PC Gamer

In Face Off, PC Gamer writers go head to head over an issue affecting PC gaming. Today, Tyler and Chris L. argue about whether cinematic game trailers, like we ve seen recently for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Star Wars Battlefront, are worth getting excited about, or if they should be disregarded as pure marketing flash.

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Chris Livingston, staff writer Chris thinks cinematic trailers are fun and wants to be in a Mentos commercial.

Tyler Wilde, executive editor Tyler wants real gameplay video, not flashy advertisements. He's also not a fan of Mentos.

Chris L.: YES. They don t represent the actual game, but that s no reason to not enjoy them or get excited. Cinematic trailers are the idealized versions of a game, where every move is flawless, every camera angle is perfect, every shot is beautiful, and every bullet is extra-bullety. We know that won t be the case when we play, but there s nothing wrong with developers knocking our socks off with a figurative vision of their game before they provide us with a literal one.

Tyler: NO. They can be enjoyable, but let s not forget what they re for: to sell. Fancy cinematic trailers exist to sell pre-purchases, but all they tell us about the game is how much money was spent on trailer production. Maybe I wouldn t care if they reliably came after we saw a bunch of gameplay footage, but they re reliably the first thing we see. And the games they re selling can never live up to the expectations they set. Cinematic trailers, like the new Battlefront trailer, will only cause disappointment later on. Don t set yourself up to be let down.

Chris: I can watch an advertisement without thinking my eventual experience will mirror it. Like, I m pretty sure popping a Mentos in my mouth won t lead me on some grand adventure where I cross a street in a really clever fashion while wearing pastel shorts. Cinematic trailers are ads, definitely, but due to my giant pulsing brain I can differentiate between the ad and reality. Besides, 743 different gameplay trailers are sure follow at some point. In the meantime, what s wrong with whetting my appetite with a little fantasy? Furthermore, Mentos is the fresh-maker!

Tyler: I think the deception is subtle. We can think ourselves clever enough to distinguish flashy trailers from reality, but we still get pumped about them, we share them and talk about them without any critical footing—all we ve seen are perfectly arranged shots that never occur in-game—and ultimately they can raise our opinion of a game we otherwise know nothing about. It s not quite the same as a Mentos, which we already know to be chewy, weird-tasting mint things.

Chris: Yes, we talk about them and share them and get excited. That s because we re fans and enthusiasts. There will be plenty of time to become critics and naysayers later, when it turns out the game sucks. For now, why not get pumped up? Why not examine still frames and look for clues and chatter about them with friends? Why not get swept up in anticipation before all the cynicism and disappointment and glitches and bugs and children calling us horrible names over voice chat? Before the game that was going to make life worth living again turns out to be just another weird chewy minty piece of glop in our game-mouths?

Tyler: But Chris, I m just so grumpy. I m tired of exciting trailers trying to make me un-grumpy (see: my quivering lip at the end of the new Force Awakens teaser) only for the actual thing to make me grumpy again. I won t be duped by your beloved marketing. I m going to shove a handful of Mentos into my dumb mouth and cut up my gums and know pain, for pain is reality.

Or, you know, just not buy Mentos. Anyway, I do concede that it was fun to pick apart the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided trailer for story clues, but we already kinda know how that game will play. Back to Battlefront: How do TIE fighters control? Where do I spawn? How many shots does it take to kill a stormtrooper? The whole thing looked like movie scenes, but there s no way that game really feels like the movies.

Chris: For a moment, imagine you re in the Star Wars universe and you jump into a TIE fighter because rebel scum are attacking your poor, innocent Death Star. Is your first thought really How do I control this thing? Or do you simply imagine knowing how to scream right out of the hangar bay and shoot down that stupid farmboy terrorist? You don t need to get bogged down with the details: that will come later when you have to review it during an eighteen hour game session because they sent the review code the day before it s released. Right now, just gawp at the pretty things and worry about the specifics later. Also, it takes one shot to kill a stormtrooper, doy.

Tyler: You know, EA has actually been pretty good about getting gameplay footage out there—they let us record Battlefield Hardline a couple times before release, and did two public beta tests. So fine, I m sure the gameplay trailers will come and I can t deny that the cinematic trailer inspired my imagination. But my imagination is always so much better than the game. No game, not even the best designed game, can be as good as the Star Wars game in my head, where I m always the hero, always doing impossible things (such as working cohesively with other players online). I just want to know what it s really like to play so I can get excited about that, because that s the truly exciting thing. It s what I actually have to look forward to.

Chris: Yeah, discussing actual gameplay is definitely more rewarding and interesting than gushing over a shiny yet ultimately meaningless trailer. But, as you say, you already know the game will never live up to the version in your head, so what s the harm in enjoying a trailer? At the very least, enjoy the craftsmanship and work that went into it: it s like a clip from a new Star Wars movie. Don t you enjoy Star Wars movies? You said you did earlier, you said you openly wept because you saw an elderly millionaire pretending to be a space-smuggler for two seconds. Just relax and enjoy the Battlefront trailer and stop stressing, willya?

Tyler: [Said through a mouthful of half-chewed Mentos] It was a pretty cool trailer.

Chris: I didn t really like it.

PC Gamer

The best free games of the week is where bartending, pillaging, platforming, stilts, and colourful friendly shapes converge. If you can find the time to explore five strange new worlds for a little while, then make a beverage, sit your self down, and click these links. Enjoy!

The Blind Griffin by Asphodel Quartet

This stylish visual novel is set during Prohibition-era San Francisco, which as historians will know was a den of inequity, drinking and magic. You play as a new employee at a swanky speakeasy named The Blind Griffin, which caters towards the city's thriving magician community, and probably also Paul Daniels. It's an engaging premise with some strong writing, even if it does go a little overboard with the period terminology at times. Handily, you can click on any jazz-era word and receive an explanation (often accompanied by a pithy aside).

Pillagers by Nauris Amatnieks

An adorable, no nonsense strategy game that does for Heroes of Might & Magic and Mount & Blade what Half-Minute Hero did for the JRPG. That is to say it squishes those games down to the bare essentials: exploring an overworld, collecting resources, and battling chumps on a separate screen. Impressively, developer Nauris Amatnieks has made a real-time, multi-unit battle system using only two attack buttons (one for blocking and one for shooting arrows), battles that cut away from a teeming country full of cute roving enemies, shops and random events. Highly recommended, and quite tough.

Unlimited Blocks by Mojiken Studio

There are more platformers on Itch.io and Game Jolt than I've had hot dinners and, remember, I've had 12 hot dinners. However, I can always enjoy another one, providing it's really good or it's doing something different. Unlimited Blocks, from She Who Once Was Lost developers Mojiken Studio, leans more towards the 'interesting' side of things. It's a procedurally generated platformer with some lovely art, a fun fake 3D perspective, and deforming platforms that crumble delightfully.

Stilt Fella by Henrik Hermans

Stilt walk your way through 14 levels of increasingly difficult obstacles, in what is quite possibly the greatest stilt walking game ever made. It's also quite possibly the only stilt walking game ever made. Oh. Oh I see. *bins 'Stilt Gal' prototype I've been working on for eighteen years.*

Stilt Fella is a fun, smart entry in the Goddamn Physics genre, which consists of QWOP, GIRP, CLOP and other things that are very fun to say. This time you're on stilts, obviously, and you have to complete a series of levels that desperately don't want to be completed, at least by me. Turns out walking on stilts is pretty hard!

Minkomora by Joni Kittaka and Merritt Kopas

Play Minkomora or, if you prefer all-caps, which seems oddly stressful for this game, MINKOMORA without reading the manual and you're missing some 70% of the experience. It's a wonderfully drawn and written document that brings a sketchy world of shapes and thingies and whatever that just was to life. The game itself is interesting even without it: an open play area with no violence or any real interactions, beyond sitting, or riding a particular creature. Sitting in games is always a pleasure, encouraging a few moments of stolen peace and contemplation; Minkomora is all peace and contemplation, but I still enjoyed a good sit next to that creature, or that rock, or that pond or that Pokemon-looking thing.

PC Gamer

I'm a latecomer to the Ys series, but after playing, and enjoying, the original game for the first time a few months ago, I've become quite excited to play the rest. They're like much faster, much more action-packed takes on the Zelda formula, at least from what I've played and seen of the series. Ys I, II, III: The Oath in Felghana, and prequel Ys Origin finally came to Western PCs (to GOG, the Humble store and Steam) a while ago, and now publisher XSEED has announced that another is on the way.

It's Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, which originally came out on PC back in 2003, Alas, it too didn't release in the West originally, but that grievous oversight is to be fixed on April 28th. Ys VI will set you back $19.99/ 17.99/ 13.99 from the aforementioned stores, and it comes with a whole host of changes and improvements over the original game, and over the console and handheld versions that came out later.

There's a new translation, as detailed here, along with controller and widescreen support, checkpoint warping (one of the common complaints of Ys VI was that it featured too much backtracking), and a new Catastrophe mode that won't let you pack healing items for later.

Here's the typically hyperactive PC announcement trailer (thanks, Destructoid):

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One of the most controversial issues of Dark Souls 2 is its durability system, which has changed quite significantly since the original version of the game. In the initial, 30fps iteration, weapons and armour would degrade fairly slowly, but there were still occasions where I'd find myself with a nearly mangled weapon, and with no bonfire in sight. (Bonfires restore durability in Dark Souls 2). The new, 'next-gen' or DirectX 11 version runs at 60fps by default, and due to the way it's been coded, stuff in it now degrades twice as fast.

I haven't played this new version of From's game, but I have seen YouTube videos that show weapons throwing up 'breaking' messages after just a few enemies, making the increased baddie count of an area like the Forest of Fallen Giants seem particularly annoying early in the game. Debate continues to rage in forums over whether this revised durability system is a bug, or whether that's the way it was supposed to be in the original version, but everyone agrees that weapons shouldn't be degrading even more rapidly when players swing their weapons at corpses or friendly characters.

From have announced that this latter issue will be fixed in an upcoming patch. Those patch notes are in Japanese, but Kotaku has a translation, along with with confirmation from Bandai Namco that a patch is on the way for the Steam, PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game. A lot of people are assuming that this patch will increase durability across the board to bring it in line with the original 30fps version of Dark Souls 2, but the patch notes imply that it's only a fix for the specific bug that sees weapons degrade hugely quickly when used on corpses or friendly characters.

So there's a patch for durability in Dark Souls 2 on the way (along with other fixes, naturally), but it might not be the one you were hoping for. Thankfully, because PC, there's a mod that does change durability back to the way it worked in the first version of Dark Souls 2.

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Samuel: GTA 5We re not a film site, last time I checked, so this probably isn t the place to talk about Han Solo speaking to a beloved walking carpet, or Batman preparing to beat the shit out of Superman in a scene clearly inspired by Frank Miller s Dark Knight Returns, both of which were relevant to my interests this week. So, on to games things, yes!

GTA 5 finally came out on PC. We ve celebrated its arrival with a number of great features, and our review is still to come early next week. (You can find an early take here from Chris Thursten, plus he s written about it below me on this very page). It s likely you ve bought the game already, unable to wait any longer for further hot takes, and I m really enjoying exploring the city at its best. In my head, the 360 version now looks like sunny Duplo by comparison. Now that s neither fair nor entirely accurate—but my word, what an extraordinary-looking game this is on PC. Everyone should experience Los Santos like this. Yesterday I got hit by a car in first-person, and was so disoriented in real life that I almost threw up. I can t believe my luck.

Chris Thursten: Also GTA 5I ve played so much GTA 5 this week that I m not really sure what s real and what isn t any more—the advent of a new Star Wars movie that doesn t look like garbage hasn t helped with that feeling. We re living in a world where Rockstar actually releases its best games on PC and where Star Wars films have practical effects and X-Wings. What a time to be alive.

This week s out-and-out highlight, however, is GTA Online. The singleplayer is a good game. Multiplayer is a buggy but brilliant one. I ve loved doing the heists with my friends—they amount to some of the best co-op I ve experienced in years—but it s been equally entertaining to just tool around. It really is a sandbox, in the sense that you can sit there and play it for hours and skip between dozens of different types of experiences without quitting the game (unless you need to quit because it s forgotten to load environmental textures again).

It works often enough, however, that I find it hard to tear myself away from. With the caveat that it s best with friends, I d recommend it to anybody. You ve not lived until you ve watched somebody in a helicopter with a big magnet kidnap someone in a car and dangle them over the city, or had a pushbike race down a mountain, or shot flareguns at each other during a street race.

Chris Livingston: You re not the boss of meOne of the main complaints about Deus Ex: Human Revolution was related to the boss fights. After spending time and effort to mold Adam Jensen into a stealth machine, players found themselves in a closed room with a boss who was instantly aware they were present. What's more, players attempting a non-lethal playthrough were unhappy to find themselves killing the bosses in a cutscene after the fight.

I'm not really one for non-lethal playthroughs—my whole life is a non-lethal playthrough, so I like to indulge myself in games—but I get the challenge inherent in tackling a game full of bad guys and coming out with clean hands on the other side. That s why I m happy to hear that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will be completely ghostable. If players don t want to use their arm-chisels for anything more violent than cutting birthday cakes, they won t have to. Most of all, though, it s a nice example of developers listening to their audience, understanding the issues, and making some changes.

Tyler Wilde: Let s just keep saying GTA 5After all the GTA coverage we ve done this week, I understand if you re tired of hearing about it, but there s just so much to talk about! I haven t gotten far into the story, but I m excited for all the stuff happening around the game. To me, the series has always been more about what people do beyond the built-in missions. Firstly, modding is going to happen, even though Rockstar didn t make it easy. That s so exciting. Secondly, some modding has happened, and holy crap, look at this Oculus Rift bike ride. Holy crap. Thirdly, Los Santos is a great place for virtual photography, and I look forward seeing more of it. Look at what s already happening in the video editor. Despite suffering some crashes, playing around in GTA has been some of the most fun I ve had this year.

Tom Marks: Shooting stuffI bet you thought this was going to be about GTA 5. Well it s not! Killing Floor 2 is my high this week. I finally got to spend some hands-on time in the closed beta and it s an absolute blast. Killing hordes of guys doesn t appeal to me on its own, but doing so with friends is a different story. Working with others in an FPS is a great experience, and one I ve been missing since Left 4 Dead 2. Unlike MOBAs, you don t have time to yell at your teammates, and not being pitted against other humans makes the experience significantly less stressful. You work together to kill horrifying zombie-like creatures, not against each other. I look forward to progressing more and actually getting my perks leveled up. 

Tom Senior: Big love for Endless LegendEndless Legend is free to try this weekend on Steam, and is definitely worth your time if you've even a passing interest in turn-based strategy games. It's a game about building empires, like Civ, but plays with the well worn conventions of the genre, introducing a turn-based battle system and some wonderfully imaginative fantasy factions. It looks gorgeous, too. Read our review for the full verdict.


Tyler Wilde: Game Engine Footage I m pretty excited for Battlefront. It could be really great. But if you re going to start selling pre-orders for a game, can we at least see what it looks like to play? EA posted a Battlefront trailer, sure, and it s even labelled Game Engine Footage, but it doesn t tell us jack about the actual experience. It s gorgeous. It s ridiculous. It seems unachievable. So, good job with the pretty graphics, but for now I ll have to assume that Battlefront is a game where you float around looking at scripted Star Wars battles. Of course it isn t that—Wes posted all the details from the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, and he saw a few minutes of real (but staged) gameplay—but I m tired of watching movie trailers for games.

To be fair, Deus Ex just did the same thing, but we already have a pretty good idea of what that s going to be like. The excitement there is A) that it exists and B) where the story is going. With Battlefront, I m glad it s pretty and glad there are TIE fighters and all that, but I just want to know what it s like to play. Maybe EA will post some of that proper gameplay online soon, and I hope it does. Hype trailers are fine, but they really ought to compliment marketing that isn t afraid to reveal what the game actually is. Granted, EA has been pretty good about releasing gameplay footage and doing public betas closer to release, so maybe I'm just being curmudgeonly—or just want so badly for Battlefront to be good that I'm impatient.

Chris Thursten: Power shortageIt s finally happened: I really need to upgrade my home PC. I ve split my GTA time between the office, where it runs at 60fps on very high settings, and at home, where my four-year-old gaming rig is finally showing serious signs of age. It s been a long, long time since I ve felt that I ve been denied the best experience with a game by technology. The last couple of years haven t been particularly taxing for gaming PCs, and GTA V marks the end of that. That s a very good thing, in many ways, particularly if you re tired of games that only make use of a fraction of what your PC can do. For me, however, it means starting once again down the long road to a new rig. Better get a new piggy bank. Or, y know, rob a bank.

Chris Livingston: Slow goingI admire people who speedrun games. Speedrunning demonstrates more than just skill and reflexes, but a complete and utter understanding of a particular game, how it works, and what can be exploited. At the same time, watching speedruns make me realize how I ve never once really come to grips with a game or achieved that kind of understanding, and I usually wind up feeling like a talentless lump after watching a few.

This week we saw someone beat Pillars of Eternity in under 40 minutes. 40 minutes? It took me at least that long to find the berry bush in the very first quest. I also saw a video of someone beating Spelunky in under three minutes, which is about how much time it takes me to get through level 1-1 provided not dying is a priority. Even games I know really well, like Half-Life 2, I still wind up creeping through, as if Gordon Freeman wasn t perfectly preserved in stasis but simply spent those ten years atrophying on a couch somewhere.

Will I ever find a game I can speed through like some sort of greased-up rocket-powered ghost? Or should I resign myself to the fact that I ll always have to plod slowly and uncertainly through games like a guy in a pet supply store looking for that one particular brand of unscented non-clumping clay cat litter that is so damn hard to find among all the fancy-ass perfumed stuff?

Samuel: Downsizing down underI m sad to see 2K Australia close this week. With them and Irrational gone, 2K no longer has the talent that created BioShock within its studios, minus Levine s ultra-lean new development startup. Australia worked in various capacities on BioShock, BioShock 2, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (more or less considered an uninspired but solid cover version), and the sadly ill-fated The Bureau—which, to this day, I maintain should ve been a far better game about an alien invasion in paranoid suburban America than the forgettable shooter it eventually turned into (I think it looked a lot better at this stage). I wish the staff well.

Tom Senior: Kombatting launch problemsI managed to shred my way through a portion of Mortal Kombat X s singleplayer campaign last night in spite of the installer issues. The game s config launcher option doesn t respond at all, and the game chose to boot in a resolution that only showed me the top left corner of the image. In-game I m getting stutters and occasional frame rate drops even on a GTX970 with 8GB RAM and a fairly quick i5 processor, and players on the Steam forums are faring as badly or worse. What the heck? After some .ini file twiddles I was able to play, but it s in an unacceptable state for a modern launch. The devs are working on fixes, but it might be worth waiting before picking up the game to see if all the issues can be ironed out.

Tom Marks: GTA 5 s niggling issuesI ve also been having a lot of fun with GTA V this week. The game has been incredibly well optimized, running at high settings even on middle-of-the-road machines. I didn t have a problem with its last minute delays for polish and bug testing, because how well the game runs now is surely a result of that. What I do have a problem with is all that extra bug testing not catching a lot of really easy to find issues. Enough issues for us to fill a list that has had people flocking to it for answers since launch day. Things like not being able to run the benchmark before you complete the prologue, or a game-breaking bug if you happen to use certain characters in your Rockstar Social Club name. How do those not get caught? And why the hell does it not have Steam Cloud support for your saves? Developers, feel free to delay your games a bit to squash bugs, but at least make sure you catch the obvious stuff.

PC Gamer

I spawn into chaos. I m immediately blessed by the wrathful deathmatch gods: at my feet lies an Enforcer pistol, its former owner reduced to a few gory streaks of blood beside it. I pick it up and it fills my left hand—a nostalgic display of akimbo pistoleering. On a raised platform nearby, a pickup timer signals an impending reappearance of the mighty shield belt. I use the platform s elevator as a jump boost for a quick aerial survey of the area. I spot someone get cooked alive by a Link Gun s crackling neon-green beam.

I land and nab the belt, but before I can blink, a pair of smoking pieces of molten metal arc over my head. I spin around and meet the business end of a Flak Cannon, the golden-colored reaper of close quarters. Reflexes kick in; I m double-tap dodging backwards before I realize it to escape the cannon s deadly killzone. My back hits a curved wall, and I mash a strafe key, sending me into a lateral wall dodge. My twin Enforcers roar to life, and for an instant, I m a John Woo stuntman. Riddled, my opponent crumples. I m about to fistpump over the flashy frag when I instantly turn into a greasy crater from a tri-rocket annihilation.

Unreal Tournament is playable. The extent of its current functionality sits somewhere between primordial and primitive. I point my crosshairs at someone, I click, bullets/rockets/shrapnel/laser beams/green goo fires out of my weapon, and someone hopefully dies. Recycle, repeat, respawn. This is the quintessential definition of an arena FPS, a bedrock blueprint of the genre with a name representing one of the foundational pillars of influential shooters on the PC.

Far be it for me to call UT s latest incarnation simple, though. Its developer, Epic, has far-reaching plans to collaborate with its community on an unprecedented level. Anyone with programming or level design smarts can load up the Unreal Engine editor and contribute. New weapons, maps, and mutators are proposed almost daily. Epic wants competitive tournaments later this year. A Steam Marketplace-esque cosmetic system is in the works.

But that s all pins on a corkboard at the moment. Downloading the free pre-alpha brings a gut-level glimpse into the new UT with deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, and duel modes. That s it. Finding a match is a single click or a quick browse through the dedicated server list. Alternatively, there s 'hubs': clusters of player-hosted matches grouped by location for optimal response time. The client comes with a rudimentary set of audio and visual options—texture, shadow, and effects quality for instance, but nothing specific yet like fine-tuning anti-aliasing multipliers—which thankfully includes a working FOV slider.

By far the best demonstration of Epic and the community s efforts is jumping into a deathmatch round on Outpost 23, UT s first fully textured and properly lit map. The level of detail and visual clarity is phenomenal. Pipes, wires, cables, steel bulkheads, and even a thrumming reactor core push the limits of expressing artistic design in small-scale arenas. The Unreal Engine s expertise at drawing gentle curves lends a soft-looking appearance which, in some brightly lit sections, skirt dangerously close to annoying filter territory but doesn t feel too smothering so far. Though gorgeous, some effects wind up a touch distracting after a while. Stepping into the outside area sends the map s HDR into overdrive, darkening interiors seen through doorways and causing difficulty eyeballing movements and player models.

The rest of the pre-alpha s map set sits squarely in barebones status. Outside of Outpost 23, the remaining 20 included battlegrounds look quite naked without proper textures to the point where the placeholder graphics appear almost cartoonish by comparison. Their layouts are luckily further along in progress, so they re good playgrounds for mastering movement. Chaining pinball-like wall dodges across the rocky canyon of the low-gravity Bigrock Asteroid Mining CTF map is dumb fun. Classic stomping grounds such as Facing Worlds and Deck 16 are in a semi-constructed state, as well. Strangely enough, their unfinished surfaces fits as an appropriately vintage look.

Plenty implements of destruction pepper each map. They re fun, but they re nothing innovative, a mixed arsenal from UT99 and its sequels. The guns granular characteristics are pretty fluid right now—each build update includes slews of weapon adjustments—but some properties are an enjoyable marriage between the original and its successors.

The Flak Cannon is a surefire showstopper up close, and the Minigun s secondary fire lays small spike traps that can help propel jumps. The new Impact Hammer is the evolution of a humiliating melee kill into a skillful tool with its alt-fire, a knockback blast that can swat down projectiles and beams and control chokepoints (think the airblast from TF2 s Pyro). The Link Gun, already a mid-range menace, can lock an enemy at the end of its beam to prevent him or her from fleeing. I m slightly disappointed at the absence of entirely new guns to try out, but the community is stepping up to eventually furnish the game with all sorts of armaments. (Ripper, anyone?)

For now, Unreal Tournament covers the basics. I m reminded of Toxikk s equally elementary starting content, a gargantuan difference lying in Epic s wise utilization of its fanbase for direct input. So much is left up to the community to decide—a recent huge debate discusses the pros and cons of no dodge- or double-jumps—that the game s current build feels almost husk-like in content. Is it fun? Yes. Just don t expect to see the groundbreaking stuff for many months to come.

PC Gamer

Horror adventure The Forest has undergone a major overhaul, including a move to Unity 5 aimed at dramatically improving its visual quality. None of the improvements in the update, which are detailed here, sound super sexy on their own, but collectively they represent a major change to the game. 

The old shaders have been replaced with new physically-based rendering materials and textures, and most of the tree models have been replaced as well. The first version of the ocean shader has been implemented, skin shaders have been rewritten, and plant shaders now have sub-surface scattering. Sub-surface scattering! There are also new adjustable graphics options, which should improve the game's performance on lower-end systems.

Animals in The Forest have also been upgraded: Geese now fly from lake to lake (and can be followed around, if that's the kind of emergent gameplay you're looking for), and deer no longer run head-first into trees. There's even a new "drag away by cannibals system," because in 2015 what game is complete without it? Improvements to network code have been made that should help smooth out the multiplayer experience, and player audio has also been partially implemented; I'm not perfectly clear on what "player audio" means but I assume it has something to do with character voices, since the same bit also notes that there's "a new take on the female skinny audio."

Shortly after the launch of the update, developer Endnight Games put out a hotfix to correct problems including missing volumetric lighting under 32-bit versions of Windows, the failure of "water blur vision" to kick in when swimming underwater, and "sparkly disco-looking cave floors" when bloom is enabled. Get it here.

PC Gamer

Star Wars: Battlefront Assistant Producer Jesper Nielsen has confirmed that, in spite of what you may have heard elsewhere, the game will not make use of the multiplayer portal Battlelog.

The initial claim seems to have come from Game Rant, which said back in February that Star Wars: Battlefront would incorporate Battlelog. It sounded reasonable: Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, and even Medal of Honor: Warfighter employ it for their multiplayer functionality, and Star Wars: Battlefront is most definitely a multiplayer-focused game. But Nielsen's response on NeoGAF was unequivocal.

"That article is based on the fact that the Uprise website mentions that Uprise is working on Star Wars Battlefront. While Uprise has been doing Battlelog, does that automatically mean that we will do Battlelog for Star Wars Battlefront?" he wrote. "No, it won't. That can only be an assumption, and I can tell you, no, there won't be Battlelog for Star Wars Battlefront."

As for what it will use, a DICE rep said on Reddit that the system "is built from scratch," and that there will be "no browser game launching." Beyond that, however, he said only that "all will be revealed in due time." Cue dramatic music!

PC Gamer

More Buying Guides

Our guides to the best PC hardware and accessories:  

— Best gaming laptops — Best gaming CPUs— Best graphics cards — Best SSDs for gaming— Best gaming monitors— Best gaming mice — Best gaming keyboards — Best PC chairs — Best gaming headsets — Best wireless headsets — Best controller for PC  Best webcams

Component recommendations for your next PC build:

 Budget gaming rig  Mid-range gaming rig  High-end gaming rig

New to PC Gaming? Here are 10 things every PC gamer should own.

USB drives might not have much to do specifically with PC games, but every PC gamer will need one at one point or another. As PC gamers, we always want the best and the fastest when it comes to our computers, but our choice of portable drives will often fall to the wayside. Using any old USB drive seems fine, until you end up waiting 30 minutes to transfer a file.

Your average cheap, crappy USB drives are just that: cheap and crappy. Going just a little bit further will get you a drive that runs circles around the cheap ones while lasting significantly longer. There are a lot of USB drives to choose from, though, and even more to be grabbed out of dollar bins while you re waiting in line at the store. Knowing which to pick can be difficult when there s such a wide range of prices, speeds, and shapes. I tested over a dozen different drives to find the best.

When it comes to testing USB drives, speed is king. A drive's read (taking files off of it) and write (putting files onto it) speeds determine how long you re going to be waiting on file transfers. Read speeds are almost always higher than write, so a drive with a high write speed is a treasure. Additionally, a drive will read and write differently depending on the size and quantity of the files being transferred, so it needs to perform well in multiple scenarios. Beyond raw speed, a USB drive needs to be convenient and comfortable to use. Does it block adjacent USB ports? Does the cap snap onto the back or sit idly on your desk when it s off? And finally, what are you paying for the performance?

After a lot of testing and spending some practical time with each drive, the SanDisk Extreme CZ80 is the USB drive I d recommend to PC gamers. Its read and write speeds are up there with the fastest ones I tested, but at a much lower price. It even outperformed its pro version in some of the tests I ran. The CZ80 has a slim body that doesn t take up much space and doesn t block any other ports. It s the perfect example of how paying only a little bit more for a good USB drive can represent a significant step up in quality.

The SanDisk Extreme CZ80 is my overall recommendation, but I also picked out the best high-end drive if you just want raw speed, the best budget drive if want great speeds at an rock-bottom price, and the best low-profile drive for those who don t want their USB drives to stick out from their computer (these are ideal for laptops or as permanent expanded storage).

Testing USB drives

I primarily tested all of the drives on our living room gaming machine, LPC Jr., with follow-up testing and some double checking on another equally powerful rig. For consistency, I formatted all the drives to NTFS before I moved any files onto them and used the same USB 3.0 port on the motherboard I/O panel every time. I also ran all the tests in the same order and didn t use the drives for anything else before I tested them. Some of the drives I recommend are a different capacity than the ones I tested of that model. While larger drives generally read and write faster, I made sure that all the drives I was comparing for a category were the same size for consistent results. 

Each drive went through the same testing process: a benchmark using the CrystalDiskMark software, a practical test of transferring lots of large files, and a practical test of transferring lots of small files. While a drive's read and write speeds are usually their most important factor, I also took price, form factor, ease of use, shape, and other things into consideration while testing.

Benchmark one: CrystalDiskMark

The first test was fairly straightforward: I used the Standard Edition of CrystalDiskMark to get a baseline idea of what to expect from each drive. CDM tests the read and write speed of each drive in four different ways: sequential, random 512K, 4KQD1, and 4KQD32. The most important number to look at here is the sequential speeds as that s what most closely reflects how we actually access files from a USB drive. The random 512K and 4K tests would be important if you are planning on installing an OS onto your drive, but are less indicative of its practical performance.

While I did take the CDM results into consideration, I found that the sequential read and write speeds from the benchmark were consistently higher than what I got in the practical tests. The CDM speeds represent the ideal scenario of what the drive can do, often starting out at this number but slowing down during large bulk file transfers. Therefore, I used the CDM sequential speeds as a baseline for my judgment, but placed more value in the practical tests.

Benchmarks two and three: large and small file tests

For both the large and small file tests I used a program called RoboMirror, which adds a GUI to the Windows utility Robocopy. Using RoboMirror is the exact same as if I had dragged over the files by hand, expect it keeps careful track of how long a copy job took and lists the average MB/s speed. This way, I could perform real world tests of moving files to and from the USB drives and get precise numbers on how quickly the drives were working.

The first practical test was with large files. I made a folder of roughly 32GB of video files, 20 total ranging from 1-2GB in size, and copied them all at once to a USB drive using RoboMirror to get the write speed. I then copied them back to the computer to get the read speed. For the 32GB drives, I used a folder with 16GB of files instead and did the same with the drives I was comparing them against to stay consistent with the tests.

The second practical test was the same basic idea, but with lots of small files. I made a folder of roughly 15GB of images, almost 10,000 total. I copied them to and from the drives, making note of the read and write speeds. Storage devices handle a bunch of small files differently than large ones, so testing both ways let me see how it would perform in a few different situations.

On the next page: The best USB drive

Page 1: Introduction to the USB drives Page 2: The best USB drivePage 3: The best high-end USB drivePage 4: The best budget USB drivePage 5: The best low-profile USB drivePage 6: Wrapping up: competitors and future testing

The best USB drive: the 32GB SanDisk Extreme CZ80

If you've never bought a nice, fast USB drive, it's probably because you already have a couple cheap ones lying around. Everyone wants their file transfers to go faster, but who wants to pay for it? You really don t have to spend very much money to get a significant boost in power, though, and the $25 32GB SanDisk Extreme CZ80 is proof of that. Out of all the drives I tested, it represents the most bang for your buck.

CrystalDiskMark results

The most impressive thing about this drive is that its speeds aren t anywhere near the budget category, despite the price. In the large file test, it averaged a read speed of 229 MB/s and a write speed of 178 MB/s. Though that test didn t reach its advertised speeds of 245 MB/s read and 190 MB/s write, it came very close and actually surpassed those numbers in the CDM test. Its small file testing proved somewhat worse for read speed, 123 MB/s, but still stayed ahead of anything near its price for write speed, 56 MB/s. These numbers actually come close to the drives I was testing in the high-end category—including the pro version of the CZ80, the SanDisk Extreme Pro CZ88—but at a significantly cheaper price.

The CZ80 is also one of the nicer looking and easier to use drives I tested. It shares the same body as the CZ88 but in black instead of silver, and I can see why SanDisk would want to reuse the design. It s slim and smooth with a slider to push out the USB plug. The slider has a bit of a spring action to it, meaning you only have to push it part of the way and the drive does the rest of the work for you. It has a catching mechanism when the plug end is pushed out but not when it s pulled in, making it easy to quickly uncap while also preventing you from pushing the end back in while you trying to plug it into your computer. The keychain loop is also quite large, making it much easier to thread than most of its competitors.

There are definitely faster drives—if you are looking for raw speed then check the next page for our high-end choice—and there are definitely cheaper options, but the CZ80 strikes a great balance between the two. It actually feels under-priced for the speeds it can reach. It s such a fast drive that I can confidently recommend that this is the one you should get, even if you have extra money to burn. Going higher than this will get you more speed, but at an extra price that probably isn t worth the money.

Even if you aren t worried about hitting the highest possible speeds and just want a good USB drive to move files around, the SanDisk Extreme CZ80 is still the way to go. It s not too expensive and will save you headaches and frustration as you watch that 2GB movie file transfer in 10 seconds as opposed to the 5 minutes a junky USB 2.0 drive would take. A good USB drive is always a relevant tool to a PC gamer, and the CZ80 is worth investing in just like any other part of your rig.

On the next page: The best high-end USB drive

Page 1: Introduction to the USB drivesPage 2: The best USB drivePage 3: The best high-end USB drivePage 4: The best budget USB drivePage 5: The best low-profile USB drivePage 6: Wrapping up: competitors and future testing

The best high-end USB drive: the 128GB Patriot Supersonic Rage 2

We ve covered the drive that strikes a balance between price and power, but what if you just want the fastest USB drive you can get your hands on? That s exactly what the $105 128GB Patriot Supersonic Rage 2 brings to the table. It s got more storage than my personal rig s SSD—and it costs more—but it has a lot of speed and space in a very tiny package. In fact, it s probably the tiniest way to store this much data you can find.

crystaldiskmark results

With the second-highest advertised read and write speeds of all the drives I received for testing, I had high hopes but realistic expectations. The Rage 2 is listed as having a read speed of 400 MB/s and a write speed of 300 MB/s, and while it predictably didn t reach those high numbers it actually came surprisingly close. The large file test averaged 354 MB/s read and 187 MB/s write, while the small file test clocked in at 180 MB/s read and a much lower 34 MB/s write. That write speed may seem damning, especially when put next to the 300 MB/s it claimed to get, but it s important to keep in mind that pretty much every drive I tested performed drastically worse in the small file test than any other benchmark. Only a few of the drives made it above 40 MB/s write for that test, while only one managed beat the Rage 2 s small file read speed.

The Rage 2 s form factor is one of my favorite things about it, and one of the primary reasons I chose it over its closest competitor, the Corsair Flash Voyager GS. Even though it holds 128GB (and also has a 256GB version) it s one of the smallest drives I got my hands on. It s slim, flat, and its sliding cap means it takes up even less space when you plug it in. The slider clicks satisfyingly into place when it s pushed in or pulled out.

It was difficult to understand why some of the other drives were so bulky while the Rage 2 was designed to be so sleek and small. There is value in making a drive difficult to lose track of, but the Rage 2 s bright colors and easy to use keychain loop meant that wasn t a concern. Additionally, it left all the other drives in the dust in terms of read speed—with the exception of one, the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX, which had better read speeds but significantly worse write speeds. This why the Rage 2 really shined; while other drives could beat it in certain tests, no other drive was so consistently at the top of every test. Put that in an attractive case and you have the best high-end USB drive money can buy.

Your average gamer isn t going to need the amount of storage the Patriot Supersonic Rage 2 provides, but everyone can benefit from the speed. If you transfer files on a daily basis and want to gain back hours you ve wasted waiting on slow transfers, this drive is your answer. If you re just looking for a fast drive for personal use, jump back a page and give the SanDisk Extreme CZ80 another look.

Note to UK Readers

Unfortunately the Patriot Supersonic Rage 2 is only a few months old and hasn t come to the UK yet. My pick for a close second is the Corsair Flash Voyager GS which costs 82 on Amazon.co.uk, a not insignificant price increase compared to the Rage 2. The Voyager GS has great speeds but a form factor far worse than the Rage 2, and you can read my extended thoughts about it on the last page of this article. If the price is too high or you want a slimmer drive, I d say your best bet is still the SanDisk Extreme CZ80 on the previous page.

On the next page: The best budget USB drive

Page 1: Introduction to the USB drivesPage 2: The best USB drivePage 3: The best high-end USB drivePage 4: The best budget USB drivePage 5: The best low-profile USB drivePage 6: Wrapping up: competitors and future testing

The best budget USB drive: the 16GB ADATA Superior Series S102

Still not convinced that you need blistering fast speeds in a USB drive? Well fine, but I really can t stress enough that you shouldn t settle for bargain bin drives made of cheap plastic and broken promises. They won t take advantage of USB 3.0 s significantly faster speed caps, and they ll bring you nothing but frustration every time you wait for a file to transfer. If you want to go cheap, get the $11 16GB ADATA Superior Series S102. It's wrapped in a durable body, doesn t cost much more than lunch, and it blows crappy USB 2.0 drives out of the water.

crystaldiskmark results

The S102 is advertised with 100 MB/s read and 50 MB/s write speeds, and ended up testing pretty close to those numbers. It actually reached 116 MB/s read in the large file test, but it never quite hit its listed write speed, only averaging 36 MB/s. Still, these are pretty impressive speeds for an $11 drive, and its speed consistency was a good sign. The small file test saw a read speed of 84 MB/s and a write speed of 21 MB/s but, as I ve said before, most of the drives I tested performed much worse with small files than large ones. Overall, it had decent and consistent speeds at a price much lower than you d expect.

One factor that seemed to have no correlation to a drive s price was its body and shape, as the S102 is actually one of the best I saw. It s very small, especially when compared to higher priced drives. The S102 has a metal body and a removable plastic cap instead of a slider. I m usually not a fan of caps, but this one has a catching mechanism that keeps it very securely in place. It can also be snapped onto the back of the drive when it s plugged in and works well enough that it won t just fall off with a slight bump. My fear with removable caps is that I ll inevitably lose them, but this one feels hard to lose.

The S102 is definitely not the fastest drive I tested, but you get a surprising amount of power for a very low price. Its speeds were only slightly slower than both of the low-profile drives I tested (see the next page for my low-profile choice) for a few dollars cheaper. A few dollars might not be much at higher prices, but when the drive is $11 it can make the difference. And if you are willing to spend $4 more, you can double the storage capacity to 32GB.

If you don t want to spend $25 on a USB drive, than the ADATA Superior Series S102 is the way to go, especially over an outdated USB 2.0 drive. The S102 will give you a noticeable and significant boost in speed for a very small price. It also has one of the nicest form factors of any of the drives I used, regardless of price or speed.

Note to UK Readers

The ADATA Superior Series S102 costs 12 on Amazon.co.uk. This is definitely more expensive than in the US, and actually makes my low-profile choice on the next page a better budget option if you don t mind the small size.

On the next page: The best low-profile USB drive

Page 1: Introduction to the USB drivesPage 2: The best USB drivePage 3: The best high-end USB drivePage 4: The best budget USB drivePage 5: The best low-profile USB drivePage 6: Wrapping up: competitors and future testing

The best low-profile USB drive: the 32GB SanDisk Ultra Fit CZ43

Now that we ve covered your best speed options at different price points, it s time for something a bit different. Low-profile USB drives are ones that barely extended past the edge of the port you plug them into, and the best one you can get is the $15 32GB SanDisk Ultra Fit CZ43. A low-profile drive needs to be as small as it can possibly be while still staying functional, both in speed and convenience. It shouldn t take up room, but you should still be able to fit it on your keychain or get it back out of the plug after you ve put it in.

crystaldiskmark results

The CZ43 wasn t the fastest drive I tested—as I mentioned earlier, rating only slightly faster than my budget pick for almost $4 more—but it was definitely faster than any USB 2.0 drives and is well worth the upgrade. In the large file test it had a read speed of 129 MB/s and a write speed of 31 MB/s, while in the small test it averaged 87 MB/s and 22 MB/s. Both of the low-profile drives I tested had CrystalDiskMark speeds faster than what they were advertised for, but performed very similarly in the practical tests. These speeds aren t amazing, but you shouldn t be looking at the CZ43 if you re only concerned with a drive s speed.

The shape and form factor is what really counts in this category, and the CZ43 shines here more than anywhere else. The drive hardly juts out of the USB port at all, and its end is rounded black plastic which allows it to pretty much disappear against your computer while plugged in. The end also has a red LED hidden under the plastic that acts as an indicator light when it s getting power. The light is very helpful in making sure the drive is in all the way, and is otherwise completely unnoticeable. Admittedly, the keychain loop is a little bit difficult to thread and the CZ43 comes with a cap that has nowhere to go while the drive is in use. I usually don t like free-floating caps on USB drives, but since this one isn t much more than the plug end itself, the extra protection while it s in your pocket is appreciated.

In fact, the CZ43 is the only low-profile drive I could find that had a cap at all, which was surprising given these drives aren t much more than exposed hardware. Once again, it wasn t the fastest drive I tested, but it was definitely the smallest. Realistically, the speed difference compared to other low-profile drives is negligible, and the CZ43 is slightly cheaper anyway. The smoothed black end also made it more aesthetically appealing while plugged in and easier to remove. For the record, no low-profile drive is easy to unplug once it s in there, but this one was the easiest.

A low-profile drive definitely isn t for everyone, but if you are specifically looking for one then the SanDisk Ultra Fit CZ43 is the way to go. You can get higher speeds for only $10 more or similar speeds for $4 less, but neither of those options come in nearly as small a package. If you are looking for extreme speeds while still staying relatively small then our high-end choice, the Patriot Supersonic Rage 2, will still satisfy but at a much higher cost. A low-profile drive fills a very specific need, and the CZ43 fills it better than any other option.

On the next page: Wrapping up: competitors and future testing

Page 1: Introduction to the USB drivesPage 2: The best USB drivePage 3: The best high-end USB drivePage 4: The best budget USB drivePage 5: The best low-profile USB drivePage 6: Wrapping up: competitors and future testing

Wrapping up: competitors and future testing

I benchmarked and tested more than a dozen different USB 3.0 drives to find the best in each category. A lot of it came down to pure numbers, but there were a bunch of reasons I did or didn t pick one. How much power are you getting for your money? Would it fit on your keys? Does it get too hot after a while? What is the trade-off between read and write speeds? All of these factors had an influence, and some shined in a certain category but didn t end up as my pick overall.

The Kingston HyperX DataTraveler actually outperformed all but my high-end pick when it came to read speeds on the small file test, but didn t shine anywhere else. Though it doesn t hit the speeds it claims, it s definitely a fast drive. The main problem is that it costs more than the SanDisk Extreme CZ80 for consistently slower speeds. It s not bad by any means, but there s just no reason to get it when you can pay less to get more.

The Kingston HyperX Ultimate DataTraveler got faster read and write speeds than it claimed on its packaging, but still not as fast as the SanDisk Extreme CZ80. It also has a small Kingston emblem hanging from it s keychain loop that can t be removed which I found annoying, though that is only an aesthetic problem.

The ADATA DashDrive Elite UE700 had impressive read speeds, but its write speeds didn t hold up compared to similarly priced drives, though it is on the cheaper end of them. It should be noted that it is by far the thinnest drive I tested, aside from the low-profile ones, and isn t much thicker than the plug itself. It also comes with a faux-leather strap, but all this comes at the price of speed.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro CZ88 is the superior model of the SanDisk Extreme CZ80, but I didn t find it to be much faster. Its CDM benchmark showed similar numbers, and the practical tests were almost identical. The only exception was its write speeds in the small file test, which it averaged at 120 MB/s and blew every other drive I tested out of the water. Still, the price is a lot more to pay for an improvement in only one area.

The VisionTek 120gb SSD was a drive I was looking forward to testing but incredibly disappointed by. It claimed to get 455 MB/s read and 440 MB/s write, but couldn t get anywhere near that. Its CDM benchmark showed 215 MB/s read and 139 MB/s write, and the practical tests showed it going even slower than that. It did, however, outperform every other drive in CDM s 4KQD1 and 4KQD32 tests by a shocking amount. Where other drives were getting 1 MB/s write speeds for the 4KQD32 test, the VisionTek SSD hit 100 MB/s. The drive is pitched as a bootable OS solution and could definitely do well in that role, but it s too expensive for average speeds to be used just as a USB drive.

The Corsair Flash Voyager GS was definitely second in line for my best high-end pick. It narrowly beats the Patriot Supersonic Rage 2 on write speeds (213 MB/s to 187 MB/s for the large file test) but is then beaten by a wider margin on read speeds (215 MB/s to 354 MB/s). The Voyager GS is also $20 cheaper, making the slower read speeds less of an issue, but the straw that broke the camel s back was actually its form factor. Both of the Corsair Flash Voyager drives are really big. I mean too wide to use the USB ports on either side of them while it s plugged in big, unless you use the more spaced out ports on the back of your motherboard. Additionally, they are by far the heaviest USB drives I have ever held and would have easily doubled the weight of my keys had I used the keychain loop to its purpose. This may seem petty, but they are genuinely inconvenient drives to handle.

The Corsair Flash Voyager GTX has the exact same body as the Voyager GS, making it just as wide and just as heavy. The Voyager GTX is $30 more than its GS counterpart, and has chosen to focus on read speeds over write speeds. At 432 MB/s, it had the highest CDM benchmark for sequential read of all the drives I tested, but that is paired with a thoroughly mediocre 85 MB/s write speed. I suppose if your only concern is read speeds, this is the drive to get, but its write speeds are too low to justify the cost and it still shares the GS form factor problems.

The Patriot Tab Series has slightly better read and write speeds than the SanDisk Ultra Fit CZ43, about 2-3 MB/s faster across the board but it costs a few dollars more, sticks out slightly further when it s plugged in, and doesn t come with any sort of cover when it s not. Additionally, I ve read reviews warning of early deaths with the drive, and a known problem will force some users to download a patch from Patriot s site to use the drive at all.

The Kingston HyperX Fury doesn t have much going for it. It s expensive in the world of budget drives, and has a downright terrible write speed—only around 10 MB/s. Its read speeds weren t bad, but anything that writes that slowly just isn t worth it.

The Kingston HyperX Predator DataTraveler is the first of two 512GB drives I tested, and this one is also available in a 1TB model. Beyond the novelty of carrying half a terabyte in the palm of my hand, the Predator DataTraveler was remarkably slow and appallingly expensive. $400 for read and write speeds around 40 MB/s is, regardless of the size of the drive, far too much money. You could buy the 512GB Samsung 850 Pro SSD and an SATA-to-USB 3.0 adapter for that kind of money and still have $100 to spare. And you d also be able to use adjacent USB ports, as the Predator DataTraveler is just as wide as the Corsair Flash Voyager drives and nearly three times as thick.

The Patriot Supersonic Magnum 2 is the other 512GB drive I tested, and is a little bit of a ghost to me. It was announced this January, slated for release in February, and now isn t listed anywhere. Not on Amazon, Newegg, or even Patriot s own website. But lo and behold, they sent it to us for testing, not even in a package but simply taped up in bubblewrap. Performance wise, it s practically identical to our high-end pick, the Patriot Supersonic Rage 2, but with a much less appealing form factor. Without the context of how much the Magnum 2 will cost, I don t know whether to recommend it or not. Even if it s identically priced, the Rage 2 is a much smaller and more attractive drive, so the Magnum 2 s draw might end up being identical performance at higher capacities.

Future testing

There are still some drives out there I need to get my hands on and benchmark, specifically in the budget price range. It s easy to stick your hand into the bucket of USBs at the checkout line and spend $3 on something cheap, but for not much more money you can get one that s built to last and can run at much higher speeds.

I am interested in testing out Lexar s JumpDrive S33. It is $1 cheaper than our budget pick, the ADATA Superior Series S102, and claims to have a higher write speed. To be clear, that doesn t mean it s actually faster, as I frequently found claimed speeds to be more of a guideline than an expectation, but it has the potential to be a better and slightly cheaper option.

I d also like to test out the Leef Supra and the Corsair Flash Voyager Vega, two more low-profile drives. I was disappointed that I could only test out two tiny drives, as I think it s a unique category. The Supra and the Vega are a bit more expensive and look slightly bigger than the Patriot Tab and the SanDisk Ultra Fit CZ43, so they might not be better choices in the end, but speed usually speaks louder than most other factors when it comes to storage drives.

The last drive I d like to test out is the LaCie RuggedKey. While I ve never found myself in a situation where I ve needed a USB drive that could withstand a 100 meter fall, the RuggedKey is probably the only one to fill that niche. It is definitely expensive and doesn t boast the best speeds, but it is so unique that I would be remiss not to want a look at it.

We ll update this guide as new and better USB drives are released and prices fluctuate.

A note on affiliates: some of our stories, like this one, include affiliate links to stores like Amazon. These online stores share a small amount of revenue with us if you buy something through one of these links, which helps support our work evaluating PC components.

Page 1: Introduction to the USB drivesPage 2: The best USB drivePage 3: The best high-end USB drivePage 4: The best budget USB drivePage 5: The best low-profile USB drivePage 6: Wrapping up: competitors and future testing

PC Gamer

Yesterday was the day that the world finally got its first real look at Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and so in a way it's appropriate that it was also the day that Gratuitous Space Battles 2 left beta and went into full release.

"Yup, it s true, the much-awaited sequel to the 200,000+ selling indie strategy game Gratuitous Space Battles, is finally on sale," developer Cliff Harris wrote on his blog. "This has taken us twenty months to make, involved a complete redesign and re-engineering of the graphics engine, numerous changes, improvements and fixes, not least the fact that the game now lets you design the look of the ships from scratch AND has Steam workshop support, achievements, trading cards and so on."

Despite the many improvements over the original, Harris emphasized that GSB2 is "actually not *that* demanding" in hardware terms, and going by the system requirements posted on Steam he's not kidding: The minimum requirement is a 2GHz CPU, 4GB RAM, and "pretty much any [video] card" that has at least 512MB and supports DirectX 9.0c.

There's also a launch trailer, which isn't necessarily the best launch trailer ever (even Harris described it as "cheesy"), but you get the point: huge fleets, huge battles, huge explosions. Gratuitous Space Battles 2 is available now on Steam, GOG, the Humble Store, or directly from GratuitousSpaceBattles2.com. We'll have a review soon.


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