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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.


The International 2014: Valve's SFM recreations of classic plays in webm form

Chris Thursten at

Remember the International? Twenty million people watched it, so chances are you do. I wrote a couple of things about it, too. But we missed something: one of the best bits of fan service to emerge from the entire event, particularly for people who have followed the pro Dota 2 scene for the last couple of years.


Hearthstone Curse Of Naxxramas interview: "We're keeping an eye on" Zoo

Tim Clark at

Tomorrow sees the second wing of Hearthstone's Curse of Naxxramas expansion opening its mouldering doors to players around the world. So now felt like the perfect time to talk to Blizzard about the current state of the game and what we can expect from the future. I nervously approached the giant ebony coffins of senior game designer Ben Brode and production director Jason Chayes and asked them about the new cards, how close they came to nerfing Leeroy, what's going to be done about the seemingly unstoppable Zoo onslaught, and whether we'll ever get more deck slots…


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.


Firefall review in progress, part one: arriving in New Eden

Phil Savage at

Firefall, the free-to-play MMO shooter, is now available. As per PC Gamer's reviews policy, MMOs aren't scored until our reviewer has spent time with the public release. Here, then, is a review-in-progress, charting Phil's initial impressions with the game.

Things get off to a bad start when, upon loading into the game, I recoil in horror at what my eyeballs are seeing. I'll cover Firefall's graphics later, but the tutorial map is perhaps the worst possible introduction to its aesthetic. The textures are blurry, the environments murky, and the characters flat and cartoonish. Compared to this year's other MMO releases, there's none of the vibrancy or charm of Wildstar, and none of the relatively higher-res textures of the otherwise visually bland (and oppressively foggy) TESO.

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.


Watch Dogs comparison video: TheWorse Mod 1.0 vs. standard at 1440p

PC Gamer at

Last week, modder TheWorse released the final version of his now infamous Watch Dogs graphical mod, and we decided to put it to the test by offering it up to the angry god we call the Large Pixel Collider. Ubisoft has stated that the mod could have a negative impact on performance and gameplay, so I jumped on Watch Dogs ummodded with the settings maxed out, and then installed TheWorse Mod 1.0 to see which version looked better and to test Ubisoft's performance claims.


4K Screenshot Showcase: Trine 2

Ben Griffin at

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

A 2011 release, Trine 2 is remembered as one of the most lavishly produced platformers ever. Each area is awash with vivid greens and yellows and purples, as if the developers Frozenbyte's primary aim was to hit every single angle on the colour wheel. Whether it's a sun-drenched tropical paradise, fog-enshrouded churchyard, or greasy-walled dungeon illuminated by glowing slime and torchlight, it's essentially end to end graphics all the way. It makes for a richly saturated sugar rush of a game, sometimes sickly but no less sweet.


Make horror games scarier with these three great headsets

Dave James at

I’ve been playing around with the Early Access disturb-o-fest that is Darkwood. Last night I had to stop as every hair on my body stood to attention.

That’s the power of a great audio soundscape, and of linking that up with a quality gaming headset. A decent set of speakers is fine for music and the bluster of a gunfire-racked war zone, but if you want to hear every little touch of a game’s audio track then the aural isolation of good headphones is impossible to beat.


Dominions 4 diary, part one: one monolith's struggle to become top deity

Tom Senior at

Dominions 4 is a turn-based strategy game about warring gods. Each deity commands a nation of beings ready to fight and die to secure their lord’s ascension, and each is borrowed from recognisable mythology. Greek centaurs battle the dark creatures of Nordish Helheim. Atlantean troops wrestle with the Lovecraftian beasts of R’lyeh. It’s as though a literature professor and a history professor got drunk together and started asking “who would win in a fight between this ancient cultural belief and that dark fantasy monster?” And then made a game to find the answer.

I’m going to win Dominions 4 as a giant stationary hunk of rock. Or try to, anyway. I could have been a monster riding a giant grey ape. I could have been one of three dragons. I could have been lots of things, but none have the charm and comedy sprite of the noble, silent obelisk.


Mod of the Week: CivRome, for Civilization V

Christopher Livingston at

Rome wasn't built in a day, but now it can be built in a turn. A new mod for Civilization V, called CivRome, lets you play from 323 B.C., the death of Alexander the Great, to 500 A.D., the fall of the Roman Empire. You can play as one of 22 possible civilizations including the Romans (Caesar), the Egyptians (Cleopatra), the Macedonians, the Goths, the Gauls, and even the Huns (led by one Mr. Attila T. Hun). There are new technologies to research, specific attributes for some of the civs, and a beautiful, historically accurate new map to conquer. In other words, it's a toga party, Civilization-style.


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.


Saturday Crapshoot: Gold Rush!

Richard Cobbett at

Every week, Richard Cobbett rolls the dice to bring you an obscure slice of gaming history, from lost gems to weapons grade atrocities. This week, can an enterprising soul make a fortune... specifically, by charging $10 for a 1988 adventure game with a remake already on the way?

Gold Rush! doesn't sound like it's going to be one of the odder games from the Sierra On-Line catalogue; the company that after all gave us games like Manhunter and Leisure Suit Larry 2. It actually just sounds like, well, a pretty good idea. What better historical adventure could there be than leaving one's life behind in an all-or-nothing gamble in the California Gold Rush at a time of great change and great fortune? The Oregon Trail was a staple at schools for a reason - the call of the frontier still loud and booming, even in an era of planes, trains and automobiles, and many other memorable comedy movies as well.

But then you play it. And in a word... whooooooooooooooooooooo!

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.


We're giving away thousands of Wildstar free trial keys on Monday

PC Gamer at

We found a lot to love in Carbine's bright, characterful MMO, Wildstar, when we reviewed it a short while ago, and there's a chance you might too if you take part in our upcoming key giveaway, which will go live on Monday July 28.


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.


DayZ diary: the fishing trap

Christopher Livingston at

As DayZ slowly winds its way through alpha, we're finally beginning to see more updates to the early access zombie survival game, with new items and features being regularly added. Mechanics for hunting, fishing, crafting, and cooking means there are now new ways to thrive and survive in the post-apocalyptic landscape of Chernarus besides simply scrounging around in buildings for canned food or shooting and looting other players.

I thought I'd try surviving using some of these new tools. Instead of guns, I'd try to use a crossbow to take down some deer. Instead of peeling open canned tuna I'd try to pluck fish from ponds. No more cold beans: I'll cook my food over a roaring fire or gas-powered stove. Essentially, I'm going camping. Strap on a backpack and come along.


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.