The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Deus Ex

THE LOWS

Chris Thursten: What’s going on, strip lights? Are you okay
Sure, sure. Deus Ex has a new engine. There’s a new game on the way. It looks pretty. I get it! I’m excited too. No series represents PC gaming quite like this one, and so on. We asked for this.

I look at that single screenshot, though, and I think: what’s up, strip lights? Why are you hiding in the corner like that? Are you okay? Are you nesting? That’s not a very orderly way to arrange yourselves. Oh god. Is somebody else nesting in you? Because that sounds like something that a Deus Ex protagonist would do. Did a cyborg gather you all up, stack you in the corner, and then squat in you, brooding like a big motherly trenchcoated cyberpunk partridge? This seems like the most likely explanation for why you’re like that. I hope you’re okay.

This is the most significant videogame problem I have had this week.

Samuel Roberts: GTA V pulled by Target, K-Mart in Australia
Two Australian retailers have pulled GTA V from shop shelves this week—I should point out these are the next-gen console versions, though I expect the PC version to get a similar reaction when it releases. This comes in response to a petition about violence towards women in the game. I don’t endorse all of the horrendous things you can do in GTA V—indeed, some of the first-person kills added to this new version in particular are brutal to the extreme and even make me uncomfortable, but I don’t see how pulling it from shelves solves any kind of problem. I should also point out that these first-person murders can be, on occasion, hilarious.

Raising awareness about objectionable elements in a game like GTA V is more than fair enough, and indeed, is healthy in that it educates consumers about parts of the game that they may not be comfortable with. I don’t think taking it off shop shelves is the best response, however. Not that it will matter on PC—most people will just download it on Steam anyway. But this is what ratings boards are for, and consumers should be trusted to make their own decisions.

Broken Age Slide

Chris Livingston: Broken For Ages
The second half of Double Fine's Broken Age adventure game has been pushed from 2014 to early next year. While I'm all for games to be released when they're ready, rather than being rushed out the door to hit an arbitrary date, I suffer from what I like to call "A Stupid Forgetty Brain," in which details of games I play quickly begin to slip from my memory into a soupy, indistinct fog. Already, I've begun to forget what I did in the first half of the game. There was a spaceship, or something? And I ran around in the clouds for some reason? I'm worried that by the time the second half of the game is finally released, I'll have absolutely no memory of the first half, and I'm starting to wish I hadn't begun playing until the whole thing was finished. Yet another peril of paying for a game before it's done.

Phil Savage: This is a “low”
Not really. This is totally a high that, through a bit of linguistic trickery, I will magic into a low. Shhh, don't tell the others.

We've recently had three great gamejams: the Procedural Generation Jam, 7DFPS and Indies vs PewDiePie. Between them hides a ridiculous selection of delightful things. Nothing this week has made me laugh as much as Infini-Quest did. Not even Super Wolfenstein HD, although that did come pretty close. Then there are games like Photobomb—a well executed game mechanic and a pretty effective statement of the potential dangers of trial by social media. Or the endless investigative challenge of The Inquisitor.

Oh yeah, this is supposed to be a low. So: there are too many of these experimental delights to reasonably try. Who knows how much great stuff we've missed?

Wes in space Slide

Tim Clark: Elitism
Uszaa, Riedquat, Diso, Orerve… Lave. If you’re old as balls, like I am, then those names will mean something to you. They’re planets on the short range map of the system you arrive in when you boot the original Elite. I was reminded of them, and my own decrepitude, at a pre-release event for the new Elite this week. There I got to play the game on both a 4K monitor, and using a DK2 Oculus Rift. Why is this a low? Certainly not because of any issue with the game, which feels like a worthy modern spin on one of the most important games in the canon. No, my sadness, is based on the fact it reminded me that, unlike Wes, I still haven’t sampled the newer Crystal Bay prototype.

That sadness was compounded by the fact that I’m unlikely to anytime soon. Elite: Dangerous goes into full release on 16 December, whereas Oculus Rift’s production model has a tentative release date of ‘2015’. Which feels pretty loosey goosey whichever way you look at it. What I am certain of is that the Rift is how I want play the game. In my hands-on/eyes-in time with Elite I didn’t experience the dreaded nausea, but did feel the deliciously Cronenbergian rush of the new. It feels like something properly different, which even an ultra hi-res monitor can’t hope to compete with. So my low is also really a high, which means, like Phil, I’ve cheated. Unless you count my own rapidly failing body as a low. Which I probably should.

Evan Lahti: Sad birthdays
On its 15th anniversary, Quake III needs some love. Not every game can live forever, and we shouldn't be too rough on id for Quake Live's underwhelming history—if anything, it suffered from being one of the early adopters of free-to-play among FPSes. Still, with the resurgence of competitive games in general, and CS:GO specifically, you have to feel like there should be more excitement around a classic like Quake III getting a content boost.