Our former John (RPS in peace) has vanished in odd circumstances, last heard claiming he'll be flying through the sky in a big metal snake, so I'm taking over this week. Not even an employee anymore and he's still making work for me.
Join me for a stroll down the hit parade to inspect last week's top-selling games on Steam.
10. Risk Of Rain 2
It's 1996 all over again as a side-scrolling game takes a bold step into the third dimension, and it works here. The multiplayer roguelikelike shooter has bobbed in the charts for a few months now, passing one million sales in its first.
Young Matt had a fair bit of praise but also some complaints when he had a go but hey, it's still in early access for another year or so. The developers have laid out vague plans for five big updates as they work towards a full launch in spring 2020.
9. No Man's Sky
While the spaceship explore 'em up was loudly rejected (oh so loudly!) at launch by folks who found it different to what they expected, No Man's Sky has kept updates rolling and since been embraced by people who see what it is and want some of that. It's been half-price for a few days so here come a new load of men or astromen blasting off.
8. Rage 2
Id Software drafted Just Cause crew Avalanche Studios to collaborate on drive-o-murders in the sequel to Id's oddest game. The result is kinda sloppy but has some good guns, good superpowers, and good NPC names. I'll wait for a sale myself, given how many open-world games I already have on the go, but it's evidently doing pretty well.
"The parts I like far outweigh the parts I don't," Matt said in our Rage 2 review. "I've got my weirdo NPCs, my Ark hunting, my Whoopinkoffs and Dimbledicks. I've found every Ark, now, but I still plan on gambolling between side activities. I still want to explore, even though I wish I was exploring a world that had been less generically destroyed. Most of all, I want to do more super-powered fighting. I might not even bother swapping from that rifle."
7. Rage 2 Deluxe Edition
This is the version which, for an extra £20, gets you the upcoming first expansion, a BFG-9000, instant unlocks of weird 'cheats' like a Danny Dyer voice pack, and other bits.
I've been on holiday for a few days, swimming off beaches the length of East Lothian, so let's briefly catch up on Rage 2. Oh! The devs removed Denuvo, the much-grumbled-about DRM-strengthening tech. "We saw a few requests," they said. Given that the game was cracked on launch day, helped by Bethesda cocking up DRM, it was pointless to keep Denuvo in.
I've long admired the rat hordes of A Plague Tale, rivers of rodents flowing across fields and through buildings. I was surprised to read Alice Bee's A Plague Tale: Innocence review and hear that it's got a good heart and even manages to achieve the impossible: making Alices feel any warmth for virtuakids. I might have to nab these and meet the ragamuffins myself. And coo over the rats too, obvs.
I do find Plunkbat's firm place in the top ten comforting. Should I heed the call of the laaads and return to Brendan Greene's Murder Island, it'll hopefully have enough new players for my old and confused fingers to not get totally murdered.
Rockstar have ridden off into the sunset of the Wicki-wicki-wild Wild West with Red Dead Redemption 2 on consoles, leaving GTA V with a trickle of small updates, but boy howdy it keeps on selling. I played a whole lot of GTA Online last year and had a gay old crimetime but lost interest once I'd seen and done most things. The open world is ruled by hovercars, jetbikes, murderplanes and other expensive gadgets that make it a tedious mess of one-hit kills. Which is probably why those unofficial roleplaying servers are so popular.
I'll be interested to see critical responses when Red Dead Redemption 2 finally comes to PC (which it surely will?), now that the sheen from its console launch has worn off. It's impressive in many ways, sure, but built around a seemingly-endless story which has no insight or point and wastes its best characters. Still, I'm always game for larking about in a Rockstar sandbox while ignoring the story.
3. Rage 2
And here we are again. It's plausible that Rage might have been last week's top-selling game, though we can't tell due to the way Steam splits up and repeats editions and pre-orders and all that. MAYBE?
The next game in the strategy series doesn't launch until Thursday yet here this is now, riding high on pre-orders. You fools. Still, I suppose Total War games are predictable and reviews are already out so we do know that it's not e.g. a total duffer.
"It's the best Total War game," Denis Ryan said in our Total War: Three Kingdoms review, "the best historical strategy game released so far this year, and its stories are so compelling I'm as excited to read about other people's anecdotes as I am to create more of my own."
Do note: you don't need to pre-order Three Kingdoms to get its Yellow Turban Rebellion bonus DLC doodad. That will also be given away with the game for the first week after launch, so no hurry if you want those bonus characters and skills and such.
I am very pleased that a swordfighting game of careful thrusts and feints is also a game where you'll be assaulted by fellas flinging frying pans, lutists shredding the Mortal Kombat song, and big shouty lads in their pants punching teeth out.
While Itch.io's list of top-sellers is mighty fuzzy, it looks like last week's top seller there was tactical RPG Lazy Raise The Earth on a crowdfunding drive. #2 was visual novel Three Lesbians In A Barrow and #3 a game full of awful Twitch memes. I adore the width and oddity of Itch.
The Steam Charts are compiled via Steam's internal charts of the highest grossing games on Steam over the previous week.