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This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE HIGHS 

Joe Donnelly: Opening (Fort)night

I love when videogame players break the mould. Don’t get me wrong, the fanfare around Fortnite’s Season 5 launch yesterday was exciting—but I often prefer the stories and videos that surface of players bending games to suit their own interests. Like Sonny Evans, whose faux National Geographic PUBG documentaries we’ve featured a few times in the past. His neat up close tour of the fifth campaign’s new locations is wonderful. Using the game’s replay system to great effect, it lets you visit Fortnite’s latest spots without the worry of being shot at by hostile players. Likewise, Evans’ superhero-inspired #FortniteBlockbuster competition entry is a belter. Check that out in this direction.

James Davenport: Season tickets

Phew. Fortnite Season 4 just blew by, eh? I admit, I got a bit worn out by the end, too obsessed with chasing XP for those last few skin upgrades, but Season 5 has renewed my vigor for now. All-terrain karts make fast rotations on the far reaches of the storm circle possible, rifts throw you into the sky and temporarily convert some areas into chaotic arena shooter matches, the new areas look lovely and do a nice job encouraging smart play through clever design—Fortnite just feels so good right now. It’s faster, weirder, and funnier than ever. The skins are basically anime, you can play golf, and if Season 4 was anything to go by, we’ll see changes every week. Epic has me by the throat, and I like it.

Jarred Walton: GeForced vacation

We know it’s coming: GTX 1180. (Or 2080. Whatever.) We just don’t know all the exact details. Even so, I’m stoked and can’t wait to get my hands on the next generation graphics cards from Nvidia. I wish AMD had something equally compelling coming out around the same time, but team red is awfully quiet right now.

The thing is, benchmarking the new generation of graphics cards is a lot of work. And to get ready for those cards with relevant benchmark data, I need to go back and retest all the existing cards. Which is even more work. But I’ve still got a month or more I hope, and I’m enjoying not being under the gun to get everything finished right now.

I’ve also got a vacation planned for late July into early August, where I will step away from the PC and technology for two whole weeks. Wish me luck! It’s probably the last real break I get before 2019, what with Threadripper 2 and more on the horizon.

Samuel Roberts: Double XP

Vermintide 2’s double XP weekend got me to try the game again after a little hiatus—and to be honest, it was my most enjoyable time with it yet. As the game pelted me with chests and bumped me up a level after pretty much every finished a map, I wished I could turn on double XP manually, as a mode for people with full-time jobs and too many other games in their Steam library.

The languid pacing of progression will suit its most hardcore players, of course, but for me I want to see everything in Vermintide 2 without the game making it too hard for me to do so. The original permitted this, so I kind of wish this did too. That aside, I freaking love how swords feel when they slice through rats and Chaos in this game, and I hope Fatshark keeps making ’em.

Tom Senior: Fair game

Monster Hunter: World is coming out earlier than expected—Is that allowed?? I have two main hopes for the PC port. First, please run nice and smoothly at 60fps on my PC. Second, please work properly online. It’s such a good co-op game once you’re out of town and chasing down tracks in the wilderness, and we should see a fast clip of post-launch monster events to catch up with the PS4 release.

I can’t wait to put another hundred hours into this game learning a whole new weapon. I used the deliciously overcomplicated charge blade on PS4. On PC I think I’m going to try the awesome long sword, and I might put some hours into the hunting horn to give my pals a helping honk in the middle of a tough hunt.

Chris Livingston: AirWolf

The closed beta of battle royale game Fear the Wolves was in pretty rough shape. There were lots of issues connecting with servers, staying connected, and other pretty serious problems. If Vostok Games can get some of those issue ironed out before FtW hits Early Access, though, I think they have the makings for a cool battle royale game that focuses as much on PvE as it does PvP. With a dangerous environment full of radiation, anomalies, and AI threats, it leans closer to something like Hunt: Showdown than PUBG, and it has a fun endgame event as a chopper arrives and the last few players try to escape the zone. Given just how many BR games are coming out this year I think it’s important to offer something a little different.

Wes Fenlon: These games are how old?

My favorite thing about PC gaming is finding those communities that stay dedicated to their favorite games and play them, well, forever. Like, yeah, of course there are still people playing Daikatana. This week, Chris and I took a dive into even older games, from the 1980s and early 90s, that are still actively being updated by their developers. I love it. Not only are these games 20 and 30 years old and still being played, but they’re still being worked on. How cool is that? Also, I got an excuse to write about NetHack again, and I’ll always take that. Check out the article for a link to the original USENET discussion, circa 1987, where NetHack got its name.

THE LOWS 

Samuel Roberts: R.I.P.T

Like almost all projects based on popular properties that get widely discussed by excited players, the PT remake for PC has been shut down by Konami. It wasn’t enough to delete PT from the PlayStation Store—even a fan remake of PT must go too! I get why, of course. PT For PC was made using assets from Konami’s original demo, and we predicted something like this might happen. 

Still, maybe it’s a good reminder to Konami that people still adore the now-mythical original demo. The Silent Hill connection is irrelevant to me—as a standalone horror game, that thing should be on Steam for everyone to enjoy, minus Norman Reedus. 

Tom Senior: Bad hex

Hello and welcome to my ongoing series of dalliances with middling Warhammer 40,000 games. The latest game to show some promise but ultimately fall short of an enthusiastic recommendation is *drumroll* Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War. In the pantheon of mediocrity Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War sits below Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr and probably equal to Warhammer 40,000: Deathwatch. Each of these new releases makes me yearn for the days of Dawn of War 2, particularly the awesome Last Stand mode. It had it all. It looked great, the heroes felt powerful, and it nailed the gory zaniness that really defines the setting. 

Wes Fenlon: Let us hunt mods

I’m really excited for Monster Hunter World to arrive on PC, but I’m a bit disappointed it won’t have mod support at launch. Right now, Capcom just doesn’t want to talk about mods, and I get that: this is a port of a huge game, it’s largely played online, and they want to stick the landing. But I hope this doesn’t mean mod support is off the table permanently, because official Steam Workshop support for this game would be amazing

We’ve already seen some hilarious outfits for Final Fantasy 15, and I think modders could come up with some amazing creature skins for Monster Hunter World. That would be the bare minimum for mod support. If modders actually had the tools to create monsters of their own, with their own attacks and animations? Imagine a Monster Hunter community keeping itself alive with new hunts for a decade.

Joe Donnelly: Console exclusives get me dawn.

I’ve had a pretty alright week which means this is another low-kidding-it’s-a-high entry, I’m afraid. This week, after over a year of people telling me how good it is, I finally started Horizon Zero Dawn. Wow, those people weren’t kidding. It’s good. Like really good. Like, I’m only a couple of hours in but I want to write about it on PC Gamer all day long kind of good. But I can’t. Because it’s a console exclusive. Like God of War. Like The Last of Us. Like Bloodborne. Sodding console exclusives.

James Davenport: Fortnite favoritism

Epic has pledged a hefty $100 million in prize money for the first year of competitive Fortnite. It’s going to be a mish-mash of tournament types Epic says anyone can partake in. But with the recent announcement of the Summer Skirmish series, Epic only invited select pro players and entertainers to participate. It was done to supposedly kickstart the series, but why not just wait until the proper qualifying events are in place? With $250,000 going to an arbitrary group of players, tons of competitive players are pissed. Many of the participants have big followings and big money, so watching them compete is like inviting the CEOs of Safeway and Piggly Wiggly to face off in Supermarket Sweep. I’ll be sure to watch, and I’m sure Epic will put on a good show, but I’d rather the stakes be real and the competitors earn their place.

Chris Livingston: All dressed up and no one to shoot

I’ve been playing DayZ on experimental servers lately, and haven’t encountered another player for my last four or five sessions. Normally I’m fine with this: I usually prefer to keep to myself. But I’m fully geared and sort of itching for a fight. I visited the Northwest Airfield three times and never saw another player. I sprinted from Electro to Berezino and didn’t run into anyone along the way. I heard shots in one small town but by the time I got there, whoever was firing was gone. And the one time I did spot another player outside Vybor, the server reset before I could catch up to them. 

Most of the experimental servers are pretty sparsely populated, but even still it’s rare to go a week without bumping into someone, somewhere. It’s feeling pretty lonely in the post-apocalypse these days.

Jarred Walton: The screw, too

I like lots of game types, and I’ve put way too many hours into The Crew 2. It’s seriously mediocre, but I still finished the main storyline and got crowned champion of motorsports USA or whatever. The script at times is so bad I laughed, which is sort of good?

But the hard 60fps speed limit irritates the hell out of me, and it also induces microstuttering. The whole game is about going as fast as possible, upgrading your rides one component at a time to make them just a little bit better. I do that with computer hardware and I like to see some tangible benefit to having a souped up PC. The Crew 2 dev Ivory Tower needs to figure out how to tell a story, and more importantly, to remember that hot-rodding isn’t just for cars.

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