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The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

CS:GO highs and lows

THE LOWS

Evan Lahti: Hacking away
High-level hacking continues to eat away at CS:GO’s integrity as an e-sport. After two teams were prohibited from competing at DreamHack Winter 2014, another (albeit much smaller) scandal has emerged with similarly poor timing. Just as the first big tournament of the year, MLG Aspen, is beginning today, a video of an ESEA league player being banned mid-match is making the rounds. The banned player, Flex, isn’t a pro-level competitor like those playing at MLG this weekend, but his behavior and awful, immature response reinforce the unsettling idea that competitive CS:GO is still lawless territory. Valve needs to take more ownership and responsibility for policing CS:GO as an e-sport and beyond. The competitive scene and Valve are quite disconnected from one another, as evidenced by the criticism that Virtus.Pro’s Pasha levied at Valve in a livestream recently.

Chris L.: Phish Phail
1,800 Minecraft usernames and passwords were leaked this week, though Mojang was quick to reset the passwords for those accounts and reassured everyone they hadn't been hacked. The account information was apparently stolen via phishing scams.

This is a double-low, really, because stealing passwords to a video game is lame, and because frankly... 1,800 passwords? Are we supposed to be impressed?

There's a hundred million registered Minecraft users, and you come away with account info from a paltry 1,800 of them? And then you leak them online like it's some sort of ripping accomplishment? With a userbase that massive I could probably sit here and correctly guess that many passwords. It's the equivalent of the Ocean's 11 gang assembling in Vegas, planning for weeks, and walking out triumphantly with a couple of stale Slim Jims stuffed down their pants stolen from a corner mart. You stink, phishers, both for stealing and for doing such a pisspoor job of it.

Fable Legends Slide

Samuel Roberts: Xbox One games on PC
I was slightly encouraged rather than blown away by Microsoft’s discussions about PC gaming this week. I think Fable Legends coming to PC can only be a good thing—it’s an extra game that was previously a console exclusive, and that’s very cool—but I was left a bit confused by the overall strategy, which seemed to contradict itself a bit. On the one hand, you’ll be able to stream Xbox One games through a PC, the appeal of which we’ll hopefully be able to judge in the near future. But then Fable Legends coming to PC sort of makes me wonder if I should just hold on for more ports, rather than getting an Xbox One alongside my current setup.

It’s nice to see Microsoft experimenting with PC gaming in a way that doesn’t threaten a whole service that’ll eventually end up sunk on the ocean floor, while major publishers gradually salvage their games from it over many years, but there’s a lot to clarify about where their focus is going to be with Windows 10. More Xbox One-exclusive games on PC? Fantastic. I am completely on-board with that.

Wes Fenlon: HoloLens has potential, but let's not get carried away
Unlike Sam, I'm excited about the prospect of streaming Xbox One games to a PC, because there's a decent chance Microsoft will also add streaming going the other way: PC to Xbox One. Phil Spencer said it's something they're looking at. If that works out, it could solve the "living room PC" problem for a lot of multiplatform gamers. Since this is my low of the week, though, I have to be a bit of a downer and mention HoloLens.

HoloLens is actually pretty cool, and I'm really excited about the prospect of augmented reality combining the real world with virtual projections. But I'm also aware that it's hugely challenging, and HoloLens didn't convince me that Microsoft will be able to nail it with this hardware. The demos I tried showcased a bit of that interaction, but suffered from a fairly limited field of view. And they also didn't show what the process of scanning your environment will be like for the HoloLens. It left me with a lot of doubts and questions, and I think Microsoft will have answers for them as the tech gets closer to final hardware. Again, HoloLens is cool. I just saw a lot of "blown away" and "magical" headlines floating around this week, and that's not what I got from the experience at all. Keep your expectations for HoloLens reasonable, and it may eventually surprise and delight you when it arrives.

Gat out of hell slide

Phil Savage: Damned shame
Everyone has their own opinion about what a Saints Row game should be. There are, however, hard, immutable rules for what a Saints Row game shouldn't be. Rule #1: a Saints Row game should never be apologetic.

There's a mission in Saints Row: The Third that summarises everything the series would come to be. It's as you parachute into what is about to become the Saints' new Steelport HQ, and the soundtrack kicks in with Kanye West's Power because of course it does. I don't think any other series could get away with that; not even GTA. It just doesn't have the same fuck-it-all swagger.

Saints Row IV was that moment but more so. Gat Out of Hell? Not so much. It tries, and it does some amazing things, but there's an uncertainty to the game that undermines the entire thing. It chips away at its most confident moments with fourth-wall breaking half-jokes about the constraints of its development. It tries to own it, but instead comes across as being insecure.

I don't have a big wishlist of things I want Saints Row 5 to be. Whatever form it takes, though, it's vital the series re-finds its Power.

Tom Senior: Steamleft
This week we found a tool that lets you calculate how much time it’ll take to play through your entire Steam catalogue. Which makes my low of the week a simple one

Steamleft

No. No. No. No.