While it may not have the mainstream appeal of Xbox or Playstation, following a rather weak gaming generation the PC has come back strong as a highly popular platform that fewer and fewer developers are taking for granted. With digital distribution platforms like Steam and Origin it's become easier than ever for developers to take advantage of the PC while maintaining something of a console mindset, and as PC graphics hardware advances the requirements ultimately become more and more accessible to more and more casual players. That being said, there's never been a better time to be a hardcore player who routinely builds their own monster desktop PCs to eek out every frame possible with today's technology. And if you lean towards the latter camp, PC Gamer's inaugural E3 press conference is for you.
Note that due to the high volume of titles and stage guests featured at the PC Gamer conference, not each one will be gone into detail. Many games at the event had already made an appearance at other E3 stage presentations; for more, check out ThinkBoxly's E3 coverage.
Killing Floor 2
Apparently physics-based blood and guts are a technological feat some people would be proud of. It's not exactly realistic, but since when was Killing Floor supposed to be? Killing Floor 2 released April 21 earlier this year.
Rising Storm 2
The new military shooter-slash-offshoot of Red Orchestra is heading to Vietnam, and to PC at an undisclosed date in the near future.
Star Citizen is one of the biggest-budget independent games ever made, and it's shooting for the stars in more ways than one. This space tale is being told through sophisticated motion-capture performances and extensive gameplay detail, so intense that only the PC will be able to handle the final product. It's an ambitious project, so we'll see if it managed to hit its target Q4 2016 release.
Deus Ex: Humanity Divided (Dawn Engine)
Square Enix didn't have any live gameplay to show off for the upcoming Deus Ex: Humanity Divided, but we got to see a bit more prerecorded gameplay as part of a demonstration of the game's Dawn Engine. Like most current-gen game engines, Dawn is capable of some pretty impressive effects, and will make the new Deus Ex one of the prettier games on the market when it hits the PC, PS4 and Xbox One next year.
Total War: Warhammer
The Total War series continues with Warhammer, a new era to battle in. There is currently no release date, however an in-engine trailer is scheduled for July.
Xbox One may be Microsoft's gaming flagship, but it's intent on marketing Windows 10 as a gaming platform of its own, and backing up those intentions with a few cross-platform games like Fable Legends, set to release at some point later this year.
Another such game from Microsoft is Gigantic, which we glimpsed at the Xbox E3 event but really had no idea what to expect from. At the PC Gamer event it was revealed that the game is a sort of shooter/MOBA hybrid where teams of five compete to eliminate each other's Guardian—giant beasts fighting with them on the field. The game will also have RPG mechanics to level up characters on branching skill trees, enabling players to build their own styles from the basic classes starting out. Gigantic will enter closed beta in August, with an open beta to follow later in the year.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
Gears of War has had a mixed history with the PC, but the first game made it to the platform and so The Coalition is bringing the Ultimate Edition previously announced for Xbox One back to the PC as well. The PC version will come packing 4k resolution and unlimited FPS support, and it was revealed that the game is being rebuilt from the ground up for both platforms and that certain features from future Gears of War games will be backported to bring the original Gears of War a bit more up to date.
American Truck Simulator
Euro Truck Simulator is coming to the US of A! The new American Truck Simulator is being made with Google Maps, so you can expect complete accuracy on all your favorite real-life routes.
If you've ever seen or participated in a virtual reality demonstration, you've likely seen EVE Valkyrie before. Its developers are calling it the killer app of VR, and I'm inclined to agree with them. The best part? EVE Valkyrie will be a standalone space combat simulator with no direct ties to the main EVE game. That means you can enjoy Valkyrie whether or not you're an EVE player when the game releases on VR platforms in the near future.
Another case of a game we learned of in another press conference and actually learned about with PC Gamer, Ion is the next project from Day Z creator Dean Hall, and while we still haven't seen any gameplay, the man himself revealed that Ion is inspired by Space station 13 and uses a Diablo-style camera. The objective is exploration, and the technology behind the game is actually rather advanced, simulating all entities in the world right down to their individual internal organs. Whatever it is, it sounds like Ion will stand out a bit whenever it releases.
Nearly 20 years later, Quake is still a regular part of a large number of gamers' libraries, and heavily inspired by it comes Strafe, a retro-style indie shooter that's partly randomly-generated, so every session is not quite like the last. It's a bit like Tower of Guns with a Quake skin, and it's coming to PC 2016. Oh, and there's VR support, too.
Pillars of Eternity: The White March (Part 1)
Pillars of Eternity is a fresh take on classic western RPGs, and it's about to get its first expansion: The White March (Part 1). The first part is set to raise the game's level cap and add new characters and abilities to the mix, with part 2 still in the works for some time later. Altogether developer Obsidian Entertainment said that the expansion alone will have more story content than the main game, so if you backed this one on Kickstarter prior to the game's launch in March or are just discovering it for the first time, you'll definitely want to stay tuned for the additional content.
It's a sad, sad truth, but Rollercoaster Tycoon seems to be rather on the down-and-out. Though it hasn't released yet, Rollercoaster Tycoon World has largely disappointed fans, and the highly-anticipated mobile installment turned out to be little more than a Farmville clone with guests and rides in place of barns and animals. But don't worry: Planet Coaster aims to be what Cities: Skylines was/is to Sim City. It's a rollercoaster and theme park simulator slated for release in 2016 and available for preorder now. While details are too scarce to call this one just yet, from the looks of things it may end up the fan favorite rather than the brand name this time around.
Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns
One of the amazing things about MMORPGs is just how long they remain current. Guild Wars 2 is now well into its third year and still a big enough deal to grab the spotlight at an E3 press conference. With the upcoming Heart of Thorns expansion, players will be able to capture Guild Halls--entire maps of their own to rule as a guild and personalize with their own buildings, installations, and decorations. Guilds can even invite other guilds onto their turf for friendly (or not so friendly) competitions in arenas that the owning guild can customize in real-time, even while battles are live. Heart of Thorns is available for pre-order now, and as incentive pre-ordering will guarantee access for all forthcoming open betas leading up to the expansion's proper launch.
Though not a PC exclusive, Hitman has been something of a benchmark for PC gaming in the past, and the new Hitman is no exception. With an incredibly detailed world, the game is the best-looking in the series yet, and it'll undoubtedly look best on PC. The game releases December 8.
New AMD GPUs
Being an AMD-sponsored event, AMD was of course featured prominently throughout. Just in time for E3, AMD has launched a grand total of nine new GPUs from the high-end to the low-end and everything in-between. The new Radeon R9 Fury X flagship comes with a price tag of $649 and is spec'd for roughly the same performance as NVIDIA's $999 GTX 980 Ti. On the other end of the spectrum is the Radeon R9 Nano, a comparatively diminutive 6-inch card. But don't get the wrong idea: just because it's small doesn't mean it's low-end. AMD hasn't released much about the Nano just yet, but they promise it will be able to deliver 4k gaming despite its small form factor. AMD also revealed an entire gaming PC of their own, though you'd be hard-pressed to pick it out from a crowd as a PC at all. Bearing a bizarre compact two-block design, the reference model packs dual Fury X cards and an unspecified but likely just as beefy CPU and RAM. While it's not available for consumers just yet, AMD is in talks with partners to bring the odd beast to market, and it is playable all week at E3.
ARMA III: Tanoa (Expansion)
Not unlike Rising Storm in its trip to Vietnam, ARMA III is also taking a trip to the pacific with a new expansion: Tanoa. Tanoa will bring a large new playing space unlike anything the ARMA series has had before, and it's aiming for release in the first half of 2016.
We first got a look at Beyond Eyes during Microsoft's Xbox E3 event, but good news: it's coming to the PC as well, and we even got our first proper look at it during the PC Gamer event. Beyond Eyes is an exploration game that uses the classic 'fog of war' type of effect to simulate the player character's blindness. Exploration clears up the world as she explores it with other senses and imagines her surroundings in an impressionistic art style. It looks truly special, and it's set to be released at some point later this year on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
What do you get when you mix Deadpool with Team Fortress 2? Dirty Bomb, more or less, a free-to-play team-based online FPS that's available right now on Steam.
Gone Home was a unique indie game even among indie games; an intimate story set in the mid-90s that the player had to piece together for themselves by exploring their environment. Tacoma is the next game from the same developers, and it maintains the same immersive style of exploration-meets-storytelling, only rather than take place in a single home a few years in the past, Tacoma is set several decades in the future...on a space station. Sound interesting? Tacoma is slated for release in 2016.
Along similar lines but with a distinct horror twist comes Soma, from the creators of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Soma takes place in a station deep undersea and aims to ask 'disturbing questions' about the nature of human existence, not to mention the usual creepy noises, dark hallways, and jump-scares. Soma's brand of horror is definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you're up to the challenge you'll have the opportunity to scare yourself silly on September 22 when the game releases on PC and PS4.
Following a slightly awkward conversation with Dean Hall about his departure from development of DayZ came DayZ with its new developer. It was more a showcase of what's already there than what's coming, though it was announced that a feature-complete beta of DayZ is expected later this year, and it will come with a dedicated server program for users to run their own custom servers, no special hardware required.
Take on Mars
Available now on Steam Early Access, Take on Mars is a singleplayer and multiplayer Mars mission simulation where players will--as the name implies--explore Mars through rovers and other (virtual) real-life equipment. Take on Mars is not a simple or even necessarily user-friendly game, but its intense realism will appeal to a certain crowd who really has nothing else quite like it out there.
Thought Cliff Bleszinski was out of the biz for good? Think again: now he's back and still developing on Unreal Engine, but with his own company working on an arena shooter called Bluestreak. It looks a bit like the Shangri-la map of Unreal Tournament 3, and probably plays a bit like it too, but we won't know for sure until it gets a bit further along in development. Maybe next E3?
Enter the Gungeon
There's no easier place for indie gaming to thrive than the PC, and Enter the Gungeon is a quintessential example of what the modern indie renaissance stands for: 16-bit pixel art mixed with modern shader technology, and hectic arcade-style gameplay. Enter the Gungeon is targeting a Q4 2015 release on Steam.
Heroes of the Storm: Eternal Conflict (Expansion)
It wouldn't be a PC conference without Blizzard! First up was Heroes of the Storm: Eternal Conflict, an expansion focusing on adding Diablo content--new heroes, new battlegrounds, and at a consistent drip over the next few months. Eternal Conflict hits June 30.
StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void
Next was another expansion for one of Blizzard's even more popular properties: StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void. Not much was revealed about the expansion other than that it exists and is 'coming soon'.
StarCraft II: Whispers of Oblivion
Acting as a prologue to Legacy of the Void is Whispers of Oblivion, a three-mission set of free content for StarCraft II coming in July. For early access to the prologue players will need to pre-order Legacy of the Void itself, but again, if you've got the patience for the final release, Whispers of Oblivion will come free.
No Man's Sky
What with how massive No Man's Sky is, it would be ironic to have it confined on a single platform. While Sony has largely adopted the game as a Playstation 4 flagship title, developer Hello Games is building it for the PC as well. It's hard to predict how much fun No Man's Sky will be as a game, but as a technological achievement it's undeniably impressive.