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This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE LOWS

Samuel Roberts: Leaderboard woes

Here's a very specific low I've had during the past week, because it was otherwise a fairly slow few days for news: the Hitman 2 leaderboards won't register my score in the game's Mumbai level, where I've theoretically knocked all my pals off the top. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to get my time at around 20 minutes with a Silent Assassin rating, I'm getting a mighty zero points. The horror!

I've seen this glitch reported elsewhere on Steam, so I figure it must be very specific to the way I'm playing the level. Still, if Io could fix it, that'd do wonders for my ego.

Tom Senior: Isolated

Alien: Blackout turned out to be a mobile game. I wasn’t really expecting a big-budget sequel to Alien: Isolation, but somehow the very existence of a new Alien game fills me with a strange regret. We need a word for the feeling of sadness that surround an awesome game that deserves more recognition and success than it enjoyed. This week the mobile game news drove Andy to conjure a sequel to Alien: Isolation out of his imagination. I think he’s got a bad case of it.

There will be more Alien games, but they will likely end up emulating the shooty action of Aliens. Hopefully they will be good—I’ll still play them—but it will be a shame if a game never again tries to recapture the horror of the first film. 

Fraser Brown: Left Behind

I really wish I had the time, patience and frontier spirit required to join the 8,000-plus Elite Dangerous pilots in Distant Worlds 2. They’re travelling on an 18-week journey across the Milky Way, starting on Sunday. It’s a challenge and voyage of discovery aimed at the heart of the galaxy, but I haven’t prepared, so I’ll be staying behind. I spend most of my time in Elite casually pottering around and maybe making a few bucks, so I keep missing out on the big journeys and alien invasions. It’s not really a low, but I’m definitely feeling low about not having the time to play.

Maybe next time! Probably not, though.

Tyler Wilde: Alas, Atlas

Captain Livingston and I mostly enjoyed the low-stakes cruising, treasure hunting, and cannon sparring of Sea of Thieves last year. We’ll probably get back to it this year, but first, I wanted to see if Atlas would scratch that itch in a different way. Alas, it just looks like a slog to me. The possibility of losing everything in an instant doesn’t appeal to me (especially if because of a short-lived bug causing hell), even if the higher-stakes might ultimately be rewarding. I’m just not blessed with that kind of free time. OK, I am. I’ve now put 658 hours into Rocket League. But every hour of that game is an hour I’ve spent getting better, and the better I get the more enjoyable each match is. I’m worried that resource gathering just won’t feel worth it when I’m inevitably sunk, whereas I can float around in the much, much prettier Sea of Thieves at any time and without any worries. It’s not the same sort of experience—it's relaxed, silly—but with Metro Exodus out next month, I think I’ll have enough stress to deal with in games. It’s the cartoon pirate’s life for me until I can check out Ubisoft’s take in Skull and Bones.

Chris Livingston: Heavy heads

We're seeing more and more indications that VR headsets are getting lighter and mostly likely less expensive. This is all good news, of course, but I think there is a downside to it. VR headsets being heavy and expensive means I'm less likely to throw or smash them in frustration. And VR does have frustrations: you're sweaty, you're tired of plugging and unplugging things and performing firmware updates and accidentally punching walls and tripping over cables. The impulse to slam down a piece of hardware that's causing problems is a natural one (though a stupid one), and the current heaviness and price of VR means I'm way less likely to do so. When they get feather-light and dirt-cheap, I worry I'll start chucking them around like a common Xbox controller when I get annoyed. On the other hand, if they're cheap, at least they'll be easy to replace.

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Joanna Nelius: Weird vibes

I spent a decent amount of time with some 'immersive' gaming tech at CES. Between the HyperX Cloud Orbit S, Razer’s HyperSense Haptic Ecosystem, Acer’s Predator Thronos, and the insane amount of VR stuff on the show floor, there definitely was a wide and interesting sampling of how the industry is approaching 'immersive' gaming. But it felt more like an assault on my senses rather than an immersion. Anything that vibrated through my hands, head, and back at the same time was overwhelming, VR gives me motion sickness, and while I’m all for triple monitors and computer screens the size of rooms, because they look badass, for me personally it’s too much for everyday gaming. There are plenty of people out there who will enjoy all that stuff and more power to them, but it’s just not for me. If I’m going to drop some serious cash on 'immersive' gaming, then I’ll set aside part of my retirement fund for a holodeck. (I can dream, right?)

Bo Moore: Hollow Flight

While CES was a great time, I had a not so lovely trip back home from Vegas. First my flight was delayed a few hours, then once we finally boarded, we sat on the tarmac for another hour and a half before finally taking off. Thankfully, I had my Switch with me (my favorite place to play PC games these days), so I sunk a few more hours into the depths of Hollow Knight.

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