Each Friday the PC Gamer editorial team convenes at a secret mountain lodge to discuss the deeper ramifications of the week that was. The gl wein expenses are killing us.
Chris Thursten: Well strike me down It finally happened: I found another lane-pushing game that I like. The Smite regionals in Cologne are to blame: I went in a novice and came out wanting to give the game a try, and now my lunch breaks are consumed by Arena. This is well-timed, really: 6.82-era Dota 2 doesn t reliably fit into 45 minutes any more, whereas I can play a couple of games in one of Smite s lighter modes in that time. I m still not quite feeling brave enough to head into full 5-on-5 play, but that s partly because I m really enjoying the 80% Arena winrate that my transferrable Dota 2 skills (such as they are) have granted me.
More to the point, I like the little things that make Smite less of a fraught experience than the game I m used to: the tactical necessity of retreating to base, the rhythm of pokes and ganks, the way ults operate as much as a make play button as a oh god guys we need to teamfight we re wasting time button. I m sure the game has those elements, but at the moment it feels like a holiday in a more straightforward land. There s a chance I d enjoy League of Legends for similar reasons, but I ll never see the point in committing to a game where your account level dictates anything about your potential power in-game. Smite earns a lot of good will by dodging that, and by offering an affordable pack ( 20/$30) that allows you to unlock every character, past present and future.
Shaun Prescott: A truly disturbing shooter I haven t actually played GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT vs. xxXilluminatiXxx [wow/10 #rekt edition], but I ve seen enough gameplay footage to know that it s a work of art. Created by Melbourne developer Andy Sum for the recent Seven Day First-Person Shooter Challenge, watching GOTY is like listening to Lou Reed s notoriously unlistenable Metal Machine Music LP. It s a distillation of everything ugly and garish about modern blockbuster gaming: the unmitigated bloodlust, the corporate synergising, the flagrant macho stupidity of it all. While the parodic game is ostensibly funny , it s also weirdly disturbing: this is a part of our culture that seems fairly commonplace, until it s paraded before us in such a concentrated fashion.
Phil Savage: The unbearable lightness of being I recently completed a big, sprawling RPG—one that took up a solid week-and-a-bit of my life. Afterwards, I was in need of something smaller, lighter and altogether more silly. The answer, it seems, was bears.
At this point, I think I've played more of Far Cry 4's map editor than I have of Far Cry 4. It's great. More importantly, it's dumb. I'm not sure it's meant to be dumb, but the way I've been using it is. With a few clicks you can set up a ridiculous scenario, and then head into play mode and watch it play out. For the most part, I've been stacking animals. Or blowing up animals. Or blowing up stacked animals. One day, I might make a real map. More likely, I'll try to jump over a pyramid of bears with a tuk-tuk.
Tim Clark: More bear love I suppose it s uncool to admit that I m enjoying what s essentially a clever marketing campaign, but the truth is the Good Ship Cool long since sailed for me, and I m straight up loving the daily drip feed of cards from Hearthstone s Goblins vs Gnomes expansion. We got to reveal one ourselves earlier today—Hail, Iron Sensei!—and you can read my ramblings about all the recent cards here. So far easily my favourite is the Druid s Anodized Robo Cub. Not the flashiest creature in the game by any stretch of the imagination, but a wonderfully flexible early drop for a class that badly lacked exactly that. Also, the art is adorable. And if you re not choosing at least a couple of cards based on irrational love of the artwork, you re Hearthstoning wrong.
Tyler Wilde: Goat MMO Simulator Bears are fine, but goats are where it s at this week. A new free expansion turns Goat Simulator into a (fake) MMO, where you can quest to pick up apples and infiltrate a sheep village, but mostly just headbutt people into ragdolls. I m still with Andy on Goat Simulator—it s silly and all, but I haven t found much actual entertainment out of it—but this update was too clever not to try. For one thing, you can play as a walking microwave. Just like I always dreamed. It also does a great job of simulating MMO chat convincingly enough that, for a minute, I questioned whether it was fake. Even better, it inspired a very stupid article, so I have it to thank for that.
Tom Senior: Dying a thousand deaths I have bled to death in an abandoned apartment complex. I have died of severe hypothermia in a field. I've been hit in the leg so hard I've crumpled to the ground and been mauled to death by a desperate stranger. You too can experience the panic and misery of the post apocalypse in NEO Scavenger.
This low-fi survival game only lets you carry what you could feasibly carry in two normal-sized human hands, which forces painful decisions between whether you ought to keep a shard of glass for defence, or a blanket to fend off the elements. A bag, shoes, a roof over your head—these are as gold dust in the cold plains of future Earth, and if you survive long enough to find them, you've got a shot of unraveling the mystery behind the planet's devastated state. There's horror out there in them hills, from cannibals to killer robots. It's rather good so far.
Chris Thursten: Phantom controversy The tendency for hardcore games communities to transmute passion into disappointment and rage is a source of constant bemusement, for me. It sometimes feels like you re not allowed to love something unless you re also convinced that it could be ruined at any moment—that every change, or absence of change, is a disaster. This attitude gives developers no room to move, and can turn exciting reveals sour in moments.
Valve released a new hero for Dota 2 this week, Oracle, along with an event associated with a premium item for Phantom Assassin. This is the first event to substantially interact with the playing of regular matches, and as such its implementation warrants some scrutiny. But that s not what I d call the reaction on Wednesday, when a leaked list of the event s features (many of them false) caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The community set to building THE END IS NIGH signs over a set of assumptions that didn t even turn out to be true: such a waste of energy.
Today s the first day of the Foreseer s Contract update and people seem to be having fun with the new systems. There are even reports that the event is encouraging greater cooperation between players. Valve s tinkering might just have yielded something fun and innovative, but it was still deemed a disaster before the truth was even out.
Tom Senior: Mob-o-geddon I m in a positive mood this week, so my low is secretly a second high (shhh, don t tell anyone), in that I ll use it to express frustration that I m not playing Lost Ark at this precise moment in time. I m a big fan of the ARPG genre, but as much as I enjoyed Path of Exile s cerebral charms, I ve always wanted someone to push the genre to new heights of lunacy. Lost Ark lets you sail around the world fighting huge ghost ships. One of the classes lets you shoot huge dragons at mobs, or summon god-sized elemental beings to stomp on enemies. Watch the trailer and just look at how big those mobs are. Look at how pretty it all is. Damnit, hurry up and get on my PC.
Tim Clark: Crying foul Continuing with Tom s definition-bending theme, my low eventually became a high. We took some flak behind the scenes this week from Ubisoft, who weren t pleased that we d referenced the recent buggy launch of Assassin s Creed: Unity when we explained why our Far Cry 4 review was late, and that in the interim buyers should probably exercise caution until the state of the PC code could be confirmed. I mean, god forbid a company s blockbuster game should be mentioned in the same breath as another blockbuster a game it released a few days previously.
In the end I think our scepticism was justified, given that the publisher had to create a live updates site to deal with the brace of patches needed on release. For the first 24 hours I couldn t get the game past the menu screen without it crashing, on a PC that ought to have been capable of handling it on Ultra without breaking a sweat. Andy had a happier time, as his review in progress notes. The full verdict will be up early next week. Here s where things cheer up for me too: With both patches applied and a new driver installed, Far Cry 4 is now running fine. Better than that, in fact, it looks absolutely sensational—as this video which the other Tom made shows. I can t wait to make the inhabitants of Kryat s acquaintance. A weekend of extreme taxidermy awaits.
Shaun Prescott: Official VR support for GTA 5 seems unlikely With the arrival of GTA 5 s first-person mode on new generation consoles, and its release for PC in January, it seemed inevitable that VR would come into the equation somehow. Indeed, it seems like the only valid reason a studio would bother retrofitting a whole new perspective into an already immensely popular game. Alas, comments this week by Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick seem to indicate that VR won t be officially supported (Take-Two is Rockstar s parent company). Zelnick thinks the industry isn t ready for VR yet, and while there s little doubt that enterprising modders will get it going, it s still a little disheartening.
Phil Savage: Expecting the Inquisition Last week, we successfully landed a probe on a comet. In space! This is a thing that people envisioned and built and made happen. Given this—and, while we're at it, given the entire scope and wonderment of human achievement—how come we still can't release a video game on the same day worldwide?
Dragon Age: Inquisition has only today been released in the UK. The USA and others have had it since Tuesday. A few extra days might not seem like much, but it's a story based game and the internet exists. People are rightly precious about spoilers, because discovering the story is part of the pleasure. And yet, the risks are now out there. YouTube is filled with cutscenes of late-game missions, wikis are being updated with newly learned fates, and pricks are simply being pricks. We don't communicate across national lines any more, but our media is still held back based on arcane contractual tradition. That these restrictions are
so easy to circumvent reveals them for what they are: artificial restraints with no justification or benefit.
Tyler Wilde: I want to walk in Dragon Age: Inquisition I m really enjoying
Dragon Age: Inquisition, but one thing is bugging me (well, aside from the stuttering, but I m hoping the latest Nvidia drivers solve that.) I can t walk. This is a big deal. Seriously.
With a controller, a light touch on the analog stick triggers the walking animation. But I am not using a controller, and there s no key to toggle walking. It s driving me crazy. I spent an hour making my character just right (she looks
a bit like Mireille Enos in The Killing), and now she bolts around everywhere like an idiot. Mireille Enos doesn t run everywhere! She walks purposefully. If she s going to have a conversation with someone, she doesn t sprint into their faces, bashing nose against nose. YOU WANTED TO TALK? No. She walks. Calmly. Like a human being.
Thank goodness I m not the only one asking for walking, and
Creative Director Mike Laidlaw is on the case. Unfortunately, BioWare sort of needs to make sure the game is working for everybody before addressing a design issue like this. I guess that s more important. But I can t wait for the walking patch.