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The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Batman Arkham Knight

THE LOWS

Andy Kelly: Break the bat
Oh, Batman. What happened? What should have been a fond farewell to one of the best superhero game series ever has been sullied by a dodgy PC port. My personal ‘low’ this week was having to review the thing, because while I enjoyed it as a game, I still had to stick the boot in because of the mess they made of the PC version. That’s one of the challenges of writing for PC Gamer: having to weigh up a game from a design standpoint, but also as a product that needs to be fit for purpose on multiple systems.

And in this case, the product was, for many, broken. If they’d done a better job with it, I might have given it a higher score. Oh well. Will this be a cautionary tale for other ‘AAA’ developers? I hope so, but I’m not holding my breath. Still, if your PC has the muscle to counter-combo those framerate problems, you’ll find a pretty damn good Batman game. In a week the world will have forgotten about Arkham Knight, and there’ll be another bad port to get angry about. It’s the circle of strife. Man, those console guys have it easy, don’t they?

Tim Clark: Goofing off to watch the game
Do you watch esports on Twitch? If you don’t, there’s really no need to explain why in the comments. I know this may seem radical, but it’s fine for people to like doing different stuff. But if you do like watching esports, how the hell do you fit it around real life? I’ve got a job in which I’m unlikely to get canned for having the group stages BlizzCon Hearthstone World Championships running on my second screen, but I still feel an odd sense of guilt about it—even though I know I won’t let it affect my scrupulous Protestant work ethic. (My boss sometimes reads this page.) But how do you fit watching tournaments around school, regular jobs and family commitments? Marathon toilet breaks? Frenzied alt tabbing? Phone wedged betwixt thighs technique? I need to know, because my low this week is that I want to find ways to watch even more. Blizzard, nerf real life pls.

Vermintide Slide

Wes Fenlon: Why am I not playing Vermintide...
...and will I still want to be playing Vermintide a month from now? I'm cheating with my low here, a bit, to talk about how much fun I've had with my few hours with Vermintide, and how much I wish I was playing it right now! Ian has played much more than me, and came away even more positive than I expected in his review, which makes me optimistic about Vermintide as a game I'd want to play through several times.

Longevity's been my big concern, here. I'm okay with Vermintide ditching Left4Dead's Versus mode for a purely PvE experience. The game does PvE with more nuance in combat than Left4Dead, and has a loot system to justify repeat runs through levels. But I don't know how many of its levels I'll enjoy playing multiple times, which makes me hope that Fatshark is able to work mod support into its game. The uncommon engine they used for Vermintide may discourage modding, but if the community was even half as enthusiastic and productive as Left4Dead 2's, we'll have years' worth of awesome custom stages to murder giant ratmen in.

Chris Livingston: NayZ
This week marks a weird, stupid anniversary for me. It was a year ago when, on deadline for Rock Paper Shotgun, I decided to play a session of DayZ with the caveat that if I died during it, I'd treat it as perma-permadeath. In other words, if I died a virtual death, I wouldn't ever play DayZ again for the rest of my real, actual life.

Spoiler alert: I died almost immediately in the most bumbling and rookie way possible for someone who had already put 252 hours into the game. And so, I have not played it since. It hasn't really been that difficult: my favorite streamer, Break71, still plays it often (and plays it much better than I ever did) so at least I get to watch. Very rarely do I get the urge go back on my word and fire it up again. Until this week, that is, when I realized it had been a year, a full year since my dumb idea blew up in my stupid face. Now, I pretty much want to do nothing but play DayZ. If I can just hold out a little longer, Fallout 4 will hopefully distract me. November 10 can't get here fast enough.

Overwatch Mercy Slide

Tom Marks: Overwatch, again
I’ve been enjoying Overwatch a lot so far, but I’m nervous about how long it will keep me hooked. It’s incredibly fun, but I have a few major problems with it. Chris wrote about how the supports didn't have very exciting abilities, which I agree with but think is actually indicative of a bigger problem: most of the abilities in the game aren’t very exciting, and supports are just the ‘canary in the coal mine’ because they, by their nature, have less powerful weapons which makes the unexciting abilities more obvious.

I also think something is a little off with the pacing of matches, but can’t quite put my finger on what yet. Gun fights are fast and exciting, but it takes a long time to run back to the action. This means that if you kill the entire defending team on one of the capture point maps, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a cap. This is also the case in Team Fortress 2’s capture point maps (wiping out the enemy team should be rewarded, after all) but there are a few fundamental differences—first and foremost being that there are only ever two points to capture, so winning one big fight means an enormous amount more in Overwatch than in comparable games.

I think regular updates and balance adjustments are going to be key to how much I continue to play Overwatch—and to its credit, Blizzard has already released a patch based on community feedback, teased a new hero, and is hinting at something else only days after the closed beta began. New content will definitely help, but I hope they are willing to make the drastic changes they’ve said could potentially come.

Phil Savage: Cause for concern
I've had my head in an MMO all week, and all the gaming news I did see seemed absurdly positive. Free Tribes games? Cool. Paradox buying the White Wolf license? Interesting. All the other stuff that happened? Probably fine, I don't know. Instead, I want to highlight a concern from my recent Just Cause 3 impressions. The game is fun, but I'm not sure about the timer attached to its airdrop system. Too often—mainly due to my own incompetence—I destroyed a good vehicle and was forced to wait 30 minutes until I could call in a replacement. That seems such an arbitrary restriction for a game built on freeform chaos. I worry that, as with Just Cause 2, I'll have to wait for modders to unlock the unabashed absurdist carnage that I crave.