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The week's highs and lows in PC gaming


Angus Morrison: Life finds a way
Evolve lives! I didn’t play all that much of it, but it was too lovingly-made a game to fade away without a sound. The premise of 4v1 monster hunting is strong. Perhaps it really was the “DLC shitstorm”—as Turtle Rock’s co-founders put it—that meant it didn’t get the chance it deserved. We’ll soon find out, because Evolve has gone free-to-play, live now in beta form.

First signs are encouraging. The concurrent player count has leapt from around 100 a day in June to a high of 23,000 last night. The changes to each class and the decision to give everyone the ability to drop a containment dome on the monster should also relieve the pressure on novice Trappers and Medics—you want the new blood to keep coming back, after all. Yes, there’s a chance it’s been diluted a bit, but surely that’s better than extinction. 

James Davenport: Battlefield Fun
In Battlefield 1, I’m not worried about kicking ass at every second. It’s a nice change of pace from Overwatch, which I’m finding more stressful the more I play it. As my skill ceiling grows, so do my personal and team’s expectations. Battlefield 1’s massive map lets my play go mushy without massive repercussions.

I’m dying a ton, but that’s to be expected in such a huge map littered with 63 other players. It’s impossible to keep tabs on every threat, and so I don’t worry about it. I do worry about pointing out threats to my teammates and issuing or following my squad orders. The weapons are all pretty neat so far too. Their view models are detailed recreations with magazines in every shape imaginable and funky scopes that look like they’re cobbled out of junk I’d find in my grandpa’s garage. If you want a closer look at the class-specific firearms available in the alpha, Tyler and I made a bunch of GIFs for your to replay until the end of time.  

Samuel Roberts: Touching the sky
No Man’s Sky has gone gold, which means we should be getting our hands on the long-awaited procedurally generated space game very soon. I’m pretty optimistic. I’m not expecting No Man’s Sky to be a mind-blowing, world-expanding game I can live in forever like some corners of the internet—I’m expecting a game where most of the appeal comes from the search for new and cool planets, and unusual creatures, along with some simple-but-fun spaceship combat. I am up for that.

On that level, I’m hopeful No Man’s Sky can deliver. When it gets here, I’m going to send PC Gamer’s Andy Kelly on a journey to 100 planets to see what he uncovers. Fun times are hopefully ahead. Check out Chris Livingston’s hands-on feature from earlier in the year to learn more about what you’ve got to expect.

Chris Livingston: Animazing
Andy reviewed Playdead’s puzzle-plaformer Inside for us, and I think I liked it perhaps a bit more than he did, though I agree with a lot of what he said. And, unlike Andy, I do want to play it again and I think I will this weekend.

I won’t get specific about anything, because I went into it not knowing a damn thing about it and I think that’s the best way to tackle it. But I think the character animation—not of the character you play but other characters in the game—is some of the best I’ve seen. Often these characters are well off in the distance, even tinier on the screen than the child you’re controlling, but Playdead captured so much in the tiniest gesture or the slightest hint of body language. In fact, rather than playing it again, I’d really like to sit there while someone else plays the game, while all I do is watch the characters in the background.

Jarred Walton: Power-ful GPUs
The past week saw two more major pieces of graphics card news. First, Nvidia has revealed that the GTX 1060 will be a 6GB card that will outperform the GTX 980, with a power draw of 120W. It will use a new GP106 chip that has half as many cores as the GTX 1080, but it will also have a target price of $250-$300. The competition is obvious here: AMD’s RX 480, and it’s shaping up to be quite the showdown.

Speaking of the RX 480, after concerns about higher than spec power use by the card, AMD has released updated Crimson 16.7.1 drivers that allow users to keep the card under 150W. It’s good to see this addressed with drivers rather than a more complex firmware patch or a recall, but to be honest I never viewed the overspec power use as a serious problem; overclocked cards have often exceeded spec. Something else to keep an eye on is the potential to unlock some 4GB cards into 8GB models, but that will probably be limited to reference models is my bet--and you don’t really want the reference model RX 480 anyway, as the custom cards will likely include 8-pin power connections that put all the out-of-spec power draw concerns to rest. 

Phil Savage: Full Steam ahead
I had a few days off this week—a small bit of rest from the difficult, tiring world of writing about computer games—and decided to dust off my pile of shame. It was productive: each game I tried had about half an hour to convince me of its value. The Flame in the Flood proved too finicky, Audiosurf 2 too similar to its predecessor, and Stephen's Sausage Roll too difficult. All were quickly jettisoned. But one game surprised me. Styx: Master of Shadows isn't a masterpiece, by any means. But it's a pretty good stealth adventure, and entertaining enough that I've persisted past a bullshit insta-fail section. I wouldn't give it a glowing recommendation, but it's certainly worth a look come the next sale.

Try it yourself this weekend: pick a game out of your pile of shame and give it a shot. You might find something you enjoy more than you'd thought.