This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE LOWS

Samuel Roberts: Rating Sonic

Among my terrible errors as UK editor-in-chief of PC Gamer this week was getting my entire team to rank the Sonic games from best to worst—terrible because the games in question stop being good after the first four or so entries, and then gradually drive us mad over the course of thousands of words until we finally reached Sonic 3D Blast at the bottom of the list.

You can find the whole ordeal here. We wrote this because Sonic Mania came out this week, which has pleasingly turned out to be great after always-on DRM was patched out of the game shortly after release.

James Davenport: Sonic Nay-nia

I enjoyed nearly every moment of Sonic Mania up until the Lava Reef Zone levels. Those little rock critters that stop your momentum and explode truly suck. Both zones suck. They’re ugly and drag on for far too long. And that final boss, which I won’t detail to avoid spoilers, spoiled the experience completely. With too much misleading fanfare, it made me think I had to be far more clever than necessary. Nope. Just a bad hitbox hunt.

Why are there bad levels in Sonic Mania? Everything else is so great. If it were up to me, I would have expressed that I think the decision to include bad levels is not good. I don’t care if they would have fired me for speaking out against bad levels, but I won’t be silenced. I’m taking a stand.

Tom Senior: karate kid

Absolver is cool, but as a learning experience it’s kinda horrible. You’re thrown into hybrid co-op/competitive spaces and asked to work out most of the game through trial and error in a series of claustrophobic areas that seem to be designed to cause confusion. I like the idea of learning fighting styles through combat, and learning how the different classes work, but basic questions like ‘what does it mean when that guy flashes blue’ should be answered in-game.

Luckily I have Tyler’s useful beginner’s tips to help me through. Beyond the tough opening hour or so there’s an absorbing, tactical fighting game about building combos and honing your own style. 

Jarred Walton: Two months

It’s great the Destiny 2 is coming to PC, and we won’t have to wait too long, but two months? The three days I had with the early access beta wasn’t nearly enough. Which is probably the point. Also, having the beta expire and the game kick me to the main menu right in the middle of benchmarking was a downer. Destiny 2 is coming out on consoles next week, and by all appearances, the delay has more to do with console exclusivity than debugging and optimization, which are never really finished regardless of how long you wait. Basically, I want Destiny 2 on PC right now, not in October. Let’s all blame the pirates for the delay.

Tim Clark: Nature boys

I’ve held off writing my usual post-release evaluation of the new Hearthstone expansion because I’m so certain that Blizzard is going to nerf one or more of the new Druid cards—probably once the various regional Summer playoffs are out of the way. As Frank Lepore wrote for us this week, the problem with Druid is that Ultimate Infestation enables you to play all the ramp cards without worrying about your hand running dry, while Spreading Plague shores up the class’s weakness against aggressive boards. It’s okay for Druid to be able to do one of these things, but not both. Lower down the ladder where I live, the amount of Druid is just about tolerable, but at the higher ranks it’s ridiculous. Check out Paul “Zalae” Nemeth’s match tracker stats to see how bad it’s got:

I wonder if Knights of the Frozen Throne’s problems don’t run a little deeper than Druid though. Despite loving the design of the Death Knights, I’ve found my interest in this expansion waning faster than expected. I think a big part of that might be down to the fact that the last set was accompanied by a set rotation, which makes for a much more seismic meta shift. As things stand, barring the addition of Big Priest, the best decks are all souped-up versions of archetypes that were already dominant: Aggro Druid, Jade Druid, Murloc Paladin and Pirate Warrior. Just typing that makes me not want to queue up anytime soon. I remain convinced Blizzard needs to find a way to massage the meta with small card drops between the bigger sets, but there’s no sign of it happening soon. 

Joe Donnelly: Zzzzzz

Gamescom has ended me. So tired. Eyelids heavy. Sleepy. Itchy. Tasty.