The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Gta 5 14


Phil Savage: GTA 5 delayed again
Yeah, why not? GTA 5 was delayed again this week—slipping a further three weeks to April 14. I'm fine with this. First, there's the whole better game thing. If it means smoother performance and less bugs, a three week wait is probably worth it. More than that, though, I'm kind of enjoying the quiet spell we're currently in. I've begun a new campaign in Crusader Kings 2, plodded through a couple of levels of Warlords of Draenor, and even started to learn Dota 2. For reasons that may not be entirely reasonable or accurate, GTA 5 feels to me like the opening of 2015's big PC release cycle. It's the start of the process that will end with me drowning in a seemingly endless stream of new stuff; unable to sample it all because it just won't stop. That'll be fun, don't get me wrong. But I don't mind putting it off for a few more weeks.

Tom Marks: Back from Funkotron
I love Toejam and Earl. I am so excited for more Toejam and Earl. I am terrified that $400,000 on Kickstarter for a sequel to a 24 year-old cult classic game is asking a lot, but man even that can’t bring down my mood when success means more Toejam and Earl. Oh lord, please let there be there be more Toejam and Earl.

My excitement aside, watching creator Greg Brown’s Kickstarter pitch video was a wonderful and rare insight into how publishers influence games and the good crowdfunding can do. Humanature Studios’ is reaching out to fans so that they beholden to no one but the people who will play the game, and they are doing it at a time when couch co-op PC games are on the rise. Although I, like a good number of others, am unsure about the new art direction they’ve gone with, I am in full support of them finally making the funky game they want to make. I’ll be happy as long as I can rocket skate around listening to this:

Chris Thursten: It’s not about the money, but, y’know, money
I’m pleased that ESL are increasing their investment in Dota 2 this year, chiefly because it guarantees respectable prize pools without over-reliance on the community. This JoinDota article (which I also linked to in this week’s Three Lane Highway) illustrates some of the dangers of the current system, particularly the undue influence of cosmetic sets on tournament revenues and, ultimately, the amount of money that goes to players. Greater investment from showrunners doesn’t solve that problem, but it is a salve.

ESL do have a bit of work to do, however, Nobody wants to see ESL One New York 2014’s technical problems resurface, and Frankfurt 2014 struggled to keep things on-schedule. As their events move to ever higher-profile venues, I’d like to see a redoubled focus on the small details that can mean everything when a tournament is actually underway.x

Evan Lahti: Blade Beach Adventurers
Sword Coast Legends not only has the same number of syllables as Zoot Suit Riot, a quality we value in all games (because now you have that song in your head, but with different words, heh), it also looks like a splendid successor to the Forgotten Realms games of yore: Baldur’s, Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dale, et al.

We have plenty of excellent, old-school RPGs to pick from—recent and upcoming—Pillars of Eternity, Divinity, Torment, Legend of Grimrock II. But Sword Coast Legends represents that malleable, self-authored style of RPG that past and present D&D players long for. It’s exciting to see that it’ll have a campaign editor—in an era where user-created stuff is integrated so seamlessly through systems like Steam Workshop, and with the general resurgence of tabletop games, it’s the perfect time for Sword Coast to spring up.

Cities Skylines Slide

Chris Livingston: Mod Squad
As someone who tries out a handful of mods every week for our weekly mod column, it's always a headache installing mods when they're not officially supported. And that's just for me: I can only imagine the hoops actual modders need to leap through to get their mods working when they're not officially sanctioned. So, it's always heartening when mod support is included in a game from the get-go.

We learned this week that Cities: Skylines plans to include mod support, which immediately gives it a step up over SimCity. They've released a video announcing their support for modders and there's more specific information on the wiki. Cities: Skylines isn't out until March 10, but this is good news both for modders and those who enjoy them.

Samuel Roberts: Canada loves Sam Roberts, apparently
This is only tangentially related to games, to be honest (at best), but It would be remiss not to mention the most interesting thing that happened to me this week: I went on national radio in Canada because I’m called Sam Roberts. It’s only funny because it’s so far from being actual news that I still have no idea why it even happened. It must’ve been the slowest day of news ever for that to be a story. Then people wouldn’t stop talking about the colour of a dress across the whole of the internet (they still won’t, to be honest) and that was somehow even more pointless.

Anyway, on a more game-specific front, I briefly revisited Remedy’s brilliant Max Payne 2 this week and I’m going through it again. I enjoyed Max Payne 3 a lot, but it wasn’t really the sequel to this game, nor did it touch on the compelling and melodramatic romance at the centre of the second entry. I plan on writing something a little longer at some point about The Fall of Max Payne. Big games with a tone that’s as specific as Max Payne 2’s are rare now; it features a whole level set in the collapsing set of a theme park based on an in-universe TV show. It’s that kind of wildly inventive direction that I love about Remedy games, and playing with this refined iteration of bullet time recalls an era in which third-person shooters weren’t entirely dependent on moving between bits of cover.

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