This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The lows

Jarred Walton: Battlegrounds benchmarks

Benchmarking a game on a large selection of hardware can take a lot of time--several days typically to cover the usual suite of hardware I use in our performance analysis articles. It’s a multi-stage process, where I need to first determine a good benchmark in most games, and then it’s all about swapping hardware.

Throw a game like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds into the mix and it takes on another level of complexity. There’s no offline mode or single-player, and with 100 people in each match and random dropzones, getting to the benchmark spot is hard enough. For consistency’s sake, I’m not trying to engage in any fighting, but that doesn’t stop others from killing me. So if you happen to see JarredWaltonPCG running laps around a building in Yasnaya, feel free to say hi, and please stop shooting me! 

Wes Fenlon: A long fight for net neutrality

This is just the start. Net neutrality will soon be under siege at the FCC, which will soon be considering a list of new rules that strip back many regulations enacted under the previous administration that ensured access to the open internet. I got pretty angry about the whole thing while writing out exactly what this means for PC gamers. But it means much more to us as people who use the internet, as citizens in the 21st century, than it does as gamers. The fight's going to be pretty simple: either we trust billion-dollar corporations to have our best interests at heart, or we fight for the regulations that protect us.

Samuel Roberts: May the Fourth, etc

Star Wars Day came and went this week—you know, a day built entirely on a bad pun about a movie property. It's like Easter or Christmas, really. One of the best things about it is that Star Wars games have been on sale during that time, across GOG on Steam.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, though—where's Star Wars: Episode I Racer? GOG's done some amazing work in bringing these old games to Steam, and I promise this is one of my last requests on the Star Wars front. That game was better than the film it was based on by miles.

Tom Senior: virtual frivolity

It’s encouraging to see some interesting games coming to VR, but roughly a year on from the first wave of new headsets, it feels as though the virtual reality project has lost its momentum. For me, and many friends here in the UK, houses and flats are generally too small to support the Vive’s room-scale features. The headsets aren’t comfortable and it feels as though both leading setups are multiple generations away from being useful. In terms of software, Tilt Brush is a marvel and I loved Tripwire’s Killing Floor demo at the PC Gamer Weekender back in February. Nonetheless, as an entertainment gizmo VR is novel, but not useful. Bring on wave two of the tech.

Chris Livingston: Demolition

Have to agree with Andy's sentiments here: refundable games are not the same as game demos. We were wondering why consoles got a demo of Prey when PC did not, and while there may certainly be legitimate reasons for that, Prey's creative director stating that being able to refund the game was essentially the same as having a demo just isn't true. Traditionally, demos let you sample a portion of a game, see if you like it, play it repeatedly, test it using different settings, all at your leisure, to help you decide if you want to buy the game. 

Buying the game first and having a two-hour window to play isn't anything like that, and the refund policy isn't meant for that anyway: Steam states if the refund system is abused it "may stop offering them to you." It's okay if games don't have demos —so few do these days, which I personally lament—but being able to return games isn't the same thing at all.

Joe Donnelly: Countdown too many

Okay, so while I'm thrilled with the announcement of The Long Dark's long-awaited and much-anticipated story mode, I'm less enamoured by countdowns for countdowns. Last month, the survival exploration game revealed a countdown timer which, at the time, was set to expire 22 days on. We suspected the timer was tied to the game's elusive story mode—as did many of its fans—and it was great to be proven right upon its completion yesterday. 

Except instead of being presented with the story mode itself, the countdown revealed an announcement—that story mode was still almost three months away. Hinterland addressed this directly via the announcement post, and while I get that it's about "building anticipation", I personally would've preferred the countdown at a later date if it meant getting my hands on said story mode there and then. It's worth noting that my frustration is born out of excitement and expectation, and the fact that I've had the cold all week. In any event: roll on August.  

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