This week's highs and lows in PC gaming


Tyler Wilde: Tournament time

Rocket League’s Tournament mode will have a brief beta next week, and I was happy to confirm that the new single-elimination tourneys will be customizable—which means Snow Day tournaments. Our readers, and probably also Psyonix, would be forgiven if they were tired of me harping about Snow Day, but here’s my point of view: I’m getting alright at it. Not great, but alright, and that’s coming at the expense of my ability in the regular Soccar mode. The puck moves differently than the ball, and so I’ve trained myself to move differently, which means that when I tried my hand at ranked Soccar recently I mostly got yelled at by my teammates for sucking. So I gave up and retreated back to unranked rocket hockey, where opponents and teammates sometimes quit so easily that I can be the only constant in a match.

Tournaments aren’t quite the same as proper ranked play, but it’s at least a structured way to compete where it feels like something’s on the line. If it works well, it might hold me over until Psyonix caves to our constant whining and implements ranked play for all modes, which it may do.

Chris Livingston: Sea saw

The Sea of Thieves beta is back this weekend, after a fashion. Rare is running some server tests and want to pile in as many players as possible, and I expect I'll be one of them. There's no new content, apparently, so don't expect to battle any Krakens, but I really enjoyed sailing around with my pirate pals (and solo) and I'm itching to spend more time on the loveliest water I've ever seen in a game. Word is there will be another, proper beta before launch, but in the meantime we'll at least get an extra weekend on the stormy seas.

Andy Kelly: Wages of sim

I've been getting into niche simulators lately, a genre with an enormous following that we perhaps don't cover as much as we should. Last night I spent some time with Fishing: Barents Sea, a commercial fishing sim set in the Arctic Ocean, just off the coast of Norway. I have time for any game that lets me experience something I never have before, and being a Norwegian fisherman is a first for me. There's some room for improvement, but it's a peaceful, occasionally quite beautiful game, especially when the northern lights show up.

I've also been playing Train Sim World, which was released last year. I was drawn in by the Great Western Express DLC, which recreates a section of railway I've travelled on hundreds of times in real life: the thrilling route from, er, London to Reading. Even though train travel in the UK is a frustrating and depressing chore, there's something weirdly compelling about seeing an experience so familiar rendered in a game. And actually driving the train is more exciting than just being a passenger on it. Well, marginally. It’s still quite dull.

Joe Donnelly: The tax man gave me all his dough

Another week, another tale courtesy of my rekindled obsession with GTA Online. This week in Joe's misadventures in Los Santos, I blew the best part of $500,000-worth of in-game (thank Christ) cash on clothes, car cosmetics, arsing up missions, and superfluous renovations to my Vehicle Warehouse. Which is the sort of downtrodden fare normally fit for the Lows section of this column—if it weren't for the fact the San Andreas Treasury Department is treating players to free money

And while $250,000 doesn't quite make up for my Jordan Belfort-inspired week, it certainly softens the blow. Make sure to sign in at some point now through February 26 if you fancy cashing in yourself.

Jody Macgregor: Kentucky Route Heroes

I'm pretty hyped for the final episode of Kentucky Route Zero (which we still expect to see early this year), but I'm having trouble actually keeping the series' story straight. I know I won't have time to replay the whole thing before the finale, but I also don't want to go in with a head full of vague memories and no recollection of what I actually decided to name my dog. Fortunately, some absolute legends have just started a wiki called Highway 0 to keep everything straight, complete with episode summaries. Bless them.

Homer! I named my dog Homer. OK, I'm good to go.

James Davenport: High on downloads

After spending a few months with home internet too slow to watch a YouTube video, I changed providers and now I can watch all the ASMR videos I want. *Whispers while tapping a cardboard box* It’s a dream *mouth sounds* come true. 

What I actually mean is I can finally stream games, which I’ve been doing with Kingdom Come the past few days, and I can play multiplayer games without someone on the other team cursing me for my ping. My significant other misses me, I think, but she’ll be alright once I tell her Netflix is a thing in our lives again. Forever drowning in high-definition entertainment, I can put down the books on permaculture and start farming in Destiny 2 again.

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