Weird that I was most skeptical about the PvP system in Fallout 76, but sorta wound up enjoying it more than anything else during the Xbox beta earlier this week. I had fun in general, but the best part was spotting an outlaw on the map—a player who had murdered an unwilling player in PvP—and tracking him down. I think it was fun because the stealth was real. Rather than some AI enemy detecting me based on whatever math determines whether or not you’re seen, this was me trying to avoid being spotted by another human player by, you know, being legitimately cautious and stealthy. I got the drop on him, then dropped him. It was a bit tense and a lot of fun. The PC beta starts Tuesday, so maybe I’ll try my hand at being the hunted instead of the hunter.
Tom Senior: Midtown madness
I’m not a car person, but I love zooming through autumnal rural environments. The miracle this week is that Forza Horizon 4 has used its lovely autumn fields to trick me into liking cars. You’re able to jump between race formats so easily I can start to appreciate how different the cars feel. I’ve even switched the controls to manual transmission, which I normally hate, but I’m enjoying sounding out the vehicles’ different engines and learning how they handle.
Cross country races are my current favourite. I slip into first-person mode in my offroad buggy, stick the classical music station on, and blast through hedges, gardens, and village walls to secure a robust second-place finish. I haven’t used the fast travel system yet because even driving between races is really fun. Also the game’s version of Edinburgh is good enough to give me a rush of recognition as I blast across its bridges at unsafe speeds.
Samuel Roberts: Who’s who
I’ve spent a few hours with Return of the Obra Dinn so far, and I’ll write a little more about why it’s such a good detective game early next week. I love how open-ended it feels in trying to figure out its mysteries—like Her Story, it allows you to put the pieces together yourself, and to arrive at discoveries at your own pace. Its little dioramas of death are spectacularly put together. You get such a sense of what this environment was like, and who the people were, despite not seeing it in motion.
It’s arrived in the middle of busy season, between an Assassin’s Creed and the Red Dead behemoth on consoles. Hopefully it’s not being ignored—it’s a genuine GOTY candidate.
Tyler Wilde: A turn for the better
I love simple things that do only one job, but make everything better for it. This piece of plastic is one of those things: a 90-degree ATX adapter. That’s all it is. Why on earth do I not have a drawer full of them?
Joe Donnelly: GTAmen
GTA 5’s best visual overhaul mod returned this week for its final, most impressive update. I’m a sucker for mods of this sort, granted, but Jamal Rashid’s NaturalVision Remastered is above and beyond the best I’ve seen—across all games. As is often the case with projects like this, they’re best showcased with pictures. Have a gander at NVR’s latest incarnation this way. Likewise, be sure to look out for Rashid, aka Razed, should Red Dead Redemption 2 eventually find its way to PC. I can’t wait to see what creative works he brings to the table in that event.
Wes Fenlon: Full circle Disgaea
There are a lot of Japanese games I’m overjoyed to see on PC, but I get a special, personal satisfaction from seeing PS2 strategy RPG Disgaea on Steam. It’s a game I remember reading about in magazines 15 odd years ago, and thinking it looked awesome, like an endlessly deep alternative to Final Fantasy Tactics. It also had a bit of mystique to it, as its US release was limited and copies were rare. When I randomly found it on the shelf at Gamestop, I was psyched to buy it. In the end I didn’t even play it that much, because I was paralyzed by depth and choice. That makes it hard for me to grok how Disgaea 5 could be deeper and more complex, but so says Austin in his beginner’s guide. That’s why we titled the guide “How to get into Disgaea 5 without completely losing your mind.” The PC’s long been home to brilliant western strategy games, so I’m very glad to see it slowly becoming a home to Japanese tactics games, too. Especially ones that you can basically play forever.