This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE HIGHS

Chris Livingston: Radical Highs

It's rough, it's unfinished, it's got lots of work ahead and challenges to overcome, but I enjoyed Radical Heights, the free-to-play battle royale game from Boss Key Productions, maker of Lawbreakers (I enjoyed Lawbreakers, too). It's a nice foil to the military grimness of PUBG and the colorful but complex building systems of Fortnite, with BMX bikes and ziplines and trampolines and an enjoyably obnoxious game-show premise.

It needs some speeding up, though: the mid-game lull that occurs in battle royale when most of the players have been wiped out and the remaining handful are spread around the map feels out of place in Radical Heights. If it's a game show, something should always be happening, and the last few minutes of a round are typically a bit too quiet. I'm hoping in addition to optimization and adding features, Boss Key will consider some ways to keep the goofball action rolling from start to finish.

Jarred Walton: Ryzen, part deux

It has been just over a year since AMD returned to competition in the CPU arena with its Ryzen processors. They were good, for CPU-centric tasks, but often came up a bit short compared to Intel’s latest processors—and Coffee Lake pretty much sealed the deal if you were shopping for a new PC. The second generation Ryzen parts have officially been announced, with modest improvements in clockspeeds, and improvements in latency as well. Testing is underway for the April 19 launch, and prices are competitive.

I’m glad that AMD has trimmed things down a bit this round, with only two each for the 8-core/16-thread and 6-core/12-thread product lines. The 4-core world is now officially the domain of Ryzen APUs, as far as I’m concerned. All of the new parts will also ship with heatsinks, making them more attractive as an all-in-one solution. It will be interesting to see what the practical impact of AMD’s enhancements to the Zen architecture do for gaming performance.

Tom Senior: Good company

We launched our board game channel recently, which gives us an excuse to write about the tabletop card games, board games, and war games that a lot of us on the team enjoy off-hours. This week Jon wrote about some terrific Star Wars games, including Star Wars: Legion.

I am often struck by the crossover between board game design and PC game design. Earlier this week we published an interview with the game director of Total War: Thrones of Britannia, in which he talks about board game design as an inspiration. If you’re playing a Firaxis game, you can be sure the design teams have brought a lot of board game experience to those systems. As for Star Wars: Legion, I realised as I was playing just last weekend that it bears many similarities to Company of Heroes, which itself may have been inspired by the World War 2 wargame Bolt Action. PC games and board games are swapping ideas all the time, and I’m really glad we get to cover both.

Tim Clark: Top 100 baby

Last week I regaled you with tales of how much I was enjoying The Elder Scrolls: Legends - Houses of Morrowind expansion, and this week, well, I’m about to do the same. Only slightly more boastfully. Last weekend I entered the Rumble Gauntlet event, in which you create a deck and play it until it either wins nine or loses three. Over the course of the three runs required to place a finish, I went 9-2, 6-3 (oops), and 9-1, which just about held to give me the 97th spot once the results were tallied on Monday. Here’s proof, and here’s the tri-colour House Dagoth deck I used. And yep, I really do use Clarkinator as my in-game name. It very briefly made me laugh when I was picking a handle to play Starcraft II, at the time assuming I'd never venture into multiplayer and so no-one would ever see it. 

And if you think that’s bad, wait until you hear what my Skype name is...

Andy Kelly: Sofa so good

Since upgrading to a 4K television, I've been doing most of my gaming this week with my PC plugged into it. It's hard to go back to a monitor when your eyes have been treated to 49 inches of vivid colours and pristine, pin-sharp pixels. Anyway, as a result, I've been getting fired into a lot of laid-back, couch-friendly games, including Telltale's brilliant Batman.

I unfairly wrote this off when it first came out as just another Telltale game, but it's actually superb, and one of my favourite Batman stories. I wrote about it, and why I've stopped caring that the choices in Telltale games don't matter, here. And I'm looking forward to playing more of season 2, which I started last night, and already feels like a big improvement.

Joe Donnelly: Moving tactics

I moved house last week which left me little time to play videogames. And if last week was about packing boxes, this week has been about unpacking them. This is my life now. Anyway, despite the fact I haven't played much over the last 14 days or so, I am looking forward to This Is the Police 2's slant on XCOM-style tactical strategy. Despite dragging on a little towards the end, I enjoyed the ambitious original. I thought it had some cool ideas, and it looked wonderful. A more involved evolution of that sounds exciting—as does managing your force with hands-on tactics in mind, and the threat of serious injury sans hit points. More deets and a trailer can be found this-a-way.