The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Steam Stealth Sale


Tyler Wilde: Gone in a flash

Steam’s big sales—the latest is dubbed the ‘Exploration Sale’—used to include daily deals and even briefer flash sales, with huge discounts on a rotating selection of games if you popped in at the right time. Recently, they also made a game out of buying games like it was freaking Supermarket Sweep, with voting and badges to earn. I’m glad to see it’s been simplified: just a bunch of discounts on a bunch of games. Maybe it’s a little disappointing that Cities: Skylines isn’t going to be five bucks for one hour only or anything, but here it is for $15 and you don’t have to set an alarm clock to get it. Ori and the Blind Forest is worth the $12 it’s at, too, and The Witcher 3 for $30? Hell yeah. It doesn’t feel like quite the event it used to, but over 8,000 discounted games cleanly presented with no timers or gimmicks is a pleasant Thanksgiving treat. (At least here in the US. Elsewhere, I guess it’s a pleasant unremarkable week in November treat.)

Chris Thursten: Falling back in

I nearly bounced right off Fallout 4. I still think the opening two hours is a little bit misjudged, lumbering your character with a backstory you don’t control and then thrusting you into a very familiar-feeling wasteland before any of it has a chance to settle in. At first, I didn’t feel excited to explore or progress in the story.

There’s not been a single major thing that has changed that opinion, but after more time with the game the attachment that was initially missing has started to form. I spent hours turning my old neighbourhood, Sanctuary, into a real settlement with secure defenses. This is the best addition to a Bethesda RPG in years, in my opinion. There was a moment when, putting up iron walls to turn an exposed parking bay into a shelter, I realised I could do this forever.

I’ll need to take a break before going back, however. My home PC has now finally slipped out of ‘midrange’ and into ‘bad’. As soon as the story took me to downtown Boston, my framerate dropped into unplayable territory. I look forward to finishing my Fallout 4 journey in, er, February or something.

Chris Livingston: Boss Plight

I'm not a fan of boss enemies that look and act like regular enemies but simply have 10 times the hit points so they're artificially harder to kill. I'm speaking of Assassin's Creed: Syndicate's gang bosses, who you need to defeat to reclaim turf all over London. There's nothing different in how they fight as compared to a standard goon, but shooting them three times in the face at point blank range, for example, only shaves off a little health as opposed to all of it.

Anyway, after siccing his crowd of thugs on me, this gang boss attempted to flee in a horse-drawn cart (they sometimes do that so you have to chase them, it's cute), but I managed to catch him almost instantly. I climbed onto the back of his cart, as did he, and we began to brawl. I did something—I'm not sure what—that caused him to fall off the side. "Ledge kill" the game proclaimed. "Gang Leader Eliminated." Ledge? It was maybe a four-foot drop. Still, I was pretty damn happy to have instantly won the gang war because the highest ranking damage sponge in the district took a little tumble. Frankly, it was probably a bug. Frankly, this should probably be a low, right? Because it was a bug? Probably.

LA Noire wide

Samuel Roberts: LA Phwoah

I like my flawed masterpieces. BioShock Infinite, Metal Gear Solid 4—games that cost a ludicrous amount of money and seem to be equally hated and loved, but are always worth talking about. LA Noire is more in the realm of failed masterpieces, I suppose, but its historically accurate setting is a source of fascination for me. There’s so much expensive-feeling detail in there yet it’s not used for much more than a momentary backdrop between investigations. Still, go for a wander around it and it’s like being fully immersed in an interactive period piece.

This week Andy spoke in praise of Team Bondi’s interpretation of the City of Angels and it’s well worth a read. It’s coming up to five years since LA Noire’s release, and there’s no sign of a sequel. I’m not sure I want one: but Red Dead and LA Noire collectively show that no-one makes a videogame period piece like Rockstar does.

Tom Senior: Remote control

Sony has confirmed that it’s going to release an official Remote Play application that will let us stream games from our Playstation 4s to our PCs. Why is that interesting? Well, imagine how shooters will work if we’re allowed to use mouse-and-keyboard setups to play against PS4 players using pads. If the latency is good enough, we could suddenly see crack snipers in Destiny’s PvP Crucible modes, getting easy critical hits with the precision of a mouse. There are ways to use adapters to play PS4 games with a mouse and keyboard, but it’s technically a bannable offense.

I often wonder if Destiny would really work on PC. Structurally, it’s a great fit, drawing influences from Diablo and MMOs like . As a shooter, I’m less certain. Enemies have giant weak points that are fun to snipe with a controller, but ought to be trivially easy to hit with a mouse. We’ll find out soon enough. We don’t know when the official app will come out, but an Twisted are working on an unofficial one right now.

James Davenport: 10 PRINT “Reading is great!”; : GOTO 10

Winner of the hardest book to Google? 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10—yeah, that’s the title. It’s a line of code often used as a stepping stone for newcomers. To keep it simple, it prints line after line of two random ASCII characters until interrupted. The result is something that looks like a maze. The book also uses this code as a stepping stone, not for learning coding, but for observing and studying code as a cultural artifact. It trains helps the reader understand code as a logical construct, but also as one informed by cultural contexts in the same way that we dissect books, movies, sculpture—all art, essentially. I’m still early on, but it’s a pretty nice way of looking at the stuff. Code isn’t strictly cold, hard logic. Code is imperfect, expressive machinery.

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