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This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The lows

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Chris: Just marketing things

'#justWWIthings'. Jesus Christ, EA. Tone-deaf marketing has always been an issue with military shooters, particularly when the FPS made a concerted move towards modern settings and contemporary conflicts over the course of the last decade. Yet while developers don't always get their depictions right, it's publisher's marketing arms that seem the most guilty of regularly getting it wrong.

This week, EA started—and hastily retracted—the '#justWWIthings' hashtag, each tweet accompanied by an animated gif of Battlefield 1 with a 'HOW DO YOU DO FELLOW KIDS'-type caption. A flamethrower-armed trooper incinerating people in an underground bunker, for example, with 'when you're too hot for the club'. You can see pictures of the deleted tweets here, if you must.

This is a calamitously stupid marketing line, drawing out exactly the comparison that Battlefield 1 doesn't want to make. If it had been '#justBattlefieldthings', it would have been fine. Instead, they tried to build a bridge between the 40 million people who died in one of the worst conflicts in human history and the YouTube generation. Nobody asked you to build that bridge, EA! It's not a necessary bridge!

This stuff makes games and the people who make and play them look stupid and senseless. It also devalues the work that DICE did to offer some acknowledgement of the realities of the conflict within the game itself, particularly the impressive introductory mission of the campaign. That's not to say that the game is without issues—it's certainly guilty of telling you that you're in the worst war imaginable, but giving you superpowers with which to survive it—but it never asks you to charge out of the trenches with rifle in one hand and selfie stick in the other. Had it been designed by EA's marketing department, I'm pretty sure it would have done.

Samuel Roberts: Please eat my hard-drive

Do you ever go to install a game on Steam, see that it's a colossal 60GB or something, find yourself far too lazy to go through your library deleting stuff and just give up, and put Rocket League on? That's increasingly becoming the case with games on my PC. This week, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare's file sizes were revealed: 74.2GB for the base game, and another 44.9GB for the Modern Warfare campaign. Let's see: guess I'll delete Hitman, The Division and Mafia 3 to make space for that, then. And Dishonored 2 is out next weekend. GTA V's place is no longer secure on my PC.

I'm sure there are good reasons that games have to be this size nowadays, but Jesus. Is it really 119GB of fun? Is anything 119GB of fun?

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Joe Donnelly: Comic conned

Take-Two's comic book arm Double Take is set to shutter this month, closing its doors after three years in business. If you've followed its work, you'll know it focused itself on George Romero's The Night of the Living Dead, however it turns out things might've been different if a recent report is to be believed. 

As we learned from Bleeding Cool this week, the publisher's original vision explored the idea of a shared universe between the XCom, Civilization and BioShock worlds—all of which are published nowadays by the Take-Two-owned 2K. Like I said through the week, I'm not sure how this would’ve worked timewise, however the idea of plasmids versus aliens; Rapture as a Wonder; or—as a few of you suggested in the comments—Civ's Gandhi in any shape or form sounds really interesting. Perhaps more interesting is Bleeding Cool's suggestion that friction between founder Bill Jemas and BioShock creator Ken Levine is what drove Double Take towards The Night of the Living Dead in the first place.  

Again, Double Take is closing in any event so I guess it’s irrelevant—but in my eyes it’s a shame these weird and wonderful collaborations will never see the light of day. 

James Davenport: Titanfall blue

Titanfall 2’s multiplayer is all I think about lately and I’m pretty picky when it comes to competitive shooters. I’m not too worried about sales and player counts—that’s entirely out of my purview and, like Chris, I have a hunch Titanfall 2 will find a way—but I am concerned about how damn long it takes to queue into any game mode besides Bounty Hunt and Attrition. They’re both great, but sometimes I like to slow my step and have a good old fashioned robot battle in Last Titan Standing. 

I’m not exactly certain how it culls players together, but localized to my data center, which is based in Oregon, there just aren’t enough players in the same region trying to get in a robot to rock them and sock them. The problem may just be how the multiplayer menu rearranges and fragments players right off the bat. You pick a mode and that’s the pool of players you’re mixed in with. Maybe present people with your three primary modes under big, bold buttons, then layout the smaller ones on a different page or beneath a subhead. Or just come to my house in your robot suit and punch me in the head. Same thrill. 

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Wes Fenlon: A split platform mess

I don't expect every PC game to have cross-platform play with its console equivalent. Often, for competitive shooters, pairing console and PC players doesn't make a lot of sense. But what makes even less sense is splitting the PC userbase into Steam players and Windows Store players, which Activision has apparently done with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Why? Good question! I can't think of a good reason. Microsoft says it supports cross-platform play, so it's not a regulation on their end. And Infinite Warfare doesn't support Microsoft's "Play Anywhere" platform, which would let you play Infinite Warfare on Xbox or PC. The Windows Store still has a long way to go before it's a real competitor for Steam, and much of that lies on Microsoft's shoulders. But this just seems to be a poor implementation of network play that affects anyone who buys the Windows Store version. Poor show.

Tuan Nguyen: Frying my motherboard for the first time

I was in the process of upgrading the motherboard on my PC this week. New CPU, new motherboard, new graphics card. I got in two brand new GTX 1080 cards to play with and figured hey, why not just upgrade the entire system? So I did that and pushed the power button on the new beast. Silence.

The system turned on but nothing actually came on. The motherboard had lights, but no fans were spinning. Nothing. I turned it off, and back on again. Still nothing. After checking to make sure everything was seated properly, I tried again. Nothing yet again. So I figured, let’s push the BIOS reset button. POP! POP! Smoke. I freaked out.

I immediately unplugged the system and took it apart. I saw smoke around the top of the first  GTX 1080 and the CPU area, and thought “Oh no… my brand new GTX 1080.” I sniffed all the components and there was a bad electrical burn smell on the back of the graphics card that was sitting in PCIe slot 1. I was sweating now.

After a minute of facepalming, I decided to put the system back together piece by piece and power it on without the graphics cards. It booted and POSTed. I was relieved, but then was really worried about the GPU. I put in the second GPU, turned on the system, and it posted. Then I thought okay, let’s try the one that smelled bad. I put both GPUs in, and turned on the system. It POSTed and booted into Windows just fine. I thought to myself “wtf?”

Mysteriously, everything seemed fine. And then I got a CPU temperature warning: 89C. Uh oh. I checked the CPU fan and liquid cooler pump. They weren’t working. As it turned out, I had put both the pump header into CPU_FAN and cooling fan into CPU_OPT. This is bad, as both headers run on the same power line, and both had short circuited. I moved the connections to other fan headers and everything worked just fine. System has been completely stable ever since.

Don’t use the CPU_FAN and CPU_OPT fan headers at the same time!

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