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This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE LOWS 

James Davenport: Dark dreams

The Hunt: Showdown closed alpha has proved quite fun, despite some technical issues I hope get ironed out by the Early Access launch. But my bigger problem is that too many people are playing on daytime maps, which gut the horror and unique pacing from an otherwise fascinating miniature battle royale. I've been watching streamers play for a week now, and daytime maps always lead to early deaths and reckless gunfights, while at night stealthy, cunning play is nearly required to succeed. 

Everything I love about Hunt is amplified at night: the oppressive atmosphere, the spooky and valuable sound design, and the necessity of intel is placed at the fore. I get it though. Playing at night is stressful as hell, but I can't help but believe that it's how Hunt is meant to be experienced. More anxiety, please. 

(Also, if you'd like a shot at playing yourself, we're hosting a giveaway for 1000 alpha keys.)

Samuel Roberts: Chrono cross

I feel slightly let down by the discussion around new RPG Lost Sphear comparing it to the brilliant Chrono Trigger on the SNES. For one, just look at the visuals. Instead of lovely 2D sprites from the height of pixel art, you've got some really underwhelming character designs and environments that don't look half as good as anything Square Enix released on PS2. 

I feel like these bold comparisons should only be made when there's merit to do so, really. Leif described Lost Sphear as 'bland and unambitious', and that was the opposite of what Chrono Trigger was to me. How about bringing that to PC instead? 

Tom Senior: No new Dawn

It look like the Dawn of War series is in trouble. Citing poor sales, Relic announced that it doesn’t have “the foundation we need to produce major content,” which suggests planned expansions have been canned and the teams redistributed to support other projects.

I love the Dawn of War games. Each major entry in the series attempts a different take on the RTS genre. The third game attempted to bring the micro-heavy heroes of Dawn of War 2 into battles closer to Dawn of War 1’s scale. It’s quite a tough game, especially in multiplayer, and the tricky hybrid of hero management and traditional RTS army production is a difficult sell, even though the enormous mech hero units were a lot of fun. Maybe we’ll see another Warhammer 40,000 game from Relic one day—Space Marine 2, anyone? For now I’ll have to look forward to Age of Empires.

Chris Livingston: Sundown 

Shame to hear that Failbetter's Sunless Skies has underperformed in Early Access, that the game will miss its intended launch date, and that staff layoffs followed. After such a blockbuster Kickstarter, which met its goal in just a few hours, it seemed as if the follow-up to Sunless Seas was off to a great start. Alas. On the plus side, Failbetter says the doors aren't closing and the game isn't in danger of not being released. It will take a bit longer, but Failbetter will keep on sailing.

Tim Clark: Destiny blues

I didn’t review Destiny 2, ultimately because I felt like I was too close to it (emotionally, not in terms of any relationship with the developer), and although I’ve enjoyed tracking the ups and downs since launch, I think it might be time for a cooling off period. This week I set out some ideas that, aside from the improvements Bungie is committed to on its existing roadmap, I think would potentially improve the game in the short term. As noted in the piece, I’m not a developer, so can only guess at how long each of these would take to implement and how much resource they’d consume. So I regret that the ‘right now’ headline came off as blasé and no doubt annoyed some working on the game, which was not my intention.

Regardless, I stand by the idea that this is a game which needs more dramatic interventions than the existing roadmap suggests are coming. I speak as someone still playing and desperate to see the game back in rude health, but who has watched sadly as two separate clans (one with 60 members, the other at the 100 cap) have effectively collapsed. A huge reason for that exodus are key design decisions—from fixed perk rolls on gear, to the retooled weapon loadout system, to shaders as consumables, to the general watering down of space magic—that have robbed what is in many ways still a gorgeous, brilliant shooter of reasons to keep playing it. Only if those who originally pushed for those changes truly understand why they’ve been unpopular will Destiny 2 be able to get back on track. The good news is that Chris Barrett, who’s now in charge, really does seem to get it. The game’s motto is ‘be brave’. I’m sure he will be.

Joe Donnelly: Kindness of strangers

Having spent the last 20 minutes staring at a blank page, I realise I have nothing overly negative to say about PC gaming in the last seven days. As with my highs entry, I'm therefore going to talk about someone else's most notable experience of the week: The group of strangers that I wound up partnered with in GTA Online yesterday evening. Not only did I force them to listen to All Saints' Pure Shores en route to our mission's firefight (one player expressed polite dismay with my selection, despite the fact it's an absolute tune), I died three times on the trot—to which one lovely chap said: "Unlucky, dnt break yr cover."

I apologise for letting you down, GTA Online stranger team, and commend your understanding and kindness.