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The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

AC Syndicate crafting

THE LOWS

Tom Senior: A crafty diversion
For ages the Assassin’s Creed games have expanded laterally. Each iteration adds an extra layer of game to distract us from the familiar parkour systems and dodgy combat. Sometimes the distractions are great, like the high seas piracy of Black Flag. Sometimes you get a flaccid tower defense minigame. Last year Unity added loads of armour with RPG stats. Now Syndicate is adding detailed crafting systems. Is this what Assassin’s Creed fans are asking for? Are these new systems fun, or are they bloat that helps the latest entry differentiate itself from the last, giving the series the illusion of evolution where there is none?

It’s hardly the designers’ fault. If Ubi have to push out an Assassin’s Creed game every year, sometimes two. Their environments are gorgeous, the stories enjoyably silly, but I yearn for the AC that pushes the series on to greater heights. It doesn’t feel like Syndicate will be the one to do it.

James Davenport: Mod hunt
The Witcher 3 might be one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played. After spending 60 or so hours with it, I was ready to be done, but CD Projekt is still plugging away on exciting expansions for the game. With the imminent release of Hearts of Stone, which I think should be pretty cool, I reinstalled The Witcher 3 on my PC and, as I do when returning to games after a long absence, I looked to the modding community for ways to spruce up my comeback. My search was somewhat disheartening. While modders are undoubtedly doing what they can, the majority are UI tweaks and a few subtle FX mods.

I’m not sure what I expected, given that CD Projekt scaled back on mod support from the release of the robust REDkit for The Witcher 2. Skyrim might have ruined me, forever elevating my expectations for mod support in open world games, and PC games in general. Returning to Skyrim year after year is welcomed with a font of new surprises, from small script tweaks to total conversions. As it stands in The Witcher 3, mod support is severely limited. So long as CD Projekt supports the game as it has been, it’ll be harder to complain, but four years from now, which PC games will be remembered more fondly? Incredible but unchanging experiences or those that give players the reins?

Rainbow Six Siege Slide

Samuel Roberts: No campaign for Siege
For those who once considered the campaign to be part of the appeal behind the Rainbow Six series, I imagine the (unsurprising) news that Siege won’t have a major single-player element outside of bots will be kind of disappointing.

I saw this coming, to be honest—and I’m personally fine with it, since Siege has clearly positioned itself as a competitive shooter from day one, but it does make me wonder if the days of a significant single-player element in multiplayer-focused games are numbered. There’s also the matter of price to consider. The assumption is that you always want to play online, which may or may not be correct—and do you think Siege will be worth paying $60/£50 for with just the multiplayer element? CS: GO is just $15/£12, after all.

Chris Livingston: Going Viral
My elderly German neighbor came over the other day to ask (well, demand) that I help her with a virus on her laptop. She was on the phone with tech support, and said she couldn't understand his accent, which I found ironic considering I often couldn't understand hers. I went into her house where I found her laptop shrieking, in a computerized voice, "YOUR COMPUTER IS INFECTED! YOUR DATA IS AT RISK! DO NOT USE THIS COMPUTER UNTIL THE VIRUS HAS BEEN REMOVED!" over and over again.

I shut it off and the tech support guy began walking me through the steps to restart it in safe mode and allow him remote access so he could remove the virus. I was following his instructions when a tiny bell went off in my head. I put him on hold, and asked my neighbor who exactly it was I was talking to. "Tech support," she said. I asked where she'd gotten their number. "On the screen," she told me. Yeah. The window that had popped up telling her that she had a virus had also given her a tech support number to call to fix the virus. How considerate!

I asked the man a bunch of questions about his tech support firm, and how his number had gotten on her screen when she'd never used their service or heard of his firm. I politely listened to his ridiculous replies, then informed him that he was a piece of human garbage for preying on the elderly, and hung up. Then I spent a good forty minutes explaining to my neighbor what a scam is, what malware is, and how if it was a real tech support number she would have been on hold for eleven hours before getting help. She seemed to eventually understand, and her nephew (well, let's hope he's her nephew and not a scammer wearing a nephew disguise) has taken the laptop away to be cleansed with fire.

Undertale Slide

Tyler Wilde: What did I ever do to video games?
Undertale hurt my feelings. I don’t mean that it made me sad because the story is sad, I mean that I felt manipulated and then judged for something I never wanted to do. Undertale is a big meanie.

As always, someone has to do a low that’s actually a high, so here it is. Between Undertale and The Beginner’s Guide this week, I’ve had some great, upsetting experiences I’m not used to having in games. Undertale breaks the fourth wall, ignoring game conventions with a wink, but for more than just to freak me out Metal Gear style. It made me feel bad. The Beginner’s Guide, meanwhile, has no fourth wall to act as a barrier between me and its anxiety and depression.

And then along came a freaking game about a lost dog. The last time I cried was watching Toy Story 3 in 2010 and I’m not about to break this streak, video games.

Andy Kelly: It’s good to talk
After over a year away, I’ve returned to Guild Wars 2. I find it to be a weirdly peaceful game, and running around completing heart quests is super relaxing. I don’t bother with PVP or dungeons: I’m all about the PVE. Of all the MMOs I’ve played, GW2 feels the most social. When a world event triggers, it’s cool to see everyone in the area run towards it, working together to complete the objective. But outside of those moments, people just keep to themselves.

I’ve always hated this in MMOs. You’re running around doing quests, and you bump into another player. You say hello, and you get nothing back. They’re lost in their own little worlds, playing it like it’s a single-player RPG. I always try and interact with people in MMOs, and I’ve met some nice people, but mostly everyone’s just really anti-social. Why don’t people wanna talk? Do I smell? Oh well. I’ll keep trying anyway. If you see a giant white cat running around in Guild Wars 2 trying and failing to talk to people, come say hello. I’ve got fangs, but I don’t bite.

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