Some claim that summer doesn’t start until the 21st, but Valve says it’s time for the Steam Summer Sale and we haven’t heard anything from the solstice lobby—so, happy first day of summer! As always, it’s celebrated with a ridiculous store-wide Steam sale renowned for its low prices and intoxicating effect on the PC gaming community. Everything looks great when it’s 80% off, but before you start filling up your library, here are our favorite picks of day one.
XCOM: Enemy Within
For strategy gamers, Julian Gollop is a name of hallowed reverence. His Belt of Achievements includes pre-millenium classics such as Laser Squad and Chaos. Most notably, he created the X-COM series of turn-based tactical alien fragging and directed 1994's X-COM: UFO Defense—widely considered one of the best strategy games ever made. The franchise spent some time in the engineering bay before returning in 2012 with Firaxis' excellent Enemy Unknown, but Gollop has lately turned to crowdsourced funding with a small team to develop his multiplayer wizard-em-up reboot Chaos Reborn. In an AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread on Reddit last weekend, Gollop answered questions on his take of the current state of strategy games, alternate funding, and the rise of early access.
Youtuber Antti Kokkonen, who uploads Let's Plays to Youtube under the username Zemalf, is one of the best XCOM players in the world. On January 11, he finished a 50 hour run of XCOM: Enemy Within on Impossible Ironman difficulty without losing a single country. Or Interceptor. Or mission. Or soldier.
It was a perfect run on the game's hardest difficulty (and his first time through the game). On Ironman, XCOM is limited to a single save file. No do-overs. Beating the game on Impossible Ironman is a rare feat, but beating it without losing a single soldier? That really does sound impossible. But Zemalf did it, and he recorded it all across 58 Let's Play videos.
"I consider myself an okay player, but the run did go really well," he told PC Gamer. With Zemalf's help, we've broken down this achievement in XCOM mastery, dissecting his 58 part series into the key moments that defined the run.
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, check here.
2013's expansion, Enemy Within, has only deepened Enemy Unknown's excellent campaign. XCOM's narrative arc remains unchanged, but between the necessary story missions there's great scope for expression in the management of your band of battle brothers and sisters. The bonds you form with your troops - and the shock when they meet a messy end - form the highs and lows of a player-authored narrative worthy of our game of the year award for Best Singleplayer.
Before running away for a few days of competitive eating and cooperative gaming, Evan, Cory, and Tyler gathered to reflect on the most memorable victories, losses, and stories they virtually experienced in 2013. Watch the whole five-video series on the PC Gamer YouTube channel, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more regular content, gameplay footage, and conversations.
PC Gamer editors are prohibited from celebrating Christmas. For the team, the end of the year is marked by an event known as “GOTY Sleepover,” a time where we somewhat-voluntarily sequester ourselves away from our families and loved ones in the interest of a greater good: selecting the best PC games of the year. We gather in a room with a very heavy door and very little ventilation and stay there until we’ve reached a unanimous decision on every award category. It’s a lot like the Papal conclave, but with more Cheetos.
Holiday time means gaming time: this week Tyler, Evan, and Cory talk Battlefield 4, XCOM: Enemy Within, Hearthstone, and other games they've been playing over the holiday break. Listen all the way through for Cory's exclusive interview with Ananda Gupta, lead designer on XCOM: Enemy Within.
We're back! After a few weeks of work on special operations, we found a moment to catch us (and you) up on October and November's big games: XCOM: Enemy Within, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and Battlefield 4.
Sprint across a flowered field and embrace PC Gamer Podcast 365 - Ghost Grenade Dad.
Rest in peace, Major Evan “Mad Dog” Lahti. You single-handedly killed a Muton with a scatter laser, saving the life of rookie sniper Wesley Snipes. It’s too bad there were two Mutons, but seriously, you died a hero, and we all know that last 82 percent chance shot should have hit—that’s just total BS. And hey, you also completed a secondary objective that was really important, so we appreciate that. Sorry you’re dead.
While multi-format publications froth expectantly at the coming release of a plastic box, we might as well laze back and enjoy a bit of strategy news. XCOM: Enemy Within is either out or incoming, depending on your geographical status, but if you're waiting - or just haven't bought the turn-based expansion - an interactive trailer takes you through some of the new features and mission types.
Names are important. Giving a name to a tiny, mindless unit in games such as FTL or XCOM: Enemy Unknown—and XCOM: Enemy Within, out today—gives them the importance necessary for permadeath to matter. I don't care if some anonymous squaddie bites it in an alien base mission, but I care a lot more about the well-being of Lt. Tyler "Maverick" Wilde.
POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT - this reveals a new type of alien for turn-based tactical add-on, XCOM: Enemy Within. If you've already decided that you're getting the expansion and would rather encounter and adapt to it yourself, give this preview a miss. This hands-on focuses on one particular encounter, for additional in-depth overview of Enemy Within's new features, you can also check out our other hands-on account.
All rise to salute the fallen. Sergeant Balls, start the bagpipes. AHEM. Lt. April "Congo" Palmer, slain by a Floater's light plasma rifle in Operation Devil's Giant. Eleven kills to her name. Squaddie Eric Stevens, mauled to death trying to taser a Chryssalid at melee range during Operation Flying Skull. My, my, what a mess that was. Lt. Shaojie Zhang, slain by a Thin Man at range in Operation Dark Vanguard. Rookie Dieter Kohler, strangled to death by a flying metal octopus During Operation Devil's Giant.
Wait, flying metal octopus? Balls, stop the bagpipes. Colonel Jenkins, stop crying. Nobody told me anything about a flying goddamn octopus.
You better watch your back. Since we first heard about XCOM: Enemy Within's disruptive new faction Exalt, the quest to save Earth has been looking a bit more complicated. As we learn in a new dev blog from the DLC's lead designer Ananda Gupta, the "insular and self-serving" Exalt has its own agenda entirely.
Here's a trailer that focuses on the Exalt: those covert enemy operatives that Tyler revealed in his XCOM: Enemy Within preview. They're an enemy within, you see. Within the expansion, within your species, and, as your trailer shows, within your own base. While the trailer consists entirely of cutscene, it does suggest that base defence missions could be making a return.
Genetically altering humans has been proven (through speculative fiction) a universally bad idea. Sure, super-powered leg muscles sound like fun, but sooner or later the owner of those muscles is going to go mad with power. Before you know it, they're leaping through space as part of a plan to punch the moon out of orbit. Still, in the world of XCOM: Enemy Within, aliens are attacking the planet. In light of that, the powers and abilities shown off in this game footage are probably for the best.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown was one of our favorite games last year, but the brilliant turn-based strategy game lacks the modding support we hope for in big PC games. In a new interview, XCOM designer Garth DeAngelis says that modding tools aren’t “on the table currently,” but that doesn’t mean they’re never coming.
Just over a week ago, news broke of XCOM: Enemy Within - a very orangey expansion to Enemy Unknown. The accompanying video, in true XCOM tradition, showed a shadowy guy saying things in his Serious Voice, with nary a hint of gameplay footage to back it up. As with the moon landings and the inner workings of Pat Sharp's Fun House, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was protected by some vast government conspiracy - y'know, if it wasn't for this brand new trailer chock-full of the stuff. It's entitled War Machines, and true to the name it shows off the expansion's new bio-engineering and robo-mech-suit features. There is also a lot of alien-punching. If Will Smith happens to be watching: that one's all on you.
This week, Evan, Tyler, T.J., and Cory recap news from Gamescom: Diablo, XCOM, Elder Scrolls, and more. We compare notes on our current adventures in Saints Row IV, and T.J. vastly exceeds the legal limit for Bohemian Rhapsody lyric puns in a single podcast.
True* Gamescom fact: to cope with the hordes of heroic reporters, all furiously typing about the show's latest news and announcements, the governments of the world were forced to cordon off 12% of the internet. As a result, those cat gifs you love are loading around three seconds slower than usual. Has it been worth such a high price? To find out, have a browse through our collected round-up of news from the second day.
Earlier today, Firaxis announced XCOM: Enemy Within, a full expansion to their ace tactical strategy XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It will add more of everything: aliens, soldiers, technology, missions, maps, abilities, weapons, and upgrades, including cybernetic enhancements and genetic modification. And, if these screenshots are anything to go by, it will drown the world in a deadly orange glow - replacing the base game's dark blues, with a fiery new palette.