The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns


Phil Savage: Jungle excursion
I've taken a quick break from writing up my Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns review to do this, and so I might as well keep writing about Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns. Spoiler: I like it, a lot, albeit with some reservations. For one thing, it's a beautiful looking expansion. ArenaNet's jungle region is dark, twisted and labyrinthine. It's varied and surprising, too. There's always something cool around the next corner. As an MMO, there's a lot more factors to consider than simply how it looks, but a vast, enchanting world is a definite boon. I've spent a good chunk of the last week wondering around the new zones in first-person view, taking screenshots as players swarm through the gorgeous scenery.

As for the rest, you'll have to wait for the review.

Andy Kelly: Space is the place
This week I visited the UK studio of Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium. I can’t go into what I saw—you’ll have to wait for the next issue of PC Gamer to find out—but it was a really good experience. I always love visiting developers and watching them work, because it gives you a more intimate insight into the game than a standalone interview. I watched a lot of very talented people making spaceships and other cool stuff, and it made me appreciate just how much craft and love goes into a game of that scale. You forget that sometimes.

It can also be a bit of a curse, though, because whenever I’m reviewing a game, and I don’t like it, I imagine the developer’s sad face as I slam their work. Obviously I still will, ‘cause that’s what a critic does, but being reminded that a real human with real human feelings is behind everything in a game (except procedural generation, I guess) isn’t always a good thing.

Bob Ross Slide

Tim Clark: Fluffy little clouds
Sap Green, Magic White and, of course, Van Dyke Brown. Until yesterday I was entirely unaware that these are the most important colours in the kaleidoscope. Now, thanks to Bob Ross and his gently cradled palette, I know better. Given that we’re already a day into Twitch’s ambient painting marathon, I’ll spare you the full hot take about how soothing watching a man with an astonishing perm dab “happy little clouds” onto canvas is, but suffice to say half the PC Gamer team spent the small hours of last night chugging audiovisual valium.

Here’s what I loved most: Twitch chat, so often a den of scum and villainy, was super sweet and funny pretty much the whole time, reacting to Bob’s scrapes and smears as if they were plays in a high level esports match. Bob scrawls an ugly tree trunk over an otherwise pretty landscape? “RUINED”, “CONCEDE”, “THE CHOKE”, “NA PLAY”. Bob pulls it together late? “SAVED”, “VAC”, “WIZARD”, “NERF BOB”. Cutest of all, each time Bob wraps up one of his rapidfire oil paintings, chat spams “GG WP”

Chris Livingston: The coast is most
I can be as cynical as the best of 'em (or maybe the worst of 'em), to the point where I'm actually surprised when I find myself genuinely excited about a game I haven't yet played. One genre never fails to get me worked up and optimistic, though, and that's the weird-ass simulator genre. I am always, always excited to try a new sim, be it one where you cut down trees, or tow cars, or put out fires at an airport, or unload boats with a crane. And I'm always convinced these sims will be great, even when they are, historically, not.

In this case, it's Coast Guard, which I've just acquired a key for. The trailer is weirdly amazingly awesome, so that's part of my excitement. I think the rest of my enthusiasm may stem from the idea of doing something in a game I've never done before. I've driven boats in plenty of games, but I've never driven a boat to—as the trailer says—SAVE LIVES and PROTECT THE WIDE-OPEN SEA. And I'm going to do that. I'm going to save lives and protect the wide-open sea. And I'm pretty sure it's going to be amazing.

Tribes Slide

Wes Fenlon: Does Tribes have another shot at life?
Hi-Rez Studios burned a lot of its fans when it more or less abandoned F2P shooter Tribes Ascend. It's been heartening to see them try to make up for that, even if it's too late for Ascend to be a competitive esport or maintain a thriving community. First Hi-Rez patched Tribes, and said it plans to keep updating the game more. Now they've released every single Tribes game for free, with a nice website showing the history of the series.

I love that those classic shooters are now easily available online, and hopefully will be in perpetuity. It's certainly a smart way for Hi-Rez to build goodwill and raise the profile of Tribes, too. Is it impossible to think that the Tribes Ascend community could actually grow over the next year, as Hi-Rez go back to supporting it? It'd be enough to melt grumpy Tyler Wilde's heart.

Tom Marks: Who watches the Overwatchers?
The Overwatch beta began on Tuesday and I’ve been playing it at pretty much every opportunity since then. It’s incredibly fun and has the same level of polish we’ve come to expect from Blizzard games. The guns feel great, and I’ve found a few heroes I’m really enjoying, though not quite one I want to call my main just yet.

It’s really not quite like any other FPS I’ve played, but takes bits of inspiration from many. And though it’s definitely not a MOBA, the heroes’ ‘ultimate’ abilities allow Overwatch to have those big play moments we’re familiar with from that genre. So I’m excited to see if an esports community rallies around Overwatch. It’s kind of hard to imagine it won’t.

I am also excited to keep playing. Overwatch is the first game in a while that I really want to learn the little intricacies of. The quickest routes to a point, the sneaky side paths, the ranges and reload times of everybody’s weapons and abilities, who can beat who in a duel, etc. The lack of leveling-up or ability points makes figuring all of that out seem so much less daunting. But as much as I’m having fun with it, it hasn’t all been sunshine and roses… (see: Tom’s low)

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