"The view from PTC Towers."
The image above, as you can probably tell, is not my work. It was masterfully drawn by Liam. You may be wondering why there's underwear beneath the tree in lieu of presents. As tempting as it is to claim it's a Dutch tradition, that is, unfortunately, not the case.
We thought it'd be nice to have a Christmas-themed image up there for you all, so James suggested a Paint picture might fit the bill, before this exchange took place.
Yes, we are serious writers here at PTC.
We've also trawled through the forums to present to you a handful of meaningless stats that you may find interesting. Think of it like a progress screen at the end of a level, but instead of a page detailing how many enemies you've killed, you get a completely unscientific estimate of just how much time we've all poured into our pastime of choice.
You probably can't complain, because you're all pretty good at procrastinating. The Procrastination Page has grown by 17 pages. That's 170 posts. It would take a sharper mind than I to work out the overall man hours that have been wasted and the total cost to the economy, but experts believe it to be significant. Probably.
A lot of time was also spent rating the games you played. 15 pages of recommendations from staff and community members about games both old and new. Yours truly did attempt to tally up just how many games had been rated, but lost count at 60 (or was it 61?) with a few pages still to go. It's a significant number though, according to a different set of experts.
ImmaturityRules living up to his name.
When it comes to sharing screenshots and videos, you certainly weren't slacking! A whopping 30 pages have been added to the Share Your Screenshots thread. That's hundreds of images and clips, and hours of entertainment.
Hopefully next year will see even more, if only so you don't have to see any more header images from Paint.
Over the course of the year we've grown from 186 registered forum members to 466 - pop in and say hi, we don't bite; unless you're one of the types that posts Russian porn, anyway - an extra 80 threads have been created and almost 4,000 posts have been made (at the time of writing, we'll likely have exceeded that when you read this).
Props to James for finding these statistics, and also for assisting Plas in the brutal elimination of Rodent.
Rodent, still stinging from that collision, posted a video of Jam utilising some ungentlemanly tactics in order to secure victory. Or "being a dirty cheater" as he put it.
We're sure this is just a friendly rivalry.
You may remember some months ago that Sam tried to get someone, anyone, to buy Battleborn.
Well, he's at it again and this time he's serious.
Unfortunately it's climbed to the lofty heights of £8.99 since, but whilst the offer of a free copy is off the table, the offer of companionship remains.
Sam's been busy playing another multiplayer-focused shooter in Killing Floor 2 and shared a video of a particularly memorable boss encounter from the game.
"Winning even as a full team just doesn't happen, you get obliterated 99 times out of 100, so finishing it solo was pretty special. I even got a message from a teammate thanking me."
Another impressive video came from Heavyarms_Kai.
Those totally accurate physics! ... We'll also forgive the fact Kai referred to Ryu Hayabusa as "a random dude"...
Liam had a very fortunate run in with Lady (or should that be Lad?) Luck in Modern Warfare Remastered. I think most FPS players have been in a position where the enemy have you pinned down, you're low on health and there looks to be no way out. It's a bad place to be, but it gets even worse when the grenade indicator pops up, just to let you know how screwed you truly are.
What a guy!
That's almost it from me, but who could resist the chance to re-revel in one of the best Plas fails?
Only Plas could follow the instructions to the letter and still fail.
Just a reminder that we're currently running a giveaway. If you want to be in with a chance of winning System Shock: Enhanced Edition and System Shock 2 on Steam, then take a look here for details on how to enter.
As it's that time of year, we leave you with a terrible video game Christmas song.
We never asked for this. It's been five long weeks since our campaign began, we've lost friends, brothers and sisters in arms, but we have to keep going.
Our fifth mission has now been successfully completed, please play close attention to the after-action report below:
On the brink of our next mission, Operation Storm Dragon, we find ourselves at an important decision. Should we focus on training up our current forces, or diversify and initiate new troops. We already have some soldiers such as Chris "Crisco" Brand and Rob "Bob" Holt waiting for their first mission, while others like Max "Makka" Taylor are itching to get back in the field.
We are even experimenting with ways to bring our fallen comrades back into the fold, so there is hope for the continued careers of Dan "NinjaDan" Fronteras and Liam "Dutch" Andrews.
For those of you unfamiliar with the hard work of these brave souls, familiarise yourself with the five after-action combat reports below. Study them closely, as who knows when you may be asked to join the team in the field. If you have questions about the team's performance then leave them below.
Gentlemen, ladies - Semper Fi, and expect the next mission next Friday.
It was our Deputy Editor’s birthday this week, but it turns out Sam’s been too busy to enjoy the occasion, and instead of feasting on cake and ice cream, he’s been stuck at work. Still, I can think of worse jobs than testing games!
Glad we cleared that up.
Stop complicating things, Rodent!
It’s competition time once again here at PTC, this time we’re giving away a copy of Robinson: The Journey on PSVR thanks to the kind folks over at Crytek.
You can find out more information on how to enter here, but be sure to move quick as the competition closes Tuesday. Good luck to all those who have entered so far!
The PS4 Pro has been out for just over a week now, but BAMozzy doesn’t seem too pleased with the way some games run on the super charged console, although as Sam points out, Sony are “looking into those issues, as games are actually forbidden from running worse on Pro hardware.”
“I must admit I am a little disappointed by the PS4 Pro at the moment. The Last of Us runs beautifully at 30fps in 4k but the 60fps mode is worse than the 60fps mode of the PS4 version… I have no doubt that we will see more options and better conceived enhancements over time. At the moment though it’s quite mixed and very limited choice... Not so much a 'Pro' choice - at least not yet!”
BAM did concede that Titanfall 2 looks “visually stunning on the PS4 Pro”, but was let down by the new single player campaign.
“I beat the campaign on Master difficulty (all pilot Helmets collected too) and whilst the campaign is good - it’s not great in my opinion. I expected more from the team behind Modern Warfare.”
James was much more pleased with Respawn’s sequel, giving the game a big old 10 in our review.
It seems The Game Awards’ jury agrees with our Editor, with Titanfall 2 earning a nomination for Game of the Year. You can see which other titles will be going head to head with Respawn’s shooter right here.
Personally, I’m a little disappointed that Infinite Warfare has been overlooked, while Sam thought the nominations were pretty spot on.
“DOOM, Uncharted 4, Inside & Overwatch all pop into my head when I consider my games of the year, so I can't argue with the nominees.”
Meanwhile MrkDhn10 agrees with Mafia III’s story driven nominations. “I see Mafia 3 up for narrative and a lead actor. Whilst I had issues with gameplay, the story and acting is fantastic.”
Despite his sizeable collection of Call of Duty images shared in last week’s round-up, Rodent managed to leave out this little gem, so we’ll right that wrong now. Too… many… bad…puns.
Clip of the week goes to James for this footage from the aftermath of his, Dan’s and Rodent’s impromptu game of sumo in GTA V. Technically this would be a murder suicide, seeing as Dan was still inside in the car when things went belly up.
My jukebox choice this week goes to Infinite Warfare, whose musical score was a surprising highlight of the game. Enjoy!
Judging from the above image, Sam seems to be pretty pleased with his latest acquisition. And who wouldn’t be, especially when you get a copy of Dishonored 2 for peanuts and a whole day ahead of its scheduled release. “Just switched my order as Amazon are offering a Pro console with Dishonored 2 for £352.49. I had just the console for £349.99 previously, can't say no to a copy of that for £2.50!”
“Was wondering why the Pro console was claiming my TV wasn't capable of 4K RGB or HDR when it is, and after a chat with PlayStation support on Twitter found out that it's due to having VR hooked up. Gotta switch a HDMI out every time I want to go between VR and TV games, which is slightly annoying.”
Sam’s been plagued by first world problems recently, after he needlessly devalued his sealed copy of Mass Effect 3 by, you know, opening it.
"I opened and installed my copy of Mass Effect 3 that's been sat on the shelf sealed for years today (it was before I knew they were all free with EA Access, or I'd have just downloaded it). Maybe I'll finally play it at some point now.”
I’ll probably be revisiting the trilogy's finale at some point too, just to give the immensely fun multiplayer another go. News of the three games going backwards compatible arrived alongside our first look at Mass Effect: Andromeda, which garnered a mostly positive reaction from the PTC forums.
Max likes how “the perspective has been flipped from a group of races protecting their civilization from an unknown threat, to the same group possibly now being seen in the same light”, and thinks it’s “going to be great”.
Plasma wing was a little disappointed by the lack of gameplay on show, but is “still excited”, while SkinnerChinner thinks the game “looks good” and is glad the series is getting a “clean break” from the Shepard trilogy.
The only person who seemed underwhelmed by the trailer was ImmaturityRules.
“Great news about the whole trilogy being BC and a resounding "meh" to the zero gameplay trailer. With the general talent exodus at BioWare getting to the point where I've no idea who's running the franchises these days, I'm not feeling any excitement. If it ends up being another EA microtransaction-fuelled, tarted-up shooter, I'll be done with BioWare and EA altogether.”
You’ve been warned, EA! Just in case Andromeda turns out to be flop, ImmaturityRules has an RPG back up in the form of the recently purchased Skyrim Special Edition.
“Gonna roll two new characters, one for Achievements and one for Mods. It's just a shame the High King of Skyrim mod isn't available, I'd love to sentence Nazeem and Heimskr to hard labour or execute them.”
That’s what I’ve been doing (rolling two characters, not torturing annoying NPC’s) but my achievement Argonian (everyone should have one) got stuck in a sewer and that was the end of his adventuring.
Welcome back, Kai! Our models thread has been severely neglected during your absence, and Metalrodent’s been too busy slagging off Rainbow Six Siege’s newest update to post any of his latest builds.
“This is what, nearly a year after the game's release. Surely there can't be enough people left who really care that much? I mean beyond the core dedicated fanbase that seems to have sprung up the game pretty much lost mainstream attention within a month of release, chronic lack of content being quite an issue”
Now, PTC Crisco is very fond of Ubisoft’s tactical shooter, and he says he’s been busy re-decorating his home this week, but I think it’s far more likely he’s plastered his walls with various blueprints and images of Rodent’s dwelling and is currently trying to work out which wall to breach first.
Before Rodent meets an untimely end at the hands of vengeful PTC staff, he’s kindly provided us with his latest image ‘dump’. This week it’s Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare Remastered. It’s quite a big dump, so here’s a slide show to make sifting through it a little easier.
“Cruel but funny” is how Rodent accurately described this clip.
“I do love the way the game actually lets teamkills slide when you're in the heat of a firefight.”
Team killing wouldn’t fly on the Retribution, a ship whose crew is very close. A little too close, at times.
Seeing as it was N7 day earlier this week, let’s finish up with some music from BioWare’s much loved space opera.
A title that reinvented a genre and introduced a generation of console gamers to the joys and frustrations of competitive online shooters, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is back and looking better than ever. We’ve taken Infinity Ward’s classic for a quickie to see if it stands the test of time.
What about the multiplayer, any more significant changes there?
Jumping online will feel instantly familiar to anyone who played plenty of the original game’s multiplayer; the addition of call signs, emblems, and an overhauled menu design are the only real changes.
Does it still hold up? Please say yes, I loved Modern Warfare’s multiplayer!
While it’s still huge amounts of fun, when you take off the rose-tinted glasses it’s easy to see a few problems that wouldn’t fly in today’s shooters, such as overpowered perks and weapons. Also, whilst the maps are well designed, they do feel a little small by today’s standards.
Oh… so it’s not the masterpiece I remember it being?
It’s precisely the great multiplayer fans will remember; they just have to be willing to forgive a few unbalanced features and a lack of content that didn’t seem so much of a problem at the time.
Would you recommend the remaster?
Unless you’re interested in Infinite Warfare’s pricey special editions, we’d have to say no. Wait until Activision inevitably release a standalone version of Modern Warfare Remastered, it’ll be cheaper. If they stick to their guns and don’t, you’ll live.
It’s also worth noting that nostalgia can be a double-edged sword. While it’s a lot of fun revisiting a game that provided so many fantastic memories – especially with friends - after so many years a lot of those people have moved on, or stopped gaming altogether, and it’s just not the same experience without them.
“You specifically refer to me topping the leaderboard, but neglect to mention that during the week I climbed to first on the global Tethered rankings and the developer tweeted to congratulate me. For shame, Chris!”
Fans of shooting things have been somewhat spoiled recently, with Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 (props to Plas for getting all the achievements) and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare all releasing within the last three weeks.
James has been playing through DICE’s Great War-inspired shooter to bring you our review, both in written and video form.
SkinnerChinner thought the review was “decent and fair”, and says that this is his favourite Battlefield game yet. “I prefer the setting & weapons to the attachment laden BF4 - find when I die it's down to smart tactics or opposing class rather than fire rates or someone with the 'god mode' weapon set-up.”
The game’s campaign didn’t quite hit all the right notes, however:
“As for the single player, so much wasted potential! It gets the atmosphere spot on considering the subject material & starts off strong, but each campaign is woefully short & nowhere near long enough for any real character development or emotional pay-off. All the marketing around the 369th Infantry Regiment & they're only in the 1st half of the tutorial?”
Elsewhere on the forum, fracturedrich shared the games he's currently playing and looks to be all set for winter – “FIFA, Battlefield and Gears 4 all on my brand new slim, love them all.”
I’ve been making my way through the lands of Skyrim once again in the recently released Special Edition, and I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with the newly added mod support for consoles.
Because adding mods disables achievements, MrkDhn10 is going to save them for his second playthrough, but is a bit concerned about the game dominating his spare time.
“Thoroughly enjoying the game, although a little worried at how much of my life will disappear, esp as Xmas partys start soon...”
It’s a genuine concern, I’ve barely touched any of the main quest lines and already sunk a heck of a lot of hours into this game, although elves just dropping out of thin air hasn’t helped progress:
With N7 day fast approaching, Bioware are looking for new recruits to sign up to their Andromeda Initiative program. Heavyarms_Kai wasn’t convinced by the developer’s propaganda:
“Special training opportunities" why does that read as "we're going to make you all unpaid shills".
Get on board, Kai. Remember, teamwork makes the dreamwork… Unless that team includes Plas, then things like this happen:
And that was before the very first part of the heist set-up had even begun. Luckily we did manage to power through, with Plas even earning a platinum rank for one of the missions. I know! We were all shocked as well.
When we’re not pulling off the perfect heist, Team PTC can be found saving Earth from evil alien overlords, which you can see in the second part of our new XCOM 2 series.
Catch up on the first episode here, but I must warn you things don’t go well for Liam ‘Dutch’ Andrews. If that video taught me anything, it’s never leave the safety of the sofa.
Now we all know that Metalrodent isn’t shy when it comes to sharing his tank related gameplay, but for some reason he was reluctant to post this next image and I had to pull it from his DVR account.
Managing to get a tank stuck on the second floor of a house is actually rather impressive, and therefore deserves to be shared.
To finish things up, my jukebox selection this week shall be Sergeant Griggs’ rap from the first Modern Warfare, seeing as the remaster is out this weekend as part of Infinite Warfare’s Legacy Edition. I know what I’ll be playing then. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, don’t hate me!
If you already owned Skyrim and all its DLC on PC, there was a free upgrade waiting for you when Skyrim Special Edition released last Friday, but this remaster was never really meant to benefit a platform that had better graphics from day one and access to mod support for years.
Skyrim wasn’t exactly the ugliest game when it released on consoles back in 2011, but the enhanced visuals of the Special Edition put the original to shame. The game’s still no world beater when compared to some of today’s offerings, but improved lighting, a new depth of field effect and general upgrades mean the remaster looks very pretty on Xbox One, and there have been plenty of moments where I’ve put questing on hold just to take in some of the impressive landscapes.
There are still a few rough edges here and there - such as the draw distance on trees and buildings - but overall the upgraded graphics help make the experience more immersive.
Better visuals are nice, but mods were one of the biggest selling points for the Special Edition. The selection isn’t quite as comprehensive as on PC, but there’s still a sizeable collection available on Xbox One, including one of the most popular mods – Frostfall.
Frostfall adds new gameplay effects such as cold weather exposure, making the experience much more survival oriented and changes how you approach the game. On the hardest setting overexposure leads to death and fast travel is disabled, so I quickly learned to pick my routes carefully or run the risk of freezing to death – the fastest way is not always the safest.
Other mods I’ve sampled just help to improve the overall gameplay experience; Point the Way adds more sign posts on the roads of Skyrim (very helpful when fast travel is disabled), and Ring of Increased Carry Weight lets me hoard every weapon, armour or piece of loot I come across without any movement penalty.
The Alternate Start – Live Another Life mod is good for those who just want to dive straight into the action without the game’s lengthy introduction. This mod allowed me to start off camping in the woods nearby Helgen, but there’s also the option to become a vampire, bandit, warrior or warlock’s thrall right away, plus many more.
If you’ve played Skyrim to death then this remaster probably won’t appeal, but if you still had plenty to do in the original and always wanted to go back and finish it, then Skyrim Special Edition is the perfect excuse to jump back in.
There were only two of the mods that I tried which seemed to have a negative effect and were soon disabled. Open Cities takes away loading screens when entering major cities such as Riften or Markarth, and while it’s a cool feature, a couple of crashes in and around the gates of Windhelm wasn’t worth the seamless transition.
The second to be turned off was the Less Aggressive Animals mod, but not for technical issues. This mod actually works very well at keeping irritating encounters with over aggressive animals to a minimum, but it can be a bit annoying when you have a follower.
Accidently aggroed wolves would still try to run away from me, but Lydia would take even the slightest act of aggression as an excuse to go on a wild chase across the mountains until the unfortunate creature was dead, leaving me on my lonesome. It’s not so much of an issue when simply journeying from A to B, but when I was about to fight the troll guarding the entrance to High Hrothgar it became more of a problem.
Aside’s from the occasional technical issue to deal with, the addition of mods has largely improved my Skyrim experience on console, and with so many to pick from and a sizeable 5GB allowance on Xbox One there’s plenty of scope to play around and combine certain mods with each other - just be sure to check load orders and compatibility to avoid any unnecessary complications.
Despite the boon of improved visuals and mod support, the opening few hours of my return to Skyrim were dogged by the nagging feeling that I’ve seen and done it all before (which of course I have), but as the game opens up I’m finding a familiar enjoyment in diving into caves for loot and clearing forts of their bandit occupiers, and being called out by the other Dragonborn for the first time reminded me that there is plenty of new content still to discover.
If you’ve played Skyrim to death then this remaster probably won’t appeal, but if you still had plenty to do in the original and always wanted to go back and finish it, or just want to experience the game’s plethora of mods but don’t have a gaming PC, then Skyrim Special Edition is the perfect excuse to jump back in.