The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Hearthstone pro TerrenceM during an interview with Frodan, and Twitch chat on the side.

Hearthstone pro TerrenceM during an interview with Frodan, and Twitch chat on the side.

The Lows

Wes Fenlon: Ignoring racism

This week I wrote about Hearthstone player TerrenceM, and how his matches at Dreamhack caused racist Twitch chatters to come out of the woodwork. Even though I began the article by saying we know Twitch chat is often racist, and explained why this case was worth paying particular attention to, it was depressing to get the predictable response of: “Duh,” “you’re just feeding the trolls,” “that’s how the internet is,” etc. No, we won’t ever rid the world of mean people saying and doing callous things. But that’s a pathetic excuse for ignoring racism. Communities have the power to push for change. Standards evolve. The idea that nothing’s changed yet so no-one should bother trying is less than worthless, and completely undermined by the fact history is full of communities deciding to deal with what previously seemed like impossible problems. We can and should hold ourselves to higher standards. 

Chris Livingston: Trailer trashed

We got a look at the movie trailer for Assassin's Creed this week, and my Twitter feed instantly filled with people saying things like "I was doubtful but this movie looks really good!" or "I was hopeful but this movie looks terrible!" Both opinions made me sigh, gustily. Like this: sigggghhhhh.

It's a trailer. Trailers are commercials. They have almost nothing to do with the product in question, much like the commercial for a steakhouse doesn't actually let you taste the steak. If movie trailer quality had anything to do with anything, Prometheus would have been the best movie ever made and the original Star Wars would have been the worst. Relax, everybody. Save your hot takes until you've seen it. 

Tom Senior: Truck up

We can thank Russia’s UK embassy for this week’s most spectacular facepalm moment. A tweet from their official account used a picture of some Command & Conquer Bomb Trucks to represent “truckloads of chemical ammo” in transit to “extremists near Aleppo”. This, as Andy notes in the news piece, is not the first time that organisations have done this sort of thing, and for my money it certainly won’t be the last. The best part of the incident was this reply from @dsic, which inspired a series of responses on a similar theme here, here and here

Phil Savage: Stellar-isn't

I can't help but feel let down by Stellaris. It starts off so well—a flurry of exploration, industry and expansion. It's filled with weird things to discover, intriguing quests to embark on, and a brilliant sense of the unexpected. But after a while, Stellaris slams its brakes. As you approach the mid-game, things settle into a more languid pace.

I like the game—that's what 70% means—but I wanted to love it. And it's not about the pace change, as much as the lack of interesting decisions to make after it's happened. It's a game crying out for fuller, more robust diplomacy, for more ways to affect change within your empire's borders, for espionage, and a potential path to victory for those who don't want to fight. Based on Paradox's previous games, these things will eventually arrive in the form of patches and DLC. But I can't judge a game that will one day exist, and the one we currently have isn't quite there yet. 

Tyler Wilde: Civilization mutation

I’m excited as hell for Civilization VI—especially for its modular cities—but I’m disappointed by the screenshots. This has been a bit of a divisive topic on our staff and in comments sections: Does Civ VI look good? I say no. It looks like a smooth, plasticine version of Godus. It’s lost the austere, muted countryside of Civ V in favor of acrylic shine. The dense jungles and forests, which used to look like bunches of greenery from a hobby shop, are now sparser groves of Warcraft trees. It no longer looks like a tale of human history worthy of Baba Yetu—instead I imagine cheerfully plucked strings and twinkling bells, more SimCity than Civilization.

I’m keen to get over it, and I probably will once I start playing, but it slightly marred my excitement for the announcement. What a travesty, I know (breaking: guy didn’t love screenshots), but I’m probably going to be putting well over 100 hours into this thing, so I hope modders are quick to make it as bleak and dreary as I like. 

Samuel Roberts: Money down the drain

One of the best pieces of games writing I’ve read on any site this year (that isn’t ours, of course) was published on Eurogamer this week—Wesley Yin-Poole’s extensive history of Lionhead feels like the final word on that studio. Set aside about three lunchtimes and read the whole thing. Among the many tidbits in there, like a Fable 4 pitch that Microsoft allegedly said no to because of their absurd pre-Xbox One launch obsession with games as a ‘service’, was the price tag associated with the recently cancelled Fable Legends—a snip at $75 million.

Whether you think Fable made sense as a free-to-play game or not, I think Fable Legends deserved a chance to find an audience at the very least—to get rid of it altogether has thrown away years of great art created for that game, which would’ve brought us the most vivid depiction of Albion we’ve seen yet. It feels like a waste whichever way you look at it.