This week's highs and lows in PC gaming


Wes Fenlon: Do we really need more Alien?

The news this week that there's another Alien game in the works makes me feel… nothing. This isn't a knock against Alien: Isolation, or the excellent classic Aliens vs. Predator games, but a sign of my increasing weariness with big franchises that are dragged on and on for years. In the case of Alien, there were two great movies about forty years ago, and a whole lot of mediocrity and crap after that. Prometheus was bad, and I still have trouble deciding if Alien: Covenant was worse, but it definitely felt like a tired effort to explain and justify the existence of the aliens in totally unneeded ways. So, sure, a new Alien game could be fun. Fine. But maybe it's time to let it rest.

Samuel Roberts: Doomsday comes

Myself and the PC Gamer team have an interesting history with GTA's heists. It took us about a year to clear the first bunch, on and off, and we kept coming back to it because the peaks were so rewarding. We've always had a few connection problems while playing the game, though, which it doesn't cope well with, usually requiring us to repeat an instanced mission from scratch after trying to get ourselves in the same server again. Lately, we've been doing the new Doomsday Heist, which while having some filler-y missions, is another slice of GTA co-op fun with some amazing moments.

This week, though, we had some particularly bad luck with dropped connections that led us to give up on The Doomsday Heist at the beginning of act three. All four of us dropped individually from the game across two-and-a-half hours, leading us to repeat missions a bunch of times, and unfortunately, it tested our patience a little too far. Is it our lousy British broadband? Is it the game? I have no idea, but I love playing GTA with friends and wish this wasn't something we had to contend with. I'm not sure I'll be able to convince the guys to come back.

Joe Donnelly: Prison broken

Listen, I'm innocent. OK, maybe not completely innocent. But did I deserve jail time? I don't think so. And yet here I am, pacing up and down the yard like a modern day Andy Dufresne, trying my best to avoid eye contact with the topless dude in the striped trousers, gorilla mask and clown shoes. 

I'd just bought myself some new clothes, you see, and while admiring myself in a shop window reflection, I spotted some asshole assaulting a pedestrian across the street. Not on my watch. It turns out the LSPD didn't care for my brand of renegade justice, and I found myself cuffed and en route to the penitentiary in a matter of minutes. Now I'm locked up for ten months and I can't wait to get out. My week is ruined. 

No, you've been roleplaying in GTA 5 too much. 

Jarred Walton: Bring on the coinpocalypse

Were you thinking of building a new gaming PC any time soon? Too bad, because there are no GPUs available for you to buy—at least not in the US, at reasonable prices. The profitability of mining cryptocurrencies shot up during the past few weeks, so naturally every coin miner this side of Pluto decided to expand mining operations and buy as many graphics cards as possible. The result has been the worst graphics card shortage we’ve ever seen, with everything from GTX 1050 Ti and RX 560 through GTX 1080 Ti and RX Vega either sold out or severely overpriced.

When will the madness end? Cryptocurrency prices plunged earlier this week, which gave a bit of hope, but a current look at shows that a GTX 1080 Ti can earn around $8 per day, per GPU. That’s only about three months to break even, assuming you could find a card for $700, and until profitability drops by half or more, I suspect we won’t see GPU prices return to ‘normal.’ If you’re in the market for a new gaming PC, you might want to look at gaming notebooks and prebuilt systems.

James Davenport: Videogames?

What are they, where do they come from, what are they made of? Who knows, really? All I know is that they take time to play and that I don't have any of that anymore. A recent move means my commute takes up three to four hours of my daily free time, so all I can turn to is my Nintendo Switch. But as far as I'm concerned, until late May that thing is just a rectangular incubator for Dark Souls Remastered. I miss PC games. 

The good news is that I've been reading a lot more, which I've also missed quite a bit. Stephen King's On Writing was personal, funny, and stuffed with loads of great writing advice. Lincoln in the Bardo is some of the strangest fiction I've read, a story about Abraham Lincoln's dead son making his way through the afterlife. But of my recent reads, the best so far has been The Southern Reach trilogy. Think of it as modern Lovecraft without the racism. I'm on the second book now, Authority, which feels more like a spy novel than outright inexplicable sci-fi horror. There's a movie adaptation of the first book, Annihilation, coming from the Ex Machina director soon. Looks pretty good, though the trailers do show off far too much. 

Andy Kelly: Lone wolf

I used to love multiplayer, spending hours most evenings playing the likes of Counter-Strike, DayZ, Overwatch, and other competitive online games. There was something thrilling about playing against real people, and I enjoyed feeling my skills develop over time (from utterly inept to slightly less inept). But then, suddenly, I became completely anti-social, and now the last thing I want to do is share a virtual space with other human beings.

I'm not sure what caused it, but now my idea of a good time is a lonely singleplayer game. Battlegrounds briefly teased me out of my self-imposed isolation, but some of the people who play that game are deeply unpleasant. The voice chat is a hellscape, and I don't think I like the idea of playing alongside (or against) trolls and edgy teens. So back to my fortress of solitude I go, safe from squeaky-voiced racists polluting my ears.

PC Gamer

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