This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The Highs

Samuel Roberts: Respawn does Star Wars

Titanfall developer Respawn announced this week it’s creating a Star Wars action-adventure game to sit alongside those tie-ins already in the works from Visceral and, presumably, DICE. Development lead Stig Asmussen worked on the God of War games, and Respawn’s specialty is first-person competitive games, so who knows where this will end up in terms of genre?

It’s pretty cool to know there’s a lot of Star Wars in our future, though, much as it is with the movies. Yeah, you could argue it’s a lot of the same thing, but Star Wars has more or less been dormant in games for the best part of five years—and I think the appetite is there for a lot more of this stuff, particularly when the developers involved are this good. 

On a similar note, my petition to get the average-but-fun Shadows of the Empire on PC ‘worked’ this week. Hooray! 

Phil Savage: In the works

May should be a great month for strategy fans, with both Stellaris and Total War: Warhammer imminent. These are big, exciting PC games, with big, exciting PC-specific features. For instance, mod support. Paradox are a mod-friendly developer, and Stellaris will, they say, be extremely customisable. "Our modders can change pretty much every value, most of the game rules, and the content they see within the game," revealed designer Joakim Andreasson. I eagerly anticipate the many, many Star Wars mods.

As for Warhammer, it's making its mod scene more visible – not just with day one mod support, but also with Steam Workshop integration. There's no deeper truth to be found here: it's just nice to see. As much as PC gaming has grown over the past decade, the trend towards multiplatform development hasn't been great for modders. It's heartening to see developers who are still prepared to let communities reshape their games. 

Tom Marks: Any port(als) in the Storm

I went down to Blizzard earlier this week for a Heroes of the Storm event, and one of the characters revealed there, Medivh, is downright ridiculous. And I mean ‘change the meta just by existing’ ridiculous. You can’t give a MOBA character a low-cooldown ability that lets you transport your entire team long distances instantaneously and then be surprised when everyone you show it to thinks it’s broken OP. That’s like being surprised 1+1=2, or that you look like a fool while using the Vive.

I don’t necessarily think Medivh himself is overpowered, but his Portal ability is so powerful that people are going to build team compositions specifically around it. And as far as I can tell, that might be the success Blizzard was looking for. They are introducing a character that can’t be ignored. For better or worse, the game is going to change, which is fundamentally what adding new characters and maps is all about. Making another generic assassin that could just slot in for any other doesn’t do much to shift the game, but this definitely will. Now we just have to wait and see if that’s a good thing.  

Alex Campbell: Blue and green horizon

While we’ve known about AMD’s Polaris for some time, we’ve recently heard more news from teams blue and green about upcoming architectures. For team blue, Broadwell-E has been raising my eyebrows. Initial reports have revealed that the i7-6950X will feature 10 cores, surpassing the monstrous 5960X in core count. (The 5960X has eight.) With hyperthreading, the logical core count hits 20. The CPU is also promising 25MB of L3 cache. (That’s five more than the 5960X.) Pascal too, has some big promises. As I write this, Jarred is meeting with Nvidia in Texas to learn more about the new GPU architecture.

These two new architectures will have one big benefit to builders: prices for previous-generation parts will fall as the new parts vie for market share. We can already see this happening. You can get a GTX 980 for just under $500 if you look in the right place. Considering the 980 commanded a premium of $550 just a few months ago, the almost across-the-board price drop of nearly 10 percent  is just the beginning. 

Chris Livingston: The Life of Dunwall

I try to avoid getting hit by hype trains so I’m not yet completely rabid for Dishonored 2, but I am looking forward to it. While we still have only seen a cinematic trailer so far, we learned a teeny bit more this week about Dishonored’s sequel, just enough to remind us it’s on the way, and with E3 just around the bend we’re sure to see more soon.

I’m happy it won’t be taking place entirely in Dunwall. While I really loved that city, there were so many little hints and scraps of information about the larger world that I’m interested in seeing what else is out there. And being able to play as both Corvo and Emily is important: I loved replaying Dishonored, trying different powers and tactics and levels of murderousness each time, so having two characters to choose from feels like a boon to subsequent playthroughs. The only downer is the release date: November! Feels like a long way off. Still, if it’s as good a game as the original, that’s well worth waiting for. 

Angus Morrison: Blinds drawn on Windows 10

Thank the great GPU in the sky, Windows 10 will no longer be free from July 29. This is the sweetest of news because it means I’ll no longer get upgrade notifications I’m too lazy to dig through the settings to turn off. Does wishing everyone else a pricey upgrade just so I don’t get the odd pop-up seem harsh? Not so. You see, I actually want to upgrade to Windows 10, but Microsoft mocks me.

I have a perfectly good copy of Windows 7 that I paid £70 for. However, because I yank components out of my rig like a child trying to con the tooth fairy, Microsoft no longer associates it with my serial code. “This copy of Windows is not genuine” sits in the corner of my screen at all times.

After months of being nagged to upgrade, I acquiesced. It waited until I was halfway through the process to declare I was a filthy pirate and that there would be no free OS for me. Throwing my Windows 7 discs at the screen failed to change its decision. So I gave up; I declared Microsoft’s backward DRM the victor and I restarted.

“Windows 10 is here! Get it for free!” chimed the pop-up, ruler of my own circle of hell. 

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