This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE HIGHS

Tyler Wilde: Pirates aren't nice

I'm skeptical when a developer says that such-and-such feature is going to generate such-and-such  player interactions, as it so rarely works as intended, but Sea of Thieves' skeleton forts really do generate tense, fragile alliances as promised. Case in point: I was a complete asshole to a group of four players who offered to help Chris and I for a split of the treasure, trying to stealthily sink their ship on the assumption they'd betray us. They didn't at all! They even offered to double check and make sure we had a fair share of the loot. I figured they probably ought to keep more of the treasure on account of my betrayal (and still worried that they'd betray us) so I waved goodbye and booked it away feeling like an ass.

Samuel Roberts: System Shocked
Reading Wes's interview with Nightdive, the steps that the studio is taking to get its System Shock remake back on track sound sensible to me. I appreciate the idea of trying to contemporise a game so you're not just selling them the same thing, but ultimately that project is exciting because it'll be familiar to people. 2020 is a long way away, though.

The team cites 'feature creep' as a problem in developing the game. Ultimately, the Unity demo for the remake was really promising, and I still can't wait to see what the finished project looks like.

Steven Messner: Kingdom building

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom finally released on Friday, but I've been digging into a review copy since last week and really enjoying my time with it. As someone that desperately wanted to love the first one but ultimately had to give up because it was just kinda bleh, Revenant Kingdom does a much better job of capturing the spirit of Studio Ghibli in a videogame. It's more Ponyo than it is Princess Mononoke, which is disappointing, but I'm still having a blast. Building the kingdom of Evermore is so much damn fun that it could almost be an entirely separate game. I love managing and recruiting new citizens, plotting new developments, and generally managing the affairs of state. It's a lovely surprise in what I thought was going to be another traditional JRPG.

Andy Kelly: Rex appeal

This week I have been revisiting the flawed, broken, and occasionally brilliant Trespasser, a Jurassic Park spin-off game released in '98 that has become somewhat infamous over the years. Look out for a full retrospective on the site (and in the magazine) soon, but for now, I will say that it's one of the most fascinating games ever released on PC. I mean, it’s basically terrible, but there’s something compelling about how ambitious it is. And I always have time for scrappy games that try something new, even if they fail spectacularly.

Essentially a digital sequel to The Lost World, Spielberg's weirdly uninspired second Jurassic Park movie, the highlight for me is the presence of Richard Attenborough reprising his role as John Hammond. As you play the game you hear excerpts from his diary, and the late Attenborough's performance is fantastic. He really captures the tragedy of the character. If you want to hear them but can't stomach the game and its weird floppy arm physics, an enterprising Trespasser fan has collected them all here in a series of atmospheric videos.

Joe Donnelly: Git boned

We've covered Dark Souls' enemy placement mods in the past, but none have made my skin crawl more than horkrux's Bonewheels Everywhere. I mean, the thought of dropping the odd Royal Sentinel in Sen's Fortress' walkways is a scary one; as is facing off with a Giant Stone Knight on the Moonlight Butterfly fight bridge. But the idea of Bonewheels stalking your every turn? That's horrifying. Bonewheels in the Undead Burg. Bonewheels in Anor Londo. Bonewheels in The Depths, in New Londo Ruins and, bloody hell, Blighttown. I might rather turn hollow than suffer this nightmare. 

Horkrux's work proves gitting gud is all relative. Gud luck if you're taking this one on.

Chris Livingston: The right to wear arms

I looked at a few VR demos at GDC this week—I've already written about Creed: Rise to Glory and Mi Hiepa Sports, and there will be more to come—and something I noticed in many of the demos was that I had arms! Finally, I have arms!

 Typically, VR games render your hands in place of your controllers, but those hands are disembodied and floating. Which is weird. It's weird to have hands that aren't attached to anything. So, I was pleased to see several demos this week that gave me arms. And a legs. And a body. It felt much more natural, more immersive, more real—except for when you put a controller down and your virtual arm sort of weirdly and urgently points at it. Mostly, though, my virtual arms made me happy and I felt more connected to the world I was inhabiting.