Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.
We were all that noob at some point. I have fond memories of a friend convincing me to give Halo a shot in co-op, him playing Master Chief and me playing his buddy, The Spartan Who Disappears During Cutscenes. The first time I tried Portal 2's multiplayer mode it was at a gaming bar with an engineering student who, even drunk, knew everything there was to know about thinking with portals. Being able to return these favors by acting as Virgil to someone else's Dante—except instead of the nine circles of Hell, it's Borderlands 2 or whatever—feels like paying the experiences forward, ensuring some kind of cosmic scale is balanced.
Lately, I've been playing Vermintide 2 with a group who finished the first one but hadn't tried its sequel until now. Like a lot of new players they made the mistake of thinking they could jump straight past Recruit difficulty into Veteran, but all those hours you put into the first game don't count for as much as you'd think and everyone's a beginner again in Vermintide 2. There's a big gap between those first two difficulties, too. On Recruit healing items are scattered about by the potion version of Johnny Appleseed, while on Veteran the only thing you never run out of are rats who want you dead.
There's a lot to learn in Vermintide 2 that it never teaches you, like the importance of Hero Power or the fact you can hold down block while reviving another player. Either you read a guide (opens in new tab) or you get help from another player. Someone who can teach you not to confidently declare that you killed the bad guy summoning the green whirlwinds when actually you killed a Lifeleech rather than a Blightstormer. (There needs to be a school for telling Chaos sorcerers apart, like that Monty Python sketch (opens in new tab) only it's how to recognize different worshippers of the plague god from quite a long way away.)
Although we had to drop the difficulty down to Recruit to get through the elven ruins of Athel Yenlui—which is a real dickhole of a level—they bumped it back up to Veteran and successfully lifted the siege of Fort Brachsenbrücke, protecting the player who was firing the cannon and calling out the names of specials when they were nearby. They shouted "assassin!" and "hook-rat!" as appropriate, and I felt as proud of them in that moment as any theater mom watching from the wings.
Which is an oddly wholesome feeling to have in a game where you sometimes knock a ratman's head off and his paws scrabble at the spot where his face used to be before he realises he's dead, but that's videogames for you.