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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Discussion

150 comments
gunnplay
gunnplay

It's just so true.  PC is providing things consoles simply cannot do.  Right now I'm playing Crysis 2, modded with Blackfire Mod 2, Quality Mod and MaldoHD Textures, all at 60+ fps.  It looks like a next-gen game and makes me never wanna turn on my 360 again.  Games like Darksiders 2, Sleeping Dogs and The Amazing Spiderman all run sharper and faster than anything a console can muster.  The only thing keeping me playing them are the exclusive console releases.

Accuracy158
Accuracy158

I have continue to get more and more into PC gaming every month for the past several years.  I easily put more time into my PC than all the other consoles combined.  

Davhut
Davhut

I loved this article, it just about underscores my feelings about pc gaming. Having started my gaming life on a pc way back via Atari on a simple machine that played F15 strike eagle and then progressed onto the diablo series, baldurs gate, civilization etc. I then got hooked onto consoles and drifted away from the pc gaming world. Since getting hooked onto steam and building a pc that is graphically very capable, I find that I am returning to pc gaming with a vengence and now split my gaming time evenly with my pc and my xbox360. What a wonderful world we live in.

squidbilly22
squidbilly22

wish ARMA 3 had better controls,my back hurts when i'm hunched over a keyboard more than an hr.I use my PS3 controller as much as possible its much nicer playing cordless on a recliner than a desk.id rather have my accuracy suffer a little than my back hurt and my brain strain from the 500 plus keyboard commands.When they figure out how to make a good PC game without frustrating keyboard controls i might buy it until then Dl'ing i will go.

squidbilly22
squidbilly22

99% of the games made today are complete clones of other hit games or a combination of a few.I built a PC 3 yrs ago to try games/DL' before i buy them "it's rather simple a child can do it,really just apply yourself . oh ya never mind i forgot the vast majority of the public are brainwashed clones who lack common sense.Ive deleted over 500 GB worth of so called hit games in the last 3 years,you name it i deleted it ! even LA Noire had terrible camera control which made finding clues ridiculously painful. Portal 2 bored me after 3 hrs i just didn't think the smart ass robot was funny anymore.Skyrim was ok until i hit about level 40 ,basically i had enough pointless conversations and meaningless quests to last a lifetime and my wife was killed and i couldn't remarry etc.. full of bugs like the previous game... Best game ever "Stronghold crusader" i paid 10 bucks played it 300 hr's plus .Firefly can't make a decent sequel so they will go bankrupt probably.2 and 3 sucked horribly.

jtguevara
jtguevara

@Meet391: PC's aren't cheap either! Well, if you can make them yourself...great! I can't say that for the majority of people though.

Meet391
Meet391

Mass Effect 3, Prototype 2, Assassin's Creed III (finally!!!!), GR: Future Soldier.... the list goes on & on. And I'm also waiting for these 'PC' games: God Of War series, Uncharted series, InFamous series, NFS Pro Street, Shadow Of The Colossus, Gears Of War 2 & 3, Devil May Cry Series except 3 & 4, Naruto Shippuden, the WHOLE Dragon Ball Z series and especially HALO 3!!!!! Please GameSpot., do anything and everything you can to get these games ported to PC. Not all of us can afford to buy a new gaming system when we feel like it... :(

jtguevara
jtguevara

I'm definitely downloading Guild Wars 2.

Taffelost
Taffelost

Welcome to the brotherhood bro! Nice article. A few PC games to watch for in 2012: Dead State, Tribes - Ascend, Borderlands 2 (multi-platform, but fps should be played with a mouse/keyboard), Torchlight 2, Mechwarrior, StarCraft 2 HotS and The Secret World. There's plenty more...

PC4Me
PC4Me

@Kayweg- normally I'd agree with you (Diablo3), but the drm they've attached to it kills it for me, I can't support that.

PC4Me
PC4Me

Welcome to the fold, better late than never. You have some good games (and not all current, there are some awesome classics) to look forward to, the catalogue is enourmous.

Mercaptan
Mercaptan

The most anticipated game for me this year would be STALKER 2 (if they finish it and sell it) , second and third MassEffect 3 and bioshock infinite. As for the pc mather i've been a hard core pc user from the begining and i upgrade my pc every year not much money but i get thru , its a hoby and a delight :)

Tidal_Abyss
Tidal_Abyss

See, I'm the total opposite, a PC only gamer- except I have tried to use a friend's console, and for the life of me, I can't see why some people prefer to use them, I detest the controllers (I'm hard core 17button gamer mouse/gamer keyboard Razer user), the consoles themselves offer so little (when you're used to PC), I felt tied up the whole time - no options, just- here it is live with it.... and I didn't want to. A PC gamer, especially one who uses them exclusively, is just used to a very different experience in gaming. I couldn't run back to my PC's fast enough. To each their own of course, you should do what you like and that's fine, but for me, that's PC.* I'm still undecided on my most anticipated game for the year.

juliano001
juliano001

The new Tomb Raider, Diablo 3, Heart of the Swarm, Max Payne 3, Bioshock Infinite, Mass Effect 3. Ugh my wallet. But they are worth it. These are the games i am waiting most. But always we get two or more that come by surprise and are uber too.

wifithief
wifithief

Oh, i forgot Microsoft's Flight that coming this year to PC (only)

wifithief
wifithief

@ editor you buy a gaming PC and instead of play a PC only rpg (like The Witcher 2), you prefer pc mods of a (IMO bad) console port (TES: Skyrim)?. Will you eventually play The Witcher 2 on pc or you gonna wait to get the x-box version coming this year? LOL For me, gaming = PC gaming. So the titles i wait to play in my PC this year is not (by definition) PC exclusives. Mass Effect 3 is a game that i'll pre-order, i hope will be as good as the prequels, if not better. I also gonna do my annual purchases, like football (PES OR FIFA and football manager) and codemaster's F1. Simbin's GTR 3 and rFactor 2 are in the top of my list too! ArmA III seems very interesting and i'll support it, small developers (that seems to me more like pc gaming community members than "companies") with such big and ambitious projects worth it... I wish for a dlc/expansion pack with new quests and content for the most beautifull game i ever played: The Whitcher 2 Sorry for my bad english and my greetings to all PC-only gamers!

Kayweg
Kayweg

ArmA III and Guild Wars 2 for me there. Two games that quite possibly will redefine their respective genre. You know it's gonna be a good year for PC gaming when you can say: "Oh and btw, a certain game called Diablo 3 shouldn't be too shabby either." Huge hit with me in 2011 was "World of Tanks". Looking forward to see what wargaming.net is gonna do with the planes and ships versions of that. "Jagged Alliance: Back in Action" and most definitely Firaxis' "UFO - Enemy Unknown" are some of the other games i will follow closely.

spidey0102
spidey0102

@grim0187 "The gap between PC's and consoles is getting smaller as more R&D is being put into consoles" - this gap is getting smaller indeed, but sadly this is not because of more console R&D but because PC ports are usually only marginally enhanced when compared to their console counterparts(higher resolution textures, mostly). Mods can make a huge difference, though. BTW Developers/publishers, please bring back strategy games. A few years ago you had a lot of huge blockbuster RTSs a year and even more smaller ones, but now? Tropico 4 is the only new strategy game I enjoyed in the last 12 months. What I wouldn't give for a new Age of Empires/Empire Earth/even Rise of Nations-style game...(don't even get me started on AoE Online.)

endorbr
endorbr

@Disturbed_88 - It is (for me personally) when you take into account I don't play the types of games you listed for PC and the fact that I would never buy a PC rig for serious gaming at only $500. The games I like the most these days tend to be console exclusives so spending a bunch on a PC wouldn't do anything for me except waste money.

anangelsdemon
anangelsdemon

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, TERA, and War of the Roses are the PC games I'm excited about.

Kastigador
Kastigador

I actually believe PC's will retain their marketshare much better this cycle than they did last because the resolution on consoles are not going up like they did last gen. I think the next gen of console gaming will be more about changes to the control input(ala Kinect) which will appeal more to the masses than to the hardcore gamers.If streaming gaming becomes a commercial reality, That will extend BYO PC's appeal even more.

cccp3000
cccp3000

In my opinion the PC gaming industry will survive because the PC improves over the time and thus improves the graphics and all what matters most regarding video games.

Tialian
Tialian

PCs are getting cheaper all the time. I just rebuilt my PC for ~1k and I tend to do it every 3 years or so. If you break that down it comes out to ~$30 a month. The big downside to consoles is the games keep their full price for much longer than PC games (the upside is you can trade them in where you can't with PC games). With PCs you tend to pay a higher up front cost for the machine/parts but you get much cheaper games and a tool you can actually use for more than gaming. With Consoles they are much cheaper up front but balloon quickly as you buy more games. You can do a few more things with consoles that you couldn't do before such as watch Netflix, but they still don't compare to the versatility of a PC.

Disturbed_88
Disturbed_88

@endorbr do the math: (per your suggestion) PC: every 3,5 years ~ $500 Console: +$10 for every game you buy and a new console for (let's say) ~$250 If you are a gamer, that's at least 10 games a year. That's $100 a year. Which is $350 more every 3,5 years. ->Verdict: PC: ~$500 every 3,5 years (+ RTS games + MMORPGs + mouse and keyboard for FPSs) Console: ~$600 every 3,5 years (+ some exclusive titles) Therefore, sir, your point about money spending is INVALID...

theloneronin827
theloneronin827

I wish I had the money and time to build a gaming PC. One cannot ignore the advantages of PC gaming when comparing to console gaming, PC is the best platform (coming from a console gamer.) It doesn't receive the attention it deserves from developers and publishers, I hope it changes in the future.

jonaadams
jonaadams

The next Starcraft Heart of the Swarm, ARMA III too and European Escelation looks to be promising.

s8man888
s8man888

Of those 5 mentioned, I am interested in Guild Wars 2 and War of the Roses.

Decardcain
Decardcain

consoles???... FUS RO DAH... for one descent deep console game i will give you ten for PC... but CONSOLES...???

Bangerman15
Bangerman15

I want moar pc developed rpgs like the witcher 2 and all of its epicness, hopefully this year is good for pc gaming just like last year, and I have my eyes on guild wars 2 as well.. just because its free and swtor didnt grab my attention at all

grim0187
grim0187

I've been gaming along time. The only game I enjoy on the PC is the Diablo series. Now that Diablo 3 is rumored to hit consoles, I'll probably get it there. Not into modding at all. I believe in playing the game the way it was built to play. Cant stand RTS games. Sorry, but Im 25 years old. I dont have the super fast korean child mouse fingers to spam hordes online. Guild Wars 2 looks compelling ONLY because it doesnt have the monthly fee. Honestly, Im not paying 15 dollars a month to play a game....I see consoles doing amazing things and despite being old, the tech is still being pushed out. Look at Elder Scrolls IV and V. They look like they were released on different machines! The gap between PC's and consoles is getting smaller as more R&D is being put into consoles.

jollybest1
jollybest1

@42316 same here pc games are cheaper and have more of an adult feeling

FoeCrusher
FoeCrusher

Consols have their advantages to be certain. Unifiied hardware that simplifies programming is the most obivous for developers. Being a plug and play system for users is also handy. The downside as mentioned with this article is that as the hardware ages, the gap between it and what is leading edge grows, then between it and what becomes the new standard grows. However, the pc is constantly evolving and developers can decide to demand higher specs for their games. This does limit the market potential though. Consol games do not seem to suffer from the piracy issues that PC games seem to. This gap has been closing because online distribution like Steam has reduced the cost of games and I beleive also reduces piracy. PCs can become a more compelling platform under those circumstances.

42316
42316

ooh add the fact that where I live New XBOX and PS3 games cost $80 compared to $44 for pc games, that's also a big factor!

42316
42316

I'm getting my i5-2500k tomorrow :D I have all the consoles but there is just something awesome about the pc......(maybe its the fact that my pc is in my room and not the lounge where i get yelled at for playing for more than 30 mins :/) either way, pc gaming is where I started but gaming is where I belong

campper89
campper89

Arma 3 (Y) haha i hope it is as good as Arma 2 and OA if not better, spent nearly 200hours my life on Arma 2 i hope spend as many of them hour on Arma3

Gabkicks
Gabkicks

ARMA III is gonna be epic! Can't wait for all the fun with friends!

TerrorRizzing
TerrorRizzing

@ scarred_fox Goldeneye proved fps could sell on console. It was quite terrible compared to something like quake 3. I mean you could stll play quake 3 today and have fun, the sign of an actually great game.

TerrorRizzing
TerrorRizzing

@ Dugular theres always been a bunch of cool stuff on pc as long as I can remember.

Dugular
Dugular

Wow. I was one of those PC-gamers who held a bit of a grudge at how everything was becoming more console-focused (Though I do have four consoles connected to my TV at the moment and really enjoy all of them), but I never thought I would see PC Gaming making a real comeback. It is happy days because Consoles are still on a rise, but the PC is now too. And so is mobile gaming! Everything gaming related on a rise is a good thing for our industry! Well... except for movies based on games. By the way. Nathan Fillion as Nathan Drake, please.

keymaster7
keymaster7

Guild Wars 2 Defitnitely, I have been waiting forever since I last played Guild Wars~

charlievo
charlievo

You people do realize xbox360 work on Pc with the adapter from microsoft right? I love it when noobs cry about keyboard and mouse. They use to consoles assist aim. ROFL

Scorpion1813
Scorpion1813

Diablo 3 and Skyrim are the only PC games on my list at the moment. But I need a new PC first.

corrus
corrus

Sorry but i like consoles i hate to play with keyboard and mouse

camyers1310
camyers1310

 @squidbilly22 yeah dude do you like playing games in the first place? sounds like your a miserable person