THE PCG Q&A
Find all previous editions of the PCG Q&A here. Check out some highlights:
This weekend, we've asked the PC Gamer writers about the upcoming games that have made them the most excited over the years, sometimes from reading ancient issues of our own magazine. You'll find a mix of old and new games in here, and we'd love to hear your choices in the comments below too.
We've also thrown in some answers from subscribers to the PC Gamer Club membership program via our exclusive Discord channel. Find out more about the PC Gamer Club here.
Tyler Wilde: Max Payne
I remember reading a preview in PC Gamer which stated that you could go from an indoor environment to an outdoor environment seamlessly—and in New York City! That was really all it took to get me hyped. I was a Quake 2 map maker, and the best you could really do there is have an outdoor area with a skybox surrounded by architecture. The idea that I could walk around inside an NYC apartment building, and then walk right outside into the street was huge to me (and with physics!). I was getting tired of sci-fi settings at the time, too. In the late-90s and early 2000s, even most historical war shooters were mods (this is before MoHAA and Call of Duty) and there wasn't a lot of modern day stuff (there was Rainbow Six, but that wasn't really up my alley). So I was playing a lot of Action Quake 2 (a mod that attempted to turn Q2 into a modern day action movie) and watching movies like Enemy of the State and Rush Hour and wondering why games weren't reflecting that stuff. And of course I'd seen The Matrix. So Max Payne became my obsession after I read that preview—the only game I wanted. I don't recall feeling let down at all when it came out.
Evan Lahti: Starsiege: Tribes
I owned Starsiege: Tribes for a full year before I had internet. I had the instruction manual, which featured generous descriptions of the Diamond Sword, Blood Angels, and other factions. I had the CD-ROM, but all I could access were a handful of dull tutorials and some demo files (replays, basically) of the developers playing real matches—just another way that Tribes was years ahead of its time, now that I think about it. I bided my time, writing fan fiction of imaginary battles. I don't know if a game has ever built up in my mind so much... and then actually delivered on the fantasy I'd cultivated in my mind. Tribes was the first shooter I'd played with bases—the whole concept of bases with tunnels, generators, turrets, and infrastructure that could be attacked and defended was so cool to me in '98-'99. It paved the way for addictions to stuff like Unreal Tournament's Assault mode in '99, which, thankfully, featured bots.
Tim Clark: Operation Wolf
The one which springs immediately to mind is Operation Wolf on Amstrad CPC 6128, a conversion of the arcade game which had a big metal Uzi strapped to the cabinet. I first played it on Eastbourne Pier (sadly RIP), during a visit to my grandparents (even more sadly RIP). As this would have been around the time of Arnie's Imperial Phase—ie Commando and The Terminator—the chance for a young boy to go hog wild on 8-Bit sprites with a bucking SMG left a sizable impression. Once I learned it was coming to computers I was basically beside myself. I would spend literally hours staring at the paltry couple of screenshots in my copy of Amstrad Action which contained the preview. And when the game finally landed months later? It was okay I guess. Turns out the fun really was in the Uzi.
Philippa Warr: Skyrim
I pre-ordered Skyrim based on my love of Oblivion. (Don't pre-order, kids). I actually booked a week off my non-games journalism job to luxuriate in it. It was okay, but I realised after booting it up that what I'd really wanted was more Oblivion. Skyrim felt too different—it wasn't cosy or weird in the ways I liked it being weird. I mean, there was no speechcraft minigame—how do you have conversations with people if you can't manipulate a pie? And why was it so big? And why wasn't I massively overpowered through hundreds of hours of wandering about? Actually, thinking about it, these are pretty much the same complaints I have about Destiny 2. It's not Destiny 1 but I'd really like it to be. Anyway, that week off work ended up involving very little Skyrim and a lot of finding things to do in London in the middle of November.
Chris Livingston: Half-Life 2
It's probably boring to say Half-Life 2 which feels like my answer to most "What game did you X or Y or Z" questions, but it's definitely Half-Life 2. And that was a hell of a long wait, plenty of time to get excited and disappointed and excited again. Remember the early gameplay footage of the strider (see above)? It's probably the video I've watched the most in my lifetime apart from maybe Bob's New Boots. I studied it the way investigators studied the Zapruder film. As a follow-up to Half-Life it seemed impossible that HL2 could actually be better but there was also the possibility that it somehow could be better. I pre-loaded it and stayed up late to unlock it and of course Steam went down for a while and I couldn't play it, and by 3 am (with work at 7 am) I had managed to play like 20 minutes of it. I guess I should have taken a week off like Pip did.
Andy Kelly: GTA 5
Of the many trailers released in the run-up to V's launch, it was this one that really sent my excitement spinning into overdrive. Moody synth music and atmospheric shots of Los Santos give way to a detailed, narrated breakdown of (almost) everything you can do in the game. It's a great format for a trailer, and I'm surprised more developers haven't stolen it.
Compared to the cinematic trailers it actually gives you a sense of how the game will play, and I watched it so many times, dreaming of finally getting my hands on it. I've been writing about videogames for my entire adult life, and while some people in this line of work get gradually more jaded over time, I'm glad I can still get excited about a new Grand Theft Auto. I hope GTA VI, whatever that turns out to be and whenever it gets announced, gives me the same feeling.
Andy Chalk: Wing Commander
A friend of mine, who had previously shown no interest in PCs or videogames, decided one day to jump into it with both feet, buying himself a hot setup with a massive 19" monitor and a super-sweet Gravis joystick. I went over one night and he was playing this amazing deep space combat sim with all these different types of ships and weapons, wingman interactions, and incredible between-mission interludes where he was talking to people and climbing a kill board and socializing and doing stuff, and WOW! It was called Wing Commander, and I had to have it. And I did! Took a while—no Steam back in those days, kids—and I recall that my own rig didn't run it nearly as well as his. But damn, it was good—totally lived up to the self-induced hype. Shame about the rest of the series.
Jarred Walton: Baldur's Gate 2
I've sort of fallen out of love with D&D games, but for most of my early years and into my twenties, I devoured anything and everything D&D. I played the tabletop version as well, but that took more time and often involved a lot of arguing about rules and other stuff. With the computer games, going back to the SSI Gold Box and Pool of Radiance, I didn't have to roll dice, track stats, etc. Anyway, Baldur's Gate was one of my favorite games, and when the sequel was announced I pre-ordered as soon as I was able. Thankfully it didn't disappoint.
Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn arrived on a Thursday. I skipped the remainder of my classes at uni and waited for the mail to arrive, as I had paid extra for express shipping. As soon as the box arrived I commenced the install process. I also had the foresight to stock up on Mt. Dew, Dr. Pepper, and Totino's pizzas, and I barely left my room much for the next five days. I definitely didn't bother showering. I ripped through the entire game, including most side quests, by Sunday. My roommates all laughed at my insanity, but two of them were secretly just jealous. The only real casualty was my grades.
Samuel Roberts: GTA 5
Like Andy, it was GTA 5 for me. It promised GTA 4's detail crossed with the openness of San Andreas. I kept thinking about that idea for months after watching the above trailer, which when the Lazer jet flies over Los Santos for one brief moment near the end, made me do a little somersault inside my brain.
I was so hyped, in fact, that I audaciously booked a meeting room for two whole days at my old workplace while I reviewed it. More important people with folders and computers would walk past, looking for a place to meet, and see me in there with my legs practically up on the table while I shot down police helicopters on a giant TV. That's what meeting rooms are for.
Some choices from the PC Gamer Club
Thanks to those who contributed this week via the PC Gamer Club Discord. User Imbaer says, "Vermintide 2 for me. I played Vermintide 1 for close to 1700 hours so when they announced Vermintide 2 I pre-ordered it as soon as it was possible pretty much (one of the rare cases where I pre-ordered a game). I was right to be excited because Vermintide 2 ended up being my main game now instead and I still play it regularly to this day."
User Marko goes for Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord. "I'd say Bannerlord is the game I've been the most excited about ever since its announcement because I spent more than two thousand hours playing the multiplayer of its predecessor (Warband), and the prospect of a game like Warband but bigger, better looking, more advanced, moddable etc. seems like potentially the greatest game ever to me." Topperfalkon adds this: "Also Bannerlord for me. I love Warband and the general idea behind it, but stuff like sieges were janky as shit in Warband, hoping when Bannerlord finally does come we'll be able to see the improvements."
Here's a neat one from Logicbomb82: "In response to your question, It was Pirates of the Burning Sea in 2005. Sid Meier's Pirates in MMO form with more features! I was beyond excited. The Flying Labs teams was at Gencon and I met with them and got some sweet swag. They took my email address down and said they'd send me a beta key, which they did. Still got the mug! :)" A picture was included of the mug, which we've cropped here to fit our website:
User Truzen opts for playing Minecraft in the year 2018. "Yeah, I know it's been out for quite some time, but because it's not on any of the storefronts (Steam, Origin, etc), I would always forget about it. Just picked it up today and installing it as we speak, but I'm excited to play the game that arguably mainstreamed survival crafting. Plus it'll be interesting to experience something that has become part of the Maker/Computer Science community."
Finally, here's a cool story from user WinD about The Witcher 2. "The most excited I have been for a game release has to be when I received an email from the office of Adam Badowski, Head of CD Projekt RED studio on the 17th of September 2009. Inside was included full press access with an FTP username and password. Below that information was a message that read, 'We deeply value your continued support of our game The Witcher. You posted one of the first North American video reviews for The Witcher and continued with numerous playthrough videos on YouTube. You have been selected as a CD Projekt Red 'Community Influencer'. With this title comes great responsibility to report the rewards within the FTP directories to the world. Duettaeánn aef cirrán Cáerme Gláeddyv. Yn á esseáth. vatt'ghern twe. a'taeghane aen'drean aép 'FTP' glosse evn'gesaen y Temeria.'
"This is in the Elder Tongue / Elvish language used in The Witcher, no translation had been given although I was able to figure it out from a Polish website dedicated to the book series and game. 'The Sword of Destiny has two edges. You are one of them. The Witcher 2 today enter in to (the) 'FTP' to look and watch. Ambassador of Temeria.' We really want to hear what you and your friends think about our game, that is why we have given you hi-quality assets intended for editors from gaming media. On the FTP server you will find a brand new video, screenshots and documents you might use in your work. We would appreciate it if you would spread the word using your own social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.).
va faill (farewell)
Adam Badowski, Head of CD Projekt RED studio.'
Inside the FTP was the debut trailer for The Witcher 2 alongside screenshots and documentation regarding the REDengine. I was so excited I could not wait to spread the word and to eventually get the play the game. Although I had to wait quite a while (May 17th, 2011), the wait was worth it. The Witcher 2 became my all time favorite role-playing game. I have played The Witcher 2 nine times twice using Nvidia 3D Vision which in my opinion is the best example of Nvidia 3D Vision. I built a brand new PC for the release of the game and it was not until 2012 that I upgraded SLI GPUs and could play the game on the very demanding UberSampling option. While The Witcher 3 had me more excited and surpassed The Witcher 2 as my favorite RPG, this was a special and personal reveal of the game for me. I've never had a feeling that could quite emulate that experience."