This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE HIGHS

Tom Senior: Responsible guardian

Destiny 2 is out on consoles and a lot of us are playing it right now to mine its secrets ahead of the big PC launch next month. I’m about two-thirds of the way through the story and would echo everything that Tim said about it this week. It improves on pretty much every aspect of Destiny 1, and as a fan of colourful, epic sci-fi I’ve been well served by Bungie’s new worlds so far. I love the way the factions bring their architectural influences into areas they occupy, and the Titan arcology is my new favourite place in games.

I’ve been nerding out over the small details with an eye on how they’ll play out on PC. There are way more particle effects, which means explosions are dazzling. There seem to be more dynamic light sources too; your grenades illuminate the environment as they sail toward some poor alien’s face. I’m not normally too fussed about frame rates as long as a game is playable, but I think 60 frames is a big deal for Destiny 2 where your shots feel crisper and movement is more fluid. Bungie are masters at making guns feel amazing, and the extra power of the PC is only going to bolster their efforts. 

Samuel Roberts: Okami on PC

As Capcom rattles through its back catalogue and brings more classics to PC, Okami feels like one of the most glaring opportunities. This Zelda-like game from Clover Studio has a gorgeous watercolour aesthetic that would look amazing on a 4K monitor.

Luckily, it looks like this is on the cards in the near future. This week, a ratings board may have leaked the existence of a PC version, over a decade after its original release on PS2. I can't wait to play it again, and I'm glad Capcom has salvaged it from the archives yet again. Now, when's God Hand coming to PC?  

James Davenport: No more tree puns

I’m obsessed with background objects in videogames, the scenery and props that make a 3D environment appear natural. In my story on where videogame trees come from, I talked to Chris King, the co-founder of SpeedTree to learn about how he got into the business of making software to generate and render forests. 

He was a great guy to chat with, and has some incredible anecdotes about the surprising places SpeedTree has been used. I love looking at the gorgeous trees of The Witcher 3 and knowing they share some digital DNA with White House lawn renders commissioned by the US Secret Service. Or that the trees in the latest Star Wars movies come from the same place as those in a sketch from an episode of Sesame Street. I’ve yet to get a confirmation or find a source in the know, but SpeedTree was also allegedly used to generate CG pubic hairs in 50 Shades of Grey. King denies knowledge of SpeedTree’s use for such a purpose, but I want to spend the rest of my days believing. 

Joe Donnelly: Mod-ular space stations

I only became aware of the Grand Theft Space mod when Andy reported on it a few weeks ago. First teased in January, it's now launched in full—complete with a neat cinematic that boasts space shuttles, planets, and hostile aliens being shot at with semi-automatic weapons. In practice, it doesn't quite look as flashy as the trailers—check out YouTube person Acepilot2k7's playthrough via our news story—however it does look pretty cool, not to mention the fact it adds a new explorable area to GTA 5's now familiar map. 

Most interestingly, the mod's creators stress Grand Theft Space is not intended to be mission-based, but "more of a platform for experienced developers to integrate scripts/maps/and other things into the DLC in order to create content and expand the community experience." I'm looking forward to seeing this one evolve. 

Tyler Wilde: Kentucky en route

Kentucky Route Zero may be the slowest going episodic game ever. The first episode released in 2013, and the fifth episode isn't out yet. But it's also one of the best adventure games made, even in its unfinished state. I knew the final act was coming—despite the long waits, the devs keep coming through—but it's nice to have confirmation that it's officially scheduled for early 2018. And presumably with the console deadline at the same time, there's a lower chance of delays. I've put off playing the most recent act so that I could enjoy the whole thing at once, and I can't wait to be able to remove the 'unfinished' caveat from my recommendation next year.

Wes Fenlon: That NetHack high

If you've heard me on the podcast anytime recently, you've probably heard I've been getting back into playing NetHack, the grand mack daddy of all roguelikes. There was Rogue, but NetHack is the evolved, far more complex successor, which you can play for free online at NetHack.alt.org. The cool thing about playing on the server is the possibility of stumbling upon another player's remains. Last night, while already in the midst of the best NetHack run I've ever had, I hit the motherlode. I found a player's body with some buffed +3 silver dragon scale armor, which is incredibly strong and also helps reflect magical attacks. He also had a bag filled with more than 100 items, including a shitload of scrolls, potions, food, and about 50,000 gold. 

To put that in perspective, across the several hours I'd already spent in this run, I'd probably scraped together about 10,000. It was so much gold, I was burdened as soon as I picked it up. But that was okay. I took my newfound loot back to a temple, donated most of the money to a friendly priest to earn a little intrinsic protection from the gods, and am now geared up to tackle dungeon depths I've never before experienced.