The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The Lows

Samuel Roberts: Wait a while
You can watch the first twenty minutes of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst for yourself right now, in advance of its release next week—but don’t, not if you’re interested in picking it up yourself in less than seven days. Save it. Play the game. I’ve been sampling a little of Catalyst this week, and I can’t imagine that DICE’s gorgeous environments and foreign-feeling, dystopian cityscape would be greatly improved by watching someone else play it.

Honestly, you’ve just got to see it for yourself. Based on the opening section in the beta I played earlier this year, this feels like a pure Mirror’s Edge game—I think it’s worth waiting to experience it firsthand. What’s one more week when you’ve been waiting almost eight years?

Angus Morrison: Gambling problem
Now that Lionhead is gone and the peculiar Fable Legends cancelled, I’d like Fable laid to rest as a deserving elder statesman. I understand why ex-Lionhead devs, now under the banner of Flaming Fowl, would be compelled to continue the work they invested months in, but crowdfunding a Fable card game risks a slow, undignified end for the franchise.

Fable Fortune is not faring well on Kickstarter. Five days in, it’s reached £35,000 of an improbable £250,000 goal. The card game space is a full house in which Hearthstone is standing on the tables and roaring at lesser franchises to come and have a go if they think they’re hard enough. Does Fable have more muscle than the Elder Scrolls, whose own CCG never quite boarded the hype train?

Rather than wading into a brawl with little hope of success, Fable has earned a quiet retirement.

James Davenport: Play of the lame (nice)
It happened. Finally, there’s a competitive online game I want to know in and out, to follow as it does or doesn’t evolve into an esport, and to play for more than a week after release. I know it, you know it, we’re all sick of hearing about it: Overwatch, baby. It’s a game that doesn’t just reward nailing sick 720 headshots, but one that rewards sick 720 communication. 

Problem is, the Play of the Game, a replay of what math thinks is the most important moment of the match, is almost always an ultimate from an assault character that takes out most of the enemy team. But the actual best plays of the game are ones of team synergy: Zarya’s gravitron surge paired with Pharah’s barrage, maybe with Lucio’s sound barrier for safety’s sake—that’s the kind of highlight I’d like to see recognized, and not exclusively focused on the player finishing off the enemy teammates. Blizzard knows it’s a problem, a particularly difficult one to solve, too, but given the amount of polish already present in Overwatch, I have faith they’ll figure something out eventually. In the meantime, it’s always high noon, forever, amen. 

Andy Kelly: Rude boys
I love Overwatch, but one of the most consistently frustrating things about it are the people who blame everyone else for losing a round. If you’ve played the game for any length of time you’ll have encountered these people. You lose, then they type something into team chat along the lines of ‘noobs’ or ‘morons’. Because obviously they’re so amazing at the game that any failure couldn’t possibly be their fault. It annoys me more than a whole team of Torbjörns.

Getting mad at a single line of text typed by some stranger on the internet is obviously a waste of time, but Overwatch is such a fun, colourful game that this sort of unsportsmanlike nonsense is somehow extra aggravating. But, to be fair, these idiots are few and far between, and generally people are pretty decent. At least in my experience. You might have encountered more jerks than me. Losing a round is never fun, especially if you’ve lost a few in a row, but keep it civil, yeah? No one likes a sore loser.

Chris Livingston: Get out of here, Stalker
James mentioned the other day he was going to write up 35MM (and he did). In describing it to me he mentioned it involved, in part, wandering around a desolate Russian landscape and sitting at campfires and I didn’t hear the rest of what he said because my mind immediately screamed STALKER at me because sitting in front of a campfire in Russia is so very Stalker and the moment Stalker enters my brain I know I have to play Stalker. It just has to happen. Stalker.

This isn’t a low because I’ll be playing Stalker, it’s a low because I just don’t have time to play Stalker right now. But I will find time, probably by subtracting sleep from my schedule, to play Stalker, which means next week I’ll be shuffling around just like one of those zombies. From Stalker.

Tim Clark: Orange, crushed
Perhaps a low is overstating it, but today Hearthstone pro Jon "Orange" Westberg announced he would be parting ways with Team Archon. He told the Daily Dot: “I'm leaving the team simply because myself and the team want to go in different directions, and that's totally cool. I want to wish them luck and hope they have every success.” The suggestion being that the direction Archon is currently heading in is not one that includes competing in and winning tournaments. Instead, the organisation now seems more focused on, well, let's say personality-based streaming. 

Which is fair enough, it’s Amaz’s dime after all. But as someone who cares about the pro scene and its viability, we need strong, committed teams. Na’Vi, Cloud9 and G2 Esports currently show what can be done with sufficient support for the right roster. It’s unclear what the shift in focus means for Archon’s remaining pros, Paul “Zalae” Nemeth and 15 year-old Winter Americas champion William “Amnesiac” Barton, but the latter is one of the game’s brightest stars, so I hope he gets the management he deserves. 

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