The week's highs and lows in PC gaming



Samuel Roberts: Fallout 4 is here
This was a week full of highs for PC gaming, but it wasn’t hard to pick mine. The announcement of Fallout 4 represents something I’ve been waiting for for years. There’s no series or developer I get more excited about than Fallout and Bethesda Games Studios, other than perhaps Rockstar’s open world games, and the trailer for Fallout 4 did not disappoint me. It heavily suggested a more varied artistic direction to its (probable) Boston setting, along with bigger, more detailed locales. The piano version of the theme that plays at the end gave me shivers. There was a dog.

I can’t think of anything more exciting than exploring another one of those 3D post-apocalyptic worlds, where somehow the destroyed remains of mankind have their own grim beauty. That’s Bethesda’s Fallout to me—great sci-fi stories in the most impressive of open worlds. And, almost certainly, body parts flying everywhere, and eccentric robots.

Andy Kelly: Witching hour
I’m knee-deep in The Witcher 3 and loving it. I didn’t like the first two games at all, but this one’s claws are firmly in me. I think the trick is that I’m pretty much ignoring the main quest and playing the game like a wandering samurai. Riding from village to village, helping people with their problems, collecting the reward, then drifting away.

It has me dreaming of a game with the same structure set in feudal Japan. A ronin simulator. How amazing would that be? But I’m content enough in this world of witchers, crones, and botchlings. I’m starting to care about the main quest a little more than when I started, but my real motivation isn’t finding Ciri—it’s seeing what crazy-ass fantasy thing likes around the next swamp, field, or mountain.

If, like me, you didn’t get on with the earlier games in the series, consider giving this one a go. You might be surprised. It also reminds me a lot of Red Dead Redemption, and will probably be the closest thing we get to that on PC—at least until Rockstar announce a sequel.

Xcom 2 Slide

Phil Savage: Xcom 2 is here, too
Blimey, what a week! Sam's already written about Fallout 4, so I'll enthuse about the week's other big reveal: XCOM 2. I don't know what I expected from the follow-up to Firaxis's XCOM reboot—Terror From The Deep, maybe? This certainly wasn't it, but, looking over the details that have emerged, I'm glad it's what we're getting.

It feels fresh and different, even if there are some familiar elements. XCOM 2 is set in a world in which the original war was lost, and that completely changes the meta-structure of the campaign. There won't be any government funding, because there aren't any governments. You play as a resistance force, stealthily plotting against and eventually exposing the aliens for the threat to humanity they truly represent. If XCOM was Firaxis taking the elements of X-Com and repurposing them for a modern tactical game, XCOM 2 sounds like they'll be making it their own.

I wholly reject the idea that you can't make a good PC game if you're also developing for consoles, but XCOM 2's PC exclusivity should nonetheless ensure a UI and control system 100% suited to our system. As for official mod support, it should ensure an already highly replayable game has the ability to endure for years after release.

Chris Livingston: Money-back guarantee
You can now return games you bought on Steam for a full refund, provided it's within 14 days of purchase (or within 14 days of the game's release for a pre-purchase) and provided you've played it for under two hours. It's not a perfect system, and it's years overdue, but better late than never. Unhappy customers can finally do something about games they don't like or don't work properly.

I can confirm it works! I recently bought the Star Wars X-Wing bundle on Steam, and discovered an annoying bug with TIE Fighter Special Edition. I tried several fixes I found in the forums, but they either didn't work or caused more problems. I also read that the GOG version didn't have that bug: it was something having to do with the Steam version. I had to individually request refunds for all four games in the bundle, despite only having problems with one, but shortly after I received a notification that my money had been refunded, and I bought the GOG version (which I probably should have done in the first place anyway).

Heroes Of The Storm Key Slide

Tom Marks: Taken by Storm
Heroes of the Storm is finally officially out, and it’s a pretty fun game. I’ve been playing since midway through its closed beta period, so the launch doesn’t change much for me personally, but it does bring an end to the disparity between Blizzard’s aggressive marketing for the game and the amount of people who could actually play it. Heroes of the Storm was being pushed and advertised like a cure for the common cold, but I saw a lot of frustration from people saying “it looks done, just let me play it,” impatient to try what had been so tauntingly shown off to them. It was a smart move for Blizzard to make the open beta period so short, the best thing they can do for Heroes of the Storm right now is just let people enjoy it. It’s by no means a perfect game, but the experience of playing with a full team of friends speaks for itself.

Tyler Wilde: Weird games on the PC
I love weird games, and I think the medium demands some weirdness. Outside of high-fidelity, straight-faced simulations (which can be plenty weird, to be fair, sometimes by accident), games are simulacrums built from our experiences with gravity and life, flawed shorthand for real things. They’re always going to be a little weird, whether the designer intends it or not, and we’ve embraced that. We’ve embraced it so much that even Katamari Damacy, a game about rolling yourself into a ball of people and trees and cows and houses, is hardly the weirdest game. I mean, there’s a game about pigeon romance (which turns out to be about much more), and it’s getting a sequel.

It’s with that thought that I welcome D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die to the PC. It didn’t get the promotion it deserved on Xbox One, and I look forward to playing it. It is weird—Hidetaka Suehiro, aka SWERY, makes weird games—and the PC is a great place for that. There’s something for everyone here, and someone for everything. I’m happy that a unique creator like SWERY and Access Games have embraced that.

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