The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The Gamechangers


Tom Senior: Change the channel
My lows of the week are what Phil says below, and then what Chris T says, in that order. My backup low—the yellow alert of lows—is a tentative concern about the Grand Theft Auto docudrama. My instinctive mistrust stems from a lifelong disappointment with the way that games are represented in mainstream entertainment. In this, Daniel Radcliffe is a hairy, rebellious punk coder. Hudson from Aliens is Jack Thompson, on a moral crusade to ban this sick filth. It's going to be absurd, and will probably end up annoying all of the real-world figures represented on both sides of the argument. Maybe I'll skip it and run another GTA 5 heist with friends instead.

Tyler Wilde: I ran to a bad video game movie
Earlier today I posted a story about Hitman: Agent 47, in which I judged Agent 47’s hitman skills in the movie. He wasn’t a good hitman, and the movie wasn’t very good either. To make things worse, I had to run through San Francisco—like with my legs moving fast and everything—to catch it.

With my usual, restriction-free parking space taken by another building tenant (the bastards), I decided to drop my car in a garage before heading to the movie. No problem, except I didn’t know it was going to take me over half an hour to find a parking garage that wasn’t full.

By the time I parked (four floors underground), I was already late for the showtime, but I knew I had about 10 minutes of trailers before the actual movie started. So I bolted (eh, jogged poorly) up the garage stairs, sprinted (eh, stumbled quickly) past flocks of pedestrians—nearly running over an old man on his way out of Tad’s Steakhouse—and deked a crowd of tourists by leaping over (eh, gingerly stepping over) a rope barrier and running across the cable car tracks.

After running three blocks, the length of a shopping mall, and up four escalators, I walked up to the only cashier in the theater lobby, panting and sweating, and asked for one ticket to Hitman: Agent 47. He did not react to the wheezing, balding man in front of him. He just spoke the price and took my money, entirely unbothered that I was wiping sweat off my forehead after having made a considerable effort not to miss a single second of Hitman: Agent 47 in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon. I went in to the empty theater and sat down, my back sticking to the leather chair, and watched a bad movie. Thank you, theater man, for pretending not to notice any of that.

Star Wars Battlefront Slide

Chris Thursten: Servering TIEs
Firstly: I am sorry. About that pun. It’s Friday and it’s the first thing that came to mind. My low this week is the news that Star Wars Battlefront—the new one—won’t have a server browser. This is disappointing in and of itself: being able to choose where and what you play is a basic feature that players should expect. As Tom notes, servers also play a major role in building a community. They give communities a degree of ownership over a game, which is essential if a multiplayer game is going to thrive.

EA simply don’t seem to understand this, preferring to force a game-as-service model onto a genre where it simply isn’t suitable. This ties into a broader trend within modern FPS design: paid-for map packs, account-wide levelling and season passes all contribute to the gradual fracturing of the community. This line of thinking did enormous damage to Titanfall, and it’s doing enormous damage to Evolve. I’m looking forward to Battlefront, but I know in my heart of hearts that I’ll play it for a week and forget about it—because after that time my experience will be at the mercy of matchmaking, unlocks, and whatever DLC schedule EA has planned.

Tom Marks: I am not playing MGS 5 right now
The low point of my week has been every moment I’m not playing Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. Being at work, sleeping, preparing and then eating meals, typing this low of the week; they all prevent me from playing. I am currently spending valuable keyboard clicks on making letters appear when they could be spent on making bad guys disappear—preferably via inconspicuous sky balloon. The long weekend can’t get here soon enough.

Deus Ex Pre Order Slide

Phil Savage: Nobody asked for this
Square Enix will release Deus Ex: Mankind Divided four days 'early' if enough people pre-order the game. This is the marketing equivalent of the kid who only lets you play with his ball if you agree to be goalkeeper. And here's the thing, Square Enix: nobody liked that kid. They only played with him because, for some reason, he was the only child on the street with access to a ball.

I'm almost impressed. It's simultaneously manipulative, cynical and laughable. It's manipulative because it's trying to persuade Deus Ex fans that Mankind Divided will release early if they pre-order, rather than release late if they don't. It's cynical because Square Enix thinks people will fall for that. It's laughable because it's four god damn days. I can wait. Can you wait? We can probably all just wait.

Chris Livingston: F you
In Mad Max, you sometimes have to pick up and carry a canister of gasoline (or guzzoline, to use the local parlance). Sometimes you use the can to refill your car's gas tank or a generator, sometimes you light it on fire and use it to blow things up. Filling a tank and setting gas on fire are two fairly different things. One might say they are polar opposites. In one instance you want the gas to be nice and not explode. In the other, exploding is the thing you want!

These two very different activities are bound to the same key, the F key, by default. Obviously, the action changes depending on the context. If you're standing in front of something that can be filled with gas, pressing F will pour the gas into the gas-hole. If, however, you are standing in front of the empty tank, but perhaps at a slight angle, or maybe just standing a little too far away, that F key will make you light the gas can on fire. Did I have a little mix-up that wound up with an explosion and not a happily chugging generator? I did indeed. Did I have an extra can of gas? I did not.

I know that it's hard to fit a million different actions onto a controller, and most of the time having the same key or button doing a bunch of different things is just fine. But pouring gas and setting it on fire? With the same key? It's the apocalypse, man. We can't afford to accidentally burn gas.


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