The week’s highs and lows in PC gaming

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Star Wars Battlefront tease

The Lows

Andy Kelly: Star power
You know, I almost forgot Star Wars Battlefront existed. I reviewed it, but didn’t feel the urge to return, and ultimately never did. I’ve accidentally erased it from my mind. But the rumour that two new ‘hero’ characters are being added in the next DLC reminded me of its existence.

If this promotional artwork is to be believed, Nien Nunb and Greedo will be joining the cast of playable characters. You know, that guy with the weird face who co-piloted the Millennium Falcon in the Battle of Endor, and that Rodian bounty hunter who was in A New Hope for about five minutes. They’re not the worst characters in the series—they could have made young Anakin ‘Yipee!’ Skywalker playable—but I have one question: where the hell is Lando?

I wanna see Lando Calrissian in Battlefront, jumping about in that cool-ass cape, being suave, betraying his friends, but ultimately redeeming himself. Not Nien sodding Nunb. I mean, he’s one of the main characters of the original trilogy. He blew up the damn Death Star. And yet he’s taking a backseat to some D-list aliens with hardly any screen time. Unacceptable.

Angus Morrison: Consolation prize
I’m quite proud of game players, game developers and game publishers for coming to terms with the fact that a delayed game is not the end of the world. Usually it’s better than it would have been otherwise: Need For Speed’s delay has caused it to pick up extra features en route, for example. But one delay I’m not thrilled about is that of action Souls-alike Necropolis.

Necropolis has been pushed back from next month to ‘summer’ in order to launch simultaneously with the console versions that have just been announced. We were so close! The delay is apparently so Harebrained Schemes doesn’t neglect the PC version as it begins work on the console builds, but the child in me says, having come so far in development, why not finish the PC version, release it and then port to consoles?

I realise I’m throwing a tantrum at having a toy taken away, but making this announcement—on Steam, no less—so close to release not to proclaim extra features or development difficulties but the voluntary tripling of the workload has put me in a great big PC strop. Bring me warm milk and a blanket.

Jay and Silent Bob Slide

James Davenport: No
We live in a reasonably cannibalistic culture, where no IP can truly die. I understand why. I know that folks have a right to pursue their interests and to monetize their art and work however they see fit. But, well, I found out where I draw the line. Here’s a quote from the pitch video for real-life-thing-some-people-want-to-make, Jay and Silent Bob: Chronic Blunt Punch: “We want our heroes to curse, smoke a blunt, and do a backflip scissor kick to a pussy troll without having a traditional publisher police officer watering down our crazy ideas.” It’s the tail of a bizarre comment on how publishers tend to prefer gratuitous violence over casual use of sex and drugs in their games. Fighting the good fight, truly.

The 2000s were a different time alright. I was a teen and had to stay the night at my buddy’s house to catch R-rated flicks. Smoking blunts, cargo shorts, and yeah, “tasteful sideboob”—these were some of the Platonic ideals we placed on our shaky joke pedestals, however hamfisted and immature they might be. Because that’s what was cool. Other things that were cool as a teen: telling my parents they sucked, holding my brother down and farting on his head, rap-rock nu metal bands, and so on. Times have changed, tastes have changed, and there are hundreds of crowdfunding projects that deserve funding more than this one.  

Tom Marks: Fighting what already was
It’s super easy to make assumptions about a game which are ultimately proven wrong by the simple act of actually playing it. A game’s art style, presentation, or genre keywords—expressed to us through trailers and screenshots—are often the only shot a developer gets at convincing you to try what they’re offering. For example, the word ‘MOBA’ has recently been synonymous with something undesirable when it comes to new games, switching off many player’s interest immediately as they associate it with League of Legends, Dota 2, or Heroes of the Storm.

This isn’t the player’s fault by any means, they know what they like and have to mercilessly cull options in a world where literally dozens of games are coming out every day. The burden is really placed on the shoulders of the game’s marketing team, but no one can say they don’t have a tough job in most cases. It’s hard enough to convey exactly what your game is, let alone while fighting against the perception of similar games that came before you. Especially if they really aren’t similar at all, merely sharing a label or a setting.

The point is, I played/saw two games this week—Atlas Reactor and Labyrinth—that I didn’t really have much interest in after seeing their trailers and preview material, and ended up thinking both of them could be something special. I associated them with games similar to what they were presenting and incorrectly filled in the rest of the blanks myself, but they are actually two of the more unique games I’ve seen lately. They both show a huge amount of potential, but only if they can first breakthrough what people like me are (poorly) assuming right off the bat. I don’t envy the marketers, it’s going to be a hard fight.

Rocket League Batmobile car Slide

Samuel Roberts: People ruin everything
The Batmobile is coming to Rocket League—no, not the Batmobile from those Nolan and Burton movies you love, but the one from that Batman v Superman film that Twitter has already decided that it hates a month ahead of release. It’s a lovely-looking vehicle, and is so similar to the one from Arkham Knight that I’m sure they must’ve known about it while they were making the game. I think this is a neat tie-in, like the Back to the Future Day DeLorean addition from last year. A neat tie-in that human beings playing Rocket League will inevitably ruin.

The problem with drip-feeding novelty cars into Rocket League is that everyone buys the same DLC at once, then everyone is suddenly using the same car in every match. If they released a whole bunch of novelty cars at once—KITT, Herbie, the RC car from Toy Story, that car that Columbo drives, the Tardis but on wheels—there might be a more even spread of players trying different vehicles. Instead, everyone picks the same one and it quickly gets really annoying.

I realise I sound like I’m policing fun, here—I definitely am—but I wish there was an option to switch those DLC packs off if you’re a non-novelty car player sick of hearing the same sound effects. They’re not really driving the Batmobile, they’re just showing everyone they were able to spend three bucks or two quid on Steam. They’re no more Batman than I am for reading Frank Miller’s Year One in my underpants.

Chris Livingston: Save me
I’m pretty keen to try Fallout 4’s upcoming enhanced survival mode, the details of which leaked this week. Nearly all of the changes sound good: ammo will have weight, enemies won’t appear on your compass, you can’t fast-travel, and you need to eat, drink, and sleep—though even sleep has a drawback in that it lowers your adrenaline which in turn lowers your damage bonus.

Why is this a low, then? Because they’re disabling quicksaving and manual saving for survival mode. If you want to save your game, you have to sleep in a bed. Yechhhhh. I mean, look, I get it, it’s hardcore. But hardcore doesn’t need to be pointlessly annoying. I’m interested in playing survival, I’m interested in getting the shit kicked out of me in survival, and I’m interested in dying in new and painful ways in survival. I’m also interested in stopping playing survival when and where I want, not after spending an extra half-hour or more just trying to find a checkpoint so I can quit. Hopefully a modder out there shares my opinion and switches it back on.

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