Phil Savage: Bald ambition
It's me, the person who reviewed Hitman eight times. After months of caretaking—adding new featured contracts and challenge packs—IO Interactive is now teasing "new content" to be announced later this month. Naturally I'm happy for more new Hitman, but, more than anything, the pre-announcement announcement reminds me of what a weird and precarious thing Hitman's continued development is. When IO was cut loose from Square Enix, that could have easily been the end. It wasn't. IO retained ownership of their bald mascot and are free to push Hitman—more of a platform for sandbox assassinations than a standalone game—in new and interesting directions.
For me, though, the real high is that this announcement isn't a new season of Hitman. Which means I don't have to review it eight more times. (Yet.)
Tom Senior: I'll have desert
I worry about the pacing and reworked combat system in Assassin’s Creed: Origins, but I still enjoyed riding a horse around Ubisoft’s beautifully rendered vision of ancient Egypt. The scope is much greater than Syndicate and Unity, which both focused on highly detailed, dense urban environments. The areas I explored in the preview demo were much flatter than I’m used to in the series, but I enjoyed the smattering of small villages and colourful temples. The desert stretches, with their silky dunes and dynamic sandstorms, are especially beautiful, though lacking in hay bails to somersault into.
The finished game could turn out to exceed expectations, and it certainly still feels like an Assassin’s Creed game for fans of the series, but I was left with the feeling that Origins is an interim entry in a series trying to shift its design foundations closer to epic RPGs like The Witcher 3. Not that I would expect conversation trees anytime soon (though that would be cool, wouldn’t it? Maybe?). I’m glad the series is moving on. I’d love to see more big-budget games taking on historical settings.
Samuel Roberts: Battlefront is back
I'm always pleased to see people get excited about Star Wars Battlefront 2. No, not the one that's got a beta out this weekend—I mean the 2005 one, which this week had its multiplayer servers switched back on. Disney has been better for Star Wars than Lucasarts was so far, between the digital release of old games on GOG and Steam, and smart moves like this.
I'm surprised to see such love for Battlefront 2, given that it was a rough shooter even for the time, but it taps into that sandbox-y Star Wars experience better than anything else. Hopefully DICE took note for its own second stab at a Star Wars shooter.
Tyler Wilde: Act of mod
Half low, half high: I've been digging into the Divinity: Original Sin 2 mod tools, and they're great, if somewhat under-documented. The problem is that I haven't actually finished the game. Pulling back the curtain with mod tools as extensive as Divinity's spoils it, to a degree. I can see all the game's skills, all its items, all its locations, and though I've been trying not to look ahead too much, knowing how it all works makes it harder to bring myself back to playing, rather than creating. Now I look at every bit of dialogue, every encounter with an undead swordsman as an example project rather than a story I'm participating in. But with a little willpower I'm sure I'll return to the right mindset to finish it (actually I'm not sure, but I'll try) and then I'll turn my attention to whatever mod project I'm going to half-finish and never release this time. I got ahead of myself because I was so excited to find mod tools as complete and powerful as Divinity's—a rare thing to find at all, never mind at a game's launch, today.
Jarred Walton: a fine brew
Intel's 8th Generation Core processors are here, and they're kicking ass and chewing gum. Whether it's the new king of the hill Core i7-8700K, a 6-core/12-thread monster that makes last year's i7-7700K look like a has-been, or the new budget darling Core i5-8400, Coffee Lake is awesome. Which makes the fact that owners of existing LGA1151 / Z270 motherboards need an upgrade pretty rotten, but you can always sell the old and buy new.
Given the performance of Coffee Lake, you might be tempted to ask, "What took so long, Intel?" We've had 6-core 'enthusiast' processors since the Gulftown series in 2010 (eg, Core i7-980X), but mainstream Intel CPUs have been stuck at quad-core since 2007, a full decade. And the answer to the delay is simple: AMD wasn't competitive enough to push Intel. Ryzen is exactly the goose in the behind that Intel needed, and we got five new platforms this year as a result. As good as Coffee Lake is, we owe much of the thanks to AMD.
Tim Clark: Cord blimey
Reader, do you have a drawer stuffed with every kind of AV cable in Christendom? I have two. I also have a box stuffed with them under the bed, and another giant bag in the closet. I could cosplay as Medusa but with DVI cables for hair, no problem. And if this whole writing about games thing doesn't work out, I could make a living doing a Japanese rope bondage with Display Port leads. So of course I was delighted to learn that this week that there's an entirely new kind of HDMI cable, which for the eye-watering sum of $119 promises to reduce jaggies thanks to an anti-aliasing chip embedded in the cable itself.
Obviously it sounds like absolute snake oil, but preliminary testing elsewhere suggests there might be something in it. You're likely going to want to use one of these with a console or other AV device, rather than your state of the art gaming PC, but I'm still keen to try one. And I say that despite the fact I recently upgraded all the HDMI cables in our home to HDCP 2.2 spec to play nicely with our 4K TV. That's why the drawer keeps getting fed. There's always another cable to add it it. There should be some drawer law that works like Moore's. When I depart this world I want to be floated out to sea in a wicker basket made from Micro USB leads.