I spent the bulk of my time this week assembling a list of exciting RPGs due out this year, or early next at the latest. It’s going to be a good year. Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is at the top of my list—I love the island-hopping idea as an opportunity to include seedy ports and diverse ecologies—but there are so many other fun ideas on the way. Vampyr will juxtapose the Hippocratic Oath with blood thirst; Griftlands will draw from Klei’s multi-genre experience; Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord is potentially the best large-scale medieval combat game we’ve ever seen; Shenmue 3 is going to be a weird nostalgia trip, however it turns out. What’s missing?
We’re looking forward to first-person dungeon crawlers, isometric cRPG fantasy adventures, classic-style and nouveau JRPGs, tactical turn-based combat, flashy real-time combat, whatever we can learn about CD Projekt’s sci-fi follow up to The Witcher 3. My only concern is how many of these games I’ll actually have time to play.
Tom Senior: Happy new year
2018 is here, and it’s full of PC games. This week we put up our big preview of the year and looked ahead to the exciting shooters and RPGs coming our way. I never thought I would say this, but I’m actually excited to play some new adventure games, particularly the talky cop drama No Truce With the Furies and A Place for the Unwilling, an open-ended mystery set in a beautifully rendered Victorian city.
Here’s an exciting thought. It’s possible none of us know know anything about 2018’s biggest game. Only PC games can come out of nowhere and become a phenomenon in the space of a couple of weeks. As I go back over the 2018 preview I wonder what 2018’s PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds look like? That’s jostling with some of the other big questions of 2018. Will Anthem be any good? And what the hell is Death Stranding?
Andy Kelly: Back in black
There was a sale on at Comixology over the holidays and I took the opportunity to stuff my tablet with Batman comics. Then I returned home and immediately started replaying Arkham Asylum. Partly because I wanted to ‘be’ Batman after so many hours spent passively reading about his adventures, but also because I wanted to confirm that Asylum is indeed my favourite entry in the Arkham series. I’ve always maintained it is, but wondered if I was just being one of those people who pigheadedly prefers a band’s earlier work. The kind of guy who insists Pablo Honey is Radiohead’s best album, even though it’s obviously Kid A.
And, five hours in, I’m delighted to discover that Arkham Asylum is still brilliant—and probably is my favourite Arkham game, despite the many improvements in City and, to a lesser extent, Knight. It’s the setting that does it for me. Roaming Gotham in the other games is a delight, and makes you feel more like Batman, but the asylum is such a rich, detailed, well-realised space, with a consistency and focus the later games lack. I love when a game uses a single setting, letting you get intimate with it, get a feel for it as a place. And that’s something Asylum does brilliantly, even if the boss battles are, admittedly, infuriating bullshit.
Joe Donnelly: S’all Goodsprings
I’m a sucker for ambitious mod projects. Similar to the likes of Skywind and Skyblivion—player-made projects that are steadily reimagining The Elder Scrolls’ Morrowind and Oblivion in Skyrim respectively—Fallout 4: New Vegas is piecing together the Mojave Wasteland by virtue of the engine that powered Boston’s post-apocalyptic Commonwealth.
It’s got a ways to go yet, however the latest snippet of in-game footage that surfaced this week shows off a portion of the original game’s opening area Goodsprings. Beneath the desert sun, we first see the player tinkering with their Pip-Boy and setting their perks, before murdering an innocent bystander in a firefight. We’re then shown the mod’s reinterpretation of NV’s iconic karma system, whereby the player is shunned from the lazy backwater town as a result of their unscrupulous actions. Who knows when Fallout 4: New Vegas will see the light of day, but I’ll be watching closely in the meantime.
James Davenport: Puzzles for GOTY 2018
I thought 2017 was a fine year for games, but nothing consumed me like the puzzle depicting a gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts I bought at Walmart on New Year’s Day did. I drank three beers the night before, and I couldn’t imagine hitting the streets of Missoula yet again, so my SO and I went to the grocery superstore with $10 in our pockets and limitless imagination (barring anything that costs more than $10) in our hearts. We could only afford the 500-piece puzzles, but I managed to toss in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Tonight Dough Jimmy Fallon branded ice cream too. The puzzle was exquisite (the stale chunks of peanut butter cookie dough, less so).
We sat in total silence for the entire morning, separating the edge pieces from the rest, sticking to our sections—I took the sky and grass—while we made art from nonsense. 2018 is the year we bring puzzles back to the fore and resign games to the clearance endcaps of big department stores. Our dreams of new GPUs and better graphics are going to waste. All we need is cardboard cut into confusing shapes and rough images of people in denim.
Tuan Nguyen: CES 2018 and gaming displays
For hardware, 2018 is going to be the year of displays. 1440p just won’t cut it this year. It’s going to be at least 4K—with variable refresh rates of course. But I think we’re going to actually see a push toward 8K. I feel like while gamers are just mass adopting 1440p, manufacturers are going to start leapfrogging their own 4K displays for 8K.This might sound absurd, but displays are now the number one drivers of gaming performance. High resolution displays require serious GPU power, especially if you plan to play your favorite games with everything turned up. VR headsets help here too. There’s a need to get VR goggles up to 4K per eye right now, and all the major GPU manufacturers know this. And yes, this includes Intel, since it recently said it’ll get back into the discrete GPU game. 2018 won’t just be for high resolution displays, it’ll be the year of displays and a new player in the GPU space. Good Intel!