The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The lows

Tom Senior: Mehs effect

The latest Mass Effect Andromeda trailer is heavy on the whoosh-bang third person combat and cool alien vistas, but light on interesting aliens. While I have fond memories of palling up with Garrus and Wrex, back when we were young pups, hanging up on the council at every opportunity, I have no urge to do it all over again with an array of similar comparisons, particularly in a universe that has turned up so many interesting extraterrestrial beings in the first trilogy. Remember the anxious sentient merchant eggs, the Volus? Their introduction as playable characters in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer was a series high-point. The floating jellyfish beings, the Hanar, served well as weird alien shopkeepers. And, REVERENTLY: who could forget the cow-like Elcor, who tonelessly announced the emotion they wished to infuse into a sentence at the beginning of every sentence.

To be honest I don’t really expect to see that kind of oddness popping up in a big trailer, but I really hope that Andromeda captures some of the wonder of meeting new species such as the Krogan for the very first time. Another squad of Asari and Turians won’t do that, and the new baddies seem like another bunch of generic spiky humanoids. This new galaxy must hold some fresh surprises though, right?

Samuel: Where art thou, Batman?

I'd like to draw your attention to this fun feature myself and the UK team put together this week—we ranked all the Batman games from worst to best, which actually wasn't that tough. I'm in my element writing about Batman, so that was a lot of fun. It did make me think about Batman: Arkham VR, which I sampled on PS VR at Gamescom this year in between actual work appointments. It's an incredibly impressive and vivid first-person Batman experience that lets you use the controllers to throw Batarangs or use his grapple gun, as well as meet his allies and enemies in unprecedented detail. It's a shame that's not on PC yet. 

All signs indicate it eventually will be, though. Everyone who's played it tells me it's a neat coda to the Arkham games—someday I hope to give it a go.

Tyler Wilde: Cold hands fluke 

I haven't had heat in my place for little while—broken blower fan—which gives me a great excuse for my poor Overwatch performances. My hands were cold! It's not my fault. While staying bundled up and not being good at aiming rockets, though, I started messing with a program called Marmoset Hexels, and it's so much fun. If you like geometric art or clean isometric cityscapes and want to try your hand at making them, definitely give the free trial a go.

That's not really a low, so, uh, unlike Tom I'm sad that Bulletstorm is getting a remaster and not a sequel. That game was good, but the graphical update isn’t the biggest deal on PC.

Evan Lahti: I'm over Overwatch's Sombra

After covering, wondering about, and anticipating Sombra since Overwatch released in May, I'm underwhelmed by the tiny impact she's had on the game so far. Her hacking, teleporting, invisibility, and ability to cancel other characters' ultimates seemed big when she was revealed: all were novel mechanics focused on disrupting other characters and the status quo. So why hasn't Sombra had a noticeable impact on the meta?

It's hard to justify her as a DPS pick. On Hanamura or Numbani, would you really rather have Sombra over Soldier 76, McCree, Reaper, or Pharah? Sure, Sombra can harass effectively, but anyone who's skilled at flanking, distracting, picking off a support, and then escaping to safety is probably going to be even more effective as Tracer, whose Recall ability gives is a self-heal and escape ability rolled together. Likewise, Sombra requires a bunch of team coordination to maximize her value. Her EMP ult shuts down a ton of stuff, but if your team doesn't know it's coming or doesn't have ults ready themselves to layer on top of it, it can amount to a trivial inconvenience rather than a turning point. 

Although I don't hold the belief that every character must be competitively viable at all times, it's a bit of a downer that we're not seeing much of her at the highest levels of play. Bo also tells me that over on the PTR, folks are way more excited about playing with the in-progress Symmetra changes than Sombra.

Joe Donnelly: Worlds Adrifting into 2017

Last month, Bossa Studios announced the coming months would see Worlds Adrift get its "biggest playtest yet". As someone who's very much looking forward to the I Am Bread studio's first foray into unscripted MMO territory, this was great news but I suspected it came with a caveat. Worlds Adrift was scheduled to land in late 2016, you see, and as the year marched on this appeared to get less likely by the day. This week, Bossa announced that, yes, Worlds Adrift would be delayed until "Q1 2017"—meaning it should now arrive at some point between New Year's Day and the end of March next year. Don't get me wrong, I'd much rather any game spent more time in the development oven than be rushed out unfinished—but I'm nonetheless a wee bit disappointed that I won't get the chance to take to the skies in my own custom crafted airship this side of the new year.  

Chris Livingston: Stayin' alive

Slogging around in No Man's Sky's survival mode this week has been draining. The things I liked least about the game—repetitive resource gathering and inventory management—are pretty much all you do for the first several hours. If you live long enough, at least. You begin on a planet under hostile environmental conditions with your ship a long way away, and surviving long enough to climb into the cockpit is an ordeal. I think it's nice a more challenging mode is now available for those who want it, but boy, it's definitely not for me. In several hours of play I visited only two planets, the one I woke up on and the one I ragequit on. At this rate I'll never visit even one quintillion planets, let alone eighteen.

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