This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The Highs

Andy Kelly: Souls survivor

Dark Souls 3 has, unexpectedly, taken over my life this week. I had a hard time with the first two, giving up after 5-6 hours, but for whatever reason I’ve kept plugging away at the third game. Yesterday I cut down the Curse-Rotted Greatwood, and today I’ve made my first steps down the Road of Sacrifices. Minor achievements for Souls veterans, but a huge personal victory for me. I revisited the High Wall of Lothric and was able to effortlessly kill the red-caped knights that were causing me so much stress when I first started. I love that feeling, of your skills sharpening and your knowledge increasing. I finally get why people go so crazy for these games.

I’ve also been dipping my toes in co-op. You can read about that here. Since I wrote that article I’ve moved on to helping people kill the Greatwood. I’ve died a few times, but not after carving a decent chunk off its health bar. If that helps someone get through it, I’m happy not making it through the entire battle. There are still a few things causing me trouble, like those fat, laughing witch things in the Undead Settlement, which always kick my ass. And the monster guarding the entrance to the Road of Sacrifices was absolutely wasting me, so I ended up cheesing it by shooting it with crossbow bolts through a doorway. I’m not proud of myself, but a few Souls players have reassured me that sort of thing is acceptable from time to time.

I’m sure I’ll reach a boss or area soon that I might find too punishing, and give up like I did with the other games, but right now I’m having the time of my life in Lothric. The world From has created is absolutely beguiling, and I love reading item descriptions to uncover more about the setting, its history, and the people who live, or lived, there. I knew the game had officially won me over when I found myself reading Dark Souls lore in bed on my phone. That’s when you know you’re in deep. I don’t know what’s waiting for me down the Road of Sacrifices, but I know it’s going to be one hell of a journey. Fingers crossed I make it through to the other side. 

Angus Morrison: Modernised warfare

Assuming this isn’t a cruel and elaborate hoax, a remaster of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare will be coming our way with the release of Infinite Warfare. The details came out in ever-reputable low-quality screengrabs, potentially confirmed by Activision in the medium of emoji. Still wilder rumours suggest that even multiplayer is due an overhaul.

This is welcome but entirely unsurprising news. Call of Duty’s sales have been flagging, now closer to ‘massive’ than ‘apocalyptically huge’. Modern Warfare is the undisputed best Call of Duty—we have a list that proves it—so if anything can refuel the hype train, it’s this.

Don’t read Samuel’s low of the week—he hasn’t been excited for anything since the hype train ran over his dog. 

Tim Clark: Having C’Fun

The fact my Hearthstone collection is stuck on the potato EU servers was almost a low this week, as it meant I had to wait a few hours before busting open my Whispers of the Old Gods packs. (Exacerbated by US colleague Tom Marks cracking his open in front of me at lunch.) But now the new set is live everywhere, I’m (somewhat predictably) loving it. Prior to the final card dump, I’d been concerned that there weren’t enough anti-aggro tools to stop Aggro Shaman going hog wild on ladder. But though that deck is definitely good, the sheer amount of high quality Taunt creatures, coupled with the fact a lot of sticky, Deathrattle stuff has cycled out of the meta, has made for the most fun I’ve had with the game in a looooong time. 

The list I’m currently using is a C’Thun Warrior deck that runs double Brawl, Justicar Trueheart, plus all the usual removal stuff which I found on the excellent Competitive Hearthstone subreddit. It’s comfortable going long against all but the heaviest control decks, and the inevitability of a Giant C’Thun coming down means you’re usually fine to keep stalling. No doubt there are more optimised versions to be found, but right now it’s carried me to the rarefied airs of rank three. I wonder whether long term the gimickyness of C’Thun will wear thin with players. The community got thoroughly sick of being killed by the Druid Combo, and burst damage has long been a bone of contention, but for now it’s a lot of fun. Speaking of which, the best part of the launch has been the inevitable slew of ludicrous Yogg-Saron videos. The card really is the most hilarious thing Blizzard has ever printed, and I think proof that RNG done right is completely core to the game’s appeal. I think my favourite is this one in which Yogg doesn’t quite carry the day. RIP epic sax guy!  

Evan Lahti: Snake people

If you owned a mobile phone in the early ‘00s or had the pleasure of using Windows 3.1, you surely played Snake, the real-time reptilian score-attack game where you twist an ever-growing ouroboros around a map. is that, played through your browser, in a live environment against hundreds of other people. The key difference here is that you die if you smash your head into someone else’s snake body, not yours.

It’s a weirdly captivating take on Everyone’s crawling around, trying to make themselves bigger, trying to cut each other off so they can absorb the precious, snake-embiggening life force of the snakes they kill. Tiny snakes trail behind larger ones, siphoning up their spent energy. Medium-sized snakes go for David and Goliath-like attacks. You might form a brief truce with a snake who wears the skin of an American flag; you might encircle baby snakes until they have nowhere to move, consuming them whole. It’s amazing how much tension is expressed in the meandering body language of a jumble of digital serpents. 

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Samuel Roberts: PCG at the movies

PC Gamer is mentioned in Ricky Gervais’s new film Special Correspondents this week. If you’ve signed into Netflix any time in the last two weeks you would’ve been bombarded with ads for it, but since the comedian and writer has offered us a bunch of free PR, I’m willing to forgive all of that (you can subscribe to the magazine here, by the way).

At the 47 minute mark, Ricky’s character Ian Finch—who, as I understand it, is a journalist pretending to be in a wartorn country as part of the film’s plot, and is palling around with the consistently handsome Eric Bana—buys a copy of PC Gamer at a New York newsstand. I’m delighted! We were asked by the film’s crew last year to mail a few copies over and give permission to use the magazine, which we were happy to do. I think the suggestion of reading the magazine is that his character is a little bit geeky—either that, or he’s a super handsome ladies’ man. I’ve not seen the film in full yet but I’m willing to believe it’s the latter. 

You don’t see the cover in the film, but it was the Total Warhammer reveal issue from last year. I was a big fan of Extras, The Office and his old podcasts, so I’m grateful for the mention. Clearly Ricky has great taste in magazines and in no way were we randomly selected for this extended cameo. 

Wes Fenlon: Romero will be back with a demo

John Romero’s Kickstarter for Blackroom, a throwback FPS, didn’t exactly rocket off the launchpad. And now after a few days, the developer has taken down the campaign and plans to come back with a playable prototype. I’m glad Romero took the Kickstarter down—not because I want it to fail, but because I want to see how cool Romero’s first FPS in 15 years could be, not just read the pitch. As we talked about on the podcast this week, we want Romero to show us some cool stuff: new weapon designs and other ideas in practice rather than just promise. No one expects a perfectly polished game as a prototype, of course, but if Romero can show off something that distinguishes Blackroom from the rest of the shooters around right now, I bet his next stab at crowdfunding will see a big boost. 

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