This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The highs

Tim Clark: I have played it, and it is good

After playing Destiny 2 on PC yesterday, I can safely say that it’s surpassed my expectations. And those were stratospheric. I didn’t expect it to look this good or feel this right. Bungie has used some kind of alchemical magic to transplant its silky gunplay to mouse and keyboard, adding precision without sacrificing the that elusive vibe the studio’s shooters have. And without wanting to engage in tedious format bashing, the difference in seeing it run at 60fps (the final version will be uncapped) on a 4K monitor was night and day over the PS4 Pro. But hey, don’t just take my word for it. Listen to what Datto, the prominent YouTuber whose Destiny 1 recap video I shared earlier this week, had to say about the PC version at the event. In short: Blown away.

James, Tom and I will be setting our own thoughts to video on Monday (sadly the footage is PS4, as they weren’t allowing PC capture yet). Meanwhile, you can catch up with everything we know and get some immediate hands-on impressions. Oh, and you better believe I’m making plans for the PC Gamer clan. The carries will be real.  

Andy Kelly: Spring to life

I've been playing spooky puzzle-platformer Little Nightmares (here’s our review), and I'm amazed by how much fine, hand-crafted detail is in the game. There are so many nice little touches, like when you stand under a leak and hear the water tapping at the girl's raincoat. Or the way she stumbles slightly when you run into junk on the ground. Stuff that doesn't really matter, but makes for a wonderfully tactile, convincing world.

But mostly I love this mattress. Look at it! I don't know why developer Tarsier Studios felt the need to give this mundane prop such an appealing, realistic springiness. But it did, and I'm glad, 'cause there's something strangely satisfying about the way it goes all squishy and springy when the girl walks on it. I'm a sucker for incidental details like this.

Tyler Wilde: Drive by AI

Charles is a neural network and a terrible driver. He’s much worse than the standard ‘AI’ drivers in GTA who dutifully stop at red lights and usually stay roughly on the road. That’s because Charles, like us, is trying to drive based only on what he sees in the game (except at a low resolution). I don’t claim to understand exactly what makes it all work, but it’s weirdly enjoyable to watch on Twitch.

Not only is watching someone else play games popular, now we’re watching computer programs play games—ironic, but still fascinating. I wonder how long a neural net could survive in Devil Daggers? It would defeat the spirit of the game, in a way, but I can’t say I wouldn’t watch it learn and succeed where I haven’t been able to (my best run is pathetic). I’d love to see a game designed not to be played by humans—too hard—but to be beaten through machine learning systems designed by players, as absurd of a concept as it is.

Joe Donnelly: Own goals, no more
Despite the fact this is something I shouldn't need to be excited about, the news that Konami is taking its PC port of Pro Evolution Soccer a little more seriously this year has me pumped. Ever since first playing ISS Pro on the original PlayStation my allegiances have been with PES—even with its non-license and often ridiculous made up names, club teams and badges. FIFA feels much more like the real deal—or at least a more realistic simulation of how we watch football on the telly—yet Pro Ev has always been the better of the two for me, not least in recent years. 

Except it's always been a bit shit on PC. Too often fed a sub-par last-gen version of the latest offering, it seems players' grievance has been heard with Konami now promising the PC iteration will be "to the standard of the leading console iteration" that has "undergone substantial improvements in terms of aesthetics and content, ensuring the game enjoys parity with the current gen formats." 

I guess we'll wait and see.  

Chris Livingston: Con, man

I was in Sweden over the weekend for PDXCon, and Paradox Interactive put on a good show. It was the first PDXCon to open its doors to the public instead of just the media, and as opposed to something like PAX or QuakeCon it was a smaller affair for fans, numbering in the hundreds instead of thousands, which made for a somewhat more intimate setting than a sprawling, jam-packed convention center. The convention was held on the islet of Riddarholm in Stockholm, just a stone's throw from Riddarholm Church, built in the 13th century and one of Stockholm's oldest buildings. Pretty much the perfect spot for a party thrown by the developer and publisher of historical strategy games.

I'm sure some members of the games media are skeptical of more cons, like E3, opening their doors to the public, but I think it's kind of great. Maybe it makes our jobs a little harder, but I enjoy seeing developers meeting and mixing with fans. When I attended QuakeCon, it was fun to see people like Marty Stratton chatting with players instead of reporters all weekend, and I felt the same at PDXCon, watching members of Paradox and their development partners talking directly to the people who buy their games. Plus, when it got a little too crowded, I could just walk outside and look at a really old church for a bit.

James Davenport: Cat Fantastic

Tim’s taking care of my Destiny 2 take already and I can’t talk about anything from my time at E3 Judges Week quite yet, so instead, I’ll introduce you to my new favorite PC gaming friend. Meet Charlie, the kitten my SO and I adopted last week. He’s pretty feisty most of the day and likes to attack my mouse hand when I’m playing an FPS, but he’ll just as easily get transfixed by the colors and movement on-screen. He can’t stand anything below 100Hz though. So far, his tick rate has been pretty low, which has been reassuring. Still, lag has been an issue. He’s a bit clumsy and when he pounces to attack our hand, the little guy leaps at where my hand was two seconds ago. I’ve been pumping plenty of good food into him though, so his chassis will get bigger for more developed components soon enough.