This week's highs and lows in PC gaming


The Lows

Evan Lahti: Doomed
The Doom multiplayer closed beta is both fun and underwhelming. It is an unapologetically retro take on deathmatch—arguably that’s exactly what Doom should be. The weapon roster is mostly stuff ripped from 1999, you don’t have to reload any of it, and the two maps are dull, subterranean places dotted with pickups and powerups that deliver lively but simple deathmatches. There’s plenty of early-‘00s spirit, but it’s awkwardly blended with contemporary stuff, like a progression system that unlocks armor pieces and weapon cosmetics, and customizable buffs that activate when you respawn.

I can handle something that’s stuck in the past, but what sticks out most to me is how graphically uneven Doom is. None of the assets feel like they were created in the past year or two, evidence that this is a game about hell that’s been trapped in development hell.

Tim Clark: Break bad?
No Quantum Break review from us today because despite the glorious cross-platform future routinely described by Microsoft, the PC code isn’t ready on time. My hands-on impressions from a month ago can be found here. It seemed fun, in that silly, B-movie way that Remedy specialises in, though I was less sold on the TV show integration stuff. Speaking to developers at the preview event, I also sensed serious qualms about the way Microsoft had implemented UWP, and particularly the options we expect as standard on PC which it had hobbled. Phil Spencer spent some time this week talking about fixing those, but his answers on mods and the explanation for the lack of Halo 5 on PC where less convincing. Hopefully we’ll be able to get Quantum Break in time for its April 5 release date. In the meantime, treat with caution.

Final Fantasy XV Slide

Tom Senior: Immateria
Square has been porting Final Fantasy games to PC at quite a rate in recent years. I hoped that by sheer force of momentum this year’s huge moneyed sequel would find its way onto our hard drives this year. Sadly, it’s not to be. Director Hajime Tabata this week confirmed that development is focusing on the consoles exclusively, for now.

Final Fantasy XV is a spectacular prospect. A decade in the making, with pre-recession production values. I’ve spent the last couple of years fully expecting it to never come out. It had started to take on a mythological quality, like Half-Life 3 and Duke Nukem Forever back in the day, before that turned out to be rubbish. Tabata left us with some hope, at least. “We will definitely take a good, hard look at PC and what we need to do, and consider all our options”, he says. I guess all we can do is loudly let Square Enix know that we’d quite like to play this one, please.

Samuel: Your regular Halo moan
This week Microsoft’s Phil Spencer gave a slightly complex explanation about why certain games belong on console, while others belong on PC (the PC has both controller support and a mouse and keyboard, so all games belong on PC, really). Once again, the subject of Halo 5 coming to PC emerged. "In terms of Halo FPS on PC, I think there’s a ton of opportunity for us right now, but I don’t want to get into a world where we’re looking back, like at Halo 5,” Spencer said. “It doesn’t mean there’s nothing there that could ever end up on PC, but I’d much rather look forward with what our plans are."

That’s a big ‘maybe’, then—and the ‘looking back’ logic sort of works were it not for the fact Killer Instinct only recently arrived on PC, despite launching on Xbox One in 2013. I’d like to see Halo return to PC after a decade away, but Halo Wars 2 aside, it doesn’t sound like it’s happening any time soon.

Adr1ft Slide

Chris Livingston: Dr1ft1ng
I guess my disappointment of the week was Adr1ft (my review is here). While it's a great concept and a beautiful game, the repetition of unchanging tasks becomes tiresome almost immediately. Without making my own suggestions on how it should have been handled, I'll just say that I think the game's constant hunt for oxygen was a poor choice to go with. At the very least, I think it could have been balanced a bit better.

Keeping players anxious, moving, and progressing through a game can be accomplished without making the game /entirely/ about that. Yes, Pac-Man has to gobble dots to win, but if he stops gobbling for a minute he doesn't die of starvation. He only dies from ghosts. Maybe they should have gone with ghosts.

Angus Morrison: Fooling no one
Games industry April Fools’ Day tradition is less perplexing than the French version in which they stick cardboard fish to each other’s backs, and that’s the nicest thing I’m prepared to say about it.

Today I woke up to a slew of game-related nonsense: Roach DLC for The Witcher 3 (dead horse, more like), Arma 3 eau de combat, thumb insurance from Game. It’s not the nonsense itself that bothers me, but the fact that it’s so obviously nonsense. There’s a difference between pulling off a masterful prank and saying something a bit silly.

No one will be shaking their head in amazement when those rapscallions at Warhorse announce that they’re not really porting Kingdom Come: Deliverance to the SNES. Blizzard isn’t trying to fool anyone with the vaguely amusing concept of a Hearthstone MMO.

Next year, I want to see a large and respected (or reviled) company leverage its vast resources to launch subtle yet devious misinformation campaign that I believe, report and cause you to believe before issuing a hasty correction as we all laugh and shake our heads at those loveable scamps in corporate PR. I’m still half hoping The Chinese Room is playing the long con and that today’s announcement, interview and 4K screens for Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture were faked in the basement at NASA.


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