This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE HIGHS

Samuel Roberts: Steam sale!

The more Steam sales come and go, the more you see people saying that they've pretty much picked everything up they'll ever have time to play now. But I still love it. This week I picked up roguelike horror game Darkwood, and there are at least five other things I've got in my basket ready to pick up (bank account permitting). The novelty never goes away for me. There's always a couple of cool things that fall through the cracks with PC gaming, and this is the best chance to fix that.

What will you be picking up this weekend, and what have you already dropped cash on over the Black Friday period? Has the majesty of Steam sales worn off for you?

Joe Donnelly: Flare play

While not guaranteed, this week saw an intrepid PUBG dataminer uncover several weapon models and icons that might eventually find their way into the final game. A Winchester rifle, Rhino revolver and sawn-off shotgun all look pretty neat, however the idea of handling flare guns really excites me. 

Certain commenters beneath our news story questioned the practicality of a flare gun in the battle royale shooter’s open spaces. I agree, this probably won’t serve much purpose, but can you imagine the chaos you could wield within the game’s interiors or similarly tight spaces? I often find myself up off my chair in a fit of panic when staring down another player’s pistol fire while camped in a bathroom—throwing flares into that mix would be total carnage. 

Tim Clark: Unlimited sky

One of the joys of being nominally in charge of this web site is that if I suggest something, and then complain about it enough, eventually someone will get around to doing it. In this case, I’ve been asking for a feature on the most beautiful PC skyboxes for quite some time, and today up popped Andy Kelly, (because who else could do it justice?), with this feature. It’s better than I dared hope—a perfect mix of Constable-quality clouds and Spielbergian god rays—and also a remarkable reminder that many of the best games also have the best skies.

James Davenport: Banner Boy

I’m going to get out ahead of Tim’s bad take in the lows here and make the wild claim that Destiny 2’s PvP is just fine. I play solo all the time, and while the 4v4 format on small maps with long corridors do encourage team play, I don’t think the Crucible is predictable or boring. I love slowly poking forward with a partner or two, waiting to see which team is going to fire the first bullet before kicking off a chaotic firefight. I’m always thinking about their entire team’s position in relation to our own, and how to slowly ebb out in one direction to perform some kind of lazy pincer maneuver, or to take them by surprise from behind. Sure, the radar sort takes the punch out of a nice flank, but I’d likely be more annoyed by an assured stream of death from a particularly sneaky lone wolf. 

That said, I can’t comprehend why Destiny 2’s crucible can’t account for more formats. I suppose Bungie’s design has a slim, competitive PvP in mind, but I’d rather they embrace their low-grav arena origins and open the floodgates to more playful, chaotic modes. At least give us custom matches. Also, give me the damn Iron Banner Warlock helm already. And a back massage. And this month’s rent, while we’re at it. 

Andy Chalk: Square Enix loves Io

It would be easy enough to dismiss Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda's explanation for handing Hitman back to Io Interactive as nothing more than smart, sharp marketing—a way to come out of a bad situation looking like a good guy. But I don't care. Isn't it nice sometimes to sit back and think, "Yup, that's a good guy doing a good thing," without immediately diving face-first into cynicism?

"I believe it wouldn't be Hitman unless it was Hitman made by Io," he said. "I love the game, and I believe the fans of Hitman think it's only Hitman if it's made by Io. So I thought that was the best way for the game to continue, and that's why we were supportive of the MBO and of course didn't mind if they continued to use the IP."

Damn right. That's a good guy, doing a good thing.

Andy Kelly: The write stuff

I've been revisiting Fez this week for a magazine feature, and man, I love Fez. Specifically how some of its more arcane puzzles have you reaching for a pen and paper. I always love it when a game has me writing things down, because there's something magical about the virtual world leaking into reality, even just a little. Her Story and Stories Untold are more recent examples of games where I ended up with a load of scribbled paper scattered around my desk, and I'd love to see more of that. It makes you feel like you're REALLY solving a puzzle.

It's a damn shame Fez 2 was jettisoned into space. I've finished the original two and a half times now, and I feel like I've pretty much exhausted it. I need more mind-bending puzzles, more weird languages to decrypt, and more perspective-shifting platforming. But there's probably more chance of The Smiths reforming than Fez 2 being released, so I'm gonna let that dream float away into the night. Luckily the indie scene on PC is rich with similarly clever, puzzle-filled games, but Fez had a particular magic that I'd love to experience again.