This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE HIGHS 

Philippa Warr: Pawn hub

It has been a long while since I’ve felt the pull of a game as strongly as Dota Auto Chess. I’m as surprised as anyone. Not least because I uninstalled Dota many months ago and haven’t felt the urge to go back, even when watching professional tournaments. But there’s something about the specific mix of casual and hardcore game elements, particle effects, RNG and impenetrable nonsense in Dota Auto Chess which I find absolutely irresistible. If they ever bring it to mobile or Switch I might as well say farewell to my loved ones. I am a donkey on a chessboard now. There is nothing anyone can do about it except wish me luck. I’m nearly at Knight 1 rank and those levels are not going to grind themselves...

Tom Senior: V good

Six hours spent air juggling demons last week has convinced me that Devil May Cry 5 is going to be brilliant. Let’s not go too wild here but it has the potential, possibly, maybe, to be the best game of the series. The fluidity of combat and sheer variety of styles contained within DMC5’s three characters could improve on Devil May Cry 3.

Don’t get me wrong, I love 3, but it’s tough to go back to static backgrounds after fighting through Devil May Cry 5’s detailed city ruins. And 3 doesn’t have a languid warlock who lets three pet demons do most of his fighting for him. Devil May Cry is all about maintaining style in the middle of the most chaotic melee, and V does that with special pose. It feels great to watch him casually dodge an enemy’s axe swing as he points with his cane to give his demons orders. He fights like an emo choir conductor, and if he’s feeling particularly arrogant, he can pull out a book to start sermonising his enemies. This game deserves to be a big hit next month.

Phil Savage: Legendary

I'm not a battle royale player. I never got into PUBG, and Fortnite passed me by (and anyway seems more like a concert venue than a shooter these days). As such, the news that Respawn were about to release a loosely Titanfall-themed battle royale—one that would enforce squad play—was a major disappointment. This was not the follow-up to Titanfall 2's amazing singleplayer campaign that I was hoping for.

And yet, Apex Legends is great. It's fast, frantic, and full of clever little tweaks to the formula. It makes wordless communication effortless, is—despite the lack of double jumps and robots—still a game about interesting traversal, and deftly meshes hero abilities and gear looting in a best-of-both-bandwagons mashup. At the start of this week, I was not a believer, but I'm already pinging my friends list, lining up a weekend of non-stop battle royale.

Wes Fenlon: Resident Evil Tewwwww

Despite the fun I've been having with Apex Legends, I've been feeling the pull of Resident Evil 2, and finally gave it the time it's due this week. I'm only a few hours into Leon's campaign, but absolutely loving it so far. As I talked about on this week's podcast, it's the first game I've played in years to make me actually calibrate my monitor as perfectly as I could. I want that spooky lighting to be perfect! And this game is legitimately spooking me. The wretching noises the zombies make, the grotesque lickers, the oppressive shadows and loud footsteps… horror done right. I feel a rush of relief every time I walk into a safe room. My favorite bit, probably, is the grotesque level of detail they've gone to with the zombies. They're properly gross, and I love how I can see the flesh tearing around the knee until I've put enough bullets in to sever the leg. And those headshots? Wheeeeew.

Chris Livingston: Stream machine

I haven't played much Apex Legends but I sure have watched a bunch on Twitch. I instantly appreciate how easy it is to read. Characters are recognizable and weapon effects aren't as overwhelming to me as something like Overwatch, which I have a hard time with (to me, it just looks like a million fireworks going off). With a small-ish map and 20 three-player teams, the matches are mostly pretty compact (except the general battle royale lull that tends to happen sometimes) making it great for viewing on a break or during lunch. I hope to have time to play more for myself, but in the meantime it makes for great and easy-to-follow viewing.

Tyler Wilde: Here comes the fun?

Doo doo doo doo. It's almost time for launch day: A civ expansion, Metro Exodus, Anthem, Crackdown 3, and Jump Force are all out next week, all on Thursday and Friday. I'll be working from a laptop those days, but I'm really looking forward to reading what my friends have to say about the incoming cornucopia before I start playing next Saturday. What a delightful mess it's going to be. (That's not something that happened this week, but that's because this week went by me faster than I die in every game of Apex Legends.)