This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The highs

Samuel Roberts: Prey, love

From the last issue of our magazine, Phil's feature on Prey is the piece that convinced me that Arkane Austin's next immersive sim is a game of the year contender. It's a terrific long read for the weekend, going in-depth with the sci-fi shooter's systems creation, environmental design and tons more. It sounds like a slightly weirder game than the trailers made it seem—and that's a good thing. As Phil says, it's a successor to the Shock lineage of immersive sim games, and with System Shock 3 itself still a long way off, there aren't loads of other games out this year doing anything like Prey.
 

James Davenport: Modders getting their money

I think that if you do work that others benefit from, you should be paid for that work. It’s a bit reductive when applied to the previously heated controversy around Valve’s first attempt at paid mods, but in our recent interview, they made it clear they’re not giving up on the idea. Evan flew out to Valve HQ and heard it from the man himself, Gabe Newell, who said, “The Gaming community needs to reward people who are creating value.”

It’s a simple, clear message, and one that no PC gamer should be afraid of. It doesn’t mean free mods are going to disappear or that the scene will suddenly die. Ideally, the marketplace would redistribute itself naturally through demand and competition. Smart people work at Valve believe in it, even if they can seem impenetrable at times. But what it means is that teams creating total conversions or remasters can potentially quit their day jobs and work full time on making more cool shit for the games we love. 

Imagine a world where we see several complete, polished campaigns released for Skyrim every year instead of once or twice during its entire lifespan. Even better, imagine the pressure it would put on existing developers to incorporate mod support into their games. Maybe we could’ve avoided SnapMap. Worst case scenario: we pay people for hard work. Best case scenario: modding becomes a mainstream, legitimized development path.

Chris Thursten: For Honor? I hardly knew 'er

 I'm pretty sure I've made Ubisoft's third-person sword-‘em-up my high of the week before, but I've been playing this game on and off since the first closed alpha and it's always a highlight every time a new testing period begins. Its combat system has sunk its claws into me, and it's become the game I'm impatient to play whenever (a) the beta goes away again or (b) I have to do some work.

I've made my home in the 1v1 and 2v2 lobbies, which is I think where the game shows its best side. Unpicking the complexities of each character matchup is genuinely satisfying, and it’s heartening to see the kind of social code that I associate with Jedi Knight server communities appear in a big-budget game by a major publisher. There's a sort of silly decorum to a duel, here, and in a 2v2 it's bad manners to pile in on a lone opponent. The game's called For Honor, not For Being A Dick, and the sense of community this creates within each match lobby is a highlight.

That's not the whole story, mind. I really like throwing people off stuff. Like, I really like it. I can't make excuses for that. Every honor system needs its pariahs, I guess. 

Chris Livingston: Chow down

I've looted my own corpse in videogames before, naturally, but this week I experienced a first: eating my own corpse. While playing Early Access survival game The Wild Eight, I died a lot—it's challenging, what with starvation, freezing, and wild animals to contend with—and when you die, all the items you're carrying drop. You can pick them up in your next life, and even find a ready-made meal: your own human flesh from your recently deceased body. Which you can then eat.

Maybe eating my corpse shouldn't be the best part of my week, but I'm always pleased when a game gives me the chance to do something I've never done before. A+, would eat myself again.

Tom Senior: Hyper Light Grifter

I like to play tricky games in small bursts. This week in lunch breaks, aside from completing the surprisingly decent budget first-person runabout, Valley, I returned to the battlefields of Hyper Light Drifter and got my ass handed to me. Hooray!

Yes, the pastel palette and gorgeous character designs wrongfooted me again. It took three deaths to remind me that this isn't a Zelda-esque adventure, but instead a brutal combat game starring a little blue samurai who could snip Link's limbs off before the little green lad even had the time to yell "HEY!" It's the perfect degree of challenge for hour-long chunks of play, however, and the dodge-heavy Devil May Cry style combat works well with the fixed perspective. Both Hyper Light and Valley are good reminders that there's a rich vein of £15/$20 games on Steam these days. There’s little excuse to ever be bored again. 

Tom Marks: A lovely week

Boy, what a great week this was. Maybe it's just skewed by my birthday being this past Wednesday, but I can't remember ever having so many different things I could write about here. So I'll just write about them all.

Valve revealed that not only is it actually still making games, it's working on three full VR games right now. The developers of FTL revealed a sweet looking mech tactics game that James aptly described as being "Tom AF." Blizzard is adding a server browser with custom game modes to Overwatch, which is extremely unexpected, cool, and frankly, totally unnecessary for them to do given how successful that game already is. 

I've also been playing too many good games to count. I got access to the Gwent beta, which I'm enjoying considerably more than expected. I was gifted a copy of Steamworld Heist, a game I regrettably missed last year, and have quickly fallen in love with its bite-size XCOM style. And Tim, James, Chris, and I jumped into the Ghost Recon Wildlands beta last weekend, which turned out to be a bunch of silly, explosive fun, despite its obvious issues—like the laughable driving. 

It's been a pretty peachy week, here's hoping for another one!