Samuel Roberts: Feed me more Star Wars
This week, brilliant voice actor Nolan North managed to hint at The Last of Us 2, revealed that Naughty Dog got rid of eight months of work to make PS4 exclusive Uncharted 4 and even discussed Visceral s as-yet unannounced Star Wars game (which speculation suggests will feature Han Solo). Naturally only the last part is relevant to us, but North singlehandedly made a slow news week for the games media into a busy one.
If you're a big fan of Amy Hennig and her style of story, she's gone to EA and is going to reboot a brand new Star Wars franchise in the style of Uncharted," North said at Metrocon last weekend, before saying it s along the same lines as Star Wars 1313 but different . It s pretty exciting. The Uncharted games were excellent, and while 1313 looked like a kind of boring cover shooter, it tapped into the idea of exploring Star Wars seedy side, as the once-mooted live-action TV show was going to. I know Battlefront is imminent, but I don t want to wait years for the next Star Wars game—months will be just fine, thank you. I can t wait to see what Hennig is working on.
Wes Fenlon: A knight to remember
The new King's Quest, from Winterbottom developer The Odd Gentlemen, begins its episodic rollout at the end of July. And I'm ready to love King's Quest again. I got to see a demo back in March that showed the silliness of old King's Quest humor was still intact. My big question was how much of the adventure game DNA would remain. The demo I saw was promising, mixing in some light puzzle solving with exploration and funny dialogue. I'm hoping for some more involved puzzles later; designer Matt Korba was adamant that Daventry will open up and be explorable, with different ways to progress that allow puzzles to be fairly challenging. It all sounds great, and I'm actually excited about King's Quest being episodic. The structure hopefully gives The Odd Gentlemen time to take feedback into account, and it gives us an alternative to the Telltale episodic formula that's growing a bit stale.
After Telltale all but ditched adventure game mechanics for episodic storytelling, wouldn't it be perfect for King's Quest to show that the genre can still work in 2015?
Chris Thursten: Back in the trenches
This marks the second week (ish) of my return to daily solo ranked Dota 2, but I m really enjoying it. Given my preference for playing with a team, this is a side of the game that I ve always had an on-again, off-again relationship with. Coming back has been a mixed bag, and the community hasn t gotten any less toxic, but I feel able to deal with it. I m practicing a bunch of new support heroes for a forthcoming games industry tournament (details soon!) and that places me in a decent position in solo ranked. When the thing you want to do is the exact thing nobody else wants to do, games tend to work out pretty well.
I am learning, I think, to accept the community s prevalent attitudes with a certain calm. Genuinely nice, talkative players are incredibly rare: humble players moreso. The most common is somebody who will work with their team but smacktalk; players who are fine when things are going well and flame you when they re not, only to turn on a dime again. This seems inevitable, an intractable part of the game, and I m getting used to almost commending somebody at the end of a match only for them to fire of an ez or commend me pls - as close to shorthand for I am a child and this is for children as you can get.
That almost sounds like a low but it s not, really. It s Dota. Players are fiercely protective of their status, equally dismissive of the status of others, but there s nothing else like it. The game is not responsible for human nature, but learning to coexist with those humans is certainly part of the game - and I m getting better at it.
Tim Clark: stoned again
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Just kidding, I was never even close to being out. In fact I haven t even stopped buying Hearthstone packs since pretty much completing my collection. Instead I ve been accumulating magical dust to complete my first all-golden deck, because I am both a man of a certain age with no children and thus a certain amount of disposable income, and also, I guess, an idiot. But a happy idiot. I m honestly not even fussed about what the new content is. At this point new is new, and the thrill of opening packs to get box fresh spells and creatures is its own reward. You don t have to thank me, but it s my sort of madness that keeps a game like Hearthstone free for most folk.
James Davenport: A familiar haunt
P.T. was the brilliantly creepy PS4 teaser for Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro s now cancelled Silent Hills game. Sadly, Konami has now erased all trace of both teaser and game from the world, but its unique spirit may have a new home to haunt thanks to British studio Lilith Ltd. Their take on P.T. s domestic first-person horror in Allison Road is on display in a new thirteen minute gameplay video. The footage is from a pre-alpha prototype, and the devs claim that what goes on here won t be in the final game, so don t be scared—or do, but take a peek. There s walking and high-res textures and boo! I m a ghost! Got you.
I don t mourn the death of Silent Hills, which likely would have had little resemblance to the digestible, detailed design of P.T. I expect Silent Hills would have been forced into homage and (sorry, not sorry) ended up feeling too Kojima for its own good. Allison Road, meanwhile, looks promising, and I hope it inspires more developers to throw out their own takes on P.T. s beautifully constrained nightmare. I m also particularly keen to watch folks try it out in VR. *Evil laughter, a light brush on your neck, a crow doing crow stuff*
Tom Senior: Team Fortress forever
I can forget Team Fortress 2 exists for years at a time, which is a shame, because it's still terrific. The Gun Mettle Campaign update is just the excuse I need to stop prodding Arkham Knight .ini files and return to the shooter that's given me more entertainment than any other. The timeless colourful visuals still hold up and it feels good to rocket jump again, but the addition of lurid new weapons provides a fresh sense of purpose that makes the game even better. I want the leopard-print rocket launcher that I can press a button to look at, I really do, and I'm prepared to kill hundreds of Heavies to get it. Unlock trees, item drops and other progression systems can sometimes feel manipulative, but without that trail of breadcrumbs you get Titanfall, an excellent shooter with no interesting long-term goals. I may never play Titanfall again, but I might end up playing TF2 forever.
Tim Clark: Hello, Sailor
Confession time: I don t understand the frothing enthusiasm for Shenmue 3. That s not to say I wish the game wasn t happening. I m not an entirely obsidian-hearted grinch, so I m happy that people are excited they re finally getting it. But… Why? The original game was remarkable for being—at the time—a crazily detailed attempt to recreate a young Japanese chap s life, complete with banal forklift job at the docks, set against the backdrop of a pretty melodramatic revenge plot. I also recall the conversational stuff being so stilted that I wondered if it was actually designed to be intentionally wooden, as some kind of Lynchian nod. (It wasn t.)
Was the story so good that you need to see it finished? Because even if the Kickstarter budget gets sailed past, and with Sony s funding support, Shenmue 3 will surely only be an exercise in nostalgia. The idea that the game becomes open world if the $10m stretch goal gets hit seems bizarre. Surely that s the sort of design decision that has to be factored in from the start. What would have been exciting to me is a new megabudget Shenmue that, like the original, tried to create a super detailed version of the Ryo s life. But hey, there was a reason Shenmue was an expensive bomb the first time, and beyond superfans, it s hard to imagine a wider audience in 2015 being any more receptive.
Wes Fenlon: Not furious enough
I really wanted AMD's Fury X graphics card to be revolutionary. Well, okay, I didn't expect revolutionary—but I hoped that, after two years of rehashed tech, AMD was really going to knock our socks off with high bandwidth memory and a graphics card that surpassed everything Nvidia's released over the past year. Instead, the Fury X is a powerful card that doesn't really exceed Nvidia's 980 Ti, and is short 2GB of VRAM by comparison. It also seems like the Fury X is held back by AMD's drivers. AMD is in a tough spot, because it doesn't have Nvidia's insane resources to put behind driver development, but the company needs to up its driver game for its cards to stay competitive.
James Davenport: Personal computing
This week I was reminded that our hobby doesn t come without drawbacks. Having just moved to San Francisco from Montana, the first order of business on arriving at my new lodgings was booting up the PC. After assembling what might be the fourth particle wood desk in four years—a ubiquitous rite for those in their twenties—I slammed some wires into their respective sockets until the power button made a noise, only to have the bugger crash after landing on the desktop.
I ran through the entire gamut of troubleshooting steps without relief. With a steady, inferior California beer sweat coming on, I was close to giving up. I ll spare the remaining diagnostic details for reasons of brevity and entertainment, but it turned out the CPU was overheating and the BIOS settings were entirely out of whack, probably from a frustrated keyboard slam. It wasn t until 2AM or so that everything was working normally, but I celebrated in the only proper way: botching a fresh install of Fallout: New Vegas thanks to lazy, terrible modding experiments. PC gaming! Happy to be here, folks.
Samuel Roberts: Finish Batman, please
Batman: Arkham Knight is still sat on my harddrive, but I m not touching it. I ve downloaded the first of what is likely to be a series of patches for the game in the journey to Arkham Knight being finished on PC (because right now it s totally not—and according to a report this week, publisher Warner apparently knew that was the case), but I want to wait until it s a version I m happy with. It s an ongoing disappointment, but I think one of the worst parts about the wait is that it s going to get harder for PC players to avoid spoilers from console players. The secrets of its main quest and side stories are so worth experiencing first hand. With a universe like Batman s, story is everything—the longer it takes for Rocksteady, Iron Galaxy and Warner to finish Arkham Knight on PC, the more likely it is that some idiot on the internet is just going to spoil it for you.
Tom Senior: Seriously though, finish Batman
My low of the week is also Batman, and because it's such a severe low and I was on holiday last week and didn t have a chance to complain, I'm going to double down on Sam's point. It's not just the game's poor performance—Arkham Knight actually runs okay streaming off my SSD with a GTX 970—but this week I was sad to discover that the PC version actually looks worse than the Playstation 4 version. Arkham Knight PC lacks the console version's gorgeous thick rain and mud effects, and doesn't have the sheen that gives Gotham its sodden, glistening texture on PS4. It's somehow worse knowing that the game behind the port is good—magnificent in places—but when a company outsources a job, they don't also outsource responsibility for that job. It's going to take a long time for WB & co. to earn trust back from customers on PC.
Chris Thursten: 2 HOT 2 DOTA
I didn t really have any major gaming issues this week, so I m going to do the British thing and moan about the frankly incredible weather we ve had this week. I spent some time outside appreciating it, and then slightly more time inside rueing the fact that my PC is a heat-emitting monster that sounds like a dying Transformer when the temperature pushes summerwards. This meant that I had to drink more beer in order to stay cool, and then I wanted an ice cream, and long story short an hour later I looked at myself and saw a man in his pants playing Dota half-drunk in the dark and realised that I had nobody to blame but myself.