This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The highs

James Davenport: ‘Dancing’ with the devil

This week, at my professional workplace, I spent a morning playing a custom Doom WAD, shooting imps with a love gun and having sex with a few of them along the way. Afterwards, I looked through an imgur album of dozens of gifs and conceptual images of the Doomguy getting it on in nearly every which way with the monsters from the game. It’s funny, creative, and for the right people, a good way to get your rocks off. PC gaming rules. Don’t tell HR.

Joe Donnelly: Mod Goals

Today was my first day back after the holidays which means I'm still playing catch up with some of this week's PC gaming news (read: still shaking off a festive hangover after spending a few days away with family and friends and drinking far too much alcohol). As such, my high is something which happened at the tail end of last week—the results of ModDB's publicly voted and much sought after Mod of the Year award

After 20 days of voting, a shortlist of 100 mods that either launched or had been significantly updated this year (as per the competition's criteria) was whittled down to a top ten. STALKER: Call of Pripyat's 'Call of Chernobyl' mod topped the list, while a number of other excellent entries followed on behind it including Hearts of Iron 4's The Great War, Brutal Doom 64, and my own personal favourite of last year, Skyrim mod Enderal: The Shards of Order. 

At the same time, ModDB's sister site IndieDB launched its equivalent Indie of the Year list which was topped by RimWorld and includes the likes of Inside, Firewatch and Stardew Valley. Both lists are absolutely worth checking out in their entirety and I highly recommend giving any games or mods you may have missed in the last 12 months a bash.  

Chris Livingston: First contact

I only spent about a week playing Elite Dangerous, but it’s a game I often think about returning to, and that urge has suddenly tripled with the news that players have finally made contact with aliens. I realize this actually means the developers have finally added aliens to their space game, but it still feels like a real discovery: dramatic, exciting, and mysterious. I can’t wait to see where it leads from here. 

Tom Senior: Back to hell

I need only the slightest excuse to log in to and revisit my stable of ludicrously dressed Diablo 3 heroes—you should see the shoulder pads, it’s carnage in there. This week the Darkening of Tristram provided just that excuse and I’ve been using the new Diablo 1-style dungeon to level up a fresh monk character.

I’ve enjoyed my time with the game, and it is encouraging to see continuing skill tweaks, enemy changes and quality-of-life upgrades being introduced years after I last forked out for an expansion. A new season launches today as well, introducing some pet and gear rewards to encourage players to roll new alts. This is an effective draw. I’ve always been more interested in creating entertaining builds than super-efficient ones (though these aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive categories), so if I’m going to engage with the higher-level maths of this thing I’m going to need some seriously good shoulder pads as incentive.

However, as I implied in my Darkening of Tristram impressions this week, The rolling pattern of updates and refreshing seasons is starting to wear thin, even with the promise of a class pack down the line. I enjoy the game too much for it to slip onto the Lows of the Week page, but there’s a risk it will be quietly retired from my always-installed selection. The pull is still there for now. Once my monk has battered old-school Diablo, I’m taking him to heaven to kick the new one. 

Samuel Roberts: Advance Wars x Fire Emblem

'Spiritual successor to Advance Wars' is one way to get the internet's attention. Following last year's Stardew Valley, which took inspiration from Harvest Moon to fill a definite gap on PC, so too does Chucklefish's as-yet-untitled project, revealed this week. Like Stardew Valley, it'll make the most of not being on a Nintendo platform—so, Steam Workshop support, online multiplayer, and all that other cool stuff. 

There's a definite gap on PC for that pixel art-y turn-based strategy game, and judging from the response it got on social media, this looks like a hit in the making already.  

Wes Fenlon: AMD's Vega is what I wanted from Fury X

In 2015 AMD made a real move in the high-end graphics card race with the Fury X, the first GPU to use High Bandwidth Memory. The memory bandwidth on those cards was leagues ahead of GDDR5, but that wasn't enough to significantly outclass Nvidia's engineering muscle. And one big drawback was the 4GB limit on the HBM stack, which was already becoming a problem for some high-end games. But this year AMD is coming back armed with HBM2, and that means we're likely going to see 8GB graphics cards that outperform Nvidia's GTX 1080. Everything about Vega makes it sound like what I hoped the Fury X would be able to achieve. HBM is still an expensive new technology, so who knows how the pricing will shake out, but AMD has a real shot at being competitive again. 

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