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