Andy Kelly: Critical path
Yes, I'm talking about Overwatch again, but that's all I'm playing at the moment and it has completely monopolised my brain. Playing online games is always a gamble. You'll either end up with nice people who just want to have fun, or—if you'll allow me to use an insult from my native city of Glasgow—some absolute wallopers. One form the latter takes is the dictator. This is a player who thinks they know best, and will loudly criticise the hero choices of other players. "You're playing Symmetra on attack?!" they'll whine into the chat. Then when I set up a teleporter next to the point and they're constantly using it, they mysteriously shut up.
Look, sometimes I get annoyed when the team's unbalanced. I was playing a game with two Hanzos and a Widowmaker the other day and I had to briefly become a dictator myself. "Three snipers? Really?" I typed into chat, and it seemed to sink in. They switched it up, then I felt bad for becoming the very thing I hate. Really, people can play Overwatch however they like. They bought it, it's their game, their time. So when people start ordering other players around in the chat, it can be pretty annoying. Especially when they're saying "We need a healer!" and not switching to a healer themselves. How about you do it, buddy?
James Davenport: Drones.
There’s a brief clip in the Watch Dogs 2 announcement video where a drone controlled by the player flies through a race course of neon squares. During this short sequence, I toyed with the idea of getting on a plane and flying into space. I don’t know where I’d find the plane, or someone willing to fly the plane into space. Are planes capable of flying into space? I don’t know. This is why I have to go to plane school first, which means doing research on the best plane schools. I wonder if I qualify for any plane scholarships. In fourth grade, I attended Rocket Camp at Helena High School, but I’m not sure if my certification has expired yet. Our water-powered soda bottle rocket flew very high, but it did not reach space. My friend Brian and I saw an ‘Anime’ before Rocket Camp, so we decided to put the wings on the rocket facing up instead of down, not for the sake of aerodynamics, but because that’s what felt correct thanks to the influence of the Anime. I don’t recall the name of the Anime, though I do remember spaceships transforming into robots, and that some had wings pointing forward instead of backward.
Throw all open world side missions into the garbage.
Samuel Roberts: DICEy
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst was a confusing game to review, in that DICE’s sequel has a bunch of undeniable issues, but still has so much going for it. I still recommend it, even given the odd terrible combat encounter that the game’s story forces on you. If you loved the freerunning of the first game, this is the best possible form you can have of that—speedrunners can potentially play it forever.
Why’s it my low of the week? Well, it’s one of those situations where I know Catalyst will be a personal favourite of mine for years to come—even though there’s still a bunch of things DICE didn’t get quite right. Just a little bit of course correction, and it would’ve been the ideal sequel.
Phil Savage: Fallout from mods
This week: shenanigans in the Fallout 4 modding community, as PC mods were uploaded to the Xbox One infrastructure without the permission from their original creators. Whatever the reasons for these 'stolen' mods—be it a genuine attempt to take credit for someone else's work, or merely a desire to get a much loved mod onto a new platform—it's hot bullshit.
Yesterday, we ran a great feature about the Skyrim mod Skywind. If you're one of the (admittedly few) people who think it's OK to repurpose other people's work without permission, it's worth taking a read of it to see the dedication and craft that goes into modding. Skywind is an extreme example, but in all cases, someone is investing their time into creating—in many cases improving—a thing. That deserves recognition.
Tyler Wilde: Gathering dust
I was excited about VR before the headsets released, and I’m still excited about VR. I think it has immense potential. But back when my HTC Vive showed up, I wondered if some of my excitement had to do with scarcity—only being able to try it out at a few conventions a year. Would I really use a VR headset regularly if I had one in my home? So far, the answer is no. I used it daily for the first week, and then I had a few trips to take, and then I got to focusing on some flat games, namely Overwatch, and I haven’t put it on since.
I’m a little disappointed that I’m not still riveted with the Vive, but I don’t think it necessarily means we were all wrong about VR and it’s going to fade away forever. For one thing, there still isn’t that much available in VR—lots of games and demos for a new platform, but hardly any compared to the huge library on PC as a whole. And then there’s a smaller, but still notable issue: you have to consciously decide to do VR stuff. It makes me sound lazy, but I think it’s a real barrier: it’s not that hard to wait until my puppy is sleeping soundly, clear my chair out of the room, put on the headset, and make sure it’s calibrated, but it’s so much easier to see the Battle.net icon in my taskbar and fire up Overwatch. To get me using the Vive regularly, there needs to be a game or experience in VR that’s so entrancing I’d rather shut out the world than do the easier thing, and I look forward to finding it.
Wes Fenlon: Timezone woes
Last week I was in Taiwan covering Computex, which was a lot of fun. My favorite thing about Taiwan: the delicious, super cheap street food (I had a tasty dinner one night for about $4). My second favorite thing was getting to cover some pretty cool PC hardware. I spent an hour learning how the overclocking pros at overclock work their magic, took a ton of photos of ridiculous case mods and a whole lot more. Once I got home from Taiwan, though, I had the usual troubles re-adjusting to California time. Last night I was awake from 3 am to 11 pm and felt more like a braindead walking zombie than I can remember in years. Fingers crossed I get back into sleeping at normal human hours before I fly down to E3...tomorrow. It’s going to be a busy week!