Samuel Roberts: Fanning the flames
I had a fairly positive week of PC gaming, but I suppose this thing where was bad—but, that ended in an apology after Campo Santo, the press, and fans of the game rightfully railed against them for doing so. I suppose that means the world is alright. They still shouldn’t have done it, though, even if it was unknowingly. Hooray!
Firewatch is such a wonderful game, and I urge you to than it usually is in the Steam sale.
Chris Thursten: Meet the new boss(es)
I get it: esports are growing. They're growing up, if you really want to stretch the metaphor, and they're attracting the attention of more and more powerful investors. Great. Fantastic. Hooray! Esports and competitive gaming are my dayjob. I'm excited about the future of this part of our hobby.
However: I think I need a break from press releases about new esports governance initiatives. I was eager to give WESA : there were credible things being said by credible people, despite some of the early PR hiccups and subsequent quietness. In the last week alone however I've received two further rounds of announcements of new governance bodies.
Don't get me wrong: any or all of these bodies could be successful, could offer a better deal for players, and could provide the industry with a more secure future. I don't doubt the goodwill of the individuals involved. But not all of these initiatives will succeed, and the more of them there are the more likely that becomes. The business of esports governance looks like more of a fad with each new acronym.
In part, this is just frustration with the universe. Esports' decentralised nature makes it hard to centralise, and it looks like we'll end up with a dozen governance bodies when ideally we'd have one. Instead we're looking at an awkward system where players and teams subscribe to one set of rules and publishers to another, where nationality is important in one context and irrelevant in another. And all this is going to do is undermine faith in the system among players, many of whom are already sceptical about the whole thing.
I'd love to be proven wrong. But that's going to take measurable results, not a feelgood press release and a new logo.
Tim Clark: End of watch
The monolithic crushing pressure of preparing for the PC Gaming Show at E3 (thanks for watching!) has meant I drifted away from Overwatch recently. Now I feel reluctant to go back, because the better players on our team—Evan, mainly—have already moved on to the mode, which launched officially this week. But I’m too much of a weak-wristed coward to bring my mediocre Mercy play into the placement matches, much less force my friends to endure it when my incompetence might drag their rating down. Am I being too much of a baby? I usually am. But at least when I misplay horrifically on the Hearthstone ladder the blame is confined to my own brain. Speaking of which, let me tell you about that time I forgot to attack with Huffer...
Chris Livingston: School's out
Look, I love video games. I write about them. I read about them. Hell, I even play them. But there's a part of me (my mouth) that groans a little when I hear that yet another as a teaching tool, like Civ 5 will apparently be.
There's always some quote like "Well, we know kids hate to study, but they love to play games!" as the reason Minecraft will be used to teach anthropology or quadratic equations or some shit. Well, sorry teachers, but maybe teach kids to enjoy studying instead of throwing in the towel and handing them a Steam account. The 8-year-old who played games on his tablet on the bus in the morning and who will play games on his
XBox One PlayStation 4 when he gets home in the afternoon and will play games on his smartphone at dinner doesn't need to play Civ at school. And I say this as a true expert: a guy who isn't a teacher and who doesn't have kids.
James Davenport: Locked out
, the next game from Playdead, developers of the creepy side-scrolling puzzler , have apparently made another one of those, and critics are rightfully shouting its praises from the social media mountaintops. Inside is already out on the Xbox One, delayed a week for PC for whatever reason. I know, it’s only a week, but Limbo relied quite a bit on its mystery, so I’m scared the internet will inadvertently spoil Inside before July 7th. My job is mostly on the internet, so it’s not like I can just leave and wait it out.
Spoilers don’t really bother me, but I like the idea of ignoring as much of the media blitz around games that interest me as possible. I tried it with Dark Souls 3, and I’m glad I did. The launch trailer showed off some of the optional, hidden bosses. My experience was especially memorable, not necessarily greater, for preserving the mystery, and with Inside, the devs have been deliberately mum on details for quite some time now. I’d like to roll with their intent and stay fresh until they invite me in.
Tom Senior: Going deeper underground
The Division’s Underground expansion sounds like an attempt to replicate Diablo 3’s rifts and Bloodborne’s Chalice Dungeons in a very different world. It’s not a bad way to keep players occupied, but I am disappointed with the setting. I felt the same when the Descent piece of Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC was announced. Both games let you explore stunning above-ground locations. In Inquisition, I want to go past the world’s borders into strange new territories. In the Division I want to see how other parts of New York have been broken by the virus. Instead you’re sent into a dark maze. Whether you’re in a modern day setting or Thedas, a cave system is a cave system. Underground expansions always feel like a missed opportunity.