The biggest PC stories of E3 2011

E3 logo

It's been a very busy year for PC news at E3. All last week we were bombarded with new trailers, announcements, screenshots and interviews from LA. We got to see some of the most exciting games of the next few years demoed right before our eyes. You can find all of our E3 2011 posts right here . If you don't fancy clicking through five days of madness, we've compiled the biggest stories of this year's conference into one post with links to all the best trailers, screens and stories of the show.

Battlefield 3 gets a release date, beta plans announced

Battlefield 3 was spectacular at E3 this year. It was one of the best looking games at the show. The EA conference tank mission demo stole our war-obsessed hearts and made us all go "ooooh!" at the screen. In terms of actual news, however, the October 25 release date is a big deal. Battlefield 3 will get a couple of weeks head start on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (out November 8). There will also be a Battlefield 3 beta in Septermber.

Far Cry 3 revealed

Far Cry 3 is coming . The sequel plans to combine the lush jungle environments of Far Cry with the open world of Far Cry 2. Ubisoft promise that the AI has been altered this time so the action happens when the player wants, not when an overzealous patrol comes within a mile. The lawless island will be fully explorable, and the game is built in an upgraded version of the powerful Dunia engine that fuelled Far Cry 2's enormous world. Check out our Far Cry 3 E3 preview for more.

Arma 2: Free announced

We went to E3 expecting more information on Arma 3 following the announcement in the week leading up to the conference. What we got was entirely unexpected. Instead, Bohemia announced Arma 2: Free . One of the best military sims ever made will be free to download this month. The only caveats are a downgrade in graphics, and a lack of mod support. You'll still be able to jump into 50-player missions with your friends. Think of it as the best demo ever.

Modern Warfare 3 could get dedicated servers and mod tools

The fact that Infinity Ward and Activision are even thinking about adding PC specific features like dedicated servers and mod tools to Call of Duty is big news. While it faces stiff competition this year in the form of Battlefield 3, Call of Duty is still one of the biggest games in the world right now. If its creators start paying more attention to supporting the series on PC, that can only be a good thing.

Star Wars: The Old Republic raids revealed

The Old Republic's raids were shown for the first time at E3 this year. Tim dived in and got to see the improved UI and a raid set on Alderaan. You can read all his thoughts on the new raids here . Bioware released some footage of the Eternity Vault raid on the official Star Wars: The Old Republic site. They also released an in-depth dev diary detailing a whole mission set on Tatooine from start to finish.

XCOM returns

After a year of media silence, XCOM re-emerged from its alien cocoon this year a changed animal. The trailer wasn't great, but Graham reported distinct improvements when he saw the game behind closed doors. Check out Evan's overview for a summary of changes that have been made to XCOM in the past year.

Bioshock Infinite trailer and demo amazes

This year's Bioshock Infinite E3 trailer was impressive, but the behind the scenes demo Graham saw was even better. He saw a world full of big ideas and exciting gun fights, a battle of philosophies on a gorgeous floating city. Read all about it here .

Mirror's Edge 2 plans hinted at, could use Frostbite 2

While not quite exactly confirming anything, EA games president Frank Gibeau made it quite clear that EA plan to bring back Mirror's Edge . What's more, it could be powered by Battlefield 3's Frostbite 2 engine. We don't expect a sequel anytime soon, with DICE hard at work on Battlefield, but the prospect of a new Mirror's Edge game further down the line is still exciting.

John Carmack on Rage 2, and the power of PC

It's no understatement to say that John Carmack is one of the giants of the industry. The multi-talented engineering wizard has been building state-of-the-art engines for years. When Carmack starts talking about his predictions for the future of the gaming industry, it's a good idea to listen. We spoke to Carmack about his work on Rage, and his thoughts on where the PC is at. His says the PC is " an order of magnitude " more powerful than the consoles, and that he's keen to change his development approach to one in which id design more efficiently for the PC first, and then move to consoles afterwards. Coincidentally, this is the same approach taken by DICE with Battlefield 3.

Mass Effect 3 gets release date

Not to be outdone, Mass Effect 3 got a release date of March 3 2012, which feels like a long, long way away. It's looking good, though. Check out Josh's hands-on preview for more

World of Warplanes announced

World of Tanks developers,, revealed their next MMO at E3 this year. It's called World of Warplanes ,and will follow a very similar 'free-to-play with microtransactions' pricing structure to World of Tanks. As with WoT, players will be able to build up their own hangar of warmachines, purchasing planes and upgrades with real and in-game cash.

Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 revealed

Brothers in Arms has gone mad. Gearbox unveiled a brand new direction for the series at the Ubisoft press conference, surprising everyone. Furious 4 replaces existential angst with axes and tactical squad combat with chaotic hyperviolence. It's a bold move by Gearbox, but will it backfire? Check out the Furious 4 trailer for a good look, and read Tim's impressions of the game.

Payday: The Heist unveiled

The choice discovery of E3 this year, Payday: The Heist mugged Tim with its foul language, feisty action and criminal sense of cool. Tim says it's like Left 4 Dead, but with cops instead of zombies. You can read his hands on with the game here . Check out the in-game footage for more.

Dust 514 to be PS3 exclusive, could come to PC

CCP are trying to realise a staggering vision. They're trying to unite PC and console gamers in the same universe. Their FPS, Dust 514 is designed to let PC players send console players on missions to take strategically important planets in the Eve Online. Dust 514 players will share the same chat channels as PC gamers playing Eve Online, and will be able to join Eve's player-created corporations. Eve players floating high above conflict zones will even be able to deliver orbital strikes that will have a direct effect on the FPS battle raging below. It sounds incredible. It will release as a PS3 exclusive, funded by microtransactions, but we'll eat our hats if it doesn't come to PC within a year . You can read Josh's Dust 514 impressions here .

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has 30 hour main quest and horses

We got a good look at The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim at E3 this year. The footage and screenshots Bethesda released showed dragon-slaying, horse-riding and plenty of combat. Graham delivered his impressions from the show floor, while Tom delivered his analysis of the video . We discovered a few more facts about the game as well. The main campaign will be about 30 hours long , but with enormous scope for exploration. You'll be able to ignore the main quest from the start of the game , and a carriage-based fast travel system will let you travel to all of Skyrim's major settlements straight away.

Torchlight pirated more than 5 million times

We managed to get hold of Runic Games' CEO Max Schaefer on the show floor for a frank discussion about piracy, DRM and Torchlight 2. The former vice president of Blizzard North revealed that Torchlight has been pirated "millions and millions" of times in Asia, and explained why that doesn't bother him. Check out the interview for more.

Magicka has sold 600k, PvP DLC will be free

Magicka has been a runaway success story for Paradox games. Graham had a chat with Paradox CEO Fred Wester about the future of the game, which Wester predicts will sell a million by the end of the year. He also reveals that the next piece of DLC, which will add a PvP mode to the game, will be free to everyone who owns the game.

And there you have it, an overview of some of the best showings at this year's conference. What were your favourite bits of E3 2011?

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.