My column from Friday’s paper (posted here Thursday) details my exploits building my own gaming PC, the first time I’ve done so. A second post from Thursday offers a more technical look at all the parts I purchased, with a more detailed breakdown of the process of building my gaming rig.
Outside of my laptops, which have been able to run some pretty decent games but at the expense of heating up so much that they frighten me, I haven’t had a brand new PC that could be used for gaming since 1999 or so. I have a lot of catching up to do. Here’s a look at classic, recent and upcoming games I’m hoping to get some time with in the coming months. (Note: With the crazy fall gaming release schedule, I’m not making any promises. These are the games I’d play on PC if I weren’t also juggling it with my consoles.) Feel free to recommend your own in the comments.
“The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings” (rated M, $50): I’ll probably start CD Projekt Red’s epic, mature role-playing game saga with “The Witcher: Enhanced Edition,” seeing as how I already own it. I’m positively itching to begin adventuring as monster hunter Geralt. Nuanced moral choices and branching storylines are pretty much my bread and butter when it comes to role-playing games. I just have to finish “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” first.
“League of Legends” (rated T, free): This free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena game has millions of players and, along with “Starcraft 2,” is probably the closest I’d come to playing a hypercompetitive e-sport title. I’ve met with “LoL” publisher Riot Games at the past two E3s and been impressed with the love for their craft and dedication to their fans. I’m hoping to fully explore the MOBA genre with a handful of friends. I also have “Heroes of Newerth” (made by Rohnert Park’s S2 Games) and Valve’s “DotA 2” on my radar. Gaming consoles don’t have anything like a good MOBA.
“End of Nations” (free to play, due out some day): I got a look at Trion Worlds’ upcoming, free-to-play hybrid of real-time strategy and massively multiplayer online game during E3. It’s being developed by Petroglyph, the folks who made “Universe at War.” Despite the real-time strategy tag, “End of Nations” won’t feature a ton of building and resource management in the flow of its normal game. Instead, you’ll have a persistent base you can upgrade that’s used to create squads of troops that you then send out into the world to do battle. Maybe it’s my inner PC noob talking, but what I saw reminded me a little bit of “Darkspore,” another game that has you bringing a small number of units into battle and working to keep your whole team alive and collaborating.
“World of Warcraft” (rated T, free to play up to level 20): Now that Blizzard’s legendary massively multiplayer online game has gone free to play up to level 20, there’s no excuse for me not to dive in and play for background. I know enough about “WoW” that I feel comfortable calling other MMOs “WoW” like, but it’s time to play the granddaddy.
“Minecraft” (in beta, preorder for 20 euros gives access to beta): This now-classic block-building/survival games is still technically in beta, and a Kinect-enabled version is supposed to be coming to the Xbox 360 later this year. (If you’re impatient, there are a slew of knockoffs on the 360’s indie games channel.) I’ll probably just go with the original.
“The Secret World” (due out in 2012, website): This upcoming MMO from Funcom, makers of “The Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures,” has the coolest premise of any MMO I’ve familiarized myself with. Essentially,” The Secret World” is set in an alternate version of our reality in which seemingly every superstition and local legend you can think of is true. Vampires roam Transylvania, while Norse creatures called the droug haunt New England. It reminds me a bit of White Wolf’s World of Darkness pen-and-paper RPG setting, where vampires, mages and werewolves live side-by-side. It also has an interesting leveling system in which there really are no “classes” or “levels.” Instead, players earn upgrades but can rebuild their character at designated points throughout the game. You don’t have to always play a magic user because that’s the character you made when you first began. The beta for this game has just begun.
“Star Wars: The Old Republic” (due out in late 2011 or in 2012): I’ve seen BioWare’s upcoming “Star Wars” MMO at the last two E3s and, despite the impressive amount of voice-acted dialogue, I wasn’t terribly blown away either time. BioWare appears to have a competent game on its hands, but it also reminds me a lot of what I’ve seen of “WoW.” Still, as a rabid fan of the two single-player “Knights of the Old Republic” games that gave rise to this MMO, I feel a sense of duty to at least try out “The Old Republic.”
“Sins of a Solar Empire” (rated T, $20 or cheaper): I’m a sucker for so-called 4X strategy games (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate), and this game drew rave reviews when it launched back in 2008 because it fused the languid pace of turn-based fare like “Civilization” with real-time strategy found in games like “Starcraft.” As a fan of RTS games who’s more at home with turn-based stuff, I’m probably “Sins'” ideal player, which is why I’ve owned this bad boy since 2009.
The classics: I’ve actually got a pretty respectable stack of older PC classics lined up, just waiting for a rainy day. Here’s hoping I’ll find time for “X-COM: UFO Defense,” “Fallout 2,” “Half-Life” and the original “Deus Ex,” which might be just about perfect after I’ve finished the prequel, “Human Revolution.” I might also take “Sid Meier’s Civilization IV” for a zillion spins. I’ve been playing a lot of “Civ V” and played the heck out of the first two games already. There’s no reason I should keep avoiding the game that’s many players’ favorite. Also tempting? “The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.” I sunk maybe 100 hours into that game on the Xbox, but the further I got into “Morrowind,” the longer the load times became, until my saved game essentially collapsed under its own weight.