The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The Lows

Samuel Roberts: Flatman

I didn’t play anything I didn’t enjoy at E3 this week, but I was surprised I didn’t love my first look at Telltale’s long-awaited Batman game. Spotlighting the life of Bruce Wayne and dealing with the political elements of Gotham City just wasn’t that exciting to me, and it didn’t leave a great first impression. I will play the first episode just to find out how decisions affect both the Bruce Wayne and Batman sides of that character, but I’m not as thrilled by the prospect as I should be.

On the plus side, there was plenty I did enjoy at E3: Watch Dogs 2 made a decent first impression, Devolver’s Absolver really surprised me, Ghost Recon feels like it could be a co-op spin on MGSV (if not quite as good), and Volition’s Agents of Mayhem is an intriguing character-swapping spin on the Saints Row series. We’ll have loads more E3 impressions and interviews next week on PCGamer.com.

Phil Savage: I'm about to be nice to Call of Duty

As much as I love Modern Warfare, I found its sequel—the aptly named Modern Warfare 2—so offputting that it was the last Call of Duty I played. Skip forward seven years, and I thought I was free. Then, at Sony's E3 conference, the screen started showing a game I didn't immediately recognise. There was a bit where a spaceship was shot out of a launch tunnel, a bit where the protagonist grapple-hooked around in zero gravity, and lots of bits featuring cool fights in space. It looked exciting! By this point, I'd worked out what I was watching. It was Infinite Warfare. I am now looking forward to a Call of Duty game.

This isn't really a low yet, is it? Call of Duty has just as much right to be good as any other game, and, if it is, then that's… well… good. Er, let's try this: having a new, quality Call of Duty could be too jarring a thing to get use to after so long spent dismissing the series. No, that doesn't really work either. This is just outright good news—a net positive to everyone if Infinity Ward can really pull it off. I have sullied the format of this sacred column. Please don't tell Tim.

James Davenport: Death Stranding on PC?

Kojima announced a new game at the Sony E3 press conference, and expectedly, the world dropped to their knees and cried in relief. I fell into a fugue state and woke up with an entire wall of my room covered in marker and post-it notes about the trailer. It’s coming out of my deposit, but at least I was able to learn more about Naked Norman Reedus and the Invisible Babies (which was also the name of my proto-punk band in college). 

It’s going to be an action game! Sort of. And it will involve sticks, rope, whales–all sorts of manical nonsense. That’s how you know it’s good. The one thing we don’t know is whether it’ll be on PC or not. An old Q&A indicated that Death Stranding would be a timed console exclusive, but at this point, we have no clue. In the meantime, all we’re left with is nude Norman and a few strands of hope.

Wes Fenlon: Convincing VR games are still a ways out

I had a lot of fun playing Star Trek: Bridge Crew in VR at E3, and it’s one of the first multiplayer VR experiences I can imagine myself going back to on a regular basis. It really justifies wearing a headset on your face. That’s something many other VR games are still struggling with. I played Insomniac’s Feral Rights at E3 in the Oculus Rift, and it was a decent beat ‘em up, but nothing about it convinced me I wanted to wear a headset to play it. Insomniac even told me that they focused on designing a good game first, rather than building around a VR gimmick. That sounds like a good thing! But when it’s a type of game I can play on my monitor and the immersion of VR isn’t utilized to its utmost, I’m not going to deal with the hassle. If E3 is any indication, expect to see a good many VR games fail to pass that threshold over the next couple years. Then again, once Oculus’s Touch controller is available, maybe everyone will gravitate towards full-body VR experiences. Those, at least, will give us something we can never do with a regular controller.

Evan Lahti: Unsatisfying tremors

We don’t know enough about Quake Champions for me to let loose my excitement. Doom was wonderful (its multiplayer, less so), and Champions will be PC-exclusive, which is encouraging. Its cinematic trailer was fun, if a bit generic. But otherwise, no one could tell you what the mechanics, feel, or format of what Champions will be. We know there will be character abilities of some kind, which depending on how they’re implemented could be in defiance of Quake’s spirit as a pure, skill-driven FPS. One of our peers felt the need to clarify whether the inclusion of ‘Champions’ in the title meant that Quake might be adopting MOBA influences.

I can’t help but feel this was a missed opportunity to, off the back of Doom’s positive reception, deliver a more concrete sense of what id’s doing with that franchise’s little brother. Overwatch’s success (as outlined nicely in this Gamasutra post) was built on how Blizzard chose to make a first impression. All the way back at Blizzcon 2014, and the same day it was revealed, Blizzard allowed attendees and press to play as much of it as they wanted. And we did. Given the trend toward Early Access then and now, nearly everyone was impressed with how polished Overwatch was, how far along it seemed to be. Blizzard backed that up with generous beta periods to hammer out other issues. When studios are content to tease us, they leave room for speculation and uncertainty. I’m hopeful about Quake, but after a decade writing about games I’m bored of an announcement being not much more than an invitation to wait for more information.

Angus Morrison: Not very PC

Microsoft is bringing a boatload of Xbox One games to Windows 10. This is largely good news: the more games we can put the power of a full-tower rig behind the better (plus we get to laugh at the contradiction that is, “exclusive to Xbox and Windows 10”). But Windows 10 is not PC.

Though Steam games are tied to the Steam platform, they’re almost always available elsewhere. Microsoft locks its ‘Universal Windows Apps’ to the Windows Store, even though the functionality exists to offer them through other storefronts. That’s its right as publisher, but I feel uncomfortable with potentially excellent games being reduced to fodder in the aggressive Windows 10 takeover.

PC has so far been insulated from exclusivity wars. We keep asking why Microsoft has historically neglected PC gaming, but perhaps it’s better that way.