This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

 The Lows

Joe Donnelly: Speed up, Sonic

I'm really looking forward to Headcannon and PagodaWest's reimagining of early '90s Sonic, which is why I was a wee bit sad to see it delayed from springtime to summer this week. It's not a huge delay, granted, and while I'd rather see games spending longer in the oven as opposed to being released prematurely, the time since its San Diego Comic Con reveal last year seems to have dragged on.

This is another High-masquerading-as-a-Low from me I suppose, as, while disappointed with the delay, the announcement at this week's SXSW conference brought with it a new trailer. Teasing the blue hedgehog, his flying fox compadre Tails, and the pinky/red echidna Knuckles, Mania's latest short showcases the Flying Battery Zone from 1994's Sonic and Knuckles. Add that to what we've seen of the reworked Greenhill Zone and entirely new arenas and summertime can't come quick enough.   

Samuel Roberts: New Sonic is rubbish, though

Being a Sonic fan any time after about 1995 must be like living in some kind of Twilight Zone episode—or possibly the movie Memento. 'Sonic could finally be good again!' is a sentiment I've seen expressed about a dozen times in my decade writing about games, and then it basically never turns out to be true, but people still express that a year later when they've forgotten how bad the last game was. Sometimes modern Sonic games result in okay throwbacks to previous games (Sonic Generations, Sonic 4 Episode 1), and most of the time it brings us smoking hot garbage (Sonic: Lost World).

The new one, Sonic Forces, basically just looks like more of the 3D levels from Sonic Generations and Sonic Unleashed, which are entertaining enough, if imprecise and mostly playing themselves—but it's not exactly an inspiring showing. Sonic Mania is loads better, though, based on what I played at the PC Gamer Weekender in February.

Phil Savage: Mass Media

It's hard to maintain the illusion of exploring a new galaxy when so much of my Twitter feed is posting Mass Effect videos and hot takes. It's been difficult enough to avoid EA's seventy thousand trailers, but now the internet at large is digging into Andromeda's first few hours – mostly in the name of jokes. Andromeda isn't properly out yet, and already the latest release of a series I love has had the shine taken off it. It no longer feels new or exciting. Its first hours have been stripped of mystique.

EA's early access trial has been a resounding failure. Seemingly significant flaws are being isolated and tweeted out in the name of RTs, and those of us who want to experience the game in its entirety are forced to either go to ground, or deal with a weekend of scepticism and cynicism. Maybe it's good that expectations are being lowered, but that can more helpfully be achieved through more nuanced discussion. In future, perhaps EA should hold off on the demo until the game is actually released.

James Davenport: Nierly no time

I’m about 30 hours into Mass Effect: Andromeda, but so desperately want to play NieR: Automata instead. This isn’t a jab at Andromeda—we’ve already outlined our thoughts of the first few hours and my feelings might have changed—NieR is just more directly up my alley. It has a challenging combat system with bullet hell components, and from what I hear, a story that gets bleak. I like bleak. If only it wasn't coming out while I’m still juggling Zelda, Andromeda, and getting ready for the final Dark Souls 3 DLC. I can’t remember the last time I felt so overwhelmed with so many big releases to check out at once. Typically, it happens in November. The sun’s out, I’m supposed to leave my room, not shutter the window and lock the door. This job sure is a grind.

Chris Livingston: The heat of the fight

I live in a region of the country where we don't get a spring. We suffer the cold cloudiness of winter and then suddenly one day we walk outside, as I did this week, and it's bright, sunny, and uncomfortably warm. No spring, just straight into summer.

I bring this up because every year when I stand in the blinding heat for the first time, I think about how games are very good at making worlds that feel terribly cold but not very good at making worlds that feel genuinely hot. Except for one: Far Cry 2. That game just felt hot, and I don't mean all the out-of-control fires. It legitimately and convincingly created a world that felt stiflingly, unbearably hot. This is a low because now having thought of Far Cry 2, I will thus have to play it all the way through again. That's not a low either: I love me some Far Cry 2! It's a low because I was going to start Mass Effect Andromeda this weekend, but now that's going to be delayed until I'm done sweating and shooting in the stifling heat of Far Cry 2 once again. The coldness of space will have to wait.

Tim Clark: My face is also tired

Last week, in this very column, I optimistically wrote: “Even if Andromeda ends up being just quite a good Mass Effect game, the prospect of going on another planet-hopping, space opera is this week’s high for me.” Reader, I was wrong. As Phil mentioned above, we had a bit of back and forth about our early game impressions this week, and I ended up taking the role of bad cop. This staggered embargo, seemingly largely designed to prop up pre-sales via the Origin Early Access scheme, has felt like the marketing equivalent of an airlock accident. I suspect we won’t see its like again. As for the game, it’s clearly going to split opinion, so I recommend waiting for the full review early next week.

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