The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Assassin's Creed


Andy Kelly: Disappearing act
The Assassin’s Creed series has finally lost its mind. I’ve just been reading this hands-on preview by Phil, where he outlines a new character’s ability to turn invisible. Invisible! I know the AC games are full of sci-fi nonsense, but this just throws its internal logic out the window. You use the Animus to turn invisible. Okay, fine. But what do the people from the time period you’re reliving see when you vanish? My head hurts just thinking about it.

I like Assassin’s Creed. Yeah, I’m one of those people. But even I admit that, of late, the series has gone awry. Here’s a thing I wrote about Ubisoft could fix it, but Syndicate is looking very much like business as usual, and I can’t get excited about it. I’m all for the smoggy, gaslit Dickensian setting, but the fact that a character is called ‘Bloody Nora’ leads me to believe it’ll be more like Mary Poppins, or Adam and Joe’s Bob Hoskins song, than From Hell.

James Davenport: Sad Snake
I’ve been watching and reading too much about Metal Gear Solid 5. It’s to the point where I forgo sunshine and exercise just to refamiliarize myself with bad writing I half paid attention to in seventh grade. I played through MGS2 in my basement with friends. We pointed at Vamp. We laughed at Vamp. But privately, I read every Vamp wiki I could. For every character. For every setting. For every game. It was important!

I mean, really, Metal Gear Solid’s story is super, super silly. My investment in the series hinges on it though. I’ve never been a great stealth gamer, so it was The Weird that kept MGS within my purview for so long. As a phenomenon, it’s been fun, and I hope to revisit the series within the context of gaming history for as long as I’m alive, but I think it’s time to pour my MGS lore study into something a bit more substantial right now. Which basically means I’m going to read A Confederacy of Dunces for the fortieth time, laugh, think for a minute, and then hop into the Mass Effect wiki wormhole.

Divinity Original Sin 2 Slide

Evan Lahti: Crowdfunding isn’t a crime
Crowdfunders continue to cope with the perception that substantial games can be made for modest sums. Recently Divinity: Original Sin developer Larian Studios was met with criticism for its plan to return to Kickstarter to fund secondary game elements (stretch goals, essentially) through the platform (we also talked about this in this week’s PC Gamer Show). And more prominently, the team-up of popular crowdfunders like Tim Schafer, Brian Fargo, and Feargus Urquhart to form Fig, a new crowdfunding platform meant to court formal investors as well as fan support.

Kickstarter has hosted its share of blunders, but as our recent article examined, there have been far more big successes than instances of mismanagement or outright deception. Crowdfunding has made it possible for more, and more different games to exist, for games like Pillars of Eternity to appeal to a specific audience rather than appealing to the masses. Whatever bumps in the road crowdfunding has presented and will still push PC gaming over, they’re worth it to me because they distance us from an ecosystem where publishers have creative input over the majority of games in the market. I don’t want corporate shareholders creating video games.

Tom Senior: Pining for platform exclusives
I’ve been greatly enjoying a couple of Playstation 4 exclusives that really feel like PC games. The first is N++, the final iteration of a lean and beautifully designed platformer that started life as an online flash game nearly a decade ago. The second is Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, from the creators of the narrative exploration game, Dear Esther. It’s essentially a radio play set in a idyllic model-town reproduction of a Shropshire village. It is very British, as Matt Elliott explains so very well over on GamesRadar, and it also feels very PC, for reasons that are trickier to pinpoint.

There’s the old adage that PC games are often about terrain, and the slow exploration of land in Rapture reminds me of creeping slowly around in DayZ, Stalker and Gone Home. Likewise, N++ reminds me of the great history of incredible prototypes we get to play for free on PC, from Meat Boy to Outer Wilds and Spelunky. As a result, both games ought to take their place in the PC gaming pantheon. Metanet Software suggest that a port might happen if the PS4 edition does well enough, but we may have to wait considerably longer for Rapture to shake free of whatever exclusivity agreement binds it.

Final Fantasy Type 0 Slide

Wes Fenlon: Square almost made a great Final Fantasy Port
I've been cynical about Square Enix's RPGs for awhile now; I don't think the Square side of the company has made a great game since 2007's The World Ends With You, and don't even get me started on how much I hate Final Fantasy XIII. But I love Square's older games, and genuinely want them and other struggling Japanese giants to find success on the PC. That's why the Final Fantasy Type-0 port is such a shame, as Durante pointed out in his great technical analysis. It's so close to being a great port, and Square (and/or the external studio who helped with the port job) actually nailed some of the hard stuff, like PC post-processing effects and even some new features. But they botched the landing with virtually no resolution options and terrible keyboard/mouse controls.

Square Enix is missing out on some sales, and a lot of fan goodwill, but not quite getting its PC ports right. I hope they pay attention to the criticism of their ports and learn, because if they do it right, Final Fantasy XV and the VII Remake (which aren't confirmed for PC, but seem likely) could be massive sellers on Steam.

Tom Marks: Can you help me beat this boss?
Nvidia announced a new set of features coming to GeForce Experience and Shadowplay, and I'm a big fan of both. Shadowplay has already made game capture and streaming a significantly simpler affair—provided you have an Nvidia GPU, of course—and I’m always happy to see a company support and improve its software, especially free software. The new Gamestream Co-Op feature seems neat, though our Hardware Editor Wes Fenlon said it had a few latency issues when he got his hands on it.

The thing I don’t understand is who would ever use that tool in the context they’ve presented it? The video Nvidia put out yesterday shows the dramatized scenario of guy stuck on a boss in Trine 3. He emails his friend a link through GeForce Experience inviting her to jump in and take control of his game. She joins and promptly beats the boss for him. Maybe it’s just me, but I can literally never see myself wanting to be on either side of that situation. Gamestream Co-Op’s ability to allow local-multiplayer across the internet is a much more appealing feature to me, but it’s hardly mentioned.


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