This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The highs

James Davenport: It’s lit

When Dying Light came out, I let it go gently into the night. I thought the Dead Island series was awful—a campy co-op zombie RPG that couldn’t sustain my interest in a cliched setting with dull, padded design. Hell, I thought I was done with zombies, period. (Resident Evil 7 doesn’t count, technically.) But recently, a few cool cats from the PC Gamer community Discord server brought up Dying Light when it went on sale over the holiday. I trust their judgement, so I couldn’t stop mulling it over. Last weekend, I figured I’d just buy it for science at the very least—if I hated it, so what? I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on shitty pizza throughout my life.

But Dying Light is good. Like, really good. As much as I lament open world busywork games, Dying Light gets it right. An intuitive, playful parkour system, the best zombie smashing physics in any game ever (their skulls crunch and pop), and a setting that doesn’t feel worn out in the zombie canon make for a silly, spooky time. Zombie swarms are no joke, and night is pitch black and genuinely threatening. Dying Light juggles so many things I like in games—co-op shenanigans, horror, satisfying progression, and platforming—without dropping a ball. I’m early on, but looking forward to more. 

Joe Donnelly: Resident refill

As someone who loves narrative games, I was delighted to see Failbetter's Sunless Skies hit its Kickstarter target in just four hours this week, however this wasn't my highest point. Instead, this week was the first chance I'd had to take a proper run at Resident Evil 7, and I've been glued to it since. On launch day, I was only able to sink around an hour or so into Capcom's latest serving of the venerable survival horror series—at which point I thought it felt entirely un-Resident Evil-like. 

That wasn't really an issue for me, but, a few hours later and I'm now reveling in its familiar incongruous maps, puzzles, and horrid adversaries, as I scramble around the Bakers’ dilapidated country estate with little ammo and even less first aid tonics. The switch to first-person was a bold design move, and while I was open-minded about a complete shift in direction, I'm actually really pleased it managed to maintain what I love about the now 20-years old series. And thank goodness for its panic rooms

Samuel Roberts: Alone but not lonely

I haven't played Battlefront since July of last year, when I sampled the offline modes that DICE generously patched into the game (though they arguably should've been there to begin with). I always meant to go back to play them some more, but nothing quite lured me back. There was always a sense that as gorgeous Battlefront was, it was rushed out in time for The Force Awakens. It felt a little barebones, and one of the obvious missing elements was a single-player campaign.

Well, this week EA reaffirmed that Battlefront 2 is coming in 2017 with a full campaign mode. Between Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 in 2016, both of EA's shooters had more substantial offline options than we're typically used to from big multiplayer games—though naturally that comes down to the talent of the devs rather than the company publishing them. Nonetheless, it can be seen as a sign of the times that publishers value singleplayer offerings again. I'm up for a fun interactive Star Wars story this year. 

Phil Savage: Go Pro

Hitman is out now. It was also 'out' in 2016, when it launched its intro pack, and again later in 2016, when it released the last of its episodes. Now it's out again, as part of a complete bundle released to those physical media formats that no PC gamer has bought for about a decade. This is relevant, because of an update released to the PC version adding a new bonus mission and a 'Professional' difficulty option.

The new difficulty is great, by which I mean it's hard. I attempted a run at Sapienza, and failed horribly and repeatedly. This was a welcome change. After multiple runs through, I know every nook and cranny of the Italian resort. But the new difficulty tweaks things just enough to make it difficult again. That flower delivery guy who gives you such easy access to Caruso? He now stands in view of his colleague. It's almost like he knew.

You can only save once, which ratchets up the tension nicely. I'm still a bit surprised that IO kept the option to non-lethally subdue any target—a feature of this Hitman that always felt a little too overpowered. Nonetheless, a Silent Assassin rating is going to be a difficult thing to achieve, making this a great addition for the truly committed contract killers. If you've been on the fence about Hitman and its episodic structure, it's now fully, completely, 100% finished (at least until Season 2). I recommend giving it a shot.  

Chris Livingston: Conan The Nardsdanglin'

Yeah, so, my news out of Conan Exiles in Early Access is both good and bad. I didn't enjoy my first few hours with it, but on the plus side there's a slider to make your dick bigger. Breaking the tie is that the gifs I posted of the disturbingly graphic genital ragdoll physics resulted in Weebl, famed musician and animator, creating a celebratory song and music video. I like the song! It's catchy, and it's been stuck in my head all week, which is an improvement over the rest of the things that have been stuck in my head for the past few weeks. 

Jarred Walton: Concession stands

Let me get this out of the way: I have no idea who is actually telling the truth in the ZeniMax vs. Oculus lawsuit, but damn if it isn’t entertaining. After the initial loss and a $500 million judgement in favor of ZeniMax, Carmack took to Facebook to air some dirty laundry.

Obviously someone has been telling whoppers, though I suspect the actual truth is that both sides are misrepresenting certain things, and exaggerating on others. The full story will likely remain elusive.

I got a degree in computer science, so I do at least know a thing or two about coding, and many of the patent and copyright lawsuits over computer algorithms are ludicrous. The problem is that our judicial system isn’t really equipped to deal with arguments over code stealing. There are certain algorithms that, even if written by two completely different individuals, will end up looking very much like “non-literal copying.”

But it’s not my butt on the line, and this is better courtroom drama than the garbage we see in movies and on TV. So pass the popcorn, I’m ready for round two. 

PC Gamer

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