The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Prey 2

THE LOWS

Samuel Roberts: Prey 2 is dead
I’m not so upset by the cancellation of Prey 2 that was confirmed this week by Bethesda’s Pete Hines since I was never convinced the game was conceptually robust—even in its early state I didn’t see how this open-world bounty hunting game could be sustained over the course of many hours, and its hero, Killian Samuels, could not make a worse first impression if his name was Derek H. Thundershack and was just a blank face with a gruff accent. The real loss is not being able to play an open-world game set in a Blade Runner-like setting, which Prey 2 at least looked like it was doing incredibly well. Can some other developer action that, please? Maybe CD Projekt’s Cyberpunk will be the game to make that happen.

Tom Marks: Assassin’s Creed: Unity jumps the time travel shark
[WARNING: This low involves what could be considered spoilers for Assassin’s Creed: Unity, but Ubisoft decided to put it in a game trailer so clearly it doesn’t care.]

A new trailer has revealed that Unity will not only be set during the French Revolution but will also jump between time periods, launching your character into the middle of World War 2. In a series all about being sent back in time, it’s confusing that this reveal would rub me the wrong way—similar to when the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie was announced and people went “Fish pirates and a guy with an octopus beard? This weird fantasy stuff doesn’t make any sense!” forgetting that the first movie predominantly featured the undead and an Aztec curse—but it definitely feels weird to me. One of my favorite parts of the Assassin’s Creed franchise is the depth and detail of the time period they drop you in, so one of my concerns is that the various time periods will merely be used as set dressing, meant to amuse and look good in trailers, but will lack the history that drew me in. Maybe I’m in the minority here, and I’ll reserve judgment until the game releases, but I hope that Unity hasn’t predictably sacrificed quality for cool.

FF Slide

Andy Kelly: Bad ports
So Final Fantasy XIII’s port is terrible. I’m not really surprised, to be honest. You can read Sam’s review for the full, gory details. It’s awesome that more and more Japanese games are heading to Steam. Valkyria Chronicles is on the way, which is excellent news, and we’ve had the pleasure of Dynasty Warriors and METAL GEAR RISING: REVENGEANCE—a game so mental its name can only be written in capital letters. The problem is the ports. They’re always pretty terrible, with few graphics options, forced frame rates, and low resolutions. Modders always fix these issues, sometimes within hours of release, but it shouldn’t be this way. If a coder can fix it for fun, the developers should be able to. More Japanese games on PC, please, but can you spend a bit more time on the conversions? Arigato.

Tim Clark: Let them eat trailer
My low is sort of the same one as Tom’s, but for different reasons. I feel like we’ve now reached what can only be described as peak Ubisoft trailer. It’s got to the point where I can now set my clock by the arrival of a new teaser in my inbox. I suppose I should be grateful that it at least rotates between The Crew, Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed: Unity, but there are literally no fallow days. Pity the poor Ubi video editors being whipped by the marketing department.

The trailer overload isn’t my real beef, though. (More fool us for running them, I suppose. It’s certainly something we’re debating the value of now.) No, my real gripe is with the company’s complete inability to maintain a sense of mystery about any of its games. [Spoiler warning again] Think how exciting that WW2 reveal in Unity might have been if you’d stumbled on it cold. But, no. It’s more important that you know everything now, in the hope that one particular morsel of info amidst the smorgasbord will persuade you to pre-order. Because ultimately that’s all that matters, and clearly trumps fusty old concerns like wanting to confound players’ expectations. Rather than building excitement, self-inflicted spoilers only whiff of desperation.

Controllers Slide

Tyler Wilde: The DualShock 4 is better, but not for me
The Xbox One controller is officially supported on Windows, while Sony’s DualShock 4 isn’t—and yet it represents so much more of what I value in PC gaming. Community coders got the DS4 to work, made it very customizable, and it uses Bluetooth for wireless. Meanwhile, the best Microsoft has offered for the Xbox One controller is a driver and a wired version coming out next month; no wireless dongle for its proprietary wireless tech, no interesting customization.

But sadly, in my evaluation of the two, I found that I just can’t use a DualShock 4. It feels awkward in my hands, and I greatly prefer the Xbox’s offset analog sticks. It’s a shame, because I’d much rather co-opt Sony’s controller than use the one I’m ‘meant’ to. My next task is to find the right third-party controller to recommend.

Evan Lahti: More is more
When we wrote about this PC gaming gender demographics study earlier this week, a lot of folks in the (1,932) comments took exception to the idea of people who play on Facebook being “counted” as real PC gamers. Yes, many Facebook games are different from hardcore PC games (although plenty of them are increasingly complex). But are they any more different from Football Manager and Minecraft? Or Dota 2 and Plants vs. Zombies? We should celebrate the fact that a ton of women, kids, and people around the world are playing games on computers. Who cares if every person playing games isn’t doing it with a high-end GPU—doesn’t that actually speak to the PC’s flexibility as a platform?

We want our platform to be enormous, diverse, and filled with a multifarious set of experiences that appeal to everyone. Making any certain group feel like they’re not part of the club is a great way to discourage PC gaming’s growth.