Over the last few days we've looked at all of the leading games consoles and platforms out right now and tried to convince you why you should spend your hard-earned cash. Today, Mark Walton tells you why it's time for you to bring a dedicated PC for gaming into your living room.
More so than consoles, the gaming PC really can be all things to all people. You can choose to dive into the deepest of strategy and simulation games, or turn competitive and take on eSports' finest. You can play all the big cross platform console exclusives with the highest visual fidelity, or you can explore the depths of the internet to find the latest 8-bit inspired indie gem. And even if you aren't into what you might consider "core" games, there's a plethora of social titles to discover.
As an open platform, the freedom to play however you choose is the PC's greatest asset; it also used to be its greatest burden. But, thanks to much improved driver support, download services like Steam, and an abundance of great value hardware, getting into PC gaming is easier than ever before. With sleek gaming hardware on offer, great couch-friendly co-op games, and controller-friendly interfaces like Steam Big Picture, these days it's easy to move the PC out of the office or bedroom, and enjoy its unmatched library of games from the comfort of your living room.
An Amazing Library of Games
What a library it is too. The entire history of video games, from the first text-based adventures, to the latest and greatest big-budget blockbusters, is there for the playing. The sheer diversity of games on offer is staggering. For starters, the PC is the natural home for strategy games like Total War: Rome II, Civilization: Beyond Earth, and The Sims. It's also the home of eSports and free-to-play, with League Of Legends (arguably the world's biggest game at this point), being played exclusively on PC. And let's not forget the shooters, with games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, DayZ, and Team Fortress 2 (or at least, the best version of it), only available on PC.
Because the PC is an open platform, you can find games that simply wouldn't have a home anywhere else. Can you imagine something as daft, yet as brilliant as the horrifying Five Nights at Freddy's originating anywhere but on PC? Even if you never touched a mainstream release again, the PC's army of indie developers and multiple methods of distribution mean that you're never stuck for something to play. In 2014 we got the likes of stellar exclusives like The Talos Principle, Elite: Dangerous, and Star Citizen, while this year there are games like Fortnite and Heroes of the Storm on the way, to name but a few.
Naturally, all the mega-blockbuster cross platform games like Far Cry 4, Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and Shadow Of Mordor are on PC too, but they're cheaper than their console counterparts at standard retail prices--and when there's a Steam sale on, you can pick up games for a fraction of the cost on console. If you do decide to stick your PC in the living room, there are plenty of couch co-op games to choose from too, including Nidhogg, 8-bit Commando, and The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth. Oh, and paying to play online? That one's for the consoles only.
PC is the Only Place to Play in 4K
2014 was the year that 4K (or UHD as it's otherwise known) finally became an affordable prospect for many, with TV and monitor prices falling well below the $1000 mark, and that trend looks set to continue in 2015. If you've splurged, or are planning to splurge, on a 4K TV for the living room, the only way to play games at such a high resolution is with a PC. Once you've seen how stunning games look, it's hard to go back to lower resolutions. But if you don't feel like jumping on the 4K bandwagon just yet, even a PC equipped with a mid-range graphics card can pump out true 1080p60 visuals with a market-leading level of visual fidelity. If looks are what you're after, there's no better choice than a PC.
It's Also the Best Place for VR
Thanks to the likes of Samsung's Galaxy Gear (and the upcoming Project Morpheus from Sony), you don't need a PC to experience VR, but it's by far the most developed platform. Despite it not yet being a full retail product, anyone is free to buy an Oculus Rift DK2 and check out some VR games. Those range from full retail releases like Alien: Isolation and Elite: Dangerous, right through to weird and wonderful indie games like Affected and Radial-G over on share.oculus.com. And, if you partner the Oculus with a Leap Motion, you can even ditch the pad altogether and go for full-on motion-controlled immersion.
PC Hardware is Sleeker and Cheaper Than Ever
Gaming PCs used to be confined to tall, ugly towers full of sparkling LEDs and obnoxious fans. Thankfully, that's no longer the case. Huge advancements in CPU and GPU technology mean that today's gaming PCs can be small, quiet, and power conscious: just the qualities you need to tuck one away discreetly in your living room next to the rest of your AV equipment. Even if you use a tiny mini-ITX motherboard and a console-sized case like the Silverstone Raven RVZ01, you can fill it with desktop-class components like Intel's Core i7 processors and Nvidia's GTX 980 GPU, which'll help make your games look beautiful.
But you don't have to spend anywhere near as much money to get excellent performance and console-beating visuals at 1080p. Even the budget-minded GTX 750 Ti puts in some impressive performance, while stepping up to mid-range cards like the GTX 960 and Radeon R9 will give you all the power you need for 1080p, and for under $1000. If all you want to play are the likes of League of Legends, Hearthstone, or Team Fortress 2, you can even get by with a laptop sporting integrated graphics. Plus, you get your pick of peripherals. Xbox controllers, PS4 pads, and a huge array of gaming keyboards, mice, steering wheels, joysticks, work on PC, so there's an option out there no matter how you like to game.
Mods Make Everything Better
One of the best things about PC games is that, if you don't like them or have simply lost interest, you can just go ahead and mod the crap out of them until you do. The modding scene for the likes of Left 4 Dead 2, Skyrim, and Minecraft is huge--you haven't lived until you've fought off a horde of ravenous Teletubbies while playing as princess Elsa and Anna, or crashed the game with a flock of exploding chickens. Then there's GTA IV, which, with some crafty mods barely resembles the original game. With the Grand Theft Auto V PC release coming up, hopefully we'll get to see more things like the wonderful "poonikins the magic warrior princess."
Media, the Web, and Everything Else
If you're still not convinced about buying a gaming PC, don't forget that it's not just an investment in gaming. PCs are also the best media players, with unfettered access to every kind of streaming service the internet has to offer. A PC is also good for editing videos, audio, and photos, as well as churning out term papers and job applications, so in theory, you'd be more productive with one than without.
The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.