PC Game Rundown

About a month ago I returned my laptop to factory default to clean it out. Even the cleanest machine can build up junk that causes it to run slower, freeze or not be able to run programs, so I would suggest people do this at least every three years. I’ll hopefully write a full post in the future about the process I go through to make sure all my files and programs are safe, and my computer is running at its highest capabilities, but today I’m talking about some of the new PC games I’ve been trying out on my revitalized machine.

Some of these games are in “Early Access” on the PC game service Steam, which means that they’re not finished, but are available for purchase. This allows the developers to receive funding through customer interest/faith, and the player to receive updates as the game is further developed. Sometimes companies fizzle out and the games don’t reach their truly finished state, but it also means more innovative games that publishers wouldn’t usually take a chance on can see the light of day.

Scrap Mechanic - A similar building mechanic as Minecraft, it focuses on creating vehicles and other mechanical apparatus. Using engines, bearings and control surfaces you can create land and air vehicles, autonomous strongholds and even transforming mechs. Just getting your first vehicle to move and turn properly can be difficult, but after a few builds I have a collection consisting of a motorcycle, dune buggy and a jet that I can launch and somewhat steer. My jet took 3 or 4 builds to finally even out the weight and give it enough propulsion to shake the surly bonds of earth, but I’ve had few videogame experiences more satisfying. The build I played only had a “Creative” mode available, so I haven’t seen any of the actual survival or battle mechanics yet. Hopefully, they can apply the same high level of quality I’ve seen so far to the rest of the game.

Superhot – This game takes the hectic pace of a first person shooter and slows it down to a crawl. The hook is that, in the game, the enemies, and the rest of the world around you, only moves when you do. This allows you to easily dodge bullets as you disarm and steal enemy weapons. There isn’t much else to the game, but the beauty is when you clear out a room full of armed assailants, starting with just your bare hands. Throwing objects you find in the environment can deflect bullets or stagger opponents as you turn their weapons back on them. Launch a couple bullets that just hang in midair until you dive to cover, causing them to take flight. It doesn’t have a ton of replay value, but the time mechanics make this an interesting game to play.

The Culling – This game has been dubbed “The only Battle Royale/Hunger Games-style survival title”. Multiplayer only, you start inside a crate dropped into an island landscape. The rounds last 20 minutes and no respawning, so when you die you can either spectate or quit out and join another hunt. There’s a decent amount of buildings and locales to forage through, but you can also create simple weapons and medical equipment from rocks and branches. Surviving or defeating opponents awards you with better loadouts, so you have the choice of trying to defeat the other contestants or simply surviving till the time expires and poisonous gas is released to push the remaining players into the center of the map. The game itself isn’t running particularly well, with framerates dropping below 20fps and connections cutting out periodically. It has some impressive graphics, but I’ve had to keep all the specs bottomed out just to make it playable. People with better PCs seem to be experiencing the same problems, so it may just mean the game needs more reworking under the hood. It’s a fun premise with intense gameplay, but I’ll probably have to wait until the developer cleans it up to really be able to enjoy it.

Rocket League – This game is also available on Xbox One and is the only “completed” title on this list. Simple premise, soccer with rocket-propelled RC cars. In a giant stadium, teams of three battle to get the ball into the other team’s goal (but you know how soccer works). It really is a lot of fun though. After a while you start to figure out that crowding the ball, like a peewee soccer team, leaves you chasing behind the play. Instead, see where the ball is moving and get to a position that will open up scoring opportunities (but you know how sports work). Precise gameplay and deep car customization make this sleeper hit a must-try.