PC Gamer

Nuclear weapons, other than being a terrible real world threat to our continued existence, are used in games a heck of a lot. Some games treat nuclear weapons as horrific, real and a part of their fiction, while others, mostly strategy games, use them more frivolously. In any case, ever since the end of the Cold War, they've been a fixture of PC gaming when it comes to themes and set pieces.

Here, we explore the different ways PC games present nuclear strikes—from the horrifyingly real to, well, whatever Command & Conquer is. 

Fallout 3

Everyone who played Fallout 3 remembers Megaton, the town built around a nuclear bomb. As a player, you face the choice of deactivating it or blowing it up. I blew it up, mostly because I found Megaton to be a bit of a nightmare to navigate. And I wanted a nice apartment in Tenpenny Tower. And I wanted to see what it looked like when it went off. Is that so bad?

Alright, yes it is, so much so that Liam Neeson dad expressed his disapproval later in the game. But it also gave me a moral arc for the rest of the story, as I relentlessly tried to earn good karma to balance out this one terrible deed. And the game, to its credit, makes you feel the weight of the decision you've made. —Samuel Roberts

Civilization 

Nukes are a mainstay in Civilization, but it was Civ II's nukes that chilled me the most as a young man—mostly because I think that 10-12 is probably the age I worried the most about nuclear war. As an adult, with easy, cheap access to alcohol and many additional things to worry about like property ownership and that persistent pain in my side right now, it doesn't haunt me quite as much. While it's not captured in the video above, it was the air raid siren sound effect that made them particularly scary in Civ II, followed by the skull icons left on the map afterwards. Somehow, moving tanks into the target city afterwards didn't feel like much of a victory, which was probably the point.

That said, Civ's atomic weapons gave us the (now slightly overplayed) 'nuclear-loving Gandhi' meme, so that's something I guess.—Samuel Roberts 

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2

As nukes go, the first Red Alert's were actually a little underpowered, in that they'd murder all the infantry in its radius but do tiny damage to vehicles and buildings. You were mostly better off blowing that cash on some mammoth tanks or allied cruisers instead. Red Alert 2's were a little more harrowing and destructive—underlined by the bright lighting effect, followed by a radioactive green aftermath. And when paired with a Soviet nuclear reactor or five, as illustrated in the video above, the destruction gets out of control.—Samuel Roberts 

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Pandemic's decade-old Mercenaries 2 (which is still available on Origin, minus multiplayer functionality) doesn't have much to recommend it beyond amusing explosions and throwaway action, but it commits to those two things extremely well. The Nuclear Bunker Buster is required to complete one mission of the game, and can later be unlocked for general use for $1 million, which seems pretty cheap to me. Look how powerful it is!—Samuel Roberts 

World In Conflict

Nukes are used to dramatic effect in World in Conflict’s campaign, which addresses some of the terrible consequences you’d expect from the fallout of such a bomb. While on the one hand dropping the bomb is a serious and grave decision, on the other hand the game had some sweet new volumetric lighting to show off and as a result the nukes look incredible. The initial white-out resolves into a pillar of smoke that creates realistic god-rays if you angle the sun just behind the cloud.—Tom Senior

Supreme Commander

Nukes are a vital part of Supreme Commander’s tactical ecosystem, to the extent that there’s an option to turn them off completely to free up each army from having to constantly deter them. While the nuke/counter-nuke economy drain could prove overly limiting, they are still spectacular and destructive weapons. When you destroy a commander, they almost always go nuclear, and often destroy their own nearby units in the process. The video above shows the Seraphim nuke from the Fallen Alliance expansion, which is even prettier because it’s blue.—Tom Senior

DEFCON

You would expect a game entirely built around a worldwide nuclear arms race to have impressive explosions, but DEFCON shows them blooming in cold near-silence. The death toll of the city flickers up next to the pure white explosion to really rub it in. It’s a really neat effect if you like feelings of icy dread and/or the movie WarGames.—Tom Senior

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

The nuke in CoD 4’s campaign was a shocking moment at the time. Now the actual explosion itself seems pretty low-tech, instead it’s the shockwave that really communicates the forces involved. Nearby choppers are flung around like flies and your vessel goes into a deadly tailspin. After the crash you’re greeted by a glimpse of the fiery hellscape of the aftermath. It’s grim, but one of the most effective attempts to simulate the effects of a nuke in any game.—Tom Senior

Metro: Last Light

Metro competes with CoD 4 for the most harrowing moment in this list, and it's one I still remember vividly five years later. You explore a downed plane in Metro's irradiated overworld, and flash back to the moment the nuclear weapons hit Moscow in the game's alternate history, as the bomb's EMP blast takes out a passenger aircraft. It's nasty and all-too-real, but then this is why Metro's world building is so effective. 

After watching that again, I could do with writing something light. How about we just list PC gaming's best dogs next time? —Samuel Roberts

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brendan Caldwell)

thq-nordic-buys-1

THQ Nordic, publishers of the Darksiders games and recent jankfest Elex, have bought Koch Media, the companies have announced. Koch are the father-company of Deep Silver, who publish games like Saints Row, Metro, Dead Island, and Homefront: The Revolution. That means THQ Nordic now own alllll of those bad boys, among others. Due to all the combined plates this company now spins, they could now make a game where the hero of Mighty No. 9 fights jazzy paint-monster De Blob in a doomed bid for supremacy on Mars, aka, Red Faction 3. Although, they probably shouldn t do that. (more…)

Left 4 Dead 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brendan Caldwell)

The Steam summer sale is in full blaze. For a while it even blazed so hot that the servers went on fire and all the price stickers peeled off the games. Either that or the store just got swamped with cheapskates looking for the best bargains. Cheapskates like you! Well, don t worry. We ve rounded up some recommendations – both general tips and some newly added staff choices.

Here are the things you should consider owning in your endless consumeristic lust for a happiness which always seems beyond reach. You’re welcome.

… [visit site to read more]

Left 4 Dead 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brendan Caldwell)

The Steam summer sale is in full blaze. For a while it even blazed so hot that the servers went on fire and all the price stickers peeled off the games. Either that or the store just got swamped with cheapskates looking for the best bargains. Cheapskates like you! Well, don t worry. We ve rounded up some recommendations – both general tips and some specific staff choices.

Here are the things you should consider owning in your endless consumeristic lust for a happiness which always seems beyond reach. You’re welcome.

… [visit site to read more]

Metro: Last Light

Were you excited by the announcement of Metro Exodus at E3 this week? It looks like a beautiful yet deadly not-so-open-world game, however it's not out until 2018. To tide you over until the release date, you could check out the two previous games in the series, Metro: 2033 and Metro: Last Light. You can grab them both in the Metro Redux Bundle at Bundle Stars today for 75 percent off.

Based on the novels by Dmitry Glukhovsky, the Metro games are set in a post-apocalyptic world where survivors in Russia fled to the Moscow underground system. Outside there are mutants, and inside are rival factions of survivors getting a bit violent. It's a bit of a no-win situation, really. 

The price cut takes the bundle down to £6.24/$7.49, down from the usual price of £25 / $29.98, which it is on Steam right now. Individually the games run you £15 / $20 each, so you're looking at a great deal here. Back in 2014, we really liked the Redux versions of both Metro games

Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info. 

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

4A Games will continue their fun/grim post-apocalyptic adventures with Metro Exodus [official site] in 2018, publishers Deep Silver have announced during E3. It’ll continue from Metro 2033 and Last Light and apparently get out into some lovely sunshine. Here, check out the announcement trailer, which has a good chunk of demo gameplay: … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

That story about word of a new Metro coming in 2017? Yeah, the publishers have responding with a statement saying that sure, they’re planning another one but nah, don’t expect such a thing next year. Where a site for the original Metro novels once said 2017 would bring a new game following on from Metro 2035, it now talks about “An untitled Metro project” due in “?”. Gosh, what ever could that be? … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

We’ll be revisiting the subways of post-apocalyptic Moscow next year, it seems, according to a website for the book series first-person shooters Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light are based on. With the English edition of Dmitry Glukhovsky’s trilogy-capping novel Metro 2035 coming in December, the site has added of a timeline of the series with a little note saying yup, another game will follow. … [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

I hate underground levels. Tunnels, sewers, catacombs. They always feel like filler to me. A way for a developer to cheaply extend their game. But one of the most impressive things about Metro: Last Light is how it consists almost entirely of dingy subterranean passages, and yet is one of the prettiest, most atmospheric games on PC.

On a technical level, developer 4A s engine is capable of some incredible lighting and particle effects. But more importantly, its artists are great world-builders. You see some impressive sights, like the shattered skyline of what was once Moscow. But often it s the smaller details that are the most evocative.

In one of the many settlements protagonist Artyom visits, I saw a man making shadow puppets for a group of children. He shows them a dog, then a bird. But they don t know what they are, because they were born into a world where such things no longer exist. In fact, they think the bird is a demon. I also love how the people who live in the metro keep pictures of the pre-war world by their beds. Photographs of parks and lakes. Although if I lived down there, I wouldn t want a daily reminder of a world that s gone forever. These tiny glimmers in an otherwise completely hopeless setting are a great example of Metro s fantastic world-building.

On a grander scale, the level Echoes sees Artyom exploring the remains of a crashed jet on the surface. Climbing into the fuselage and seeing rows of people still in their seats skeletons frozen in time is a haunting moment. It s not as subtle as some of the other apocalyptic imagery you see on your travels, but still effective. The surface is used sparingly, which makes every trip there feel almost like a treat.

One of my favourite cities in the game is Venice, which is built in a flooded tunnel. This has created a series of waterways through the settlement, which the residents use as canals. When Artyom first passes through he sees a makeshift gondola float past with a couple on board being serenaded by a man playing an accordion. Slightly silly, but gives you the sense that people are making the best of a bad situation.

I don t like the game as much as the setting, though. There are some great set-pieces, but also a lot of frustrating ones. 4A really loves making you wait for something to happen, like an impossibly slow ferry to arrive, as waves of bullet-sponge enemies rush you. And the less said about the boss battle in the dreary Undercity level the better. It s ultimately a pretty average FPS, but the desire to see more kept me playing.

One of my favourite levels is Regina , in which Artyom takes an armoured railcar through a series of mutant-filled tunnels. It reminds me of Half-Life 2 s coastal highway section, giving you the ability to stop the car whenever you like and explore. I think I enjoyed this part because it felt so much freer.

What I really want is a Fallout-style RPG set in those tunnels, with lots of talking and exploration. It s such a fascinating setting I think it deserves more than a linear shooter. But I also understand that 4A is a small team with a fraction of the budget of Bethesda. The very fact they made something as polished and beautiful as Last Light with a fraction of the resources of a larger developer is hugely impressive.

PC Gamer

When 4A Games announced Arktika.1 as a VR-only title last week, many feared that it signalled the studio's departure from a) the Metro series and b) traditional non-VR development. The good news is, at least where the latter is concerned, is that the studio is working on two titles.

According to a new post on its website, 4A creative director Andriy Prokohrov addressed those who were disappointed by last week's announcement. "Arktika.1 is one of two projects in development right now," he wrote.

"It s not holding the other project up with our new Malta studio we are a much bigger team, and it is better for us to have multiple projects, for our own independence and creativity. We re not ready to talk about the other project just yet, but we think you ll like it. So please be patient!"

Who knows whether that unannounced project is actually a Metro game, but according to a possibly-no-longer-accurate 2014 interview, the studio was working on a more sandbox-oriented title. "For the game we are working on now, our designers have shifted to a more sand-box-style experience - less linear but still hugely story-driven," Chief Technical Officer Oles Shishkovstov said at the time.

As for Arktika.1, the studio promises that it'll be a "full-blown AAA title" and that it's scheduled to release mid next year. For more on that, check out Andy's report from last week.

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