The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Alien Isolation

Each Friday PC Gamer’s writers briefly coalesce from the void, scrawl their collected thoughts in ichor, then blink out of existence.

THE highs

Chris Thursten: Alien: Isolation exists, and so do orcs
I’m with Andy on this one. Alien: Isolation is a strong contender for my game of the year because it’s an expression of something I believe very strongly in: that we need more triple-A games to take risks in their design and mechanics, and that we should reward games that respect a player’s intelligence. Isolation manages both, throwing off the school of thought that places accessibility above the core experience. The reason nobody ever made a ‘proper’ Alien game before this wasn’t just because shooters were popular: it was because power was seen to be popular, and the argument ran that a game that made you feel powerless wouldn’t sell. I’d like to offer whoever at Sega made the decision to greenlight a game about hiding in lockers one pat on the head, to be redeemed at our mutual convenience.

The same goes for Shadow of Mordor. Who was it at Warner that decided to let Monolith make an orc society simulator? You get a pat on the head too. Unless you’re the same person that decided to send out all those shady contracts to YouTubers. That person doesn’t get one.

Tom Senior: Dying in The Long Dark
I enjoyed following Tyler’s exploits in The Long Dark, an indie survival game about freezing to death in a snowy wilderness. You can’t really win, but I liked trudging through its blizzards as the wind howled through the trees. I strayed too far from a cabin and was forced to press on into the unknown, hoping for a ruined shack, or a hut—anything to huddle up in and get my body temperature back up. I experienced a keen sense of loneliness as I waded on into the blizzard, and in the end I clambered down a cliff too quickly in my haste and broke my neck. I love it when art design seeks to instil a very specific emotion in players, even if that emotion is helplessness.

Epic Mickey 2

Tom Marks: The happiest digital marketplace on Earth.
I was incredibly excited to see Disney put nearly their entire library on Steam this week, and not because I can finally flaunt my hours played of Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure to my steam friends. Well, that’s not the only reason. This move brings a number quality games that have, until this point, been limited in the audience they can reach. Epic Mickey 2 and Split/Second are awesome additions to Steam on their own, and the huge amount of children’s games, coupled with the somewhat recent addition of the Humongous catalog, will help make Steam a more appealing marketplace for a much wider age range. A younger audience using Steam (don’t forget to activate Family Options, mom) will help build the PC gamers of tomorrow.

Evan Lahti: Nice Kicks
Before the end of year, we should definitely pause and evaluate how well game Kickstarters have followed through on their promises in 2014. In the meantime, though, some exciting new projects popped up this week: The Black Glove, The Flame in the Flood, and Human Resources. Whatever your feelings about Kickstarter, I think it’s worth appreciating that it’s still a viable self-funding method for studios like Day For Night Games and The Molasses Flood, which five years ago would’ve had to seek out a publisher.

Dragon Age Origins

Tyler Wilde: Free Origins on Origin
Dragon Age: Origins is free on Origin until the 14th—if you don’t have Origins and haven’t already claimed the offer, just go get it. The only way I’ve seen this presented as a negative is with cynical blubbering about EA’s motivations: “They just want more Origin signups! They’re just hyping up Dragon Age: Inquisition!” They sure are! But we don’t have to prove that we’re ‘above’ marketing by turning down a free, and very good, game.

Tim Clark: New PC! New PC!
Today we took receipt of a couple of new custom PCs, one of which might be able to give our own computerised god, the Large Pixel Collider, a run for its considerable money. The mystery machine runs a trifecta of GTX 980s in conjunction with an i7-5960X CPU and 32GB of RAM. It also costs the thick end of $8k, and seems to crash whenever I try to play Hearthstone. (Probably out of pride.) Although I’ve been explicitly told not to take it home on public transport—and, to be honest, I doubt I could lift it—I’m looking forward to putting the rig through its paces with some recent lookers like Shadow Of Mordor and Alien: Isolation.

Aside from my obvious excitement at having new kit to tinker with, I mention this as my high because I also want to gently point you at the wealth of hardware guides we’ve put up since redesigning the site recently. In the new section you’ll already find comprehensive buying advice for mice, GPUs, gaming laptops and keyboards, with more component articles on the way. With the info therein you should be able to build a killer PC without needing the sort of budget usually reserved for off-books Pentagon weapons programs. Go explore.

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