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Max Payne creators Remedy return to PC

Issue 290 april 2016

FEATURE

CRYSIS REVISITED Why the 2007 FPS is still great

Inside!

Hands-on: the truth about the space game you can play forever

Top 10 free downloads Adam Jensen’s apartment AND MORE!

HEADSETS RATED The best audio on

HARDWARE

THE WITCHER 3

making gwent, the best RPG minigame ever

EVE Online

The rise and fall of a galactic empire

PC rated inside


#290 April 2016 Future Publishing Ltd Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA Tel 01225 442244 Fax 01225 732275 Email pcgamer@futurenet.com Web www.pcgamer.com EDITORIAL Global Editor In Chief Tim Clark Editor Samuel Roberts Deputy Editor Phil Savage Art Editor John Strike Production Editor Tony Ellis Web Editor Tom Senior PCG Pro Editor Chris Thursten Section Editor Andy Kelly Staff Writer Angus Morrison CONTRIBUTORS Matthew Lochrie, Evan Lahti, Wes Fenlon, Chris Livingston, Tyler Wilde, James Davenport, Jon Blyth, Dave James, Elizabeth Elliott, David Lyttleton, Ben Griffin, Tom Stone, Ian Birnbaum, Tom Sykes, Andy McGregor, Zak Storey, Leif Johnson, Matt Elliott, Joe Donnelly, Nathan Brown, Steven Messner Photography Future Photography Studio Advertising Commercial Sales Director Clare Dove Advertising Director Andrew Church Advertising Manager Michael Pyatt Account Manager Steven Pyatt For advertising enquiries, please contact Andrew Church: andrew.church@futurenet.com Marketing Group Marketing Manager Laura Driffield Marketing Manager Kristianne Stanton Production & Distribution Production Controller ​Fran Twentyman Production Manager​Mark Constance​ Printed in the UK by: William Gibbons & Sons Ltd on behalf of Future Distributed by:​Seymour Distribution Ltd​, 2 East Poultry Avenue, London EC1A 9PT, Tel: 0207 429 4000 Overseas distribution by:​Seymour International​ Circulation Trade Marketing Manager Juliette Winyard – 07551 150 984 Subscriptions UK reader order line & enquiries: 0844 848 2852 Overseas reader order line & enquiries: +44 (0)1604 251045 Online enquiries: www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk Email: pcgamer@myfavouritemagazines.co.uk Licensing Senior Licensing & Syndication Manager Matt Ellis Matt.Ellis@futurenet.com – +44 (0)1225 442244 Management Managing Director, Magazines Joe McEvoy Editorial Director Matt Pierce Group Art Director Rodney Dive

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Endless space Whenever I talk to people about No Man’s Sky, a certain cynicism seems to emerge. It’s gorgeous, sure, but is the procedural generation just a gimmick that won’t sustain the game beyond a couple of planets and a few hours exploring them? Andy Kelly got to the bottom of that when he visited the studio, which is behind a garage in Guildford, for our cover feature beginning on page 36. No Man’s Sky, whether it’s a failure or not, will be a fascinating case study as to whether procedural generation enables smaller developers to dream big. Enjoy the issue.

SAMUEL ROBERTS EDITOR

samuel.roberts@futurenet.com @SamuelWRoberts

The PC Gamer team Tony Ellis

A n d y Ke l l y

C h r i s L i v i n gs t o n

Specialist in Stealth, words

Specialist in Infinity, beyond

Specialist in Survival, rivers

This month Played Metal Gear Solid V for the first time this month. Had to go and ruin it for himself by insisting on doing the missions stealth-only.

Twitter @ultrabrilliant

Twitter @screencuisine

This month Blasted off in No Man’s Sky and found a poisonous gasball of a planet on his first go.

This month Watched a girl and her cute dog die again and again and again in The Flame in the Flood.

april 2016

5


Contents

#290 April 2016

Subscribe to Check out our digital bundle! See p58

36

Monitor

08 THE TOP STORY The Vive gets a release date.

10 Opinion Phil on the Indiepocalypse.

12 THE SPY A Dragon Age tactical RPG? Yes. Yes.

14 FACE OFF Should Hitman be episodic?

16 SPECIAL REPORT

Opposing Force and lost luggage.

18 ESPORTS The state of the LoL scene five years on.

Previews

20 World of Warcraft: Legion 24 Quantum Break 26 Kôna: Day One 28 Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord 30 Paragon

Features 36 No Man’s Sky

Andy heads out into the unknown.

42 Braben Interview The future of the great Elite Dangerous.

44 Gwent The making of Witcher 3’s card game.

48 EVE Online The betrayal of a galactic empire.

6

april 2016

Turn to page 34

36

42

44

Take Andy out into the black, tell them he ain’t coming back. Andy meets a rat guy on a poisonous planet in Hello’s giant space game.

David Braben talks helicopter engineers and the future of the best space game on PC.

Phil learns about the surprising origins of The Witcher 3 card game.

NO MAN’S SKY

Elite Dangerous

The making of GWENT


42

Network 60 SEND

This month’s best letter wins XCOM 2.

Reviews

64 Street Fighter V 68 Superhot 70 Unravel 72 Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc 74 Firewatch 78 Prospekt 80 The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human 82 Bombshell 84 Darkest Dungeon 86 Lego Marvel’s Avengers 88 The Flame in the Flood 90 Layers of Fear Downloadable Content 92 Dying Light: The Following THEY’RE BACK 94 Five Nights at Freddy’s 95 Call of Juarez: Gunslinger 95 Anno 1404 95 Risen 2: Dark Waters 95 Marvel Puzzle Quest

44 48

Hardware 98 GROUP TEST

Dave rates the best headsets on PC.

98

104 REVIEWS

The latest tech on PC rounded up.

106 BUYER’S GUIDE

Get the right PC for your budget.

Extra Life 110 NOW PLAYING

What we’ve been playing, and what Tony Ellis hasn’t been enjoying.

64

48

EVE ONLINE Steven Messner uncovers the story of the Brave Newbies alliance, and why you should never make an enemy of the player who runs your servers.

64

114 TOP 10 DOWNLOADS The best free stuff this month.

98

STREET FIGHTER HEADSET V REVIEW SUPERTEST Fighting game expert Nathan Brown delivers his verdict on Capcom’s latest.

What’s changed in headsets? Not a whole lot lately, as Dave James discovers.

118 REINSTALL

Andy switches Crysis on again, and still can’t run it at max settings.

122 WHY I LOVE

In praise of Adam Jensen’s man pad.

124 DIARY

Phil tries his hand at being a peaceful merchant in The Age of Decadence.

128 MUST PLAY

One writer’s pick of the best PC games.

april 2016

7


O P I N I O N

T E C H

G A M E S

T he P C G a m er v i e w o f the w or l d The Vive’s 90Hz display is essential for a smooth VR experience.

THE TOP STORY

VIVE PRICED AND DATED Valve and HTC unveil the consumer version of their own virtual reality headset

I

n January, Oculus announced the release date and retail price of its Rift VR headset. Now it’s HTC and Valve’s turn. The SteamVRpowered Vive will begin shipping on April 1 and will cost $799. That’s just five days after the Rift ships, and with an extra $200 on the price tag. But while the Rift doesn’t come with Oculus’s Touch Controller – that’s being released at a later date – every Vive is bundled with its own wireless dualcontroller and two laser-tracking boxes, which explains why the asking price is so much higher. The Vive also connects to 8

april 2016

mobile phones, which the official website says will “enable you to stay connected to the real world without exiting the virtual world.” This technology is called Vive Phone Services and avowedly “combines both realities without losing touch with either.” Basically that means you’ll be able to

YOU CAN RESPOND TO PHONE CALLS WITHOUT EVER TAKING THE HEADSET OFF

respond to calls, receive text messages, and check your calendar without ever taking the headset off. So if you can’t bring yourself to leave whichever virtual world you’re in to answer a phone call, you don’t have to. What a time to be alive. As with the Rift, you’ll need a powerful gaming PC to run the Vive, but the recommended system specs are slightly lower. Oculus suggests 8GB of RAM, while Valve says 4GB is fine. The Vive also needs fewer USB ports and has support for DisplayPort, while the Rift is HDMI only. And both recommend a GTX 970 or similar GPU. A free software tool is available on Steam that tests your hardware to see if it’s


OPINION

These so-called Lighthouse towers track your position.

I

GAMES

I

TECH

Highs & lows

THE MONTH IN PC GAMING

highs Betas

Ubisoft, Square Enix and company offer substantial slabs of games in a quieter part of the year.

Warren Spector

Deus Ex creator returns to games development to make System Shock 3 of all things.

Xbox games come to PC

Quantum Break is hopefully the start for more console exclusives making their way to our platform.

Street Fighter V

Shame about the singleplayer content, but there’s a lot to love about the fighting game at the heart of this.

VR

After years of just talking about this new platform for PC, you can finally try it for yourself this spring.

Pricing criticism

Complaints that games like Firewatch aren’t worth their cost are rubbish.

The games never end

We’re going to need another February just to catch up on games from last year. Unlike Rift, the Vive comes bundled with these controllers.

Heavy XCOM losses

XCOM 2 is a fantastic game, but failing a campaign is unusually devastating.

Rocket League Season 2

VR-ready, so it may be worth running that before investing in a Vive. “We have worked tirelessly with Valve to deliver the best VR experience on the market,” says Cher Wang, CEO of HTC. “With the Vive consumer edition we’re now able to realise our ultimate vision: bringing Vive into homes around the globe so that people can experience immersive virtual reality in a way that fires the imagination and truly changes the world.” While SteamVR is primarily a gaming technology, HTC, much like Oculus, is interested in applications for the Vive beyond gaming. “We’re working with developers to foster the creation of content that spans multiple sectors,” the website

announces. “These include, as well as entertainment, retail, education, design, and healthcare. This technology will transform people’s lives.” Big talk. Both Oculus and HTC have a grand vision for VR as a world-changing technology, but it remains to be seen whether the public will embrace it. The biggest hurdle is the cost. $800 (or $600 for the Rift) is a lot of money for a piece of tech that many people are still unconvinced by. VR is amazing, but it’s by no means essential, and it probably won’t improve your life in any meaningful way. VR is coming and it actually works, but the cost may dampen its impact on the world. Andy Kelly

It’s been patched now, but for a while the new ranking system was just plain obtuse.

Windows 10 exclusivity

It would be nice to buy Quantum Break and its like on Steam as well.

LOws

april 2016

9


OPINION

I

GAMES

o P I N I O N

I

TECH

The Flock’s daring multiplayer went largely ignored.

Poor sales of Starward Rogue forced Arcen Games to lay off staff.

Show me the money First time developers that struck it big

Au d i o s u r f

A huge hit back when Steam’s indie catalogue was relatively slim. Legend has it Valve sent Dylan Fitterer a money hat to celebrate his success.

10

april 2016

Gunpoint

Tom Francis used to work for PC Gamer. Then he released Gunpoint, and left us all behind. We’d be bitter, but he’s too nice a person.

U n d e r ta l e

Released late 2015, Undertale wasn’t buried under the avalanche of new Steam games. Instead, it became one of last year’s best loved indies.

M in ec r a f t

Minecraft was never released on Steam, and yet still became one of the biggest PC games of all time. Its creator, Notch, is a very rich man.


OPINION

I

GAMES

I

TECH

“There is no Indiepocalypse” Indie games aren’t fine, but they’re no more screwed than they were before

T

he indiepocalypse is coming! Take cover, lest you’re caught in Jonathan Blow’s nuclear meltdown. Hide your children, before Mike Bithell irradiates them until they’re mutated and hench. Or don’t, because the entire thing is nonsense. The theory is that, because there are more indie games on Steam now, it’s much harder for any one title to achieve success. The increased volume, indiepocalypse proponents argue, threatens to burst the indie bubble.

Even now, it’s not all about Steam. Itch.io is a fine indie distributor.

It’s a tempting argument. For one thing, there are graphs. More than that, it’s the sort of thing that sounds true. There are more indie games on Steam – this is a phenomenon you have noticed. And doesn’t a decrease in median sales serve indie developers right for flooding a digital store with the things they want to sell? It would have been better if Steam had remained a curatorial haven that sold only the best of the best. The problem with this very real argument that I’m exaggerating is this: it’s bollocks. Steam has never been a curated storefront. Valve was simply bad at sorting through submissions. That didn’t stop Steam’s overlords from making deals with publishers. From its first years as a third-party storefront, Steam has sold plenty of crap. Greenlight was ostensibly the solution, and it’s had the desired effect of making it easier for indie games to be sold on Steam. This is what the indiepocalypse crowd misses. They argue that more indie games are failing. The truth is that more indie games are visibly failing. It’s true that not every indie developer is guaranteed a life of champagne-flavoured caviar and hand tailored money suits. Many, many games will fail, and not just the bad ones. In recent months, Arcen Games and Tale of Tales have spoken out about their struggles in getting noticed. The current situation is far from ideal, but not noticeably more nor less than has always been the case. Getting noticed has always been a problem for indie games. Now,

paradoxically, it’s a problem that’s easier to notice. People didn’t write of an indiepocalypse when a game went unloved on Desura, Gamersgate or through a developer’s own Fastspring store. All that has changed is Steam itself. It used to be that if a game didn’t get on Steam, it didn’t have a chance. Now, as more games are added to Steam, even those that are accepted may not have a chance. Even that last sentence is too neat an encapsulation. This is an issue that’s messy, complex, and not helped by the fact digital sales figures are rarely made public. Before Greenlight, there were indie games on Steam that weren’t profitable. There were indie games not on Steam that were. As tempting as it is to boil the current situation down to an simplistic, brandable concept, the truth is far more nuanced. For one thing, the indiepocalypse crowd are making an assumption about success. They propose a view that categorises failure in purely financial terms. Doubtless many indie developers want to make money, but that isn’t always the be all and end all. Success isn’t defined purely by graphs. If you assume that it is, you fail to recognise the many reasons an individual or small team chose to create. Ultimately, I think the current situation is better than before. Steam is no longer a magic ticket for indie developers, but that doesn’t mean there are fewer overall success stories. More importantly, an increased number of indie games means that success isn’t restricted to the most connected or most fortunate creators. More games have a chance at being a hit, and that makes an admittedly imperfect system slightly fairer. Things could always stand to be better. Valve could improve Steam’s discovery systems. Developers could become more savvy about marketing. Critics could gain the time, resources and page space they’d need to review every game that’s released. But a potential for improvement isn’t the same as impending destruction. Indie games aren’t going anywhere, and that’s good for all of us. Phil Savage

a potential for improvement isn’t the same as impending destruction

Despite critical attention, Sunset wasn’t a commercial success.

april 2016

11


OPINION

I

GAMES

T H E S P Y

I

TECH

F

w h o wat c h e s t h E s p y ?

rom what The Spy has been led to believe, ‘fantasy’ is a word that roughly translates to ‘has dragons in it.’ Game of Thrones, The Hobbit, Sean Connery’s Dragonheart – all are seminal works of fantasy, and all contain dragons. EA’s Dragon Age series has the word dragon in its name, and, sure enough, Dragon Age: Inquisition is chockablock with immense, scaly beasts. By that metric, it must be one of the most beloved fantasy works in existence. Not that The Spy understands why dragons have a reputation as fearsome monsters. The Spy would happily live in a world full of gargantuan lizards with huge, gaping maws designed to roar secrets for all to hear. It would make The Spy’s job so much easier. The Spy thinks that, if dragons are truly to be feared, they should have tiny, inaudible mouths, and be constructed entirely from ears. They should have whiskers that sense movement, and be no larger than a debutante’s purse. CEOs could tell such creatures the most salacious of Q4 release plans, and they’d float off into their hidden cloud castles, designed to repel all but the most daring of rogues. BioWare has, so far, been unreceptive to such change – despite all the notes

and rough sketches left on desks and in shoes around the Edmonton office. Instead, it seems, the studio is too busy contemplating a spin-off. In a Twitter poll, Dragon Age executive producer Mark Darrah asked, “would you play a Dragon Age Tactics game?” Darrah later clarified that tactics referred to a Fire Emblem or XCOM style game. The poll’s options were ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘only on PC’, and ‘only on mobile/ handheld’. In total, more than 12,000 people responded, with a 49% win for yes, and a further 23% specifying a PC-only release. Fortunately, only 6% of respondents pushed for a mobile version.

dragon by numbers

A Twitter poll is a long way off confirmation that a tactical Dragon Age will happen. Still, if Darrah’s intent was to gauge interest, the response should be a clear indication that it exists. XCOM 2’s success can’t have gone unnoticed by EA, and Dragon Age has been a

There are no dragons in Irrational’s BioShock series, and, if there were, they would probably be a metaphor for the evils of socialist intervention. After all, if an individual is not free to act towards his own goals and desires, can society truly be free? And how can such an individual exercise such rights – the right to property chief among them as the means to sustain life, and thus exercise further rights – when they’re threatened by mythical creatures who set fire to your house? This is not a scenario Ayn Rand ever envisioned. You may soon be able to experience bundled musings on objectivism, collectivism and exceptionalism through BioShock: The Collection – a veritable -ism bundle that was outed via Brazil’s Ratings Board. The Spy has to imagine Andrew Ryan would be outraged at the sweat of his brow being appropriated by a government advisory board. 2K probably isn’t happy, either, and has yet to officially confirm the collection’s existence. If the rating is accurate, BioShock: The Collection will be released this year, and contain BioShock, BioShock 2, BioShock Infinite, and, presumably, each game’s DLC. The primary purpose of such a collection is, of course, to make the games available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Such a release may, however, also mean a minor facelift for the PC versions, as happened with Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition. World War II was similarly dragonless, with the notable exception of Sonic The Hedgehog: World War 2 Dragon – a real fanfic that actually exists. And yet, even without any fantasy trappings, the conflict has been deemed exciting enough to justify a fourth Sniper Elite game. That’s according to the LinkedIn profile of an employee at Chinese company ADIA Entertainment. The company has previously contributed to Saint’s Row IV, Uncharted 3, The Last of Us, and BioShock Infinite, so a collaboration on Rebellion’s sequel is certainly credible. That’s bad news for the soft heads of distant Nazis, and, given the variable quality of previous Sniper Elite games, it’s not necessarily great news for anyone else. Spy out. The Spy

sniper elite 4 would be bad news for the soft heads of distant Nazis

The Spy knows who Jon Snow’s mum is.

12

MONTHXUK 2015

testbed for such experiments before. For Inquisition, BioWare worked with Sunless Sea creators Failbetter on text adventure The Last Court. Before that, the episodic Flash game Dragon Age Journeys was a lightweight, turn-based adventure. Capitalising on XCOM 2’s popularity would mean a much larger, more lavishly produced game than Dragon Age’s past spin-offs, but it’s easy to imagine the series’ combat working with a turn-based tactical system. Not that The Spy wants to encourage BioWare, given its ludicrously unrealistic portrayal of professional dagger wielders. The only teleportation The Spy has experienced during a knife fight is the kind that happens after you’ve lost too much blood and wake up in the hospital.



PC Gamer 290 (Sampler)