iBUYPOWER @ E3 2014 – PC Gaming Review

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This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo has concluded almost too abruptly. At least for me. The event that took place this week in Los Angeles is the biggest and perhaps most important for the video game industry every year. Every developer and publisher (no matter how big or small) show up to get their new toys and tech on display for the public. However, for those of us belonging to the PC Master Race, E3 means something a bit different. PC gaming doesn’t have a booth like Nintendo or Microsoft and the big name PC publishers like Riot Games, Blizzard, and Valve weren’t in attendance as a company. That means those looking for updates on games such as Half Life 3, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenei, or the new untitled Blizzard MMORPG would have to look elsewhere.

What PC gamers do get out of E3 though is the knowledge that all the multiplatform titles that are getting everyone hyped up will no doubt be playable and better optimized for their PC systems. By now, most people are aware of the next-gen console fps issue where developers are still pumping out games for the PS4 and Xbox One at 30 fps, as opposed to the blatantly superior 60 fps options the PC counterparts have. So when Bungie shows new gameplay footage of their shooter Destiny, console gamers can be envious that the game will run better for us.

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So lets talk about the RPG titles first as they relate to PC gaming. Right now, all the hype seems to be behind The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. This hardcore RPG series already did so many things right with their last title, but now it goes even further by adding an open world element to the gameplay and storyline. After winning over 100 various titles at E3, it’s evident to see why a game of this stature would be turning so many heads. The other big game title is Dragon Age Inquisition which many diehard Dragon Age fans have been waiting for. Being the final chapter in the Dragon Age trilogy, the designers have decided to do a first for the series and add an open world aspect as well. Lastly, Square Enix had you covered, providing plenty of updates and hands-on demos for the newest version of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Fans of the game will surely be happy to see there’s a new class/job, new and expanded questlines, and the opportunity to finally raise your own Chocobo.

In the shooter genre, many are usually more critical when it comes to new games. Lets be honest and ask ourselves how many times the genre can be “redefined” in the eyes of the developers. Activision, the main culprit of this with their Call of Duty franchise is of course going to attempt to redefine again. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare brings stunning next-gen graphics combined with the niche of pseudo-futuristic weaponry including an exo-suit, nanobots, and homing grenades. The other big name shooter would be Battlefield: Hardline which has always been the main competitor to the CoD franchise, but this time around the premise is you can play as both the police and the criminals in some interesting missions. In the perspective of competitive gaming, these two titles usually carry a lot of weight in regards to the role of console gaming in eSports. Bungie has finally returned post-Halo to bring us their long awaited shooter Destiny. Yes, this was the game that you had to wait almost an hour in a line in order to play the live demo for. Bungie has a made a lot of promising remarks about the future of their new shooter, and if you own a PS4, you can even get your hands on it right now by signing up for the alpha of the game (and praying you get in). Lastly, we can’t talk about shooters without the ever so hyped title Evolve. As we just earlier talked about how hard it is to redefine shooters, 2K Games has definitely put in the most effort in doing so by bringing a unique cooperative online experience where 4 players get to hunt a 5th player that is literally a monster – the premise being the monster can and will gradually evolve over the course of the game.

Now all this said, PC gamers do indeed have a few exclusive titles to evaluate. EA decided they want to join Riot and Valve too and release their own MOBA title called Dawngate that allegedly gives more power to the player by having a more accessible type of experience than League of Legends or Dota 2 while maintaining the same core MOBA principles as well as a free-to-play model. I’m sure Civilization fans will be more than excited to hear Civilization: Beyond Earth is coming. So many people have lost countless hours of their lives playing Civilization V and now they have a reason to lose even more hours by playing this sci-fi twist on the game where you’ll be building your galactic empire in space. The last game I wanted to talk about is something that may not have been on anyone’s radar at all, and it’s called Hex: Shards of Fate. Similar to Hearthstone, this is a PC trading card game that removes sort of the user-friendly gameplay from Blizzard’s title and brings back the traditional complex elements seen in none other than Magic The Gathering. Hex brings something new to the table however by adding an emphasis to cooperative play, even going as far as to implement raid fights where groups of players will have to use their decks together against one A.I. boss.

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More than just the games, PC owners were exposed to a plethora of new equipment and tech at E3 this year. Despite most people wanting to see the games, it’s equally important to showcase what kind of new gadgets the world will be playing these new games on. For those who got money to blow, the guys at Origin PC had their Origin Millenium system on display at the Bethesda booth. This bad boy has not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Nvidia Titan Blacks inside (that’s over $4,000 worth of graphic cards alone). NZXT and Razer showcased their collaboration project – the H440 PC tower case, which fronts Razer’s classic style and look with NZXT’s notary manufacturing. More from Razer, the company showed some of their newest toys such as neon colored Kraken headsets, World of Tanks edition peripherals, and plenty of Razer Blade Pros on display. Perhaps the most interesting new device for PC gamers comes from Steelseries and their new Sentry Eye Tracker. Focused more for the eSports-affiliated audience who wants to take their competitive game to the next level, Steelseries’ futuristic device sits right under your monitor and tracks your retinas in order for it to display new information that will allegedly improve gameplay.

In conclusion, PC gamers have a lot of interesting things to look forward to. The nature of PC games at E3 is never going to be as jaw dropping as what Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft bring, especially when Valve or Blizzard have nothing new to announce (Blizzard having their own weekend-long press conference at Blizzcon later this year). There are obviously going to be tons of games I left out (i.e. Rainbow Six: Siege and Grand Theft Auto V) and tons of PC equipment I forgot to mention (new Steam Machines from Asus, Origin, and Alienware, Oculus Rift, and monitors that track calories while gaming), but hopefully you get the gist that while the future of PC gaming looks strong with plenty of new tech and software, the success of PC gaming is still at the mercy of Valve, Blizzard, and Riot Games – at least for the rest of the year.

Photos by Andre Butler

YouTube clip by GameSpot

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by andre butler, on June 17, 2014