This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE HIGHS 

Tom Senior: Ship shape

I’m very excited to jump into No Man’s Sky Next in the coming week. I enjoyed pottering around my weird starter planet and making a few jumps in the originally released version, but I bounced off the stern progression systems that seemed so keen to slow down the exploration. Pip played the update this week, and it sounds like the ability to share materials will soften the survival side of the game. 

I wonder how proper co-op support will change the tone. In my mind NMS is a solitary game about photographing weird space guff. Collaborative base building and personalised fleets adds another level of interactivity. Will it feel engaging, or more like admin? And will the procedurally generated worlds feel fresh again all this time later? I’m ready to go back and find out.

Samuel Roberts: Fallout fever
I wrote this piece on big Fallout mods coming soon because we've covered so many of them on the site lately. Just this week we wrote about Fallout: Atlanta and New California, which speaks to how healthy the mod scene is around New Vegas and Fallout 4. I'm looking forward to seeing how they turn out.

In the immediate future, we'll be playing New California this year, which features 12 endings and thousands of lines of dialogue. I look forward to playing both it and 76 later in 2018.

Joe Donnelly: “Let’s get to the disco”

Is what The Black Madonna says after laying flat a San Andreas copper. I’m not sure what led to this act of aggression, but the superstar DJ is one of four real-life acts that star in GTA Online’s incoming nightclub update. This week, we learned that’s named After Hours and is out on Tuesday, July 24.

I’m right looking forward to it. And while it’s unclear at this stage what it’ll actually entail, the Tony Prince (aka Gay Tony from GTA 4) starring trailer suggests there might be more of a cutscene-heavy/narrative story element to this one than updates gone by. Who knows—we’ll find out either way next week.  

Chris Livingston: The more you know

It's been a week of stunning revelations here at PC Gamer. We learned that Wes has an unusual style of WASDing that some would describe as 'wrong', though I prefer to think of it as 'disturbingly weird and wrong'. We also found out James "Fortnite" Davenport considers water a snack, which is also wrong (water is barely a drink, let alone a snack). In perhaps less shocking news, we also learned I am bad at a video game everyone else is good at. We set sail for knowledge this week, and it's been a real voyage of discovery.

Evan Lahti: Digging it

I've been enjoying Deep Rock Galactic, Ghost Ship Games' co-op shooter-explorer that went into Early Access in Feb. As an FPS, it's unusually chill, and everyone I've played with has been friendly. On some maps you might spend most of a 20-minute mission navigating dark tunnels and looking around for alien mushrooms, whacking your pickaxe against glimmering walls to grab shiny minerals. Waves of alien arachnids interrupt the excavation, but they're pretty manageable.

To me, it's one of the surprisingly few games that have taken Left 4 Dead's ideas and built something new on top of them. The procedural level generation is Deep Rock's the big technological centerpiece, and occasionally it hands you these massive, daunting cavern rooms that are beautiful on your screen and dangerous to navigate with your mouse and keyboard—falling has been my top cause of death.

Jarred Walton: Prime time

This year’s Amazon Prime Day has grown into an event that extends to multiple other companies, with Newegg and others joining the fray. That’s not the high, though. The high is that there were actually a lot of great PC deals worth your money, if you were in the market.

SSDs and graphics cards in particular have come down in prices, and there were some seriously tasty savings — some of which are still available. GTX 1080 for $450 might not be something everyone can afford to jump at, but a good M.2 NVMe SSD like the Samsung 960 Evo 500GB for $150 is pretty awesome, many 500GB-class SATA drives cost under $100, and AMD’s Ryzen 7 2700 for $225 is practically a steal.

Basically, we now routinely see midrange and higher cards selling below MSRP, NAND for SSDs is readily available, and even DDR4 memory prices are returning to some semblance of normal. As we approach the back-to-school season, you should be able to put together a great PC — for study, naturally, and that graphics card is totally required! — without spending a fortune.

THE LOWS 

Samuel Roberts: Fall-outsourced
I'm really a 3D Fallout optimist. I enjoyed 3, 4 and New Vegas a great deal, and I'm excited about what Fallout 76 will turn out like—even if I play it for 30 hours then get lost somewhere in its vast map after getting nuked by a group of pals. I've always kind of wished Bethesda would let another RPG developer take a shot at the series after New Vegas, however. Clearly the appetite is there for more regular Fallout games.

Todd Howard suggested it was a never say never situation when discussing this subject earlier this week, which leaves some room for the possibility one day. But it doesn't sound like it'll happen any time soon. "I wouldn’t say never," he said about NV's development. "[But] now that our company is so big, it’s always better to keep stuff internal... it becomes less likely, but I could never say never. I thought the Obsidian guys did a fabulous job." 

Tom Senior: Dark clouds

Are game streaming services the future? Reportedly top publisher execs are saying it’s the future of the medium, which is interesting to hear as someone who has tried a few streaming services and been let down by all of them.

The first culprit I tried was OnLive, which was a little networking box you could plug into your TV to stream games. It was around before TV dongles like Chromecast, but in my flat on a big hill on the edge of the British countryside, it didn’t work. I can see video codecs and the delivery software enjoying leaps in advancement, but can you circumvent the lag built into miles of outdated cable across a country? It’s great for publishers. You don’t have to put R&D and manufacturing clout into creating powerful home machines. You get to own the delivery mechanism and distribution network for your games. Without a pretty extraordinary overhaul of internet infrastructure throughout large portions world, is it feasible?

Evan Lahti: Oof

Fortnite is a phenomenon in part because Epic has been relentless in adding new stuff to it. Hop rocks, (rideable) guided rockets, shopping carts, golf carts, new weapons, an ever-changing map, playable Thanos… Epic's approach shrugs off the modern concept of competitive game balance for a kitchen sink of stuff that mutates the game a little every week or two. It's admirable, and Epic deserves tons of credit for its tenacity.

Last weekend, though, we saw what can happen when you move too quickly. The first Fortnite Summer Skirmish, as James covered on Monday, was a trainwreck. Almost everything that could have gone wrong could've: lag, bad commentary, underwhelming action, a questionable roster, and camerawork that was limited by the fact that this was a remote tournament, not a LAN. Epic's decision to essentially go it alone in esports isn't working out well so far. There was even a public postmortem about what went wrong.

Joe Donnelly: The bigger picture

There's been a lot of buzz about No Man's Sky this week, ahead of its incoming NEXT update. Pip played it with three pals, and Hello Games head honcho Sean Murray has spent this week discussing canned multiplayers, and how he and his team might have better managed communication with would-be players, hype and the promise of game features at launch back in 2016. 

If you felt aggrieved by NMS at release, fair play to you. If you felt cheated or lied to by the devs because X, Y or Z feature didn't make it into the final game, then fair doos. I hope you expressed yourself in a mannerly and mature way. But reading about death threats and bomb warnings and the fact that Hello Games—a videogame developer, for Christ's Sake—had to contact Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan police as it feared for its safety is not on. Upset or not, these are real people. Imagine how you'd feel if this was directed at your family. Those who acted in such a way should be ashamed of themselves. 

Chris Livingston: Taco hell

Like movies and TV shows and novels and that guy who sits on his front porch telling passing birds that he was once abducted by aliens, games are under no specific requirement to dispense facts. Fiction is fine, loose interpretations of actual events is okay, stretching the truth is acceptable. But when a game covers a deeply important and meaningful subject, I feel like there should be an obligation to get the facts right and stick to the truth. 

That's why I had a real issue with Tacopocalypse, which did not accurately depict the upcoming tacopocalyptic event that will soon destroy the world. Don't worry, I set the developers straight on what the game of Tacopocalypse got wrong about the real tacopocalypse, and I'm certain if there's ever a Tacopocalypse 2, it will be more grounded in reality.

Jarred Walton: The chips are down

This week we asked about the best gaming snacks, to which the obvious answer is Doritos and Mt. Dew. But then everyone had to go and get all healthy and make me look like some crazed monster ramming crunchy chips down my gullet and smearing crumbs all over my keyboard. Way to make me feel like a slob, guys. Now if you’ll pardon me, I need to go drown my anxiety in a bowl of corn chips.