Guides

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.


Pixel Boost: Unreal Tournament 2004 at 4K

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: Unreal Tournament 2004 turns 10.

Unreal Tournament 2004 turned a decade old in March. There's still nothing as thrillingly tense as an Instagib match on Facing Worlds, nothing as smooth and satisfying as snatching up a Flak Cannon and instantly turning someone into flying giblets with a spread of molten shrapnel. It's just as much fun as you remember, and the online scene still has active servers hosting fast-paced multiplayer matches today. Even better, Unreal Tournament 2004 installs and runs like a champion on modern Windows, and I've got 34 4K screenshots to prove it.

The 10 best Elder Scrolls Online addons, tweaks, and tools

Tyler Wilde at

The Elder Scrolls Online has been officially playable by the pre-ordering type since Sunday. Look for the first of our review impressions later this week, but for now, we expect most players will share this observation: the UI is too sparse. ESO seems ashamed of its MMO mechanics, hiding damage numbers and useful information such as experience gains.


Titanfall config guide: the best settings to maximize your effectiveness

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Titanfall is out and thus begins the pursuit of finding best possible experience it can offer. This configuration and tweak guide will help you optimize the game for a better overall experience and to improve your competitive advantage. Bear in mind, users currently have no access to the developer console as Respawn likely intends to limit tweaking to create a similar experience for all users, so our ability to customize and optimize is more limited than with other Source games. Even so, there are lots of useful in-game and system tweaks that beat the default settings.


Titanfall guide: ten tips for battling through the beta

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Now I’ve mastered the maps, unlocked the weapons and hit max rank in Titanfall’s beta, I’m ready to spill my secrets. Want to know how to stick to walls like Spider-Man? Or cut your Titan spawn time in half? Or do a jetpack-powered judo kick into someone’s silly face? Here are ten tips, covering everything from loadouts, to burn cards, to smarter movement and more deadly Titans.


How to configure Counter-Strike: GO for the maximum competitive advantage

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s surge in popularity over the past few months makes now a great time to join one of the most competitive multiplayer shooters on PC. This visual guide will teach you how to set up your game for the maximum competitive advantage. There’s no singular best practice, as a lot of configuration is personal preference, but there are tweaks you can make to graphics and network settings, keybindings, and more to help outplay the competition.


Rust guide: Surviving your first day

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Welcome to a new day in Rust! Life is hard in the multiplayer survival game (read our alpha review to find out why it's worth playing), but with the right knowledge, you can at least make it through a day.

Which brings us to our first tip: Check the time. If sundown is approaching, consider quitting for 20 minutes and coming back at dawn. It's cheesy, but spending a night in the open without food or shelter puts you at a real disadvantage.