Phil Savage: Watching Overwatch
It's been a long time since I was last obsessed with a multiplayer shooter. In recent years, only Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and TF2 have kept me entertained for more than a couple of weeks. If any upcoming game has a chance, though, it's Overwatch. Over the last week-and-a-bit, Blizzard has been releasing unedited footage of its FPS heroes, and I'm already impressed by the kaleidoscopic chaos on show. Each hero not only attacks differently, but moves differently. Mercy, the medic, can fly—but only towards other teammates. Hanzo, the archer, can clamber up walls to easily reach higher terrain.
This all looks immensely satisfying, and I can already see how important positioning, movement and cooperation are going to be. Despite the inherent quality of their games, I've never previously fallen to Blizzard's charms. I've been resistant to Diablo, Starcraft and even WoW. If Overwatch can deliver on the promise evident in these early videos, they may finally have me in their grasp.
Tyler Wilde: Pretty ponies
Earlier this week, we noticed that our publishing calendar looked a bit sparse for today. To that, Chris Livingston said, “Why is Pony World 3 listed under survival on Steam?” I defy anyone who says we didn’t do our jobs this week.
Tom Senior: GalCiv returns
Galactic Civilizations 3 is good! As Richard points out, Galactic Civilizations does a great job of making your AI opponents feel like agents rather than algorithms, which means a lot when you’re spending hundreds of hours dealing with them. I always especially appreciate the “fluff” in a grand strategy game—the little scraps of flavour text, the moral dilemmas and the dialogue that give the universe flavour, even the UI design. GalCiv 3 is a detailed and solid simulation of a huge scenario, but that’d be empty and meaningless without the grumpy Drengin, who are so rude and eager to conquer that they can actually be used. I always let my opponents settle on planets near Drengin borders. They serve as a useful safety buffer when the Drengin military starts to mobilise, and by then I’ll have some lovely big lasers researched, built, and ready to vapourise.
Samuel Roberts: VR films and TV
I’ve been in Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment. Well, at the very least, an oddly spectacular recreation of it in the Oculus Rift. This week Andy rounded up a bunch of awesome tech demos that let you explore TV and film worlds in VR, not all of which require the Rift to experience. It underlines the fact that you don’t need to rely on traditional forms of videogame interaction (shooting, driving, punching. Though I like all of those things) to have something feel amazing in VR. A sense of place will do that just fine, hence why last year’s Alien: Isolation VR demos were so effective at selling that game’s detailed art direction.
Chris Livingston: Cars, Too
The first official batch of free content arrived for Cities: Skylines this week, as promised. While there are also paid expansions on the horizon (and judging by Paradox Interactive's track record, possibly tons of them), it's still great (and sort of rare?) to see new DLC appear without a price tag attached to it.
In addition to the ability to create tunnels and add European buildings to freshen up your cities, the patch also continues the Skylines tradition of mod support by allowing for custom vehicles. I'm already drooling over some of the custom cars, trucks, and planes in the vehicle Workshop, especially this completely adorable 1959 Morris Mini. It honestly looks a bit more like a DAF 600 than a Mini, but who cares? It's cute as hell and I want to see them all over my city, stuck behind hot dog trucks in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Tim Clark: Cheaters eat crow
This week 30 thousand H1Z1 ne’er do wells felt the crack of the banhammer at the base of their skulls. But—plot twist!—the bans didn’t have to be final, provided the cheaters apologised to their fellow players in a YouTube video. Thus far only five have been unbanned according to this follow up Reddit post by Daybreak president John Smedley. Judging by the comments there and on our own article, some felt Smedley was on a power trip, but his explanation seems sound to me: “...doing the same thing we have been doing is a tough fight and I'd like to at least try something different.”
Cheating poisons the well of multiplayer games, and destabilises the competitive scene. People should be ashamed to cheat and they should be afraid of the consequences. You can make your own mind up over whether public contrition is a more effective tool than removing access, but Smedley’s surely correct to try a new approach.