This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The highs

Joe Donnelly: California dreamy

Yes, I reused the strapline for the news story I penned about GTA 5 modder Razed’s NaturalVision Remastered this week because it’s a good one. It also captures how I feel about this impressive and ambitious visual overhaul—which its creator spent a whopping 1,200 hours crafting, all the while poring over “hundreds” of real life photographs and 40 hours of footage of Southern California. The result is pretty spectacular, and while no mod project of this stature is straightforward, the amount of dedicated research that’s gone into this one is commendable. So much so—shameless plug alert—I caught up with Razed over Skype and have a feature article in the works. Expect that next week.

Phil Savage: Mount up

It's been some time since I've had anything to say about Guild Wars 2—a game I once wrote about seemingly endlessly—but a new expansion seems like a good reason to be dragged back in. Path of Fire is the MMOs second expansion, and, more than its new zones, new specialisations, and new varied desert environments, it's the mounts that have me excited. Rather than a way to travel faster, Path of Fire's mounts are a way to jump longer, jump higher, and blink around corners. I'm a sucker for cool traversal mechanics, and this seems tailor made to enable cool jumping puzzles. For more on Path of Fire, check out my round-up of everything you need to know.

Tyler Wilde: Honk honk 

I love that people are driving up to streamers in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and honking at them. I love the lengths people will go to be annoying. I doubt most streamers feel the same way, because, yeah, it would suck to be stream sniped. I understand the frustration and this honking game is definitely going to overstay its welcome. But in the present moment, I can’t help but enjoy the absolute stupidity of it. I never got mad in Battlefield when someone loaded a jeep with explosives and drove it into my tank, and I guess I’ll always enjoy it when people subvert game rules instead of ‘playing the game right,’ or invent games on top of games. I’m not encouraging this behavior. Well, tacitly I suppose I am, but it’s not that I want anyone to abuse information from streams, it’s just that when they do, I mean come on, it is at least a little funny.

Samuel Roberts: space!

GTA V heads for the stars in an impressive-looking mod, which received a surprisingly breathtaking trailer this week. Oddly I'm reminded of the days after San Andreas's release, where I remember UK games magazines of the time speculating about whether the next GTA would take us into the stars. I'm not sure what you'd do up there. Take a taxi to the dark side of the moon? Steal a NASA vessel and spraypaint it so they'd never know? Listen to alien radio stations that make such broad swipes at the excesses of alien culture that you fall over? Run over Matt Damon in a space buggy?

It didn't go in that direction, obviously, and I'm glad Rockstar made GTA IV instead, but damn—this looks pretty close to fulfilling the potential of a space-based GTA.

Wes Fenlon: Map made in heaven

A few weeks back I spent nearly an hour and a half talking with the developers of Hollow Knight about how they built their game. More specifically, about how they designed their map, a dense Metroid-inspired labyrinth full of secrets and beautiful sights and a seriously scary den of creepy bugs called the Deepnest. Ari and William shared a bunch of in-progress maps with me, and I put together this feature on how the map evolved from a small game jam, to a more linear adventure, to its final form, a sprawling, interconnected map with few hard limits to where you can adventure. If you're at all into Metroid-style games, I think you'll find it as fascinating as I did.

Chris Livingston: Tuan in a box

I'm not a fan of unboxing videos. No judgments if you are, it's just something I've never personally understood the appeal of, much like The Big Lebowski, Doctor Who, line dancing, and feta cheese. But it was pretty cool to watch Bo, Wes, and Tuan unbox the ridiculous $9,000 Acer Predator 21X laptop, which appears to have been built for someone with a much bigger lap than mine (Paul Bunyan, for example). It has a 21-inch curved screen and came in a box so big Tuan could (and did) fit inside it with room to spare.

I don't really understand the need for a laptop so huge and heavy—where are you going to take it in the briefcase that looks large enough to fit my own desktop PC? Bo seems excited to try it out, though, and I got to see Tuan hide in a box like Solid Snake. I'd smash that like button.

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