The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Ugly Batman

THE LOWS

Samuel Roberts: Broken Bat
Whatever happened to the Caped Crusader? Arkham Knight launched this week in a poor state, which ended up being the biggest story of the week, resulting in the game being pulled from sale on Steam a few days ago. Rocksteady has its own engineers working on the port now, according to the studio’s Sefton Hill, which hopefully means the end result will work a lot better on a PC with a £300/$400 graphics card than a less powerful console that costs the same price.

It’s a disappointing state of affairs. Warner did not supply advance review code (we asked, many times), and the game’s release ended up being a nasty surprise; particularly as Batman was draped all over Steam this week like its arrival on PC was nothing less than a triumphant event. That part really annoyed me. Someone remembered to get the banners up selling the game but seemingly no-one checked to see if the port was a pile of ass. I’ve played the PS4 version, and there’s a brilliant game underneath—hopefully we’ll get that in the coming weeks. I also hope this whole thing scares publishers into taking PC ports seriously.

Tim Clark: Cut the car
We’ve expounded enough on the state of Batman’s PC port in this piece (tl;dr it’s bollocks) so let’s talk about Arkham Knight’s real crime: the Bat car. Samuel will confirm that I’ve had deep reservations about Bruce Wayne’s combat charabanc ever since we first saw it at GDC last year. Now that I’ve had a chance to play with it (for an about an hour, chugging slightly on my 970) I can confirm the Batmobile is probably the greatest design misstep made by any AAA game in the last 10 years.

I do not say this lightly, and it’s a topic on which I admit some bias: I also don’t care for the car in the movies or the comics. It invariably gets in the way of the central Bat fantasy of being a brooding misanthrope capable of kicking a man’s hip out of joint from any angle. But the implementation in Arkham Knight is absolutely parlous. It’s like Need for Speed Carbon has been hastily grafted into the core game, only the cars are all rocket-equipped speedboats. And the water is existential dread.

My complaints about this on Twitter prompted my friend and erstwhile colleague Joel Snape to suggest that Arkham Knight, among its other undesirable firsts, could also be the game to pioneer a new type of DLC that just lets you pay to remove content you don’t like. I would gladly drop $5 to excise the Batmobile completely. Who wants to shoot robot tanks? Literally no one. Something to bear in mind, Rocksteady, while Arkham Knight is being turned into a quilt of patches.

Project Cars 2 Slide

Tom Sykes: Slightly Mad go slightly mad, announce Project Cars 2
I can understand the desire to strike while the iron is hot, but announcing Project Cars 2 just a few weeks after your crowdfunded, twice-delayed game finally crosses the finishing line seems, well, slightly mad to me. The developers say they'll support both games simultaneously, but it does seem strange to ask your fans for even more money, only a short time after delivering on your first crowdfunding promise. We all know that sequels are considered as soon as the first game is finished, if not before, but we're rarely asked to invest in them so quickly. Surely it's best to give your fans a breather, some time to enjoy the thing they paid for, before you start eyeing up their wallets?

Evan Lahti: Show me the data
Heroes of the Storm is what I’ve been putting the most time into lately, and as a card-carrying member of its intended audience (people who are variously exhausted by MOBAs), its 20-minute matches, character variety, and potential for comebacks have been treating me well, even despite the fact that I’m an awful 2-8 over my last 10 matches. What’s disappointing me, though, is how Heroes seems misaligned with Blizzard’s own reputation for building great metrics in StarCraft 2, which spits out a sea of helpful data for each match.

HotS feels incredibly slim on tools to analyze your performance. Other than watching replays, I don’t even get to look back at a breakdown of my previous matches after I’ve left the score screen. Tim tells me that this is a long-standing complaint in Hearthstone as well, which at least has an API that other utilities have tunneled through. I have to assume that Blizzard is using data more granular than win/loss for its own internal analysis… I’d love to see more transparency on my damage dealt, when and where I’m dying in a match, and how much I’m contributing to team fights.

Harvest Moon Seeds of Memories Slide

Tom Marks: Bad memories
When it was first announced that Harvest Moon: Seeds of Memories would be coming to PC, it sounded too good to be true. Which, it turns out, it was. Wes got a look at E3 2015 last week, and it sounds truly dreadful. It’s only been in development for a month, but comes out this winter and appears to be downright awful. It’s not even made by the same team as the games I fondly remember. Maybe some organic miracle will occur over the coming months, but with plans to simultaneously release on mobile platforms, I’m not holding my breath. I let that ill-advised thing called hope into my heart, and my hubris-filled chickens have quickly roosted.

Phil Savage: Dammit, John
Like every other sentient being, I was fascinated by Chris's exploration of the least popular gaming petitions. It's a reminder that, whatever's happening on gaming's global stage, the biggest grievances are so often suffered (semi-)silently. Maybe it's a game that everyone is enjoying, but, for whatever reason, just will not work on your machine. Maybe it's the continued erosion through patches of a game you used to love. Or maybe it's just that John won't stop cheating.

Fuck sake John, give it a rest will you?