Tom Senior is still playing Gears Tactics (opens in new tab), and enjoying the best graphics option menus he has ever seen. It looks great for a strategy game—we're used to either lo-fi in-game models for cutscenes or still images with voiceover, but here the full-on cutscenes look right out of a mainline Gears game. It's just a shame they're mostly boring, but that's cutscenes for you.
Andy Kelly's been reminiscing about Facing Worlds (opens in new tab), the map from Unreal Tournament that captured our imaginations as well as our flags. Its simple symmetry and quick pace, as well as the ease with which you could go over the edge and sail off into infinite space, made it especially memorable.
Rachel Watts plays Stardew Valley (opens in new tab) more efficiently than I do, and has written a guide to sprinkler construction and layouts that puts my haphazard setup to shame. It took me hours before I realized you could hold down the button when using a watering can to water several plants at once.
Emma Matthews and Phil Savage have both been playing Apex Legends (opens in new tab) and are invested in which of its two maps is the better. Is it the small map where people can murder each other quickly, or the big map where people can murder each other at a more stately pace? I think they should just import Facing Worlds into Apex Legends and then we wouldn't need anything else.
Phil has also been playing Hitman 2 (opens in new tab) as a way to destroy his friends on the leaderboards. Turning Hitman competitive makes it more about learning the quirks of its AI and events system, how to game them for the fastest time and exploit which things they've been programmed to notice. It's fascinating how seeing friends' scores compared to yours can change them—I had a similar thing with My Friend Pedro and before that Assault Android Cactus, just because my Steam pals were playing them at the same time.
I've been playing Kentucky Route Zero, having finally gone back to see the final act released earlier this year. Episodic releases invites comparisons between episodes, and these last two acts have felt weaker. Act four was a meandering river trip where the folksy Americana stories got a bit Grampa Simpson ("I was wearing an onion on my belt, as was the style at the time…"), while act five concluded in a way that felt disconnected from the themes of the previous episodes. Those first three episodes were great, though.
Enough about us. What about you? Have you been trying Early Access hits Scrap Mechanic or Hades? Have you been playing Riot's Legends of Runeterra or Valorant? Let us know!