This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

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The Lows

Samuel Roberts: The end of Lionhead
With Fable Legends cancelled this week, it sounds like Lionhead is certain to close in the coming months. While I could use this space to ramble about how its earlier games rarely lived up to the PR speak, I think this is a real loss to the games industry—Lionhead’s games weren’t perfect, and a few of them arguably overreached, but they were always worth talking about. We lose out for no longer having more of them in the future.

I remember finding common ground with a science teacher at my school over Black and White—he absolutely loved the sense of humour in that game, and would regularly talk to me about it. Someone I know in the games industry entered a movie making competition for The Movies once upon a time and won, they loved the game that much. Some friends of mine connected with Fable II’s world more than any other fantasy universe in games, feeling like they owned their little corner of Albion, jovially telling me stories of their kids across multiple relationships being taken off them for neglect.

I think Lionhead’s games inspired true passion in people, even when they weren’t perfect. I wish the team all the best in future, and it’s such a shame Fable Legends’ gorgeous art is just all going to be junked. What a waste. It’s also sad that Fable II, Lionhead’s best game, never came to PC—hopefully someday it will.

Angus Morrison: Promo no-no
Just as I tired of Fallout 4’s relentless merchandising, so too is Rocket League’s penchant for any and every tie-in beginning to wear. I like the zany new modes, like Snow Day and the basketball thing in the works. I love that you can equip a PC Gamer flag to demonstrate your unyielding loyalty on the battlepitch. The DeLorean was a funny cross-over for a special occasion, and the Batmobile is similarly neat, but please—slow down.

The latest tie-in—a two-way crossover with Dying Light—comes less than a week after the Batman DLC launched, and while it’s all very nice in theory, shoving promo after promo out the door makes it feel less like an amusing treat and more like the marketing that it is. Rocket League hasn’t achieved sporting levels of sponsorship just yet, but unless someone puts the brakes on we’ll be rocking Doritos ‘n’ Dew rocket trails before long.

Tim Clark:Experiencing Butts in VR
I’ve continued my trawl of Steam for fun Vive demos this week, with the standout being The Brookhaven Experiment, a light gun-ish thing in which you shoot waves of increasingly outsized monsters emerging from the treeline. Crazy fun. After which, obviously, I decided to try Butts: The VR Experience—which, let me tell you, is quite the palette cleanser. It begins with a leering blue cartoon man tiptoeing around, then gleefully flashing his bulbous buttcheeks at you. Hello, nightmare fuel. Blue guy then meets an understandably scared red cartoon guy, shows him his butt, and proceeds to pull a spouting geyser of rainbow coloured confetti from it. After which they both take flight, powered by the thrust of dual Technicolor buttsplosions, before finally having a bit of a hug. Then I woke up in Tijuana without my wallet. So yeah, Butts: The VR Experience is this week’s low. Not because I didn’t like it. But because it had to end.

Phil Savage: Connection is dead
Like Sam, last night I was trying to generate some memorable Hitman moments. For the most part I succeeded. Broadly speaking, I'd say this first episode is a success. At one point, though, my silent assassinating was undone—not by keen-eyed guards, but by Steam's routine maintenance.

If you lose connection in Hitman—either because your internet drops out, or a necessary server falls over—you're booted out of the level, back to the main menu. This, not surprisingly, is really annoying. Worse still, if you switch to online mode, you can't load a save that was created while you were connected to the servers. Instead you either have to start a level fresh, or wait for the connection to be restored.

Given Just Cause 3's online connection issues at launch, this is a brave move by Square Enix. And, if nothing else, JC3 at least didn't actively remove you from the game when a connection dropped. It's a really poor user experience, and really sours what is an otherwise a fine game. I'm not even sure why it's necessary to do this. Hitman has online leaderboards, but I'm fine not posting a score to them if this is the alternative.

The Division Slide

Chris Livingston: Post Orifice
Your base in The Division is in a post office, and to make it feel like a bustling command center Ubisoft has seen fit to stock it with NPCs. It didn't occur to them, however, that as you'll be standing in the post office for hours on end sorting through loot, crafting, tinkering with gear, and buying and selling things, you might not want to hear these NPCs incessantly jabbering in your ear the whole time.

There's vendors constantly shouting to get your attention, soldiers burping out the same dull comments every time you pass, and my least favorite, the endlessly sobbing man they stood right next to my crafting table. Yes, I really want to hear someone crying while I'm trying to make myself new scopes and backpacks. Thankfully, the sobbing man eventually moved into my medical center where he now complains loudly about his back pain every 10-12 seconds. I hope upon fully upgrading my base I'm allowed to kick everyone out into the street so I can craft in peace.

James Davenport: The Addition
I’m pretty deep into The Division and mostly having a good time. It’s best in the crafted story missions, with environments and enemy encounters set up to test your teamwork and reactions. But in 22 hours of game time, a third, maybe half, of what I’ve played has been from the story missions. The rest was spent doing grindy, repetitive side missions just to get enough XP to hit a level where I’m capable of doing the next major mission without getting one-hit on the reg. Bloat.

It’s the kind of loop that a lot of people will get into. Sometimes I’m into it too, but only when I’m playing with folks I know. When the side missions repeat and repeat, and I’m on my own or with some sprinting strangers, the empty spaces between interesting firefights feel much, much bigger. I’m still working through what I think of the RPG mechanics as a whole, but most of the time I feel like they upset the pacing and balance in an otherwise exciting team-based cover shooter. I’ll keep plugging away and let you know in our impending review. In the meantime, check out our soldier build guide, early impressions, and max settings video.


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