This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The highs

Samuel Roberts: Saving earth, one meme at a time

This was a suspiciously quiet week, falling between the collective butt cheeks of late summer and next week's Gamescom, where there'll no doubt be a bunch of interesting announcements about new or existing games. I enjoyed the XCOM 2 propaganda doing the rounds this week, though, mainly because they use bad fonts and I find that very funny as someone with a snobby print media background.

They look like memes from a parallel universe, where all jokes are about the resistance saving humanity from alien invaders, which on reflection are probably more bearable than the memes in this reality.

Tom Senior: Killer talent

Feeling slightly scarred from an entire day watching NPCs getting brutalised for today's takedown round up hasn't stopped me from being excited about Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider hero Billie Lurk, and her amazing mechanical murder gadgets. She has an electric wrist-bow, a mechanical eye and an arm that’s made of shards of the void. She was an efficient killer even before she acquired all that, but I guess if you’re going to kill magic emo machiavelli then you need the gear to get the job done properly.

I’m glad Arkane and Bethesda has gone for a weighty expansion. Dishonored 1 received a skill challenge pack, a fairly good piece of DLC and then a very good piece of DLC. A big, single dollop of new Dishonored really livens up this year’s release schedule.

Joe Donnelly: Put a ring on it

After promising myself I’d wait for Sonic Mania’s (delayed) PC release on August 29, I found myself sprinting and spin dashing around its reworked Green Hill Zone just hours after it landed on PlayStation 4. My PC high of this week, then, instead applies to console gaming—but given the blue hedgehog is en route to desktops I reckon it’s all good. 

Anyway: Sonic Mania. It’s pretty good, as you might’ve read elsewhere. I say this as someone whose console career began with the first Sonic way back in 1991, and as someone who is therefore blinded by nostalgia. Nevertheless, Mania thoughtfully blends the old with the new in such a way that makes revisiting old haunts as enjoyable as exploring new zones. It’s the same but different in near perfect measure and I should probably stop gushing so I will.  

Tyler Wilde: Falling cows

James is off at a preview event so he isn’t here to mention my new favorite column on our site, his column, Build of the Week. I admit I don’t check in every Monday to see what ridiculous custom PC he’s chosen to highlight, but his headline this week, ‘Build of the week: a pile of guns and light’ caught my attention. Come for the cow anecdote and despair, stay for the PC that looks like an oversized model of dubstep, if it were a virus. 

James Davenport: Nidhogg 2 long

I’ve only played two matches of Nidhogg 2, but my total playtime is somewhere around 30 minutes. If you played the first, excellent arcade fencer, then you know how quickly a match can end. Die once, get a nice sprint streak going, and chomp. It’s over. With the addition of new weapons in Nidhogg 2, including a broadsword, a bow, and a dagger, the quick back-and-forth pace can go on for much, much longer now. Whenever you respawn, you start with a random weapon, which makes the game much more reactionary and complex. Arrows can be deflected by timed swings of the broadsword or a precise placement of the rapier. Daggers’ airspeed is quicker than other weapons, but they’re almost useless up close. Near the end of a 20 minute battle against Evan, we were both still finding interesting ways the weapons worked against one another. He eventually bested me, but not before we got the achievement for over 100 deaths in a single match. My hands still ache today. 

Tuan Nguyen: Freakin’ lasers

It’s safe to say that most people are using LCD screens that are powered by LED lights. The next-gen displays are OLED screens but they’re still far off due to OLED’s burn-in issue. If they can solve that, OLED would be amazing. But I’m leapfrogging OLED. I’m going straight to freakin’ lasers. Dell is sending me its 4K 60Hz laser projector for me to play around with. It’s an ultra-short throw unit that can generate a 130-inch image while just sitting a foot away from the wall. And because it’s lasers, it’ll be in focus no matter what. I’ll unbox it after I unbox the 8K monitor that’s sitting on my floor.