The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Batman Arkham Knight


Samuel Roberts: Batman returns
Arkham Knight returns to PC at the end of October, a mere four months after its original release date! To be fair, post-interim patch it’s running reasonably well on PC, although getting a consistent 60fps at 1080p with my 780 on high settings seems out of the question. It’s going to be interesting to see how it reviews with a few months passing since the console version—I think some reviewers were too forgiving towards the dreadful Batmobile stealth sections, for example, which threatened to ruin large chunks of the game and made this overall a less well-structured experience than City or Asylum was.

Where it makes up for that is sidequest design, which is mostly excellent, and the experience of being Batman in an open world that looks this good. I’m particularly excited about getting into the DLC, which has so far not been released on PC at all—driving the Tumbler from the Nolan films around that city is going to feel amazing.

Tom Senior: Meta critic
Prepare your chin for stroking, because the latest release from The Stanley Parable's Davey Wreden is the chin-strokiest game of the week, month, and perhaps year. In The Beginner’s Guide Wreden's cheery narration guides you through a series of prototype games created by an invented designer called "Coda". The prototypes are primitive, but Wreden's explanations give meaning to the recurring motifs that keep popping throughout Coda's body of work.

It's a primarily a character study, but it's also a game about the power of criticism. The critic, Wreden in this case, curates Coda's work for you, giving meaning to Coda's odd use of lamp posts and door puzzles, and spinning an otherwise impenetrable series of Source experiments into something rich and emotionally affecting. Is it the meaning that Coda intended? Considering the fact that Coda is Wreden's creation, how does it scan as an autobiographical work about the loneliness of the creative process? Hmmm!

The Flame in the Flood Slide

Chris Livingston: The game in the flood
Last week I griped a bit about The Flame in the Flood, a stylish survival roguelite in Early Access that ultimately felt too difficult. The issue I had wasn't that the world was a perilous place, but that the peril didn't seem to care if I'd only been in the world for just a few seconds. I found that the moment I started my journey I was already facing dangers, mostly wolves, that I'd simply not been given the chance to prepare for.

It appears others felt the same way, and developer The Molasses Flood was listening to their players. They issued a patch that, among other things, keeps wolves from spawning at the first few locations the player visits. I played a game post-patch, and I think it's greatly improved the experience. There are still plenty of risks and dangers, but now you can at least spend a little time preparing and exploring before being shredded by wolves. I even lived long enough to die of sepsis! Hooray! The Flame in the Flood was so unforgiving before the patch that I consider that a genuine improvement, and it's always great to see developers listening to their playerbase and considering changes based on the feedback they receive.

Tyler Wilde: Building games
People are making cool stuff, in and out of games. Last month we showed you a Portal-themed bedroom, and this week we got a look at a Canadian man’s very own Vault-Tec door. Even more impressive, someone is recreating Pokemon Red in Minecraft. I boggle at the process, but I’m sure it makes sense to Minecraft experts.

I have no grand thoughts about any of this, just that it’s great how creative and motivated gamers can be. We even beat Dark Souls via Twitch chat, which is probably the most productive thing to ever happen in Twitch chat.

Rocket League Slide

Andy Kelly: The joy of carball
I’m late to the party here, but whatever. Cool people turn up to parties late, then drink all your beer. I pre-ordered Valve’s new Steam controller and got a free copy of Rocket League, so I thought I’d give it a go. I don’t have much interest in cars or football, so I didn’t think I’d be into a game featuring both. But I was a damn fool to think that, ‘cause I’m already hooked, and I plan to spend this weekend playing the heck out of it.

Since finishing Else Heart.Break() and Metal Gear Solid V—two big, lengthy open-world games—I’ve been looking for a palate cleanser, and I think this is it. It’s refreshing to have a game I can just dip into for a short period of time. The games I love, which are mainly RPGs and open-world games, are such incredible time-sinks that every time I sit down to play them, I know I need to be there for at least an hour. But Rocket League seems like something I can just stick on whenever I have a spare moment for instant, immediate fun.

James Davenport: PewDieHi, world!
Last night, Stephen Colbert interviewed PewDiePie on The Late Show and didn’t condescend. The unfortunate expectation when anyone outside the influence of video games talks about video games is that they’re going to mistreat the subject with septuagenarian lawnchair bleating, i.e., These video game kids need to get outside (but off my lawn), dagnabit!

Instead, Colbert poked fun at the absurdity of both sides and the gap in understanding, but without tossing moral weight one way or the other. Instead of dwelling on moot points, PewDiePie taught Colbert some Swedish swear words. The interview as a whole wasn’t revelatory or particularly funny, but it sure was a relief to see Let’s Play culture respected instead of lampooned in the spotlight


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