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I say watch because this week’s podcast takes place in a real room in front of a real audience (don t worry, there s an audio version too). At Rezzed in London this month, we thought it d be fun to re-enact three of the most memorable scenes of PC gaming, exactly as you remember them. So strap on your eye-wideners and prepare for some wonderful acting. Including a 100% faithful adaptation of the most notorious moment in any Final Fantasy game: the death of… Aerosmith?
Alice! Alice, what have you done to these scripts!?
This week we got a peek through the vastness of space, with the release of the very first image of a black hole ever captured by humans. Not long after, more players were making similar vast, galaxy destroying horrors in Dota 2 thanks to the abilities of mysterious hero Enigma. Correlation doesn t equal causation and all that, but it s not hard to imagine people getting nudged towards the character. After all, what s more human than seeing an incomprehensible celestial object and wanting one of your very own?
Most battles may be fought royalley nowadays, but some still like to fight in the olden ways. Team Fortress 2 is alive, kicking, and hosting a 6v6 tournament explicitly for beginners. It’s called the Fresh Meat Challenge 2, it begins in a couple of weeks, and if you’ve ever thought about playing competitive TF2 then you should absolutely consider signing up. I dipped my toes into those waters many years ago, and it was wild.
Chet Faliszek, the former Valve fella best known for his work on Left 4 Dead and writing other good words for games, has joined forces with former Riot Games principal technical designer and AI bod Kimberly Voll to found a new studio. Stray Bombay Company is its name (as in Bombay cat), and drawing people closer through play is its game. They haven’t announced any specific game yet but do mutter about wanting to make games we can play over and over, where we get on as teams, and where AI shapes the whole thing. They basically described Left 4 Dead, though I wouldn’t assume that’s exactly what they’re making.
I m not sure anyone at Respawn has properly busted their ass on the curb. It hurts. The last time I cracked my rear off the concrete in a moment of skating hubris, I was limping for days. Fortunately for the fifty million folks flying around in Apex Legends, a billowing cushion of air has turned what should be an embarrassing accident into the most compelling movement skill in years. There are, uh, a few> battle royale games. And each one has had to find its identity to stand out. PUBG has its impossibly large open fields and tense sniper standoffs. Fortnite requires you be a Minecraft building savant to change the level around you during battle. In Apex Legends, though? It s all about that need for speed.
A calamitous crossing of worlds has occurred in Two Point Hospital, the spiritual successor to Bullfrog’s Theme Hospital, with Half-Life headcrabs glomping onto heads and all manner of decorative doodads from Sega PC games scattering around hospitals. If you’ve not yet played the wacky hospital management sim, hey, you’re invited to try the whole thing for free this weekend on Steam. The trial weekend has just started, so hop to it. Well, don’t hop if you’re suffering from Hurty Leg, Premature Mummification, Night Fever, Lazy Bones, or Mucky Feet, in which case the doctor will see you now.
Turtle Rock Studios, the mob who created Left 4 Dead, are revisiting their cooperative zombie-shooting days in Back 4 Blood, a name which seems a clear a statement of intent. Expect to shoot a load of zombies together with your pals, though Turtle Rock are keen to stress that they want Back 4 Blood to be more than just Left 4 Dead with a new name. Today’s announcement is mighty vague, without even a logo to show for it, but they do hint that it’s got some new tricks. No, it’s not a battle royale game.
I’m not big into numberwang. Vast numbers of people playing a game might indicate that it’s fun, or it might indicate that it’s Ark: Survival Evolved. (I haven’t played Ark and it could be amazing, this is irresponsible journalism and I will hand in my badge and gun shortly.) Point being, it’s more interesting to write about what has made a game popular than the fact that it is so.
Right. Now I have to convince you this animated graph of the most played Steam games from the past four years is fascinating.