THE PCG Q&A
Find all previous editions of the PCG Q&A here. Below are some highlights:
- What's your favorite line of dialogue in a game?
- What's the most underrated game on PC?
- If you could play a sequel to any game, what would it be?
No Man's Sky has managed to rediscover some of the hype it had back in 2016, when it disappointed us (and some other people maybe?) a little. With a peak of over 40,000 concurrent players the day the Next update arrived—now up to 80,000 on the weekend—there's clearly a resurgence of players and interest. Chris likes what he's seen of the expansion: "It's time to try it again."
Not everyone will, of course, but it's an interesting case study for a game staging a comeback, as it were. This week's PCG Q&A, then touches upon that subject. Which game deserves a No Man's Sky-style comeback? The answers can be pretty broad. It can be any singleplayer or online game that didn't quite reach its potential, or the audience it deserved. Maybe it was a patch or expansion away from being really good. We want to read your answers in the comments below.
Samuel Roberts: Dawn of War 3
Will a Warhammer 40,000 game ever be this lavish again? Dawn of War 3 got a pretty cool response at launch, and we'll never get DLC for it that adds the Necrons, Imperial Guard or so on to the fight. I think there's a great game somewhere in its extremely busy mix of MOBA and RTS, and I'd love to see it remixed into something more of a traditional RTS with an extra faction to see if that'd get any traction.
It sounds like the Dawn of War series is very much in the past for Relic now, though, and with my pessimistic hat on, I expect the next 30 years to be filled with 5 and 6/10 Warhammer 40K games that will never look this shiny.
James Davenport: The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
Remember the original trailer for The Bureau? A first-person X-Files still needs to happen, and it needs to be as weird as possible. Sentient goo creatures and strange pylons didn't make the cut in the final release of The Bureau, a disappointing shooter instead featuring XCOM's familiar humanoid aliens. And as great as No Man's Sky Next is, its impressive math still can't spit out truly bizarre creatures. I can't recall another game since The Bureau's early trailers that intended to toy around with incomprehensible lifeforms in 'enemy' AI. Prey got closer, but I'm more enticed by the quaint domestic setting of '60s suburbia as a foil to the unworldly, disruptive alien forces taking over the world right under our noses. With a near decade's worth of advances in graphics technology, now's the perfect time to give goo another go.
Tim Clark: Destiny 2 (wow, what a shock)
Office please, this is entrapment. Of course I'm going to answer Destiny 2. But pray hear me out for but a moment before taking to the comments section, 'trash game' rebuttal in hand. In the intervening year between launch and now, Bungie has been genuinely hard at work righting many of the baffling endgame design wrongs it made, to the point that—even right now, before the release of The Forsaken expansion in September—there's now a ton of fun stuff to keep hobbyist players plugging away. The recent Whisper of the Worm secret mission was a huge step in the right direction: A genuinely brilliantly designed level, dripping with brooding atmosphere, which packed a tough but not insurmountable challenge and rewarded players with a cool sniper rifle within which was bound the soul of a worm god. More like this please. And also more rocket-reflecting trousers, which we also saw revealed this week. I know you don't want to give it a second chance, but I think you'll thank yourself if you do.
Jody Macgregor: Road Redemption
Road Redemption is like Road Rash in that it combines motorbikes with deliberate head trauma, but also has procedurally generated levels, some of which are set on rooftops and have you jump from building to building while in others cars fall out of the sky inexplicably. It's great. You whack people with sticks or attach bombs to them or just boot them with a gloriously overpowered kick, pushing them into oncoming traffic or off bridges. It's about driving fast, bashing heads, and crashing because you're too busy trying to kill that one dickhead in your way to notice the truck barreling straight at you. But it didn't get the attention it deserved and even the weird announcement that Nutaku want to make a hentai version of it for some reason may amount to nothing. It could make a comeback—maybe with a better story campaign, one that you can play in co-op? It's picked up a new publishing partner in Tripwire and apparently an endless mode and leaderboards are on the way, so this one could actually happen. Fingers crossed.
Tom Senior: Dawn of War Retribution: The Last Stand
This game needs to come back so that developers can copy it and make more. It's basically co-op action RTS horde mode starring the ridiculous (and awesome) heroes of the 41st millennium. It's accessible, uncomplicated, and you can play it in small bursts. After each run the heroes level up unlock new loadout options that massively change their battlefield role. You can form a balanced team with a tanky Space Marine captain and a supporting Eldar Farseer, or you can all go Imperial Guard and summon all the turrets the Imperium can spare.
Last Stand was hidden away as a spare mode in Dawn of War: Retribution. Later it got a standalone release, but it never earned the following it deserved. It's (in theory) so easy to expand with new arenas and heroes. Somebody get on it.
Joe Donnelly: GTA singleplayer DLC
Okay, I'm cheating a wee bit here given this isn't a game, but I would love to see GTA single-player DLC making a comeback. Like most Grand Theft Auto-likers, I got on well with number four's The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. GTA Online's most recent venture, After Hours, has me pining for something similar. Samuel's played more than me, but we reckon owning a nightclub in GTA Online is fun, even if keeping it successful is a little boring. With its wealth of neat cutscenes, real-world superstar DJs, and flashy vehicles, this feels like a missed opportunity—something which could have been great if packaged as a single-player, story-driven venture.
It's no secret GTA Online makes Rockstar money, but I can't be convinced the San Andreas faithful wouldn't jump on another Ballad and/or Lost-type outing, particularly since we've been without single-player DLC for the best part of a decade. Perhaps it's too late in the day with Red Dead Redemption 2 around the corner, but one can dream all the same.
Phil Savage: I'm staying out of this for reasons
I feel like this is just another trap to get me to answer Dragon Age 2 to a question and I'm not falling for it.
Andy Chalk: Deus Ex: Invisible War
I've said many times before, and will no doubt say again, that Deus Ex: Invisible War is a good game. Too many concessions were made to accommodate streamlined gameplay and the limitations of consoles, the focus was too narrow and small, and comparisons to its near-mythical predecessor were bound to come up short. But underneath all of that is a very solid shooter-RPG that goes to some very interesting and unexpected places, and is by any reasonable measure a game worth playing. And with nearly two decades of time to reflect on what Deus Ex really is (and isn't), I think it'd be a lot of fun for Eidos Montreal (since Ion Storm is gone) to take another run at it. It's been way too long to rattle off many details, but improve or replace wonky systems like the unified ammunition pool, expand the existing areas and add some new ones, and throw in a bit of that crazy "aliens in the basement" DX bullshit, and I think you'd have a real winner on your hands—not just a good shooter (which it already is), but a good Deus Ex game.
Evan Lahti: Star Wars: The Old Republic
It's funny that this is coming from PC Gamer's biggest Star Trek fan and MMO critic, but looking back at it now, The Old Republic deserved a second chance to reach its full potential. This was one of the most ambitious and expensive games of the era, partly because it was the massively-multiplayer-ification of one of the most beloved RPGs of the previous era. It was a fully-voiced story with branching decisions built inside the biggest entertainment license in the world, by an experienced studio. Most reviewers liked it a lot. IGN gave it a 9, Eurogamer an 8, and it got a 93 from us. Why did it seem to fade into the wind so quickly?
I asked our MMO expert Steven what held SWTOR back from being a true hit. "It was a real obvious World of Warcraft clone. It really leaned so heavily on borrowing a lot of the major ideas of WoW without trying anything new—why would anyone play that if they're embedded in WoW?" Looking back at the 2012 gameplay, EA's safe approach to designing combat and quest systems based on the MMOs that had defined the genre years before probably wasn't the best move. SWTOR pales in comparison to stuff like Warframe, which released only a year later (and Destiny arrived the year after that). In this games-as-a-service era, where successful multiplayer games like Fortnite reinvent themselves constantly, the sprawling Star Wars universe lends itself to that kind of tumult and constant change. Hopefully Star Wars will get another shot at an ambitious story-and-multiplayer-driven game in the next few years.