PC Gamer's best features of 2017

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It's almost game over for 2017. It has been another dramatic year for PC games and, thus, for PC Gamer. We put on the PC Gamer Weekender once more in London (tickets now available for 2018), hosted the PC Gaming Show, launched an indie channel, all while covering the latest happenings right here on PCGamer.com, and in our splendid monthly magazines.

To celebrate the year that was we've rounded up a bunch of our favourite features from 2017, from in-depth investigations to breeding experiments in The Sims 4.

Behind the games

Have you ever wondered where hitpoints came from? Or why the hell Final Fantasy 7 characters have mouths in the PC version but no others? Have you ever wondered how an vast, intricate, interlinked Metroidvania map is created?

We've had fun this year finding answers to these burning questions, talking to developers, and digging into the games we love to find our how they tick. We looked into the making of Sapienza, Hitman's best level, and the making of Fort Frolic, Bioshock's most twisted and memorable level.

We really got into adventure games in 2017. We spoke to Tim Schafer about the making of Full Throttle and looked at how Maniac Mansion's verb-object interface revolutionised adventure games. From classics of the past to the future, we also looked ahead at the exciting prospects for the adventure game genre in 2018 and beyond.

Elsewhere, inspired by the return of Civilization we looked back at the complete history of the series. In a mammoth feature that ran in two parts across the mag this year, Richard Cobbett writes the history of RPGs.

Investigations

We've seen a lot of microtransaction controversies over the years and in 2017 loot boxes became the central focus of debate. Alex Wiltshire went deep on the topic for us, examining the addictive psychology and seductive art of the loot box. We also took a look at the best and worst loot boxes in PC games and, in this age of grinding out unlocks, Samuel asked developers about how they think about respecting our time when they design games.

Steam remains one of the most powerful forces in PC gaming. It's an evolving platform, and every small change can have a big effect on developers and publishers. With that in mind, Lars Doucet surveyed 230 developers to reveal their biggest issues with Steam in 2017. We also published the full 97 page report, if you're interested. We also imagined what buying games might be like if Steam ended and investigated whether indie games are too cheap to be sustainable. Speaking of Steam, what on Earth happened to Steam machines?

We also wondered why graphics card prices were stubbornly high this year, and discovered how Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are hurting gamers. Emulation—always a thorny issue—returned to the spotlight with the release of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and its subsequent appearance on PC. The ethics of emulation: how creators, the community and the law view console emulators.

Meanwhile, in an explicit NSFW investigation, Steven Messner examined the Skyrim sex modding community where almost no taboo is off limits. As part of Japan week Wes investigated how Japan learned to love PC gaming again and Lauren Morton went in search of origins of the fabled Dark Souls fashion police.

Finally, as you may have noticed, Half-Life still doesn't have a sequel. We thought we'd track the whole cycle of Half-Life hype from announcement to today, rounding up every rumour, hoax and leak in one place.

Diaries

Diary features—aka doing stupid things in games and then writing about them—have a long history on PC Gamer. This year Chris Livingston built Blimpton, a Cities: Skylines town where blimps blot out the sun. He also neutered all the pets in The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs, but not before using The Sims 4 to breed racoons and cats to create the cutest animal ever: the red panda. In Oblivion Chris tried to kill everyone in a tavern with poisoned apples for food week.

Also Phil and Samuel tried being jerks in GTA Online and got owned by bigger, more established jerks, and took an erratic journey to the moon in Space Engineers—building spaceships is hard. Andy Kelly reprises his role as Zeus to torment us in Arma 3: Apex.

We also roleplayed Geralt of Rivia in this winery tycoon game, grappled with Opus Magnum's impossible puzzles, wallowed in Stardew Valley and were freaked out by Yume Nikki.

And finally, a heated encounter in Shadow of War:

Fuck this one particular orc...

That asshole orc is dead.

Celebrating games

We have been writing a lot of excited words about first person games this year, penning an ode to the shotgun and an ode to the sniper rifle. We also rounded up the best hand animations in first person games, with gifs, and rounded up the best kick-ass kicking in PC games, with gifs.

We like to declare things the best at PC Gamer because we're pompous like that. Nothing will escape our desire to rank and recommend things, and to that end we rounded up the best pubs in PC games and ranked all the Sonic games for some reason & Knuckles. Taking things slightly more seriously, we assessed genres to pick out the best RPGs, the best strategy games, the best FPS games and more. Of course it wouldn't be a year at PC Gamer without our annual roundup of the top 100 games.

Meanwhile our Why I Love series continued throughout 2017 celebrating the small things that make games great. Like many of use, Samuel likes to play some games with a television show on the side. Meanwhile Tom loves to smash up RTS AI in skirmish, and learned to love sniping in Titanfall 2. Andy still loves the low-fi tech of Alien: Isolation, and enjoyed playing as a taxi driver in Watch Dogs 2. 

Community heroes

This year we have also discovered stories about players who have been affected by PC games, or used PC games to do nice things. There's the man who walked across America to visit his Minecraft friends, for example, and the dad who quit his job to run a Minecraft server for autistic kids

We also met Hearthstone streamers the Kiblers and their excellent Pomeranian mix, Shino, and chatted to Terry Crews about building high-end PCs and playing battlefield 1.

In the vast cruel expanse of virtual space, EVE Online players are still producing the best stories in PC gaming. Steven Messner documented some of their most dramatic escapades this year. There's this insight into the art of scamming in Eve Online, and this account of the biggest heist in EVE history. A prolific hunter winds up dead in this story of EVE intrigue, and you can't miss the extraordinary story of an EVE scam that triggered an epic rescue mission. Is there no-one in the 'verse you can trust? Well, there is one guy, and we spoke to them too.

Speaking of scams, we asked you for your best stories about scamming and, wow, you're bad people. <3

Hardware

Graphics card pricing woes aside, we've seen lots of mad, inventive hardware this year. Sometimes it goes wrong, as evidenced by the eight ugliest PC cases we've ever seen. But sometimes it goes (sort of) well, like the time we overclocked a GPU to 7GHz with the science of liquid nitrogen.

You're building amazing rigs every day, and we've found plenty of bizarre and amazing examples in our build of the week series. Check out this giant futuristic rifle PC, and this spaceship PCC, and this Dota themed PC carved out of a damn log.

Of course one of our most important jobs is testing gear to help inform your purchasing decisions. We're always putting components through the wringer to recommend the best graphics cards, the best gaming laptops, the best gaming chairs, and loads more. Check out our buying guide tag for the full range.

And finally...

Bathtub Geralt is real.

See you in 2018!