Steven Messner: I'd stake my reputation on it
Okay, I realize I was just like "Yay World of Warcraft!" in my highs, but at the same time seriously fuck World of Warcraft. It's taking what feels like forever for me to grind my reputation high enough to unlock the new Allied Races (essentially cool variants on already existing ones like the void elves). See, Blizzard decided that even though they're a preorder bonus you still need to max out your reputation with their requisite faction first. You do that by completing a finite amount of world quests that spawn each day. And then you do more. And more.
Honestly, it's killing me. More hardcore WoW players will probably sneer at my casualness, but I absolutely detest grinding in most MMOs. I love running raids and doing dungeons—hell even the world quests are decent fun—but being forced to do oodles of them for rewards? Ugh. At this point, I'm basically twiddling my thumbs waiting for the expansion to come out, so it's not like I have more pressing things to accomplish in game. But still, I'm so sick of reputation grinding.
Tom Senior: Morehammer
I quite like Warhammer, and I think we probably deserve some better Warhammer games. There are good ones out there: Vermintide, Space Marine, Total War: Warhammer 2, Space Marine, Blood Bowl 2, and Space Marine, for example. Yes I mentioned one of those games three times. It was in the hope that if I say it enough, Candyman style, a sequel will magically appear.
I’m curious to see how games will start to interpret Games Workshop’s Age of Sigmar setting. This is the new universe that supplanted the old-school Warhammer Fantasy setting a few years ago. It’s a colourful high-fantasy universe that could pop spectacularly in an action game. I’ll have to make do with the recently announced AoS augmented reality card game for now.
James Davenport: The absolute last fantasy
I had no idea there was some batshit, one-off Final Fantasy side mission in Assassin's Creed: Origins until it was too late. Figured I'd clean up some quests and level up between story missions, so I rolled with it like any other mission, a bit intrigued by a damn meteorite falling from the sky. But, I mean, I'd just finished a dream sequence boss fight with a massive snake, so it didn't strike me as too odd.
I solved the simple temple puzzle, expecting to find a tablet and get a skill point or some new digs. Nope. A metal bird spins out of the sky and a handsome fellow steps into the light. Some phantom swords dance around and slam down between us. My partner had to talk me down I was so confused. It's nice to see games trading cameos, but I work in games and had no clue what to make of it. There are so many totally lost people out there. At least I got a nice sword and shield out of the deal.
Joe Donnelly: Big box, little box, cardboard box
I once read a thing about Game Transfer Phenomena—a theory which explores the habit of taking game experiences into the real world. It’s a load of rubbish. I’m moving house this week, you see, and if this concept was A Thing, the thousands of hours I’ve wasted playing Tetris over the years would’ve influenced my packing skills. I’ll be gobsmacked and delighted if my PC, PS4 and other fragile personal effects make it back to Glasgow in one piece. Picture the Crystal Maze totem pole puzzle, with less Richard O’Brien and more infuriated Glaswegian screaming expletives while shoehorning DVDs and hardback books he almost certainly doesn’t need but can’t bear to let go into poorly constructed cardboard boxes.
Bonus low: I’ve had this stuck in my head all week.
Wes Fenlon: Orcs in a box
Here's some good news for the lows page: the controversial loot boxes in Middle-earth: Shadow of War are getting removed, ridding the singleplayer mode of something that probably never should've been there in the first place. That's not a low. It's great! But the news still has me a bit uneasy about the relationship between big budget games and loot boxes going forward.
How often will we see games put in loot boxes for a few months, get money from the early adopters, and then pull them out? If the backlash against loot boxes makes them untenable, what's going to come next? Games are expensive, and there's no easy solution, but I hope there's a better one than we've gotten this past year.
Tim Clark: A dog’s life
Aside from an unlimited supply of La Croix, there’s very little to like about our current San Francisco office. Imagine a cross between a lock-up garage owned by a computer store and an underwhelming episode of hoarders. So it’s been all the more depressing to visit the brand spanking new gazillion-dollar offices of Valve, Facebook and Nvidia as part of my busy life as a go-getting upper middle manager.
Of the three, Nvidia’s might actually be my favorite. Think modern architecture but with an almost cathedral-like, monastic vibe. It was also the only one of the offices that allows employees to bring their dogs in, which was the only thing PC Gamer HQ offers over Valve’s Wonka-style game factory. I would be keen to hear tell of your terrible offices in the comments. Low level schadenfreude is the only thing that gets me off these days.