This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Each week the PC Gamer team stops, drops, and rolls because their takes are so hot.

The highs

Phil Savage: Running smoothly

Forza Horizon 3 is a brilliant, open world racer, and one of my favourite games of the year. You can read my early Xbox One impressions here. Short version: it's a fantastic, accessible romp through varied, beautiful terrain, with a handling model that finds the right balance between arcade and simulation.

Since publishing, I've gained access to the PC build. It's demanding—Microsoft isn't kidding around with its system requirements—but now I've had a taste of Horizon running at 60 frames-per-second, I can't go back. As much as I love to make fun of The Framerate Police, this is a racing game, so that smoothness conveys an unparalleled sense of speed. The difference between the Xbox One and PC versions is pronounced. This is Forza Horizon 3 how it's meant to be played. You can expect a full, PC-specific review on Monday.

Chris Livingston: Tour guide

I liked Firewatch, but I often have trouble returning to story-driven games because once I've been through a story, I feel like however it played out through the choices I made, well, that was the story. That's how it happened, good or bad, and even if it can happen differently in subsequent playthroughs, it feels strange to alter or overwrite my memory of how things went down the first time.

It'd be nice to return to Firewatch, though, because it's such a beautiful place to roam around, so I'm happy to see there is an upcoming audio tour update with developer commentary. It gives me a good reason to go back, learn about the making of the game, and enjoy the beautiful scenery all over again.

James Davenport: Fightin' tall

Earlier this week, I got to visit Respawn Entertainment and play an entire day of Titanfall 2’s complete multiplayer and damn, it’s really good. The pilot is so lithe and easy to control that even though I’m not the best in shootouts, they’re good fun to jump around the arena with. And because there are other ways to contribute—shooting NPC grunts, capturing points, and so on—I was always able to build up my titan meter. The ability to summon a giant robot exoskeleton from the sky is one hell of a pat on the back.

It may not sound much different from the original Titanfall, and in concept it’s not. But the addition of six class-based mechs, over a dozen new weapons, and customization options is likely enough to keep me around longer than the first time. That, and a complete single-player campaign makes Titanfall 2 a pretty big game. Only one month left until we can all dig in.

Evan Lahti: Shameless self-promotion

I'm going to do a jerk thing and use this space to praise some of the fun, well-researched, and great writing we've put up this week. Tuan went through the effort of documenting his path to getting fiber internet, which is the only time (in my eight-year history at least) that a PC Gamer contributor has torn up a street in service of our craft. Wes shepherded this terrific explainer from mod god Durante about what 'optimization,' a term so often bandied about on Reddit threads, actually means. James turned around this deep, smart hands-on take on Titanfall 2 while recovering from a cold, and Luke turned in an insightful story about community managers, the silent heroes behind the what feels like ever-occurring outrage sweeping different gaming scenes. Good stuff, everyone.


Tyler Wilde: I am an NBA star

Earlier this week, I scanned my mug into NBA 2K17 to create a hideous, awful basketball player—the worst ever drafted to the NBA. As much as I make fun of the game and my own inability to play it right, I had a lot of fun. I haven’t always liked basketball, but over the past five years or so my love of sports finally expanded beyond hockey. It takes time to understand a new sport, though, and I’d hardly trust myself to analyze an NBA player’s ability or a coach’s decisions just yet. But that’s something cool about sports games, which I think I’ve said before: outside of actually playing the sport, which I don’t know my deplorable fitness could handle, games are a great way to immerse oneself in the rules and techniques, to learn what’s going on in an engaging way. Games aren’t perfect simulations, obviously, but maybe my appreciation will grow a little this season if I can figure out what the hell I’m doing in NBA 2K17.

Joe Donnelly: Lovecraft daft

RimWorld can be a beautiful game in one moment, and one that makes you want to down a litre of whisky and form your own cannibalistic cult in the next. I’ve teetered dangerously close to the former on more than a few occasions, but it’s the unpredictable nature of its accelerated moments of peril that keep me coming back for more. For those uninitiated, these events are dictated by a preset Storyteller AI, each with its own traits, idiosyncrasies and potentially catastrophic tendencies. At one end of the spectrum you have Phoebe Chillax, a raconteur who allows long recovery periods between disasters, and at the other, you find Randy Random, who essentially does what he wants. 

So when you add H.P. Lovecraft to the roster of storytellers via Jecrell’s aptly named H.P. Lovecraft Storyteller Mod, you’re in for a rough ride. When I wrote about it during the week I hadn’t had the chance to properly try the mod out, beyond making sure it worked. I have now. And I’ve hardly slept since. And it’s fantastic. Good luck if you decide to give it a spin this weekend.

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