Phil Savage: Solitary confoundment
I'm not entirely convinced that World of Warcraft justifies its subscription, but I understand that developmennt and upkeep is a massive undertaking with a small army of people at the helm. This is definitely not the case for Solitaire, and so why Microsoft feel the need to charge $10 a year for an ad-free version is beyond me. You can argue it's only Solitaire, but—like it or not—it's probably one of the biggest PC games around. You want to talk about gaming obsessions? People have been fired (by a mayor, no less) for playing it at work.
Solitaire is not a service. It doesn't have massive content updates, or balance patches that nerf the red sevens. It shouldn't need ads, and it definitely shouldn't need a recurring charge to get rid of them.
Tyler Wilde: My Rocket League game
I suck at Rocket League. I’m pretty sure a lot of people suck at Rocket League, and its best quality is that it’s fun whether or not you suck. But it’s frightfully obvious when you’re outmatched. Last night a few fellow PCGers and I played a bit of 4-on-4 and got creamed. It’s pretty demoralizing when you’re flopping through the air like an injured butterfly while the other team is gracefully flipping and spiraling into a 6-0 win. But, again, Rocket League is special. Getting crushed by another team’s aerial wizardry might make me pout in the short term, but in the long term, all I want to do (other than play Rising Thunder) is drill shots and get better. All the little stories during a match—like when I turned a great save into a goal and pretended like it wasn’t all an accident—make me crave more stories, and while it can hurt to sit through an opponent's exceptional goal replay, it inspires me to reach for what they have. I wish I could shoot threes like Steph Curry, but I won’t ever be able to. But a badass aerial goal, I could do that.
Is this one of those BS ‘lows’ that’s actually something good? Yes, yes it is—with two fun competitive games to obsess over, you can’t make me be sad this week.
Chris Livingston: Pause the jaws
I was playing another in a long line of Early Access survival crafting games this week, called Better Late Than DEAD (caps theirs). I don't want to pick on it specifically, because there are other games that do this, but there's a certain multiplayer feature that spills over into single-player and I hate it. It's the inability to pause the game when you use the menu.
I'm not talking about pausing when using the crafting menu—it's absolutely fair that crafting takes place in real-time—but I'd hit Escape to go into the settings menu to look at my keybindings. While I was doing this, an alligator (or perhaps a crocodile) waddled over and killed me, because hitting Escape to bring up the menu didn't pause the game.
I'm all for immersion, and I generally like it when games keep you in real-time as much as possible, even when rooting through your inventory, eating, or crafting. If I were really stuck on an island filled with angry croc-o-gators, I couldn't just freeze time and enjoy a leisurely rummage through my backpack. On the other hand, I probably wouldn't need to stop on a beach to adjust the volume of the world or to figure out if I could throw a coconut, either.
Tim Clark: Steamed up over security
The password exploit which emerged last weekend that enabled people to access a Steam account with only the username was so serious that most outlets waited until it was fixed before covering it, rather than risk spreading the problem. Now that the hole has been plugged, I’m slightly surprised there hasn’t been more head shaking about it. I get that we live in a world in which all our data is assumed to be at constant risk of being stolen and sold to war criminals selling bath salts on the darknet, but hoo boy if we can’t trust Gaben and the gang to protect us, who can we trust? (AOL, maybe.)
Samuel Roberts: PT on PC
PC players who saw the phenomenon of Kojima Productions’ PT come and go on PS4 last year can finally see what the fuss was about now—well, sort of. Developer Farhan Qureshi has recreated the iconic, creepy-but-familiar corridor environment from PT in full in PuniTy, while replicating the same visual and audio effects, too. You can read a full making of the Unity demo and download it, but the detail is staggering. It unsettled me in exactly the same way the original version did, even if the beats aren’t exactly the same (a deliberate decision). It’s so good.
So, why is this my low of the week? Well, firstly I wanted to bring it to your attention in case you missed it, but it also underlines what a bizarre decision it was for Konami to kill PT in the first place, as opposed to just extracting the Silent Hills aspects from the demo (like Norman Reedus’s likeness) and sticking it on Steam for £3, where the reception to it from a horror-hungry PC audience would’ve been extraordinary. Instead, it’s no longer available, meaning there’s a certain mystique to PT that’s leading to projects like PuniTy. Tying to kill PT has only stoked the fascination with it further. The gaming equivalent of the Streisand Effect.
James Davenport: I danced to Panic at the Disco in a F2P game for a few hours
I danced to Panic at the Disco in a F2P game for a few hours. It was hell.
I don’t know. It’s probably not that bad. I just could have been doing almost anything else. I could have read a book. Or actually learned to dance. Maybe, I missed out on meeting a great friend or even The One because I was anime dancing to Panic at the Disco. I’ll never know. Instead, all I know is that pressing directions on keyboards is bullshit, and that Schoolboy Q is still really good.