The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Batman Arkham Knight

THE LOWS

Samuel Roberts: Broken bat

So Batman won’t be getting SLI support—a shame for those waiting for the feature, certainly, but honestly not too high on my own list of wants for that game. I still want them to fix the stuttering in Batman. More than that, though, I want them to elaborate on whether they can eliminate the stuttering in Arkham Knight. What are Rocksteady’s post-release plans for kicking it into shape? That’s not entirely clear, yet. Is the aim to keep optimising it, or now that it’s out there and people still aren’t happy, just to walk away and leave it as is?

I might be losing it, here, but I’m still vaguely optimistic about getting the definitive version of Batman on PC. I’d just like to know exactly what happens next with the PC version after two weeks of no updates.

Chris Livingston: Interrupting menu

One thing that's bugging me about Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is how often it interrupts me. For instance, scattered around the city are various missions you perform to undermine the Blighter Gang's operations. Free their child workers, take down their strongholds, things like that. When you've freed the last kid, or killed the last goon, your mission is over. Rather than just saying Mission Complete, it starts a little cutscene. Then it takes you to a menu screen. Then it shows you the area on the map you've liberated.

Meanwhile, yes, my mission is done but I wasn't! Right next to that last dude I stabbed to death on the third floor of the building were a couple chests I was going to loot. Well, once I've escaped the network of menu screens shoved in my face, the game has repositioned me back downstairs and outside, so I have to go back into whatever it building I was in and climb however many floors it was just to find that crate again, or find that last dead guy I was about to loot before the mission ended. I think it's a Ubisoft thing: when you liberate a stronghold in Far Cry 4 it fades to a little cutscene, too, but I don't remember it physically moving you from where you were standing.

Sonic Lost World Slide

Phil Savage: Sonic Blues

Last week, I reviewed Fallout 4. Before that, Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns. That is a lot of RPG to pack into not a lot of space. This week, when the question of whether or not we should review Sonic: Lost World came up, I figured what the hell—it'll make a nice change.

It's awful, obviously. But I like playing a terrible game once in a while. It's a palette cleanser, making you better appreciate those games that aren't awful. To be clear, I'm not suggesting everybody goes out and buys Sonic: Lost World. But if you get a chance to buy a truly awful piece of trash for a low, low price—give it a shot. It might give you a greater respect for those games that do come together.

Andy Kelly: That’s life

Fallout 4 has been out for ten days now, and I’ve hardly touched it. I mean, I’ve played ten hours, but in Bethesda terms that’s nothing. Why? Because of life. Treacherous, disruptive, responsibility-filled life. I’ve been out of the country, at a wedding, and otherwise away from my PC, all the while dreaming about being in the Commonwealth.

It’s okay, though. This weekend I have no plans, no responsibilities. It’s just me, Fallout 4, and a fridge full of luxury beer. I’ll look like a feral ghoul by the time I crawl away from my PC. That’s the trouble with all these big open-world games. There just isn’t enough damn time to play them all AND keep your life running smoothly. I could just sit around and play games all day, I suppose, but I like my job, and my flat, and having electricity, and my girlfriend. So I’ll just have to take every chance I can to sink some quality time into these massive games.

The Witness Slide

Tom Marks: Witness me

Okay, so this is sort of one of those cop-out lows we do occasionally, but bear with me. Jonathan Blow said this week that The Witness won’t have any music because it would distract from a game primarily about observing your surroundings. I completely understand what that means and it’s probably the right decision, but as somebody with the Braid soundtrack on their iPod, I was really hoping for some more awesome music in this game. That soundtrack was so good, but it also served a practical purpose in a game about rewinding and stopping time. I suppose to the same point, not having music serves a practical purpose in a game about observation. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still grumpy about it.

Tyler Wilde: Hard times in Hard West

Wait, Tom, do you really still use an iPod? Crazy. Anyway, I’ve been playing the XCOM-like Hard West this week (I'll have a review next week), and while I really am starting to like it, a few design decisions are bugging me. It just doesn’t respect failure the way XCOM does. In XCOM, when a mission goes sour, you get to jet back to base to lick your wounds and prepare for the next one. In Hard West, each mission includes one or more vital characters who absolutely cannot die. If they die, you have to start the same mission over.

And these aren’t random missions. If you spent the first half of one sneaking around guards to steal a key, you’ve got to do the exact same thing again. The missions aren’t especially hard, but Hard West takes line-of-sight very seriously, to the point of being finicky. Shots that look clean will have a 0 percent hit chance, and enemies can spend a whole match hanging out around a corner, totally unseen or heard. I put about 20 minutes into one scenario, then moved a vital character into what seemed like safe cover. On the enemy’s turn, a guy strolled out of cover and shot her in the back. Dammit. I like Hard West when a loss teaches me something about the tactics it values, but sometimes all it teaches me is, ‘Hey, there’s a dude back there, so, watch out for that.’