The week's highs and lows in PC Gaming

Each week the PC Gamer team leaves the takes to cool on the sill because they're too hot.

The highs

Andy Kelly: City slicker

I picked up Cities: Skylines in the Paradox sale on Steam this week. I've been meaning to play it for ages, but never got around to it. And after a couple of hours, and one seriously broken, traffic-clogged road network, I'm hooked. There's something incredibly satisfying about setting the game to max speed and watching buildings spring up on your zones, slowly turning your patch of empty land into a bustling urban sprawl. And I love how you can break away from the grid when you're laying your roads and build them at any angle.

And I haven't even tried any mods yet. A quick browse of the Steam Workshop reveals an incredible amount of user-created add-ons, tweaks, and buildings. I can already tell this is one of those games I’ll sink hours into. Although an audio bug that causes the sound to crackle every now and then is trying my patience a little. A search online reveals many other people are having the same issue, but none of the workarounds I've tried have fixed it. Apart from that, so far Cities: Skylines feels like the city-builder SimCity should’ve been.

Tom Senior: PS Wow

PSNow basically works. I’m shocked. I remember when OnLive boxes arrived in the office years ago, promising a streaming revolution for games. It didn’t really work, at least, not with the sluggish excuse for 21st century internet that exists in the UK. While regulators here spend years wondering if there might be a bit of a competition problem in a nation where a major internet supplier also runs the network infrastructure, we can at least be thankful for Sony’s successful appropriation of Gaikai and “important parts of OnLive”. 

This neat tech means I can enjoy ripping the heads off various creatures of myth in God of War 3. Last night I whipped Hades’ detached manboob with a flaming whip a hundred times as it tried to wriggle back to its host. This is an experience I didn’t even know I wanted on PC until now. PS Now means we can all enjoy Björk-favourite, Journey, and Microsoft is even tentatively allowing more Xbox games to cross the gap too. We’ll see platform boundaries becoming more porous as this generation develops. The PC welcomes all games. Destiny and Red Dead Redemption next, please.

Evan Lahti: Battlefeelings

Battlefield 1 isn’t a realistic depiction of WWI. It’s closer to an alternate-history, Voltronned-together version of WWI and WWII. But based on the beta, it’s a formula that’s working: DICE has generally reeled-in the range and decreased the accuracy of BF’s guns, and the result is a scrappier, grittier take on the series.

I say that as someone who isn’t a big fan of Battlefield, too. As I wrote today, I think BF1’s new setting enables it to introduce more interesting limitations and trade-offs with its weapons. If you want to snipe, you have to stare through what feels like the first scope ever made: a clunky, bolted-on magnifier that takes up too much of your peripheral vision and can only be dialed up to 300 meters. If you want to use an MG, get ready to have a quarter of your screen occluded by its massive vertical magazine. We’ll see how committed to these ideas DICE is—the beta doesn’t even allow you to tinker with gun attachments—but so far the studio’s vision of WWI is refreshing a lot more than its map pool.

Tuan Nguyen: Laser sharp

We just published our guide on which TVs we think make great big screen PC gaming displays. If you want to go large, there’s no beating a giant TV—except with a projector. I’ve been using one in my living room as a gaming option for quite some time. It’s a glorious experience, though adjusting the focus to precision levels can be a difficult exercise.

Enter laser projectors. While they’re not mainstream yet, but are starting to appear. The inevitable drawback is that they’re expensive, and it’s unlikely that anyone will be picking up a high-end 1080p or 4K laser projector anytime soon. But the big advantage? A sharp picture no matter how you position the projector. That’s right. You literally do not need to adjust focus. Sony’s MP-CL1 pico laser projector will always throw a sharp image. Unfortunately, it’s only 720p.

Wes Fenlon: Unreal Tournament lives

When I test gaming mice, I play Unreal Tournament. For a long time, that meant Unreal Tournament 2004, but about a year ago I decided to try Epic’s in-development UT reboot and see what it was like. It absolutely felt like a project still in development, with placeholder graphics and animations all over the place, but man, it also felt great! It’s a fast, focused arena shooter with some tweaks to the old movement and armor systems, but it’s still very obviously Unreal Tournament. I finally had some time to talk to Epic Games about their work on the project last week and had fun writing about what they’ve been up to for the past two years. I think every Unreal Tournament fan should give the game a shot. It’s in pre-alpha, but following its development is a cool way to see how games are made. And you’ll have fun, promise.

Joe Donnelly: Nine years nocturnal

After nine years in the development oven, D-Pad Studio’s gorgeous retro-inspired platformer Owlboy is set to finally receive a concrete release date at PAX West this weekend. Now, while its 16-bit facade may look similar to the slew of old school indies that’ve flooded your PC in recent times, I can assure you this ‘un’s a good'un. I spent a bit of time this week flying around its vibrant, whimsical world via its 90-minute beta and, besides the fact it predates the aforementioned genre similars, it feels more like a reimagining of a classic than it does a pseudo retro throwback. Everything about it feels polished: its soundtrack, its characters, its unrestricted flying mechanics—I loved what I’ve seen so far and I’m really looking forward to seeing more. I get the suspicion it’ll be worth the wait.  

If you’re able to attend PAX West this weekend, you’ll have the chance to check out Owlboy for yourself—you totally should.  

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