This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The lows

Joe Donnelly: Half-Lost 

If Game Informer's anonymous Valve source is to be believed, Half-Life 3 isn't happening, was never happening, and probably won't ever happen. Same goes for the elusive cliff-hanger-resolving HL2: Episode 3. Which is a bit of a bummer.

And the source seems pretty confident too. Knife-twisting statements pepper Andrew Reiner's interview, such as: "There is no such thing as Half-Life 3", "Ultimately [Half-Life projects] just starve to death", "I don’t think there will be any more", and, the killer, "The idea of delivering a third episode of Half-Life 2, that’s dead. There’s no universe where that will happen." That's pretty conclusive, I'm sure you'll agree, and while Reiner was unable to verify the statements made, he does make a point of affirming his trust in his source.

I'd like to turn this one over to you guys, though—with so much time having passed, not to mention Valve’s moves away from game development in recent years, is Half-Life as we once knew it best forgotten?

Wes Fenlon: Hacked! 

Seems like we can't go more than a couple months without a major internet service being hacked, dumping millions of user accounts into the dark web or the nega web or wherever hackers hide these things. The latest: the ESEA was hacked to the tune of about 1.5 million member records, with all kinds of personal information contained within. Let this be a reminder: be careful what sites have your information, and use two-factor authentication whenever possible. It won't stop major sites from being hacked, but it'll at least make your accounts a lot harder to hijack.

Tom Senior: Dead and dragone 

We’re sorely missing Platinum Games titles and, more broadly, the works of Hideki Kamiya on PC. From Platinum we have Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, which is great, but having missed out on Kamiya’s Bayonetta, I was really looking forward to Scalebound, which looked like an attempt to merge Devil May Cry combat with great big customisable dragons. It looked loud, fast and gorgeous, which makes it all the more disappointing to hear this week that the game has been completely canned.

It’s always sad when a game is cancelled. It must be awful to work on something for years for it to come to nothing. “Sorry to bring you such bad news at the start of the year,” Kamiya tweetetd, “All I can do for you is to promise to keep delivering fun games.” Whatever is next for him, hopefully we’ll be able to review it on PCGamer.com.

Tyler Wilde: Price watch

In my investigation of game pricing earlier this week, I wondered what might have happened if Titanfall 2 had launched at $40 like Overwatch instead of $60. Maybe it would've been one of the year's big success stories. Or not—it's all speculation—but I don’t sense that the big publishers are very interested in the idea anyhow. I foresee a push in the other direction, with increasingly pricey pre-orders that grant early game access, until eventually the true cost of playing at launch is $80 or more.

Meanwhile, in my imaginary $40 world, games are more diverse and a little weirder. A $60 price tag puts pressure on studios to live up to a certain expectation, real or imagined, of what a $60 game is. As a result a lot of them can be described as ‘open world action games’ and few stray far from the format of previous successes—Call of Duty especially hasn’t fundamentally changed since Call of Duty 4. I wonder what all that talent could do if given the freedom to work on lower-pressure projects.

Samuel Roberts: The lost Dragon Age 

"We all needed more Dragon Age II!" I hear you crying, as the most beloved BioWare RPG ever lost out on an expansion for logistical reasons, it emerged this week (I liked the game). I wouldn't have minded a little more of Dragon Age II just to get Hawke out of the house, so he wasn't stuck indoors with Sandal in Kirkwall for the next ten years. 

Of the two game cancelations this week—the other being Scalebound—this is least sad, that's for sure. Moving onto Inquisition was the right move for BioWare, and Dragon Age II already had a great expansion in Mark of the Assassin, which mercifully took you away from Kirkwall for a good few hours. It's well worth reading the story for what could've been from a lore perspective, though. 

Tom Marks: Eternally collecting 

I dove back into Eternal this week, a card game currently in Early Access/open beta from the same developers as The Elder Scrolls: Legends card game. I really like Eternal, mainly because it's figured out a very elegant solution to "instants" in a digital CCG. Most other games that have cards you can play on your opponent's turn move at a super slow pace with lots of passing priority back and forth, but Eternal limits when you can play these cards to just one or two moments per turn, allowing the game to move quickly but still be more interactive than something like Hearthstone.

That being said, I don't know how much more I'll actually play of Eternal, just because the idea of gathering another digital card collection sounds extremely daunting. It's a good game, but flipping through store pages and relearning the value of card packs and rarity crafting saps out all of the fun that comes with exploring new cards for me. I'll still dip in to enjoy it on occasion, but I think I'm becoming more and more averse to free to play mechanics like this. I long for a digital CCG that charges a flat $40 coupled with extremely generous card collecting, but I doubt I'll see anything like that soon.