With so many people staying home to help slow the spread of Covid-19, more games are being played—Steam's peak concurrent user count continues to break records, for example. We can only assume more people are watching games being streamed, too.
Watching a stream is a great way to help gamers decide if they want to buy a game for themselves, but there's plenty of enjoyment to be had in watching a game you never plan to actually play. Maybe you're not great at battle royales but still enjoy the late-game drama. Watching the action and strategy of a MOBA match can be thrilling even if you've never actually played one.
So that's our question this week: What games do you love watching that you never play yourself? We've got our answers below, along with some from the PC Gamer Forums. Add yours in the comments!
Morgan Park: I tried to get into Dota 2 last year, but I fell off it for a bit and it was hard to go back. But that's alright, because I love watching my friend play it over Discord. I know enough about the basic rules to keep up with what's happening and it's interesting to study a game with so many established strategies. Sometimes being a spectator makes me want to hop back into it myself, but I quickly remind myself that moving characters around with mouse clicks is the worst (sorry to all of the classic RPGs I've disrespected).
David Cage games
Robin Valentine: I find David Cage's body of work bafflingly awful, and the idea of playing all the way through any of them gives me the shudders. But in the same way I love watching so-bad-they're-good movies, I've really enjoyed YouTube Let's Plays of each one. The Super Best Friends (formerly Two Best Friends) run-throughs had me in tears of laughter listening to their incredulous responses to every bonkers plot twist and sledgehammered-home metaphor.
Battle royale games
James Davenport: Every full moon I'll dip into Fortnite or Apex: Legends thinking I'm going to regularly play and invest time and energy into learning the maps and characters and meta. But I get a few terrible matches in and remember that I'm very dumb and bad at these games, even though I love what they're going for. It's why they're great Twitch fodder, the extended drama of a big battle royale match.
I'm really digging CoD: Warzone this way, watching Shroud rip through matches like an improvised version of The Raid. Fortnite streamers are mesmerizing for the way they juggle building skills with map awareness, the kind of skills that could nab 'em a pilots license in no time reserved for cartoon violence. Matches never play out the same way in these games, either. They're amazing spectator sports, assuming you've chosen a decent Twitch protagonist. I'm OK with staying an audience member.
Silent Hill: Homecoming
Jody Macgregor: It's one of the worst Silent Hill games, but my pedantic nature meant I wanted to see it through to the end. Thankfully, I didn't have to play it to do that. Instead I watched bobvids on YouTube spend like 15 episodes working through the entire thing, complete with educational digressions. YouTube has since broken the annotations that made his videos interactive back in 2011, which is a shame. Still, bless him for slogging through a game I couldn't be arsed finishing.
Lauren Morton: I've been pretty engrossed in watching folks speedrun my favorite RPGs lately but I'll probably never personally get into it. Watching Dark Souls speedruns has been great because it's so fun to see runners with so much practice breezily sprint past areas that I—even after years of playing—still inch through at a crawl.
Fallout and Elder Scrolls speedruns are like watching some sort of meta game where speedrunners are playing the Creation Engine more than they're playing the game itself. There are exploitable glitches galore and it's wild to see them all chained together so elaborately. If you get into watching speedrunning, be prepared to make yourself a sticky note glossary because the slang is strong in that crowd.
Steven Messner: As PC Gamer's resident MMO boy, I tend to cycle through the big ones every few months as new updates and expansions launch just to stay on top of what's happening in each game. But, in addition to all the other games I like to play, that leaves very, very little time to check out smaller niche MMOs that are home to all sorts of interesting shenanigans on a daily basis. Lately, I've been tuning in to catch PVP battle streams of Albion Online, a top-down sandbox MMO.
But I also love poking my nose into weird communities that have managed to persist all these years. Like, why the hell is Knight Online still consistently pulling in five thousand viewers each day despite being 18 years old. And Tibia, which was the center of a fascinating controversy when its first player reached level 999 and open a top-secret door but refused to tell everyone what was inside, is an equally fascinating enigma. So, at least once a week, I find myself tuning into these streams just to try and understand what makes them so appealing to their loyal communities. I haven't learned much beyond the fact that some people never tire of their favorite games, but it's fun to step outside my comfort zone once in a while.
From our forums
MaddMann: Escape from Tarkov. I love the intensity of the game, but I get too easily frustrated by losing all my stuff all the time to play it now. It got me angry enough that I couldn't sleep =P I still get the nice adrenaline from watching, but I don't have to deal with the frustration!
Johnway: Strategy games. Online multiplayer to be exact. I'm generally naff at them playing on normal difficulty and the SP alone taxes me. Add all the commands you need to learn and the amount of things you have to pay attention to just puts me off. Its probably why i like World in Conflict so much.
But watching them is exciting and in some ways does make me want to give it a try especially team matches of 3v3. Recently its been Dawn of War 2, an RTS game that I felt was meh and a chore to finish. The few WiC multiplayer matches I've seen have been thrilling and impressive as it feels like a desperate meat grinder battle as both sides throw absolutely everything to win.
spvtnik1: The scary games, of course. It's great to see players get timid as they react to these games. If I were to play a horror-genre title myself, I would intend to stream it; I'm saving SOMA for such an occasion.
Krud: I have occasionally tortured myself by watching PS4 footage of the newer NHL titles whilst praying to the fickle Porting Gods that we might someday get them on PC again.
But beyond that, if I don't play a game, then I have zero interest in watching someone else play said game. The only time I watch someone else play a game is if I want to see how *they* do it (as opposed to how I do it), or what they thought of a particular aspect of the game, or if I need a tip or strategy about something. I think I only ever watch gameplay videos of games I haven't played if they're part of someone's review video. (Or a comedic riff, like Clueless Gamer.)