This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The lows

Joe Donnelly: The game don’t wait 

In the midst of all the Half-Life hubbub this week, I decided to return to an old classic—Half-Life 2: Deathmatch. Keep your eyes peeled for a HL2DM-related feature this coming Monday (how's that for a shameless plug?), but diving back into a game I used to play semi-regularly in my younger years was not what I expected. Not at first, anyway. 

Upon first booting up the familiar lockdown map I lasted, oh, maybe three seconds before meeting my maker. My second run lasted perhaps double that, and you're lucky if I made it by 20 seconds on my third. Game, death, respawn. Game, death, respawn. Game, death, respawn—I was in and out more than a fiddler's elbow. Now, I probably look back on my skills of yesteryear with Freeman-tinted glasses, but I somehow recall being better at this game circa 2005. Once I finally found my feet I fared a bit better, but the players still shock-sticking, crossbowing, and gravity-gunning their way around Source engine-powered maps today are on a different level. I was in awe, but I was also a little sad I couldn't make my Combine or Rebel avatars do what the regulars made look so effortless. 

The moral of this tale: we're all getting older, we're all going to die, and we're all inevitably going to get worse at games we swore we were once 'good' at. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.  

James Davenport: What VR we waiting for?

I’m not sure why I care, especially because so many outlets reported getting sick from it, but damnit, I want to play Resident Evil 7 in VR. For at least a year, the mode is PSVR exclusive and I know that a PC could run it much better, but here we are, pinned beneath the thumb of an agreement that does nothing to benefit players. Granted, I don’t know what kind of backdoor dealings PlayStation has with Capcom, but I do know that I too want the privilege to become uncomfortable and sick while playing the newest entry in one of my favorite series. I understand why exclusivity agreements exist—PlayStation needs to sell their headsets. I just wish decisions to drive purchases weren’t so inconvenient for the purchasers. Anyway, I’ll probably play Resi 7 on the PC and borrow a PSVR headset to just see what it’s like, but I’ll do it whimpering and grumpy.  

Tyler Wilde: Please let me heal you

I’ve been playing a lot of Battlefield 1 lately, and my favorite role is medic. Reviving my entire squad so we can finish capturing a point feels great. What doesn’t feel great is when, despite being behind cover and easily reachable, teammates skip back to the deployment screen right as I reach them with my magic syringe. I know it sucks when medics don’t do their job, but sometimes we just get fed up

Chris Thursten: I'm sad about a cart
Lows of the week, huh? Okay. Hm. Videogames, right? Okay. I can do this.

I've been playing a bunch of Overwatch and Paladins this week. Do you know them? They're games where you win if you all stand in a big circle and push a cart. Everybody wants to win, but everybody would also like somebody else to push the cart.

This makes everybody unhappy. Everyone's angry about the cart thing, but when it comes down to it, everybody would prefer to be either a sniper (and stay far away from the cart) or a ninja (and stay far away from the cart.)

This is because snipers and ninjas are cool. They're lone wolves. You get a lot of kills. You earn the biggest numbers. You make the highlight reel. You passingly resemble Batman, who is cool and alone, and not Green Lantern, who is lame and has loads of friends. You, you, you. There's no 'i' in team, but you can brute force a 'you' with a click of a button on the character select screen.

Thing is, though: the cart. You've got to push the cart or you lose the game. And that's a collective thing, and it requires a bit of collective-mindedness. You've got to be a little unselfish, play for the win for your whole team and not for your own scoreline. It's hard. Alone online with nobody to judge, a lot of people don't make that call.

And so the cart doesn't move. Sometimes it goes backwards. It's really bad when it goes backwards.

I want my MMR back. And a few other things besides. 

Samuel Roberts: Joyless Division

Maybe movie adaptations of games are too easy a target, because of how notoriously bad they've all been to date—or just reportedly boring, in the cases of Assassin's Creed and Warcraft. I certainly wouldn't watch a movie based on The Division. Would you? A disease spreads due to infected money, and New York empties while some secret army folk sort it all out. It's a great premise for a game, but there's no way you'd get me seeing that movie in the cinema under any circumstances. Unless maybe David Lynch directed it.

Not that I want to encourage a proliferation of game adaptations, but it seems like there are plenty of games that offer richer storytelling opportunities or more unexpectedly dazzling worlds than you'd typically see in Hollywood. It's just an odd choice. 

Chris Livingston: Real Life Sucks

I really like Nvidia’s Shadowplay (or what used to be called Shadowplay), which lets me hit Ctrl-F10 at any point and capture the last five minutes of whatever happened on my monitor. It’s super useful for recording footage since I don’t normally have recoding going full-time. If something cool happens in a game, I can quickly save the footage.

I use it so often that it’s become a weird, almost subconscious instinct even when I’m not gaming. My dog did something super cute the other day while we were playing, and I felt the instant urge to hit Alt-F10, despite the fact that a) I wasn’t at my computer and b) my dog is not a video game. And so, the world will never see an animated gif of the thing my dog did. Why doesn’t life come with a ‘record the last 5 minutes’ feature? It’s a tragic oversight by the devs.