The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

GTA Online

THE LOWS

Andy Kelly: GTA’s DLC drought
As someone who primarily plays single-player games, I’m disappointed to hear that Rockstar don’t currently have any plans to release story DLC for Grand Theft Auto 5. I loved GTA 4’s The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and Damned—they were, in fact, better than the main game. They gave a fresh perspective on Liberty City, introducing new characters and giving the setting a new atmosphere. Wandering the streets as biker Johnny Klebitz felt very different from being Niko Bellic. GTA Online is awesome, but I’d love to see Los Santos through another character’s eyes, and experience some new storylines in that amazing city.

Phil Savage: Does GTA Online deserve the attention?
Like Andy, I'm concerned by Rockstar's newfound dedication to GTA Online. However, my issue isn't that I want single-player DLC. It's that I'm not sure that GTA Online is worth the effort.

I've had some great times with GTA 5's multiplayer—specifically the heists (something we're not getting any more of). But the Freeplay itself, which next week is getting a new dynamic event system, is a mess. There's definitely potential for GTA Online to be amazing, but right now on PC it's an unchecked wasteland of hackers and misery. We've taken to playing in private maps, just to avoid being griefed by unkillable teleporting bastards. It'll be great if Rockstar can fix the current problems, but first I'd like some reassurance that they're even trying.

80 Days Slide

Wes Fenlon: I have to spend a week playing 80 Days again
I’m feeling positive this week, so I’m actually sneaking a high into my low: the wonderful iOS game 80 Days is coming to PC. Playing 80 Days over holiday break last year was the most enraptured I’ve been in a narrative game in years. It captures all the mystery and wonder of a choose-your-own-adventure book, but with far, far better writing. The light gameplay elements like trading and collecting useful equipment lend it a layer of strategy, but mostly I love 80 Days for its impeccable storytelling, the way it blends past and future with its steampunk world. It’s a joy to explore.

The promise of 150,000 new words and two new major plotlines has me excited to play through 80 Days a few more times. There’s no real negative here, except that I’m not sure if this is a game I really want to play on PC. It works so well on an iPhone, I’d rather not sit at a desk to play through it again. Looks like this’ll be a laptop game for me.

Tim Clark: Not so legendary
I’m going to sub in for Samuel at this point to tell you about a low which actually happened two weeks ago but has taken me this long to be able to write about. Regular readers may be aware that I am quite fond of Hearthstone. I’ve been playing since it came out of beta, and each season have finished a little higher on the ladder. For the last few months, hovering around ranks 5 and 4, I’ve felt like I could probably hit legend with a bit of extra grind. So, with 48 hours to go, I made the push. And, as you’ve probably guessed, my low is not that it feels hollow now that I’ve got the legend card back and all the sex and drugs that go with it. Yes friends, I fell tantalisingly short. Twice on the final day—with my head baking like the Gobi desert from all the decision making—I was two wins away from making legend, only to go on painful losing streaks. Which maybe isn’t that close at all. What I do know is that I let my dreams stay dreams. Feels bad man.

mgsHL

James Davenport: The need for Solid arguments
My low comes with a caveat. There are plenty of lovely, civil commenters in most of our threads. To you, thanks. Keep carrying the fire. That said, I’m still dumbfounded that so many people perceive feminist criticism of media as threatening and don’t understand how to initiate an actual discussion if they disagree. This exploded in a recent post of ours on MGS 5 over a short parallel to the Hawkeye Initiative, a totally warranted mention.

I’m not asking people to think directly in line with me, but to consider that media—whether it’s games, movies, books, or a dude yelling on the street corner—is never exempt from criticism. Media exists for a multitude of reasons, but at their core they’re simply means of communicating information. And when this happens on a massive scale in popular media, like MGS 5, it’s assumed that people will have things to say about whatever it is. After all, creative works are a reflection of some aspect of some culture. For most interested in games, that manifests in the mechanics and basic narrative components of a game. In MGS 5, we’re hearing a lot about how the stealth is great and how the story is divisive, but feminist criticism zooms in on specific aspects of representation for a similar purpose: (to be reductive) how is this good, bad, and how can it be better?

The openness of PC gaming is the reason it’s my preferred platform. We can play games big and small on machines that are also big and small ( and robotic). The opportunity for expression and diversity is imbued directly into the PC gaming ethos. So, when I see comments claiming that feminist criticism has nothing to do with PC gaming, I get sad. PC gaming has to do with everything. If a game has ever made you feel camaraderie with strangers over a close victory, moved to tears by the death of a beloved character, or—consider this—a silly model swap spurred you into reconsidering gender representation, then it should be obvious. Embrace criticism! It’s lovely!

Chris Livingston: What's on the menu?
Another thing Mad Max and Phantom Pain have in common are some pretty crappy menus if you happen to be using a mouse and keyboard. They both have weird keys for switching tabs or pages: U and I for Max and 1 and 3 for Phantom Pain. Huh? How do you even come up with that? "No, no, it should be more awkward and unintuitive. I want them to have to look down at the keyboard every time they use the menu!"

At least you can use the mouse in Mad Max's menu (mostly, at least—there are a few things you can't click for some reason). Phantom Pain? Nope! No mouse cursor. I suspect the technology to add mouse functionality to a menu exists, based on my experience with essentially every PC game ever made, but apparently I'll have to sneak into Konami's headquarters, scan their employees, and attach a Fulton balloon to the one engineer who can make it happen. BRB.