This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Jody Macgregor: Zine and not heard

Something we created for the Indie channel ages ago finally went live, and I couldn't be more stoked. It's the PC Gamer Indie zine, our one-off homage to photocopied fanzines and the passion that drives them. Indie games should be talked about in slick full-color of course, but their defiantly amateurish and gleefully trashy side deserves love too. These 24 pages of articles and art laid out in MS Paint are our tribute to that. I also had a lot of fun sneaking in various PC Gamer references and running gags. Tub Geralt's the obvious one, but keep an eye out for Coconut Monkey. It's silly and heartfelt and it feels like a fitting goodbye from me to the Indie channel, but I'll save being maudlin for the Lows.

Tim Clark: Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee 3

E3 is almost here which means two things: 1) E3 is almost over and, 2) I will soon stop having the kind of terrifying anxiety dreams which begin with your old boss stripping naked on stage and end with a machete massacre. RIP my sleep schedule. But honestly E3 is still my high this week because, even though the stress and work that goes into the PC Gaming Show is brutal, (never mind planning to cover the main event), at the same time I know there's nothing more tedious than hearing the media who get to go to E3 complain about going to E3.

And here's the thing: Despite the slow motion heart attack it attempts to give me annually, I still secretly love E3. It's probably bonkers that in the year of our Gabe 2018 the industry still thinks announcing everything at once over a single week is a good idea, but for gamers watching on Twitch, the smorgasboard of trailers, gameplay reveals, and genuinely surprising announcements essentially make it our Christmas. (In this metaphor, the 100th Battle Royale knockoff is the lump of coal in your stocking). 

One other thing to note is that it's actually becoming increasingly clear that a lot of companies are wising up to the idea of sneaking out their news before the press conference bombardment begins, as we're seeing with Black Ops 4, Battlefield and Destiny 2 in the run up. Expect that trend to continue as we head into next week. And buckle up, punks, because I think it's going to be a big one.

Samuel Roberts: Sonic vroom

As the announcements intensify in the run-up to E3, the secret best one has already slipped out: there's going to be a sequel to Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, this time with the far more digestible title of Team Sonic Racing. The teaser gives the people exactly what they want, and that is confirmation that Shadow the Hedgehog has indeed made the cut yet again. 2018 is saved!

Who else will make the fifteen character roster? The past two games did a good job of digging deep into Sega's back catalogue. Nothing will top Manager Man from the Football Manager games for me in terms of abstract choices. I mean, they could add Attila the Hun from Total War, I guess, even if it's not a slam dunk when it comes to fitting the tone. Let's wait and see on that one. 

Joe Donnelly: Mod behaviour

In the last week Dark Souls Remastered was launched, a new Fallout was revealed, and GTA Online added new contact missions—all of which are stories I could happily write about in this column. What I'd rather write about, though, is mods. 

It's been an equally great week for player-made creations, you see, such as these XCOM 2/Metal Gear crossovers that bring The Phantom Pain to the turn-based alien invasion. This Thanos GTA mod that brings the purple juggernaut to Los Santos, and this Fallout 4 enemy spawn mod that adds a new level of challenge to irradiated Boston. Likewise, Vermintide 2 is lining up official mod support in the near future. 

And who doesn't want mods that let you ride giant ducks and chickens in Skyrim?

Chris Livingston: Cult favorite

Falling into the dark and deadly rabbit hole of Cultist Simulator this week was a joy, even though—as I say in my review—I'm not a Cthulhu guy or a card game guy, and I'm not really even fond of permadeath. But it's such an intriguing game, and such a well-written one, awash with mystery and dread, that starting over from scratch feels exciting instead of frustrating. Each death is another chance to progress a little further using the knowledge from the last game. And I love recruiting new members to my cult and sending them on little errands, like exploring the city, or recruiting a hireling, or you know, brutalizing some journalist who's asking too many questions about my lovely little cult. Don't worry, journalist, when I unleash the unspeakable, unknowable horrors upon the world, I'll send out a press release.

Tom Senior: Kharaking good time

This week we took a look at some of the best RTS campaigns ever. It’s easy to forget how many good ones there have been over the years. I loved the punishing Warhammer RTS Dark Omens back in the day, but my favourite might well be Homeworld’s sad space story with cool lasers. That realisation reminded me that I still haven’t played Blackbird’s excellent modern continuation of the series, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak.

I think I took against it initially because I didn’t see the point in a Homeworld game set in a desert rather than space. But space is a desert, if you think about it, sort of. Instead of asteroid belts you have dunes, and instead of fighter craft you have buggies that bounce excitedly over those dunes when you hit their speed boost ability. Deserts of Kharak’s excellent cutscenes and voice work really do a good job of evoking the sense of lonely struggle that sets the Homeworld series apart from other real-time strategy games, and the core tactics you use aren’t so different to the original games, it’s almost a relief not having to move everything in three dimensions.