The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Rubick Cunning Augur


Chris Thursten: Unborn
I decided to write about something I loved about Dota 2 this week, but the Reborn update is still impacting my enjoyment of the game. Major problems notwithstanding, it still doesn’t feel quite right—as Valve crack down on double-input bugs and broken animations, I realise that a lot of the feeling I’m getting is coming from tiny subliminal faults and omissions in a game that I’ve spent thousands of hours absorbing. The more serious issue is that it affects which friends I can play with: even though my problems are minor, Reborn has introduced crash-to-desktop errors for people I’d otherwise be playing with regularly. I can’t wait to get a stable Dota 2 back.

Wes Fenlon: It's time to move past the 30 fps lock
Some disappointing news about Tales of Zestiria came down this week: the Japanese action RPG will be locked at 30 fps. I'm happy the Tales series is coming to PC, and I hope the game is successful—I love the trend of more Japanese games, especially RPGs, finding an audience on PC. And the game will play fine at 30 fps, because that's how it was designed to play. But that's just the problem: Japanese developers need to move past the antiquated school of design that ties game systems to framerate. It doesn't have to be this way! Look at all the PC games that function as well at 40 fps as they do at 144 fps.

Tales of Zestiria was originally coded for the PlayStation 3, so it's understandable that this port won't be able to fix limitations inherent in its design. Bandai Namco isn't being lazy or cheap because the port's 30 fps. But I hope that success on the PC leads more Japanese developers to think ahead, and stop designing their games with animation or logic keyed to framerates. Listen to Durante and embrace our glorious variable framerate future!

GTA 5 Slide

Chris Livingston: Hack 'N Crash
I've always been a bit dubious about hacking accusations in online games. Often, complaints of hacking are really just complaints that someone is better than you, and occasionally it's an issue (netcode, geometry) with the game itself. Yet even in my limited time playing GTA 5 Online, I've come across several legit instances of hackers, or people using cheat mods online, or whatever you want to call them. Invisible players, invulnerable players, teleporting players, players with unlimited ammo, players who can kill you despite being on the other side of the map, players who can kill everyone on the map at once.

It's annoying, and frustrating, and Rockstar, despite seemingly throwing up so many roadblocks that have made single-player mods such a challenge to get working, somehow haven't managed to prevent people from exploiting the game online. Since it's clear Online is their main focus at this point, I hope more of that focus is aimed at preventing hackers, because it's desperately needed.

Tom Marks: Sitting out
I’ve been house sitting for a friend most of this week and for the coming weekend, which means I haven’t had my PC with me and it’s slowly becoming more difficult to deal with. There are so many things I want to play right now! Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, Flywrench, Terraria, Metal Gear Solid 5, Unreal Tournament, Rocket League; I wouldn’t have enough time to play all of these even if I had my computer, so going without it for a week is just putting me further behind. Boy, how do people manage without PC games to play?

Metal Gear Solid 5 Slide

Tom Senior: Snake? Snake?? Snaaaake!
I love Metal Gear Solid 5, and it's sad to think that we may never see a proper follow up. We knew that Kojima was leaving, but today's reports suggest that Konami might stop making big-budget games entirely, bar the odd instalment of Pro Evo.

If that's the case, what will happen to the Metal Gear license, and the Silent Hills license? Will the next Metal Gear be a match-three mobile experience? Will the once-exceptional Silent Hills series live on in Pyramid Head pachinko form? Hopefully Konami's departure from the AAA tier has been overstated, but for now there’s a bittersweet edge to MGS5's sprawling, ambitious stealth sandbox.

James Davenport: Big Loss
This will be my final Highs and Lows in which I mention Metal Gear Solid 5 for some time. Just last night, I finished up the game and was left feeling, well, a ghostly ache. The final hours of MGS 5 are the most trying, unnecessary means of expressing a clever, albeit simple revelation, the content of which I didn’t even find that revelatory. It imprinted like an italicized footnote in a book about the history of history, small and distinct, but inherently excessive.

MGS5 flirts with a few avenues of storytelling that might have changed my feelings, but I’ll reserve saying exactly what in case I imply a bit too much. Perhaps we’ll talk about the narrative in depth after a few weeks, once more folks have finished up. Simply put, the story was far too disconnected from the majority of what I spent my time doing. During the entirety of Chapter 2, the narrative was only doled out in tiny, infrequent vignettes after dinking around in the open world long enough. While I understand that moment to moment the missions were fun and part of role-playing Big Boss, the overarching narrative was diluted as a result. And what was there was driven by weak characters—Quiet being the exception—and a bit too much sleepy prodding at big Metal Gear questions.

All that said, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. Kojima’s signature is still present in every corner, it’s just too easy to see where something much bigger was meant to be. Writer Brendan Keogh sums up my feelings better than I can here. Don’t read it unless you’re finished too. Spoilers and all that.


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