The life of a techie. Go on, breathe it in: T-shirts stained with thermal paste grease, hands shredded to pieces, incessant badgering by your friends and family to troubleshoot their PCs. Alas it's but a dream to most. But fear not, wannabe tech support, esports is calling out your name, and you better pack your best case fans because you're about to be offered the chance of a lifetime building for the top teams in PC Building Simulator's Esports Expansion DLC, an unlikely story mode where a mere civilian like yourself can take on the role of team tech support.
The Esports Expansion DLC releases today on Steam, and is available for $13 (£10). It brings with it a brand new campaign on top of the game's first career jaunt into the world of commercial PC building and self-employment. In which you'll be tasked with building PCs for the gaming greats, and occasionally their grandparents, from your windowless office/garage.
The expansion introduces sponsors, teams, and esports personalities, who you'll need to appease with your PC building skills. The better your build, the bigger the team you'll have the honour of working for. And with a lot of hard work and determination you'll be able to stand in the shadows of the greats—in the back, just out of view.
As with the base game, a generous roster of hardware brands and manufacturers are accounted for. Public relations specialists from AMD, Nvidia, NZXT, Razer, Asus ROG, EVGA, and Corsair number those with access to your email address and an inclination to ceaselessly flood your in-game inbox with ranging demands for exposure. Keep them on your good side by slathering every PC in a thick layer of RGB lighting, proprietary software, and high-end parts.
Damn. If this isn't already getting a little too real for a hardware journo. I had thought myself prime material for a game about building PCs, as a self-proclaimed PC building aficionado and evangelist for the hobby, but even I can't quite stomach spending my after work hours juggling parts and PCs.
Could you learn how to build a gaming PC without ever touching the inside of a case? We compare the real thing to its digital doppelgänger.
The Irregular Corporation offered us a code to check out its latest creation before release, and I have to say I am a little taken aback with just how mundane I find the whole affair. The "fantasy of labor" isn't a new concept in games—Euro Truck Simulator and even Death Stranding have given us interesting expressions of menial work, to name two. Maybe it's just me, a PC builder by trade, but the stress of a familiar routine—check your emails, accept jobs, wait for delivery, install components, test components, troubleshoot components, wait for collection—is all too real.
That feeling is compounded by an incredibly detailed and in-depth PC building experience. Each case has been mapped out and recreated in-game with a superb eye for detail, and while many cables connect themselves for brevity's sake, there's certainly something to be said for viewing the game akin to PC building 101 for beginners.
Hence why I, someone that spends an excruciating amount of my life taking apart and rebuilding PCs, cannot bear much more than 30 minutes of it at a time.
It's not merely a question of my own nuanced experience simply getting in the way of my enjoyment, either. There's also the fact the game does little to save you from the reality of working life—its familiar demands are intrinsic to the career mode experience.
Time management is essential to success in the Esports Expansion DLC, as is keeping your balance sheet in check. The game is as much a small business simulator as it is a PC building one, and its incessant deadlines, shipping times, and tight balance sheet ensure you're kept perpetually on edge and in fear of messing up.
With a campaign runtime around the 12-hour mark (by The Irregular Corporation's estimates), it's clear this is an attempt to keep players engaged beyond the open-ended Free Build mode currently in PC Building Sim.
It's a progression system I'm honestly reluctant to engage with much more. A game that keeps you engaged through menial tasks, arbitrary deadlines, and fiscal concerns? I would much prefer to live out my PC building fantasies in Free Build without fear of bankruptcy or reprimand from my employers.
But perhaps those thoughts are best saved for when I can wax lyrical in some socioeconomic manifesto.
If you do stick with that campaign and help your team/employer win tournaments, your reward is often a small half-baked trophy (not the tournament trophy, mind you), offloaded by some needy esports star who you'll find only texts you when they want something done for cheap. At least you'll gain a few likes on LikedIn (the game's very own social media app).
All of which feels like an incredibly minor recompense for your time and effort.
If you feel an entrepreneurial spirit coming on, and you're no stranger to PC building, I believe you could dream bigger than a successful run at PC Building Simulator's latest campaign… at least in the real world your reward is a pay cheque at the end of the month.
Yet the core building sim remains an authentic way to experience the PC building hobby without shoveling thousands of dollars into Newegg. And that's not changed with the latest expansion, either. If you're new to the series, PC Building Simulator is on sale at 50% as a part of the Steam Midweek Madness sale until August 8. If you don't bounce off in a couple of hours, perhaps the extended Esports Expansion will scratch your vicarious '9-5 IT professional' itch.