14 gorgeous PC games that will punish your graphics card

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Pixel-pushing, PC-melting graphical firepower

So you built yourself a brand-new gaming rig, you’ve slotted your sweet new graphics card into the PCIe slot, you’ve sealed up the case, and you’ve heard it all POST—congrats! Now it’s time to throw games at your fresh build until it breaks, then cry at the thought that if you’d spent just 200 dollars more you could’ve played at 4K instead of a mere 1080p!

Don’t know what games to start with? No old favorites? We’ve got just the ticket when it comes to handing your computer a stack of heavy weights and saying, “Lift this.” These punishing PC games will bring even powerful rigs to their knees—but the eye candy is utterly delicious.


How to judge the time commitment of your next video game

One of the most crucial skills for success is proper time management. It’s vital that we use our time as effectively as possible. In that spirit, I offer a tip that will help you make some important decisions concerning the time you dedicate to the great pastime of playing video games.

Today’s AAA titles vary wildly in the time they take to complete. You could spend more than a hundred hours getting through The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt or less than a day on a game like Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.

The appeal of a game’s size depends on your own personal preferences, and your interest in a particular game or series. Nevertheless, it’s still valuable to know how much time a given game entails.

A site that can help you figure this out is HowLongToBeat.com (HLTB). As its name suggests, HLTB gives you the average time it takes players to complete a particular game. The site even breaks out different categories of completion.


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The search results for Battlefield 1 on HowLongToBeat.com.

If you’re someone who prefers to blast through the main story, HLTB gives you a sense of how quickly you can get the job done. If exploring every single corner of a game is your thing, you can find the average amount of time it takes to do that.

The site also has a bunch of extra features such as personal game tracking, comparing completion stats against your friends, and so on. If you’re into that stuff, great—the site’s playing-time estimates are based on user-contributed data.

In this look at the site we’re going to focus on how HLTB can help you find the amount of time it takes to play a particular title. Keep in mind that HLTB’s reliance on user data means it takes time before newer games show up in its database. That said, games tend to show up on the site fairly quickly.

Get started by clicking on Search at the top of the site’s homepage. Once you load it, the search section of the site automatically generates a list of games, with newer and more popular games at the top. At this writing, the site had more than 24,000 games in its database.

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Battlefield 1’s summary on HLTB.com.

Let’s say you want to find out how long it will take to finish the campaign for Battlefield 1. Search for the title on the site and it will appear at the top of the search results. Right here you can get a quick summary of the time you can expect to spend on the game: about 6 hours for the main story and 14.5 hours to complete everything.

You’ll notice that each time estimate is color coded. These colors represent how confident the site is in each estimate. The more blue the estimate is, the more accurate it’s supposed to be. If it’s red, the site doesn’t have a lot of confidence in its accuracy.

To dive deeper into the information you can click on the game title. Each game has a page like the one you see above. The time estimates are at the top, along with a synopsis. Below that you’ll see all kinds of data about playing time such as how many players were polled for the various completion times, and the number of players from each platform that contributed data.

Just this one aspect of HLTB makes it a useful site that even casual PC gamers should bookmark to help make decisions about which games to play, and when


Overwatch’s console players are getting wrecked by keyboard and mouse users

Some gamers are using a keyboard and mouse (KBM) instead of controllers to play Overwatch on consoles, and Blizzard isn’t happy about it whatsoever.

“The Overwatch team objects to the use of mouse and keyboard on console,” game director Jeff Kaplan said on the Battle.net forums, as first spotted by PC Gamer. “We have contacted both first-party console manufacturers and expressed our concern about the use of mouse and keyboard and input conversion devices.”

Kaplan was responding to a growing forum thread discussing the advantages higher level players receive by playing on a keyboard and mouse against controller users. There are also many other forum and Reddit posts discussing the same topic.

Universal plug-and-play for keyboard and mouse isn’t officially supported on consoles, but users can purchase third-party devices such as the Xim 4 adapter to get past that issue.

The issue doesn’t necessarily affect lower level Overwatch players, but once you rise up to the competitive ranks of the game (around master or higher) you apparently start to notice the difference—especially if you’re playing with a controller.

While a player can fat finger a running escape on their keyboard, the mouse, which controls the weapon in shooting games, is deadly. It allows for much faster aiming and far more precise targeting than a controller. That may be why Microsoft’s recently introduced multi-player cross-platform play for Gears of War 4 limits console and PC users to competing in unranked matches alone.

Not everyone supports Kaplan’s call that could lead to banning KBM play. A few gamers argued that since console games are designed for controllers, a keyboard and mouse player is limited to what a controller could theoretically do. The counter to that argument, however, is that a KBM setup takes a gamer to the upper limits of a controller’s capabilities regardless of their actual skill level.

Another argument is that KBM interfaces allow gamers with disabilities to play console games they otherwise wouldn’t. True, these players could stick to PC games where KBM controls are standard, but if all your friends are on PlayStation or Xbox Live that’s where you’d want to be too.

The impact on you at home: It’s hard to say where Microsoft and Sony are heading with KBM on consoles, but it’s likely towards native, universal keyboard and mouse support—something Kaplan can get behind. “We have lobbied and will continue to lobby for first-party console manufacturers to either: Disallow mouse and keyboard and input conversion devices OR openly and easily support mouse and keyboard for ALL players,” Overwatch’s game director wrote in his forum post.

The state of keyboard and mouse on consoles

Last June, Microsoft’s Xbox Chief Phil Spencer said native plug-and-play KBM support for the Xbox One was “likely months away.” More than six months later, official support still hasn’t arrived, and a recent comment from Spencer on Twitter downgraded KBM on Xbox One from months away to something the company would “like to add” to the platform. With the Xbox One and PC in a constant state of merger thanks to Windows 10, it’s likely we’ll see universal KBM support for Xbox One eventually.

On the Sony side, some PlayStation 4 games such as Final Fantasy XIV already have native support for KBM. There’s also a mechanical keypad and mouse combo specifically designed for the PlayStation 4—Sony even advertises it on its site.



Dirt 4

I hope you like videos, because we have about a million of them this week. Launch trailers, announcement vids, Planet Coaster rides, the works.

This week: A Dirt 4 teaser, Bossa’s new skateboarding turf war, Square Enix teaming up with Marvel, Ni No Kuni II on PC, the Pillars of Eternity documentary, the end of Star Wars recreated as a roller coaster, and so much more.

This is your gaming news for the busiest week of January, a.k.a. January 23 to 27.

Tony Hawk: American Paintland

Bossa’s Worlds Adrift isn’t even released yet, but apparently the studio’s been working on two games simultaneously. This week the Surgeon Simulator dev announced Decksplash, some sort of skateboarding game that involves painting an arena with sweet tricks. Literally.

I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. There’s video though:

The long tail

There are two releases I’m excited about this week. The surprising part? Both are related to games that launched way back in ye olde 2015. Some of 2015’s best games, actually. First up, Crypt of the Necrodancer, which released its Amplified DLC prequel into Early Access.

And then there’s Cayne, a free (FREE!) prequel chapter to isometric horror game Stasis. I haven’t gotten a chance to play Cayne yet and don’t know how good it is, but Stasis itself was brilliant. Highly recommended.


Another new announcement: Dirt 4, which is set to release a mere four months from now on June 6. Presumably 2015’s Dirt Rally will live on as the sim-oriented half of the series and Dirt 4 will be more arcade-y—a bit of a Forza and Forza Horizon dynamic. We’ll see! For now, there’s just a short teaser.


When’s the last time there was a good Marvel game? Maybe one of the Lego titles? Point being: Marvel may have taken over Netflix and movie theaters, but its video games have been either bad or nonexistent since the PS2 era.

That might change, though. This week Square announced a partnership with Marvel, with both Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal apparently working on an Avengers game. Let’s hope it’s as interesting and innovative as Spider-Man 2 was at the time.

A trailer for every star in the galaxy

BioWare’s certainly making up for the fact we had no Mass Effect news for months and months and months. This week? Two trailers, one cinematic (below) and another focusing on the crew.


When’s the last time Quake was the focus of QuakeCon? Been a while, eh?

But with Bethesda announcing Quake Champions at E3 2016, it’s safe to say it’ll take center stage at this year’s QuakeCon. If that piques your interest, Bethesda announced it’ll return to Dallas from August 24 to 27. And hey, it’s free so…

Pray for release

The star of QuakeCon 2016 will probably not make another appearance this year though, considering it releases on May 5. That’s Prey of course, which nabbed an official release date.

Ni No Kuni on PC

The original Ni No Kuni and its painterly art style may be forever stuck on the PS3, but its sequel is making moves. Bandai Namco announced this week that Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom will be coming to the PC day-and-date with the PS4.

Lamentations of the players

Conan Exiles hits Early Access next week, and if you’re curious what to expect then here’s a trailer featuring a crucifixion, a burly man, and a sabertooth with a scorpion tail.

Thimbleweed Park

This post is reaching its trailer capacity, but I somehow missed a Thimbleweed Park trailer last week so I’m going to rectify that now because, well, the game looks great. This one centers on Ransome, the swear-filled clown.

Building Pillars

Pillars of Eternity II launched a Fig campaign just yesterday and it’s already blown past its $1.1 million goal. Excellent. If you’re curious what goes into game development though, you might be interested in watching The Road to Eternity, the documentary that chronicled development of the first Pillars of Eternity (originally for backers only). Set aside an hour and a half this weekend and watch.

That’s no moon, it’s a roller coaster

Planet Coaster’s been out for a bit and we’re starting to see some really impressive projects—like “Death Star Strike,” a Star Wars-themed coaster replete with a Millenium Falcon, X-Wings, TIE Fighters, and the trench run from A New Hope. Created by Chuck Maurice and Co., the coaster apparently took over 100 hours of work and all I can say is “Wow.” (Via Rock Paper Shotgun)


Gears of War 4 adds multiplayer crossplay for Windows 10, Xbox One gamers

gears of war 4

Microsoft’s ambitious Play Anywhere initiative, which lets PC and Xbox gamers game together, made unexpected strides on Friday, when it was announced that Gears of War 4’s crossplay will expand beyond cooperative mode to include multiplayer competition.

The feature, however, will be limited to Social Quickplay, rather than competitive ranked matches, Microsoft said. So your dreams of a “Super Bowl” of GoW play between the best PC and Xbox players will have to wait.

Interestingly, when Microsoft tested GoW4’s expanded crossplay features at the end of 2016, participation heavily favored the Xbox One. Of the 115,000 players that took part in the test weekend, there was a whopping 91-9 percentage split between the Xbox One and the Windows 10 platform. Over 750,000 matches were played.

To the question of which platform came out on top, Microsoft said the two sides were pretty even: Windows 10 and Xbox players had “closely matched results” when comparing their average kills and deaths, score, and kills per match. Nevertheless, Microsoft said the game’s Core and Competitive rankings will remain separated: Xbox players will only play Windows players, for example, to maintain parity.

“When we looked at the extensive data we received, thanks to the incredible participation from our community, there was a clear message—it works,” the company said in a blog post.

Why this matters: When played with a decent community of polite, competitive opponents, multiplayer gaming can be awesome. Crossplay simply opens up this experience to a larger number of potential players. For its part, Microsoft is really trying to establish Windows and the Xbox as one happy, collective ecosystem, and crossplay is a big part of that.


The 14 PC games we can’t wait to play in 2017

This week in games: Battlefield adds the French, Overwatch teases 2017, and Crytek’s in trouble

Battlefield 1 - They Shall Not Pass

The Steam Winter Sale is up. The GOG.com Goodbuy Sale is up. The non-denominational socks are hung by the chimney. And me? I’m on vacation.

But before we get out of here, turn off the lights and lock the doors until CES kicks off in January, I might as well wrap up the week’s news one more time—just to send 2016 on its way. It’s actually been fairly busy! Beamdog’s teasing a new game in the works, Crypt of the Necrodancer is getting an expansion, Overwatch is already prepping for 2017, Battlefield 1 is finally bringing the French to World War I, and more. This is gaming news for December 19 through the 23.

Be sure to check back here next week—we’ll have our annual Game of the Year list, our twice-annual Games You Might’ve Missed list, and a preview of what’s to come in 2017.

Over-Watch out

With Ana and the long-teased Sombra already released, it’s time for Overwatch to start prepping the next batch of post-release content. If you want to get a peek behind the curtain, you can watch this new update video, “Year in Review”—which also, for the record, deals quite a bit with the year to come. Multiple heroes, new maps, and a server browser are all discussed, though none in much detail.

Vive la France

The weirdest decision in Battlefield 1: Absolutely zero focus on the French at launch. That’s a bit inexcusable, for a war where most of the major battles were fought in the French countryside by French soldiers.

But everyone surmised DICE must be holding onto those battles for post-launch content, and sure enough we got a first look at the “They Shall Not Pass” expansion this week. Releasing in March, DICE says it’ll bring “new maps, new weapons, and the new playable French Army faction.” Included in those maps? It sounds like multiple battles from the nine-month Verdun campaign and at least one from the later Battle of Soissons. There’s only concept art for now, but expect to hear more soon.

Battlefield 1 - They Shall Not Pass

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Battlefield 1

Death is strange

Work continues apace on Vampyr, Dontnod’s supernatural adventure game thing that looks absolutely nothing at all like Life is Strange. The latest evidence comes by way of IGN, who showed off a new trailer with some story info (and not much else). I don’t know. It still looks weird.

Could it be?

Beamdog’s looking for beta testers. For what? No one knows. Well, at least nobody outside of Beamdog knows. “We are not ready to announce the title of this game just yet,” says the official forum post—which means you should definitely start spreading rumors about Baldur’s Gate 3. Anyway, you can sign up to be a tester, provided you’re willing to abide by the NDA and all that.

But seriously: Baldur’s Gate 3. Or a Planescape: Torment remaster. I’d take that too.


Pokémon Go for Apple Watch is finally here

pokemon go apple watch

Your Apple Watch can now help you try to “catch ’em all.”

On Thursday, Pokémon Go for Apple Watch (free) was finally released into the wild. A companion to the popular mobile game, this watchOS app will send players notifications about nearby Pokémon and track your distance towards hatching Pokémon eggs and receiving candy for your Buddy Pokémon.

Pokémon Go for Apple Watch was first announced during Apple’s September event to much fanfare. As the year’s coming to a close, there was some speculation that the watchOS app wouldn’t be available before the holidays as originally promised.

Pokémon Go for Apple Watch will also send players notifications when a PokéStop is nearby, as well as let them know when their eggs have hatched or when they’ve been awarded a medal.

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The watchOS app also highlights the game’s fitness component. Each Pokémon Go play session will be logged as a workout, so your gameplay will count towards fulfilling your personal Activity rings for the day. So now, Pokémon Go can help you achieve your New Year’s fitness resolution.

One thing you can’t do on Pokémon Go for Apple Watch, however, is actually catch Pokémon. You will still need to pull up your iPhone for that. If this new Watch integration is making you curious to try the game for the very first time, check out our beginner’s guide to Pokémon Go.

Why this matters: The creators of Pokémon Go have already proven their interest in the wearables realm. Earlier this year, they ventured into it with the launch of Pokémon Go Plus, a $35 device that lights up and vibrates when Pokémon are nearby. But this device looks like it was designed for kids.

Pokémon Go and Apple Watch, on the other hand, are a perfect match. The watchOS companion app liberates players from having to be glued to their iPhones for most of the gameplay, while helping avoid running into traffic. Meanwhile, the debut of Pokémon Go could signal the Apple Watch becoming more indispensable in the realm of fitness, gaming, and augmented reality.


12 great PC games holding festive holiday events

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Get jolly

Elves and flying creatures aren’t anything special in digital worlds, but that doesn’t mean your favorite PC game can’t get into the spirit of the season. These games are decking the halls, letting it snow, and even reviving Home Alone for the holiday 2016 season—and many of them are handing out unique in-game gifts for folks who join in on the festivities.

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This week in games: Battlefield 1 gets a Grenade Crossbow and someone builds an Atari 2600 in Minecraft

Atari 2600 in Minecraft

That’s it. We’re done. Dead Rising 4 released this week, and that’s (as far as I can remember) the last big tentpole of 2016. Time for everyone to pick out their Game of the Year lists and settle in for a nice winter’s nap—and maybe a chance to catch up on your backlog, finally.

There’s still news though, mostly of the “Prepare for 2017” variety. This week Battlefield 1 adds a Grenade Crossbow, Fallout gets the pinball treatment, someone builds an Atari 2600 in Minecraft, and Sean Bean finds out he died in the Civilization VI trailer. Apparently nobody told him.

This is gaming news for December 5 through 9.

’Historically Accurate’

Before the onslaught of paid Battlefield 1 DLC starts flooding out, DICE is giving away a map to everyone for free. Starting December 20 (or December 13 if you preordered), you’ll be able to play Giant’s Shadow, which looks like it takes place next to a crashed zeppelin.

More importantly: It adds a Grenade Crossbow to your arsenal.

Italy, 1943

Speaking of “historically accurate” video games, Sniper Elite 4 released a new story-centric trailer this week. If you’ve been wondering just where in the world you’ll be shooting Nazi testicles this time around, boy howdy, this trailer will fill you in. (Spoiler: It’s Italy.)

Shamelessly reusing that Battlebored joke

Despite seemingly nobody on the planet being especially interested, Gearbox really wants to make Battleborn a thing. To that end, Gearbox is switching up some of the game’s core systems next week for the Winter Update—making all 25 characters unlock from the get-go, retooling the story mode to be a more directed experience, changing the interface, and more.

But seriously, that free-to-play update has to be coming soon, right? Right?

One bottle cap per play

Fallout, Skyrim, and Doom…pinball. If that idea gets your blood pumping, then it’s time you look into Pinball FX2’s latest set of tables, all based on Bethesda’s games. Me? I’m not really one for virtual pinball, but this seems pretty great.

A pirate’s life

Rare’s new game Sea of Thieves was one of my favorite experiences at E3 2016—drinking grog, shooting off cannons, playing a jig as our ship went off to war, and generally having no idea what we were doing. Some excellent news, then: The game is gearing up for its first public test phase soon. Stock up on rum.

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Dangerous to go alone

Runic, the folks behind Torchlight, have a new game coming soon—a Zelda-style adventure called Hob, and it’s one of the games I’m anticipating most in 2017. There’s been some footage in the past, but this 24-minute demo is easily the most revealing look at the game so far. I highly recommend taking a look.

More Wang

If you need more Shadow Warrior 2 in your life, Flying Wild Hog’s ready to deliver. This week the developer launched its first free update, “The Way of the Wang.” Get slicing and dicing.

But does it play E.T.?

I thought I was long past the point of reporting on “Someone built something in Minecraft.” Those stories were done to death years ago, and like, we get it. You can build things.

But then someone went ahead and built a working Atari 2600 emulator inside Minecraft. That’s a bit different. YouTube’s SethBling created the emulator using 2,000 command blocks, without the use of any mods. The only problem? Well, it only outputs at 15 frames per hour—about the same as an Xbox One, or so I’ve heard.

Though our paths may differ…

Apparently nobody told Sean Bean he died in the Civilization VI launch trailer/opening cinematic. I hope someone at least told him, “Congrats, you did one hell of a job.”

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