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This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE LOWS 

Jarred Walton: Framerate crap

The Fallout 76 beta has occupied quite a bit of my time this week, mostly in me trying to get some preliminary ideas about performance, graphics settings, and system requirements. The good news is that the game was playable even on a 10-year-old Core i7-965. But there were so many other problems—things Bethesda should have known about and fixed long ago!

Ultrawide support and FOV adjustment are not included in the settings. You can edit an ini file to set the resolution, at least for now, but this is not something that should be required. So many other games are able to do this, and it’s really not hard. Ironically, if you enable an ultrawide resolution, the FOV does auto-adjust correctly, though the UI gets stretched.

But my biggest gripe is with the locked framerate, and what happens if you remove it. By default, your max framerate is tied to your display’s refresh rate: up to 75fps on a 75Hz display, or half the refresh rate if you go beyond that—so 72fps on a 144Hz display. But my complaints don’t end there. Like previous Bethesda games, the engine ties movement and physics calculations to the framerate. Fallout 76 is fine up to about 144fps, but then movement and physics start to accelerate as you go higher. Breaking 200fps isn’t too hard with the right PC and settings, letting you move significantly faster than other players and creatures. Oops.

Dammit Bethesda, it’s 2018, get with the times! Your engine appears to handle everything from 20 to 144 fps okay. Why not change the code so that instead of 144 fps at the upper limit, it’s 1000 fps? This was a known problem with Skyrim, and again with Fallout 4. You’ve had seven years to fix it. Or you could have done it right the first time and not had a framerate cap. Hmmm.

Samuel Roberts: Lonesome road

I haven't jumped into the Fallout 76 beta on PC yet like Chris has, mostly because I was hit by that bug that deleted the entire download during the first beta phase earlier this week. On Xbox, though, I sampled a good five-or-so hours of the game, which I found initially gruelling until it started to grow on me.

The thing I miss the most, though, is human NPCs. It doesn't quite feel like a Fallout world without them, as much as I like talking to Mr Handys. Read what I thought of my experience here

Tom Senior: Cavillier 

I’m glad we’re getting a Witcher TV show so I don’t want to be too mean about Cavill’s first showing as Geralt this week. At the same time I do because it’s easy. 

I get that translating fantasy characters onto TV screens is difficult. Readers and players are coming at the character with ready-formed ideas of how Geralt looks and sounds. However as Sam points out he does look like a bit like Sephiroth. Others have pointed out he also looks a bit like Viserys from Game of Thrones, but with shit hair. At least he has a little potion. I wonder how Henry will look once he’s taken a hit of Tawny Owl and gets the scary eyes going.

Chris Livingston: Junkrat

In a way it's good that the Fallout 76 beta is broken into chunks, a few hours here, a few hours there, because toward the end of a session I wind up with junk fatigue. There's just so much junk, everywhere, so much to collect and sort through. And I don't just mean junk-junk, I mean other stuff, too. After clearing a big town of Scorched (they're like armed ghouls, basically), I had something like 13 identical pipe-pistols and 12 identical short rifles and scores of other weapons. And then it's back to camp (or summoning my camp to me) to spend a long while sorting and scrapping and storing everything. 

There are times I enjoy the leisurely dig through my inventory, cleaning it out, and making sure I'm only carrying the best of my loot, but it's beginning to feel like I'm doing it after every single excursion, and it can get a bit tiresome. When I logged out yesterday I was completely overloaded with stuff and I know when I play this weekend I'm going to have to start out with a big purge of my pockets, when what I really want to do it just start running around.

Tyler Wilde: What even is this

We were all pretty skeptical of The Quiet Man when Square Enix announced it at E3. A game that mixes live action video and 3D brawling is an unusual thing to see from a big publisher, so that's cool, but it didn't look great. After playing it this week, I can confirm: The Quiet Man is extremely bad. Playing it wasn't really a low, because I was mildly entertained by the train of thoughts in my head as I realized just how bad it was, but I am disappointed that basically any other game wasn't given the go-ahead. 

I do like that the lead character is deaf—not much representation of deafness in games—but The Quiet Man does a terrible job representing it. They just removed the voice tracks in every scene as if that's the same thing as being deaf, and while I'm hearing, I think it's pretty obvious that it's not. It seems more like they just wanted to use the character's deafness as a device to make a boring, convoluted story seem experimental and clever, rather than actually consider what his experience is like. And that's just the beginning of The Quiet Man's problems, which go on and on. I hope a better idea gets the greenlight next time.

Philippa Warr: Not enough FOMO

A small low, but one I think anyone who is attached to a particular game will understand: I missed the Slime Rancher Halloween event. I played a lot of Slime Rancher at launch—it’s an incredibly pleasing and light farm management game set in outer space. You vacuum up bouncy slimes and deposit them on your ranch, tending to them and harvesting their poo in order to sell it on the poo market. There have been a bunch of updates over the past year, bringing new areas and some degree of automation to the farming process, but the parts I’ve really loved have involved new decorations for the ranch.

Last Christmas you could find and collect slime-themed baubles which you’d hoover up and use to adorn your home. I still have a crystal formation bedecked in those which is my pride and joy. But then, over the summer, I lapsed. There were other games to play and magazine deadlines to meet. Checking back in today I saw a notice—a Halloween event with Jack-o’-lantern ornaments! Running from 30th October to… yesterday. 

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!