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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

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In Play: The new new thing

Apologies to Michael Lewis.

There was a Killer Instinct 2 cabinet in the bar of my student union. I never played it - I can't remember anyone playing it - but I do remember being dazzled all the same: the metallic sheen on the text, the swing of a character's hair, the way that the Nintendo and Rare logos both rotated in three dimensions. (I've just realised afresh that I went to university a long time ago.) Killer Instinct 2 was stuck behind a pool table at the back of the room, but it was still a beauty: everything about it reminded you that here was the new thing.

So it's kind of fitting to see Killer Instinct 3 in the launch line-up this week, what with the arrival of the new new thing alongside it. It's season 3 for Rare's fighting game, which means new characters and, I am assured by Wes, fancier graphics. It will be the new thing on PC, where I suspect its Windows 10 exclusivity will leave it stuck behind the pool table once more. A shame. Still: cross platform play is a nice touch.

Let's get the actual new new thing out of the way here, anyway: Oculus Rift is finally with us, and with it come a selection of games that offer a hint of the future, or rather a hedging of bets. Lucky's Tale suggests 3D platformers might have another lease of life. EVE: Valkyrie is a reminder that the space dogfighter continues its unlikely resurgence. Chronos suggests that traditional action RPGs might be more at home in virtual reality than you might have thought.

On Eurogamer, Rick Lane had a look at Adr1ft, one of the other big hopes of the first wave of VR, and found it pretty but a little empty, much like its outer space setting. "The result is a game that is both distant and cold," he writes. "The narrative lacks urgency and the game itself lacks direction or interactive immediacy. It remains a treat for the eyes, and no doubt an impressive technical showcase of what VR can achieve, but while Adr1ft might make your head spin, it's unlikely to make your heart race."

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Elsewhere, Rift appears to have scattered big releases before it, meaning that the rest of the new stuff is a little less earth-shattering. Like Rift and Killer Instinct, StarCraft 2 is used to being a big deal, but with its three main releases behind it, single-player fans are getting DLC mission packs.

I'm not complaining. I spent an hour or two with the first set of Nova Covert Ops and was delighted. "Over time, this might become a really decent mini-campaign," I wrote. "Nova's an interesting lead when it comes to the tools at her disposal, and Blizzard's all-in with the nutty storytelling and the random flights of gimmickry."

What else? Hyper Light Drifter is finally out, a glittering jewel of an indie game with all the hard edges that naff cliche implies. It looks like a delicate Zelda-'em-up but actually drops you into a world of relentless precision violence. Code arrived late and I'm still working through it: it's unforgiving and tough, but very, very pretty. Expect a proper review next week. I am terrible at games, however, so you might want to give me a few days with this one.

Finally, although Resident Evil 6 gets a current-gen port, this week's biggest non-Rift surprise is probably Miitomo, Nintendo's new...what exactly? Its first push onto smartphones? A simple and unsurprisingly restrictive social network? Both of these things, I think. Tom Phillips had a go at explaining: "Miitomo is about you," he says. "Answering questions about yourself and discussing your answers with others. You can also customise your Mii avatar with all sorts of clothing." It's also about cluttering up my Facebook feed with pictures that I barely understand. Again: not complaining. This is just the confusion you often get in the wake of the new new thing.