Guides

A newbie plays Dwarf Fortress: Ep. 1

Wes Fenlon at

In early July 2014, Dwarf Fortress received its first major update in two years. We wrote about why now is the time to get into the game with our guide Into the deep. Reading about all the new features in Dwarf Fortress 2014 gave me the bug: I'm determined to learn how to run a fortress and how to navigate Dwarf Fortress' labyrinthine menus. But I'm not embarking alone. I pulled in PC Gamer video producer (and DF veteran) Will Chesney to teach me the ways of Dwarf Fortress' bloody world.

This is episode one of our Dwarf Fortress Let's Play. It's aimed at newcomers like me who want to learn the game. As we play, we'll talk through the complex process of beginning a fortress, controlling our dwarves, and learning new mechanics. It may all end in blood and tragedy, but at least we'll learn something along the way. Look for new episodes of our series every Tuesday and Thursday. Now: let's strike the Earth!


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.

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 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 free antivirus software for PC

PC Gamer at

The last thing you want on your PC is a virus. The second-to-last thing you want on your PC is antivirus software that slows down your computer when you're gaming. Spending money on your antivirus software doesn't guarantee that you're getting the best, either. These days, there are a ton of free antivirus options, and many of them will keep your computer perfectly safe from the trojans and spyware and adware that lurk on the Internet.


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.


How to create SweetFX-style shaders that don't affect the HUD with Durante's GeDoSaTo

PC Gamer at

In 2012, Peter "Durante" Thoman wrote the popular mod DSfix for Dark Souls: Prepare to Die on PC. In April 2014, he wrote a series of articles for PC Gamer about modding Dark Souls 2.

About 3 months ago, at the same time as the PC release of Dark Souls 2, I released a new tool called GeDoSaTo. At first, it primarily focused on offering a set of graphical enhancement for DS2, but also supported downsampling in a limited set of DirectX 9 games. Since then, its scope and applicability have expanded greatly. Dark Souls 2 is now just one plugin rather than the main focus.

And this is where this article comes in—it is not necessary to know any programming to make significant enhancements to specific games, thanks to the power of the generic plugin. The generic plugin offers all the widely popular functionality of injectors such as SweetFX—SMAA injection, high quality tone mapping, HDR effects, color, contrast, sharpness and gamma adjustments and more—but better, as it allows you to target the application of those effects exactly to where they are needed, while not affecting UI elements or the HUD of games. This article will teach you how to use these capabilities in your own games, and walk through the entire process for Mass Effect 3.

Hearthstone Help: Tips for overcoming Ladder anxiety

Tim Clark at

Often, before I begin a Hearthstone Ladder session, my stomach starts churning and my heartbeat races. I actually feel the same sort of nerves you might get before an exam. Or a date. Back when I used to do either of those things. And because what, I might lose a couple of ranks in one night? Who cares? Well, dumb though it is, I do care. I’ve got the Ladder yips, and I want to overcome them...


Pixel Boost: Planescape: Torment at 1440p

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 4K screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: the Nameless One lives (and dies) again.

Obsidian Entertainment's Pillars of Eternity is, essentially, the reincarnation of late-90s Infinity Engine RPGs. Obsidian has captured the look of isometric cRPGs of the early 2000s as we remember them, and nothing drives that point home like playing Planescape: Torment today. It's as well-written and immense as you remember, but you may have to squint to read the UI or find your way around the environment. It takes some work to run Infinity Engine games on modern PCs, but thanks to the amazing fan community, there are great resources for these games more than a decade alter. If you have a hankering to return to the world of Planescape before Torment: Tides of Numenera, though, it can be done. Here's how.

Hearthstone Help: New Naxxramas class cards rated

PC Gamer at

Goods news everybody! Vincent Sarius here, with this week’s Hearthstone spotlight. Blizzard has now revealed all of the class-specific cards that will be released as part of the upcoming Curse of Naxxramas expansion. Hopefully, that means a release date is imminent—but while we wait, let's take deeper look at the class cards, and try to figure out how much use they’re likely to be in Constructed play…


How to buy a graphics card—Six things you must know about GPUs

PC Gamer at

In a perfect world, the hardware experts at PC Gamer would accompany you on a shopping trip to pick up your next graphics card. We'd happily share our experience and tell you what to watch out for, what to avoid, and what you need from a GPU to squeeze the highest number of frames per second out of your gaming rig. Then again, would you really want to spend an afternoon with our posse of hardware-obsessed game addicts? The good news is you can receive the same benefit by reading our new buyer's guide below. When you're done, you don't even have to shake our clammy, mouse-worn hands.


Hearthstone Help: How to build your own deck

Tim Clark at

Create your own killer deck with help from our in-house Legendary player. In this guide he walks you through the deck-building process, and creates a new PC Gamer-exclusive deck for you to try.


Hearthstone Help: The 46 best cards revealed

PC Gamer at

Whether you're constructing your own deck from scratch, or hoping to climb the ladder by tweaking a popular deck you’ve found online, our expert players are here to help with a guide to the game’s 46 coolest and most powerful cards.


Dark Souls 2 modded: Durante's GeDoSaTo enables downsampling, texture modding

Wes Fenlon at

In 2012, Peter "Durante" Thoman wrote the popular mod DSfix for Dark Souls: Prepare to Die on PC, fixing its locked 1024x720 resolution and other issues. In 2013, he released a similar fix for Deadly Premonition. We asked Durante to analyze the PC port of Dark Souls 2 in a series of articles. He also modded the game. The image above is an in-game texture, not a Photoshop.

My first two articles about Dark Souls 2 investigated the PC port’s features and how generic PC tweaking tools like SweetFX can be used to further improve its graphics. Now it’s time to look at the full extent of what can be achieved by modifying Dark Souls 2 on a deeper level. First, I’ll provide a short overview of the general avenues available for PC game modding and how each applies to Dark Souls 2. Then I’ll detail the modifications I have implemented so far with a new tool I’m calling GeDoSaTo, which enables texture modding, arbitrary downsampling, and more. Consider it the successor to DSfix and DPfix—except its final goal is to work with any 3D game, not just Dark Souls 2.

Hearthstone Help: The best decks explained

Tim Clark at

Still getting crushed by a stream of Murlocs? In the first of a series of articles, our friendly Hearthstone expert shows you why some decks seem so unfair, and how to counter them.

Dark Souls 2 secrets guide: shortcuts, estus shards and more

PC Gamer at

Like Dark Souls' Lordran, Dark Souls 2's Drangleic is a world packed with secrets. There are secret paths to ferret out between areas. Bosses that you may never face in a normal playthrough. Estus flask shards and Pharros' Contraptions and Souls Vessels to find. We've compiled a guide to Dark Souls 2's most vital secrets. If you're just starting out (have you read our beginner's guide?) or a seasoned veteran, you'll find a wealth of useful information for your journey through Drangleic.


Pixel Boost: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month Wes guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each Pixel Boost guide comes with a free side of 4K screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast.

When it comes to Star Wars games, they don't make 'em like they used to. In the late 90s and early 2000s, the Dark Forces and Jedi Knight series married fun first-person action—full of iconic weapons and sound effects—with stories and characters from a larger fictional world. Kyle Katarn! Mara Jade! Luke Skywalker! They were all there, and the games they were in were good. After the first two Dark Forces, LucasArts handed the reigns to Raven Software, who amped up the lightsaber combat and multiplayer. All of the Jedi Knight games are available on Steam, so I relived my childhood Star Wars fandom with Jedi Outcast and took 25 4K screenshots in the process.

Dark Souls 2 beginners guide: how to stay alive (longer)

Ben Griffin at

Ben Griffin knows his Dark Souls 2. His veins don’t so much course with blood as Rouge Water, and his skeleton consists entirely of Homeward Bones. He sees the world through Cracked Red Eye Orbs. He feels it in his Soul Vessel and he processes it in his Petrified Lump. Who better in all of Drangleic, then, to guide you through its perilous first ten hours? If you want fewer reminders that ‘YOU DIED’, read on for 14 tips, tricks and secrets worth their weight in Gold Pine Resin.

The Elder Scrolls Online guide — 10 essential tips for your first character

PC Gamer at

The Elder Scrolls Online will feel familiar to both Elder Scrolls and MMO players, but not wholly—character building, for instance, uses a system adapted from both games. These tips will set you on a prosperous journey from level one to 10, with little time wasted and a character build you can be proud of.