Diving Into the Deep End of PC Gaming in 2012

A former console-only gamer looks forward to the PC games he'll be playing on his new machine this year.

I'm not entirely sure where it came from, but at some point last year I got the sudden itch to build a gaming PC. It might have been watching Kevin VanOrd review The Witcher 2, or maybe a few months later when I sank 20 hours into Terraria in a single weekend and, as a direct result, developed the mother of all hand cramps having played the entire thing on my netbook. But regardless of where that urge came from, I could tell there were some exciting things happening on PC. With my consoles showing their age more and more with every passing day, I decided to bite the bullet. For the first time in a decade, I decided it was time to own a gaming PC.

Thirty million Amazon and Newegg boxes later, I finally had my new machine…give or take a few hours of manual labor. That was September, and since then the two games that have dominated my PC gaming time have been Skyrim and Battlefield 3. I've enjoyed Battlefield 3's massive 64-player matches and experimenting with all the great Skyrim mods already available, but in the back of my mind I keep telling myself it's time to dive deeper into the world of PC gaming. I'm talking about those games without console ports that I never would have played had I not built a new PC.

So let's take a look at five of those games I'm excited to check out this year. I'm going to ignore the real big ones like Diablo III that I would have found some way to play no matter what. These are the PC games that would have flown under my radar this year were it not for that new machine under my desk:

Arma III

I've dedicated all of zero hours to the Arma franchise in the past, but I'm ready to change that with Arma III. Everything I've heard about this tactical first-person shooter intrigues me, from its sandbox-style campaign where you gradually evolve from a lone wolf to a full-on military commander, to its mixture of extreme realism and near-future fantastical elements.

Crusader Kings II

This is a game that I saw at Gamescom back in August, and it has been on my radar ever since. As a strategy game driven almost entirely by maps, menus, and statistics, Crusader Kings II couldn't be more of a PC-centric experience. And it's an experience that also happens to look very interesting. I'm a big fan of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels (as well as the HBO adaptation, Game of Thrones), so the whole idea of being able to navigate the politics and personal lives of warring families during a medieval setting sounds awfully good to me.

Guild Wars 2

Few things in life interest me like a good fantasy role-playing game, but for whatever reason, that love for the genre has never translated over to the world of massively multiplayer online games. Guild Wars 2 might just be the game that changes my mind. I love the idea of a big open world that evolves with your actions, rather than the typical quests-in-a-silo mission structure I've seen from the genre in the past. I also appreciate that the combat system is aiming to do away with the typical need for specific classes, and the lack of a monthly subscription fee sure doesn't hurt either.

War of the Roses

If Crusader Kings II is the game about the politics and subterfuge behind medieval warfare, then War of the Roses is the game about men dressed in metal actually hitting each other in the face with pointy sticks. It's the sort of niche online multiplayer experience you don't see a lot of on consoles, but I'm intrigued by it nonetheless. I talked to game's developers about War of the Roses back at Gamescom, but they weren't showing any gameplay, so I haven't the foggiest idea how this game looks. But brutal melee combat set in a vaguely historical medieval world where I'm actually going toe-to-toe with other human beings? Could be a lot of fun.

The Witness

I got a chance to chat with Jonathan Blow when he came on our podcast a few months ago, and the impression I got from him is that he's fed up with consoles--even after the runaway success of his last game, Braid, which debuted on the Xbox 360. Blow mentioned that the types of things he wants to do with this first-person puzzle game are possible only on the PC, which was something that really grabbed my attention. Braid remains one of my very favorite games of the past decade, and I'm certainly not going to pass up the chance to play Blow's next game.

Obviously, I could go on and on, but five is a nice round number so let's leave it at that for right now. But enough about me, how about you? Which PC games are you looking forward to in 2012? Let everyone know in the comments!

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