Tom Marks: Battlefield Fun
I haven't really played a Battlefield game since Bad Company 2, but found myself strangely excited for Battlefield 1. I wasn't too interested in Battlefield 4's big city setting, and even less so when Hardline leaned further into that idea, so going back in time (further than most expected) is incredibly refreshing to me—and many others, I think.
I've now played and a bit of the multiplayer through the Origin Access trial that went live this week, and I'm having a blast. I've played so much Overwatch lately, that I forgot how chaotic and lethal the Battlefield series is. I missed the scale and destructibility of the matches, and particularly enjoy the Battlefield series for being a shooter that isn't all about your K/D. Staying with your squad, dropping some health or ammo, Spotting some flankers, and then dying without a kill can still be a spawn well spent. It's exciting to rediscover the rhythm I loved in Bad Company 2 in a new (and extremely pretty) setting.
Also, I got to drive a huge train. My left mouse click turned into a train whistle. That may have been the most fun I've had in an online game in years.
Joe Donnelly: Battlefield 1’s tiny guns
The pre-release hype tied to big budget games is often a serious process. ‘Hey you, look at what our game can do that other games can't,’ we’re told; marvel at how sophisticated our AI is compared to our competitors; measure our maps against their teeny tiny playgrounds—it often becomes so tit for tat that it's a breath of fresh air when something less serious, silly even, comes along.
This isn't exactly official pre-release hype (although I am excited to try it for myself), but DICE's decision to include one of the smallest guns in the history of guns in Battlefield 1 is just fantastic. I don't imagine the 2mm Kolibri pistol will manage to slaughter too many soldiers—hey, it might break the skin, I dunno—but just .
Tim Clark: Accepting your Destiny
I was back in the old country last week, which doesn’t appear to have been overrun by roaming Purge-style gangs wearing Nigel Farage facemasks. There’s still time, I suppose. But that meant I didn’t get the chance to opine on the rumour that next year will see Bungie bring . Last time I mentioned my illicit addiction to space wizard MMO-ing, it drew a particularly hostile response here from people who’d either heard the game was shit and simply decided to go with it, or those who’ve sampled Destiny but rejected the experience like a hastily-transplanted pig liver.
I’m not about to try and persuade either group otherwise, but I would like you to note that based on the couple of years I’ve spent in the game, I’m indecently confident that Destiny will be a sensation if the sequel does come to PC. I even like the suggestion that it’ll involve a clean break with the original game, including a complete reset of characters and gear. Because even though I’ve accumulated quite the trove of guns and armor, see above, casting everything aside will make the transition to PC even more compelling. Bookmark this page, friends. Because I’ll remind you of it when we’re raiding together in 2017.
Phil Savage: 1440, Please
Who says PC gaming is expensive? Me, right now, as I've just finished spending upwards of £1,500 on upgrading my rig. Luckily, it was worth it—I'm expecting the i5-6600K and GTX 1070 to keep things running smoothly for the next few years. By far the best purchase, though, was the monitor: an ASUS PG279Q. This is my first taste of a 2160x1440 screen, and my first 165 Hz monitor. It makes a remarkable difference. Even playing older games—ones that ran perfectly on Ultra on my previous graphics card—feel better, as they benefit from the higher refresh rate.
Honestly, it makes PC gaming feel exciting again—I'm now constantly browsing through my Steam library, launching games just to see what they look like. I'm not suggesting everybody rushes out and drops £700 on a monitor. But it's important to remember the difference a good screen can make.
James Davenport: Thump in the night
Thumper is out and it’s pretty great! For those who don’t know, it’s an eerie rhythm game where you control a metallic scarab as is careens down a nightmare dimension beat highway. I haven’t finished it, but at about halfway through, I’m loving the feeling that something is terribly, terribly wrong, and for a music game to do that—well, I didn’t expect it. Thumper gets so intense and strange that it feels like you’re trying to survive the final psychedelic scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Every level adds a new rhythmic rule, a slow enough pace to give muscle memory time to catch up. At first, you only need to worry about tapping a button and sliding around corners in sync with the rhythm, but later levels add more lanes to switch between, a flight mechanic, and get much, much faster. And I can’t speak to what it’ll look like in a Rift or Vive, but I sampled the VR mode in a PSVR headset and it’s one of the best VR experiences I’ve had yet. Abstract synesthesia. If you like music, or even horror games at all, give it a chance.
Chris Livingston: How the west was run
Watching HBO's Westworld? The sci-fi drama series (originally a film from 1973) takes place in a futuristic 'amusement' park (think Jurassic Park, but with android cowboys instead of dinosaurs). Among other things, it's a pretty good approximation of open world gaming. In the second episode, a new visitor stops to talk to a grizzled prospector—an NPC— who immediately asks him for help with a task, promising riches at the end of it. A side-quest, in other words. The prospector even tracks him down later in a restaurant to badger him about completing the quest, just like those annoying onscreen notifications we see in games.
The newcomer doesn't accept the quest (a bit of violence prevents him from doing so), but if he had I guarantee the prospector would have uttered the inevitable words "I've marked it on your map."