Steven Messner: What policies?
This week, Steam released a blog post announcing that, due to the ongoing debate about how curation should be handled on Steam, Valve has decided to basically open the floodgates even more and allow everything that isn't illegal or obvious trolling. The post was immediately criticized by a many people, not because we don't like sexy games, but because Steam continually is a platform that enables harassment and hate—and it appeared Valve was basically giving up on fighting it. Though Steam clarified some of these intentions with VentureBeat—and their actual policy is a little more nuanced—it's another frustrating misstep from a company that has an annoyingly long history of being piss poor communicators.
More than this policy change and its implications, what really irks me is just how terrible Steam has become at offering any kind of clear line of communication. It's a little scary to see the de facto marketplace for games feel so aimless, one minute threatening to ban games and the next minute seemingly flipping its stance entirely.
Samuel Roberts: Cracked
I enjoyed my demo of Crackdown 3 when I played it at E3 last year. Opinion seemed to be pretty split generally: I was happy with having what felt like a modern version of the Xbox exclusive I played back in 2007, but I think some were disappointed with the no-show for the game's destruction-heavy mode that's been long-in-the-works (and probably won't work with my slow-ass internet).
This week, though, Microsoft confirmed that the game's been bumped to 2019, with more details to come at its E3 conference this Sunday. Either way, 2018 will be another Christmas without Crackdown 3. Hopefully we'll find out what the deal is.
James Davenport: Pumping the brakes
Fortnite's pumps have been deflated. Pump shotguns got a surprise nerf this week, seeing a 10 point damage drop. The headshot multiplier moved from 2.5 to 2.0, too, which basically means pump shotguns can't insta-kill anyone with full health and shields. I think this is a good thing (I'll get to the low part of my low soon), forcing players to pull out another weapon after one shot in most close encounters.
But holy hell, changing habits that I've put into use since the launch of Fortnite hasn't been easy. I've avoided depending on pistols and SMGs for close proximity combat so far, but for now, it feels like I'm starting over. The double-pump meta still applies, I just abhor it. So, do I stay principled and continue to ignore double-pumping while getting cozy with other mid-close proximity weapons, or give up on myself and p-u-m-p pump it up? I'm torn.
Chris Livingston: Big Mars-take
Look, this is barely a low, but it's a good week when genuine lows are hard to come across. I watched the trailer for the Red Faction: Guerrilla remaster (re-Mars-ster) and was pleased to see it was set to a cover of Chris Remo's song "Space Asshole", inarguably the finest video game music video ever made. But the cover honestly isn't very good, and neither is the trailer (at least in comparison to Remo's). It doesn't even cover the entire song, and the ending of the original music video is one that had me in tears from laughter the first time I saw it.
The tribute is certainly nice, but the execution kind of falls over like a building that's been hit a few too many times by a space asshole.
Tom Senior: Grim darkness
I like Warhammer 40,000’s over-the-top misery guts vision of the far future, but the videogame spinoffs can be wearying. You know when you see something you love shabbily adapted into something that doesn’t even come close to your mental vision, and it somehow lessens the impact of the core material? 40K games can be like that. It’s like watching a B-movie take on a universe that ought to be spectacular.
Thankfully Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr isn’t that bad. In fact, it’s frustratingly almost good. 40K is good action RPG fodder. Heroes in that universe can lay waste to hundreds of enemies if they are sufficiently hench and ideally dressed in power armour. The loot is cool, too—power swords, bionic implants, religious iconography, even bigger power swords. Looting Space Hulks is fun. I wasn’t enthralled by the feel of the combat, however, and if the punching is anything short of amazing in an action RPG, it’s hard to really get invested. Now I’m dreaming of a new Diablo and looking at Lost Ark in envy—hopefully we get a western port one day.
Joe Donnelly: IndieNoNo
This week, crowdfunding site Indiegogo announced debt collectors will "recoup funds" paid by Sinclair ZX Vega+ backers. This has been quite the saga. Revealed and funded in early 2016, the Vega+ project promised a handheld version of the ZX Spectrum personal computer that would ship in September of that year. By 2017, repeated shipping delays and perceived poor communication between owners Retro Computing and backers saw its InDemand campaign shuttered.
Indiegogo stepped in earlier this year with a deadline, before extending said deadline with three conditions which Retro Computers, it seems, did not meet. "We hope that the Vega+ team follows through on their promise, and that any remedial efforts on our part will be rendered obsolete," said Indiegogo this week. Retro Computers maintains the delays are a result of legal issues between itself and former directors Paul Andrews and Chris Smith.