Tom Senior: Creature feature
Welcome to Monster Hunter: World, everyone. After months spent dicing up T-Rexes and dragons on PS4 I finally get to do it all over again at a slightly higher framerate—wooo!
It’s a complicated game for the uninitiated, full of odd rhythms and strange rituals. You have to eat before every hunt, for example, and while you can skip the awesome cat cooking montages, you never, ever should. You don’t level up in a conventional manner, either. Instead you progress by crafting increasingly specialised weapons and armour, and by simply getting better with your favourite weapons.
We’ve put together some guides to help you through your first four or five hours. Our beginner’s guide is the place to start, and before you settle on a weapon you might want to check out our overview of how all 14 varieties work. When you’re slightly further in you might want to know more about armor skills, because heaven knows the game doesn’t do a great job of explaining those. Finally, as you blast in to High Rank (and you should aim for that as quickly as you can, because Low Rank is basically a massive tutorial) you might start wanting to put together sweet-looking armour sets. Our armour gallery should help you pick out exactly what you need. Oh, and we’ve got tips on how to play with a mouse and keyboard, and where to find all the monsters in the game.
James Davenport: Head(hunter)start
Monster Hunter: World is finally out on PC, though I’ve been playing for almost two weeks now. While I had some company during my review playthrough, my time murdering wyverns was largely spent alone with no help, so to tilt the cosmic scales I’ve been spending all my time playing since launch answering SOS calls from new players. I roll in with my fully upgraded switch axe, high rank gear, and ruin anjanaths one after the other and save players from 20 minutes of wasted time. Well, not totally wasted. I suppose I’m making it too easy for them, and that I might be accelerating unworthy hunters through the main campaign, but whatever. I’m a hero. A damn hero.
Tyler Wilde: To hell with us
Blizzard says it has "multiple Diablo projects" brewing, and if one of those is Diablo 4, I'm down for it. After the long wait, Diablo 3 was initially a letdown in 2012, even though I thought it was fun once the infamous error message ceased, and even though the marketplace was dumb. It kept getting more fun over time, too. That's after many years of updating, but Blizzard has presumably learned from all that.
If Diablo 4 is being developed, I hope Blizzard isn't playing it too safe as a result of Diablo 3's launch. I want a Diablo that sprouts in new directions (that don't involve a player economy)—something that still relies on the basic satisfaction of clicky loot-collection but takes risks elsewhere, with the art, story, and new classes, or maybe beyond that in ways I haven't thought of. With Overwatch esports thriving and Hearthstone and WoW plugging along just fine, it feels like there's room for Blizzard to experiment, knowing that even if it takes too bold a risk and flounders, it has plenty of time to correct course. I'd rather that than Diablo 3 but with new areas, or a couple remasters (not that I would take the remasters, too).
Andy Chalk: Enraged!
I never expected Rage to get a sequel, and I sure didn't expect much out of it when it was announced. In hindsight, given what Bethesda has done with other id Software shooters—Wolfenstein and Doom, specifically—I suppose I should have known better. The extended gameplay trailer released today, showcasing a multi-stage mission that unfolds across a large, varied open world, looks really good. It's maybe not all that terribly far removed from the original thematically, but Bethesda has come a long way since Rage rolled out the door, and mixing Avalanche's open-world chops with id's technical chops may prove to be an inspired stroke.
Doom Eternal and Wolfenstein: Youngblood are the obvious heavy-hitters in Bethesda's FPS lineup, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Rage 2 emerge as their equal. Just the fact that it's a realistic possibility is kind of amazing in its own right.
Samuel Roberts: New DJs
I'm not sure I really love the nightclub update of GTA Online beyond the act of just being able to wander around the thing, but it's neat how they add new DJs each week, coinciding with a brand new mission to play through. This week it's the turn of DJ Dixon, who I've never heard of, but who I'm sure is responsible for some absolute bangers.
It has successfully got me to play the game each week, which was probably the intention of drip-feeding them like that. It's smart, and it's encouraged me to start trying more contact missions while I wait for various supply dials to tick up. As ever, I fluctuate between frustration and satisfaction in GTA. Last night, some dude tried to blow up my slow-moving luxury limo-style vehicle as I was dropping a celebrity off at my nightclub. As I hid under a bridge, he managed to crash while on a bombing run. That felt good, especially as he swore in chat afterwards.
Andy Chalk: FCCed
The revelation that the reported DDoS attack against the FCC last year didn't actually happen was tremendously disheartening. Not because I want to see the FCC get repeatedly clobbered by an online goon squad (although, y'know, there are days...) but because of the high-level duplicity of the whole thing. The FCC was unequivocal, stating that its analysis had confirmed an attack had taken place. Yet the fact is that there was no attack, and even worse, there was no analysis in the first place.
"At best," the Inspector General's report stated, "the published reports were the result of a rush to judgment and the failure to conduct analyses needed to identify the true cause of the disruption to system availability." And if it's not an "at best" situation, where a rush to judgment led to unintentional error? At that point you're left to choose between monumental incompetence or deliberate deception. Which would you like from the people responsible for keeping your internet access unfettered and reasonably priced?
FCC chairman Ajit Pai did the credibility of his office no favors when, instead of committing to address the failure and ensuring that it wouldn't happen again, he simply threw his underlings under the bus. It was a sad, disappointing, and infuriating display, utterly bereft of the leadership you'd expect from someone in his position.
Tom Senior: Dev life
If you missed it you should definitely check out Alex Wiltshire’s excellent piece on what release day is like for indie devs that have devoted many years of their lives to a project. “A thrill that quickly gives way to emptiness and anxiety” is one way it’s described.
Crunch and burn-out are common phenomena in game development, but, combined with the loneliness of a solo project, the process can clearly be draining and damaging to one’s mental health in some cases. It’s a useful reminder that game development is hard, and that many thousands of hours go into the final released product.
Tyler Wilde: The payday project
Hearthstone's latest expansion, The Boomsday Project, released this week, and aside from accidentally typing 'The Boobsday Project' into Google once, my low is, well, I bought a bunch of card packs. I'm supposed to be budgeting. I mean, I am budgeting, in that I'm writing down everything I spend and subtracting it from the amount I'm supposed to be spending. But does it still count as budgeting if you go into the negative?
Anyway, buyer's remorse aside, I'm having a great time playing with Whizbang, a new Legendary who picks a hero for you and gives you one of his decks. They aren't bad decks at all, and the card helps solve one of my main issues with Hearthstone—in order to afford competitive decks, I've focused all my crafting on my favorite hero, Rogue, meaning I don't have any decent decks for the others. I finally get to try them all out with passable strategies.
Samuel Roberts: Emulation crackdown
I read the news that EmuParadise was no longer going to host ROMs on its website, and it does seem like a sign of the times. As Nintendo itself has done such a flawed job keeping its older games in circulation via the Virtual Console, the conversation around game preservation comes up again and again.
I don't want to get into that too much, but I do think it's worth revisiting Wes's excellent article on the ethics of emulation from last year. It's never a straightforward subject to discuss.
James Davenport: Passed out
Fortnite’s battle pass was novel for the first few seasons, a clever way to incentive players to get to know the map, weapons, and tools by making them the subject of a new slate of challenges each week. But damn, I’m so bored of them now. Most challenges are repeats: Kill X players with this weapon, find the treasure between these three landmarks, find some creepy gnomes. I’m only completing them now because I want to get the season pass skin locked behind completing seven weeks of challenges, it’s just such a slog to focus on them. Luckily, I’ve completed the majority through natural play, but I’m really hoping they get a refresh next season or I might skip the pass entirely.