Out with the old, in with the new. By which I mean 'and our weekly Steam Charts, showing the ten games which sold best over the previous week, returns - replete with most of the same names as last year.'
SHOULD AULD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT AND NEVER BROUGHT TO MIND?
Ho-hum. I had a car accident over Christmas. My partner, my three-year-old daughter and I were on our way to a hastily-booked Airbnb in Norfolk, having desperately needed an escape after a year of devastating personal news, but having been too ground down to plan or afford anything more glamorous. Somehow, we believed that being this close to the end of our annus horribilis meant nothing else bad could happen.
A totalled car, an abandoned holiday and ninety minutes spent stood on a freezing cold central reservation waiting for police who never came and roadside rescue who then casually added an extra 45 minutes to their arrival time, watching someone nearly collide with my stranded, dangerously-placed vehicle every 10 seconds, says otherwise.
We were unharmed, bar a couple of bruises. We were towed back home, shaking with shock and with cold. I had to make a lot of phone calls. I lost a bunch of money, but insurance covers the worst of it. I still see the moment of impact every time I close my eyes. I don't know if I'll ever drive again. No-one was hurt, but they could have been. She could have been.
Happy new year! Grand Theft Auto is still number one.
Though we weren't where we wanted to be, there's something to be said for being home after a terrible event. We could probably have sorted out a hire car or half a dozen trains, buses and taxis, and perhaps we should have done - there would have been some sense of redemption in reaching our destination despite having had our feet kicked out from under us. But, even if I had felt able to drive again, I would have been left with the problem of a trashed car, abandoned in some bleak car park two hours from home and two hours from our holiday lodgings, its boot full of presents we wouldn't have been able to transport. A grim thing to return to, a shadow hanging over whatever holiday we might have had.
At least there was finality to being towed home, and it was only three days before my shattered Nissan Micra was hauled off to be crushed. I took the dusty CDs from the glovebox, thanked the forlorn husk of the vehicle for keeping my child alive, gave the key to a gruff stranger with a truck, and that was that. The trauma has begun to recede now, but I suspect it would not have done had I had to see or deal with that car ever again.
Maybe if I'd ever had a crash before, when I was younger, when my tiny child wasn't sat in the back seat, I'd be OK about this. I'd at least know how the process works, what it all feels like, that after a time the aftermath is dealt with and normality returns. What I'm left with now is a total mistrust of even the concept of driving. A fervent belief that human beings sitting inside frail metal boxes and hurling them towards each other at speed is an inherently absurd activity. I like trains. I wish I lived in a country that took efficient and affordable rail travel seriously.
Happy new year! Tens of thousands of people are still buying Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Frontier's rollercoaster sim hitting big in the charts was one of the more pleasant surprises of the last few weeks of 2016. The stranglehold of big-brand shooters seems to be loosening, on PC at least.
I don't know whether we'll get round to newsing this, as we've got quite the backlog of headlines to catch up on, so I'll mention it here. Turns out Frontier are suing Atari over alleged unpaid royalties for 2004's Rollercoaster Tycoon 3. Atari gave 'em $1.17 million, but Frontier reckon they were due $2.2 million, and are demanding an audit that Atari have not, as yet, been forthcoming with.
I am genuinely unsure as to whether latter-day Atari, which plead bankruptcy in 2013, could even drum up $1m.
Sci-fi survival and crafting 'without the cruft', as Oor Graham puts it. Astroneer's doing well for itself, and it absolutely deserves it.
We're pretty taken with the thing, especially its random-o-planets.
5. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Game of the Year Edition
For how many months will this chart continue to be haunted by the games of 2015 and 2016?
Yup. We're not going to see a vast amount of change for quite a while. Buckle up, folks.
7. Watch Dogs 2
This is a recent release, but I've got a feeling that it's going to be done of those that keeps coming back and back. Reception to it seems to be growing warmer over time, and perhaps once it has a chance to breathe, free from the noise of the last months of 2016, it'll become an even firmer favourite.
Oh, that reminds me - I've got a review copy of the new Doom boardgame. I need to round up a few local folk to play it with, then I'll get you some thoughts on it. What I can say is that the minitiarues are lovely and highly-detailed. But... THE CACODEMON HAS LEGS.
I get that it's so the figure can stand up rather than roll around or have a fiddly little transparent flight stand, but this is nonetheless blasphemy of the highest order.
9. Fallout 4
OH COME ON
Screw you, 2017. You're as bad as your old man.
In fairness, I should observe that we're still seeing the legacy of Winter sales and Steam's front-page highlighting of what sold best over the entirety of 2016 (which we'll post about separately). And, of course, these games are here based on last week's sales, so we're looking at the last gasp of awful 2016 rather than the first flush of 2017. Some of these names may fade over the coming weeks. But it likely depends on whether anything new can land big or not. Given the sheer amount of noise there is on Steam, that's a taller order than it once was.