The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The Highs

Phil Savage: Civilized debate

Do you like strategy games? If so, 2016 is becoming one long, comforting strategy hug. XCOM 2, Total War: Warhammer, Stellaris—to name just the biggest. And now you can add Civilization VI to that list. Firaxis's long running series is returning with some clever, if not earth shattering additions. Cities will be larger and more modular. Technologies will have ways to expedite their research. AI leaders will have specific agendas. Support units will augment your existing military. Each key feature is designed to force a more natural, improvised strategy, based not just on faction choice, but also your starting position and available resources.

It's not far off, either. It releases on October 21, just five months on from this week's announcement. Releasing games in the same year as they're announced is a trend that I can get behind. 

Chris Livingston: Homemade games

I know Stellaris and Doom and other new and presumably polished and professionally made games are around week, but I do love the occasional homemade, handcrafted, dev-team-of-one game. Clunky: sure. Beautiful: no. But there's a little magic in someone thinking up an idea for a game, putting it together themselves, and shipping it out.

I played a survival game called Three Days—you can read my misadventures involving demon chickens and self-immolation here—and I sort of love it. It made me laugh more than any game in a while, its low-res pixelated carnage was charming, and even though my session ended with a fatal error, it somehow felt completely apropos. 

Tyler Wilde: Field of dreams

This was technically last week, but I’m still pretty excited for the stupidly-named Battlefield 1. I’ve already gushed about what a good idea the WWI setting is, though, so here I’ll temper myself a little. It’s a trailer. It tells us very little about how BF1 is going to play, and what fun it’ll tap from its historical source material. I do hope it doesn’t feel like BF4, except the planes look different and there’s a bit more melee. I want cumbersome rifles and long front lines, but hopefully not too much more Seven Nation Army. But all that’s really confirmed right now is an “extra monetization opportunity,” so, you know, I’m keeping my expectations in check. It is a really good trailer, though. 

Tom Senior: the witching hour

It’s a bittersweet high for me this week as I prepare to say goodbye to The Witcher 3 with the final expansion, Blood and Wine. After three hours trotting around the beautiful mediterranean fairytale lands of Toussaint I’m convinced Geralt’s going to get a good send off. 

The expansion feels like a confident addition to a world that the development team knows intimately. There’s a lightness of touch, and a willingness to gently poke fun at Geralt and the world, which reminds me of Mass Effect 3’s outstanding Citadel DLC. There’s an element of fan service to any RPG ending expansion—fans that have enjoyed the game enough to play it for 100 hours are most likely to enjoy the in-jokes—and that’s the product of the sort of player/dev conversation that can happen around story-driven games. The players share jokes on forums and Reddit, the developers pick up the thread and weave it into the next expansion. 

The cumulative effect can be powerful, and I wonder if I’ll feel as sad watching Geralt walk off into the sunset as I did watching Shepard and friends meet on a balcony to gaze into space together one last time.  

Samuel Roberts: Remasterful suprise

Continuing Square Enix’s run of just lobbing Final Fantasy ports onto PC with about three days’ notice, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD appeared on Steam this week, and the reception seems mainly positive so far—a few crashes aside. I’ve been waiting a long time to see FFX on PC. It was one of my favourite games on PS2, and I’ve finished it about four or five times, to the tune of hundreds of hours (I’m less keen on X-2, the cheesier, more upbeat follow-up).

What do we make of FFX on PC? Well, that’ll be something I’ll start tackling this weekend—I’m planning to review both at some point in the next week. I recently finished FFX again on PS4, so that’ll be more a case of checking that the port doesn’t crash and that the controller support is up to scratch. With X-2, I only finished it once in 2004, so I’ll dive a little deeper into it—pop music and massage minigames be damned. 

Wes Fenlon: Ganked

Never stop being Dark Souls players, Dark Souls players. We wrote about some smart pranksters mimicking mimics, but really all I can think about is this gif. That’s a little treat from me to you. Enjoy. 

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