This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The lows

James Davenport: Spawncamping like the wolf

I’ve been trying to get into ARK: Survival Evolved, the dino-survival sensation, over the last week or so and it’s been… difficult. I’m not big on survival games to begin with, or at least the common definition of survival games, which seems to take the form of smashing trees, making tools, hunting animals, and building grid-based huts. ARK throws dinosaurs and other big monsters into the mix, most of which are bloodthirsty. I know this, because the early game is incredibly slow and frustrating.

It takes a while to allocate the resources necessary to craft a sleeping bag, which saves your spawn point. If you die without one, you have to spawn at a random location in a designated area, and during my first attempt at surviving in Scorched Earth, I spawned on top of a direwolf four times in a row. I know there’s a big social sandbox waiting for me, I just can’t seem to get the damn predators to chill for, like, one second. Someone who knows what they’re doing, please, come protect me. Bring me hides. Feed me. Tell me I’ll ride a dinosaur one day. 

Evan Lahti: Unluckey

We passed on posting about the news that Palmer Luckey has financed Trump memes, despite what a bizarre and compelling sequence of words that is. It’s not PC Gamer’s business who a game developer gives political support to, unless, I guess, that support somehow contradicts the goals of their work. (If Cliff Bleszinski came out in support of a ban on chainsaws, we'd cover it.) The overarching downer is that almost all politicians lack a nuanced perspective about games: most candidates still take the '90s strategy of criticizing videogames in order to show parents that they care about children’s brains.

I don't think Luckey will leave Oculus, but it could’ve done without this distraction. VR is still struggling to find traction, and the launch of PlayStation VR next month will be a big litmus next for the tech.

Joe Donnelly: Dark Slows

On occasion, I’ve used the Lows section of this here feature as a platform to indulge in a wee grumble. To be honest, there’s not normally anything that winds me up so much in Videogameland week-on-week that makes me consider it a ‘Low’, per se—which has at times led to me simply having a moan. With this in mind, I’m going to cheat this week and make my Low a High in disguise.

On Wednesday, Dark Souls 3 teased the first proper in-game footage of its incoming Ashes of Ariandel DLC. Set to be the first of two proposed expansions, this ‘un is due October 25 and the sliver of gameplay now has me asking three questions: why does that snow looks so lovely against so much brutal violence? Will I ever be able to defeat any of those abominations? And I want this now, why the heck is it not October 25 yet? My Low this week, then, is bemoaning the fact that it’s not five weeks from now, right now. Grumbling about that is very possibly a new personal low. 

Tyler Wilde: A smorgasbord

I got to interview Myst co-creator Rand Miller this week, along with a few other really interesting  designers, and it was a great talk—I could hardly include everything we discussed in that one story, so I’ll have to hold onto it and think about that. That’s not a low at all, it’s actually a high, but I’m just not feeling super low this week. While I’m worried about Star Citizen, I’m glad to see such great reporting on it from Julian Benson and our colleagues at Kotaku UK. No Man’s Sky being recreated in Doom is great, even if Hello Games has been far too quiet—at least until this new update, which hopefully restarts communication. One thing I do wish is that this had been the Oculus reveal this week.

Phil Savage: Bro limit

The one thing about Forza Horizon 3 that annoys me is its tone, which I've previously described as Top Gear but YouTubers. It's cringey, patronising and deeply childish. You can tell your GPS to call you "Bantersaurus Rex". Or "Abroham Lincoln". It's one thing to create an aspirational fantasy, but I don't aspire to be a arsehole.

In Horizon 3's defence, it's less annoying than previous games in the series. That's because, this time, you're in charge of organising and promoting the event. Your character is the Prime Bellend, and unlike The Woeful Benjamin of Forza Horizon 2—a man so patronisingly chummy he made me wish there was a Hague for bants—you never speak. In Horizon 3, your primary over-the-radio contact is Keira, who is perhaps the least annoying character in Horizon history. Counterbalancing that, there are the deplorable radio station presenters, and a race engineer that's more Australian caricature than person. The one bright light is the old-fashioned presenter of the classical station. He does not understand these kids or their "skill chains". I think he might be my spirit animal.

Chris Livingston: Bumper cars

I spent some time with one of my Cities: Skylines cities this week, not managing it but attempting to live in it. The plan was to use mods to drive a car and walk around in first-person, see the sights, visit the parks, and enjoy my creation from street-level. The reality was I spent two full in-game days simply stuck in traffic. My city doesn't have traffic problems, it has traffic anarchy, and my experience was that of a ping-pong ball in a centrifuge, with sirens.

The traffic issues were known to me, but only at a safely aloof god-level: immersing myself in them gave me an entirely new perspective on how much I truly suck at city planning. It also makes me realize my city, which keeps growing, probably shouldn't. No one would move into what is essentially a noisy parking lot surrounded by hospitals. These citizens should be leaving en masse. Perhaps they're even trying to, but they simply can't because the traffic is so bad? Either way, I hereby resign as mayor of Traffic Town.