The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Team Fortress 2 Scout Guide


Evan Lahti: Matchmaker, matchmaker
Take note, FPS studios: skill-based matchmaking is one of the best things you can put in your game right now. It’s, in my mind, a huge reason for the year-plus surge of popularity that CS:GO continues to enjoy. (Item drops and gambling are part of that, but that’s for another day.) It’s amazing how few competitive FPSs have adapted in this way—LoL, StarCraft 2, and Dota 2 taught us some time ago that competitive gamers love being part of a ranked system. It gives more serious players an avenue to express their skill.

TF2 is already one of the most-patched PC games ever, but it’s great news that they went directly to TF2’s competitive community to advise on how matchmaking would be added to the game. It’ll be another reason to return to TF2 and reunite with my old group once it’s released.

Tom Senior: Playing Wolfenstein in a Tweet
Twitter have since disabled this feature, but nonetheless, news that you could play Wolfenstein in a Tweet was amazing to me, chiefly because it illustrates the extraordinary pace of technological progress in our industry. It's a little surprising to me that hardware and software engines continue to progress at the pace they do, even once a new generation of consoles latches onto a set spec for five or so years. This week we also saw Square Enix' Direct X 12 demo push absurdly huge textures with the help of four GPUs. It doesn't seem sustainable, but I look forward to the day I can play Crysis on my toaster.

Exanima Slide

Chris Livingston: Have a seat
A while back I got excited about Sui Generis, an indie open world RPG currently being developed. It's very physics-driven: running around, moving objects, shooting arrows, swinging swords, and pretty much everything else is all physics-based, and the result, from the videos I saw, looked both a bit wonky and entertaining.

I tried out Exanima this week, which is serving as sort of an Early Access precursor to Sui Generis. It all takes place in a glum, gray dungeon, which is a bit unfortunate, but I got to see how it works. It is enjoyably wonky: moving my character around gave me the impression that he was sort of suspended from a string tied to his head. Combat is hard and as characters sort of wobble around each other trying to land awkward blows.

What excited me, oddly, was tripping and falling down, a pretty rare occurrence in most games. While running flat out and striking an object like a crate with my legs, my character could topple over and land splat on his face. It happened more than once. Best of all, though, was when I was poking around in a corner of a dungeon. I upset a cart which was next to a chair, got tangled in them both, and fell over. The chair legs sort of sandwiched my torso and legs, and it took long moments to struggle and wriggle out of the chair and get back on my feet. I can only imagine if there had been enemies advancing on me at the time—the struggle to free myself from the clutches of evil furniture in time to fend off my attackers would have been frantic and exciting. I was alone, so it was just a bit silly and embarrassing, but still a lot of fun.

Samuel Roberts: PC gaming at E3
My highlight this week was undoubtedly announcing our long-time-in-the-making live event at E3 this year. Evan’s piece on why the PC gaming audience deserves an event during E3 and the path that led us to doing this sums it up beautifully. It’s what a PC gaming audience deserves, and we’re gonna do it ourselves. I can’t wait for you to see some of the amazing stuff we’ve got lined up.

Dirt Rally Slide

Phil Savage: Dirt Rally
I've always been a fan of the Dirt games' handling model. I enjoy it so much that I persisted through Dirts 2 and 3, despite their most annoying elements: the excruciatingly slow menus, the constant prompts to upload my replays to YouTube, hell, even the 'Gymkhana'. That Codies followed Dirt 3 with Showdown seemed to suggest that they'd fully moved away from the series' rally roots.

Then, out of nowhere, Codemasters announced, trailered and released Dirt Rally all at the same time. Surprise! Andy's Early Access review calls it their purest rally game since the Colin McRae Rally days. It's also pretty robust for Early Access, with a decent selection of tracks and cars, and more planned down the line. I'm still pretty wary about Early Access, but if companies want to use it to, without warning, deliver exactly the type of game I want, I'm not going to argue.

Tim Clark: Being a Brawler
Samuel has already covered our show reveal, and I can confirm that my main high is the end to my terrifying anxiety dreams now that our secret is out. The reaction has been tremendous, so thanks to all of you who got the idea straight away. Also making me nervy this week was the end to the Hearthstone ranked season. I managed to hit rank 4, a new personal best, carried on the back of StrifeCro’s combo Druid and midrange Paladin decks. I’d love to make the push for Legend at some point, but fear I don’t have the stomach for the final grind. Though I have issues with how the ladder works, Hearthstone really is in a great place right now. I’ve been watching the Blackrock Team Brawl over the last couple of days, which pits teams of popular pros together as duos. Seeing big-name streamers bickering over decisions and then making heinous misplays is hilarious. Reckful threw a game by casting Power Overwhelming on his own Doomguard, and was still arguing with an astonished Gaara about it two matches later. It’s stuff like this which is turning Twitch into a dangerous time sink for me.

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