Feature

Virtual reality is closer than ever, but it still has a long way to go

Andy Kelly at

I’ve been regularly strapping the office Oculus Rift to my head for a few months now, and I’m convinced virtual reality is something special, and not just a daft gimmick we’ll all laugh at in a decade. But there are still a lot of problems with the hardware as it exists today—including the recently released DK2 version—that will have to be ironed out before the thing is ready to appear in peoples’ living rooms. If, indeed, that ever happens.


The PC Gamer Top 100

PC Gamer at

These are the games we love. The international PC Gamer team has spent hundreds of hours sweating over this list across timezones—meticulously drawn from the PC’s decades of history, these are the games we’ve decided you absolutely need to play today. It’s as simple as that. If you’ve played most of these before, well done—you have dedicated your life to a worthy cause and deserve a small ceremonial jig. If some of these games are new to you, that’s great too. This list has been entirely and honestly compiled by us, reflecting the diverse tastes of our writers and contributors. The PC Gamer Top 100 sums up the amazing legacy of PC gaming’s past, and the great games available today. Enjoy.


Pixel Boost: Tachyon: The Fringe at 2560x1440

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month, Pixel Boost guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each guide comes with a free side of hi-res screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: Cracking wise on the outskirts of space.

Elite Dangerous, Star Citizen. While space sim diehards are fighting over which modern sim is the one true king, Pixel Boost turns its eyes back to one of the greats of the past: Novalogic’s Tachyon: The Fringe. Bruce Campbell stars as sassy pilot Jake Logan, hanging out on the fringes of space and getting in all kinds of interstellar dogfights. Tachyon showed up on PC in 2000, right as the space sim genre peaked and started drifting into a black hole of obscurity, with a branching storyline and multiplayer that still lives today. The game is also easy to play at high resolutions on modern Windows. If you bought a flight stick for modern space sims, time to put it to use with a classic.

Why you should use Darkadia to show off your game collection

Andy Chalk at

Steam makes it easy to collect games, but as a tool for maintaining a collection it suffers from a few shortcomings. It's not much use for cataloging Infocom classics, say, or that Splinter Cell special edition that came in a metal lunchbox, and some die-hard collectors—people who'll pass on a game because the packaging is just a little too banged up—may not consider "owning" a game on Steam the same as having it parked in a place of pride on a shelf.

That's where Darkadia comes in. It's a website that simplifies the process of organizing and tracking videogame collections with a substantial degree of control and detail. Darkadia also makes it easy to show off collections to other gamers around the world: I've got 170 digital boxes arranged in glorious rows on my Darkadia shelves—not the entirety of my collection, but a solid start—and man, they look good.


Three Lane Highway: the seven stages of Techies

Chris Thursten at

The patch could be here tomorrow. Maybe? Hopefully. By the time you read this you'll probably know more than I do. Valve have promised Techies by the end of August; Valve have promised a lot of things. Anything - and literally nothing - is possible.

It'll probably be tomorrow. If it is, we'll finally begin the process of accepting Techies into the game. Techies, the argument goes, are going to change how pub Dota is played forever. All Pick is going to become a (literal) minefield. The old ways will be gone. It seems appropriate that a hero with a reputation for griefing should attract a seven-stage process of its own.


Metro 2033 Redux comparison video: original vs. Redux at 2560 x 1440

PC Gamer at

Last week we gave you our review of Metro 2033 Redux, but today you can judge the graphical differences firsthand. We decided to throw both the original game and the Redux version to our irresponsibly large computer, the Large Pixel Collider, to scrutinize 4A Games' remastered environments, lighting and character models. We cranked all the graphics to max, set the resolution to 2560 x 1440, and started killing monsters. The original is still a good looking game, but Redux has some impressive new lighting effects, and runs much, much better—it stayed at a rock-solid 60 fps even during combat, which would drop Metro 2033 down to about 40 frames per second.


4K Screenshot Showcase: Nvidia's face tech

Ben Griffin at

Every week, keen screen-grabber Ben Griffin brings you a sumptuous 4K resolution gallery to celebrate PC gaming's prettiest places, or in this case, PC gaming's most detailed face.

Meet Digital Ira. A collaboration between Activision and USC Institute of Creative Technologies, he's their crack at creating a photoreal digital actor,

"To achieve this," the USC ICT write on their blog, "we scanned the actor in thirty high-resolution expressions using the USC ICT’s new Light Stage X system and chose eight expressions for the real-time performance rendering.  Then we shot multi-view 30fps video of the actor performing improvised lines using the same multi-camera rig." Finally, the mesh animation was transferred to standard bone animation on a 4K polygon mesh using a bone weight and transform solver. Here's what all that looks like at super-high resolution.

The best and worst BioWare companions

Andy Kelly at

Warning! The following article contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for the Mass Effect, Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, and Dragon Age series.

With a new Dragon Age on the way, we've been reminiscing about our favourite, and least favourite, BioWare companions. Interesting buddies, and sometimes enemies, have been a staple of BioWare games since Baldur's Gate, and the studio is famous for creating people you actually care about. So I decided to ask the entire PC Gamer team who among the vast pantheon of BioWare NPCs they hate, and who they love. Some of the answers may surprise you. Especially Chris Thursten's.

Show Us Your Rig: Divinity: Original Sin designer Farhang Namdar

PC Gamer at

Show Us Your Rig is back! We feature the PC gaming industry's best and brightest as they show us the systems they use to work and play.

Farhang Namdar, lead game designer of Divinity: Original Sin, uses three different computers all designed with a different purpose in mind, and has a great sense for interior design to boot. In fact, his living room PC molds so well into its surroundings that, at first, I thought he was just bragging about his immaculately furnished home. Farhang was gracious enough to take some time and show off the rigs he uses, along with the pets that inevitably crawl around them.

The PC Gamer Show episode 4: SOE Live, Alien Isolation, Velvet Sundown

PC Gamer at

It's The PC Gamer Show! In episode four, Cory travels to SOE Live to interview Sony Online President John Smedley and talk Everquest Next and H1Z1. Meanwhile, back at the office, we take a cruise on the Velvet Sundown and Tim chats with UK editor Chris Thursten about their hands-on time with Alien Isolation.


Three Lane Highway: why Culling Blade is Dota 2's most entertaining skill

Chris Thursten at

Three Lane Highway is Chris' column about Dota 2.

Ultimate abilities are a good place to start whenever you're tasked with explaining why Dota is cool. They're silly, diverse, exciting to watch. If you're staring at an unconvinced game designer, show them how Chain Frost interacts with Chronosphere. Show them how Wraith King's Reincarnation power is both a safetynet and a mobile psychological deterrent. Show them almost any great Echoslam, but probably this one, because it's a tragedy and a comedy at the same time.

Konami are making a new Silent Hill. Will it come to PC?

Andy Kelly at

Last week Konami revealed a new Silent Hill game. After a succession of underwhelming sequels that spectacularly failed to capture the dark, subversive magic of the originals, you’d be forgiven for shrugging this news off. But this new Silent Hill is being developed by Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear series, in collaboration with Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro. Konami, it seems, are finally giving their flagship horror series the love it deserves.


Hearthstone Help: What I learned from playing with a professional coach

Tim Clark at

When a golfer has a wonky swing, the obvious solution is a visit to the club pro for a tune up. But there’s a big difference between a sport in which people think nothing of dropping hundreds of dollars on a new driver and a game like Hearthstone, where many players pride themselves on never paying for a single booster pack. So I was surprised to see an increasing number of pro players and popular streamers starting to offer coaching sessions. But could an hour’s worth of advice really improve my winrate?


10 essential Windows 7 applications

PC Gamer at

Windows 8.1 has been out since October 2013, but we still cling to our installs of Windows 7. We love its reliability, even if it's missing some of Windows 8's under-the-hood improvements. If you're also still using Windows 7, your gaming PC is probably loaded with years of accumulated software. But are you using the best? Our colleagues at TechRadar put together a list of the best free programs for Windows 7, and we've boiled that list down to the 10 programs we think are essentials. If you don't have these programs installed already, here's why you should download them.


4K Screenshot Showcase: Thief

Ben Griffin at

Every week, keen screen-grabber Ben Griffin brings you a sumptuous 4K resolution gallery to celebrate PC gaming's prettiest places.

Say what you will about the game itself, but Thief's setting is as evocative as they come. Known simply as The City, this moody hub is equal parts Victorian Gothic and supernatural steampunk, sporadically illuminated by the light leaking from clouded windows and drowning in low-hanging mist.

There's little respite from the blue-black colour scheme besides the seedy rouge decor in the House of Blossoms and warmer tones of the Baron's manor, but that's what makes it so oppressive: it's always night, and it's nearly always raining. I actually took 40 shots in all, so if you'd like to see the ones not linked below, click here.

How to set up Steam in-home streaming on your PC

Wes Fenlon at

Steam in-home streaming may be the future of PC gaming in the living room. Sure, you can build a powerful gaming machine for the living room. But that's expensive. You might be able to run an HDMI cable from your desktop to your big screen TV. But that's usually impractical. In-home streaming is the third option: you use an old PC, or build a low-power client box, to stream games over your home network. Valve's in-home streaming started as an exclusive beta feature in Steam, but now it's built right into the client and available to anyone. It only takes about five minutes to set up, and it works amazingly well.

If you're ready to try out in-home streaming yourself, I'll walk you through the whole process: how to enable streaming in Steam, what kind of host PC and client you'll need, how to make sure your home network is up to the task, and how to control your games once they're up and running.

Inside IndieBox, the startup bringing back the glory of 80s game packaging

Andy Chalk at

Consider the box. There was a time when the lowly construct of cardboard was more ubiquitous than Steam: If you wanted a game, you bought it in a box, complete with manual, reference card, promotional material for other games in the publisher's catalog, and, in many cases, “the stuff”: Supplemental reading material, perhaps, or a swanky poster, or a microscopic alien space fleet in a ziplock bag. And it was good. Browsing row upon row of brightly colored boxes of various sizes and shapes was exciting not just because you knew you'd be coming home with something, but because you could never be entirely certain what was inside. That mystery is an element of the game-buying experience that's just not possible with the "all things at all times" nature of digital distribution, and for some gamers that's a real loss.

IndieBox hopes to fill that void with a unique blind subscription service: an indie game delivered to your mailbox every month, along with specially crafted box art, a manual, and other goodies. You never know what you're going to get: You pays your dime, as they say, and you takes your chances. It is perhaps an odd way to do business, but as co-founder John Carter explained, there’s an odd kind of sense to it, too.


Pixel Boost: Deus Ex at 5K

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month, Pixel Boost guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each guide comes with a free side of hi-res screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: Looking sharp, JC Denton. Real sharp.

It's one of the best RPGs ever made. It's one of the best games ever made, period. Deus Ex needs little introduction—since 2000, Ion Storm's first-person shooter/RPG has been the benchmark for open-ended game design. There's always a secret vent to crawl through, or a door to hack, or an NPC to persuade. Deus Ex's popularity endures to this day, and modders are still working to make the game look better every year. We decided to pay ol' JC Denton a visit on modern Windows and snap 33 5K screenshots. Here are the tools you can use to do the same.

Hearthstone Help: Top 10 new Naxxramas card combos

PC Gamer at

In this week's Hearthstone column our resident Legendary player is back to list his favorite combos enabled by the new Naxx cards. Because hey, who doesn't want to live the double Thaddius dream, right?


Why Rise of the Tomb Raider's exclusivity deal is a prehistoric relic

Tim Clark at

Well, I guess this is adieu then Lara. The news from Gamescom today that Rise Of The Tomb Raider will launch “exclusively on Xbox” next year means that, at best, PC gamers will have to wait out whatever window of time Microsoft’s money hat has paid for. Irritating, but nothing we’re not used to. More troubling is the suggestion that this is actually a lifetime exclusive. If that is the case (and I strongly suspect it isn’t), then it would represent one of the dumbest partnership deals I can recall.