PC Gamer

Every Friday PC Gamer's writers scavenge for components, build a workbench, and craft their opinions on PC gaming's latest happenings.

THE HIGHS

Samuel Roberts: The week in Star Wars Star Wars has a big 2015 coming up, with JJ Abrams Episode VII and EA s Star Wars: Battlefront landing at the back end of next year. After a ten-year absence (!) in Battlefront games, I think the world is ready for another large-scale Star Wars shooter, especially since enough time has passed since Star Wars games were a regular fixture on PC. Between that and the superb X-Wing/TIE Fighter appearing on GOG.com with a bunch of older LucasArts titles, it s a rare good week to be an enthusiast for the intergalactic saga. I m ready to destroy the Ewoks way of life in a Frostbite-powered AT-ST—are you?

Andy Kelly: New Elite: Dangerous beta I ve spent some time with the
latest beta of Elite: Dangerous, and the game gets better every time I play it. This is the closest it s felt to a finished, ready-for-release game. I admit to being skeptical when Frontier first set up their Kickstarter, but how wrong I was. They ve brought the space sim back from the dead in the best possible way, and I can t wait to start exploring that massive 300 billion system galaxy. Not that I ll ever get around to visiting all 2,500 stars in the beta, but you know what I mean. I m not interested in combat or piracy. I just want to exist in that universe, living my life, doing jobs, making a living. The game s scheduled for a nebulous calendar year 2014 release, so it shouldn t be long now. See you in space.

Evan Lahti: Evolving Evolve s alpha unlocked today on PC—hopefully you were one of the 50,000 recipients of our key giveaway. I think Evolve is an interesting FPS, but I d actually like to take a moment to celebrate that Turtle Rock and 2K did the right thing by delaying it by four months—it was originally meant to be out now. Asymmetrical competitive shooters take a ton of time and data to balance, but beyond that, at the time we re writing this, the alpha s experiencing some matchmaking issues on its first day. Better now than later, right?

Tyler Wilde: The Long Dark gets bigger I really enjoyed playing survival sim The Long Dark
earlier this month, and it s just gotten a big Early Access update which has "more than doubled" the size of the world. There are also some welcome balance changes: I think it makes sense, for instance, for tools to decay more slowly, as previously they were falling apart at silly rates. Also, they ve added rabbits! I love rabbits so much I have a tattoo of one, so I m not sure how I ll feel about killing them, but hey, I gotta eat.

What I like most about The Long Dark, though, is just experiencing the beauty of fearsome, lonely nature, and a big new area to explore is why I ll go back. Even though it s a fight for survival, I find it to be a meditative game, wonderful for the rainy days ahead in San Francisco. (Speaking of which, my non-gaming high was the wave of high-fives after the Giants won the World Series on Wednesday.)

Tom Marks: Squad 7, move out! Valkyria Chronicles suddenly two weeks away I played Valkyria Chronicles when it first released for PS3 back in 2008, and it quickly found a place among my favorite games. Nowadays, you have a lot of developers throwing around the term genre-bending when they usually mean we swear it s not just a MOBA, but it s actually impossible to describe Valkyria Chronicles with a simple genre tag. It s a turn-based strategy, third-person real-time shooter, alternate-reality World War 2 JRPG, and somehow it works beautifully. It s deep in strategy and large in scale, so I was excited to hear that not only is its PC release imminent, but it will only cost $20 and include all DLC available. The last piece to this puzzle is whether or not the port will be up to snuff, but Sega has given us reason to be cautiously optimistic in this regard.

Tim Clark: Seeing a (scaley) not-so-secret squirrel At the start of the week, several of us got to sample a five-hour chunk of one of the biggest games left on this year s release slate. An embargo means that in-depth impressions will have to wait until Monday, but I think I m allowed to say that I came away hugely impressed by the game s scope and polish without invoking any fiery repercussions. If I m wrong, then avenge my death please.

THE LOWS

Samuel Roberts: Prey 2 is dead I m not so upset by the cancellation of Prey 2 that was
confirmed this week by Bethesda s Pete Hines since I was never convinced the game was conceptually robust—even in its early state I didn t see how this open-world bounty hunting game could be sustained over the course of many hours, and its hero, Killian Samuels, could not make a worse first impression if his name was Derek H. Thundershack and was just a blank face with a gruff accent. The real loss is not being able to play an open-world game set in a Blade Runner-like setting, which Prey 2 at least looked like it was doing incredibly well. Can some other developer action that, please? Maybe CD Projekt s Cyberpunk will be the game to make that happen.

Tom Marks: Assassin s Creed: Unity jumps the time travel shark [WARNING: This low involves what could be considered spoilers for Assassin s Creed: Unity, but Ubisoft decided to put it in a game trailer so clearly it doesn t care.]

A new trailer has revealed that Unity will not only be set during the French Revolution but will also jump between time periods, launching your character into the middle of World War 2. In a series all about being sent back in time, it s confusing that this reveal would rub me the wrong way—similar to when the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie was announced and people went Fish pirates and a guy with an octopus beard? This weird fantasy stuff doesn t make any sense! forgetting that the first movie predominantly featured the undead and an Aztec curse—but it definitely feels weird to me. One of my favorite parts of the Assassin s Creed franchise is the depth and detail of the time period they drop you in, so one of my concerns is that the various time periods will merely be used as set dressing, meant to amuse and look good in trailers, but will lack the history that drew me in. Maybe I m in the minority here, and I ll reserve judgment until the game releases, but I hope that Unity hasn t predictably sacrificed quality for cool.

Andy Kelly: Bad ports So Final Fantasy XIII s port is terrible. I m not really surprised, to be honest. You can read
Sam s review for the full, gory details. It s awesome that more and more Japanese games are heading to Steam. Valkyria Chronicles is on the way, which is excellent news, and we ve had the pleasure of Dynasty Warriors and METAL GEAR RISING: REVENGEANCE—a game so mental its name can only be written in capital letters. The problem is the ports. They re always pretty terrible, with few graphics options, forced frame rates, and low resolutions. Modders always fix these issues, sometimes within hours of release, but it shouldn t be this way. If a coder can fix it for fun, the developers should be able to. More Japanese games on PC, please, but can you spend a bit more time on the conversions? Arigato.

Tim Clark: Let them eat trailer My low is sort of the same one as Tom s, but for different reasons. I feel like we ve now reached what can only be described as peak Ubisoft trailer. It s got to the point where I can now set my clock by the arrival of a new teaser in my inbox. I suppose I should be grateful that it at least rotates between The Crew, Far Cry 4 and Assassin s Creed: Unity, but there are literally no fallow days. Pity the poor Ubi video editors being whipped by the marketing department.

The trailer overload isn t my real beef, though. (More fool us for running them, I suppose. It s certainly something we re debating the value of now.) No, my real gripe is with the company s complete inability to maintain a sense of mystery about any of its games. [Spoiler warning again] Think how exciting that WW2 reveal in Unity might have been if you d stumbled on it cold. But, no. It s more important that you know everything now, in the hope that one particular morsel of info amidst the smorgasbord will persuade you to pre-order. Because ultimately that s all that matters, and clearly trumps fusty old concerns like wanting to confound players expectations. Rather than building excitement, self-inflicted spoilers only whiff of desperation.

Tyler Wilde: The DualShock 4 is better, but not for me The Xbox One controller is officially supported on Windows, while Sony s DualShock 4 isn t—and yet it represents so much more of what I value in PC gaming. Community coders got the DS4 to work, made it very customizable, and it uses Bluetooth for wireless. Meanwhile, the best Microsoft has offered for the Xbox One controller is a driver and a wired version coming out next month; no wireless dongle for its proprietary wireless tech, no interesting customization.

But sadly, in
my evaluation of the two, I found that I just can t use a DualShock 4. It feels awkward in my hands, and I greatly prefer the Xbox s offset analog sticks. It s a shame, because I d much rather co-opt Sony s controller than use the one I m meant to. My next task is to find the right third-party controller to recommend.

Evan Lahti: More is more When we wrote about this PC gaming gender demographics study earlier this week, a lot of folks in the (1,932) comments took exception to the idea of people who play on Facebook being counted as real PC gamers. Yes, many Facebook games are different from hardcore PC games (although plenty of them are increasingly complex). But are they any more different from Football Manager and Minecraft? Or Dota 2 and Plants vs. Zombies? We should celebrate the fact that a ton of women, kids, and people around the world are playing games on computers. Who cares if every person playing games isn t doing it with a high-end GPU—doesn t that actually speak to the PC s flexibility as a platform?

We want our platform to be enormous, diverse, and filled with a multifarious set of experiences that appeal to everyone. Making any certain group feel like they re not part of the club is a great way to discourage PC gaming s growth.

PC Gamer

Electronic Arts has reported better-than-expected results for the second quarter of its 2015 fiscal year, reporting non-GAAP net revenues for the three month period ended September 30 of $1.220 billion, well over its guidance of $1.140 billion. Diluted earnings per share were also dramatically higher than expected, coming in at $0.73 compared to a prior guidance of $0.50. Operating cash flow for the quarter was $183 million, compared to a loss of $6 million in the second quarter of the previous year.

Sports and mobile (and especially sports on mobile) were particularly strong for the company: Net revenues for the FIFA, Madden NFL and Hockey Ultimate Team services were up 96 percent year-over-year, and its mobile sports games, led by Madden NFL Mobile and FIFA 15 Ultimate Team Mobile, increased their monthly active user counts by 250 percent.

"By emphasizing player engagement and our digital live services, we ve grown revenue, expanded gross margins and delivered EPS [earnings per share] well above prior year and our guidance," CFO Blake Jorgensen said in a statement. "We are raising our annual non-GAAP net revenue guidance by $75 million to $4.175 billion and annual non-GAAP diluted EPS by $0.20 to $2.05."

The second quarter results prompted a not-insignificant spike in EA's share price, which jumped from $36.87 on October 28 to $40.05 on October 29. At last check, its price had edged up slightly further and was hovering around the $41 mark, almost double its value at the beginning of the year.

For those who neither know nor care about such things, EA also released a swanky infographic focusing more directly on its games. Enjoy!

PC Gamer

Civilization: Beyond Earth has only been out for a week, but there are already some amazing mods on the game s Steam Workshop page. As of writing this, there are about 100 mods to choose from, some of which only make small changes and some that aim to do a whole lot more. We went through all the mods currently available and sorted out which ones are already impressive and which ones have the potential to be truly great as they are developed further. 

From a simple recoloring to a complete rebalancing, here is our list of the best Civilization: Beyond Earth mods broken down into two categories: mods to get right now and mods to keep your eye on for later. We'll update this list in the future.

Mods to get right now


Colorful Tech Web

By Glidergun |
Steam Workshop page

Everyone who's played Beyond Earth knows that overwhelming feeling the first time you open the tech web and see its branching paths loom over you. Glidergun s Colorful Tech Web mod looks to ease that pain in the simplest way possible. The mod assigns a different color to each kind of symbol in the tech web, letting you see at a glance if a tech will unlock new units, buildings, wonders, satellites, or what have you. It also adds an icon to units and buildings that will still be locked behind a minimum affinity level after being researched. There are a few other mods that try to organize the tech web, but their color coding systems are overly complex and cause as much confusion as they alleviate.


EnhancedLoadout

By Kleinzach | 
Steam Workshop page

A few sponsor mods have added custom colonist, cargo, and spaceship choices, but no other mod adds so many options at once. EnhancedLoadout nearly doubles your options at the start of a game. It currently has few balance issues here and there, like an immediate free affinity level, but creator Kleinzach has been patching and updating it regularly. This is a great mod to install and forget about, adding variety to the start of every new game without imposing itself any further.


Empowered Wonders

By 3ntf4k3d | 
Steam Workshop page

One thing you might notice is that wonders, being easier to pick and choose between, don t have the oomph they used to. The Empowered Wonders mod aims to change that, giving every wonder a significant boost in power. Now those planet exclusive buildings are strong enough that choosing which ones to pursue can be an influential part of your strategy. This mod might not be for everybody, but it is a well executed response to a common criticism of Beyond Earth without feeling heavy handed.


Tiny tweaks: Simple Clock and Previous Route In Red

By salec and Guildencrantz&Rosenstern, respectively | 
Simple ClockPrevious Route in Red

These two mods are incredibly small but currently have no compatibility issues with other mods, so there is absolutely no reason to leave them out of your game if you like them. Simple Clock just adds the real world time to the center of the top UI bar. If you are like me and suffer from one more turn syndrome, then it can be a much needed reminder that reality isn t slowing down. Previous Route in Red highlights the Previous Route text when a trade route completes, maybe not a change needed for some people but one that is unobtrusive and helps speed up your play if you don't plan on switching trade routes often.


Info Addict

Original by robk, updated for Beyond Earth by Unknownone | 
Steam Workshop page

A classic mod for Civilization V updated for the newest game in the series. Info Addict adds a bunch of time-based infographics showing Civ details like score, military power, energy, affinity level, and much more. A utility tool, Info Addict is more for people curious about the behind-the-scenes of their civ game than those looking to make gameplay changes.

Mods to keep your eye on


Player Colour For Units

By SaintDaveUK | 
Steam Workshop page

All units in Beyond Earth have the same model and textures regardless of your sponsor, meaning a large amount of the base units have red stripes even if your civ isn't red. Modder SaintDaveUK has set out to correct that, dynamically recoloring the red spots to match the primary color of the sponsor you ve chosen. The mod already works well, but unfortunately only changes four units right now. This will be a great graphics mod when it reaches completion, but currently doesn t feature enough to make it a must have.


BeBa - Beyond Balance

By Albie_123 and the
Civilization Fanatics communitySteam Workshop page

Beyond Balance is a monumental, community-driven undertaking that aims to rework the balance of the entire game and make sure no single strategy is dominant over the rest. What seems like an almost insurmountable task is already well under way, as BeBa has taken on explorer weakness, trade routes being overpowered, slow affinity leveling, and many other commonly raised concerns with the base game. Unfortunately, BeBa still has a long way to go and might be erratic until more unified and agreed upon balance decisions are established. It may one day turn into an essential mod for the Beyond Earth experience, but currently comes with a few issues of its own.


Sponsor Mods

Pictured sponsor is
The Holy See by JFD

Finally, an honorable mention to all the new sponsor mods, which you can
check out here. These are great for adding flavor, but now that choosing a specific sponsor means so much less than choosing a Civ in Civilization V—specifically the lack of unique units and buildings—most of these mods are light on content or change. A lot of them are still very cool and work well, with some modders even going as far as to add a colonist, cargo, and spaceship option themed with their added sponsor. However, until I see a breakout, large scale change-making sponsor mod, what might be considered the best new sponsor is up to personal preference.

PC Gamer





I wanted to like Among the Sleep more than I did, although in fairness I may have wanted to like it to an unreasonable extent. The idea of a first-person horror game experienced from the perspective of a two-year-old was almost too intriguing for its own good, to the point that being merely decent came off as a bit of a letdown. But I did enjoy it, and I'm really looking forward to the DLC that's coming next week.

The new content will expand on the story told in the original game, and looks like it will head off to some new locations as well. Beyond that, developer Krillbite isn't saying much, but these things are sometimes best when you don't know what's coming. It's also free, which is a pretty big plus.

The Among the Sleep free DLC comes out on November 5. To find out more about the game, hit up Krillbite.com.

PC Gamer

Shadow of the Eternals was announced back in 2013 as a spiritual successor to the excellent GameCube horror game Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. It was intended to be developed by Precursor Games, a new-at-the-time studio composed largely of veterans of Denis Dyack's Silicon Knights, the defunct developer of Too Human. But two crowdfunding efforts fell well short of their goals, and in September 2013 Dyack announced that the whole thing had been put "on hold." And that was seemingly that—until today.

Today, Dyack, along with "media executives" Jonathan M. Soon-Shiong and Paul Rapovski, announced the launch of Quantum Entanglement Entertainment—a television, games, and film production company that has taken up the Shadow of the Eternals torch as one of its debut projects. There's not much to see at this point, beyond a handful of screens and a couple of videos that were released last year, but the plan is apparently to open the development process up to the community, as is the way these days, with something called "The Singularity."

"QE2 will also be integrating The Singularity concept to its website—an open forum where avid fans of any form of entertainment can subscribe to help create and iterate Television, Games and Films with the executives and creatives behind the projects," the studio wrote. "With the rise of social media s impact on all entertainment mediums, fans can take things one step further and help shape the future of the content by contributing to a script, playing an extra on set, or assisting with the design of a game through QE2 s exclusive virtual hub."

As for Precursor Games, its fate is unclear, although its website is no longer in service. Dyack's original studio, Silicon Knights, went under earlier this year as a result of a long-running and ultimately disastrous legal battle with Unreal Engine developer Epic Games.

PC Gamer





It's The PC Gamer Show! In episode eight, we circle our PCs (it's more of a square, I guess) to play the Evolve alpha. Check out our post-match conversation about Evolve when you're done, where we share our thoughts on the state of the alpha.

PC Gamer
PC Gamer

Dead State sounds really cool. It's an isometric "zombie survival RPG" in which you not only have to hold out against an uprising of the undead, but must also deal with the needs and problems of your fellow survivors. Our alpha review described it as "promising" but noted that it suffered from too many bugs to be worthy of a recommendation. I'm hopeful that the final release version has been appropriately tightened.

Work has been ongoing since that early review: A beta version of Dead State came out in late August and several patches have been released since. Developer DoubleBear Productions said the current Early Access version is "essentially the final game," although balancing and content additions are still underway. But the seven day limit has been removed, and the team is confident enough in the game's progress to settle on a launch date of December 4. It will be available on both Steam and GOG, and go for $30.

Dead State features base-building and turn-based combat inspired by games like Fallout and X-COM, but it's the promise of "complex character interactions" that has my attention. As anyone who's survived a zombie apocalypse can tell you, the real trouble comes not from the hordes of the shambling undead, but from all the jerks who somehow manage to avoid being turned.

PC Gamer





I've had my eye on Eitr for a while now, but until recently the developers have only had a couple of gifs to show off—lovely gifs, admittedly, but I prefer having a bit more to go on when I'm banging on about a new game. Six minutes and 37 seconds of footage will do me just fine, so here's Eitr: an isometric action RPG with incredible pixel art, weighty (from the looks of it) Dark Souls-style combat, and the rich Norse mythology as its backdrop. You'll play as a shield maiden (for those unfamiliar with Norse mythology, that's a maiden with a shield), and just like the Vikings did, you'll spend a lot of time whacking giant rats and reanimated skellingtons in the face.

According to the developers, whose name doesn't appear to be listed anywhere but who go by the handle Derity, the word Eitr is "from Norse mythology, it is a black poison substance that corrupts whoever or whatever it comes into contact with. The story of the game is based around the world tree, Yggdrasil, the connector of the 9 Norse worlds, which becomes poisoned with Eitr, spewing darkness into each world".

They've been inspired by Diablo, Dark Souls and Path of Exile, which are all very good things to be inspired by, and I've noticed a big heaping of Diablo and Dark Souls particularly in the above video. The perspective and atmosphere are pure Diablo, while the stamina management and bonfire recovery system obviously remind of Souls. I'd say, based on this early footage, that Eitr has a character all of its own, however—the stunning art and character/enemy design helps a lot with that.

More info, and gifs, on Eitr's devlog. (Thanks, Siliconera!)

PC Gamer





More and more games are dropping support for 32-bit operating systems, and Ubisoft's racing MMO The Crew is the latest. You'll need 64 bits to get The Crew's engine running, along with 4GB of RAM, a pretty good graphics card, and driving gloves. OK, so the driving gloves are optional, but you don't know what you're missing.

Here are the full minimum, recommended and optimal specs, which have just been released alongside a new video detailing the game's NVIDIA effects.

Minimum:
  • Operating System: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8/8.1 (64bit)
  • Processor: Intel Core2 Quad Q9300 @ 2.5 GHz or AMD Athlon II X4 620 @ 2.6 GHz (or better)
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX260 or AMD Radeon HD4870 (512MB VRAM with Shader Model 4.0 or higher)
  • DirectX: DirectX June 2010 Redistributable
  • Sound: DirectX Compatible Sound Card with latest drivers
  • Peripherals: Keyboard required, XBOX 360 controller optional (or compatible controller)
Recommended:
  • Operating System: Windows 8/8.1 (64bit)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-750 @ 2.66 GHz or AMD Phenom II X4 940 @ 3.0 GHz (or better)
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX580 or AMD Radeon 6870 (1024MB VRAM with Shader Model 5.0 or higher)
  • DirectX: DirectX June 2010 Redistributable
  • Sound: DirectX Compatible Sound Card with latest drivers
  • Peripherals: Keyboard required, XBOX 360 controller optional (or compatible controller)
Optimal:
  • Operating System: Windows 8/8.1 (64bit)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K @ 3.4 GHz or AMD FX-8150 @ 3.6 GHz (or better)
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX670 or AMD Radeon 7870 (2048MB VRAM with Shader Model 5.0 or higher)
  • DirectX: DirectX June 2010 Redistributable
  • Sound: DirectX Compatible Sound Card with latest drivers
  • Peripherals: Keyboard required, XBOX 360 controller optional (or compatible controller)

The Crew's out December 2nd, and there's quite a lot of customisation involved.

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