This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Each week the PC Gamer team engage in a process dubbed '2Hot2Take' in our Gcal.

The highs

Samuel Roberts: Scene of the crime

Last week I got to play a few hours of Mafia 3, and today I published my impressions from the demo. In short, it’s a pretty big change for the long-running, infrequently-released open world crime series, but I’m enjoying it so far. It’s much more of an open world game than the previous two—both of which I enjoyed, the first more than the second at the time of release—and its version of New Orleans is really something to gaze upon.
I was pleasantly surprised by it, basically, despite not really having it on my radar before. Check out my preview and see what you think.

Joe Donnelly: Kingdom commitment

Warhorse Studios’ commitment to realism in its upcoming non-fantasy RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance never fails to impress me. Besides previously demonstrating how the game’s sophisticated multi-layered armour will work in practice, the Czech team has also showcased its uber-realistic first-person combat setup which, after going hands-on earlier this year, Chris described as “beautiful in a starkly naturalistic sense.” 

Perhaps a touch less poetic—although no less genuine—is the Weapons Vs Armour presentation Warhorse put out this week. It dispels some common misconceptions about medieval combat and the durability of combatant armour, as the studio’s Daniel Vávra explains that full-plate armour was not easily pierced, despite how other games and film have often portrayed it. In a typical display of authenticity, Warhorse then has a sword expert go to town with an armour-sporting mannequin and you should totally check out the results.

Magic and dragons are cool, sure, but I’m really looking forward to Kingdom Come: Deliverance’s dose of realism.

Chris Thursten: Ryder’s in the sky

I watched this week's Sony conference out of idle curiosity and then sat bolt upright when I realised that they'd be showing proper Mass Effect Andromeda footage. Not much, mind, but something: enough to know that this would be a game about walking through alien ruins with lots of waist-high cover listening to soothing electronica and pressing 'use' on alien plinths. And what lovely plinths. Also! Companions that say things! Implicit mystery! Great thundering sci-fi Capitalised Words! None of this is surprising, and it could probably push the spaceship out a little further. But I find it extremely comforting to have this exact sort of game back. Lock me in a fridge until next year, please.

Tyler Wilde: Forging ahead

I will eat a shoe if Halo 6 doesn’t release on Windows 10—Phil Spencer didn’t say it directly at E3, but he said it, and sometimes you have to read cautious PR speak for what it is. Halo 5 will not release on PC, however, because Microsoft says it’s looking ahead. And just as it released a freebie with Forza Motorsport 6: Apex in the leadup to releasing the full Forza Horizons 3, it’s released the Halo 5 Forge editor for free this week, which is a clear message—plus, it’s a good bit of fun, according to Wes

I haven’t been able to play around with it yet, but despite it not really being the game, being able to make maps and play them with friends is a nice start. I’m not often optimistic about Microsoft—and I still question whether things like the Windows Store, Xbox app, and Universal Windows Platform, which it says are for our benefit, aren’t really much more for Microsoft’s benefit—but I’m glad they’re back on the scene. Microsoft has published some great games in its history. It might not ever reclaim the hearts of Age of Empires players from the pre-Xbox days, but great games are great games and I’ll take ‘em.

Evan Lahti: Breathe deeply

Following in the footsteps of Dwarf Fortress and others before it, Klei’s deceptively cartoony colony simulation game seems to be striving for absurd levels of fidelity. As Tom showed us on our show earlier this week, Oxygen Not Included includes the most elaborate oxygen simulation ever. Air propagates and moves around, and your asteroid miners emit CO2. This isn’t abstracted down to an ‘air meter’—it’s measured in kilograms. Food isn’t ‘health,’ it’s measured as a unit of energy, in calories produced and consumed. Temperature manifests in a similar way: power batteries, for example, generate heat that might make your miners uncomfortable. 

Does this level of detail translate to fun? Tom and James certainly thought so: ONI was their favorite game at PAX. I think that revealing the intricate math going on in the background makes a lot of sense in a space-themed colony sim. It sends the idea that the game itself is transparent—your success or failure is right there, tallied in hard data, and you have to interpret it.

Chris Livingston: Scheme Park

As sometimes happens when I play games populated by teeny tiny NPCs, I lost sight of the bigger picture while playing the promising Planet Coaster alpha and began to obsessively focus on two of my park guests. Granted, my park was already a stupid mess—I was trying to build it without actually incorporating any rides—but when I noticed a couple of guests were trying to leave without spending all of their money, I decided to trap them in the park until they bought a hat.

This battle of wits—which featured a distinct lack of wits—lasted a couple weeks of in-game time and resulted in me grudgingly admitting a loss to the determined and resilient guests. On the plus side, Planet Coaster is looking really nice in alpha, and I’ve got high hopes for the full release in November.

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