Middle-earth™: Shadow of War™

Screenshot (cropped) by Andy Cull. See the full image below and more on his Flickr page.

Every year we round up our favorite screenshots, with preference to those taken at ultra-high resolutions with custom camera controls for beautiful HUD-free compositions. Previously, we've mainly included shots of our own, but this year I asked the community to submit their own. Special thanks to Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs) and Andy Cull who've lent us their collections for the year, as well as Cinematic Captures and The Gamers Zone for their great Battlefront 2 shots.

For the sake of space, we haven't included every screenshot submitted, but do check out these comments for more, and leave your best in the comments here.

Star Wars Battlefront 2

Screenshot by Cinematic Captures.

Screenshot by Cinematic Captures.

Screenshot by Cinematic Captures.

Screenshot by The Gamers Zone.

Screenshot by The Gamers Zone.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Screenshot by Andy Cull. View more on his Flickr page.

Screenshot by Andy Cull. See the full resolution (4500x6000) image on his Flickr page

Screenshot by Andy Cull. See the full resolution (4500x6000) image on his Flickr page.  

 Screenshot by Julien Grimard.

Screenshot by Julien Grimard.

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs). See more on Flickr.

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs). See more on Flickr.

Assassin's Creed Origins

Screenshot by Andy Cull. See the full resolution (3840x2160) image on his Flickr page.

Screenshot by Andy Cull. See the full resolution (2160x3840) image on his Flickr page.

Screenshot by Andy Cull. See the full resolution (2160x3840) image on his Flickr page

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs). See more on Flickr

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs). See more on Flickr.

Screenshot by Frans Bouma.

Screenshot by CHRISinSession. See more on Flickr.

Screenshot by CHRISinSession. See more on Flickr

 Screenshot by CHRISinSession. See more on Flickr.

Screenshot by Pontus Johansson.

More on the next page!

Ghost Recon Wildlands

Screenshot by Andy Cull. See the uncompressed PNG on his Flickr page

Screenshot by Andy Cull. See the uncompressed PNG on his Flickr page.

Screenshot by Andy Cull. See the uncompressed, full-res PNG on his Flickr page

Screenshot by Cinematic Captures. 

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs). See more on Flickr.

Screenshot by Sylvers.

Screenshot by armatura.

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

 Screenshot by InquisitorAles.

 Screenshot by InquisitorAles.

 Screenshot by InquisitorAles.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Screenshot by Andy Cull. See more on his Flickr page.

Screenshot by Andy Cull. See more on his Flickr page.

Screenshot by Melissa St.James. See more on Flickr.

Screenshot by Melissa St.James. See more on Flickr

Destiny 2

Screenshot by Stephan Bedford.

Screenshot by Corey Marks.

Nier: Automata

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs). See more on Flickr

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs). See more on Flickr

More on the next page!

theHunter: Call of the Wild

Screenshot by Paizon Ryker. See more on Imgur.

Screenshot by Paizon Ryker. See more on Imgur.

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs). See more on Flickr

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs). See more on Flickr

Screenshot by juicefullorange.

Prey

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs). See more on Flickr.

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs). See more on Flickr.

Screenshot by InquisitorAles.

Screenshot by InquisitorAles

The Evil Within 2

Screenshot by Frans Bouma using custom camera tools.

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs), camera tools by Frans Bouma. See more on Flickr.

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs), camera tools by Frans Bouma. See more on Flickr.

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs), camera tools by Frans Bouma.  See more on Flickr

Screenshot by Larah Johnson (aka HodgeDogs), camera tools by Frans Bouma. See more on Flickr.

What Remains of Edith Finch

Screenshot by Avioto.

Night in the Woods

 Screenshot by Avioto.

Assassin's Creed® Origins

Our Best Open World Game 2017 is Assassin's Creed Origins. Find the rest of our GOTY awards and personal picks here

Chris Livingston: I initially had reservations about how the world is divided up into level-appropriate areas that mean you'll get instakilled if you stray across the wrong border. It has a very MMO feel to it, where a common soldier in one part of the world is an easily-killable goon, and the same soldier in a different region is a nigh-invulnerable war machine. The splendor of Origins' Egypt, however, and the staggering breadth of its world, is enough to overcome the limitations of this kind of design. At any given time there are plenty of level-appropriate areas to explore, and even if you blunder into a zone where you're outmatched, with a bit of caution you can usually still see all the sights and visit the landmarks you're after.

Tom Senior: I'm still playing Assassin’s Creed Origins even though there’s so much in it that I actually dislike. I don't like the fighting; I find the levelling constraints restrictive outside of the fast-moving opening ares; the crafting system is wearying and familiar. But I happily put up with it all because Egypt is a huge, gorgeous space to explore, even on a horse that loves to ram pedestrians as it tries to auto-path through the game’s dusty little villages.

Fly over the realm with your eagle and you see deserts, farms, mountains, and Egypt’s extraordinary historical monuments scattered across the horizon. What other Assassin's Creed game has this variety? Then with a button press you drop back into Bayek and realise that every inch of it is packed with detail, right down to the flaking painted designs on every pillar.

Origins' setting is staggering the variety across the world, and that feeling of vastness, is unlike anything Ubisoft has brought to life before.

Andy Kelly: It was clever of Ubisoft to set Origins in the twilight years of Ancient Egypt, rather than the romantic golden age we all imagine when we think of pyramids and pharaohs. This is arguably a more interesting period of history, with Greek and Roman influence sweeping in and changing the culture. And it makes for a stunning open world, with fading Egyptian cities like Memphis contrasting with the gleaming, statue-lined streets of newer settlements such as Alexandria. Origins' world is vast, offering a greater sense of adventure and exploration than the closed-in cities of other Assassin's Creed games, and it never stopped amazing me across the 30 hours it took me to finish it.

Samuel Roberts: I've always felt Assassin's Creed has had impressive settings, but not particularly distinctive ones—they trailed far behind the likes of Rockstar and Bethesda's open worlds for me, with streets that felt like they were repeating themselves. Like Andy says, maybe it's the closed in cities of previous games that created this impression, but by comparison, Origins' setting is staggering—the variety across the world, and that feeling of vastness, is unlike anything Ubisoft has brought to life before. It's so rare to find games that have a real sense of journey to them. While the series' trademark busywork remains in Origins, it's worth playing just to experience this setting.

Check out Chris's review of Assassin's Creed Origins.

The Long Dark

It's the PC Gamer Q&A! Every week, our panel of PC Gamer writers ponders a question about PC gaming, before providing a short and informative response. This week: which game did you miss in 2017 that you're saving for the holidays? We'd love to hear your answers in the comments below, too. 

Jody Macgregor: Shadowhand

I enjoyed Regency Solitaire, which was Grey Alien's previous reskinning of solitaire as a Jane Austen-style period drama. And I liked Faerie Solitaire too, which was a different studio called Subsoap basically reimagining solitaire as a cute Popcap game. What I'm saying is, if you can turn playing cards by yourself into some kind of saga then I am your audience. But I didn't even get past the tutorial of Shadowhand before I had to put it aside and play other things I needed to write about more urgently.

From what I saw it's a more thorough twist on solitaire than they've tried before, one that uses it as the randomizing factor for RPG combat in the same way other games use dice. You play a highwaywoman, and there's swashbuckling, romance, and pirates involved. In a way it reminds me of a tabletop RPG called Castle Falkenstein, which also used cards instead of dice and a period setting where people said "indubitably" with a straight face. I'm looking forward to giving it a proper chance when I can play it on a laptop balanced on my stomach which will be full of Christmas ham.

Wes Fenlon: Night In The Woods

I've been trying to find the time to play Night in the Woods all year. I definitely have some pent-up feelings about small town America (and maybe a latent fear of having to return to it one day), and a smart, funny game built around that setting is something I know I'll love. Earlier this year my girlfriend and I played Oxenfree together and had a great time, so I've had Night in the Woods pegged for our next game. We just never got to it, and in October the developers announced an expanded version was in the pipe, so that felt like a good reason to wait. Weird Autumn edition is out just in time for the holidays, so I've got Night in the Woods pegged for a post-Christmas game. I can't wait to laugh, and also probably be a bit depressed.

Chris Livingston: The Long Dark

When it comes to survival games I tend to overdo it, playing a bunch of them in a short period of time before getting so sick of chopping down trees and cooking at campfires that I can't bear to play another one for months. Then, eventually, I get back into them again for a while. The first time I played The Long Dark, then in Early Access, I was at the tail end of storm of survival games and I bounced right off it, unwilling to mope around freezing and starving and wondering where my next meal would come from. It left Early Access this year, and I would like to finally give it a proper look. Maybe when my belly is full of Christmas ham and my feet warm in new socks, I'll finally be in the right mood to put some real time in it.

Philippa Warr: Okami HD

I didn't exactly miss it—I was actually down to review it at one point—but various other features conspired to move Okami out of my grasp when the HD version came to PC. I actually played it on console back in 2007 but hit a bug over halfway through rendering progress impossible but being unable to reset to a point before it had bugged. Faced with losing more than a dozen hours of progress, I couldn't face going back. About a decade later the irritation of that bug has abated just enough for me to consider returning to the inky world and trying all over again. Fail me again, though, wolf, and I'll be ditching you for Slime Rancher quicker than you can whip out a paintbrush.

Andy Kelly: Wolfenstein 2

Since it was released, Wolfenstein II has been sitting unplayed in my Steam library, staring at me, wondering why I don't want to load it up and kill Nazis. So I reckon the holidays, when I have an abundance of spare time, is when I'll finally give Blazkowicz the attention he probably deserves. I didn't love the original, though, so I'm a little wary of this one. I hear it's difficult, and I don't have the patience for hard games these days. So we'll see how that pans out. If I can't get on with it, there are a dozen other games I didn't get around to playing.

Evan Lahti: The Elder Scrolls Legends

I've been abstaining entirely from digital cards for the past four or five months so I could dive elbows-deep into the new Elder Scrolls: Legends set, Return to Clockwork City. Thematically, it's focused on the mechanical creations of the Dwemer (and those who'd hope to steal from their ancient vaults), with a new singleplayer campaign and a bunch of new cards. Competitively its impact has apparently been a bit underwhelming, but I'm still looking forward to reacquainting myself with the meta. Unlike the FPSes I play, one of the things I've always loved about Magic: TG and other card games is that their landscapes can shift so quickly and dramatically, even as players simply discover new synergies. I mean, that's part of the business strategy. I like observing the shifts in "what's in style" on sites like betweenthelanes.net (co-run by the excellent TESL streamer CVH), picking out a new deck that suits me, building it, then modding it further based on my preferences.

Bo Moore: Nier: Automata

I'm not sure if this counts, since technically I've already put many hours into it this year, but Nier: Automata. I finished my first playthrough of the awesome action-RPG about robots with feelings earlier this year, but as (most) people know, the game has multiple (26, to be exact) endings and is meant to be replayed several times. I'm looking forward to starting my "route B" playthrough, but I've been holding off for the last few weeks, saving it for holiday time when I can really dive in. 

Steven Messner: Cuphead

I'm one of the shameful few who never touched Cuphead on launch. It's not that I don't find the game appealing (I do), just that when everyone praised it at release I felt like I was at a breaking point in how many games I was trying to juggle and complete. Adding a excruciatingly tough boss brawler to that pile would have surely driven me to madness. But what are the holidays for if not bashing your head against something repeatedly, sinking into the depths of despair as you realize you can't succeed, and then drinking in the dark until the wee hours of the AM? Oh, I'll probably boot up the new Path of Exile expansion too because the new league sounds like fun.

Tim Clark: Assassin's Creed Origins

I've theoretically earmarked Assassin's Creed Origins as this year's 'big' Christmas game to wallow in. My worry here is that 1) each time I've tried to run it, it's had some pretty wild performance dips, and 2) I will almost certainly use these as an excuse to go back to Destiny 2 and grind for Masterworks weapons while watching old British detective shows. Last Christmas I ploughed through every Inspector Morse episode on the ITV Hub. That's a lot of dead professors. A question I can more confidently answer is what will I be drinking. And the answer is sweet sherry.

Assassin's Creed® Origins

In his review, Chris praised Assassin's Creed Origins' "brilliant" setting and new systems that combine well with the series formula. Naturally, there was room for improvement—which is something today's extensive patch hopes to address. 

Due today, update 1.1.0 introduces a new Nightmare difficulty mode and adds a new NPC scaling option that lets enemies scale up to player's levels. Ubisoft qualifies this by saying enemies will only scale up to meet the player's level as they progress, and will not scale down. A new 'Horde' mode has been added to the Arena, while HDR display is now supported for PC players.  

Moreover, tweaks have been made to the game's economy, while Trinkets and Animal Goods have now been capped at 999. Stuttering issues have also been remedied on Nvidia graphics cards when playing in borderless mode, which is something a fair number of players have faced before now.  

A number of other fixes have been applied to graphics settings, UI, audio, the game's world and quests—not least how NPCs react to your presence. 

Again, Assassin's Creed Origins' update 1.1.0 is due later today. Head in this direction for its patch notes in full. 

Far Cry® 2: Fortune's Edition

It’s when you notice the little details in games that they really come alive. Those little things that hint at some sort of existence outside your control or awareness. They could be art props made to suggest who lived in the spaces you’re romping through, or little room layout details that show how the world works, but some of the touches that bring games to life the most come through animation.

This is a celebration of incidental animations that don't help you win or make you lose or do much of anything important. They just happen, and you probably don’t even notice them, or think about how much work they actually took. There’s a madness to incidental animation, that so much effort has been lavished into producing something so ancillary, something which many players might never come across. But it can make the difference between a game feeling right and feeling that little bit off. It’s about conjuring that suspension of disbelief. It’s where the magic is.

This selection of great incidental animation can’t hope to be exhaustive, since it’s simply compiled from the games I’ve played, and even within that paltry selection it’s only the things I’ve noticed, remembered and captured (with some pointers from some friends). But hopefully it’ll give you a new appreciation of the little things.

Assassin's Creed: Origins: Wet Bayek

Props to that special moment when a game nonchalantly plays out a very human response to something you’ve put your character through. Bayek doesn’t complain at you getting soggy, but his little hand and foot shakes give a sense of the person under all the stabbing. 

Rise of the Tomb Raider: Wringing out the ponytail 

Relatedly, Lara’s attention to her hair after coming out of water is a reminder of the tricky nature of dealing with long locks in extreme conditions. It’s just one of the many little animation details in Rise of the Tomb Raider, but several friends pointed towards it as their favourite and heck, they’re right.

Prey: Q-Beam wobble

Who was it at Arkane Studios who realised, "The Q-Beam absolutely has to comprise three objects which wobble as you move"? They are a genius. Weapons in games rarely passively react as you move around, and OK, that’s maybe because it’s a little distracting, but here in the Q-Beam, it’s wonderful. 

Overwatch: Junkrat's grenade launcher

Another delightfully ramshackle weapon is Junkrat’s Frag Launcher. The way all its jiggling bits and pieces move as you walk do a great job of communicating Junkrat’s pegleg limp, and the way the flap on the end of the barrel flips as you fall really gets a sense of momentum across. You can almost imagine how his insane launcher actually works.

Titanfall 2: Alternator

Still on guns (because games are basically guns, right), I just love all the unnecessary (i.e. necessary) movement in Titanfall 2’s otherwise fairly straight Alternator submachine gun. Little bits flick back and forth as you fire, simply to express and celebrate its name. The Alternator was designed by Respawn animator Ranon Sarono, who’s a master of the gun animation form. His showreels and game gun jokes on his YouTube channel are recommended viewing.

Far Cry 2: jammed shotgun

Technically, Far Cry 2’s gun-jamming animations don’t fit our criteria for incidental animation because they directly affect the game, but they’re just so expressive. The sheer annoyance of the player character, as demoed here by Tigerfield, is just wonderful, and completely matches your own reaction to finding your gun suddenly refusing to work.

Far Cry 2: Hand

Far Cry 2’s filled with incidental animation. The way the player character’s hand interacts with the world around you set new standards.

But here’s the real incidental animation gold in Far Cry 2: the fingers change position to turn the watch’s bezel one way or the other. I’m sure Ubisoft Montreal could have designed it more efficiently, and I’m so pleased they didn’t.

Head over to page two for more wonderful incidental animations, including indie Quadrilateral Cowboy, Dishonored 2 and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.

Metal Gear Solid 5: iDroid 

Look in the background, and you’ll see Snake’s thumb mirroring your control of the iDroid menu on a little side-mounted joystick. Utterly pointless. 

Quadrilateral Cowboy: Bathroom 

Blendo Games’ Brendan Chung is something of a connoisseur of incidental animation, so I asked him to pick out what he’s most proud of from his own games. He chose the bathroom in QuadCow’s Valencia Villa. "The bathroom is way too detailed and interactive considering it has no gameplay impact and is not part of the critical path," he says. Every cabinet opens, every component works. "The excess I'm most happy with is how both the shower and sink, after you turn their water off, continue drip-dropping for a few seconds before completely stopping. I am secretly hoping this becomes industry standard."

Who fancies starting a campaign? 

Prey: Boiling curry 

Or maybe it’s a stew. Either way, this combination of a lovely shiny shader effect and a very simple undulating mesh brings a pot eternally cooking in Talos-I’s kitchen to life, if you should ever notice it. Chances are, you won’t. 

Dishonored 2: Audiograph 

Even more Arkane, here’s Dishonored 2’s wonderfully characterful audiotape player. Watching the handle wind around and its punchcard jigger in and out makes having to stay nearby to hear the tape almost bearable. 

Destiny 2: Sweeping bot 

This bot, found in a dead end in the depths of Destiny 2’s social area (if you put the time into exploring it), is a callback to a sweeping robot which featured in the first Destiny’s Tower social space. We can all cherish its heartbreaking dedication to a thankless task—perhaps it’s a reference to all the effort that went into animating it?

Little Nightmares

If you take a moment to watch them from safety, you’ll see one of Little Nightmares’ awful chefs perform a little under-face scratch which is just fantastic.

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus: Reactor

Most incidental animation is small, but it doesn’t need to be. A way into his new adventure, B.J. Blazkowicz enters a vast hall that houses a reactor at its far end. The hall’s monumental machinations serve absolutely no function, the flying saucer-looking thing having no discernible purpose, and yet there it all is, but you were too busy shooting Nazis to see it.

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus: Digital readout 

Still on Wolf 2, someone Machine Games went to the effort of making actual digital readouts on the assorted Nazi control boards that you probably never spent any time looking at, ensuring they count meaninglessly up as far as the digits allow. This is perfection, and an exemplar of the form. 

So here’s to the most lavish of incidental animation. Let it only become more so.

Assassin's Creed® Origins

Assassin’s Creed Origins lets you step back in time and experience the twilight years of ancient Egypt. The line of pharaohs is coming to a sorry end, Greek and Roman culture is rapidly sweeping across the desert, and the old gods are being abandoned. Monuments, cities, and temples litter Origins’ immense world map, all of which have a long, rich history far beyond what you experience in the game. Here are some of their most fascinating stories.

Krokodilopolis

The Egyptian crocodile god Sobek was associated with fertility, power, and military prowess. He was worshipped by the Cult of Sobek in ancient Faiyum, in a city christened 'Krokodilopolis', or Crocodile City, by the invading Greeks. The city was famed for the sacred pond in the Temple of Sobek where a giant (and, if legend is to be believed, tame) crocodile adorned with jewels and gold was kept and paid tribute to. Bayek visits the city in Origins and is asked by a local priest to find out why the sacred beast has suddenly begun weeping blood. With giant statues of Sobek lining the streets, you can only imagine what the Greeks thought of this incredible place when they first discovered it.

Bent Pyramid

The ancient Egyptians weren't always master pyramid builders. The so-called Bent Pyramid is an early attempt, commissioned by the 4th dynasty pharaoh Sneferu around 2600 BC, and could owe its odd shape to the unstable ground it was built on. A popular theory suggests the increasingly heavy pyramid began to sink into the sand before it was finished, forcing the builders to sharply shift to a shallower angle at the top. One of Bayek's targets is hiding out in the pyramid's inner chamber in Origins, giving you a rare chance to venture inside. A smaller satellite pyramid was built 55 metres south of the Bent Pyramid to house the pharaoh's Ka, or vital essence, which also appears in the game.

Cyrene

Sailors who saw the grand Greek (and later Roman) city of Cyrene from the sea described it as 'the white shining breast.' And with its gleaming marble temples and statues glinting in the sun, it must've been quite a sight. Nicknamed the Athens of Africa, Cyrene was the seat of the Cyrenaic school of philosophy and was famously defensible thanks to its location among the high, rugged mountains of modern Libya and abundant water sources. You can visit the crumbling ruins of the city today, but in Origins you get to experience the place in its heyday. It's one of the most impressive locations in the game and Bayek can earn some extra coin there fighting in the gladiator arena.

Library of Alexandria

One of history's greatest tragedies is the destruction of the Royal Library of Alexandria. Dedicated to the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts, this was a vast temple of knowledge and a research institute, packed with hundreds of thousands of scrolls charting the history of the ancient world. But after several wars, invasions, and uprisings, the library and its priceless contents were destroyed—although there are conflicting theories about who was actually responsible. Bayek visits the library in its prime and finds the halls filled with scribes and the shelves lined with scrolls. Visitors to Alexandria were obliged to surrender their books to be copied and stored in the library.

Giza

One of the most famous places in ancient Egypt, Giza was a necropolis for the pharaohs. The plateau is dominated by three iconic pyramids, including the legendary Great Pyramid, which was the tallest structure in the world for over 3,800 years. The pharaoh Khufu is widely believed to have commissioned this impressive building, although the irony is that, other than this, there are very few details left about his life and reign. Despite the fact that Origins is set many years after the Great Pyramid was built, it's in much better shape than it is today. You can still see the white, polished limestone casing stones that used to surround it, and the striking gold pyramidion at the top.

Memphis

Memphis was once the capital of the Old Kingdom, strategically positioned at the mouth of the Nile delta. For years it was a thriving centre of trade, commerce, and religion in ancient Egypt, and was believed to be protected by Ptah, the god of craftsmen and architecture. Memphis also had close royal ties, being the place where the pharaoh would receive the Pschent, or double crown: an important symbol of a unified Egypt. But Memphis' glory didn't last thanks to the steady rise of nearby Alexandria and its decreased religious significance as the old gods were abandoned. Bayek visits Memphis several times in Origins and finds a city already beginning to lose its prominence.

Great Sphinx of Giza

The Great Sphinx is one of the defining images of ancient Egypt, although not much is known about it. Carved from limestone near the Great Pyramid, it's believed to depict the pharaoh Khafra, although some disagree. No record of the statue's construction has ever been found by archaeologists. The Great Sphinx is carved into the bedrock of the Giza plateau; the same place where the stone used to build the Great Pyramid was quarried. The statue is in a pretty sorry state today, but in Origins we see the nose and ceremonial pharaonic beard intact. Bayek comments that it's smaller than he expected, a common remark from people who see the Great Sphinx in person.

Nitria

Death was an important industry in Egypt, and the sacred mummification process required a number of materials, including a salt called natron. This naturally occurring substance was extracted from dry lake beds and was used as a drying agent in the preparation of bodies for the afterlife. Bayek visits a natron mine in Origins, in a place called Nitria, where you can see hundreds of workers, hands caked in salt, mining chunks to be delivered to cities like Memphis for use in mummification. And overlooking the mine is the ever-watchful statue of Anubis, the god of death and embalming, who you occasionally see priests praying to, perhaps for a bountiful harvest of natron.

Assassin's Creed® Origins

We put out a call for your best Assassin's Creed Origins screenshots from the open world game's excellent photo mode. You answered with reams of beautiful landscape shots, pictures of Bayek in action, some wildlife photos, and a few amusing glitches.

Here are my favorites of what you delivered, with links to more photo galleries. Click in the upper right corner to enlarge them—you'll be glad you did.

By Davud Dadar

Among a gallery of amazing shots, it's hard to single out just one, but Bayek about to hit the hay (at the top of this article) and this shot above are just fantastic. Here are more to drool over.

By Arachno Capitalist

Not every photo has to feature the main character, or any characters. It's not easy to choose the best of Arachno Capitalist's lovely landscape photos. So why choose? See the rest of them here.

By phroZac

This is a gorgeous photo using (I believe) some SweetFX presets for a gritty, cinematic look.

By HeatherShow

Glitches are fun, and in this case result in what amounts to a religious experience. Imagine putting an arrow through a soldier's neck and seeing not only that it hadn't killed him, but that he could walk on water. Let us pray.

By Leonardo

Everyone loves a good Assassin's Plunge picture, but this is my favorite. More shots to pore over here.

By Flametec

Sandstorms (of the non-Darude variety) are a semi-regular occurrence in Origins, and while they can make stealthy infiltration more enjoyable, they also add some drama while out exploring.

By Kakona

Kakona has lots of amazing shots, including this ornate elephant throwing down with Bayek. You'll find several more here.

By Andy Kelly

PC Gamer's own Andy Kelly has been snapping away with photo mode (here are a number of great examples) but I especially enjoy the above picture. "These goats look like they're sharing a joke at my expense."

By capsaicen

Bayek is looking rather intimidating here in a glowing-eye mummy outfit. I wouldn't want to run into him in a tomb. Not that I'd want to run into anyone in a tomb.

By LegionHare

The aftermath of a fight, with the victor striding away as skies darken overhead. More from LegionHare here

By shplumberg

Not just a lovely underwater shot, but an excellent impetus to invest in an ultra-wide monitor. It's definitely on my Christmas list. More shots here.

By Life28

There aren't just bustling cities in Origins, but lots of wide, desolate deserts. The shot above is a great photo highlighting the most lonely and barren regions of Origins' Egypt.

By Felix Östh

"Hey, Bayek! Turn around! Look! Look at me! I'm an assassin, just like you! Hiding in hay! That's what you do, right? Hide in hay all the time! Ha ha! Come on, Bayek, I know you can hear me! I'm an assassin too! Stab, stab, then jump into the hay! Bayek! Hey, Bayek! Turn around! Bayek!"

Assassin's Creed® Origins

Attention, animal lovers: Assassin's Creed Origins is packed with wild creatures. Crocodiles, hippos, hyenas, and most others are pretty unfriendly, but there's a gentler way to dispense with them than by using a sword or your arrows. You can use sleep darts to temporarily render animals (and people) unconscious, and with an unlockable skill you can tame those slumbering creatures (the animals) by petting them, giving you a loyal animal companion in addition to your ever-present eagle and faithful mount.

I've found that tamed animals have their quirks, however. Here are a few tips on taming some new furry friends in Assassin's Creed Origins.

Dogs can't swim

Compared to cats, dogs are a bit of a rarity in Egypt. You might spot one every now and then, but they're not always easy to find. One reason for this might be that they suck. Unlike real dogs, the dogs in Origins will immediately die upon entering the water. After trying to coax my tamed dog onto a boat, I gave up and just paddled away, figuring it would swim after me.

It did. Well, it tried. You can see it leap eagerly off the dock in the gif below.

"Your animal has been defeated" is, I guess, a better way of saying "Your animal has instantly and inexplicably drowned." I even jumped into the water near the dock and swam around to make sure there wasn't some hungry hippo there. Nope, my beloved dog of three minutes ago just died from touching water. But why can't dogs swim? Dogs should be able swim. I'm certain of it.

Don't settle for a regular crocodile when you can tame a fancy crocodile

You can tame crocodiles, and you'll come across lots of them in Egypt. But why settle for a boring, drab, regular naked old crocodile when you can find a fancy one? If you head south to Krocodilopolis and start poking around under the bridge, you'll come across some gators wearing jewelry. Necklaces, scarves, even bracelets. I don't if someone was brave enough to dress them up like that or if they just ate a jewelry vendor, and frankly, I don't even care. Dart it, pet it, boom. You now have a fancy-ass crocodile.

You can tame cats

Frankly, there's no particular need to tame a cat in Origins. Cats will sometimes follow you around anyway. Plus, you can hunch over and pet them. Aww. But hurling a drug-tipped dart into a domestic cat and taming it will ensure it follows you no matter what. That's how I got my real cat. By throwing a toxin-coated dart into it.

You can tame oxen, but not if they're pulling a cart

I knocked an ox out with a sleep dart, petted it, and watched with some satisfaction as it began following me. But then I spotted two oxen pulling a cart. I was curious: what if I just tame one of them. Would it try to follow me, while the ox it was yoked to wouldn't? Would there be a huge ox fight as they each tried to go in different directions? Which would win, the ox trying to do its job or the ox that's in a post-drug love affair with me?

Turns out, you can't tame an ox pulling a cart. You can knock out one (or both, see above image), but you can't tame them. And you have to wait for them to wake up to drive the cart, no matter how impatient you are. And I was really impatient.

Rats are immune to sleep darts

You can't tame a rat. Fling as many darts as you like (I flung nine), the rat don't care. No wonder they've survived all these years.

Same goes for chickens. Chickens aren't following you anywhere.

Animals will teleport to keep up with you

So, I'd climbed aboard a ship and brutally murdered all the soldiers because they were transporting some caged lions, because I wanted to see if I could tame a lion without opening its cage and if, once tamed, it would try to follow me while still trapped in lion-jail. Yes, this is what I spend time doing in games.

Turns out, the dart breaks the bars of the cage, so trying to tame a caged lion frees it, at which point it tries to kill you, requiring the use of a second dart. With that important question answered, I tried to see if the tamed lion would swim after me when I dove off the boat.

In the video above, you can see the lion doesn't swim (I've got a cursor locked on it back at the ship) but it does somehow teleport to land at one point. I guess the big kitty didn't want to get wet. Also, please ignore the part where I drive the smaller boat straight into a rock and it falls apart and I get knocked down like an damn idiot. Thanks.

Donkeys won't fight for you

I tamed a local donkey and then got into combat and the donkey didn't even help me or nothin'. You can see above how I'm fighting for my life (not really, these were just some low-level scrubs), and my weak-ass tamed donk is just standing around with its baskets of fruit, not helping out or knocking down soldiers or even trying to sell his fruit to onlookers. Pitch in, man.

Birds can't be tamed

Maybe it's because you've already got a pet eagle, but all the darts I threw at various birds (a lot of darts and a lot of birds) had zero effect. They didn't fall asleep, and thus couldn't be tamed. It's a bit disappointing: I would have liked to have a flamingo follow me around. On the plus side (depending on how you feel about birds) target one for long enough and your eagle will kill the shit out of it (I assume out of jealousy).

Assassin's Creed® Origins

Assassin's Creed: Origins, as I said in my review, is a big game within a huge world. Some of the best moments, however, are the little things that happen along the way. Below I've collected some video clips (I recommend turning your sound on) of cool kills, stealth goofs, horse disasters, heroic NPCs, and an odd glitch that turns my character into a flying breakdancer.

Bandit burnout

As I've said a few times, my favorite skill in AC:O is the predator bow skill, which allows me to fire an arrow and then steer it midair in slow motion. The slo-mo also lets me see stuff I may have missed, as in the bandit fight below. As I fire my second arrow, the bandit lobs a firebomb at me. When the bomb explodes, it lights my arrow on fire, giving my missile just enough extra damage to kill the dude. Exactly as I planned (not really)!

You had one job

I'm not sure who hired this guy as a guard. Yes, he's only level one, but you'd think he could manage to hit the haystack he knows I'm hiding in. He misses so badly I even turn the camera to see if he's shooting at something else. Come on, man. I know finding a needle in a haystack is hard, but depositing one should be easy.

Granted, this is Assassin's Creed: Origins. Maybe, until this moment in history, no one had ever hidden in a haystack before. Perhaps I personally gave birth to the tradition that would last centuries. At any rate, I finally get tired of pretending to hide, summon my eagle to go all bird all over his face, then put him out of his supervisor's misery. 

Shortcuts

When I find a new quest, I'm pretty keen to get on with it, and in a sprawling game like Origins that means making a beeline for the nearest road. Due to my impatience, I sometimes have to cut through someone's heavily guarded fortress. Below, I figured I could just jump my horse down into the fort and gallop through before anyone could stop me. And that's exactly what happened, though it was a bit more of a big floppy flaming mess than I'd planned.

Happy landings

Speaking of stealth, there are several occasions where you have to rescue someone and then carry them out of danger over your shoulders. I was in the midst of one such rescue (playing as another character) when I came to a ledge. I figured maybe there was some way to jump off while still carefully carrying my passenger.

Whoops! Sorry I dumped your already-injured ass on the hard bricks before diving gracefully and safely into the soft pile of hay right next to where your aching, bruised, broken body landed. I'm a skilled assassin, by the way.

Breakin' 2: Assassin Boogaloo

I didn't experience much in the way of glitches in Assassin's Creed: Origins. Sometimes an NPC's AI would misfire, or a rampaging animal might get stuck behind some scenery, but I never saw anything major like people without faces. I didn't even fall through the map, which I think I've done in just about every AC game I've ever played.

However, after I climbed the tower in the video below and pulled out a torch to see if I could light the top of it, I began to breakdance. And I couldn't stop. And then I ascended to heaven. (I cured this ailment by fast-traveling.)

Not every hero wears a snake costume

Occasionally I took a break from righting the wrongs of ancient Egypt to act like a real dickweed. While testing the flammability of various parts of the world, I set a small pile of hay on fire. While some Greek dude wailed and ran around uselessly, as if he'd never seen all his possessions engulfed in flames before, I noticed a woman come sprinting in from across the street and put the fire out like a real hero. Maybe she should be the one saving Egypt.

Don't let me interrupt

I'm not really receptive to monologues, and when they don't happen in cutscenes I'll take any chance I can to wander away. Below, I notice an archer practicing his aim, and perplexed by his habit of taking a single arrow off the rack at a time, I walk over for a closer look. I'll say this: the dude doesn't let anyone or anything interrupt his practice.

What's my name?

AC:O has a nice feature, in that you can set your horse to ride to a waypoint automatically. You can see it below, as I'm taking a passenger home during a side-mission, and my horse is auto-following the road. Your mount will even move to avoid other horses. Sort of. While steering himself around a slower horse, my mount makes, I feel, a bigger swerve than necessary in order to completely deck some unfortunate citizen.

It's nice timing, too, as it seems like Bayek has become frustrated at being called 'bodyguard' and decided to take it out on this one particular citizen.

Poised for the kill

Invading a fort where everyone is a few levels higher than you can be a tension-filled experience. It's critical to remain hidden and wait for the perfect moment to strike. Stalking one guard, I place myself in his eventual path, then wait. Then wait. Then...

Ah, man. Work with me, wouldja?

Assassin's Creed® Origins

The Assassin's Creed: Origins 1.03 patch is now live, and for Nvidia owners the news appears to be good, as our early testing indicates a performance increase in the neighborhood of 10-15 percent over what it offered out of the gate. People with AMD GPUs, on the other hand, don't appear to be so lucky.

While GTX 1080 Ti numbers jumped considerably, the numbers on an RX Vega 64 stayed almost the same, and actually slipped very slightly at some settings.

Vega 64 initial average framerates:

  • 1080p, medium: 66.5 fps 
  • 1080p, ultra: 55.9 fps 
  • 1440p, ultra: 52.0 fps 
  • 4K, ultra: 34.7 fps

Vega 64 with 1.03 patch installed:

  • 1080p, medium: 64.9
  • 1080p, ultra: 55.3 
  • 1440p, ultra: 51.6
  • 4K, ulta: 33.9

Bear in mind that this is all based on early testing, and so shouldn't be taken as carved-in-stone proof of problems. It's also only from one system, and a new Coffee Lake build at that. But a number of Ubisoft forum users have said that the update has made only a minimal improvement, or none at all, as well. There are also a few complaints about crashes that have begun occurring since the patch rolled out: One user says he can't make it 15 minutes without a hard crash. 

We're continuing to investigate the situation and we've reached out to Ubisoft for more information about the update, whether or not it's aware of the persisting issues, and what comes next. We'll update if and when we receive a reply. The full patch notes are available on the Ubisoft forums.

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