This week's highs and lows in PC gaming


Tom Senior: Year of war

The next big Total War was announced this week. Total War: Three Kingdoms travels to ancient China in a first for the series, which makes this a very busy year for The Creative Assembly, and a busy year for those of us trying to juggle a Total War: Warhammer 2 Mortal Empires campaign with the promise of Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia. 

You can’t assume too much from pre-rendered CGI trailers, but the debut video establishes a different colour palette to the Attila-esque Thrones of Britannia, and shows that the heroes of the Three Kingdoms settings will play a prominent part in the game. 

Samuel Roberts: FFXII comes to PC

What a curiously busy week for news, considering it's early January. I'm not much of a Souls guy, so this week's Final Fantasy announcement was more exciting to me—the twelfth game, probably the one that's closest to a PC game style in the entire series (outside of the MMOs), is coming to Steam next month. It's not my favourite in the series, thanks to a pretty dry story and boring protagonist, but its complex battle system of programming commands was a big departure for the series. I appreciated that it tried to do something radical, even if it I didn't warm to its world all that much.

Having 4K and 21:9 support shows that Square Enix is taking the porting process seriously, which shows some real progress since the awkward launch of FFXIII in 2014. I'm pretty excited to have all of the (good) numbered entries in my Steam library this year. 

Joe Donnelly: Out of the dark and into the… dark 

Despite the multitude of new and exciting games I didn't make time for last year, I did replay both Dark Souls and Dark Souls 3 in 2017. You see, there's something about Lordran and Lothric (and to a lesser extent Drangleic) that keeps pulling me back in and I, like a sun-praising Michael Corleone, find myself looking for excuses to return to their unforgiving worlds. 

And what better excuse than the announcement of a remaster? Revealed at this week's Nintendo Direct Mini, Miyazaki's first Dark Souls game is in line for a modern reimagining, and is en route to PC with the promise of "upscaled 4K resolution with 60FPS". How this will differ from desktop Dark Souls post-Durante-made mods remains to be seen, but I'll almost certainly take the plunge in any event. Again. 

Chris Livingston: Bringing a gun to a hand fight

I've been dabbling in VR lately, but my first virtual reality multiplayer experience was yesterday in an Early Access battle royale game called Stand Out. I didn't really think much of it in its very rough alpha state, but there was quite a surprising moment when, while pointing a gun at another player who was hiding under a table, he reached out and yoinked the gun right out of my hands.

The situation quickly became comical as I managed to grab it back, after which he grabbed it again and we tussled over it, virtually. Magazines are holdable objects as well so when I detached it from the gun it gave us something else to struggle over. It was a weird and funny experience, definitely the highlight of both the game and my week, and you can see the video here.

James Davenport: I'm going to game jail

GTA 5 has been sitting in my Steam library untouched for years, but last night I dove into GTA Online headfirst and I'm still trying to figure out what the hell happened. The moment the screen fades in from black and I see my pasty, bruised avatar standing there, a rocket flies in from off-screen and sends my limp body spinning through the air. A notification in the corner of the screen says 'TheEmperorOfChina killed a CEO.' 

My friend Mat and I have no idea where to begin, so we get into a car and start driving. North of the city a blue car runs us off the road. Then the car backs up and shoots through us at the speed of sound. I don't think most cars can do that. We respawn in the area and figure we've lost the guy, but he finds us immediately and gives chase. After dancing around a few invulnerable trees, we hop an approaching train and, still, the flying hacker car stays on our tail. Mat jumps off to confront the guy, and we end up getting in the damn car. I can hear my mother telling me I'm making a poor decision. Sorry, mom. 

One second we're skidding around a corner, then next we're at the bottom of a lake, the next we're in the heart of the city just outside a gas station. When our new friend goes in to rob it, money starts falling from the sky and doesn't stop. A notice pops up on screen and we start to worry that we've just become hackers by association. Now wherever we go we're followed by bags of money falling from the sky and paralyzed by notifications that Rockstar can't process the torrent of transactions. I had an incredible time. 

Jarred Walton: Big freaking gaming displays

There’s always tons of cool stuff to see at CES, but possibly the most exciting thing for me as a gamer is Nvidia’s announcement of G-Sync enabled 65-inch HDTVs, which they’re calling BFGDs. Playing games in the living room can be a blast, but when you go from a 1440p 144Hz G-Sync or FreeSync display to a standard 60Hz fixed refresh rate, it’s noticeable. It’s hard to go from high refresh rates to 60Hz again.

We’ve had HDTVs claiming higher refresh rates in the past, but those aren’t true signal rates--a 120Hz HDTV just sends a black screen every other refresh. With BFGD, you’ll get a true 120Hz signal, at up to 4K resolution. You’ll also get some cool extras like HDR support, native refresh rates for 23.997, 24, and 25 fps video content, and it will be cool to finally see DisplayPort on an HDTV. My only real concern is pricing, which I suspect will be well north of $2,000. Give it time, though.

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