Samuel Roberts: Sympathy for the devil
The Devil May Cry HD Collection that arrived on PC this week isn't a total disaster, but it's also not really worth the asking price of £25/$30, considering these are PS2 games that are well over a decade old. I'm not sure every game from that era needs updated textures, a redone score and new parts added to the game, but in this case Devil May Cry would've benefitted from maybe one of those things.
Nonetheless, it's nice seeing these ancient console games pop up on PC so many years after release—realising that Devil May Cry is 17 years old made me feel rather ancient this week. Soon my hair will be whiter than Dante's, and I'll never look as cool.
Tom Senior: Unboxing
Can Battlefront 2’s progression systems be fixed? The money-making hooks are buried so deep in the game’s flesh that I wonder if its integrity can every be fully restored. A big upcoming patch will no longer hide Star Cards in loot boxes, which is good, though I dislike Star Cards as a mechanic even if they are tied to XP gain. It feels so abstract to attach a card to a warrior in the Star Wars universe which means they fly faster, and it’s annoying to be gunned down by classes and buffs you can’t access. Lots of competitive action games have comparable systems, it’s true, and I always dislike it—even in games I otherwise enjoyed like Titanfall 1.
Still, I hope the new patch improves the game because I like Star Wars and the Battlefront games capture the universe in stunning detail. I will still have a lingering mistrust of future EA shooters however. In EA’s sports like Fifa and Madden games the heavy microtransaction modes are segmented off from the rest of the game, so you can enjoy an online game using the standard mechanics, and choose to engage in Ultimate Team if you want to. In Battlefront 2 there was no escaping it, and progression based on RNG is punishing if you get unlucky. It looks like microtransaction systems are going nowhere, so an approach that lets you opt in to the ecosystem would be far better than Battlefront 2’s approach, which has blown up spectacularly.
Chris Livingston: Bad peelings (image)
After several rounds of the beta, I'm pretty excited for the Sea of Thieves launch next week, but I would hardly be a responsible games writer if I didn't find something to complain about. Pirates in Sea of Thieves heal by eating bananas, which makes perfect sense: everybody knows bananas are good sources of potassium and excellent for instantly curing shark bites and bullet wounds.
But the game's skeletons also eat bananas to heal, and I'm sorry, that's just ridiculous. I can accept some eldritch magic that animates fleshless bodies but I draw the line at skellies being able to chown down on bananas to repair themselves. I can buy the skeletons can see me with no eyes and move with no muscles and think with no brains, but eating with no stomachs? I can suspend my disbelief only so much.
Joe Donnelly: Fallen London
This isn’t so much an outright low, but more something which made me a wee bit sad. This week, Failbetter Games teased Sunless Skies’ latest region, Albion, with this neat crumbing Big Ben screenshot. I was so taken by the image, that I instantly wanted to play the Sunless Sea follow-up—the first time I’d felt this way since the game’s late 2016 reveal. By its own admission, the developer rolled out its latest venture prematurely, which in part led to layoffs at the studio despite Sunless Skies’ impressive Kickstarter run. I wonder if it’d have fared better had it hung fire and led with material like this.
Tyler Wilde: Mortifeid
This isn’t seriously a ‘low’ for me, but it might have been for someone. (I sincerely hope it wasn’t.) Earlier this week, I saw that a modder (along with others) had noticed a misspelling in one of Civilization 6’s data files, and was claiming that it affected the AI. That seemed unlikely, but I downloaded Civ 6 and there it was: “YEILD” written in five lines. I still had trouble believing it was really a bug. Maybe it was… on purpose? But in test after test, it became clear that fixing the typos changed the AI behavior, seemingly for the better. Even though I was still skeptical, I couldn’t think of any reason someone would intentionally misspell ‘yield’ in five places and no others, so I published what I found.
Firaxis later confirmed to me that it was, in fact, a bug, and will be fixed in the next patch. I feel a bit bad putting all that work into calling out someone’s typo. If that was you, I’m sorry! I just had to know.
Jody Macgregor: Despite all my rage etc.
I like Vermintide 2. I've racked up 24 hours in it and busted the Skittergate a couple of times, but I can't help but think I preferred the first one. In the original, grinding for loot was optional, something you did once you started to work your way up the difficulty ladder—now it's essential. I'm also not feeling the banter as much (except for Bardin's singing, obv) because it seems stuck in a loop. Over the course of Vermintide these mismatched characters slowly earnt each other's respect, and now they're back to bickering at square one.
Mostly it's just because of those mid-level bosses, the Bile Trolls and Chaos Spawn who have a million hit points and have to be whittled away at for way too long. And when the AI decides to send a horde at you while you're in the middle of that slog it just feels mean.
I'm still playing, however. The first game didn't get where it is immediately, it took some patching to get there. Then it benefited from DLC and mods, which I'm sure Vermintide 2 will as well.
James Davenport: Final Fantasy Grifteen
Bleh. I still can’t play Final Fantasy 15. I mean, I can play it, but I still can’t save without crashing to desktop. It’s only an issue on my home computer too, which means the problem is likely solvable. I’m just so tired of troubleshooting. If only it had happened one hour in instead of six, then I wouldn’t have started scratching this damn RPG itch that won’t quit on me now that it’s been agitated. Sometimes PC gaming is a chore. I love it to death, but something as petty as a crashing game can make the hobby feel like a waste. I'll recover.