This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE LOWS

James Davenport: Destiny queue

Great news! The Destiny 2 beta goes live early next week! But only for console players. Yeah, I know, the PC version is launching October 24, almost two months after the console versions, but having already played the PC version a few times, I’m choosing to be entitled and peeved about it. Give me a few minutes to catch my breath and I’ll be OK. I just want the skeptics to give it a go so we can get past the era of commenters reminding me that the original Density was shallow at launch. Yes! Yes, I know, but—

I’m not even sure what I’m complaining about. I have a PS4 and a beta code. Expect takes. Anyway, the PC beta still has a wishy-washy ‘August’ date, which means it could be any day between 1 and 31. Is it 12? Hmm. Might be. 27? Gives me a good vibe, but feels a bit late. I’ll settle on 11. Yeah, 11. See you then.  

Bo Moore: Involuntary Silence

Earlier this week, professional Heroes of the Storm streamer and all-around great guy Grubby was silenced by Blizzard's auto-moderation system. For those unaware, Grubby is known for squashing any bit of toxicity in his games and streams, so it was a bit of tragic irony for him to be caught by a system intended to shut down the very behavior he himself doesn't tolerate. The flag was due to some salty players falsely reporting him for allegedly toxic behavior. Obviously, the situation won't affect most players, but it unfortunately highlights how Blizzard's auto-silence moderation tool can be abused, especially against well-known players like Grubby.  

Wes Fenlon: Gone, but remembered

A few days ago, a unique experimental game named Moirai was taken down from Steam. Trolling and hacking made it impractical for the creators to keep it online, and that's a real shame. As Shaun laid out in this great feature on Moirai, it was a surprisingly interesting and powerful game despite its simple graphics and short 10 minute playtime. You can't play it anymore, but you can at least read about what it did, and why it inspired a small community of people to play it over and over again.

Tom Senior: Last orders

The real low this week is that PC Gamer UK’s favourite pub closed this week and the aftereffects of our final session there—powered by a devastating medium sweet perry called Beesting—are still being felt today. It has left me wondering what PC Gamer’s gaming local ought to be. We have rounded up the best pubs in PC games before, and my vote would go to the Kickstand from Full Throttle, or a grubby corner of the Scumm Bar.

On balance, games are bad at simulating convincing social spaces. Crowds present technical challenges of course, but even small bars tend to lack any of the atmosphere of the real thing—take Mass Effect’s bars and clubs as a case in point. Hitman and Assassin’s Creed Unity have some of the best crowd technology around. Both games use it well to create packed scenes that actually felt populated—an illusion sustained by convincing crowd noise. Perhaps that’s all I really want from game bars, some proper pub hubbub. Try saying that three times quickly after a Beesting. 

Tim Clark: The big not so friendly giant

Dire Wolf Digital is currently looking at adjusting the power of Belligerent Giant, one of my favourite cards in The Elder Scrolls: Legends, and you can be sure as shit that doesn’t mean they’re making it more powerful. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, Belligerent Giant has been an absolute staple in red decks, and especially my beloved Midrange Archer. The other cards getting nerfed—Praetorian Commander, Echo of Akatosh, and Bringer of Nightmares—are all from the new Heroes of Skyrim set, and have each generated sizable amounts of salt. But Belligerent Giant is an OG, and seems to have fallen foul of just being really powerful and versatile card. Hopefully they just remove the Breakthrough keyword, which would stop it from being so effective in Unstoppable Rage combos. I guess I’ll know soon enough. Until then, sleep well, my sweet, bald, beardy prince.   

Andy Kelly: Boss nasty

Although I sang the praises of Mad Max in my high this week, it's guilty of a particular game design crime that has become a pet hate of mine over the years. Some of the bosses you fight will call in regular enemies to help them, and this always makes me furious when it happens. It feels like such a cheap, lazy way to make a boss fight more challenging, and it's almost always extremely frustrating to deal with. There's nothing fun about having to listlessly fend off groups of generic goons as you slowly whittle the big guy's health down.

I've always hated boss battles. It's an area of game design that really hasn't changed much since the old days. Enemies with litres of HP and repeating attack patterns you have to exploit. There's no excuse for it. Just look at the Metal Gear Solid series. Just about every boss battle in those games has some interesting twist or gimmick. And they actually become a highlight of the game because of it, rather than a tiresome chore you'd rather avoid.

It's time for boss battles to get interesting again. No more beefy enemies you have to trick into charging into conveniently placed explosive barrels. No more bullet sponges. No more tentacle beasts with glowing weak points. No more giant trolls whose back you have to jump on after weakening them. Let's make bosses genuinely intimidating and enjoyable to fight. And if we really do have to fight them, let us face them alone, mano a mano.