This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE HIGHS

James Davenport: You told me so

I had this coming. I may have been right about Rainbow Six Siege, but I couldn’t have been more wrong about Fortnite Battle Royale. When it first launched, you have to admit it was pretty shallow, lacking the gadgets and guns and weird modes that became part of its identity. I wrote an early impressions piece about how rushed and empty Fortnite felt compared to PUBG. I’m a few weeks in to really playing Fortnite BR, and I’m having a blast. I’m no good at it, but where PUBG stresses me the fuck out, a loss in Fortnite is much easier to swallow. Matches fly by, and queuing back in for another takes no time. 

My highlight of the week was from playing the Teams of 20 mode. Trying to group up with your team and gather enough resources for a final fort-building standoff marked the first time that the building system felt as vital and creative as it does in the PvE mode. We collaborated on massive forts, and as the circle shrank, our forts adapted, almost melting closer towards the center of the storm. Rockets flying both ways, builders patching up the damage, snipers playing tag, and shotgunners trying to make their own flanking cover—it was one hell of a battle royale collage, not quite like anything I’ve played before. If you’ve been skeptical, I don’t blame you, but it’s free so all you’ll need to spend is a bit of time. 

Joe Donnelly: Smoove talkin’

If you’d have told me at the start of the week I’d be workshopping the headline ‘I inadvertently brainstormed a GTA 5-inspired episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm with J.B. Smoove’ by Friday, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are. 

J.B. Smoove—besides being a prolific actor, comedian and writer—is the voice of Grand Theft Auto 5’s Ray De Angelo Harris. I caught up with him this week to talk about playing the fictional radio host, the enduring appeal of GTA 5, and working with Rockstar. As the linked headline above says, I also listened to Smoove lay the foundations for an episode of Curb that I would love to see happen in reality. It won’t. But it’d be funny, right? Look out for the full interview soon.

Chris Livingston: Mouse in the house

I'm not far into Ghost of a Tale, a stealth RPG from developer SeithCG featuring a mouse, and that's partially because the mouse is so durn cute and well animated that I keep stopping to just look at him. He's adorable, and the game itself is incredibly lovely, and as an added bonus what little I've managed to play so far has been perfectly enjoyable. I'm hoping to put some more time into it this weekend if I can stop staring at his big soulful eyes and twitching whiskers and wriggling tail and floppy little hood. Too cute.

Samuel Roberts: Evil Chewie 

Whatever your thoughts on the recent Battlefront 2, at least EA didn't make a game with evil Chewbacca and Sith Obi-Wan Kenobi, which is what some old Free Radical concept art dug up this week suggested was going to happen. As silly as the idea is, it's great seeing some of this old concept art do the rounds—I was sad that Free Radical's Battlefront 3 never made it to the outside world, given its promised, exciting premise of switching seamlessly from ground to space. 

If you're curious about what that would've looked like, there's a surprisingly large amount of material out there of the game in an unoptimised state. What could've been, eh? 

Tom Senior: Office space

One of the (many) fun things about working for PC Gamer is that you get to go inside dev studios and, back in the office, compare them all like Top Trumps. I think Tim may have the winning card after visiting Valve’s new studio and posting a gallery of pics earlier this week.

The main thing I’ve come to expect from large studios is an imposing life-size statue of a key character from one of the studio’s games. There used to be a massive XCOM 2 Mechtoid at the entrance to Firaxis’ bespoke Baltimore studio (I kinda want them replace it with a giant hex in honour of the Civ series). There’s a massive Fallen captain in Bungie’s Bellevue office too. Valve has gone in a different direction with this monster. I don’t recall it appearing in any of Valve’s games so far, but I’m sure you can find it somewhere inside the Akira nursery if you squint hard enough.

Tyler Wilde: Many Hours Many Lives

One Hour One Life is amazing. Amazingly buggy, but also just generally amazing. Once my super speed was fixed in the latest patch, and the thing where I rock back and forth for minutes and can’t do anything and die of starvation was mostly fixed, I started loving this weird, weird game. In a 40-player server, you either spawn as an adult woman or a baby who needs to be nursed. It’s possible to survive alone for a while as an adult, but if you’re going to get anywhere, you have to work with other players to farm and craft useful items (clothes are nice). As more babies spawn, your settlement grows. After an hour, if you survive that long, you die of old age—but you’ve started a family line, and a settlement, that can continue indefinitely. 

So far, I haven’t seen any collectives that didn’t collapse after a few generations, but as more players learn the basics, I wonder what will happen?

Jody Macgregor: Have you stopped being a traitor Y/N

I've never played Paranoia, but always wanted to. It's a pen-and-paper RPG that turns Orwell's 1984 into a slapstick comedy, with the players as clone 'Troubleshooters' working as agents of an all-powerful computer called The Computer, rooting out traitors in Alpha Complex. Thing is, according to your friend The Computer, everyone is a traitor including you. It's the kind of RPG that encourages you to not just split the party, but backstab them. And since everyone's an easily replaced clone, it doesn't matter.

Black Shamrock and Cyanide have announced that they're working together on a videogame version. I have absolutely no idea how it will translate, but I'm looking forward to finding out.