The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Every Friday the PC Gamer team switches its composition to counter the opposition’s hot takes.

The highs

Tom Senior: Excellent vintage

I count myself lucky to have been assigned The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine for review this week. Sometimes big RPGs can become repetitive and dull when you have to play them in long sessions for review, but this one was an absolute treat from start to finish. It has it all, a beautiful world, a great story and memorable characters. The Witcher 3 has set a new bar for RPG production values and has some of the best sidequests ever, underpinned by an underrated sense of humour that’s particularly evident in the latest add-on. It’s out next week, and I look forward to writing some spoilery pieces discussing the story, and the choices the expansion presents.

Selfishly, I want more. As I mention in the piece, Blood and Wine made me wish for a serialised format that could send Geralt to new places to fight new monsters, but it’s probably about time CD Projekt Red had a break from modelling trolls and peasants. The future awaits.

Alex Campbell: Founders Edition finally ships

It was a time of rejoicing and merriment. The clouds opened, and the gods smiled upon the mortals of the land.

Ever since we first got word of Pascal and the coming 1000 series of GPUs from Nvidia, we’ve wondered what the new GPU line would bring. After plenty of testing, it turns out that the GTX 1080 is head and shoulders above the 900 series. That means that, as of today, the GTX 980Ti and GTX Titan X are obsolete in terms of top-tier performance. The best news for gamers is that the GTX 1080 Founders Edition is running for $700, just $50 more than what the average GTX 980 Ti went for only a few days ago.

For those folks who want to buy a system, system integrators are fast at work putting together PCs that make use of these powerful new GPUs. For those who want to grab a deal, card makers (MSI, Asus and the rest) will likely have a good amount of Maxwell chips on hand for a few months. There’s a very good chance you’ll be able to find a 900-series GPU at a reduced price soon.

Chris Thursten: The cavalry’s here!

I've been playing Overwatch since alpha, and I wasn't sure if my enthusiasm for it would hold up all the way through launch. Happily, it has. I haven't been able to get enough of the game this week, and it's great to feel like my wins, play-of-the-games and lucky unlocks now 'matter'. Nothing is going to get reset, and everything counts.

I was also worried that an open Overwatch was also going to be a hostile Overwatch: after all, competitive games do that to people. Yet I've seen very little toxicity. A little salt, certainly— and one guy in my last game who kept asking other people to change hero rather than change himself—but not the Dota or League-style meltdown I was fearing. And having more people around means being able to play in full stacks with my friends, and it's been great to watch them discover a game I've been enamoured with for months.

I've certainly got a wishlist. I want ranked back, I want an assurance from Blizzard that new heroes will be free, and I want a better system for reporting the few people that sour an otherwise-positive matchmaking experience. But on the whole, I'm really enjoying myself. 

James Davenport: Marks using Mei to wall me into my own base

Boy I love that! It’s the best. There’s really nothing better than the rush of camaraderie I feel every time we bolt to the defense point only for Tom to pop a wall in front of me, cutting me off from the rest of my team and wasting precious time. And the way he cackles through the microphone! So infectious. No, literally! I think something’s wrong with me. My chest always tightens up, I feel a lump in my throat, and I go red and hot. Is this… is this friendship? Is friendship the thing where you close your eyes and see the other person as the size of an ant? Where your big black boot is slowly descending toward the ant person as they beg for mercy? Where the little ant throws up tiny, meaningless ice walls in vain?

Overwatch isn’t just a strategic team-based multiplayer shooter—it’s a big group hug bringing us all in for a real tight squeeze.

Tim Clark: Feels Good Man

I am Legend. Not in the Will Smith “alone with only a dog in a city full of monsters” sense, (although, sort of that too), but no, I am, as ever, talking about Hearthstone. Having picked up the game just before I joined PC Gamer a little over two and a half years ago, I’ve been playing day and night ever since. The glory days of double Argent Commander combo Druid first took me into the single digit ranks, and since then I’ve been inching closer each season to my ultimate goal: that sweet leathery cardback that indicates you’ve entered Hearthstone’s executive lounge: the Legend rank. 

Now I’m there, in large thanks to a stomach flu that saw me confined to bed for two days. I climbed using a mix of AKAWonder’s C’Thun Warrior, Brian Kibler’s N’Zoth Priest, MrYagut’s Midrange Hunter, and finally Muzzy’s version of Zoo Warlock with Swamp Ooze tech. So yes I’m a dirty netdecker, and no I don’t think there’s any shame in that. Scoff all you like, but this is the single hardest gaming achievement I’ve set myself, and to finally get there feels exactly as sweet as I hoped it would. 

The final boss game was so tense I had to send my other half out of the room. But when my 7-attack Darkshire Councilman smashed that golden Warrior’s face to smithereens, the elation was insane. This crazy weight just lifted off me, because for so long I worried that I didn’t have the heart to keep going, even though it was something I wanted so badly. Dumb maybe, but I imagine plenty of you, especially those who play competitively, have had similar moments. Here’s a reminder which I stole from a much better PC Gamer writer than me: The best thing about videogames is that they have achievable goals.

Samuel Roberts: Wildlands returns

Ghost Recon: Wildlands was one of the coolest things I saw at E3 last year—almost too cool, to the extent where I had no idea how Ubisoft was going to get an open world of that size and detail to accommodate four players on the fly. Then again, I suppose it’s not miles off what GTA Online offers—I’d just not seen anything exactly like it before.

This week it re-emerged from the wild(lands) as we approach E3, and it’s still looking as shiny as it did a year ago. My impression of its preview build in 2015 was that it has the potential to be something as freeform as MGSV, but with four players—that idea still sounds like a lot of fun.

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