This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The highs


Samuel Roberts: Friends forever 

Loyalty missions in Mass Effect Andromeda can be played after the game is finished, it was revealed this week. Considering we still don't know loads about the story of BioWare's latest (although more info is now filtering out about the game's companions and such), it's an odd thing to reveal so early—but considering the impact the loyalty missions had on the structure of the original trilogy, and the feeling of trying to rush them all in before the game's finale (particularly in ME2), this sounds like a great idea.

And on another note in this week's (infrequent) good news: there's a new Mass Effect coming next year. I could not be more excited about that. 

Andy Kelly: Heart of the matter

Disappointing PC performance aside, Dishonored 2 is everything I hoped it would be. The choppy frame rate, especially in outdoor areas, is a constant frustration. But I love the game enough to battle through it. And one of my favourite things in it is the heart.

This slightly disgusting device will, when squeezed, reveal secrets about whoever you're pointing it at. And I've just spent an hour wandering around the Karnaca docks learning the backstories of every NPC I could find. It's a great idea because it instantly makes some random thug hanging around in a bar, or a worker gutting fish, an interesting character.

And the secrets the heart reveals are almost always incredibly dark and depressing, which suits Dishonored's grim world. I met a guy who was talking to me about his kids. Then I used the heart and it revealed that he beats them every night, "just like his mother used to."

Bleak stuff, but it makes all those NPCs milling around feel like people rather than just set dressing. There are some nice people, but most of Karnaca's citizens are hiding dark secrets. I hope Arkane figure out why so many people, myself included, are having problems with the PC version soon. But I'll probably keep playing regardless, because I've always loved Dishonored's fiction, and the chance to return to that world is irresistible.

 Phil Savage: Season finale

"It is done!" I cry, raising my arms to the sky, tears streaming from my face from the uncontrollable joy of having concluded what could be considered my life's work. By which I mean I've finished reviewing all six of Hitman's episodes. It has been emotional.

And hey, what a season! This is IO back on form. Yes, there are some concessions to those who aren't familiar with the last 16 years of Hitman games, but, at its core, this new Hitman is, well, Hitman. It's been great, too, seeing IO experiment more as the season's progressed—a sign of their growing confidence in their ability to execute on its central idea. Hokkaido is one of the best episodes of the season, up their with Sapienza, and bolstered by the way it ties your available routes to your current disguise. Here's to season two.

Chris Livingston: Model citizens

Nexus Mods announced that they are now hosting 50,000 files for Skyrim. That is a lot of mods. That is a lot of amazing, tireless work by talented and creative modders. And seeing how as I've been playing an unmodded Skyrim Special Edition this week, and that my main takeaway is that yeah, Skyrim really does need mods, I just want to thank all those modders for their work over the years, and thank Nexus Mods for hosting them. Keep it up, everyone.


James Davenport: Evil Knievel

I wish there was a better week to fawn over a game named Tyranny, but here I am. The latest RPG from Obsidian (with plenty of help from Paradox) is out, and it revels in choice and consequence in a completely refreshing way for me. Refreshing in that there’s a ton of it and no clear ‘good’ path through it all. I’m only an act in, but I’ve already razed villages to the ground, executed innocent people for minor infractions, and made some friends along the way. I think they’re only my friends because they’re scared I’ll kill them though. Steven’s review dives a bit deeper into the characters and combat, the latter of which we both think is a bit tedious. However, as an RPG, the way Tyranny forces the player to inhabit a bad guy might actually be good for you.

It sounds bizarre, and it is, but trying to roleplay a cold person abiding by the rules of a terrible empire is an interesting headspace to occupy. Empathizing with shitty people doesn’t mean I condone their actions, but forcing myself to make varying degrees of a cruel decision is an exercise in reverse engineering how a person and society can even reach such a tyrannical status. I’m curious to see where Tyranny goes, not just it’s prebaked story beats, but how I’ll navigate being a monstrosity in service of a greater power and what I’ll learn from it all. 

Bo Moore: Dude, where's your face?

This week, we finally revealed the updated Large Pixel Collider, a massive custom-built PC crafted to look like the Ark of the Covenant and packing power to match. No, seriously, this is one of the most insanely powerful gaming computers ever built. Packing two Nvidia Titan X GPUs, a whopping 128GB of DDR4 RAM, two 1.2TB NVMe SSDs (alongside four 10TB helium-filled hard drives), and a custom-built "PC Gamer red" watercooling loop to keep everything chilled, the LPC is an absolute monster of a computer.

We've already put the LPC through some pretty rigorous testing, but the coolest thing so far is its ability to not just play games at 60fps in 4K resolution—it can do so while recording video. In other words, stay tuned for some seriously amazing gameplay footage in the coming months. And in the meantime, be sure to check out the LPC reveal video, featuring the narrator from Darkest Dungeon and our own Evan Lahti getting his face melted off. 


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