The Oval Cricket Ground to Highbury - some 12 miles away and north of the river so they it could be said then, was the irst true football stadium. Hosting could buy cheap land that was available next to the Piccadilly international matches up until , people of all classes could Line. The idea of identity once again cropping up, but now, that Goldblatt, Here are early examples of football making identity had an architectural format on which to place itself in.
In his book: Goldblatt, failed to sufice. The frugal incentives moved to new venues in an era which saw a surge in the develop- of British clubs meant that stadium design was primitive and em- ment of stadia countrywide. Following the inancial motives dis- ployed basic engineering techniques with a simple, yet effective played by the FA in moving the cup inal to The Crystal Palace, one structure.
This ing monopolistic business models around them. Leitch, who dominated the profession. Throughout his illustrious career, Leitch designed some 51 stadiums over a year period for Following the war, the Football League resumed and by teams such as, Aston Villa, Rangers, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool attendance igures at football matches peaked, averaging 40 mil- and Fulham, to name a few Inglis, It was these cost-effective schemes that attracted the attention of football clubs wanting to expand their facilities and Viewing the game on television, however, would have to wait.
In draw in more fans for as little money as possible. Making a name for himself, he then went onto design places. Interestingly, the BBC did pay pitch. Like the Roman Colosseums, this was an early example of the FA to broadcast games, however, the amount only covered the social hierarchical stratiication being expressed through the archi- costs of cameras, commentators and technicians taking up seat po- tectural format of stadia. Does this then mean that the geographic territo- lected emerging ideologies such as facism and communism Mos- rial identity once associated with teams has gone? Personal afiliation to a place, in predominantly to the west, the heartland of Glasgow Rangers the case of stadia, is something that all football fans will share.
In fans. Likewise, wearing a its immediate vicinity. In fact stadia are one of and legitimate emotional outlet. In modern stadia, opposing fans are kept at a distance At Arsenal, away fans even had a separate ity to rebalance our misshapen natures and encourage emotions tube station to use. The spatial arrangement of p Britain is undergoing, as football becomes an increasingly ex- pensive pastime. Repressing emotion, how- constants has been the organization of spectators at events.
In terms of place making, the area in which about collective emotions. Collins and Durkheim layout a set of conditions, of- hallway, a disregard for such circumscribed beauty being a corol- ten manufactured by the architecture, required to amplify this lary of an optimistic belief in the possibility of attaining a more stadia emotion. Seldom do spectators gaze up at the canopy Roose meanwhile, synchronized actions such as clap- ceiling and wonder why there is a lack of ornamentation. Hence, engaging in an ac- evidence of physical decay ampliies this further in two respects.
Whilst this may sound obvious, attention to this phe- these actions and emotions that accompany it. Its inite life as a seat for foot- rivalries have historical and cultural substance. Decades of use by fans not realising that they are The Southampton and Portsmouth rivalry, for example, has creating history - and yet here it is, still bare, still being used, fans its roots embedded with the resurgence of trade unionism Ju- still contributing to its degradation and eventual downfall, the son et al.
Plato goes on to describe how the world we live in is made Mail Steam Packet Company. This, twinned from striking. Former Portsmouth manager, Harry Redknapp, also pitch as possible. Such a feature is es- way but who might as well be inhabiting different planets. It is about the idiocy and manufactured ro- translated onto the pitch as it becomes a heated and sometimes mance of football, which too often becomes a vehicle for deeper ill-mannered affair.
In ad- tating such feelings, some emotions are to expected, and at times, dition to this, as well as inluencing the players, the crowd, no- almost demanded. Schwenzer, If that was The team playing usually the home team can also be orchestra- the case, why do Nottingham Forest and Notts County, the two tors.
Players and managers can gesture to the crowd asking for closest professional grounds in England, appear to only exhibit cheers to encourage the team or in celebration, with some play- a shared indifference? Clubs have also been known to instigate reactions in the competitors, Derby County. This has professional football team plays in the area - the nearest team of almost become commonplace in football stadia up and down the similar standing being Sunderland, their rivals.
When a goal is scored by it seems is part of the everyday life of the area. Manufacturing these the city. Emotions St. This phenomena has subsequently been emulated by other falling lat if explicit emotional cues are overused, resulting in a recent builds such as Wembley in the attempt for stadia design lack of meaning. Likewise, a reduction in architectural notiiers to induce feelings of topophilia via the use of semiotics. In Newcastle, the cantilevered design is what elevates rienced a drastic change. Hayden, and a separation of the spectator, the stadium and the club.
Following this notion, spectators can take solace in being able to view the structure of a stadium, being assured that the structure Outside the Stadium is clearly safe and secure. Moreover, the impression of safety can also instil of a cultural icon as it has a sporting one.
Subsequent- effect. It is commonly which we build. Evi- general. In the inal incident in , Canter et al. With 3 incidents occurring in the space eventual crush. Thousands were packed onto badly lution to the disasters that had occurred. Yet, despite these constructed slopes with hardly a wooden barrier in sight.
Elliot and Smith ber frame as ire hazards. Fearing Hooliganism Fear of hooliganism and spectator violence was also a factor of Taylor Report Consequences both the Bradford and Hillsborough disasters. In this case, Liv- which also have a larger span. These to effectively pass through the stadium from the south and onto laws in design were also hindered by the use police tactics of the houses behind. This is a good example of how stadia can the time that deemed that packing fans close together on ter- work in harmony with the surrounding built environment in races assisted in their control as they had less scope to misbehave restricting the unwanted physical effects stadia can have.
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Taylor, After a similar incident at Hillsborough in which only re- sulted in injuries Taylor, 21 , it was advised that provid- ing separate access to individual pens effectively making them closed off to others and monitoring capacity effectively to stop entry once full would would solve the issue - a belief shared by Lord Justice Taylor himself.
With disregard to key general safety aspects, such as mass evacuation, they have been lead to the conclusion that physically controlling fans as much as possible is the only solution. It comes as dia belonging to teams play an ever-increasing inancial role. Why then, is this the built environment. Upon viewing the case in Dundee, it seems almost ludi- crous that the two teams play in separate stadiums, however, a Financial Motives of Stadium Development look into the origin of these clubs soon explains why.
So why would a private owner want a new stadium? With vate entity and hence the majority owned their own grounds. Aside from the inan- This relects a rise in modern stadia becoming multi-purpose cial beneits, Dundee FC wanted to distance themselves from arenas in which clubs can export their facilities for corporate the Roman Catholic and Irish roots that United had, despite events, public use off match days as well as other events; a not claiming any deinite religious or cultural association them- prominent example being with many clubs allowing their sta- selves.
This change has note having such afiliations. How on multiple studies on the economic impact of sport. This What makes a building iconic? Schools: Ar- tecture, I carried out a survey which asked a series questions chitectural representation can of course come in many forms. In regarding this topic. Of course, stripped down city to be deined. Economically, the effect that announcements alone regarding the construction of stadia can considerably impact local prop- The lower the budget a stadium is given, the more likely it is to erty prices in a positive manor Dehring et al.
This was become a decorated shed, with iconic elements being of a costly seen with the new Wembley stadium and Emirates stadium nature, evidence of this can be seen in the stadia design of teams for Arsenal FC whereby communication of the inal stadium in the lower tiers of English football. Be- desirable and hence lead to the stimulation of property prices. However, if thought that Wembley deserved this title. Ig- ceived negative externalities. Seven metres wide in diameter and Wembley, which is situated in the London borough of Brent, spanning m, the archway can be seen from as far out as the currently has In terms of its role for job creation, to the fringes of London, be aware of its presence.
Such is the the effect Wembley Stadium has had on Brent is minimal, if uniqueness of the arch, is that it has become a symbol- if not the not negligible, as over a year period, from , Brent symbol for English football today and so subsequently England saw a 0. As football in modern society is so often to and identify with.
September 3, 2017
Ahl- stantly had to play catch up. Such ter regarding the Etihad stadium development. In terms of connecting the game to the supporters, the role of As economic incentives eclipse socio-cultural ones, with fans stadia is explicit as it acts as a means to transfer the passion of seemingly prepared to pay more to watch the sport either from fans onto the pitch, the stadium being the physical connection the armchair or the stands, football will continue to exist, between the game and all of what fan culture embodies. In hous- though it can easily be forgotten that we pay so much for the ing this, football, and football stadia, facilitate the manifestation very atmosphere that has naturally developed over time.
Economic success, however, does not mean that the addition or development of stadia within communities will lead to cultural harmonisation or uniication between football culture and lo- cal culture- though the two may overlap. Annals of Regional Science, 44 2 , pp. In Ernste Spiele. Arei, M. Step Beach Press, Hove. Bale, J and Moen, O.
Marschik, R. Spatier and M. ZInganel eds. Da Stadion. London: Routledge Banerjee, T. New Readerships Bergson, H. In Events. Penguin, London. Bowes, K. Hoti, A. The home advantage from an individual team perspective. Routledge, London. Carlino, G and Coulson, N. Lytham St. Coates, Dennis and Humphreys, Brad R. Regulation Abstracts, Vol. House Ed. Northern Geo- graphical Essays in Honour of G.
Daysh, pp. The home advantage in sport competitions: A literature review. Sports stadia location and the property market. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research. Ashgate Publishing Limited, Aldershot, Hants. Giulianotti, R. Armstrong, G. In Armstrong, G. Entering the ield: new perspectives on world football, pp. Oxford: Berg Goldblatt, D. New York: Riverhead Books, Goldblatt, D. London: Penguin Gray, D. Bloomsbury Publishing. London: Routledge; p.
A few games have tried to imitate Company of Heroes over the years, but none have really come close.
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Andy: Gordon Freeman awakes from stasis to find Earth transformed into a dystopian hellscape by an invading alien force. Valve's influential FPS is still fantastic, particularly its eerie, understated atmosphere. The Combine are genuinely unnerving antagonists, but they didn't anticipate going up against a mute physicist who can yank radiators off the wall and launch them at high speeds.
Chris: A linear FPS but one that makes you feel as if you're finding your own path through it, rather than being shoved along rails by the developers. And the gravity gun is still the most enjoyable multitool in games: perfect for solving physics puzzles, playing catch with Dog, using a metal door as a shield, or flinging a toilet into a Metrocop's head. Jody: FPS design often copies the Halo idea of a single, repeatable loop of fun, but Devil Daggers really boils it down. Here the loop is backpedalling in an arc while shooting daggers at nearby enemies, clearing enough room to aim at the weak spot of a distant, tougher enemy, then spinning around to take out the skull-face jerk sneaking up behind you.
It's just you and infinite bastards to shoot. Evan: If you die and don't go to heaven or hell, you play Devil Daggers until you win. Phil: A gloriously silly arcade playground that takes the Forza Motorsport series' deep love of cars and customisation and transports it into a vibrant, luscious world full of ridiculous races and entertaining off-road mayhem. Forza Horizon 3's best feature is the skill chain system, which transforms an otherwise basic drive between events into a challenge to string together stunts without crashing.
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Andy: Driving pretend cars doesn't get any better than the Forza series, and Horizon brilliantly softens the simulation while still maintaining a feeling of weight and realism. Andy: Skyrim remains one of the most evocative settings on PC. It's not as big as some game worlds, but the varied biomes—from the bubbling hot springs of Eastmarch to the snow-battered coastline of Winterhold—make it feel much bigger than it is.
The role-playing is shallow and the writing isn't great, but the sense of place and feeling of freedom make up for it. Picking a direction, going for a wander, and seeing what you'll find out there among the snow and ice is The Elder Scrolls at its most captivating. Chris: You can finish or completely ignore the main story and still have a couple hundred hours of self-guided fun—especially by adding mods to the mix. Skyrim gives you a special kind of freedom seen in few RPGs. Pip: If this was Pip's Top Proteus would be in the number one spot. It's a contemplative experience where you wander a procedurally generated island, delighting in what you find.
I often find myself drifting back to it in moments of stress, treating myself to a short digital holiday. One time I forgot I'd tweaked the game files and accidentally turned everything red, so that was a surprise. Seas of blood. Phil: Crusader Kings 2 isn't just a grand strategy about medieval kingdoms. It's a grand strategy about the people in charge of those kingdoms. You're not the abstract concept of the country of France; you're the King of France, a year-old man who, after a protracted battle against the rebellious Duke of Burgundy, is now on his deathbed, about to leave the fate of his dynasty to an idiot son.
You're not the ever-expanding territory of the Holy Roman Empire; you're an increasingly deranged emperor who people think has been possessed by the devil. By generating stories about people, Crusader Kings II is an endlessly fascinating soap opera that's different every time. In my last campaign, I didn't even play. I used the command console to simply observe the action, watching as an epic period drama played out across the map. Chris: What's most interesting is how your relationships change when you die and continue playing as your heir. Those three children you had don't seem so wonderful once you've assumed the role of the eldest.
The other two, while devoted to their father, now hate you and may plot against you. Your entire view of the world changes regularly, not just because the players change but because you yourself do, by dying and playing as someone new. Chris: It should have been impossible to top the near-perfect Portal in comedy, storytelling, and physics-bending first-person puzzles, but Portal 2 somehow manages it, and even throws in some fantastic multiplayer on top.
Andy: Portal 2 brings a funny and sometimes disarmingly poignant story to its mind-bending puzzles, and the results are exceptional. Your journey through the various eras of Aperture Science make the game a constant delight. The most recent, 's Legion, brought in a swathe of quality-of-life improvements and some of the best questing in World of Warcraft's nearly year history, making it worth playing all over again. It's still pretty grindy, especially compared to the more streamlined Guild Wars 2, but there are few online worlds this rich and storied to spend time in.
Tyler: Undertale subverts RPG cliches with constant self-reference, but unlike many 'parody games', it's not cynical or derivative.
Undertale is a great RPG even if you don't get every reference. James: Fortnite's battle royale mode started as a weak PUBG imitation, but an unprecedented update cycle has made it not just the best battle royale game, but one of the most fascinating games in development today.
With map changes, new items, and one-off world events almost every week, Fortnite is endlessly entertaining to live in. Wes: Regular changes to the meta have kept League alive and on top for years. Pip: I favour ARAM—a five-vs-five battle where randomly assigned characters let spells and punches fly across a single lane.
Andy: While the most recent SimCity did everything it could to stifle creativity, Cities: Skylines gave players the power to make anything they want—in part thanks to the deep mod support. The result is the best city-builder around. Samuel: The best game of its kind in a genre that people have enjoyed and will play forever, well supported by compelling expansions. Plus, you can destroy your city with meteors if you're having a dark day—like I did when I was mayor of Pipville several months ago.
Evan: Arma 3 stands alone as the highest-fidelity FPS, the best multiplayer story generator, and a bottomless trough of community missions and mods. It's no coincidence that Arma was the fertile terrain that produced the last two biggest trends in PC gaming: battle royale and survival games. In one, the woman being interviewed says, "I didn't murder Simon. More video clips—more hints at a tantalising mystery that twists and changes as you unlock more of its parts. Samuel: Probably the best mystery game ever made, because Her Story is over when you feel you've found the answer or when you've discovered all the clips, depending on the type of player you are.
It truly puts the drama of uncovering the truth in your hands, which is so hard for a game to do in any meaningful way. One of those games I would recommend to someone who has never played games. Andy: A narrative game that really makes use of the medium. The mystery unfolds differently for everyone who plays it, which is a wonderfully original way of telling a story. Tom: Total War is a complex grand strategy series that fuses turn-based 4X-style empire-building with vast real-time battles.
So far we've mostly seen the format used to explore historical scenarios, but it turns out the Warhammer universe is a perfect fit. For fans of the setting it's a joy to see each faction rendered so vividly, but I would recommend Total War: Warhammer 2 to any strategy fan regardless of your Warhammer knowledge.
If you want to command a traditional army, the Empire is there for you. If you want something more adventurous, you don't need to know much about the undead Tomb Kings to enjoy sending hordes of skeletons after magical relics. The sequel's campaign is brilliant. Four factions fight for control of a big magic vortex in the middle of the map, which keeps the campaign interesting all the way into the endgame. Jody: Replay that campaign and eventually you'll see behind the curtain, but what makes it worth replaying is the factions.
Warhammer 2 gets its factions right in ways that should please all but the fussiest fans, even though they're a diverse collection of uptight magic elves, dinosaur-riding lizards, sneaky rat bastards, and "we're really into leather" sex dungeon kink elves. That's no easy feat. Pip: The latest instalment of the long-running life sim has absorbed many hours of my life as I generate idiotic stories starring my beloved cast of citizens.
Four years after release it's at the point where features missing at launch have been patched in toddlers! I'd like to see the pricing model better support people who dip in and out, but overall there's still no other game like it. Every round is a joust of plays, counters, and outmaneuvering, where a smart flash or reflex AWP pick shifts the balance. It'll never be enough. Each gun is a wild animal with its own unique spray pattern and tendencies that can take dozens of hours to learn.
Tyler: I've hit a skill plateau in the best and only rocket car soccer game I play the hockey variant , but I just have to find the next slope. I don't think one can ever stop getting better at Rocket League. There's always a better position I could've been in, an aerial I shouldn't have botched. It hasn't changed much over the years, but I feel like I could play it forever. Phil: This stealth sandbox about a bald assassin features six huge, absurdly detailed maps, each filled with interesting ways to bump off your targets.
Hitman's social stealth systems—where disguises are more important than not being seen—gives you the time to plan, experiment and refine your approach. It's now the best game in the series. Phil: Build a rocket, launch a rocket, fly a rocket, crash a rocket. And then do it all again—tweaking and experimenting until your design is bona fide spacefaring craft, able to maintain orbit or visit nearby celestial bodies.
Kerbal Space Program is a sublime mix of physics and slapstick that makes for the perfect playground for space exploration. Wes: No one's topped the way Spelunky's pieces play off one another to make its world feel deeply knowable and random at the same time. It's a game you play for hundreds of hours, until getting the key to unlock the chest to find the Udjat Eye to reach the black market to buy the ankh to die and come back to life to fight Anubis to take his sceptre to unlock the City of Gold to find the Book of the Dead to journey through Hell to fight King Yama just feels like another day playing Spelunky.
Andy: The best horror game on PC, because the thing chasing you has a mind of its own. There's no pattern to predict, no patrol route you can exploit. The alien is intelligent. It will learn your habits and it will fuck with you, and that is terrifying. Samuel: I replayed it this year, and it's amazing how much mileage they get out of the same two repeated enemies by making clever use of set pieces and different types of environments.
Probably the best horror game ever. Andy: I love Overwatch because, as someone lacking the skill to play most other online shooters competently, I can still make a difference in a match. The sheer variety of brilliantly-designed characters and their wildly varied toolsets means there's something for every kind of player, even if they can't pull off a decent headshot. It's also impressively accessible, cleverly explaining the intricacies of its heroes' abilities without overloading you with information. Bo: A year ago, Blizzard told me they had "barely scratched the surface" of abilities and character archetypes they'd like to explore in Overwatch.
With the newest hero being a giant hamster ball mech with a Spider-Man-style grappling hook piloted by a literal hamster, I'm finally inclined to believe them. Overwatch continues to be one of the most unique and accessible shooters. And on the esports front, the Overwatch League's adoption of a city-based team model has ignited local enthusiasm in a way that no other game, tournament, or organization has been able to thus far.
Phil: We decided this list's order before Wrecking Ball was announced. I'll leave you to speculate whether he would have raised or lowered Overwatch's position. Pip: Dontnod's episodic, time-rewinding teen drama develops Look! A photography pun! Because the lead character is into photography!
It's not perfect—some puzzle segments outstay their welcome and the plot often throws subtlety out of the window—but OH MY! The cast of characters and the strength of their relationships elevate the whole thing, and the Instagrammy aesthetic bolsters the teenage intensity. Phil: It also features probably the best use of mid-'00s indie boys playing sad acoustic songs about relationships and feelings in all of gaming. Wes: The best Metroidvania since Super Metroid.
Hollow Knight is open-ended almost to a fault, giving you a massive, decaying, interconnected bug kingdom to explore and frequently find yourself lost in. It can be overwhelming at first, but the feeling of discovery ends up being immensely rewarding as a result. The super responsive platforming and combat keep backtracking from ever feeling like a chore, something similar games have struggled with. Tom: A modernisation of Doom that puts the focus firmly on speed and sweet guns. There's nothing wrong with that sort of experimentation, but it's so refreshing to boot this game up and blow gooey chunks out of the forces of hell.
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Samuel: The best single-player FPS there is in A clever update of Doom that turns fights into melee-heavy duels, with a not-overly-serious tone that hits just the right spot. Wes: And the levels are actually intricate mazes full of secrets, just like classic Doom! I expected good shooting in bland corridors, but this is so much more.
Tom: I loaded back into my MGS5 save a month ago to find Snake decked out head-to-toe in a leopard skin combat suit. Samuel: My favourite stealth action game ever, that sits somewhere between immersive sim and Metal Gear of old. Tom: Have you met Gravelord Nito? He's a roiling mass of skeletons shrouded in a cape of souls. He lives deep in Dark Souls nightmarish catacombs, and he's just one example of the game's extraordinary art direction, and powerful sense of dark fantasy horror. People go on about Dark Souls' bottomless lore with good reason, but underneath the theatrics it's actually a very simple game.
You raid dungeons, chop up monsters, loot chests and level up. Without strong, enduring combat fundamentals I wouldn't have kept playing long enough to uncover the gods' tragic stories. Pip: Subnautica is my game of so far. I usually tap out pretty fast when it comes to survival games but this one takes place in a gorgeous underwater world, involves a compelling plot, AND I adore tinkering with my little underwater base. It also lets me choose how much survival-ing I care to have as part of the game experience, meaning I can switch off thirst.
Andy: Exploring is genuinely rewarding, both in terms of finding resources to build cooler submarines and environmental detail. It's a world with a story to tell, and it tells it brilliantly. Tom: Strategy games are good at making me care about numbers and systems, but XCOM 2 is one of the few I can name that translate the numberwang into emotional investment. Losing a squad member can feel devastating. You nurture them between fights, gradually upgrading their gear and unlocking sweet new skills, only for an alien to cruelly blast them in a routine mission.
When things go wrong in XCOM, they go very wrong indeed, which is all part of the drama in a game that casts humanity as the underdog. Evan: XCOM's art direction is ridiculously underrated. Its maps are believable, colorful dioramas that shatter into pieces under the heat and intensity of your insurgent combat. Evan: Sure, you can play Siege as if it's Counter-Strike, pre-firing and out-angling your opponents with snap marksmanship. But the real joy is in outsmarting the other team by poking clever holes in the maps, placing your gadgets in unexpected positions, and careful drone scouting.
I also love Siege's tempo: this is a shooter that gives you time and a canvas of breakable space to stop, strategize, and execute a dumb plan with absurd gadgets like an eyeball turret that shoots lasers, invisible poison mines, and a drone that shoots concussions. Ubisoft remains devoted to supporting Siege with meaningful systems renovations and with four annual updates that add new characters and maps. Samuel: This first-person narrative game is constantly inventive.
Edith Finch ventures into the home where her family used to live, before they all died in various tragic circumstances and their rooms were sealed up. You uncover each of their stories. It's the high point of this genre. Andy: Exploring the abandoned home of the eccentric Finch family and uncovering their history is one of the most satisfying storytelling experiences a game has ever given me. But it's a game I'll never play again, simply because one scene in particular was so emotionally-charged that I can't face it. Any piece of media that holds that kind of power has to be special.
Tom: Into the Breach is a game about quick turn-based battles between mechs and kaiju-sized bugs, and it's almost perfect. Unlike many turn-based strategy games, Into the Breach doesn't use chance to inject battles with tension—the UI tells you pretty much everything that's going to happen next turn. The pleasure comes from solving the next turn state as efficiently as you can. It's a small game—battles only last a few turns on an eight-by-eight grid—but the varied mech teams and increasingly nefarious bug types create a huge amount of tactical variation.
Wes: There's so little randomness that random moments have immense impact. In one run, I had two buildings resist damage at a pivotal point. I've never done a more exaggerated fist pump. Tyler: Divinity: Original Sin 2 feels less stodgy than other classic RPG revivals while heightening their best qualities: turn-based combat I hate real-time, sorry with physics-based spells and exploding barrels necessary , great characters, and a commitment to letting players do what they want, even if it breaks everything.
Wes: It offers you an intricate RPG sandbox to play in, and it invites you to break the rules in as many ways as you can imagine. The first game did that, too, but this one marries that freedom with across-the-board great writing and genuinely thoughtful roleplaying. It walks the walk and talks the talk. Samuel: This is the best stealth game there has ever been.
While the high-concept levels like A Crack in the Slab and Clockwork Mansion get a lot of attention for their clever one-off twists, more traditional stages like Royal Conservatory and Dust District are so detailed and fun to explore. There's no sense of repetition, and each level feels like a huge event. It's the precision of Dishonored 2 I love. Every successful takedown or evasion feels like something you've earned. Andy: Dishonored 2 has some of the best level design on PC, both in terms of the architecture and aesthetic, and in how the environments are rich playgrounds that let you really flex your creativity.
Every location has something interesting about it, whether it's the time-hopping of A Crack in the Slab or the intricate house-sized puzzle box that is the magnificent Clockwork Mansion. And the sheer volume of ways to navigate the levels and complete your objectives really captures the spirit of PC gaming. Tom: I want to savour every moment in Karnaca, because those levels are so dense and fun to explore. Immersive sims have always been good at creating broad levels like these, full of sandbox opportunity, but I really value that simple acts of moving, shooting and fighting feel great in Dishonored 2.
The introduction of Emily just broadens your toolset further. Domino, which lets you chain NPCs fates together so that one attack affects them all, is an inspired ability, and it's emblematic of the way Dishonored 2 builds on the tenets of immersive sims like Deus Ex, and spins them out in spectacular new ways. Augmented special forces dudes are cool, but warlock assassins are even cooler. Phil: For me it's the reactivity of the world. Yes, the combat is fluid and satisfying, the level design is intricate and beautifully balanced, and the abilities perfectly tailored for absurd displays of skill and problem solving.
But what ties it all together is the lengths Arkane has gone to make it all feel believable and real. I believe in Dishonored 2's world because throughout I encountered ways Arkane had anticipated player behaviour. Arkane knew someone would try, and so made a response. That's amazing dedication to the craft. Tom: It's a great execution of the ronin fantasy set in one of the most beautiful worlds on PC. The craggy Skellige isle might be one of my favourite places in games, or is it Novigrad, or the sunlit vineyards of Toussaint?
Even the dripping bogs in the early areas are pretty, in their own miserable way. Within these gorgeous places you meet people with interesting problems. Maybe their local well is haunted. Maybe their spouse is haunted. Usually something is haunted, or cursed, or being pursued by a hideous mythical beast. I treated the sidequests as the main quest, to be honest, roleplaying a mutant outcast on a mission to make the world a slightly better place. Jody: The fact you play a character with his own place in the world, including allies, enemies, and ex-girlfriends, is a definite strength of The Witcher 3.
But it wasn't always this way. In the first Witcher game Geralt was an amnesiac sleazebag and honestly a bit of a tool. He wasn't a fun person to be around, let alone to be. But by The Witcher 3, Geralt's a caring father figure with a heart of gold beneath layers of beard and gruff, and more than that he feels like someone you personalise.
The Witcher 3's version of Geralt is the perfect videogame protagonist not because he's more integrated into his world than a character you make from scratch, but because he's a solid outline with room to manoeuvre inside that. He contains multitudes—but not too many. He has well-defined areas of doubt and uncertainty. Wes: "Place" really is what makes The Witcher 3 so spectacular, and like no other game I've played. It's not just that the world is gorgeous and detailed, though it is both of those things.
The Witcher 3 has this unparalleled combination of artistry and technology that makes its locations and characters feel authentic. Accents and architecture differ between the mainland and Skellige. The characters you encounter out in the world have quests that involve their families or monsters native to their region, and the more of these quests you take, the more you appreciate how natural and human they seem.
No one's asking you to go out and slay five wolves because that's a good way to spend ten minutes in an RPG. Depending on how you play Geralt, you can be a mercenary in search of coin, or calmly talk someone out of a decision you know they'll regret. Those touches, along with the motion capture, the voice acting and the wind on a blustery night in Velen, make the whole thing come alive. What a world. Phil: A thing I hate about most RPG writing is that something as simple as asking to be rewarded for your time and effort is treated as the most evil thing a protagonist can do.
But in The Witcher 3, Geralt is a professional doing his job. His haggling with clients over money isn't a deviance or a crime, but the expected cost of hiring a man who is good at what he does for a living. When you pick up a quest, it isn't just some thinly-written excuse to get you to go kill a monster.
There's a backstory, a motivation, and often a twist. Quests can spiral, turning an encounter with a peasant in a tavern into a sprawling epic that ends with you fighting some great, mythical beast atop a crumbling tower in a raging storm. The game is heaving with interesting characters and worthwhile things to do, and Geralt is the foundation of it all: a complex lead who makes other videogame characters look like cardboard cutouts.
We love many more games than we can fit onto one list, so here the PC Gamer team has spotlighted a few of their favorites that didn't make the cut. Cradle, like Deadly Premonition, is wonky but fascinating and stays with you for years. It's a transhumanist puzzler where you try to repair a mechanical girl who is also a vase in a yurt on the Mongolian steppe next to an abandoned theme park which dispenses block-based minigames.
Kentucky Route Zero is wonderful. Its storylines are weird and interesting. Its minimalist art style is gorgeous. Its sprawling open road and Mark Twain-esque Echo River are a joy to explore. Its cast of characters are quirky and often funny. And it's not even finished. Look for its final act this year.
The first 20 minutes of Prey form one of the most inspired sci-fi set pieces of recent memory. An immersive sim that offers fantastic problem solving, enjoyable enough combat even if the enemies are a bit uninspired , and, true to its pedigree, a level of environmental storytelling that rivals Rapture. It's a deceptively simple game that anyone can easily pick up and play, but learning to build the perfect deck—and getting all the lucky drops to pull it off—can make hours vanish. For online chess, I recommend Chess. But if you want to relax with a few AI games, Chess Ultra has many of the features of pro chess software without the complexity.
It's for people who just want to play chess, and it works wonderfully. The Twitch integration and VR support are cool, too. Issue text commands to drones to steer them around abandoned space stations where terrifying aliens lurk. You can only see what your drones see, giving Duskers a spooky found-footage feel.
It's a scary and surprising roguelike where everything going wrong is as much fun as everything going right. It's surprising how well 's Thief still holds up. It's tense and atmospheric, and the labyrinthine levels feel huge, substantial and ambitious even today. It's punishing, and the spindly NPCs look kind of ridiculous now, but I still get the fear when I snipe out a torch with a water arrow, hoping that nobody sees it. A stealth puzzler that's not afraid to make you wait. You embark on missions throughout Edo period Japan, silently breaking into well-guarded strongholds using wits, patience and an adorable raccoon dog.
Deep, tactical and rewardingly tricky. In a digitised world, anything can be hacked. Break , a unique game about love, freedom, and cybercrime. You can hack objects to change how they behave. Hero Sebastian uses his newfound coding skills to join a gang of hacktivists. The intricate systems-maths of a sim wrapped in the handmade charm of a Klei game. Within hours of starting a new colony, you're optimizing airflow and figuring out the right number of toilets to fertilize your plants. It's still in Early Access, but this is already my favorite ant farm on PC. I think everyone should see this open world before they die.
It's a staggering creation. Using a computer shouldn't be scary, but Stories Untold makes it so. The fidelity of the keys and knobs draws you into its world. Sitting at your computer while the protagonists are tormented by their own makes the events of these four short stories feel more real and unnerving. After over a decade of leading Football Manager, watching from the sideline and becoming increasingly animated on the box art, series mascot Manager Man has been fired.
Announced via Twitter , FM head honcho Miles Jacobson says Football Manager averages , hours per day on Steam, with , hours clocked yesterday alone. Jacobson says over million hours have also been recorded since launch on Steam last year, and that its peak concurrent players yesterday was 67, Steam Charts identifies the same—and suggests peak concurrent numbers have jumped following this summer's World Cup. With its expanded Medical Centre, overhauled graphics engine and story-generating Dynamics System, I thoroughly enjoyed Football Manager at launch. So much so, that I'm still playing the same save—as are a number of other virtual coaches, it seems.
With the long game in mind, keeping things fresh in FM is crucial. To this end, here are the 50 best Football Manager wonderkids to replace tired legs years into the future. Today's question is inspired by some of the social media conversations doing the rounds lately about professions, which started with this tweet.
We thought we'd change the subject to gaming. No matter what games you love, you'll always read or hear opinions on them that you disagree with. Maybe it feels like people aren't getting the thing that's good about the game in question, or perhaps they don't see why something is important to PC gaming when you do. Well, let's complain about those people. Leave your answers in the comments. Just let that imagery wash over you. Read item descriptions, sure, but to play Dark Souls—any of them—you don't need to know a goddamn thing about the story. There's a history there if you want to dig deep, but I play games like I read books the first time through: I just go.
Getting hung up on every paragraph in a Pynchon novel I'm that guy, sorry means you'll never finish the thing. Same goes for Dark Souls. You'll start to notice patterns and catch onto its bleak themes naturally. Too often I hear about people turned off not just by the difficulty of Dark Souls, but by the fantasy setting—decrypting obtuse histories with long-winded family trees ain't easy either—and how little it outright tells you about anything.
It doesn't need to be understood. It needs to be felt. And it feels metal as hell. So bleak. Here's my take: humans are the worst. We're always hungry, easily bored, envious, anxious, destructive beings. Committing every scrap of Dark Souls lore to memory will tell you the same thing over and over with different players, and that's the point.
So, memorize those names if you want to, or just take a nice, depressing, self-critical bath in Dark Souls assurance that we're screwed and it's our fault. Many of the most significant trends in PC gaming were guinea pigged and test tubed in Team Fortress 2. The modern, living multiplayer games began with the "Sniper vs. Spy" update in May Stuff we take for granted like characters being reinvented for the benefit of shaking up the meta—the way we react to a shotgun rebalance or guided rocket in Fortnite—started in TF2. The ubiquity of loot boxes and cosmetics, which TF2 popularized.
And though it's almost hard to remember at this point, the destigmatization of free-to-play as a model for PC games in the West—in , many PC gamers associated free with an absence of quality. Games based on historical conflicts sometimes target a specific group of players who are really into that particular era, but you don't need to have an appreciation for authentic Sherman patterning to enjoy a quality RTS like Company of Heroes.
I appreciate the dedication of the art teams that want to accurately present companies that really fought in the war, but to newcomers historical accuracy can imply that you need a dense understanding of the setting to get the relationships between different units. In some serious strategy sims, you do, but Company of Heroes applies abstracts units' strengths and weaknesses into a familiar rock-paper-scissors pattern that anyone can learn.
Unit and vehicle speed have been balanced out so you can perform combined arms attacks in a small space without jeeps hurtling off into the sunset. Artillery has been adjusted so it doesn't completely destroy half the map. It's an intense game, but perhaps not in the way you might assume. If you're used to fantasy and sci-fi RTS games, why not grab it in a Steam sale and see.
A lot of people get hung up on the fact that Mafia II's open world is pretty bare bones. I remember reviews at the time criticising the fact that there was 'nothing to do', meaning a lack of GTA-style side missions and distractions. But to count that against the game is missing the point spectacularly. Mafia II is a linear, heavily narrative-focused action game, telling a superb story across several time periods.
And the city, as pretty and inviting as it is, is really just an elaborate backdrop to the action. It's not trying to present a world full of stuff to do, but using its city to tell what is, to me, one of the best stories on PC. There are a few collectables, such as those infamous Playboy magazines, but I wonder if the developer felt like it had to include something to encourage exploration. But it really didn't need to, because Empire Bay is an incredible virtual city, regardless of how 'empty' it is.
Thief's "monster missions"—Bonehoard, Lost City, Return to Cathedral, and the like—are not just the best parts of the game, they're the most important. Garrett's sole "supernatural" ability reflects that dissonance—wounded by magic and healed by mechanics, he's simultaneously better and worse for his encounters with both. That division is central to the genius of Thief, and it's impossible without magic and the monsters it spawns: Politics are dirty and Garrett's gotta pay the rent, but the real world—the world that gives Thief its unique and brilliant life—lies beneath.
I've never met anyone who likes Blitzball in Final Fantasy X except me. It's basically underwater football—or more accurately, polo, I'm told, but I don't know what that is—since everyone in the game's tropical universe can hold their breath forever.
It's built entirely on roleplaying-style stats, with numbers representing shooting power, blocking, passing and so on. You can also recruit players who are just wandering around the game's world, making it feel like a real part of its fiction and not just a distraction. Problem is, it's really hard when you start. You only have to play one game as part of the story, and it's ludicrously difficult. It's only later, playing against some lesser teams and understanding what the different numbers mean, that you start to get it.
After ten or so matches and with a stronger roster, it becomes clear that it's a deep, interesting and challenging minigame that's worth playing. I'm going to sort of copy Tom here. On the face of it, Football Manager targets a specific group of players: those who're into football. If you hate football, Football Manager probably isn't for you. That's obvious. But if you like football, or if you can simply stand it—enough to select a team, set a training schedule, and handle innocuous questions from the press on a semi-regular basis—then I think you'll like Football Manager. If you can follow the above and are also interested in strategy sims, I'm convinced you'll fall for it.
Because at its heart, Football Manager is a strategy game about balancing numbers, managing statistics, gambling on variables, and leading one team to victory over several others. There's fewer guns and tanks and less colonising than the average wargame, granted, but signing up and coming superstars and lifting trophies provides similar thrills. If I were English, I'd sign off with something cheesy here, like: give Football Manager a try and bring football home. But I'm Scottish, which means I play Football Manager to ensure my pathetic national team stands a chance of actually qualifying for a major international tournament.
France '98 is but a distant memory. Tomorrow heralds the most heart-stopping moment in English national football since John Barnes bravely claimed to know how to rap. England face Croatia in the World Cup semi-final; if they win, they make the finals. If they lose, nobody sings that Lightning Seeds song for at least another two years. But which will it be? The answer lies in science. Or the closest approximation thereof, which is simulating the match in Football Manager ten times and seeing what the most common outcome is.
Computer, come home. In , aged 16, I signed for Lewes FC. The club was in ascendancy: newly promoted to the Conference, we had a new stand at the stadium later paid for by selling our best players, but that's another story , a new Under 18s coach, brought in from the Brighton and Hove Albion academy just down the road, and a new intake of what was, genuinely, the best squad of non-academy players in the south of England. Most of them came from professional academies like Brighton, Bournemouth and Southampton, some released at the big jump from Under 16s to Under 18s, others who had the chance to carry on but turned it down and if you're wondering why they might reject something as fabled as an U18's contract - known as a "scholarship" - at a top club by the way, it's probably because that contract entitles you to the sum total of about 60 a week, mandatory residence in "digs" and a BTEC in Sports Bullshit that you have to take instead of college.
Some, like yours truly, came from non-league clubs, having never quite edged their way in on the ground floor. For four years I road-tripped around half the professional academies in the bottom-right corner of the country; three days a week my poor mum picking me up from school and, instead of heading home, handing me a sandwich, a protein bar and a sports drink and driving me two hours down the coast, or up to London, or sometimes just down the road.
For those fours years I'd been consistently rejected. From Portsmouth, for a chap they flew in from Argentina, from Charlton Athletic for a lad from the USA, Fulham for the England U16s goalkeeper and from Brighton - twice - for a boy who, to be fair to him, was about twice my height and really very good. But I got into Lewes. When you're doing your millionth daily quest, grinding for a particular item or just playing on autopilot, a game can suddenly go from being enjoyable to a weird obligation.
It can feel a little bit like having a job, even when it's a game you otherwise love playing. Here, we share our experiences of that. Has a game ever felt like it's become a job to you? Let us know your answers in the comments. Me, every October: "I'm going to give Football Manager a miss this year. It takes up too much of my time. I've been playing Football Manager since its mid-'90s Championship Manager days. I play it all year round, but I'm most invested at launch—which is when it takes over my life. I rarely stray from my beloved Celtic, and I cannot stand to see them lose.
I sing You'll Never Walk Alone with my scarf raised above my head before important matches, and scream bloody murder when the referee invariably gets every fucking decision wrong in games against city rivals Rangers. I dream about winning the treble. I talk tactics at the dinner table. My girlfriend hates me for several weeks. I can hardly blame her. I am this man. This is something I always avoid in MMOs because, without exception, it's a deeply tedious pursuit. And, unsurprisingly, crafting in The Old Republic is tedious too, despite the gimmick that you send your companion to do it, because you still have to tell them what to go craft—and the process is achingly slow.
So, after catching myself spending a whole evening crafting low-level items to get my synthweaving skill up, I realised I was basically doing a job. In space. So I packed the whole game in and never returned out of respect for my free time. But because most activities in the game are driven by moneymaking, rather that just doing a mission because it's fun or gives you a bit of story like in GTA 5 proper, it means you can find yourself in a bit of a grind trying to get a car you like. I've definitely been in that position a few times, where a double XP weekend has me working far too hard to add some new vehicles to my garage.
I can think of two times where I took a break from the game because I realised I was doing this, and decided to be a bit more sensible about my time in Los Santos. Not to be too cheeky, but games actually are my job—and the job of everyone else here! Almost every time I do a marathon performance analysis article , I feel like I ruin the game in question. Running the same test a couple hundred times can do that do you. But to the point, I've had many casual games that eventually hit the point where I pull the plug and quit cold turkey.
I've avoided this on PC games because I essentially refuse to get involved with the MMO scene, because I know my tendencies and I'd likely end up divorced and living in a van down by the river. First it was maxing out my vault with level 50 characters, then I maxed out the stats on every character, and then I started maxing out weapons and armor. I put hundreds of hours into the game, but unlike many PC games it was done in minute chunks of time over a year rather than sitting in front of my monitor for several hours.
When Bethesda added the daily quests, for a few weeks I thought it was great, and then it reached the tipping point and I uninstalled the game from all my devices and never looked back. I'd sit down to watch a show on TV and think, "Oh, I need to quick check on my vault and get the daily bonus One night my wife asked, "Are you actually enjoying the game? I've since imposed a self-enforced ban of all games from my smartphone, because it's just too damn accessible and I have other things I need to get done.
Like running more benchmarks. Destiny 2 is probably as close as I've ever come. Grinding the same little areas over and over and over and over and over for incremental gear upgrades, repeatedly searching multiple websites to determine if the slightly-better ROF on this SMG makes it more or less useful in PvP than the slightly better reload time on that SMG, feeling obligated to show up at a certain time of day or night and put in a certain number of hours, all while knowing deep down that this isn't really fun but just something I do because I punch in, I put in my time.
That's not to suggest that Destiny 2 isn't a good game. It is! By the rancid dollars-per-hour equation, it's probably one of the best I've ever played. But there's an element of obligation to it that, quite frankly, the more I think about, the less I like. This may end up being the first weekend question that's actually talked me out of playing a game. Let me tell you about farming raid mats.