This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE HIGHS

Chris Livingston: Take me home

Well, I got to play Fallout 76 at a Bethesda event in West Virginia, which led to actually exploring the event's location—the Greenbrier Resort—in the game itself while we were sitting in the resort playing the game. Weird! But memorable. Austin and I had a lot of thoughts about Fallout 76, and plenty of reservations (VATS isn't great, for example), but ultimately it's fun. It's not Fallout 5, but it looks like there's plenty to please fans of Bethesda's singleplayer Fallout games.

The question is, for how long? What will keep players coming back for months after release? We won't be able to begin answering that until the Fallout 76 beta later this month, followed by the launch in November. 

Tom Senior: Pet cemetery

We updated our list of awesome free PC games this week. It’s full of old classic games that have since become freeware, and it features a few good free-to-play picks with reasonable microtransactions. My favourite entries are the really weird ones, though. We added Cyberpet Graveyard to the ‘strange and surprising’ section because it fits both descriptions. 

The game is a collection of files containing cute little pets that you run as exe. files. One of them drifts around the screen getting in your way. Another hurls globs of barf—each one its own clickable window—all over your desktop. Within the files you’ll find a text adventure and lots of little text files offering clues to a wider story. It’s so novel, and funny, and a reminder that games can be structured in unusual ways.

Joe Donnelly: GTA Fiiiine 

As you may already know, I'm a sucker for Grand Theft Auto 5 visual overhaul mods. This week, modder L00 released PhotoRealistic San Andreas—a project fit to challenge the best GTA 5 ENB mods far and wide. Billed as an "all-in-one and sophisticated visual enhancer", PRSA is compatible with all weather and lighting mods, and relies on custom shaders to "offer the most natural and realistic visuals possible." The proof is in the pudding, I reckon, best showcased by the gallery of images featured here. If you fancy it, grab PRSA from its respective Nexus Mods or GTA5 Mods pages. You won't regret it.

Samuel Roberts: Being watched

I like it when developers reveal new games at this time of year—it's a nice break from the onslaught of news about the big games releasing during silly season. This week, a follow-up I've been waiting to hear about for some time broke cover. Observation—not to be confused with The Observer starring Rutger Hauer, as I have several times this week—is a game where you control a sentient AI on a space station. The trailer is sort of a cross between Alien: Isolation, Prey and No Code's Stories Untold.

If that sounds like your sort of thing, it's well worth reading more about it. I loved Stories Untold and can't wait to see how No Code builds on that here. 

Steven Messner: Command and Remaster

I was among the masses who groaned audibly when EA announced that their surprising new Command and Conquer game was a mobile spin-off back at E3 this summer. Despite Tom saying it's actually pretty good, I'm not alone in desperately wishing EA would've given us what we actually wanted: a proper installment.

The feedback has been pretty loud, apparently, because this week EA visited the Command and Conquer subreddit to tell everyone that they're listening and figuring out how to best deliver on this apparent demand for a new RTS game. EA made it clear that a brand new game wasn't in the works, but it is "exploring" some ways to remaster the older games—which I'm totally okay with. Having a remastered Red Alert 2 to play would be awesome, and I'd happily play that while waiting to hear if EA is intending to actually deliver on the demand for more C&C.

Tyler Wilde: Ranked rink

I'm ranked just under Diamond in Rocket League's Snow Day mode, something I never thought I'd say. For the unfamiliar, Snow Day replaces Rocket League's usual soccer ball with a puck, and it's been the only way I play for a couple years. Until recently, Snow Day was a casual playlist—no ranks, no bragging rights at the end of a season—I never really expected that to change, as its players are such a small percentage of Rocket League's total playerbase. 

But Psyonix heard my whining, I guess, and ranked Snow Day is a thing. There are some downsides. The only way to play Snow Day now is ranked, so no more five-game rematch series, and I see fewer of the regulars I used to. But my Rocket League nights (pretty much every night) are far more thrilling now that I'm chasing divisions, and the competition is much tougher. I think I have another 500 hours in me.