Feature

The PC Gamer Show episode 3: Videoball, GTA 4 no-friction and more on LPC Jr., Arma 3 Zeus mode

PC Gamer at

It's The PC Gamer Show! In episode three we're introducing the new Large Pixel Collider Jr. with an afternoon of special living room gaming challenges. Can Counter-Strike maven Evan Lahti win when he's forced to play with an Xbox controller? Who will survive the frictionless mayhem of GTA 4's Carmageddon mod? Plus, we play upcoming electronic sport Videoball, and PC Gamer UK walks us through ARMA 3's awesome Zeus mode.


Three Lane Highway: there are many Dotas, and other thoughts on custom game modes

Chris Thursten at

Three Lane Highway is Chris' weekly column about Dota 2.

Dota 2's popularity goes against all of the received wisdom about game design I can think of. It is complicated and inconsistent and it pushes people to interact in a way that generates all sorts of well-documented discontent. What it offers can't be summed up in a single sentence, and even a documentary dedicated to explaining its competitive side can only do so much to explain what you actually do in the game, or why that is fun.

Why WoW's level 90 character boost is a shortcut you shouldn't take

Cory Banks at

World of Warcraft launched ten years ago this November. That’s a long time in video game years, and even longer for an MMORPG. The world of Azeroth was already big when the game launched in November 2004, but ten years and four expansions have made WoW utterly massive—and intimidating for new or returning players. That’s one of the reasons why Blizzard has introduced a new in-game service to boost characters to the game’s current max level, 90. For $60, you can take a brand new character, or one you played but didn’t max out, and shortcut them straight to the top-end content for Mists of Pandaria, the game’s most current expansion.

It’s a handy service for both current and returning players, but it’s not perfect. Getting a boost from level 1 to 90 is like learning how to swim by jumping off a diving board, straight into the deep end. And even though Blizzard gives you all of the skills and gear you need to be level 90, it may not be enough to keep your group happy. No one wants to be at the bottom of the damage-per-second charts in an endgame raid.

The best PC joysticks

Dave James at

Space trucking and exploring in Elite: Dangerous. Dogfighting in Star Citizen. For the first time since the glory days of 1990s space sims, the flightstick is a must-have peripheral. An Xbox controller just can't compare to the feel of a flight stick and throttle, and you'll want every one of those buttons and switches for controlling a space ship or dogfighting above a Battlefield ground skirmish. We've tested out seven sticks to help you decide which to buy. If you're on a budget, never fear—one of our favorite sticks is a mere $50/£40.


The pleasure of space trucking in Elite: Dangerous

Andy Kelly at

You can be anything in Elite: Dangerous. A fearsome pirate. A daring adventurer. A galactic explorer. But I’ve decided to be a trucker. See, combat is not my strong point, and most enemy encounters end with me warping away like a massive space-coward. So I’ll be making my living in Frontier’s huge galaxy as a trader. It’s a perfectly legitimate way to play the game, and although not as exciting as dogfights and bounty hunting, is weirdly compelling in its own uneventful, slow-paced way.


4K Screenshot Showcase: Call of Duty: Ghosts

Ben Griffin at

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

With the upcoming, stupidly pretty, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare pouting its lips and batting its eyes on the horizon, I decided to give the last one some love. I've contained my exploits to the first mission, but even that's plenty variety given CoD's penchant for catapulting players between ludicrous scenarios. Here I go from outrunning an orbital strike on San Diego to floating around the very space station responsible for it, all while dodging bullets from jetpacking terrorists.

Dominions 4 diary part two: war elephants, hurricanes and fallen gods

Tom Senior at

Last week my pretender god Balboa conquered a quarter of the world of Valanis despite spending most of the time asleep. It’s a good time to come out of hibernation: Lanka has two other nations ruled by competing wannabe deities.

Dominions gives you a vague summary of an army before it attacks, so I know about the wolves, harpies and maenads that are about to strike my river fortress at Dragon Pointe. It’s not until I see the replay of my 175-unit army meeting their 250-strong force on the field that I see the truth. Centaurs and satyrs line up alongside horned snakes that tower above the throng. Crocodiles waddle around the feet of ogres, minotaurs and centaur wizards. A couple of dryads hang near the back, casting spells under the protection of a flock of crows.

The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

PC Gamer at

Each week PC Gamer’s young knives gather in darknet chatroom to thrash out the key moments of the previous seven days. Then they write them down. In silence. Because videogames.


Pixel Boost: Sid Meier's Pirates!

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: Yarr!.

First, there were pirates, the sea dogs of the the 17th century Caribbean. Then there were Pirates!, who were very similar, except they lived inside computers like the Commodore 64 and Apple II and were created by Sid Meier in 1987. Finally, there are 2004's Pirates!, who sail the Caribbean as salty 3D scalawags instead of tiny blocky pixel sprites. Pirates, Pirates! and 3D Pirates! all do mostly the same things--plunder booty, trade stolen goods, and swordfight with Spanish sailors. 2013's Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag may have the more exciting swordfighting, but the greatest piracy simulation of them all is still 2004's Sid Meier's Pirates!. Meier's classic blend of fun minigames and strategy hasn't been replicated in a pirate game since, but that's okay—Pirates! still runs just fine on modern Windows, and at high resolution, too.

No coding required: How new designers are using GameMaker to create indie smash hits

PC Gamer at

In May 2013, Tom Francis opened preorders for his 2D stealth hacking game Gunpoint. By the time Gunpoint actually went on sale, a week later, Francis had already made enough money to quit his job at PC Gamer and focus on game development full-time. But for many people, the biggest surprise came not from the game's amazing performance three days after release, but rather the way it was made—that it was developed using a tool called GameMaker.

GameMaker: Studio, the latest version of the tool, has been developed by YoYoGames since 2006. Its goal is to break down the game development process into something approachable and easy to learn, shifting the main challenge facing game designers from technical knowledge to creative ability. But in part because of this ease-of-use, GameMaker has carried a stigma that it wasn't capable or worthy of powering high-quality, "professional" games. ("I can't believe you made this in GameMaker!" Francis recalls people saying. "That's so impressive!")


Three Lane Highway: surrender buttons, Gordian knots, and other thoughts on giving up

Chris Thursten at

Three Lane Highway is Chris' column about Dota 2.

When someone describes something as a Gordian knot the presumption is that it's waiting for the sword. There's virtue associated with solving complicated problems quickly and decisively—the legend of Alexander and the knot expresses a cultural preoccupation with the notion that twisted impossible things are deserving of a direct and just and violent 'solution', normally at the hands of somebody with unusual power and perspective (read: some dude with a sword.) Anything else, it follows, is a waste of time.

The best RPGs of all time

Cory Banks at

The role-playing game is the cornerstone of PC gaming. Long before shooters or real-time strategy, the earliest PC developers replicated their tabletop RPGs on the PC, building sprawling adventures filled with orcs and wizards and foul dungeons. Those early games slowly built on their tabletop origins, and RPGs eventually became so popular, their elements spread to other genres. Here are our 25 favorites: the RPGs we’d tell anyone to play right now.


Gaming in 4K: the future is now, if you give up 60 frames per second

Wes Fenlon at

The future—aka 4K gaming—is made up of very, very small pixels. After spending the past two weeks checking out games on Samsung's U28D590D 4K monitor, I'm still going to call 4K gaming the near future rather than the present. Yes, you can play games at 3840x2160 pixels right now. Yes, 4K monitors are becoming more affordable. But are they worth it? After spending a couple weeks using one, I can comfortably say: no, not yet. Even for a high-end graphics card (or two), 4K is too demanding for max settings and high framerates. If you're willing to play at 30 frames per second, though, 4K is a different story.


Survival gets serious in The Long Dark

Andy Kelly at

Last week I wrote about the problem with survival games. Some of you loved the idea of the hypothetical game I described—which sidelines monsters and overt danger for a more atmospheric battle against the elements—and some of you thought I was mental. After the article was published I was tweeted by Hinterland Games creative director Raphael van Lierop, who said that their game, The Long Dark, is exactly what I’m looking for. So, of course, I had to try it.


Highlights from the Oculus Rift's Health and Safety guide

Phil Savage at

As part of the new SDK, Oculus VR has updated the Rift's "Health and Safety Warning" documentation, and it's pretty great. There's something about the clash of new technology and old legislation that I find deeply amusing. As such, I'm going to highlight some of the highlights—not in an attempt to over-exaggerate the dangers of VR, but rather to celebrate sentences like, "symptoms of virtual reality exposure can persist and become more apparent hours after use."

Virtual reality exposure is a thing now. A thing with symptoms. That's pretty cool.


The PC Gamer Hearthstone tournament

PC Gamer at

Hearthstone gets its claws into you. Blizzard’s masterstroke is the way the game rewards you for a win—the shower of fireworks that springs from the screen every time you land a killing blow on the enemy hero.

The moment you start craving more of that experience, Hearthstone’s got you—as it got us. Tim is almost entirely lost to it, spending his early hours researching deck compositions. Chris played played 50 hours when he reviewed the game, before bowing out mumbling something about mages. Andy booted it up for the first time when asked to prepare for this tournament, hated it, and then saw the fireworks—and now he’s been sucked in, too.

The inaugural PC Gamer Hearthstone tournament gathers up all of that emotional and psychological investment, and pours it into a crucible of hot, middling competition. We can’t claim to be the best players in the world, but everybody here wants to win: and everybody who gets knocked out is doomed to spend at least 20 minutes sulking in a corner.


The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Tim Clark at

Every Friday the PC Gamer team thumbs through its Filofax, coldly picks out the key moments from the past week, then makes an excuse about having to return some videotapes…


Into the deep: it's time to learn how to play Dwarf Fortress

PC Gamer at

The above image may look like a cat walked all over an MS-DOS word processor. What it actually depicts, however, is unspeakable violence and brutality. A field strewn with spent arrows, severed limbs, and pools of blood leads to the trap-riddled narrow entrance of an underground fortress. Corpses of elves, goblins, trolls, humans, and even dogs rot in the open air, slain in attacks on peaceful trade caravans. The inhabitants of the fortress do not care. They got what they wanted from the wagons. Any outsiders who happened to be captured alive in the cage traps will soon be thrown screaming into the open magma pits several floors below.

This is Dwarf Fortress: an endlessly sprawling simulator of procedurally generated worlds awaiting dwarves brave enough to plunder their precious metals. Simple graphics interact with the imagination to reveal more detail than the most vivid high-polycount game—for anyone willing to learn Dwarf Fortress's notorious complexity. It's actually not as hard as you think, and 2014's Dwarf Fortress update dramatically expands Adventure mode to tell sprawling RPG adventures with the same depth as Fortress mode. It's the perfect time to learn, and we're here to help. You'll be pouring magma on goblins in no time.


The PC Gamer Show episode 2: Pillars of Eternity, Fallout: New Vegas, Divinity: Original Sin

PC Gamer at

It's The PC Gamer Show! Episode two is an RPGstravaganza with special guest Josh Sawyer, who stopped by to demo Obsidian's Infinity Engine throwback Pillars of Eternity. The PC Gamer US team also discussed the greatest RPGs of all time, played some co-op Divinity: Original Sin, and talked to Sawyer about his time as the director on Fallout: New Vegas.


EVE Online's new boss on the future of the game, accessibility, and the 'spreadsheets in space' label

Andy Kelly at

CCP’s massively multiplayer space sim has a new boss. Her name is Andie Nordgren, and she’ll be taking charge of not only the development of the game, but its long-term vision too. She was behind the game’s new update model, which sees ten smaller updates being released a year instead of two large expansions, and previously served as EVE’s senior producer. I talked to Nordgren about the future of the game and how she’s making the notoriously deep, intimidating MMO friendlier.