You’ve got a pocket full of cash and your eye on some games, but before that you need something to play those games on. You could buy a console, but that would be the wrong choice. Or you could buy a PC, which would be the right choice for oh-so-many reasons.
We would say that, though, wouldn’t we? We’re not called XboxGamesN. If we haven’t convinced you yet, look below and read 100 reasons to buy a PC instead of a console. You can trust us.
PCs are more powerful
Stuck in generation cycles, designed by committee, consoles can’t compete with the power of PCs. You decide what you want to get out of your rig, not a manufacturer, so it can be as big and beefy as you want it to be.
PCs are more powerful than consoles
Okay, not every PC. The banged up old desktop in your garage with the duo-core processor and 7900GT GPU isn’t going to be competing with a PS4. A modern, mid tier gaming PC will leave it in the dust, though.
There is no real limit to how powerful you can make your PC
Want to shove in some more RAM? How about spending a big chunk of change on two GTX 980s? Maybe a graphics card with more VRAM? Manufacturers are churning out bigger and better bits of hardware and software all the time. With money to pour into your obsession, it’s always possible to stay ahead of the curve. You can build rigs of the future, right now, prepared to take advantage of things like 4K gaming, which is still in its infancy.
Say goodbye to generations
In five years, potentially half-way through the current console cycle, the innards of the Xbox One and PS4 will be five years out of date. But the PC is a platform constantly in the process of evolving. PC developers are not limited by old technology and are thus able to offer games that would not be possible on consoles.
Expensive PCs are exponentially more powerful that consoles
While big console games dodder around at 30fps and 900p, PC enthusiasts with high end setups are able to enjoy 4K displays at a reasonable (though reduced) frame rate. These monster PCs being built by those with lots of money to burn make consoles look positively Stone Age.
GPU manufacturers are already planning for the future
4K support is still pretty small, and not that many people are able to enjoy those 8 million pixels, but Nvidia and AMD are already planning for 8K. “For the human eye that resolution is close to perfection,” they say. The quest to create more powerful hardware and games than can make the most out of it is one that isn’t slowing down.
PCs are better value
There’s a good chance you’ll end up spending more on a PC than you would on a console, though less than you might think. But you’ll get more out of it, have a system that can be tweaked and upgraded and you’ll probably spend less money on games, too.
Cheap PCs are better than consoles
You can build a respectable PC that matches the PS4 or Xbox One for around £400, and pushing your bank account another £100 or so will get you what you need to outperform the consoles. Not everyone’s a builder, though, and going through a PC building service will cost a bit more.
PC games are cheaper
New AAA games might still be a bit pricey, but on PC you can expect to pick them up for about £10 less than their console counterparts. For every three games you get for you PS4 or Xbox One, you can get four on PC. There’s a bit more parity with indie games, though.
So, PC games tend to be cheaper than their console counterparts, but it’s the discounts that are most noteworthy. Seasonal sales get pretty crazy, with digital distribution sites flinging dirt-cheap games around like confetti. Actually, confetti’s probably more expensive.
Humble Bundles offer up collections of games that you can pay any price you fancy for. They tend to be sets of indie games with similar themes, but over the years larger companies have pitched in and given away big-name titles. The more you chip in, the more games you can grab, and you can even donate all the money to a lovely charity if you’d like.
There’s an abundance of digital platforms and shops
Steam, Origin, GOG, Uplay – some are loved, others reviled, but at least there’s no dearth of options. They make it easy to manage your game library and frequently host some of the absurd aforementioned discounts.
PCs are more functional than consoles
Consoles these days are marketed as multimedia devices. You can watch TV on them! You can upload stuff to Facebook! You can do a few of the things that people have been doing on PCs for years! Even as consoles play catch-up, PCs remain considerably more versatile.
Compatibility isn’t a problem
Getting a new console usually means the old one will still be taking up space, unless you never want to play those old games again. Backwards compatibility has been mostly left by the wayside, with only the Wii U bucking the trend. Much older PC games might require a bit of fiddling or the use of DOSBox, but it’s rare to find something that won’t run at all.
Multiple monitors are fun
And you can really go a bit crazy with them.
Streaming means you can play games on your TV
The one thing consoles have had over PCs is their physical domain: the living room. This is no longer the case. With streaming, living-room PCs like the Alienware Alpha and the upcoming Steam Machines, playing on your PC from the sofa will be just as natural as playing it in your study, on a desk. And you can do it through Steam’s in-home streaming.
Mouse and keyboard offers more precision
PCs are all about options, and that extends to how you control your games. With a mouse and keyboard, things that are increasingly programmable and customisable, you have an almost bewildering number of options. A controller might sit comfortable in your hands, but it doesn’t come even close to the level of control and precision that you get with a mouse and keyboard.
You can plug a controller in anyway
But, hey, it’s your choice. You can play with a controller if you want. Fighting games, action games, racing games – they are all a bit fiddly with the mouse and keyboard, but it’s easy to switch to a controller.
You can plug any controller in
Download some drivers and you can use your Xbox 360 controller, or download a program and use your PlayStation controller. And there are all the controllers designed specifically for the platform, from joysticks for flight games to wheels and pedals for racers.
It’s the best platform for VR
The Oculus Rift is just for us, at least at the moment. And while a consumer-ready version won’t be available until next year, countless PC games already support the device.
And VR is here already
The Oculus Rift DK2 is mainly for developers, but it’s not restricted to them. You can buy one, slap it on your face, and play Elite: Dangerous, Skyrim or whatever else tickles your fancy.
You can customise your look
An Xbox One is always going to look like a glorified VHS player, no matter which way you look at it. Build a PC, and you have an incredibly vast selection of options on how your rig looks. Want a sleek, small, minimalist box for under your living room TV? We can do that. Prefer a monstrous behemoth with vents, digital readouts, and ambient lighting? That’s not even the most outrageous you can achieve.
Chatting isn’t a nightmare
If you see one of your friends playing a game you love on Xbox, you have to go through a rigmarole of sending requests and setting up parties to get in the same voice server as them. That, or send them a written message with the torturous on-screen keyboard. On PC, simply say hi using Steam’s chat overlay, and if they’re free to chat just call them using the VOIP feature in Steam or swap to something like Skype or Teamspeak.
PCs can do too many things to list, even in this really big list
What we care about is gaming, but getting a PC means getting the best way to browse the internet, a word processor, a video editor and countless other things that we often forget about because we’re so busy playing games.
PCs are portable. Sort of.
You’re probably not going to be slinging your desktop over your shoulder to take on a trip (unless it’s a trip to a LAN party), but there are more than a few options if you want to play some games on the plane or while you’re crashing on the couch, and they are all a lot more convenient than trying to setup a desktop in a car.
While the Wii U and PS4 have some portable functionality through the gamepad controller and the PS Vita, respectively, it’s not the same as being able to take your PC library on the train with you. Want to know what games you should get for a laptop? Check out our best games for laptops list.
While desktops are still the way to go for gaming, there are plenty of gaming laptops that aren’t slouches. Even non-gaming laptops can impress. Take Microsoft’s Surface Pro, the third version of which launched late this year. It’s not for gaming. It’s a laptop-tablet hybrid, and a pricey one. The most expensive version of the Surface Pro 3 will set you back almost $1,600, but you’ll be getting a laptop you can fit in your handbag, and you can play Total War: Rome II on it.
The Nvidia Shield and Nvidia Shield Tablet are nifty little things. They’re Android devices, but you can also stream GTX-powered PC games to them. They’re wee, but you can stick an Nvidia controller to them so you won’t be smothering the precious real estate with your gross fingers. You can hook them up to your big TV, too, and play PC games on the sofa with the controller.
PCs are great for gaming
Now we’re getting to the meat. Games, people! It’s what we really want to talk about. A PC is a portal into over 30 years of gaming, able to access games from before you were born – if you’re a wee ‘un – to ones that, compared to their console counterparts, look like they are from the future. It’s an embarrassment of riches.
PC has a bigger, better game library
I can jump into Elite: Dangerous right now, or I can jump back 30 years and play the original Elite. My PC is a time machine. The current generation of consoles have yet to develop a particularly strong library of games. Get a PC, though, and you’ll have access to thousands of games spread across over three decades.
You can customise your experience
PC gaming isn’t one size fits all, but games are built to work on a broad array of setups. That means options! If you’ve got an older or cheaper PC, you can turn off the bells and whistles and still see a marginal improvement over what you’d expect on a console. And if your rig can handle it, then you can really start cranking up the detail, slapping on advanced anti-aliasing and ambient occlusion options, and generally tweaking it until it looks like a different game.
The eSports scene is better on PC
What are the biggest eSports games? League of Legends, Dota 2, StarCraft II – mostly games that are exclusive to PC. There are more competitions and massive global tournaments, and more opportunities to watch or get involved yourself.
Games are more social on PC
Pretty much every multiplayer game on PC supports chat, in both text and voice. If you’re happy to talk with the other players on your team just plug in a mic and start jabbering. If you’d rather stay a shadowy virtual presence you can just type the odd ‘gg’ or ‘nice one’ into the text chat. However you like to socialise, you can do it on PC.
LAN parties are awesome
Rows and rows of PCs, cables, headsets and other peripherals strewn all over the place, faces illuminated by the glow of a dozen monitors – it’s wonderful. LAN parties are a PC tradition that get people travelling for miles to meet up with old friends and enemies, and you can find kicking off in massive conventions as well as your mate’s garage.
Players get to be part of a game’s development
With so many open alphas, betas and Steam Early Access games, you can play countless games long before they are finished. Sometimes it won’t cost you a penny, while premium alphas might set you back, but are usually cheaper than the launch price. Early Access has become a bit divisive, but has also spawned an intriguing collaborative relationship between developer and player.
Online gaming is less flaky on PC
When there are problems with, for example, PSN, then everyone suffers. Everyone is at its mercy. With PC games, all you have to worry about is your connection and the game itself. If there are problems with the latter, you can just play something else online instead.
PC special editions are still great
While we might lament the infrequency of the beloved cloth map, physical PC special editions can still be pretty great. Giant boxes, like treasure chests, that contain all manner of goodies, from the always stunning World of Warcraft artbooks to Diablo’s USB that contained every game in the series. And we still get a lot of the fancy special editions that consoles get. Which brings us neatly to…
PC ports are better
We’ve written a fair few Port Reviews this year, and even in the cases where the port wasn’t very high quality, they still tend to be improvements over their console counterparts, offering improved visual fidelity and a greater number of options. Sometimes we have to wait a little longer, but then we frequently get all the console DLC bundled in or a special edition. Metal Gear Solid V, for example, landed on PC last week, and came with both pieces of exclusive DLC for the Xbox and PlayStation versions.
Brilliant exclusive PC games
When a console gets an exclusive, it’s a big deal. When a PC exclusive launches, it’s just another day of the week. And they’re not just space opera shooters or jungle adventure games either; the breadth of genres in PC exclusive games is vast. From sweet little indie platformers to massive complex flight simulators, the ‘only on PC’ library is unbeatable.
Ten years old, and still played by over 10 million people, World of Warcraft is one stalwart MMO. This year saw the launch of the fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor, which involves time travel and mucking about on another planet. Blizzard doesn’t have any plans to stop making more of them, either.
KSP’s one of those games that you simply couldn’t imagine being anywhere other than on a PC. A game of engineering and experimentation, it’s a space game for those with big noggins. Though it’s still in beta, there’s already plenty of meat on the bone, including scenarios inspired by future NASA missions.
Global conquest! Pikemen fighting tanks! Montezuma being a dick! Civilization V’s got everything you’d want from Sid Meier’s long running series, along with a few extra tricks up its sleeve. This not-really-historical 4X game is at its best with the expansions.
The only game where you can handcuff another player and force-feed them rotting fruit until their digestive system collapses. DayZ dumps you in a harsh world of collapsing communist architecture and shuffling zombies and just asks you to survive as long as possible. Band together with other survivors to scavenge and fend off starvation, or become a public menace and mug people for everything they’ve got.
A series of grand strategy games, with the emphasis on grand. The series spans numerous historical periods, from the Japanese Shogun era to the days of Napoleon’s empire. Whilst always different in flavour, a Total War game always offers up a complex turn-based world map where political, infrastructure, and troop mobilisation decisions are made, and a real-time battle mode when your armies finally clash with the enemy. Despite steep competition, Shogun 2 is the best of the bunch, which is why we added it to our list of the 21 best strategy games on PC.
The RTS behemoth that’s become the eSport equivalent of football, it’s a fast, incredibly tactical game involving hundreds of units and a careful balance of resource gathering and base expansion. But beyond the delicate depth of the mechanics, it’s got some truly amazing character designs and a single-player campaign with one of the PCs best-realised sci-fi universes.
An incredible recreation of the Milky Way a thousand years in the future, Elite: Dangerous drops you among the stars and lets you realise your space dreams. Make it big as an interplanetary trader, become the authorities’ most wanted as a vicious pirate, or rake in the cash as a contract killer. Elite is a detailed, beautiful universe that’s the stage for a thousand unique player stories.
Relic’s WW2 strategy series has always been great, but recently, Company of Heroes 2 ever so slightly rose to the top thanks to its two standalone expansions: Western Front Armies and Ardennes Assault. Dramatic, destructible environments and tense tactical warfare are what you can expect, as well as some nods to wargaming thanks to Ardennes Assault’s strategic meta map.
It’s hard to tell what’s real and what isn’t in Amnesia. Is that scratching sound just in your head? Was that the noise of a door opening. Who’s there? Amnesia strips you of your sanity and leaves you vulnerable, trapped in a nearly empty castle with eldritch horrors lurking in the shadows.
SimCity’s fleeting romance with platforms other than PC ended with SimCity 3000, and since then it’s been exclusive. And it was bloody great, too; right up until SimCity Societies. Last year’s new take on the series was a bit rubbish as well. But don’t worry! SimCity 3000 and Sim City 4 are two of the best city builders and management sims you could hope to play.
Part grand strategy game, part dynastic RPG, Crusader Kings II gives players control over a medieval dynasty and tasks them with doing whatever the hell they want. Want to unite Britain under Scotland? Go for it. Want to work your way up from count to Holy Roman Empire? Good luck. It’s daunting in scope, where you lead a dynasty across 700 years of history, murdering, warring and conspiring through the ages.
Larian’s Kickstarted RPG manages to be both evocative of the so-called Golden Age of CRPGs and surprisingly refreshing. A big ol’ fantasy adventure, it’s a colourful romp through deserts, marshes and towns with lots of lovely tactical combat and sharp dialogue. It’s also got some novel co-op stuff up its sleeve.
The sequel to the grandaddy of post-apocalyptic RPGs, Wasteland 2 is another Kickstarter success. Dress your party up like the Three Amigos and kill some mutants or wander around fixing toasters and robots – it’s a big, open radioactive hell out there. Playing it is like looking through a window into another dimension, one where Fallout 3 wasn’t a shooter-RPG hybrid. And speaking of Fallout…
The first two Fallouts still really define post-apocalyptic RPGs. More free than the Age of Aquarius, you can become cruel slave trader, hero of the wastes, a Vault citizen, or whatever takes your fancy. And the tactical combat remains unsurpassed by its successors.
Even in a year as good as 2014 has been for 4X games, Endless Legend stands out. A gorgeous, hexy game, it combines sci-fi and fantasy in fascinating ways, pitting elaborate factions against each other and the environment. Each faction has a rich history and a novel mechanic that sets them apart, like the Broken Lords, a vampiric factions that feeds on Dust, an enigmatic resource that also serves as the game’s currency.
Galactic Civilizations II is probably the best known turn-based space strategy games next to Master of Orion, and one of the most exhaustive and involving 4X games to have appeared since the dawn of the genre. One of its great triumphs is that your AI opponents seem always to work within the rules of the game and react in obvious ways to your alignment and obvious military might.
A slightly controversial game because some people really don’t like walking, Gone Home is a first-person mystery set in an empty house. The story is spun indirectly through narrated journals and the objects scattered throughout the home, and touches on acceptance, isolation and youthful discovery. The whole thing is wrapped up in ‘90s nostalgia. This one is heading to Wii U, but until then, it’s all ours.
Legend of Grimrock 2 builds on the wonderful foundation laid down by its impressive predecessor, taking four adventurers out of the confines of a single, massive dungeon, giving them a whole island to explore – one that’s incredibly diverse. It’s an RPG that revels in nostalgia, but never feels dated.
Despite its many open spaces, STALKER is a claustrophobic shooter, and not just when it sends you down into dark tunnels and monster-infested catacombs. It has an oppressive atmosphere that bears down on the player at all times. But it’s never hopeless. There’s always something you can do to overcome the constantly hostile game world.
Flashy and massive in scale, Sins of a Solar Empire is a game that successfully manages to combine the very best of 3D real-time strategy – albeit without a single-player campaign – with the kind of empire building offered only by the very finest 4X titles.
Free PC games
We understand that you may be a little broke after buying a PC, but that doesn’t matter anymore. There are hundreds of free games to play on PC, and we’re not talking ad-filled flash games. From the hottest multiplayer games of the moment to games with astonishing ambition, some of the greatest games on the PC are free.
Valve made a sequel to the Warcraft 3 mod and MOBA progenitor. People say that it’s a bit of alright.
One of eSports’ biggest phenomenons and the Dota 2’s MOBA rival, League of Legends is a continual fixture in massive tournaments and subject of uncountable Twitch streams. It’s not just for spectators though; the free-to-play nature and solid matchmaking means everyone’s welcome to jump in and learn how to dominate lanes.
One of the strongest multiplayer shooters thanks to its elegantly balanced character classes and abundance of funny hats. Team Fortress 2 has been around for a good while now, but Valve has continued to build on it over the years, with new modes, new maps, and hundreds of new collectable weapons and achievements. The cartoon style and chaotic pace ensure a distinctly fun game every match. We reckon it’s on of the 15 best first-person shooters on PC.
LotRO has been around for almost eight years, and it’s still recreating Tolkien’s trilogy. When it launched, the strong focus on exploration and storytelling gave it a leg up on the competition, and it’s remained a stalwart, constantly evolving MMO even after it made the move to free-to-play, mixing in free updates and meaty premium expansions. It’s still one of the best MMOs.
Where Star Trek Online, Cryptic’s ever expanding MMO, excels is during open team space battles, in which small groups of player ships combine to bring down NPC vessels. With a need to manage shields and power levels, consider speed and positioning, veteran fans of the Starfleet Command games will find much to engage, especially when part of a well-drilled team of frontline and support vessels tearing up the galaxy.
Command a group of dwarves and build an underground fortress. Its simple ASCII text-based graphics betrays the insane complexity at the heart of the game, which combines heavy management of resources with roguelike elements. It’s one of the best sandboxes on PC.
A battle to the death where every competitor gets a tank. The selection is huge, with everything from self-propelled guns to tank hunters available to roll out onto the 1940s battlefields. It’s swift and arcadey, but there’s also historical battles to take part in if your tastes veer closer to the factually correct.
Think of everything that World of Tanks does, but strap a propellor to the front and send it into the skies.
Wargaming like to split their vehicles up with their ‘World of’ tanks, but War Thunder thinks they can all play nice together. Fairly similar to its competitor, War Thunder has a massively strong focus on WW2-era dogfights, but has expanded into the realm of tanks with its Ground Forces expansion.
Just who is the best god? Forget joining a philosophy club to find the answer, just play Smite: a MOBA where everyone plays as one of history’s most famous deities. Unlike regular MOBAs Smite plays from a 3rd person action game-like perspective, making it a new and attractive game for even seasoned League of Legends players. If you fancy dipping your toes in, check out our Smite beginner’s guide.
You could buy Diablo 3, or you could just play Path of Exile for free. They’re broadly similar, with Path of Exile having exceptional production values for a free-to-play game, and a vast skill tree to progress through. Hundreds of areas filled with legions of hideous creatures to bash at until your mouse button breaks, Path of Exile is swift and brilliant fun, especially when played with friends. We reckon that it’s one of the best co-op games on PC.
PlanetSide 2 scraps the map boundaries of traditional multiplayer shooters and sets it’s bombastic action on an entire open-world planet. Fight to victory to secure a fortress, then ride a drop ship into the next den of action a continent away. It’s sci-fi Battlefield but on an unbelievable scale.
Rift mixes typical World of Warcraft-style adventuring with lots of public events, where the fabric of reality is torn apart and elemental beasties pour out of the tears. These events force players to band together to tackle the challenges that the rifts spew out. It’s also got a nifty hook with its classes, where they can be combined to create new, advanced ones.
With space becoming an obsession again, Star Conflict is available to scratch dogfighting itches. This isn’t a sim, though; it’s an arcade space shooter where pilots fight across expansive maps in PvP matches, looking to win glory for their faction and currency to spend on new ships and upgrades.
Faster-paced and flashier than MechWarrior, Hawken pits mech pilots against each other in gorgeous, intricate maps. A broad array of mechs and upgrades keeps thing interesting, while the modes run the gamut from simple team deathmatches to sieges where teams have to protect an AA gun and shoot down a massive capital ship floating above.
One of the first MMOs to go free-to-play, DDO captures a bit more of the spirit of the tabletop game than its – admittedly still fun – cousin, Neverwinter. There’s even a Dungeon Master who interrupts with wordy descriptions of ancient crypts and smelly sewers.
You can run around shooting people with your willy out.
Not really a first-person shooter, but much more of a first-person adventure game, System Shock set you in the role of a hacker trying to defeat a rogue AI that had taken over a far future space station. While sometimes you’ll shoot your way out of trouble, most of the time you’ll be both exploring and solving puzzles in this atmospheric and sometimes downright creepy game.
A funny, silly, ridiculous and also very, very smart game that has you managing a theme park, this is one of developer Bullfrog’s most well-loved and roundly celebrated titles. It’s also extremely canny, as running a theme park isn’t just about installing the latest, wildest rides, it’s also about filling the food with salt so that customers buy more of your soft drinks. Evil? Yes. Enormous fun? That too.
These top down crime sims arguably spawned a genre of such open city capering, as well as the hateful phrase “living, breathing city”. Still playable, still oddly funny, and, in the case of the first game, still excellent.
Look, there’s loads of them. We’ve gathered 101 of them in our 101 best free PC games list, so why don’t you take a gander?
Games that are better on PC
Even if your taste in games leans towards the big-budget AAA games that are featured in every console commercial, you’re still going to be better off on PC. Pretty much all those games are on PC, and what’s more they even play better. Thanks to the accuracy of a mouse and the higher frame rate the hardware can kick out, you can score easier headshots and grab that competitive edge. And with legions of modders, many games keep growing despite having died years ago on console.
There’s not a shooter that’s worse on PC. Far Cry 4 looks more beautiful on PC, as does the sea, sky and impossible citiesBioShock. Competitive FPSs like Battlefield and Call of Duty simply control tighter on the PC; the mouse is pixel-perfect when it comes to using a sniper-rifle, and the high DPI level of many PC mouses means you can swing a rifle without the lag of an analogue stick. Your rig will pump out far high framerates than any of the consoles, so stuttering won’t ruin your match.
Valve may be known as a PC developer, but most of their games have platform releases. They’re the poor relations though; Team Fortress 2 on Xbox 360 remains the very first version of the game, and Portal 2 on PS3 can’t tap into the vast collection of user-created puzzles.
Open-world sandbox games are havens for modders, and luckily for the PCs bedroom coding army all the best games are left open by their developers for experimentation. Skyrim can play like a vastly different game if you fill it with 100 different mods, adding extra missions, new characters, and even fresh, unexplored continents. The same can be said of all of Bethesda’s RPGs; Fallout: New Vegas has a booming mod community, and Morrowind still has life in it.
A special mention for Grand Theft Auto IV too; with photo-realistic textures, incredible lighting tweaks, and a library of real cars, this last-generation game looks like something due in 2016. And we can’t forget about…
The console versions of Minecraft are still trying to play catch-up, but they’ll never match the PC. With it’s doors wide open to modders you can download skins, texture packs, and new items for free, whilst adventure maps offer structured playgrounds and new stories to discover. And then there’s the colossal servers offering games that their creators invented. If you want to play The Hunger Games, Minecraft on the PC is the only place to do it.
Apart from a few notable games, like Herzog Zwei, consoles just don’t do strategy. You’ll want a PC for that. It’s mostly due to the control scheme, with most RTS games and turn-based shenanigans demanding more than a poor controller can handle. From golden oldies like Master of Might and Magic to fancy modern games like StarCraft II, you’re pretty spoiled for choice.
Everything is a MOBA! It’s getting a bit silly. A few years ago there were only a handful, and now it’s a gargantuan hour-swallowing genre. A few exceptions, like Guardians of Middle-Earth, notwithstanding, on PC is where you’ll find most of the MOBAs, including the biggest ones like Dota 2 and League of Legends.
Before everything was a MOBA, everything was an MMO. We’re still drowning in them, frankly. Though there was once the promise of cross-platform shenanigans between PC and consoles, these online live-destroyers never took off in the same way on consoles and cross-platform dreams never really went anywhere. It’s okay, though, there are more MMOs on PC than you could possibly play.
You can find sims on consoles, but for the most part, these are watered down, neutered versions of their PC betters. Whether it’s for The Sims or a galaxy-spanning space sims, like Elite or X, you’re going to want a PC.
Old games that you should play that are now only available on PC
Technology may advance, but a good game is great forever. Thanks to online distributors like Steam and GOG it’s easy to unearth old classics without hunting the shelves of charity shops. The PC community has pride in its past, and so most of the classics have been tweaked or recoded to run on modern machines hitch-free.
Civ in space, that’s what we were hoping for with Alpha Centauri, but we ended up being treated to so much more: a world with personality and purpose, fascinating factions created from ideologies rather than nationalities, and a mountain of weird and wonderful sci-fi techs to play with. It still one of the best 4X games you can play.
Star Wars: TIE Fighter
Its predecessor, X-Wing, was great, there’s no doubt about it, but TIE Fighter let you play as an Imperial, and the Devil is always more fun. It was also, across the board, an improvement over X-Wing, from its graphics – now very dated, admittedly – to a targeting upgrade that allowed pilots to focus on specific parts of an enemy capital ship or station. If you want to step inside one of the Emperor’s ships, take a look at Rob’s beginner’s guide to X-Wing and TIE Fighter.
Black Isle Studios turned convention on its head when they crafted this Planescape: Torment. There are no more typical fantasy races, morality is not defined, or is at least mutable, and every character attribute is tied to conversations and out of combat actions. It’s a game of philosophy and discovery rather than a monster slaying adventure. Like Baldur’s Gate below it, Planescape: Torment has a well-deserved spot in our 20 best RPGs on PC list.
Baldur’s Gate II
The Forgotten Realms is meticulously recreated in Baldur’s Gate 2, filled to the brim with gorgeous environments just waiting to be explored. And within them, quests! So many bloody quests. Hundreds of hours of saving villages, delving into mines, fighting mad wizards, slaughtering Gnolls and even a trip to the Planes and a deadly adventure into the Underdark.
Space Quest IV
Another Sierra classic, Space Quest IV is notable for not taking place in Space Quest IV. It’s a time-travelling romp where perpetually unlucky janitor Roger Wilco is sent backward and forward in time to past and future Space Quest games. It’s utterly absurd and utterly brilliant.
King’s Quest VI
The best of Sierra’s King’s Quest series, Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow sends Prince Alexander on a weird island-hopping adventure to save his favourite gal. Despite popping into existence 22 years ago, the tricky but clever puzzles and entertaining plot make it worth dipping into.
Before Pharaoh and Zeus, there was Caesar, one of the best city-building sims in the ancient world. Entertain the plebs with games and make sure supplies are constantly moving where they need to be. Caesar III refined and partially established the framework that city-builders are still using.
Massively ambitious, Outcast is one of the best games that too many people failed to play. A huge action-adventure set on a believable alien world with a plot that merges spiritualism with sci-fi, it drops players in and lets them sink or swim. And while it’s not as shiny as it once was, the voxel-based engine remains an impressive feat.
Freespace 2 refined and perfected the fine art of dogfighting in space: perfect controls and interface combined with fast and detailed visuals and a series of linear missions that in terms of pace, objective and scale were some of the best ever devised for any any action game. Like TIE Fighter, Freespace 2’s age hasn’t stopped it getting a place in our list of the 15 best space games on PC.
Peter Molyneux once made, with Bullfrog, wonderful games. Now he just lies to Steve. Dungeon Keeper is a management sim for evil buggers, giving players control over monsters and villains and a potentially sprawling underground realm. Make traps, recruit troops and slaughter heroes.
There’s loads of mods and developer tools
Anyone can make a game, a mod or new content on PC. It might not be good, but ease of access is certainly not an issue. This has not only kept games running and inundated with new stuff from the community, it’s also lead to the PC indie market to utterly explode. You can’t step outside your door without stepping on a new roguelike or platformer made by only one or two people. It’s messy, sure, but it’s also great.
You can mod games
Gamers are an inventive bunch, and there’s a mountain of games where the devs have opened their creations up to be tinkered with by the masses. Entire new games have been created in Skyrim, Total War modders recreated the Lord of the Rings in Medieval II, hours can be spent just looking for skins in Minecraft and modders have even gone the extra mile, fixing games that were released long before they were ready. Knights of the Old Republic II and Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, I’m looking at you.
The Steam Workshop makes installing more stuff very easy
Games with Steam Workshop support can be a doddle to liberally apply with mods. You just search through the list of mods on Steam, subscribe to the ones you like, and they’ll be added to the game. When you’re using a lot of mods that could conflict, Steam Workshop isn’t as good as using things like, in the case of Skyrim or Fallout, Nexus Mod Manager, but it’s still pretty convenient.
You can make money by making content for games
If you’re a dab hand at 3D modelling and have a vision for a new weapon for Dota 2 or a fancy hat for Team Fortress 2, you could be on the way to making yourself a little cash. Steam users can submit in-game items to Valve, and if they decide to sell it in a game’s microtransaction store, a percentage of the profits will flow back to you.
You can make very cheap, simple games
There’s an abundance of free or cheap software that give anyone the tools and assets they need to make a game. You can make a game within another game or use something like Adventure Game Studio or RPG Maker to build something that’s entirely yours.
Or you can use the exact same tools AAA developers use
Unreal Engine, CryEngine, Unity – robust dev tools are easy to come by and not stuck with a hefty price. Unreal Engine 4, for example, costs $19 a month, which is probably not far off what you’re paying for the internet.
PCs are perfect for streaming
Playing games with buds or even strangers online is all well and good, but what if you just want an audience? People who will sit there and listen to you crack awkward jokes and play hours and hours of games. People want to do this, and you can help them out by streaming.
Streaming on PC is both simple and rich in options
There’s no denying that consoles have made great strides when it comes to streaming and uploading videos, to the point where, for the most simple vids, they are even more convenient than a PC. Credit where credit’s due and all that *grumble grumble*. But that’s not to say that streaming on PC isn’t simple, and there’s no dearth of software and support. It’s more involved, but you also get more control and tools, which will help you to create higher quality videos and streams. Even Steam’s getting involved.
You can use Nvidia Shadowplay to make streaming a doddle
Part of Nvidia’s GeForce Experience Client, Shadowplay has become a very competent and, most importantly, incredibly simple recording tool that requires little faffing around. By logging into Twitch through it, you can broadcast your stream directly.
Or you can use AMD Gaming Evolved
AMD’s Gaming Evolved Client supports game DVR as well as Twitch broadcasting along with a webcam overlay and voice capture, making it pretty similar to Shadowplay. It was a little behind Nvidia’s GeForce Experience for a while, but has caught up very quickly.
PC games do much better on Twitch, and YouTube
Six of the top ten games on Twitch at the moment are PC exclusives, with the rest, like Hearthstone, mainly being streamed on PC. The rest of the list is dominated by PC games, and while the viewing figures fluctuate, the most popular ones, like League of Legends and Dota 2, are stalwarts.
Well, there you have it. 100 reasons. That’s a lot. Now go and buy a PC, for goodness’ sake.