A $30 price drop on Logitech's latest iteration of the mega-popular G502.
The Logitech G502 X is an interesting remake of the RPS reader favourite G502 gaming mouse, and today it's discounted to $50 in the US when you use a $10 coupon code at Amazon.
It features a more streamlined design that James called "achingly close to perfection", with hybrid optical-mechanical switches and a slightly lower weight (89g) - plus the same high complement of programmable buttons and the hyper-advanced scroll wheel that made the G502 such a hit in the first place.
This RTX 4090 gaming laptop leaves a serious mark
New graphics card generations are a typical driving force behind gaming laptop refreshes, but CPUs can floor that pedal with just as heavy a boot. The result is often something like this latest Asus ROG Strix Scar 17, which wields not just a top-spec Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 but also one of AMD’s newest and most number-crunchy processors, the Ryzen 9 7945HX.
That’s a lot of newness, and even more of a specs list: 32 threads from the Ryzen, 16GB of VRAM, DLSS 3 support and so on. And yet, what’s most impressive about the Strix Scar 17 is not simply its immense power, but how balanced – sensible, even – the whole laptop feels like in use. A quality that seems almost impossible at first, given its clear status as a brashly high-end gaming notebook with all the RGB bells and aggressive styling whistles.
One of the best PC controllers at a discount.
Sony's PS5 DualSense gamepad is one of the best controllers for PC, but with a $70 MSRP it's also one of the most expensive mainstream options. Thankfully, DualSense price cuts that appeared first in the UK have now spread to the US, bringing the Sony pad to a reasonable $49.
Given how well this controller is supported for PC gaming, thanks to the efforts of Valve and modders behind projects like DualSenseX, this makes it an awesome pickup - whether you're looking to play Baldur's Gate 3 in couch co-op or F1 23 with full adaptive trigger support.
But is pretty keen on "JRPG"
PlatinumGames co-founder, Bayonetta director and celebrated Twitter shoutyman Hideki Kamiya would like the "retro" game label to go out of fashion. His argument is that calling something "retro" is inherently condescending - each game has its own particular achievements and qualities that deserve to be understood in terms of more than just nostalgia cultivated by a novelty-driven industry. After all, Johnny 90s Developer didn't spend months knocking together a bespoke cover system or fancy artstyle so that you could badge it "quaint", "old school" and so on, 30 years later. Assuming you can still access the game at all.
"I don't like the word 'retro game'," Kamiya told VGC in a wide-ranging interview also notable for some chunky insights on onomatopoeia in Japanese manga and its US adaptations. "I'm obviously not a native English speaker so it might be something I'm interpreting from a Japanese perspective, but hearing the word 'retro' from a Japanese viewpoint, suggests more of a 'fad' brought back from a past era and reskinned for the current era."
Please, don't let me finish
Baldur's Gate 3 is the CRPG with a billion and one features, but there will always be players who want a billion and two and yes, I am among these insatiable souls. I cracked a fresh save over the weekend, having bid a sad goodbye to my early access Tiefling rogue, and I already know what I’d like from the game’s modding scene, or preferably, a forthcoming official update. No, it isn’t new races, or increased party sizes, or the removal of the weight limit (which you can get around by offloading spare loot to your Tardis-esque interdimensional campsite). What I’d like most is the ability to switch between characters during dialogue. You’ll trigger many of these conversations without warning as you explore the world, and I routinely bumble into chitchats the character I’m controlling isn’t quite prepped for.
Hold the front page
It's been a hot minute since we first started looking for a news editor to take the reins of RPS' daily news posting, but today I'm very pleased to announce that search has finally come to an end. Please give a very warm welcome to Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, the latest addition to the RPS hivemind.
A funny thing happened on the way to the forum
As people of a certain age will know, the current, slow-moving death of Twitter is nothing we haven't seen before. Most of us who were knocking around the internet in the early 00s will have at least one online gravestone in the closet somewhere, whether it's a long abandoned LiveJournal or MySpace page, or an old internet forum that sadly doesn't exist anymore (RPS in peace). But for the citizens of Videoverse, an online community that's part and parcel of the soon to be defunct 1-bit video games console the Kinmoku Shark, this sense of an ending is something that many of them aren't equipped to deal with, least of all teenager Emmett, who's just discovered the fan page for his favourite video game, Feudal Fantasy.
As he deals with the prospect of having to bid farewell to friends old and new, including the mysterious but talented fan artist Vivi, Videoverse taps into a potent and nostalgic melancholy. It's a love letter to the early internet at its rose-tinted best, and to the lost, formative spaces that brought so many like-minded individuals together and gave them a sense of purpose. Yes, there are trolls spoiling everyone's fun, and yes, there's a hint of something more nefarious going on underneath Videoverse's source code. But another Hypnospace Outlaw this is not. Rather, this is a proto-internet tale that's all about the friendships we form online, and the bonds that carry us forward when real-life relationships just don't cut it anymore.
Plus performance, battery and settings tested
Update, and a rather important one at that: The crashing issues I’ve had with Baldur’s Gate 3 on the Steam Deck have been, as far as I can tell, fully fixed. No more collapsing back to the Steam library on startup, and no forcing the use of Proton Experimental – it should launch and work straight away. Valve have even upgraded Baldur’s Gate 3 from Playable to Verified for Steam Deck play, reflecting its newfound handheld-readiness.
This means you can safely ignore the first part of this article, where I whinge about software instability as if it’s the the most heinous atrocity humankind has ever inflicted on itself. All the stuff on general performance, settings, and battery life still applies.
I'm going to be up front with you, readers: this week's What Are We All Playing is going to make for some monotonous reading. I haven't read any of the submissions this week, but I predict this to be the case because a) a lot of people have snuck in some holiday this week and b) everyone who is here is likely to be playing the same thing. You can guess what it is before the jump...
Room for improvement?
Look, I could justify this month's Reality Bytes in any number of ways. I could say the VR launch cupboard is a little bare at the moment, with Steam's New Releases list offering up a lot of dour military shooters, dubious Early Access projects, and fantasy dismemberment porn. I could say that The Room VR: A Dark Matter has just received a PSVR2 release, so now seems an opportune moment to revisit this acclaimed spin-off puzzler. I could say that The Room VR is the only entry in the series RPS hasn't covered yet. But to be perfectly honest, I just fancied playing The Room VR. So there.
Oh all right, there was a slightly more specific reason why I wanted to revisit a game that came out just three days after Half-Life: Alyx. Upon its launch, there wasn't much else like The Room on VR devices, a dedicated puzzler with high production values that didn't feel the need to throw in a gun to shoot or a melon to chop. Now, there are bunch of fantastic VR brain-ticklers swimming in the pond, such as the time-travelling epic Wanderer, the perspective-bending A Fisherman's Tale series, and the ingenious automation extravaganza The Last Clockwinder.
Supporters only: Intrigue and empathy overcome UI annoyances in Frank And Drake
A room with a who
It's been a while since I picked a game that irritated me quite so much. I quit playing Frank And Drake twice before even meeting its second protagonist, but something about it kept pulling me back.
It's partly the style. Some gorgeous rotoscoping gives its few characters a sense of constant motion that's unreal and very lifelike at once, and it's sometimes pushed further by having them decelerate to a blurred freeze frame when you stop walking. The backgrounds are static but interactable things shimmer a bit, like in old cartoons where you could always tell what was background and what was going to do something. More than that, though, it had me intrigued.
Newbies can jump in with a rotating pool of three civilisations
To war, for free this time. Age Of Empires 3: Definitive Edition rolled into battle three years ago to spruce up the real-time strategy classic for modern PCs. Series stewards World’s Edge have now announced a free trial version that allows newbies to jump into the game for as long as they wish, as long as they can handle some restricted content.
Yes, I'm very jealous of Edders Sheeran
I'm not afraid to admit this, but it's become increasingly obvious over the last few days of playing Baldur's Gate 3 that my ability to create interesting custom characters is severely lacking compared to other members of the RPS Treehouse. Case in point, our Ed breezily announced yesterday in our team Slack that he was playing as a Dark Urge bard called, wait for it, Edders Sheeran like it was no big deal whatsoever. I'm not gonna lie, a tiny part of me died inside upon hearing this, simply because of its sheer (not a pun), unadultered brilliance. I mean, come on, it's so good it should actually be illegal.
But it also confirmed to me a deep dark truth about myself that I think I knew deep down, but had kinda been pushing under my equally drab mental carpet for years and years. I'm quite boring at the end of the day, and am the type of person who, no matter the game, always creates basically the same identical person every single time.
What to buy in Steam's puzzle sale?
The Cerebral Puzzle Showcase is back again on Steam, offering heavy discounts for over 200 puzzlers and over 40 demos for upcoming headscratchers. That’s quite a lot of puzzle games, so let’s stretch those dusty noggins with some good old recommendations.
I'm not usually one for character creators. I don't like squinting at brow density or sliding the juiciness of my lips down a scale, twisting and turning my character as if it really and truly matters when I drown them in chainmail anyway. But getting my fella right for Baldur's Gate 3 was of utmost importance, as they'd be my 100+ hour vessel for awful, awful decisions. And I've started off strong, having created an awful little guy.
Let me introduce you to Edders Sheeran, the bard. On the surface he seems like a cheerful sprite, ready to pat his little drum and have everyone do a nice little dance. Truthfully, he is a psychopath who suppresses the urge to kill, thanks to a malevolent background choice that most would leave for a second playthrough, so as he plays Shape Of You, he also imagines the Shape Of You Dead.
Bad news for Akechi and Kisume fans
The Phantom Thieves are taking their stylish fits and supernatural powers onto a turn-based grid with Persona 5 Tactica. Set sometime during the events of Persona 5 Royal, the strategy game’s latest trailer shows our chibi heroes leading a revolution against vaguely French demons and a newly unveiled big bad. Akechi and Kisume stans might notice they aren’t in the shenanigans below, but that's because both characters have been sadly paywalled behind day-one DLC. For now, check out the new trailer.
I quicksave this game on average every 6.27 minutes
After doing some back of the fag packet style calculations, I have determined that I save Baldur's Gate 3 - the ole' F5 quicksave, baby - a bit over every five minutes. This is not something the game discourages. In fact, I would say that Larian's Dungeons-&-Dragons-but-digital game actively encourages it. Both Edders and Graham found out that you can die almost immediately upon finishing the tutorial and encountering a dying bit of ocotopus sashimi in a crashed ship; fail a roll involved in talking to this unfortunate mind flayer and that's it. Kaput, in about an hour. As Graham observed, the lesson that this teaches you is not "mind flayers are dangerous", because you have already learned this lesson on account of the opening cutscene being all about that. The lesson is "the DM is a prick, so savescum often".
It's the one with sick grappling hooks
The looter shooter with cool Spider-Man-ish grappling hooks, The First Descendant, has pushed back its open beta dates to September 19-25th. Previously, it was planned for a late August timeframe. Since the full game and the upcoming beta support crossplay, developers Nexon say the delay will help to optimise the game on all platforms. So you can loop laser rope threads with buddies on consoles, no problem.
You voted for them, so once again you only have yourselves to blame
Welcome to the second ever RPS 100: Reader's Edition. Over the last week, you'll have seen our own RPS 100 list counting down our favourite games of all time (and if you haven't, do go and have a look at Part One and Part Two when you've got a spare moment), as well as some additional features about the games that made it into our collective top ten. But now it's time for your list, as voted for by you, the RPS readership. There have been some interesting movers and shakers this year, and some rather intriguing new entries, so read on below to find out what your 100 favourite PC games of all time are for 2023.
The shooter sequel might follow in the footsteps of 2021's Quake remaster
Following in the footsteps of its older sibling, a remaster for seminal shooter sequel Quake 2 will reportedly get an official announcement at next week’s QuakeCon 2023, which is an in-person event for the first time since the pandemic era. Earlier in the year, Quake 2’s remaster accidentally poked its head out in a ratings board leak, but let’s all pretend to be surprised when Bethesda announces it next week, okay?
The RPS Future Of Play returns, October 12th-15th
Mice, keyboards, game pads? You've got those at home. It's only at EGX that you can play games you control with a lamp, or a brick, or with a real morse code tapper. All of those and more were present at the RPS Future Of Play booth at EGX 2022, a curated collection of alternative controllers.
We're bringing it back again this year and this time we're inviting developers to submit their work for inclusion. Do you have a custom controller and one-of-a-kind video game you want to show to the world? Read on.
Supporters only: The joy of cheesing bosses in Remnant 2
We haven't deserved a single victory
Liam and I have been playing looter shooter Remnant 2 in our spare time, as we realised we both couldn't stop thinking about it. Having been burned out of Destiny 2 and most live service games, we discovered Remnant 2 delivers all the benefits of blasting gangly creatures for skill points without all the live service baggage. What a refreshing thing.
Thing is, if two out of the three major bosses we've faced so far took us to court for cheesing them, we'd lose. And it brings us no greater pleasure, knowing we've carved powerful new weapons out of their remains. God, it feels good to be totally undeserving of any credit whatsoever.
Plus ugly monsters, puzzle mini-games, and new weapons
Multiplayer survival sandbox Scum has dropped its 0.9 Smokin’ Hot update today to add more of the expected guns, monsters, and balance tweaks. But the update’s called Smokin’ Hot because it makes all the guys in the game, well, smokin’ hot - if you're into men with a Gears Of War workout routine, that is. Following the revamped female character models last year, developer Gamepires continue their early access tour with a refresh for every male character in the game which may or may not include a touch up for the Danny Trejo DLC skin. Take a look at the new beefcakes and beefy mutants below.
The huge RPG couldn't be pre-loaded
Among other accessibility tweaks
Dave The Diver is an unusual mixture of deep sea exploration, sushi restaurant management, and a thousand other ideas. It's also been a smash hit since its release from early access in June.
In a new update video from developers Mintrocket, they seem as surprised by its huge success as anyone, while also outlining their roadmap for coming quality-of-life updates.
I'm going to play this on a Steam Deck
Radiant Silvergun, widely considered one of the best shoot 'em ups ever made, is finally coming to PC. Developed by Treasure, who are perhaps best known for Silvergun's successor Ikaruga, it'll arrive via Steam on August 18th with local co-op, online leaderboards and downloadable replays.
I mostly just want the bee plush
Studios like Rockstar can capture the essence of New York in a video game, but New York is a city full of famous landmarks. SCS Software, by comparison, have become masters at capturing the essence of places of no significance. The long freeway, the vacant parking lot, the anonymous storage warehouse, the nowhere town; all are rendered with such care and detail in American Truck Simulator that they become as compelling to me as any virtual Times Square.
The latest example: Oklahoma, now available in ATS's latest DLC. Watch the launch trailer below and see if it doesn't make you want to take a road trip.
It’s the humidity that’ll get ya
It is once more that time of year when the searing heat drives us underground, to subsist on raw snacks, re-read The Book Of Phoenix, and play this year's Low-Intensity Strategy Game For When It's Actually Refreshingly Temperate And Rainy Out But We're Committed To The Bit Now.
Myriads Colon Renaissance is not quite the break from the 4X that I'd tried to get us, but it is a hybrid. You build up a city, explore and conquer new lands, unlock research and ultimately push everyone's faces in, but its other main pillar is tower defence, a genre I very rarely align with. Which is a good sign, right? Two good reasons not to choose it, but I am anyway.
He's awful, but also really great
How does one make a sequel to a basically perfect game? 2007's physics-platformer-in-a-weird-science-facility Portal is a lodestar piece of game design from top to bottom. It's one of my favourite games, and I went into 2011's Portal 2 with many a reservation. But it's very good! And there are so many things I love about Portal 2 that it's quite hard to pick just one thing to write about.
I could do "the joy of Portal 2's retro science", where you fall through the floor into the old school Aperture Science labs and see the 60s-ish version of all the big buttons and testing chambers you were put through in the first Portal. I could do "the joy of the corrupted personality cores in Portal 2", a group of corrupted AI spheres including Rick The Adventure Sphere, which is largely just Nolan North making up his own action theme song. I could even do "the joy of potatoes in Portal 2". And then I realised that most of the things I like about Portal 2 also intersect with Stephen Merchant's character Wheatley, a weird little guy (in the most pejorative sense).
Apex Legends: Resurrection puts the immortal murder-bot front and centre amid a host of balance changes
There's always been quite a disconnect between Revenant's reputation and his abilities in Apex Legends. All the cinematics we get of this infamous, terrifying murder-bot show him single-mindedly pursuing his targets, scuttling along walls, and wiping out enemies at close range like a cybernetic John Wick. But once you get in-game, his toolkit has always been fairly underwhelming - with the exception of his Death Totem, which never seemed to sit well thematically with the character.
Season 18 of Apex looks to change all that. Revenant is finally getting the love he deserves with a new sinister-looking base skin and a full rework of all his abilities. And guys, I think they might have gone a bit too far making him scary again. I think he might be overpowered.