The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The Highs

Evan Lahti: Lights, camera, computers

Holy cow, we did another PC Gaming Show! If you missed it, the archive of our hour-and-a-halfish showcase of games and hardware coming to the PC is right here. A few of the standout announcements and new footage included...

First gameplay footage of Dawn of War 3
Mount & Blade 2’s sieges look insane
First gameplay footage of Halo Wars 2
Killing Floor 2 is getting a VR game
The reveal of cyberpunk-horror game Observer
The reveal of Klei’s next game, Oxygen Not Included

Pulling this thing together takes months of work from our team. E3 is a big enough job as it is if you’re simply covering it, but we think that giving PC gaming its own stage during E3 is worth the effort. Special thanks to Day9 for being as amiable and hardworking as always, and to Warren Spector for delivering a closing speech with a kind of sincerity that I don’t think you could find in any other presentation during E3.

James Davenport: Altitude slickness

I grew up in the 90s and 2000s, so you bet your ass I considered myself an extreme sports fan at one point or another. I skateboarded, snowboarded, and yeah, even dabbled in extreme Razor scootering. Ask me to tailwhip. But riding boardz also meant we played every boardz game that hit the scene. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 levels and movesets are burned into my memory, easier to recall than the names of my loved ones. SSX Tricky and co. will always have a place at my hearth. But all of that boardin’ went out of vogue. I got older and realized careening off the church seven-stair and onto the asphalt below was not as cool as it was dangerous. I quit the board and the board quit me.

But anytime I see something vaguely oval shaped, I get the inclination to see how well it slides along the ground. All this is to say Steep, the open world extreme sports game announced by Ubisoft over E3 is actually my game of show. I love the idea of returning to the slopes, albeit not physically. I love the feeling of anticipating momentum and flinging a physics object in perfect timing with the quickly approaching ground. For the same reason I toss my phone up idly in a series of acrobatic flips, I can’t wait to throw a little man down a mountain and then watch how it went on a GoPro. 

Phil Savage: Battlefeels

I didn't go to E3. I wasn't in the crowd, cheering on the executives. I was at home, watching the streams while holding a little triangle flag that said "games!" I did, however, get to visit EA's non-E3 (but basically E3) event, which was simultaneously held in London for some reason. And at said event, I got the chance to play Battlefield 1. I've been on a downward curve with recent Battlefield games. I loved Bad Company 2, liked Battlefield 3, but Battlefield 4 left me cold.

BF1 feels closer to Bad Company 2, while still retaining aspects of the main series. I'm most impressed with the destruction. It feels surprising again—the map's small, stone buildings exploding into rubble in a way that feels exciting and urgent. I was initially sceptical about the choice of a World War 1 setting, but, having seen it in action, I think the technological limitations might suit the Battlefield format. I've not played enough to say anything concrete, but I'm hopeful Battlefield 1 will rekindle my love for the series.

Samuel Roberts: Titanfeels

Unlike Phil, I did go to E3 this week, though I didn’t cheer on any executives, just to avoid ridicule by my deeply serious peers. I attended the LA version of EA Play and got stuck into Titanfall 2, looping the queue four times to really get to grips with the new classes (but mainly the Counter Rifleman’s brilliant grappling hook). I’ll be honest: it’s very familiar to anyone who played the first Titanfall, but the more character-led addition to creating titans and new toys make it feel fresh again.

The big question for us on PC Gamer is whether it’ll keep us playing for longer this time. Helping matters on that front is that Respawn revealed this week that there’ll be no DLC maps or modes for sale this time. Both will be free.

Angus Morrison: CDPR reshuffles the CCG

Standalone Gwent was confirmed at Microsoft’s E3 conference, and I’m excited for two reasons.

Firstly, it’s ridiculous, and I find that endearing. Gwent isn’t some marketing department’s scramble to spin a collectible card game off its franchise—the name alone is evidence of that. It’s an inconsequential minigame with a cult following run away with itself. Gwent was supposed to be charming filler for The Witcher 3, and yet here I am planning my Monster deck.

Second, there’s a whiff of innovation about it, and my lord does the genre need more of that. The Elder Scrolls Legends, Fable Fortune and others—they all fiddle with the Hearthstone formula and call it a new spin, but the skeleton is obvious. Granted, there’s only so much you can do with card games about battling monsters, but Gwent boasts a big headline feature: The Witcher’s choice and consequence.

Gwent promises an open, ‘event-rich’ world that you can roam at leisure. As you battle—with cards as opposed to swords, of course—a story will unfold, to be continued in episodes. With Geralt’s adventures at an end, that’s all the sales pitch I need.

Wes Fenlon: Good games, good times

Angus has already touched on Gwent, my favorite game of E3, but I have plenty more love to share around. I played a few other games I was anticipating and haven’t had time to write about them all: look to reports on Shiness and ReCore and more next week. But I did get to write about how Zelda embodies some of the best qualities of PC gaming, and was encouraged by Microsoft’s commitment to bringing everything first-party to Windows 10. I still have major misgivings about the Windows 10 Store and UWP, but I still consider it progress. 

One last promising indie game I played: Gonner, which I’d only played in gif form prior to this. It’s a tough sidescrolling shooter roguelike that feels great and has a wickedly bizarre sense of style. It’s going to be a good ‘un. And probably way too hard for me to finish.