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This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE LOWS 

Andy Kelly: Crying game

I've given up on Far Cry 5. I completed the Holland Valley region, and honestly, I feel like that's enough. My biggest problem is how weak the story is. "The story doesn't matter!" you may be thinking. "Just go and blow up a bear with a rocket launcher!" But I'm the kinda guy who needs to be invested in a story and a world to enjoy a game. I need to care.

But the boring, toothless cult the game is built around made it hard to. The villains are one-dimensional, bible-spouting cliches. Every cutscene is some rambling religious rant that says a lot while somehow not saying anything. It was such a good premise, but squandered on something that plays it too safe and seems afraid to push any buttons.

Chris: Bar Cry

I discovered this week that when my Far Cry 5 companions aren't at my side, they all hang out together at a pizza place. I'm always curious about the inner lives of NPCs, and as I did with Skyrim when I followed my wife around for days to see what she did, I wondered if my followers in Far Cry 5 actually went home when I dismissed them. After spending a couple hours following everyone around, I found out the animals go home but the humans get together for pizza and beers and chit-chat at a local bar. And they don't invite you.

It's a nice little detail in the game, but I have to say my feelings are hurt that I've never been invited to their NPC gathering. I've been playing the game for weeks and my companions have had plenty of chances to mention that they're going out for a beer and wouldn't I like to join them? Then again, I am often getting them shot at and blown up, so maybe they just need a break. Nobody wants to party with the boss when the boss is a magnet for bullets, bombs, and animal attacks.

Tim Clark: One dusky girl

I was up until 1:30 am last night jamming cards, which is itself a low given that I had an early morning meeting which (surprise!) I arrived at only to find it had been cancelled. But enough about my middle management travails, back to the cards. I was of course playing The Witchwood, Hearthstone’s new expansion, which has already delivered what is arguably the most obnoxious combo in the game’s history. And that’s really saying something. My low isn’t the Shudderwock combo however, although I did run into it a few times last night, and on one notable occasion was able to leave, take a piss, and come back to see the animations still resolving. 

No, my low is what’s happened to the Druid class. I was a Druid main back in the days when it had its own egregious combo, and it was my first golden class. These days charging treants are but a distant, triggering memory, and Druid is reduced to either playing some variation of ramp/taunt or this ridiculous new hand size bullshit. As if to ram home the point about the weakness of Druid, I pulled a golden Duskfallen Aviana from my packs. This is the new Druid legendary card which our expert called: “Horrible, 2/10”. Frankly that score should be regarded as generous. The worst thing? Even when I’m not playing Druid she’s started to follow me.

Jarred Walton: Hardware hell

Testing new hardware sounds glamorous… and then you get early access to parts that can turn your hair gray. The initial Ryzen launch was, frankly, awful, with all sorts of incompatibilities and general flakiness of the platform. I had hoped the second generation of Ryzen parts would be better, and the first X470 motherboard I tried worked without a hitch. Then I moved to the second board and have had nothing but problems.

First my GTX 1080 Ti FE graphics card wouldn’t initialize — it works in dozens of other systems, but on this one board the screen would go black instead of showing the Windows desktop and I could only remote into the system. I swapped graphics cards to a different GPU and at first it seemed to be working okay, and then part way through gaming tests the screen went black and I had to reboot. I eventually paused testing of that board and moved to (re)testing a different system, only to find that several of the games stored on my 2TB testing SSD were mysteriously gone, and most others were partially corrupted. Thus commenced several hours of recopying, verifying, and redownloading games.

I still don’t know if I just got unlucky with a bad motherboard sample, or if my combination of hardware caused a glitch with early firmware. But neither option instills me with confidence in the motherboard manufacturer. Beta BIOS testing isn’t very fun.

Joe Donnelly: Switch tactics 

I've moaned about my backlog on more than one occasion in this column, but this is red alert. Not only is Dark Souls Remastered en route to the Switch next month, Football Manager 2018's Touch variation (the sim's streamlined slant otherwise found on tablets) is out now on Nintendo's handheld-console hybrid. Despite rumblings of a Switch appearance earlier this year, I didn't see this coming. Nor did my backlog. 

Having spent the last two weeks moving, and therefore not playing videogames, a timesink game is exactly what I'm after. Just not Football Manager. Or Dark Souls. Quick! Name some PC-exclusive leisure time taker-uppers in the comments below. 

Tom Senior: Fight me

I’m in the mood to hit some gremlins with an axe so hard they catch fire and dissolve. God of War is sadly not coming to PC ever, which leaves me short of a fun game about hitting things. I can’t play through Space Marine again, so what am I going to do?

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice has really flashy, fun combat. It has some brilliant storytelling and performances too—this week’s Bafta success was well deserved. But it’s a bit too intense for what I’m looking for. If I go back to Diablo I won’t go outside all weekend, and I’d like a brawler with bang up-to-date graphics. I reckon there’s a big hole for a game like that in the PC gaming landscape at the moment. Something big-budget, beautiful, and full of high-impact brawls.