Half-Life 2

Oh, snap! It's yet another PCG Q&A, where every Saturday we ask the panel of PC Gamer writers a question about PC gaming. You're also very welcome to share your thoughts in the comments below. This week: which game actually lived up to the hype?

Jody Macgregor: The Witcher 3

I hated the first Witcher game, and although the second one's an improvement in a lot of ways I still thought most of it was dull—apart from the bit where you get drunk and wake up with a tattoo, obviously. So when glowing reviews came out for The Witcher 3 I ignored them. There was plenty of other stuff to play in 2015: Tales From the Borderlands, Rocket League, Life is Strange, Pillars of Eternity, Devil Daggers, Her Story. I was busy.

It took a solid year's worth of articles about how incredible every aspect of The Witcher 3 was, from the side quests to the potion-making to the characters to the wind in the goddamn trees, before I finally caved and tried it. Everyone was right, it's now on my "best games of all time" list, and I've become one of those people who says you should turn the music down so you can hear the wind in Velen. There's an entire subreddit devoted to whinging about games journalism's never-ending love affair with writing about The Witcher 3, but without that constant praise I wouldn't have pushed past my disinterest to give it the chance it deserved. And now I've become one of those people who won't shut up about The Witcher 3.

Samuel Roberts: Metal Gear Solid V

Not everyone will agree with this one, but I've lived through multiple Metal Gear hype cycles (MGS2 and MGS4 most memorably), and this is the one game that really deserved it. While this Metal Gear has the worst story in the series by far, it's also a superior stealth game. With its suite of upgrades and repeatable missions, I easily played MGSV for over 100 hours, and I have no doubt I'll reinstall it someday. 

Chris Livingston: Portal 2

I think the original Portal was a near-perfect experience. You learned to play as you played and each test chamber increased in complexity at a rate that was challenging but never frustrating. It was funny and surprising and satisfying, and short enough that it didn't have time to wear out its welcome. When trailers for Portal 2 began appearing, I was just as excited as anyone else, though I wasn't really expecting to love it in the same way. More complex, more characters, more story, more puzzles, more more more. I just couldn't imagine it matching the original, which proved (to me at least) that less is more.

It definitely lived up to the hype, though. Portal 2 is amazing, funny, challenging, surprising, and every bit as brilliant as the first. Maybe it's still true that less is more, but that doesn't mean more is less.

Jarred Walton: Half-Life 2

Piggybacking off Chris here, Half-Life 2 was an incredible follow-up to one of the best (if not the best) games of the '90s. The original Half-Life surprised the hell out of me with ways it changed the first-person shooter. After playing a ton of Quake and Quake 2, story seemed to be an afterthought, but Half-Life revolutionized the genre. Okay, the Xen levels at the end almost ruined it, but I still wanted more.

And then I waited, waited, and waited some more. Daikatana proved that games too long in development could suck, and HL2 felt like it might be doomed to the same fate. But with the addition of the gravity gun and physics, plus a great setting and story that made you care about the characters, it exceeded its source material in every way. I'm still holding out hope for HL3, naturally, but those are some massive shoes to fill.

Tom Senior: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

I was dangerously excited when a new Deus Ex was announced. I was hyped to the extent that it would have really stung if a new Deus Ex fell well short of expectations. Human Revolution had a few problems, but it was exactly the atmospheric cyberpunk playground I wanted and the art direction added a new dimension to the Deus Ex universe. Due to the technological limitations of the era the old Deus Ex games struggled to show art or architecture (apart from that silly Earth-in-a-giant-claw statue at the start). Human Revolution decided that everything would be gold, and full of triangles, and its depiction of futuristic augments was gorgeous. I would quite like a pair of Jensen arms.

Human Revolution really got Deus Ex. It had hacking, vents, and intricate levels. But it also had something else, something new: retractable arm-swords. Not many people would look at the groundbreaking masterpiece of Deus Ex and think 'this needs retractable arm-swords', but Eidos Montreal had the vision to make retractable arm-swords happen. I will always respect them for that. 

Andy Kelly: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

I remember the buzz around Vice City vividly. Every time I saw that stylish advert on TV, the one with 'I Ran' by Flock of Seagulls, I got a tingle of excitement. Magazines were full of gushing previews, treating every morsel of information like it was the biggest scoop since Watergate. And then when it came out, it was everything I dreamed it would be. A bigger, more detailed city. An incredible soundtrack. More fun and varied missions. A better story. An all-star cast. HELICOPTERS. Being able to fly around a city of that size back then was a genuine thrill.

GTA III was great, but it felt like an experiment in places; a concept for what a 3D Grand Theft Auto game could be. But Vice City was the first time Rockstar really nailed it, and laid a solid foundation for the 3D era of their world-conquering series. The '80s (or at least some exaggerated, romanticised version of it) has begun to saturate pop culture to an annoying degree lately, so I can't see Rockstar returning to that setting. It's too obvious. But I would like to see Vice City again in a different, more contemporary era, perhaps showing the bleak, faded aftermath of its hedonistic '80s heyday.

Andy Chalk: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

The first time I saw this teaser I made a noise like a ten-year-old opening the latest issue of Tiger Beat. Then I saw this teaser, and I pretty much hyperventilated and passed out. I knew in my heart that DX: Human Revolution couldn't be that good, because Deus Ex was lightning in a bottle: Ugly, clunky, with terrible voice acting and a ridiculous, incoherent story, all of which somehow got smushed together into basically the best game ever made. How do you fall down a flight of stairs and land in a bed of roses twice? 

But then Human Revolution came out, and it was that good. Not perfect, and I will never not be mad about those boss fights. But Adam Jensen is the perfect successor (predecessor, I suppose) to JC Denton, I loved the visual style (including the piss filter) and the music (because it's not Deus Ex without a great soundtrack), and the whole thing just felt right: Not as off-the-conspiracy-theory-hook as the original, but big and sprawling and unpredictable—a legitimate point of entry into that world. It took more than a decade to get from Deus Ex to Human Revolution, and it was worth the wait. 

Team Fortress 2

While we're saddened that the end of the Seventh Annual Saxxy Awards is here, we're thrilled to be handing out the golden Saxxy statuettes for the winners! We're also incredibly excited to be extending an invitation to the overall winners to visit us at Valve headquarters.

Go see which of your favorite entries won!

Team Fortress 2

What can we tell you about this year's nominees for the Saxxy Awards that hasn't already been said a million times over in the international cinematic press? That these entries will make you laugh? Cry? Cry a lot? Will make you cry so much you'll have to go to a special hospital? Will move you to quit your job and give your life over to charity? Will actually literally make you a better person by watching them?

No, there's no point in telling you what you already know. The only thing left to do is check out the nominees!

Team Fortress 2

TF2Maps is back at it again with a new community contest called Journey to the East! Create your best eastern-themed items for the TF2 Steam Workshop!

All participants will receive an in-game medal and there are prizes for the winners! But don't delay, the deadline for submissions is Saturday, June 30th, at 11:59 PM EDT.

Click here to read rules and learn more.

Team Fortress 2

Which games would make great movies or TV shows? That's the question we've put to the PC Gamer staff in this week's PCG Q&A, and almost all of us preferred the idea of TV series to films (perhaps because game movies are destined to be dumpster fires forever). Let us know your suggestions in the comments, too!

Andy Kelly: a Silent Hill anthology show

The cursed town is different for every sinner who's lured to it, and I think that's a perfect setup for a series of standalone horror/mystery stories. The supernatural nature of the setting would allow the writers to come up with some really twisted, mind-bending plotlines, and the town would provide some loose structure, making all the episodes feel like part of a whole: similar to the brilliant Inside No. 9, in which every episode is set in a house or other indoor setting numbered 9.

With the success of shows like Black Mirror, Electric Dreams, Inside No. 9, and Room 104, the anthology is making a comeback, and I think I prefer them to ongoing narratives that take 80 episodes to wrap up. So I'd love to see Silent Hill, which is basically an anthology series itself, get the same treatment on TV.

Tom Senior: BioShock

The next time Netflix want to embark on an lavish showcase project like Altered Carbon, perhaps they should take a look at the underwater city of Rapture from the BioShock universe. Watching one guy sneaking around firing bees out of his arms isn't going to be good television, but a show set during the fall of Rapture—before the events of the first game—could be great. You've got warring factions, competing philosophies, demented splicers and the oppressive threat of the ocean itself wrenching districts apart. 

It could be a decent horror show, though it will be tricky to find heart and empathetic characters among Rapture's central ideologues. It's nothing a little retcon can't fix. Follow a few good souls as they fight hard to stay sane and escape as society implodes. It might be hard to find room for a second series, but hey, Bioshock 2 turned out pretty well didn't it? 

Chris Livingston: BioShock (but it's a sitcom)

I'm thinking BioShock but as a Friends-style sitcom, set in Rapture just as everything is going to hell. The gang still meets for coffee (if they can scavenge it out of garbage cans) and wrestle with personal relationships but with the backdrop of a ruined and leaking libertarian paradise filled with lunatics where superpowers can be bought from vending machines. Episodes could include "The One Where Phoebe Dates a Splicer", "The One Where Joey's Corpse Is Harvested for ADAM", "The One Where Chandler Kills His Boss With A Swarm of Bees", "The One With All The Thanksgivings", and "The One Where Ross Discovers He Has No Free Will After Caving In Andrew Ryan's Head With a Golf Club". So no one told you Rapture's gonna be this way (clap-clap-clap-clap-clap) Your home's a joke, it broke, your best friend's D.O.A....

Tim Clark: PUBG or Fortnite as reality shows

The obvious answer is a PUBG or, better still, Fortnite reality show. Just a bunch of poor bastards on an island trying to rapidly build log cabins while their neighbours fire at them with sniper rifles from the tree line. In the current climate we’re probably less than 18 months from this show being commissioned by ITV2 in the UK. “C’mon Chad, stop sobbing, the frying pan is actually a pretty sweet piece of...” *BLAM* “...looks like we lost, Chad. GG WP.” 

Jody Macgregor: Team Fortress 2

I'm saying Team Fortress 2 because what I really want to see is more of the shorts Valve have made for it. Expiration Date was 15 minutes long and that was rad, and the Team Fortress 2 comics have been hilarious as well, so I'd love to see what they do with a string of connected half-hour episodes. I only ever reinstall the game to play it when they do their 'Scream Fortress' Halloween events, but I would watch the hell out of that. 

James Davenport: Dishonored

They should make an anime out of Dragon Ball FighterZ.

But I think a Dishonored movie or HBO-quality series is a no-brainer. Frame it as a political drama and leave the assassin stuff in the margins. I'd love to see the world described in all the diaries and notes and books depicted on a massive scale. Season two or three can see the characters off to Pandyssia, the wild continent described in Sokolov's journals, in search of a lost friend or dark truth. Toss in some kissing and I think we'll have a hit on our hands. 

Andy Chalk: The Final Station

I struggled with this, because I'm not really a TV/movies guy, but I think The Final Station would make for a brilliant (if not particularly coherent) film. Action, drama, tears, Brutalism, and a weird future-train that's prone to breakdowns: What's not to love? I doubt very much that it could be pulled off in any kind of satisfying fashion, and if it was it would surely be a tremendous box office flop. But give me a cinematic experience that's equivalent to the game—the desolation, the mystery, the loneliness of survival in the midst of pure existential horror—and you'll get my money in exchange. 

Samuel Roberts: KOTOR

Since they insist on making Star Wars films until I die, why not adapt a decent Star Wars story that already exists? KOTOR is set so long before the Bad Trilogy that you could adapt BioWare's RPG without contradicting anything. You've got a great ensemble, a killer twist and an interesting backdrop. It sounds better to me than this Han Solo movie, anyway. Plus you can make a killer sequel, too. 

Team Fortress 2

It's time again for the Annual Saxxy Awards! Entries have been submitted, folks, so it's time to nurse your hangover with creative SFM videos all day long. Click here to watch and vote for your favorite entries. Laugh! Cry! Get absolutely nothing done at work or school! Voting ends 3PM PDT on Tuesday, March 13th, and nominees will be announced Wednesday, March 14th, so get to voting!

Half-Life 2

Gabe Newell gives a presentation at Valve about upcoming card game Artifact.

At a presentation for upcoming Dota 2-themed card game Artifact at Valve's offices in Bellevue, Washington today, Gabe Newell reiterated that Valve is getting back into developing new games beyond its current roster of multiplayer titles. After talking about Valve's focus on Steam and hardware during the past several years, which he described as "an investment in the future", Newell said "Artifact is the first of several games that are going to be coming from us. So that's sort of good news. Hooray! Valve's going to start shipping games again."

That's games, plural: Artifact isn't the only game Valve is working on. In a January 2017 Reddit AMA, Newell did confirm that Valve was working on at least one fully-fledged singleplayer game. And the following month, in roundtable interviews with PC Gamer, Newell said that Valve was working on "three big VR games." Today's statement doesn't make it 100 percent clear whether Valve has projects in development beyond these previously mentioned games, but it is a possibility. "We aren't going to be talking about it today," Newell said, "but sort of the big thing, the new arrow we have in our quiver, really, is our ability to develop hardware and software simultaneously."

Newell gave some background on Valve's projects from the last few years, like SteamVR and the Vive headset, explaining that the company was worried about the PC heading in the direction of an iPhone-esque closed ecosystem. "You can see that Microsoft was like, wow, how can we make Windows more like that? Or Zuckerberg is saying, 'well I tried to compete in the phones, I got my ass kicked, so I'm going to create this new thing, VR, which will allow me to recreate the kind of closed, high margin ecosystem that Apple's done.' And that really started to worry us, because we thought that the strength of the PC is about its openness … So we started to make some investments to offset that."

"We've always been a little bit jealous of companies like Nintendo."

Gabe Newell

Those investments, Newell said, meant they hadn't released a new game since Dota 2—but that work wasn't wasted time. "The positive thing about the Vive is, in addition to making sure that nobody created an iOS closed platform for it, was also that it gave us the opportunity to develop our in-house expertise in hardware design. Five years ago, we didn't have electrical engineers and people who know how to do robots. Now there's pretty much no project in the hardware space that we wouldn't be comfortable taking on. We can design chips if we need to, we can do industrial design, and so on. So that added to that."

With Valve's new hardware chops, it seems like we can expect more than new games from the company. "We've always been a little bit jealous of companies like Nintendo," Newell said. "When Miyamoto is sitting down and thinking about the next version of Zelda or Mario, he's thinking what is the controller going to look like, what sort of graphics and other capabilities. He can introduce new capabilities like motion input because he controls both of those things. And he can make the hardware look as good as possible because he's designing the software at the same time that's really going to take advantage of it. So that is something we've been jealous of, and that's something that you'll see us taking advantage of subsequently."

Team Fortress 2

Denmark, literary home of fairytales and Vikings, is soon to play host to Team Fortress 2 at the 2018 Copenhagen Games. KritzKast, in cahoots with TeamSourceTF and r/sfm, are looking for your SFM stills to spice up the joint Highlander and 6v6 LAN. You have until March 19th to create the perfect picture, appealing to such eccentric categories as "most fighters", "most Danish thing" and "best depiction of damage". Full details can be found on Twitter, and by visiting TeamSourceTF's Discord.

Art by: Toby

Team Fortress 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Matt Cox)


Ready Up opens with a shot of the CS:GO grand finals at ESL One. The size of the stadium dwarfs the players on the stage, who all wear deadly serious expressions. There are thousands of people in the audience, many of them frantically waving inflatable tubes covered in sponsorship scrawls. A member of one team makes a clutch pistol play, and the room erupts in a roar of screaming and thunderous chanting. The player solemnly acknowledges the applause with a showboating chef kiss, but he doesn’t look like he’s having much fun.

Then, we change rooms. A few dozen people are sitting in front of a screen, watching their friends compete at a Team Fortress 2 LAN event. The players seem focused, yet relaxed. “Ah, I’m dead” says one of them, half-grinning at his misfortune. At the heart of the competitive TF2 scene, it transpires, is a community with bonds that transcend the tribalism you might see in other esports. I spoke to Alex “Dashner” Pylyshyn over email, who co-directed Ready Up alongside Ness Uberchain Delacroix, about the past, present and future of competitive TF2.


An update has been released for Portal 2. - Fixed crashes on multi-core and multi-CPU systems that can allocate more than 32 threads.

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