Welcome to the PC Gamer Game of the Year Awards 2013. For an explanation of how the awards were decided, a round-up of all the awards and the list of judges,
Our multiplayer game of the year is a wonderfully tense shooter with some of the deadliest and most satisfying guns in the business. Rising Storm generates great war stories, and encourages rewarding feats of teamwork. With great maps, great weapons and some interesting and unique battle-mechanics, Rising Storm couldn't be bested as our choice for multiplayer game of the year.
What an absurdly well-designed FPS this is. In a time when multiplayer shooter factories like DICE and Splash Damage have abandoned WWII, Tripwire render the period in its most ambitious form ever – on sprawling, authentic maps and with asymmetrical differences between the sides that make them more than texture-swapped clones. I like Battlefield 4 a bunch, but when you join a Japanese banzai charge in Rising Storm (a tactic that suppresses enemies more effectively as more people join the battle choir and begin to literally yell), you realise how carefully these clever, satisfying game mechanics had to be laid into the map and weapon design.
More than Battlefield 4, or even Team Fortress 2, Rising Storm makes me feel important. I may only be vital to my team for a couple of moments in each round, but I am significant every second I'm alive. Even as I crumple to the sand on Iwo Jima, sniped from the shore, I'm informing nearby teammates about an enemy location, or at least driving them into better cover. That feeling of significance makes Rising Storm my favourite team game ever. It can't be won by a few skilled players – it takes organised tactics, and everyone, regardless of their kill/death ratio, is valuable to the team.
I'm satisfied whether I spend a round crouched behind radios commanding my team to victory, or suicidally banzai charging into bases, helping them take ground and acting as an extra in someone else's war movie. The former is almost guaranteed to put me at the top of the scoreboard, while the latter not so much, but I'm happy just to contribute.
Rising Storm's flamethrower is one of my favourite weapons of 2013 – a wild dragon in the form of a backpack that immolates instantly and yet somehow remains balanced in a shooter defined by marksmanship and precision.
Yeah, the challenge there is positioning – good marksmen make sure flamers don't ever make it into their trenches. You can go a bunch of lives without a kill, but that frustration is mitigated by the promise of those spectacular moments. No matter how many times I die – even if I can't stay alive for more than ten seconds at a time – I'm rarely discouraged. Every life is lavish with opportunities, and every death informs my next life, compounding over the course of a match into a four-dimensional mental map of enemy movements. I play for the moments when that map guides me in the right direction and I muster the skill to achieve a goal and help my team – taking a point, or maybe just blowing up a trenchful of enemies with a knee mortar. I'm in it for all the little victories that lead to the final victory, the moments of heroics, sacrifice, and clutch saves. I'm even in it for the defeats, so long as they're glorious.
This is a tiny thing, but it's so clever that Rising Storm doesn't track your deaths on the scoreboard. No one else is building shooters that ask you to forget your precious kill-death ratio and throw your body at a machinegun nest so that the enemy has to reload, in order for the guy behind you to get through and bayonet him, so that your team can push a few more feet forward.