23 PC gaming gems hidden among the consoles at E3 2014

There were a ton of PC games on display at E3 2014's press day, if you realized that the "exclusive" in "Xbox exclusive" or "PlayStation exclusive" doesn't apply to PC games.

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PC games galore, if you peer behind the curtain.

As usual, E3's big "day zero"—the gamut of press conferences held the day before the E3 show floor officially opens up—were consumed by talks about Xbox One this, PlayStation 4 that, and console exclusives.

But while the spotlight focused on the living room, many of the titles strutted out at Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, and EA's events are destined to land on PCs, too. From Battlefield to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to the Sims 4, here's a glimpse at the multitude of blockbusters headed to PCs in the months to come.

And remember: This is just the tip of the E3 iceberg. Stay tuned all week for games, games, and more games.

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Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege

There hasn’t been a Rainbow Six game since Vegas 2, back in 2008. That’s a mighty long time to wait, for fans of tactical shooters.

The time off seems to have done a world of good. Rainbow Six: Siege, unveiled at the Ubisoft conference Monday, looks like it takes full advantage of its next-gen status. Not only does the game look more tactical than its predecessors, but it looks like you have more options than ever before, thanks to fully destructible environments.

In the demo we saw a team blow a hole in the floor and drop through it into the room below, liberating a hostage. Hey Keanu: Who needs to shoot the hostage when you can just blow a hole in the floor and rain death from above?

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Sims 4 by EA

Yes, the Sims are coming back, and the gibberish-spouting souls are just as zany as ever. How zany? In the gameplay demo previewed at EA’s press conference, one Sim laughed so hard that he died. Now that’s zany—and also an encouraging sign to the types of players who, say, command their Sims into a pool, then remove the exit ladders, laughing all the while. Not, uh, that we play like that.

In any case, the Sims now have “heart,” and emotions play a big role in the game. You can tailor your Sim's personality when the game launches on September 2, on—gasp!—the PC and the PC alone.

Batman: Arkham Knight

Batman: Arkham Knight

I don't know if you've heard, but Rocksteady is making another Batman game. And this time you can drive the Batmobile.

I'm a bit burned out on the series in a post-Arkham Origins world, but Rocksteady's Gotham City looks undoubtedly impressive. Assuming this was in-game footage captured on a PS4 and not simply technical wizardry, Arkham Knight is looking really solid. Most impressive? The lack of any stuttering or frame drops as Gotham's least-favorite protector soared around the city.

Plus there was a great moment during Sony's demo when Scarecrow caused the presentation to "glitch." So that was cool. The PS4 will receive exclusive Scarecrow content.

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Battlefield: Hardline by Visceral Games/EA

Sure, you could call Hardline the Battlefield version of cops vs. robbers…actually, scratch that. You should call Battlefield: Hardline the Battlefield version of cops vs. robbers, because that’s exactly what it is.

A frenetic gameplay demo during EA’s press event introduced us to the game via its Heist mode, in which a large team of criminals hijack loot from a security van, then must somehow get that loot to a waiting getaway chopper. Standing in the way, of course, is an army of similarly player-controlled police.

The 32-player demo definitely felt more militaristic than your standard heist movie, complete with exploding buildings and tumbling, tower-high cranes, but it sure looked like a blast. Even crazier, you can sign up for the beta right now.

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt by CD Projekt RED

Unfortunately in order to get airtime during E3, CD Projekt had to stoop to showing its gorgeous Witcher 3 RPG on the Xbox One. Oh well—I’m just happy we get to see The Witcher 3 at all.

CD Projekt has transformed The Witcher’s grim-dark universe into an open-world game with this third installment. Monday’s demo showed long-time protagonist Geralt tracking a griffin through the world after he wounded it. Along the way we got glimpses of what an open world brings to proceedings: For instance, he stumbled onto a secondary event where a ragtag group of bandits threatened a woman, prompting Geralt to commit a bunch of murders.

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Assassin's Creed Unity by Ubisoft

For the seventh year in a row, Assassin’s Creed. Unity takes the series to the French Revolution, and it looks...well, like Assassin’s Creed. In fact, it looks even more like a traditional Assassin’s Creed game than last year’s pirate-themed entry. Run up buildings, jump off buildings, stab people—it’s all here, in full next-gen glory.

The most notable change is the addition of four-player co-op, though the press conference demo also showed noticeable improvements in both animation and crowd sizes. It looks interesting, though I’m sure you’ve decided by now whether you’re onboard for another Assassin’s Creed or not.

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No Man's Sky by Hello Games

After No Man's Sky showed off its procedurally-generated space vistas and full-blown worlds earlier this year, there were many that said it couldn't be done. And maybe it can't. We still haven't seen much of the game, nor gotten our hands on it.

But Monday's trailer made me a believer. After exiting a cave and emerging onto a field full of wildlife, the pilot jumped into his ship and zoomed out into space. Joined by a whole fleet of other ships, they flew right through a dogfight before entering the atmosphere of yet another planet, Soleth Prime. Whoa. How ambitious is this game? Every single player will start on a different planet, so no two games are alike. It's launching as a "console exclusive" on the PS4... meaning it's also coming to the PC.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition by Bioware/EA

Dragon Age: Inquisition was a centerpiece of EA’s E3 2014 keynote, just like it was at EA’s 2013 keynote. This time around, however, the game's actually getting close to its launch date. EA took the opportunity to show off more info about the game’s tactical combat camera, complete with gratuitous shots of in-game action. Some of the cast received an introduction as well, including brooding mercenary guy, soulful elven ranger, and distant wizard lady.

Don’t let my sarcasm fool you. I am pumped for this ending to the Dragon Age saga to finally hit the streets—theoretically on October 7 of this very year.

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V

After interminable rumors, the wait is finally over. Yes, open-world blockbuster GTA V will make its way to the PC later this year. I'm told that Rockstar probably just said "You're welcome," in regards to the announcement.

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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare by Sledgehammer/Activision

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the Call of Duty you know and ravenously consume year-in and year-out—complete with dramatic in-game scripted events, an unflinchingly bleak look at the horrors of war, and (of course) explosions and gunfire galore—but at the same time, it’s not. That’s because Advanced Warfare ditches the WWII and modern settings of Calls of Duty past in favor of a more futuristic scenario filled with laser weapons and homing grenades, jetpacks in your boots, and mechs. Yes, mechs. In Call of Duty.

Sure, Titanfall and others have done the sci-fi thing before, but it’s exciting to see COD take a stab at the future of war.

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Tom Clancy's The Division by Ubisoft

The Division is another game that also starred at last year’s E3, when it wowed us with a cool post-pandemic vibe, complete with scrounging for goodies, less-than-pleasant bandits, and fierce gun battles for the scraps of what’s left of humanity.

“Squad” is an especially apt description for The Division’s gameplay, since you step into the role of a government agent working for a secret division (har, har) designed to restore order if all hell breaks loose. And all hell indeed broke lose in Ubisoft’s latest E3 gameplay demo, which showcased the game’s fluid, yet tactical combat in a battle against a group of well-armed thugs. A trailer chronicling the downfall of the U.S. to The Division’s killer virus was also released.

Mortal Kombat X

Mortal Kombat X

Last Monday we saw a CG trailer for upcoming fighter Mortal Kombat X. This Monday we got our first look at gameplay footage, as Sony broke it out during the press conference. It looks...brutal. I mean, Scorpion threw a fireball through Sub Zero's chest and all that was left was Sub Zero's beating heart. That kind of brutal.

But if you're down for ultra-violent fighting, the last entry was (surprisingly) solid, and this one looks just as promising.

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Far Cry 4 by Ubisoft

Ubisoft didn’t show much beyond what was revealed about Far Cry 4 last week, but it did show off the game’s introduction trailer. And the game’s intro makes one thing very, very clear: The blond-coiffed baddie of Far Cry 4 is one powerful, sadistic dictator—one that hates getting blood on his shoes. Later in the evening, Ubisoft gave a Far Cry gameplay demo at Sony's press conference, complete with frantic open-world gunplay, rampaging elephants, and on-the-fly cooperative multiplayer. Yes.

Look for Far Cry to head to the Himalayas this fall.

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Star Wars: Battlefront by DICE LA/EA

There hasn’t been an installment of Star Wars Battlefront, the Battlefield-inspired Star Wars game, since the original Xbox’s Battlefront 2 way back in 2005. There’ve been rumors, leaks, cancellations—a proper sequel has been a long time coming, and fans have been taken on a rollercoaster of emotions.

No longer. EA teased Battlefront at last year’s E3 conference, and this year we got a brief behind-the-scenes look at the game. Hoth, Endor—they’re in here. If we can get a Battlefront game of the size and scale of Battlefield? A Hoth on par with the films? 64 players? Use the force, DICE LA.

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Valiant Hearts: The Great War by Ubisoft

Valiant Hearts: The Great War sees Ubisoft dipping back into its UbiArt Framework, the painterly engine behind Child of Light and the recent Rayman games, for a game about World War I. And a dog.

We don’t have many details about Valiant Hearts yet—only that the game was inspired by letters sent by soldiers during the Great War and takes on “four intertwined stories.” Check out the trailer here. Keep some onions nearby. You'll need something to blame your sobbing on.

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The Crew by Ubisoft

The Crew, Ubisoft’s open-world driving game, brags that you can race from Miami to Los Angeles without hitting a loading screen. Big words. Of course, what the scale of that United States entails, that’s a different story. In Grand Theft Auto V I could drive across Los Angeles in a few minutes. Judging by the LA traffic I sat in yesterday, that’s not the case in real life.

Ubisoft did say that certain missions will take two hours to complete, which by video game standards is pretty damn long. We’ll know more when the game hits public beta in July, prior to its November release date.

Dead Island 2

Dead Island 2

Not to be outdone by Dead Rising 3, Sony showed off its own silly zombie game during Monday's press conference: Dead Island 2. Unlike the original Dead Island's infamous melancholy trailer, Monday's had a jaunty soundtrack blasting in the background. A typical all-American jogger turned into a zombie before our very eyes, before being run over by what looked like a weaponized taco truck.

It looks crazy. It looks silly. It looks (hopefully) more tonally consistent than the last two Dead Islands.

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Mirror's Edge 2 by EA

After debuting in trailer form at E3 2013 (are you starting to notice a trend here?), we got a brief glimpse of Mirror’s Edge 2 gameplay at EA’s press event. The action shown was labeled “Conceptual prototype” and was obviously staged to show off the various ways protagonist Faith can use the environment to her advantage during combat—wall running, getting the jump on baddies, et cetera.

One other interesting tidbit: Mirror’s Edge 2 levels will have multiple paths to accommodate varying skill levels. There’s still no word on a potential release date, though. Don’t expect to see Faith freerunning around your PC this year.

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Mass Effect 4 by Bioware/EA

As one of the handful of “conceptual prototypes” showed off at EA’s E3 press event, Bioware didn’t reveal much about Mass Effect 4—this game is super early in development. But they did reveal one giant thing: Mass Effect 4. And while Shepard’s saga in the Mass Effect universe may be over, one of the few bits of concept art show a soldier wearing armor with an N7 logo. My mouth is watering already.

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Evolve by Turtle Rock

Evolve is the new game from the creators of Left 4 Dead, and you might see some similarities up front: You’re a group of four hunters, trying to track and kill a monster. Each hunter has a specific strength. For instance, your trapper can shoot harpoon traps, pinning the monster and preventing it from sprinting away while the rest of the team deals out damage.

The twist, of course, is that the monster is also a human player. It’s four versus one combat, and the monster only gets more powerful as the game continues—throwing rocks, breathing fire, and all-around wreaking havoc.

Monday’s conferences didn’t show off anything new from Evolve—just a brief trailer. However, we got a chance to go hands-on with the game last month, and you can read that report here.

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Project Spark by Microsoft

Microsoft’s ambitious cross-platform world builder didn’t have a major role during the company’s keynote, but a quick trailer revealed two fresh additions to Project Spark’s repertoire: A new environment dubbed “Desert of Death,” and Conker.

Yes, that Conker—the smart-mouthed squirrel from the Nintendo 64 classic Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Fingers crossed for a Great Mighty Poo cameo to go along with it.

Project Spark was designed for Xbox One and Windows PCs alike, with the latter being especially well-suited to actually creating the worlds you’ll get to traverse in-game. Check out our hands-on impressions of Project Spark’s crazy awesome edit-anything gameplay.


Dawngate by EA

A new challenger approaches! The MOBA genre sure is crowded today, and presided over by the gargantuan League of Legends and Dota 2, but that’s not stopping EA from stepping into the multiplayer online battle arena.

Dawngate’s looking to shake things up with a team experienced in the MOBA development and a “break the meta” tagline, which apparently translates into an epic storyline, “bookish” characters, and flexible team strategy action in-game. Take a gander at a basic Dawngate tutorial here, and sign up for the beta on the Dawngate website if you like what you see.

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Grim Fandango?!?!?!

That's it. E3 is over as far as I'm concerned. After 15 years, countless tears, begging, crying, slapping ourselves in penance, Sony announced it's bringing classic adventure game Grim Fandango to the PlayStation 4 and Vita.

It's the first time the game has been available legally for years, and to see it come to the PlayStation 4 is a major coup. We'll have to wait and see whether it's solely a Sony exclusive—I'd like to think the game is coming to PC also. Fingers crossed.

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