editions on consoles seem a bit pointless from the perspective of anyone who can run most games at 1080p 60fps on PC, but it’s nice when such a re-release can bring a couple of new bits to PC owners for free. That’s what was announced this week with BioShock: The Collection, which brings all three games to PC in a single package, along with all the attendant DLC—BioShock 2’s Minerva’s Den expansion (sort of a prototype for Gone Home in a sense) is rarely discounted in Steam sales, so that’s something, and if you’ve never played the stream-crossing Burial At Sea, it’s one of my favourite bits of DLC ever.

You might think this is a bit pointless if you already own the games, but if you’ve exhausted them as I have, you also get some new puzzle room challenges for the first game (which originally came with the PS3 version) for free. You also get some commentary from Ken Levine on the first game—which sounds like a worthy extra, though I wouldn’t have minded that for all three entries in the series, which are each great in their own way.

Chris Thursten: New depths
I missed it at the time, but it's been great to discover Darkest Dungeon this week. Thanks to the Steam Summer Sale bringing Red Hook's side-scrolling Lovecraftian dungeon crawler into impulse purchase range, I've already sunk happy hours into its tenebrous depths. 'Tenebrous' is one of the many strong Lovecraftian adjectives that feature in Darkest Dungeon, joined by 'antediluvian' and longstanding HPL favourite 'cyclopean'. By which I mean it's really well written and the voiceover is terrific. It nails the mood of Lovecraftian horror without feeling like too much of a pastiche, a little like the equally-excellent Sunless Sea.

So far I've lost two entire parties of adventurers to the depths, and like a good XCOM cockup it was entirely my fault both times. The first time I was given a chance to offer torchfire to a mysterious shrine if I wanted to experience the true terror of the void. I did so, and experienced the true terror of the void all the way to death. I do not know what I was expecting to happen. The second time, I prodded my exhausted, stressed-out-of-their-minds squad into one last battle with the biggest skeleton yet. "It'll be fine!" I thought, "it's only one more, very large, skeleton." They all died of heart attacks immediately. Fantastic game.
 

Tim Clark: Getting ‘hammered
Having defeated every boss in Dark Souls 3, including the Nameless King whose glorious hair I now wear as a hat, I needed a new project to plough through. Wes talked me into giving Total War: Warhammer: The Hammering a go. I haven’t dabbled with Total War since the samurai one, but the chance to visit my teen years painting Fantasy Battle armies and not having sex felt too good to pass up. (Tangent: I was actually headbutted IRL at a Games Workshop event at the Birmingham NEC over a rules dispute. The shop manager bought my silence with a free copy of the slightly rubbish Mighty Empires spin-off. A deal I am now reneging on in the most public manner possible.)

Anyway, I’ve only done a couple of battles so far, with the difficulty cranked down of course, but am enjoying it a lot. Today I installed the Blood for the Blood God pack, because this year I turn 40 and figure I can probably cope with a little cartoon blood. It seems strange that you have to pay for a feature which only isn’t in the game so Sega can get a lower age rating, but there you go. I suppose I can about afford the couple of quid required. As for the actual strategy, I’m slightly concerned that my generalship quickly degenerates into rolling the units around like a big ball of zerg, which is likely to come unstuck later. Still, seeing Karl Franz’s finest charging greenskin scum is a thing of joy. 

Tom Senior: The Emperor’s wrath
It has been, shall we say, a tumultuous week in the UK, but you can always rely on PC games to supply a much-needed dose of escapism. We decided to round up a few of our favourite cheery diversions, focusing on colourful worlds with minimal violence. However, if you’ve listened to this week’s UK podcast, you’ll know that I’ve moved on to more explosive, cathartic outlets.

Act IV of Space Marine—when all hell breaks loose—turns out to be a fine way to get away from the madness. As Space Marine captain Titus, you put your big boot to hundreds of Orks, which all pop in gooey red bursts like syrupy blood piñatas. It’s better for the Orks that they die outright in the face of such an assault. If they happen to stagger, you can execute them in a show of force so brutal it replenishes all of your health. I’m feeling better already. 

Chris Livingston: Zoom Room
In today's busy workaday world with 100+ hour RPGs and unending min-max shooters, sometimes you just want a game that's short and sweet. I played There You Go, a lovely little puzzler that takes about fifteen minutes, or twenty-five if, like me, you are dumb. It's an isometric escape-the-room(s) game with a Crossy Road-like aesthetic. It's fun, you can name your own price, and you can play it on a lunch break. Grab it.

James Davenport: Neighborhood Overwatch
I can’t quite talk about the two great games I’m playing right now, which would both be contenders for my high this week. Instead, I’ll talk about how I can see my neighbor playing Overwatch every day. They’re doing very well. My window is directly across from another house, and when I walk by to admire the lovely sliver of San Francisco scenery, it’s impossible not to see what my neighbor is playing since their screen is centered almost perfectly in the window. They’re a great Mercy player, especially since Competitive Mode dropped. Every time I walk by, I see a clutch res or a victory screen. Sure, it’s not my personal high, but there’s a good Mercy player out there in the world. I feel better knowing it.