This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Star Wars Battlefront


Samuel Roberts: Feed me more Star Wars

This week, brilliant voice actor Nolan North managed to hint at The Last of Us 2, revealed that Naughty Dog got rid of eight months of work to make PS4 exclusive Uncharted 4 and even discussed Visceral’s as-yet unannounced Star Wars game (which speculation suggests will feature Han Solo). Naturally only the last part is relevant to us, but North singlehandedly made a slow news week for the games media into a busy one.

“If you're a big fan of Amy Hennig and her style of story, she's gone to EA and is going to reboot a brand new Star Wars franchise in the style of Uncharted," North said at Metrocon last weekend, before saying it’s ‘along the same lines’ as Star Wars 1313 but ‘different’. It’s pretty exciting. The Uncharted games were excellent, and while 1313 looked like a kind of boring cover shooter, it tapped into the idea of exploring Star Wars’ seedy side, as the once-mooted live-action TV show was going to. I know Battlefront is imminent, but I don’t want to wait years for the next Star Wars game—months will be just fine, thank you. I can’t wait to see what Hennig is working on.

Wes Fenlon: A knight to remember

The new King's Quest, from Winterbottom developer The Odd Gentlemen, begins its episodic rollout at the end of July. And I'm ready to love King's Quest again. I got to see a demo back in March that showed the silliness of old King's Quest humor was still intact. My big question was how much of the adventure game DNA would remain. The demo I saw was promising, mixing in some light puzzle solving with exploration and funny dialogue. I'm hoping for some more involved puzzles later; designer Matt Korba was adamant that Daventry will open up and be explorable, with different ways to progress that allow puzzles to be fairly challenging. It all sounds great, and I'm actually excited about King's Quest being episodic. The structure hopefully gives The Odd Gentlemen time to take feedback into account, and it gives us an alternative to the Telltale episodic formula that's growing a bit stale.

After Telltale all but ditched adventure game mechanics for episodic storytelling, wouldn't it be perfect for King's Quest to show that the genre can still work in 2015?

Dota 2

Chris Thursten: Back in the trenches

This marks the second week (ish) of my return to daily solo ranked Dota 2, but I’m really enjoying it. Given my preference for playing with a team, this is a side of the game that I’ve always had an on-again, off-again relationship with. Coming back has been a mixed bag, and the community hasn’t gotten any less toxic, but I feel able to deal with it. I’m practicing a bunch of new support heroes for a forthcoming games industry tournament (details soon!) and that places me in a decent position in solo ranked. When the thing you want to do is the exact thing nobody else wants to do, games tend to work out pretty well.

I am learning, I think, to accept the community’s prevalent attitudes with a certain calm. Genuinely nice, talkative players are incredibly rare: humble players moreso. The most common is somebody who will work with their team but smacktalk; players who are fine when things are going well and flame you when they’re not, only to turn on a dime again. This seems inevitable, an intractable part of the game, and I’m getting used to almost commending somebody at the end of a match only for them to fire of an ‘ez’ or ‘commend me pls’ - as close to shorthand for ‘I am a child and this is for children’ as you can get.

That almost sounds like a low but it’s not, really. It’s Dota. Players are fiercely protective of their status, equally dismissive of the status of others, but there’s nothing else like it. The game is not responsible for human nature, but learning to coexist with those humans is certainly part of the game - and I’m getting better at it.

Tim Clark: ‘stoned again

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Just kidding, I was never even close to being out. In fact I haven’t even stopped buying Hearthstone packs since pretty much completing my collection. Instead I’ve been accumulating magical dust to complete my first all-golden deck, because I am both a man of a certain age with no children and thus a certain amount of disposable income, and also, I guess, an idiot. But a happy idiot. I’m honestly not even fussed about what the new content is. At this point new is new, and the thrill of opening packs to get box fresh spells and creatures is its own reward. You don’t have to thank me, but it’s my sort of madness that keeps a game like Hearthstone free for most folk.


James Davenport: A familiar haunt

P.T. was the brilliantly creepy PS4 teaser for Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro’s now cancelled Silent Hills game. Sadly, Konami has now erased all trace of both teaser and game from the world, but its unique spirit may have a new home to haunt thanks to British studio Lilith Ltd. Their take on P.T.’s domestic first-person horror in Allison Road is on display in a new thirteen minute gameplay video. The footage is from a pre-alpha prototype, and the devs claim that what goes on here won’t be in the final game, so don’t be scared—or do, but take a peek. There’s walking and high-res textures and boo! I’m a ghost! Got you.

I don’t mourn the death of Silent Hills, which likely would have had little resemblance to the digestible, detailed design of P.T. I expect Silent Hills would have been forced into homage and (sorry, not sorry) ended up feeling too ‘Kojima’ for its own good. Allison Road, meanwhile, looks promising, and I hope it inspires more developers to throw out their own takes on P.T.’s beautifully constrained nightmare. I’m also particularly keen to watch folks try it out in VR. *Evil laughter, a light brush on your neck, a crow doing crow stuff*

Tom Senior: Team Fortress forever

I can forget Team Fortress 2 exists for years at a time, which is a shame, because it's still terrific. The Gun Mettle Campaign update is just the excuse I need to stop prodding Arkham Knight .ini files and return to the shooter that's given me more entertainment than any other. The timeless colourful visuals still hold up and it feels good to rocket jump again, but the addition of lurid new weapons provides a fresh sense of purpose that makes the game even better. I want the leopard-print rocket launcher that I can press a button to look at, I really do, and I'm prepared to kill hundreds of Heavies to get it. Unlock trees, item drops and other progression systems can sometimes feel manipulative, but without that trail of breadcrumbs you get Titanfall, an excellent shooter with no interesting long-term goals. I may never play Titanfall again, but I might end up playing TF2 forever.

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