This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE LOWS

Joe Donnelly: Death stranded

Death Stranding dropped a new trailer at Thursday night's Game Awards and it seems like that game is now officially a PlayStation 4 exclusive. Given how pumped I was for the ill-fated, Kojima-led, Norman Reedus-starring Silent Hills, I'll be a bit gutted if the duo's latest venture doesn't make its way to PC down the line. Not that Death Stranding has much in common with Silent Hills beyond Kojima and Reedus, though, as its latest nine minute-long cinematic proves. Seriously, what the hell is that all about? Shadowy entities, loss of gravity, Reedus being plunged underwater and then being washed up on dry land with a baby lodged in his throat who gives the camera a thumbs up and—bloody hell, Kojima has always been a bit out there but this is hard to take. 

Anyone got a clue what’s going on there? I’m open to all suggestions.    

Tyler Wilde: The Game Somethings

It's easy to make fun of live shows: jokes fall flat, cues are missed, developers yell "fuck the Oscars" and flip off the camera. We're super proud of our live E3 shows, and they're a huge amount of work—most of which the audience never sees—but I can't blame anyone for ribbing us about flubs. So as a caveat to my criticism, I do appreciate that Thursday's broadcast of The Game Awards was a massive undertaking, and I liked a lot about it. It was a confusing show, though, because the actual delivering of the awards was sometimes a big presentation, and other times just small talk.

The winner of Best RPG, for instance, came as a casual comment that I completely missed. That's weird! The Oscars are no great benchmark for good awards shows (fuck the Oscars, right?) but imagine if they just casually mentioned the Best Original Screenplay winner in the pre-show. It would lead us to think that it's a less important award. Or that the showrunners thought, for some reason, that the winner didn't deserve a chance to say their thank-yous on stage. Or that they don't care about their own awards at all. 

The Game Awards went a step further this year and actually failed to give PUBG its award for Best Multiplayer Game. It's odd to watch an awards show that seems uninterested in its own awards, and it makes all of them feel insubstantial. I know that if it were two hours of acceptance speeches we'd all be writing that it was boring instead, but surely there's a middle ground to find. Either that or rename it to The Kojima and Friends Variety Hour? I'd probably still watch.

Tim Clark: Destiny 2 becoming a debacle

I wrote in my High about what a great year Blizzard is having with Hearthstone, so much so that its subreddit is an unusuallysunny place to be. The same cannot be said for my other main game, because Bungie is lurching from one disaster to the next with Destiny 2, and its subreddit is now somewhere between the Springfield tire fire and an actual supernova. Between the hidden XP scaling, vanilla players getting locked out of content they've paid for, general frustration at the lack of endgame—which hasn't been soothed by Curse of Osiris expansion—and the fact PvP is now dominated by an actually broken gun (hey, at least Xur is selling it), it's been quite a week for the Seattle studio. To my mind, the biggest problem it's currently facing is that the community feels right on the cusp of going full Star Wars Battlefront 2 about the microtransactions which have transplanted much of the grind.

Once a YouTuber like Datto—who's generally regarded as one of the most sensible heads in the community, starts attacking the studio—as he did on Twitter this week, then you know the issues are serious. Still, at least at least there’s been some time for laughter. And for all the salt, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't still enjoying the game—even as my remaining friends drift away. But then I've always been a hopeless junkie for Destiny’s world design, which remains outstanding, and so I stay longer than I should. I'll have a full writeup of my thoughts early next week, once I've dragged James, Andy C. and Austin through some of the raid lair. Pray for us.

Andy Kelly: Power play 

I recently uninstalled Destiny 2, deciding that, after 30 hours, I'd finally had enough of its fairly limited loot-and-shoot loop. It was starting to feel like an extra job. A checklist that would never, ever end. But then I saw someone tweeting about the expansion, Curse of Osiris, and I immediately downloaded it again in an extraordinary waste of time and bandwidth. Seems there was still some lingering, dormant need to return lurking in me.

And so I fired the game up, looking forward to checking out a new planet. Only it has a recommended power level of 200, and I'm at 140. So I quit and uninstalled it again. It probably wouldn't have taken that long to build my power up, but I had a vision of shooting endless aliens and completing fetch-quests to get there, and a wave of ennui crashed over me. But I guarantee I'll download it again when the next expansion comes out.

Samuel Roberts: Teasers for trailers
It's nice to see a bunch of new game announcements pop up in December, but announcements of announcements is where I draw the line. A thing! Covered in blood! From Software! It's about as vague as it gets, and I think you really have to like Dark Souls to force yourself to get excited about that. Just say what the bloody game is called, lads. At least give us that.

If it's not a game where you get killed by bastard-hard enemies in an ominous world while leaving polite tips to other players, I'll eat my HDD. 

Jarred Walton: Net fatality

Net neutrality has been under fire from special interest groups for some time, but the current FCC chairman Ajit Pai appears hellbent on driving the nail into the coffin. Most recently, it’s come to light that Pai is claiming net neutrality hurts the sick and disabled, because it prevents startups from paying for prioritized traffic for special low-latency services like telemedicine. This is patently false, since the current rules already provide an exception for such services.

The best we can hope for is that when net neutrality eventually ends, which is all but certain at this point, our broadband providers won’t use it as an excuse to jack up prices for special services. The hope is that this wasn’t happening before, so it won’t happen now. Unfortunately, prior to the net neutrality legislation, many companies were looking to start charging extra for certain services, so I’m not very optimistic in this regard. My Comcast 1TB per month data cap is starting to feel increasingly small, what with several 100GB game downloads this past year.

If you’ve got the time, you can join one of the many protests being staged. Not that it’s likely to stop our ‘dear leader’ Pai and his FCC lackies.