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This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

The lows

Samuel Roberts: Natural selection 

It's a shame Turtle Rock's reboot of Evolve didn't take off the second time around—good on them for trying, but in a competitive F2P landscape on Steam, it has to be a struggle to stand out, particularly when the original game didn't catch on in the way that Left 4 Dead did. Evolve: Stage 2 is still around on Steam if you fancy giving the 4v1 FPS a go, and 2K is now in charge of the game's server support. 

Andy Kelly: First order

Are you playing Battlefield 1? Are you in a squad? Is your name at the top of the squad list with a star next to it? Then you are the squad leader. And if you point at an objective and hit Q, you’ll set an order and it’ll be marked on everyone’s HUD. Then everyone can work together, moving as a team, shooting for the same goal, earning bonus XP.

The problem is, an enormous amount of players don’t know this system exists or understand how it works. They lead squads, totally oblivious to their responsibility for giving orders. You hit the ‘request orders’ chat macro, but nothing happens. So you leave the squad and jump into another one, hoping for the best. And it’s the same deal. No orders. Can I just have some orders, man?

In my 20 hours with the game I feel like I’ve joined squads led by people who know how to use this system about 30% of the time. So if you’re in a squad and you see a star next to your name at the bottom-left of the screen, do your teammates—and yourself—a favour by pointing at an objective and hitting Q. It benefits everyone, and encourages the squad to stick together, which ultimately makes winning easier. Tell your friends. Spread the word.

James Davenport: Cold feet

I’m enjoying Ashes of Ariandel, the first of two planned DLC expansions for Dark Souls 3, but it fails to do anything surprising in its design, and at it’s worst, it’s straight up tedious. This isn’t to say it’s not worth playing. It’s housing some great moments and some of the most bizarre, tragic enemies in any Souls game. The environment simply fails to impress. Dark Souls’ essence is in the stories it tells with incidental information, and besides a few notable props, anytime I had to wander through a forest, I got bored.

There’s a particular sequence that comes to mind. After you find a certain NPC locked away in a Corvian village, you have to trudge up a wooded hillside and into a cave at its peak. It’s a slow matter of attrition against an onslaught of the same three undead soldier enemy types. It’s challenging, sure, but I’ve been fighting the same archetypes in similar configurations for three games now. The DLC should be where we see Dark Souls at its most creative. The Dark Souls 2 DLCs had big mechanical puzzly environments, and Bloodborne made lore revelation after lore revelation while introducing a constant stream of new enemies, weapons, and environments. I’m still holding out hope for DLC 2, but I also worry that Souls is becoming, ironically, too safe. 

Joe Donnelly: Cities sky-high expectations

Another cheat from me in this week's lows I'm afraid, in that this is something I'm actually really looking forward to, but will be equally upset about if it doesn't match my expectations. 

Easily one of the most enjoyable things about the game which inspired Cities: Skylines, SimCity 2000, was building cities before tearing them to the ground by way of self-imposed natural disasters. Fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, even UFO attacks—seeing your hard work fall to bits was a real thrill. In August, publisher Paradox announced "the feature fans have been asking for since launch" was en route to Cities: Skylines in the form of the natural disasters expansion. This week, the first in-game footage of the much-awaited add-on arrived and—dare I tempt fate?—it looked really, really good. 

It doesn’t have a concrete release date yet, but I’ve got everything crossed it delivers. One way or another, expect to see me writing about it under one of these headings in the coming months.

Evan Lahti: Culture victory shock

Civ 6 is splendid. I finished my third run a few days ago, and now I'm having a ball watching my girlfriend go for a culture victory as Brazil. It's Civ at its best: reverent play-history in the form of a beautiful board game. But it's also incredible how many key systems and nuances go half-explained.

The big one is adjacency bonuses. As we mentioned in our Civ 6 tips, taking advantage of adjacency bonuses, primarily between districts and terrain, is massively important this time around. You do see the bonuses earned when placing a district, but there isn't an easy way of checking on those bonuses mid-game. It's bonkers that after spending 30 or 50 turns building a wonder, mousing over it doesn't reward you with info about what that wonder is earning for you.

Some other stuff that's confusing me in Civ 6:

  1. Religion as a whole. Do I have to declare war in order to initiate theological warfare? Do I get any benefits from adopting another civ's religion?
  2. How does tourism work? The way it's represented in the game right now, you're mainly making a number get bigger until you suddenly win. How exactly are tourists attracted to your civ?
  3. Wonders like the Colosseum grant bonuses to each city center within six tiles. Is that a radius? Why is there no visual representation during placement?
  4. City occupation penalties. A city that I'd conquered refused to grow for 250+ turns, and I had a single sentence in the Civilopedia about occupation to help me out.

Tom Marks: BlizzConned

BlizzCon is next weekend and I'll be attending to bring all of you the latest info about Blizzard's ever-widening sea of games. We booked our flights last week and made the decision to fly back Saturday night, rather than Sunday morning. That means one less night in a stiff hotel bed, but also missing the closing ceremony on Saturday.

Two years ago Metallica played. Last year it was Linkin Park. While I hold nothing against those bands, I wasn't exactly weeping to have missed either of them. Just not my cup of tea, which I assumed would also be the case this year. Boy was I wrong. 

Weird Al Yankovic is closing BlizzCon, but I'll be sitting in Anaheim airport instead. Damn it. Now, I don't listen to him often anymore, but I saw him in concert twice when I was younger and can safely say he puts on a helluva show. It would have been a great nostalgia trip, and probably a lot of fun. Oh well, serves me right to fall for the Linkin Park bait-n-switch.

Hey folks, beloved mascot Coconut Monkey here representing the collective PC Gamer editorial team, who worked together to write this article!