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Fallout 76 is a little less lonely, and other highlights from Speedrun

Also, Overwatch rounds out its roster with one final hero

Grid featuring images from video games, the PS5 controller and a portrait of Jimmy Mondal Graphic: James Bareham/Polygon
Mike Mahardy leads game criticism and curation at Polygon as senior editor, reviews. He has been covering entertainment professionally for more than 10 years.

Let me start by going out on a limb: video games are dope.

It was this insightful, academic sentiment that drove Speedrun’s coverage throughout the show’s sophomore week. On today’s episode, for instance, we caught up with Polygon editors, writers, and producers to talk about the games they’re playing to curb anxiety. We also explored the many ways Animal Crossing: New Horizons players are banding to together to game their island economies.

Earlier in the week, we played tour guide through Reporters Without Borders’ Uncensored Library, a virtual Minecraft museum built to house otherwise inaccessible journalism from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Vietnam. We then guided viewers through the strange journey of something called the Nintendo PlayStation, an artifact from gaming hardware’s past that recently sold at auction for $360,000.

Fans of ongoing “games-as-service” had plenty to catch up on as well. Blizzard officially added the android Echo to Overwatch, likely the game’s last hero before the sequel releases. No Man’s Sky added exo-suits, which, in the grand scheme of that game’s evolution, seem trivial. But what the hell — the romance of No Man’s Sky’s endless expanse may be just the thing we all need right now.

Lastly, we returned to Fallout 76. Bethesda’s online RPG has NPCs now, making post-apocalyptic West Virgina feel more like a traditional Fallout experience. It’s still not a flawless game, by any means, but it’s heartening to see its loyal fan base rewarded with more companionship. Even if you ultimately plan to nuke everything.

So, returning to that guiding principle I set out with: video games are dope. And this week was a staunch reminder that they can make us all a little less lonely, whether by adding AI characters to a struggling MMO, or sharing banned journalism from across the globe, or just by easing the anxiety that’s so pervasive in all of our lives.

We at Speedrun had a blast covering these stories, and we already have more planned for next week. We’ll see you then.

The next level of puzzles.

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