This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE HIGHS 

Chris Livingston: Outward bound

The highlight of my week (and last week's) has been to get an early look at Outward, an open world fantasy RPG from Nine Dots that will launch on March 26. It leans heavily into survival, with cooking, alchemy, and crafting, food and hydration, temperature management and exhaustion. Even spellcasting requires pre-planning, needing physical components in place as well as mana. There's no fast-travel, no quest markers, and while you've got a map you can't see your location on it so you need to use landmarks to find your way around (you do have a compass).

I wrote up a preview of Outward here detailing everything I've been finding so engrossing about it. If you like survival games and fantasy worlds, this one to keep an eye on.

Fraser Brown: Flock yeah!

I like pigeons a lot, mainly because my wee sister is, for some unknown reason, utterly terrified of them. And also cows, but that’s another story. Since pigeons are pretty much everywhere, they’ve provided a constant source of amusement. And they are again, because it looks like Stories Untold developer NoCode might have to make a pigeon fighting game because of a tweet. 

That Twitter was involved makes it more perfect. NoCode’s John McKellan created a PS1-style fighter featuring brawling pigeons over a weekend. Presumably as a joke that he might end regretting for the rest of his days, he suggested that he’d make the game if it got 10,000 retweets. It got over 11,000. Pigeon-based Hatoful Boyfriend is the best dating sim ever made (fight me) so we might be poised to get the greatest fighter, too. I am very excited. My sister, less so. 

Tyler Wilde: Fear actor

The dialogue in Resident Evil 2 cracks me up, because I am significantly more on edge than the characters who are meant to be running for their lives from flesh-eating monsters. I'll be cringing and recoiling and Leon is like 'ah, oh no.' He's fine with this. I'm not. It creates a weird disconnect where the game is acting on me instead of the characters, as if they're not supposed to be there, standing in the way of the zombies and my discomfort. It's silly but I love it, and I'm not sure it'd be a better game if they emoted more.

Jody Macgregor: We all go a little mad sometimes

The Elder Scrolls: Legends card game just got a new expansion, Isle of Madness. It's themed around The Shivering Isles, the Oblivion expansion that let you travel to the home of the god of madness and then do some of the series' strangest quests in a weird homage to Alice in Wonderland. There are double cards that split into two cards with wildly different effects, cards that transform the regular ESL lanes into new "mania" and "dementia" lanes, and a bunch more with unpredictable effects. The new cards are wrapped up in a story mode that's basically a singleplayer campaign love letter to that 2007 RPG add-on, which is some dedicated fan service.

Last year ESL got a new client, and it was pretty rough. I'm glad they've turned things around, both by fixing the bugs introduced by the new client, and by bringing out a quality expansion like this.

Andy Kelly: Roll with it

This week I finally found some time to play Katamari Damacy REROLL, a re-release of a cult PlayStation 2 game about a small prince rolling junk up with a giant ball. I played its sequel, We Love Katamari, on PlayStation 2 for a worrying amount of time, but I never did get a chance to enjoy the original. So it's a particular delight to have a whole new set of levels to crash around in with my big, sticky ball, and lots of bizarre new items to pick up with it.

I'm also amazed by how good the thing looks at 4K. I don't care as much about 4K as some folk, but damn, Katamari wears it well. The high resolution really accentuates the crispness and vibrancy of the visuals. This is one of those PS2-era games, along with the likes of Okami, Auto Modellista, and Viewtiful Joe, that’ll never age because of the sheer quality of the art direction. After playing a lot of depressing, story-heavy games lately, this is a breath of fresh air. Although the downside is that I'm constantly humming that theme song to myself.

Phil Savage: Immortal

'High' and 'low' are pretty emotive states, and I'm not sure much of the news fit in either one for me this week. A lot of it was neutral. Some of it was even complex and nuanced, and, frankly, I took some days off this week and haven't had time to process any of it. Instead I want to use this space to give a hat tip to the makers of the Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines' Unofficial Patch, which released a new version last weekend.

It didn't do much. The tutorial door opens better now. Sheriff now laughs when conjuring bats. It's nuts and bolts patch stuff. But I still think it's important to occasionally take time to recognise ongoing projects like this. This is the sort of shit I love about PC gaming. A group of people have been collaborating for over a decade to make a shonky, cult favourite RPG work better. That's brilliant.