This week's highs and lows in PC gaming


Phil Savage: Mod complex

There's not much I'm particularly riled about this week, so I'm going to use this space for its intended purpose: blistering hot takes that I'm stating mostly just to wind people up (but also that I 100 percent believe and will accept no argument against). Here we go: if you use this Monster Hunter: World transmog mod, you are a bad person who should feel bad.

It's Monster Hunter. Literally the whole point is that you spend hours hacking apart majestic creatures in order to get the clothes you want. The balance between the best looking armour sets and the most effective is the central tension at the heart of the game. The thing about elder dragons and the ecology of the island is all set dressing. This is a fashion show with game systems. Take that away, and what the hell is even the point?

Also DmC is the best Devil May Cry and X-2 is the best Final Fantasy. Do not @ me.

Philippa Warr: State of de-Cayde

Destiny 2’s Last Stand of the Gunslinger cinematic arrived this week and what a sad one it was. Not because of the demise of wise-cracking Cayde-6. But because it involved sitting through, like, four whole minutes of Cayde-6. Cayde-6 is/was the vanguard for the Hunter class in the game and absolutely embodied why Hunters are the WORST. He was a limelight hog, and a haver-of-the-last-word, and an arrogant show-off, as are literally all hunters with no exceptions. In the first game they were an absolute pain in the butt, going invisible on raids and wandering off, then complaining that you were being attacked on account of not being invisible, or that hideous overpowered Bladedancer nonsense, or being EXACTLY the sort of people who would refuse to let anyone else have a turn at holding the sword and stabbing Crota. GOOD RIDDANCE.

Joe Donnelly: Shut down
It was apparently close, but the OpenAI Five lost two games against human Dota 2 players at this week's The International. And while I was once worried a win would've marked the beginning of the end for humankind, I'm admittedly a wee bit bummed the bots didn't succeed. 

According to the OpenAI blog, the Five maintained "a good chance of winning for the first 20-35 minutes of both games" before falling short. The blog says that "losing shows the amazing skill of top professionals, and helps us compare Five’s play to the best of the best." The Open AI team is now "looking forward to pushing Five to the next level". And suddenly it's all sounding a bit too Cyberdyne-y for me again. 

Jarred Walton: Rendered eXtinct

Nvidia just blew the doors wide open for its next generation of graphics cards. AMD meanwhile has been silent. It’s no secret that Vega fails to compete with the GTX 1080 Ti, and yet it uses significantly more power to achieve less performance. How will AMD now compete with the GeForce RTX cards? I only see one real option right now: price cuts.

The difficulty is that RX Vega is an expensive chip to manufacture. The main GPU is only slightly larger than the GP102 in GTX 1080 Ti, but then it has to support expensive HBM2 memory. How low can AMD go on pricing? Realistically, I think Vega cards need to drop to $300-$400 to remain competitive once GeForce RTX cards start selling, which is about $150 lower than current prices. GPU prices have already dropped $50 on most models, but there’s more to come.

What we need is a new round of GPUs from AMD, with better performance and efficiency. Getting hardware support for accelerating DirectX Ray Tracing will be necessary at some point as well—it’s possible to do DXR via compute shaders, but it’s about 10X slower than dedicated hardware. Right now Nvidia is in the pole position for graphics, and I’m not sure how long it will take for AMD to catch up. Lack of competition is likely the number one reason for the increased pricing on the upcoming Nvidia cards.

Chris Livingston: Chromatic aberration

Use a piece of software long enough and it'll eventually betray you. I've been using Chrome as my default browser for years but now I have to say goodbye: I'm experiencing an issue where it'll freeze up for about ten seconds every few minutes. I've removed all my extensions and add-ons, I've wiped it from my system and reinstalled it repeatedly, making me think the issue might be with a recent Windows update for all I know. Whatever the cause, I have to—see I just had a ten second freeze while writing this, and can't remember how I was going to end that sentence. I think it was with a reference to a mountain climber cutting the rope of another climbing who was dragging him down. 

Anyway, hi Firefox! Sorry I've only used you for private window sessions for the last four or five years. Sorry for all the things you've seen, and hopefully you (truly) don't remember them. You're at the wheel now.

Wes Fenlon: Monstrous frustrations

Monster Hunter: World's been out on PC for a couple weeks now, and I've been having a blast with it. I'm finally up in High Rank, where the game really gets going—I now have fast upgrade trees for armor and weapons stretched out before me, and much tougher monsters to fight. Only problem is, getting into sessions with my friends has been a total pain, with mysterious network issues popping up regularly. They're the kind of errors that are probably completely out of my control, but I still went down the forum rabbit hole trying to fix them: port forwarding, messing with Steam settings, the works. And those things seemed to help. Maybe. But not always. Capcom released a patch on Thursday, supposedly fixing some of the network issues, but acknowledging others remain. My online time Thursday night was smooth sailing, and I didn't get hit with the mid-hunt disconnects that have been plaguing me this week. Fingers crossed the fixes have helped most other people, too.

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