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This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Chris Livingston: YesterDayZ

I'm increasingly feeling like the Early Access label has basically become meaningless, since so many games launch without being finished, and having launched they continue to be updated for years to come. And what even is a finished game? I don't know anymore. We start playing games long before they're done and they're never really done until, I suppose, the developer decides to stop finishing them, which usually happens after we stop playing them.

That said, DayZ left Early Access yesterday! As a milestone or accomplishment or whatever you want to call it, that's good, I think. The game that began the Great Early Access Survival Game Glut that so many other games never escaped, has escaped at last. Naturally, it's not finished, but once again, what game ever is?

Samuel Roberts: GTA lives

GTA Online updates have generally been a mixed bag, and I haven't had the chance to jump into this week's Arena War yet, which brings seven new vehicle combat modes to the game. I do, however, love that content is still being added to the game, and that the barrier for entry isn't particularly high. You can try any of the modes, but have to pay a little in-game cash to access the career portion of it. That seems fair to me given how many free cash offers Rockstar has been running this year.

More than that, though, I'm pleased it gives people a reason to keep coming back even with Red Dead Redemption Online having launched (in a somewhat barebones fashion, so say my PC Gamer colleagues). I still want plenty of excuses to break out my flying car.

Tom Senior: Fight night

I do love a fast, responsive combat game. This week we got two. Supergiant’s Hades has arrived on the Epic Games Store in early access, and Dusk gave us a tongue-in-cheek take on old school shooters. After a lot of slow horse rides through fields in Red Dead Redemption 2, it feels great to just move fast and hit stuff. I’m still getting used to Hades’ progression systems but the dash is real nice and the shield in particular is a lot of fun to use. 

I’ve played Dusk for 15 minutes or so but it’s already hilarious. Any game that lets me press a key to spin my pistols round and round is a win. The game leans hard into its nostalgia, but it’s frequently surprising. I ran into a house, fell into a hole with a giant fan and was propelled into an attic full of cultists. It’s almost impossible not to stumble into secret areas full of extra shotguns and treasure. I might play all the way through the rest of it this weekend. 

Fraser Brown: Sins and Sigils

Doom is 25-years-old, antediluvian in video game years, but there’s still plenty of life flowing through its veins. John Romero’s been working on a megawad called Sigil, his spiritual successor to Ultimate Doom’s fourth episode, and this week he revealed it. Romero has been making stuff for this game for quarter of a century! It’s crazy. Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion isn’t nearly as old, but the six-year-old game’s newest bit of DLC has got me itching for some cosmic wars. Will we ever get a sequel? Rebellion has aged exceedingly well, but it’s not like it’s got much 4X-RTS competition showing it up.

There’s something comforting about games sticking around. Rebellion’s Minor Factions is official DLC, but like Doom it’s still around in part thanks to the modding community. There’s so much great stuff still happening within these communities. The Cacowards is a good place to look for good Doom wads, while ModDB hosts a bunch of good Rebellion mods, even if half of the list is Star Wars. 

Wes Fenlon: Show me the weird stuff

I've been spearheading a month's worth of cool VR coverage this December, and one of my favorite features so far was from our indie expert Jody Macgregor, looking at VR's strangest experimental projects. As usual, indie developers are behind some of the most creative (and most mind-bending) ideas at the fringes of game development. These are not the kinds of games you'll likely see on the front page of Steam, but I think they're especially important to VR, which still feels like an almost entirely new medium. We're still figuring out what works and what doesn't in VR, and I love that there are VR experiences that barely resemble what we'd typically call a game. The weirder the better.

Tyler Wilde: Beating the bullies

I don't encourage bad behavior in multiplayer games—not at all, ever—so please don't read this as an endorsement, but it is inescapable that coming back from a three-goal deficit in Rocket League against a bunch of assholes, and then beating them in overtime and watching them all silently quit, is extremely satisfying. Of course I'd much rather play pleasant teams. My blood pressure doesn't need the aggravation of playing unsportsmanlike nerds who have to taunt us or throw out racial slurs to satisfy their racist egos, and I hate how often they succeed in making me mad. It is obviously a tactic, and one that works. A tilted team makes more mistakes. 

But in Snow Day, a small playlist where I often see and enjoy playing against the same people, these interlopers feel especially offensive—they've come from the ball world with their fancy aerials just to be bullies, and I can't shrug the feeling that I have to defend our quaint hockey subculture and shoo them away with superior puck handling (we can't just quit the match as Snow Day is competitive now, and we'd either take a forfeit or a ban). The problem is that I'm not usually good enough to do that—except this week, in the most intense comeback we've ever pulled off. Yikes was that satisfying. (But I hope it never happens again.)