Samuel: GTA 5
We’re not a film site, last time I checked, so this probably isn’t the place to talk about Han Solo speaking to a beloved walking carpet, or Batman preparing to beat the shit out of Superman in a scene clearly inspired by Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, both of which were relevant to my interests this week. So, on to games things, yes!
GTA 5 finally came out on PC. We’ve celebrated its arrival with a number of great features, and our review is still to come early next week. (You can find an early take here from Chris Thursten, plus he’s written about it below me on this very page). It’s likely you’ve bought the game already, unable to wait any longer for further hot takes, and I’m really enjoying exploring the city at its best. In my head, the 360 version now looks like sunny Duplo by comparison. Now that’s neither fair nor entirely accurate—but my word, what an extraordinary-looking game this is on PC. Everyone should experience Los Santos like this. Yesterday I got hit by a car in first-person, and was so disoriented in real life that I almost threw up. I can’t believe my luck.
Chris Thursten: Also GTA 5
I’ve played so much GTA 5 this week that I’m not really sure what’s real and what isn’t any more—the advent of a new Star Wars movie that doesn’t look like garbage hasn’t helped with that feeling. We’re living in a world where Rockstar actually releases its best games on PC and where Star Wars films have practical effects and X-Wings. What a time to be alive.
This week’s out-and-out highlight, however, is GTA Online. The singleplayer is a good game. Multiplayer is a buggy but brilliant one. I’ve loved doing the heists with my friends—they amount to some of the best co-op I’ve experienced in years—but it’s been equally entertaining to just tool around. It really is a sandbox, in the sense that you can sit there and play it for hours and skip between dozens of different types of experiences without quitting the game (unless you need to quit because it’s forgotten to load environmental textures again).
It works often enough, however, that I find it hard to tear myself away from. With the caveat that it’s best with friends, I’d recommend it to anybody. You’ve not lived until you’ve watched somebody in a helicopter with a big magnet kidnap someone in a car and dangle them over the city, or had a pushbike race down a mountain, or shot flareguns at each other during a street race.
Chris Livingston: You’re not the boss of me
One of the main complaints about Deus Ex: Human Revolution was related to the boss fights. After spending time and effort to mold Adam Jensen into a stealth machine, players found themselves in a closed room with a boss who was instantly aware they were present. What's more, players attempting a non-lethal playthrough were unhappy to find themselves killing the bosses in a cutscene after the fight.
I'm not really one for non-lethal playthroughs—my whole life is a non-lethal playthrough, so I like to indulge myself in games—but I get the challenge inherent in tackling a game full of bad guys and coming out with clean hands on the other side. That’s why I’m happy to hear that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will be completely ghostable. If players don’t want to use their arm-chisels for anything more violent than cutting birthday cakes, they won’t have to. Most of all, though, it’s a nice example of developers listening to their audience, understanding the issues, and making some changes.
Tyler Wilde: Let’s just keep saying GTA 5
After all the GTA coverage we’ve done this week, I understand if you’re tired of hearing about it, but there’s just so much to talk about! I haven’t gotten far into the story, but I’m excited for all the stuff happening around the game. To me, the series has always been more about what people do beyond the built-in missions. Firstly, modding is going to happen, even though Rockstar didn’t make it easy. That’s so exciting. Secondly, some modding has happened, and holy crap, look at this Oculus Rift bike ride. Holy crap. Thirdly, Los Santos is a great place for virtual photography, and I look forward seeing more of it. Look at what’s already happening in the video editor. Despite suffering some crashes, playing around in GTA has been some of the most fun I’ve had this year.
Tom Marks: Shooting stuff
I bet you thought this was going to be about GTA 5. Well it’s not! Killing Floor 2 is my high this week. I finally got to spend some hands-on time in the closed beta and it’s an absolute blast. Killing hordes of guys doesn’t appeal to me on its own, but doing so with friends is a different story. Working with others in an FPS is a great experience, and one I’ve been missing since Left 4 Dead 2. Unlike MOBAs, you don’t have time to yell at your teammates, and not being pitted against other humans makes the experience significantly less stressful. You work together to kill horrifying zombie-like creatures, not against each other. I look forward to progressing more and actually getting my perks leveled up.
Tom Senior: Big love for Endless Legend
Endless Legend is free to try this weekend on Steam, and is definitely worth your time if you've even a passing interest in turn-based strategy games. It's a game about building empires, like Civ, but plays with the well worn conventions of the genre, introducing a turn-based battle system and some wonderfully imaginative fantasy factions. It looks gorgeous, too. Read our review for the full verdict.