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This week's highs and lows in PC gaming


Wes Fenlon: My Original Sin is jealousy

I've been excited about Divinity: Original Sin 2 since Larian first announced it via a Kickstarter in 2015. Now it's finally here, has had a fantastic launch on Steam, and all the word of mouth is great. But I'm not playing it, and it's tearing me up inside. I had so much fun playing Divinity: Original Sin with a co-op pal, I made plans to do the same with Original Sin 2. In fact, I'm going to be attempting a complete campaign run-through with four players, which I know is lunacy. 

But if we can align four adults schedules frequently enough to finish the game before we all turn to dust, it'll be a hell of a lot of fun. Unfortunately, one of my co-op friends is away on vacation, and another is dealing with restoring power and internet services in the wake of hurricane Irma. Deep down I know waiting a week or two will just give Larian time to iron out some bugs and make our experience even better. But man, waiting is hard. 

Jody Macgregor: Absolution denied

My low is that I suck at Absolver. I will never learn to do the Calbot, Absolver's sweet open-hand slap move, not just because the character you learn it from is a rare spawn but because I am so awful at this game. I haven't even learned the stagger moves that turn you into Jackie Chan. When I got stuck I gave up on my slow and careful playstyle in favor of button-mashing and immediately defeated my opponent. That's what usually happens when I play Tekken, another game whose nuances I'll never uncover. 

If randomly hitting buttons works better than my clumsy attempts to do the right thing, it's a sign from the fighting game gods that I should chill out and go back to Mortal Kombat. I'll never be absolved, or absolve anyone else, or whatever it is people who are good at it do in Absolver.

Phil Savage: Heating up

Predictably, Firewatch is getting 'review-bombed' on Steam—a result of developer Campo Santo issuing a DMCA takedown of PewDiePie's Firewatch videos, in response to the YouTuber dropping a racial slur during a PUBG livestream. That is arguably the most 2017 sentence I have written all year.

I say 'predictably' because review bombing has become a standard weapon in the arsenal of the sort of people who unironically use the term “SJW” in their user reviews of a videogame about a sad man wandering around a forest. Whatever you think about using a DMCA takedown in this way—and Campo Santo are well within their rights to do it—this is another example of Steam's failings as a platform. As it stands, Steam reviews are of little use to consumers and actively harmful to developers. All it takes is a minority of vindictive, motivated reviewers to tank a game's review scores. Increasingly, it feels, Valve's hands-off, data-driven approach to community management isn't for those who use the service in good faith.

Chris Livingston:

I don't ever want to say there are too many games on Steam—the more the merrier and all that—but there may be over 5,000 games released this year alone. Already, 1,300 new games have appeared since Steam Direct arrived in June. I'm glad it's become easier for people to sell the games they make, but it's hard not to worry about some real gems slipping by unnoticed due to all the background noise. You always hope the good stuff will rise to the top, but with such a constant flood of new games it means swimming against the current is that much harder.

James Davenport: Boxed in

I enjoy loot boxes. I don’t like the dangerous psychology behind them, but I think they’re fun to examine from a safe distance. Meant to be an extended joke with light aesthetic criticism, my article on the best and worst loot boxes in PC gaming was largely taken as a fat, glowing endorsement of loot boxes as a practice. I could certainly have made that clearer; too often I expect people to know what I’m aiming for, but I also think the angry folks in the comments and lighting up my inbox could have spared a few minutes to read the opening paragraph—or maybe the word “worst” in the title. 

We’ll have a more direct critique on loot boxes as a popular practice in games soon, but the kneejerk reaction to their very mention still surprises me. The videogame anger squad could at least manage to be angry and literate. 

Tom Senior: Bat’s entertainment

I’m slightly conflicted about the news that Rocksteady isn’t making another Batman Arkham game, according to voice actor Kevin Conroy (though maybe they’re making a Robin game, eh?). Arkham Knight was a flawed game but Rocksteady’s talent for combat systems and extraordinarily detailed city environments was evident. I’m keen to see what they might do with a different universe, maybe their own universe, but at the same time I’m going to miss being Batman. Better than any other developer Rocksteady nailed the fantasy of being the dark knight, and Kevin Conway played a great part in that.

Internet rumours/hopeful speculation reckons that Rocksteady might be turning its sights on Superman. He’s a difficult character to build a game around, given that he’s invincible, which makes giving him a healthbar somewhat silly (Injustice: Gods Among Us gets away with doing this because it is a self-consciously silly game). Either way, I look forward to their next project, and hope that it will get a proper port this time.

PC Gamer

Hey folks, beloved mascot Coconut Monkey here representing the collective PC Gamer editorial team, who worked together to write this article!