Tom Senior: Snapping pics in Paris
My eyes and ears and brain have been full of revolutionary Paris this week, and I adore the place that Ubisoft have created for Assassin's Creed Unity. I hope there's a future when the bugs are all patched out, the optimisation is improved, and everyone can focus on what they've done with that place.
Moving to one city after AC4 gave players a whole archipelago is risky, but it pays off. When you spend a long time in one place it becomes familiar, even more so when it's structured with the authenticity of Unity's Paris. The gritty little docks on the river don't feel like they've been placed by a game designer, they seem to grow organically out of a slightly run-down district of workers. To the north, streamers hang over suburbs of rich folk. You can snoop around their houses and admire all the filigree and silk.
More than any other Assassin's Creed game, I spent a lot of time walking on street level, listening to the hum of the crowd, watching street sellers and throwing noise bombs to watch them react. My screenshot folder is teeming with amazing vistas, a fitting tribute to a beautifully built game world. Of course, Unity's city hasn't been making the headlines, but that's a matter for this week's lows.
Tyler Wilde: BioWare being sweet
I don’t feel like this sort of thing happens in real life. When a Mass Effect fan asked BioWare to help her propose to her partner, BioWare went above and beyond, building a new level just for them and concocting a fake contest to bring the couple into the studio. Technically the story was posted last week, but this is the week I read about it while cutting onions and also it was raining on my face.
Samuel Roberts: Valkyria rules
Valkyria’s transition onto PC is this week’s best success story for me—the port is fantastic, and the game has held up in the six years it took for it to cross over from PlayStation 3 to PC. It even reached number one on the Steam charts, beating out Call of Duty and other bigger titles. Six years old and a giant killer. Nice work, Sega. This is the battle cry to every major publisher: bring the best of your back catalogue to Steam, regardless of past formats, and there may well be an audience.
Tim Clark: The con that Blizz built
Indulge me, dear reader, as I bend the very fabric of space and time with my high this week. Because I want to talk about BlizzCon, which, okay, technically, ended last Saturday night, but as I’ve still been posting about it this week, it definitely still counts. Judged purely on the announcements—Goblins! Gnomes! A brand new FPS playable on the floor right now!—it would have been easily exciting enough. But it’s testament to what a special show BlizzCon is, (this was my first visit, I hope to make many more), that what stood out was how welcoming, enthusiastic, and just plain lovely the communities Blizzard has built around its game are. The vibe of inclusion and celebration was established from the outset by Blizz CEO Mike Morhaime’s brave speech at the opening ceremony, and continued throughout the weekend. To me it felt less like a consumer show and more like a 20,000-strong party. A nerdy one, sure, but hey we all know what we signed up for here. *strokes Murloc plushie*
Evan Lahti: Tis’ the Season for CS:GO
Valve launched Operation Vanguard for CS:GO this week, and with it came a half-dozen new community-sourced maps. I’m still trying them out today for next Monday’s Triggernometry column, but it’s been great so far feeling unfamiliar again in CS:GO, and having new maps to feel out and discover the nuances and chokepoints of. Season, by our friend FMPONE, is my favorite so far. I’m less crazy about Workout, which I found to be a little too spacious for great competitive play, but I love its theme: a sports complex with a yoga room, basketball court, and other gym zones. I’ve always liked how CS has felt when you’re fighting in more playful, non-industrial spaces. More on what I don’t like about the latest update in my low below.
Andy Kelly: Piracy is good
Everyone’s talking about Assassin’s Creed: Unity at the moment—our review is here—but I’m all about the last game, Black Flag. I have Unity, but I won’t be touching it for a while. I’m in the thick of Edward Kenway’s piratical adventure right now, and it’s just so damn fun. That liberating feeling of setting sail and exploring the Caribbean… how could I ever go back to boring old dry land? There’s a magic in Black Flag that I don’t think any other game in the series has captured. I’ve always thought II was the best one, but I reckon IV is my new favourite. I’ve only played an hour of Unity, but I doubt it’ll ever match the fun of boarding ships and listening to sea shanties. More ships in the next Assassin’s Creed, please.