The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Quantum Break Highs Lows


Phil Savage: A break from tradition
I'm not sure if I'm excited for Quantum Break, but I'm definitely a fan of Microsoft's decision to release it simultaneously on PC and Xbox One. Microsoft has been saying for a while that it plans to more fully support PC gaming, but, until now, that claim hasn't amounted to much. A day-and-date launch is a big deal, and, if it goes well for Microsoft, it will hopefully persuade them to transition towards supporting both platforms equally.

My only real concern is the Windows 10 exclusivity. And even then, it's not so much the exclusive as the possibility that—like Fable Legends—it'll only be available through the Windows Store. The Windows Store, if you haven't used it, is an awful mobile-esque wasteland of clones and low effort trash—with only the occasional gem buried within. If Microsoft expects people to buy full PC games through there, it's going to need a serious overhaul.

Chris Livingston: Rot rod
Dying Light already felt a bit Far Cry-ish, a bit Ubi-esque, what with the climbing of towers, the looting of bodies for small amounts of cash and packs of smokes, and the unlocking of safe houses. With the addition of the countryside map and speedy, ramshackle car, Techland's The Following expansion makes it even more like Far Cry. Which is totally okay because I mostly like the Far Cry games.

I also liked the Dying Light expansion, actually more than the original game, and in addition I'm just genuinely impressed that Techland really went for it. I know there were a lot of requests from players for a car to be added to the game, but it's one thing to indulge a request and another to really put in the time and effort to build a huge chunk of game around it. I'm sure it would have been easier to just add another section of city, but props to them for taking the harder route.

Firewatch Highs Lows

Andy Kelly: Snap happy
About an hour into Firewatch, Henry finds a disposable camera in a lost backpack. Brilliantly, you can order prints of the photos you take with it after you’ve finished the game. Once the credits have rolled a link will be generated for Campo Santo’s website, and you can order them from there. I did when I finished the game, and they arrived yesterday from Portland, Oregon. The prints are really glossy and high quality, and there are a few extra snaps in there that will have a special emotional resonance for anyone who’s finished the game.

This is a really cool idea, and I love the idea of having a physical, permanent memento of the time I shared with Henry and Delilah in that stunning Wyoming wilderness. And for someone like me who spends a lot of time taking screenshots of games, it holds a particular appeal. I really enjoyed Firewatch, and it’s given me itchy feet. I want to go for a long hike somewhere beautiful and remote, although the idea of being eaten by a bear makes me wary of venturing into the wilds of North America. Maybe I’ll just go for a walk in the park instead. Much safer.

Tim Clark: X marks the spot
I’ve become a total XCOM 2 bore this week. Each morning when I get into the office I regale poor Wes and James with tales of how I ambushed a Sectopod with balletically choreographed overwatch attacks, or why Penelope Cruz, my fully trained Psi-Ops soldier, is now essentially a living goddess with a Plasma Rifle. They nod and smile and keep typing in the way I would expect someone intelligent to do while you’re telling them about your dreams. But honestly, what a game XCOM 2 is!

After reading Tom’s superb review I was itching to get started, and if anything it’s exceeded my expectations. I’m no turn-based strategy expert, (although Final Fantasy Tactics is one of my favourite games ever—good grief Square, why is that the only thing you aren’t porting to PC), but, 25 hours in, XCOM 2 already feels like a masterpiece. The only caveat is that there are some performance niggles, so I’m glad Evan is trying to get answers from Firaxis on when those will be fixed. Oh, and I also strongly recommend Beagle’s soldier build guides. They’ve been absolutely invaluable to my team of slightly faded actors. RIP Beat Takeshi.

Dark Souls 3 Highs Lows

James Davenport: Bonfire lit
The Dark Souls 3 opening cinematic was released, and so were a thousand silent (giddy) screams from me. It’s the one piece of media I can watch without fear of spoilers because it’s the first thing I’ll see when I can finally play. But watching the cinematic has me wondering how exactly the Dark Souls series will wrap up. The ties between games are vague and thematic, hinting at alternate timelines and worlds. But it’s never the intricacies of the story that have intrigued me most. It’s how the disorientation and design come together to make me feel like I’m an equally confused character in a demanding fiction.

In this reassuring GameSpot interview, Miyazaki maintains that the details of the story will remain unclear, but “...there is the conclusion to a large theme that has continued through the entire series, something that will leave you with the impression of what Dark Souls was really about, tell you about the overarching theme.” I can see it now, you defeat the final boss, the screen dissolves to black, and my dad’s face emerges out of the darkness. “U got gud, son. I luv u lol.” If anyone can pull it off, From Software can.

Angus Morrison: All fired up
Rocket League Season 2 has begun, and with it comes the most comprehensive set of patch notes I’ve had the pleasure to read in my eternal quest for news. I play a lot of Rocket League, and as you might expect from someone who rubber-bands between competent player and sore loser, I had a veritable book full of gripes over Rocket League’s rough edges. I’ll need a few weeks’ play to get a proper feel for Season 2, but Psyonix has addressed almost everything.

The maddening ranking system of Season 1 has been obliterated. The UI is scalable. Maps have been optimised. A new mode for fun, experimental pitches (like one in the shape of a doughnut) is in place. The framerate has been uncapped. You can report dickheads. These are substantial, welcome changes, and it shows that Psyonix, despite now having more cash than the Queen, is listening intently to players, and that’s how you foster an enduring community.

In this week's lows, Chris makes sad truck sounds, XCOM 2 shows Andy no mercy, and Tim finds a ghost in the machine.

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