This week's highs and lows in PC gaming


Chris Livingston: Irrational Anthem

I watched the Anthem stream this week, as devs played the game and answered questions (you can see the Twitch VOD here). Anthem is looking really nice and I'm eager to play it, but toward the end of the stream the team fought a pair of Elite Titans (it starts about 43 minutes into that stream). Titans are cool-looking bosses but it's a long, sloggy fight with a bullet-sponge enemy who essentially stands in place, punches the ground, and sends out a ring of fire for the players to dodge. Maybe I've just seen these kinds of enemies too many times before, bosses who telegraph their moves too and have so much health that defeating them is more about how much patience you have than how skilled you are, but it was a bit of a snooze.

Phil Savage: Dance Dance Prosecution

This news story contains the terms "floss", "backpack kid" and "orange shirt kid's mom" and makes me feel one thousand years old. I don't have any real opinion about lawsuits for dance emotes. Knock yourself out I guess? And I don't really care about games removing dance emotes to avoid said lawsuits. I was using the 'Carlton' dance in Forza Horizon 4, but not with any real conviction. In keeping with that series' tone, your Forza Horizon 4 customisation options range from 'Insufferable Hipster' to 'Raging Bellend', and no clothes or dances will ever shift the needle away from that spectrum.

It's precisely for that reason that I'm here to call out the Forza Horizon 4 wheelspin. In previous games, wheelspins provided a regular gift of money or vehicles—a nice pat on the back for a job well done. In Forza Horizon 4 the wheelspins have expanded to include horns, emotes and clothing, and it's an emotional rollercoaster I could frankly do without. There are few feelings in the game worse than thinking you're going to get a shiny new car, only for the wheel to keep spinning and landing on some gloves. The screen shines yellow—they're legendary gloves!—but you don't care. They're gloves. They probably look stupid. They are not a new car, or money with which to buy a new car in the car game that you are playing.

Fraser Brown: Blind date

First off, obligatory spoiler warning for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s First Blade DLC. This week saw the launch of Shadow Heritage, the second part of Kassandra or Alexios’ adventure with legendary assassin, Darius. It ends with the game forcing them into the arms of Darius’ son or daughter, and it’s always a heterosexual relationship that results in a baby. Hell no, Ubisoft.

My Kassandra doesn’t have a preference beyond hotties, but plenty prefer a gay character or one that doesn’t sleep with anyone at all—the bulk of Odyssey is pretty inclusive and Ubisoft just lets you choose and gets out of your way. So this arranged relationship ignores all the choices you’ve made, character-defining choices in some ways, and then makes a massive choice for you. At the end of the DLC, you can let Darius and his kid leave, or you can ask them to stay, but no matter what happens, you end up shacking up with Darius’ kid and having a baby. All of this is revealed in a cutscene, leaving you stuck watching your character potentially becoming someone completely different. There’s one more episode to go, but I can’t see how that will fix this thing that Ubisoft said it would never do. 

Also, Darius’ son is categorically not a hottie. 

Tyler Wilde: Insecurity

I need to change all my passwords and I really don’t want to. I don’t want to get a password manager, either, though I know I’m supposed to. Maybe I’m just curmudgeonly and stuck in my ways, but I don’t trust anything with my passwords except my own head—which is unfortunate considering the dismal state of my long-term memory. The old fashioned way is the way for me: memorize 10 different passwords, forget which one goes with what service, type them all in until one works or I get locked out. I figure if I can barely get into my own accounts, I must be doing something right… right?

Samuel Roberts: Fading star

This week, Kotaku reported that the open-world Star Wars game being made by EA Vancouver in the wake of Visceral's cancelled Ragtag project was also cancelled. It's fair to say that it's been a disappointing few years for Star Wars games. The Battlefront titles look the part, and I had a lot of fun with the limited first one, then never quite got my head around the progression system for the second. Really, though, those games just appeal to multiplayer FPS fans and no one else, once you've blasted through the second game's limited campaign. The lack of large-scale AI-based modes in that second game is a real letdown.  

Star Wars has way more gaming potential than that. And it's taking years for any of it to be realised, which is such a shame. Right now, people are probably as interested in Star Wars as they ever will be: after Episode IX, I think it'll start to tail off. Let's see how Respawn's Jedi: Fallen Order turns out, eh?

James Davenport: Immortal Kombat

I attended the Mortal Kombat 11 premiere in LA and besides a little queasy I don't feel much of anything for it. Mortal Kombat 11 looks like an MK made in the image of the last two with minor tweaks that will only truly excite existing fans and pro players. There was nothing there to renew my former fascination with the series. I'll play the story mode and probably have fun with how dumb it all is, and I'll laugh and grimace at all the wild fatalities for a while—the reveal just didn't show me anything unexpected. Here's to hoping the story mode has some interesting structural changes and that the character roster features some surprising faces and fighting styles. At least the PC port is in good hands.

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