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The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

No Man's Sky


Shaun Prescott: No Man’s Sky continues to look incredible
A lot of people seem confused about No Man’s Sky. Initial enthusiasm for the ambitious procedurally generated space adventure has descended into worry. It looks good, they say, but what do you do? Is it just a beefed up exploration sim? What will the combat be like? Can I play it with my friends? Will it even come to PC?

Well the answer to the last question is that yes, it will, though only after a period of PlayStation exclusivity. Regarding the other questions, I can’t help but feel they miss the point. If No Man’s Sky makes good on its promise, you won’t need any of these elements even should they appear, because No Man’s Sky will offer something we didn’t even realise we wanted. Like the Hello Games team, I was reared on the hard sci-fi of Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov, so the prospect of exploring an alien universe is its own reward. The idea of seeing and contemplating sights no one else is ever likely to see (which is likely, given the sheer size of the game) is what will keep me busy in No Man’s Sky. This week’s new footage has only increased my excitement for its eventual PC release.

Chris Livingston: Rise And Shine
I look at tons of mods every week for our weekly mod column, and often wind up reading blog posts, patch notes, and diaries, sometimes spanning years, about the countless hours of work—all of it volunteer—that goes into them. So, it's great when mods get a little extra attention, as Lambda Wars did with an official launch on Steam. The mod team have been working on it for six long years and it's exciting to see it released as a standalone experience. While their work isn't done (it's still in beta), I'm hoping their spot in the Steam store will greatly expand their playerbase.

Fractured Space

Tyler Wilde: A great round of Fractured Space
A few days ago I posted a video of Fractured Space—a 5v5 giant spaceship combat game on Early Access—in which I said I’d probably just play a few more rounds before shelving it until future updates come through. I might have been wrong about that. I started playing the other night after a small but important update, and didn’t stop for five rounds.

There are bugs. There are crashes. There are balance problems. There’s only one map and one mode. There are better games like it. Chris Thursten would probably look at it and ask me why the hell I’m not just playing Dota 2. But despite all that, I’m having a lot of fun being a part of this game’s genesis. In one round, I went something like 7 kills/0 deaths and made a number of vital base captures. It felt great, because for once I feel like I’m in the top tier of a competitive game (never mind that I’m playing with the same small group of early adopters every time).

I tend to be more of a tourist when it comes to multiplayer games, skimming the surface for what fun I can have before moving on to another game, but I don’t think anything is as enjoyable as becoming an expert. I’d forgotten that. Don’t take this as a recommendation that you go out and buy Fractured Space right now—this is just me remembering what it feels like to have a home. It’s comforting. I don’t know if Fractured Space will be that game for me long term—that might depend on how it develops, and if anything else captures my attention (I’ve started playing Elite: Dangerous)—but at least it’s given me another taste of the joy I had playing Quake 2 every night back in the day. I’m re-hooked on competitive multiplayer.

Evan Lahti: Good riddance, CZ-75
Valve gave CS:GO some love this week. Train got a total visual overhaul (that included a cute exploit, now removed), but maybe more significantly, the oft-criticized CZ-75 auto pistol got a significant nerf, cutting its per-mag ammo capacity from 12 to 8 and increasing its time-to-equip. This should spell the end of a period of CS:GO where the CZ was widely used as “AWP insurance” both in professional play and ranked matchmaking, thank goodness. In the same patch, a form of cheating was patched out. Valve is doing a better job of listening to the CS:GO community and giving the second-most played game on Steam attention proportionate to its popularity.


Tom Marks: Blowing up the meta
The first full expansion to Hearthstone, Goblins vs Gnomes, launched this week and it is glorious. The meta has been table-flipped and we are in a beautiful, if perhaps fleeting, period of time where anything goes when it comes to deck building. The pros have their opinions and the net decking has already begun, but for at least the first month after GvG’s launch you can open a bunch of packs, decide which cards you like, and build a silly deck that can still hold its own on the ladder. As someone who doesn’t have a lot of cards, the prospect of being allowed to think outside of the box and still succeed is very liberating. The most exciting part of all the experimenting I’ve done is that the new cards are really fun. As much as people complain about RNG, the craziness we’ve seen from some of GvG’s more noteworthy cards have brought me nothing but joy.

Samuel Roberts: New Alien modes
I thought I was done with Alien: Isolation after 28 long hours of being stalked across Sevastopol by a sweaty sci-fi horror icon, but apparently not—the inclusion of brand new difficulty modes, including one which breaks your motion tracker, adds a Dark Souls-like punishing appeal to a game that wasn’t short of challenge already. I’ve been sampling the Survivor Mode and contemplating another playthrough with that brilliant AI. This Christmas, I may do just that.

Andy Kelly: Getting started with Elite: Dangerous
The best news for me this week was that progress in the ‘gamma’ version of Elite: Dangerous, which early adopters and backers can play now, will be kept intact when the game launches next week. This means, finally, I can get stuck into the game without worrying about losing my ships and amassed space-bucks. I’m about 10 hours into my first proper ‘life’ in the Milky Way now, and loving it. Last night I set a course for some random, distant star (using the new route planning feature) and went on a sightseeing voyage. I saw binary suns, vivid nebulae, dying stars, spinning space stations, and gorgeous Earth-like worlds—and that was only a quick run around the block. There are 400 billion systems in Elite, and I’ve visited maybe 20 of them. I can’t wait to see what else I find out there in the depths of space.

Tim is Global Editor in Chief. Which means you can’t tell him to stop playing Hearthstone. Or writing about Hearthstone. He’s probably playing Hearthstone right now, honestly. And when he should be globalling.