The best PC games of E3 2015
Another year, another E3 gone by. Between the conference’s first-ever dedicated PC event and the slew of newly revealed PC games hiding among the console announcements at Day Zero’s massive showcases, this was easily one of the most exciting E3s for PC gaming fans ever.
Forget Xbox. PlayStation? Pfah. PC gaming is the real cutting-edge of gaming, and here at PCWorld we covered more than fifty titles prepared to grace computer screens. Even crazier, that wasn’t even all of them. Heck, AMD even announced its new flagship Radeon Fury X graphics card at E3 this year.
In such a swelling sea of games, it’s good to highlight a chosen few that stood out from the rest. These are the PC games that got us personally excited at E3 2015, in no particular order. What were your favorites? Drop a line in the comments.
The game the world’s been begging for finally made its debut at E3 2015, complete with a launch date: November 10.
Honestly, “Fallout 3 in Boston” alone would’ve sold me, but Fallout 4 ups the ante with extensive new weapons and armor modification systems, as well as the ability to build new settlements in Sims-like fashion using materials you’ve salvaged from the wastes. Settlers and traders even show up once your ad-hoc home’s established—though raiders do too, so you’ll need to build defenses. Sounds like it’ll play right into the obsessive tendencies of hardcore Fallout players.
Other cool tidbits: The game starts pre-war before shifting to post-apocalypse. Why? Bethesda ain’t telling. And the Collector’s Edition comes with a real-life working Pip Boy you can slot your phone into and use as a second screen. I’m against preordering in general, but that just sounds cool. -Brad
Master of Orion
Master of Orion is one of the most legendary 4X games of all time, even twenty years after release. With a host of memorable alien races, an epic space opera feel, and perfectly tuned mechanics, it's a genre classic for a reason.
Wargaming's remake/reboot/sequel is looking pretty great, with some fantastic art and voicework. Fingers crossed it turns out as good as the original. -Hayden
Ghost Recon Wildlands
Ghost Recon Wildlands sounds right up my alley. In it, you and three pals tool around a massive digital recreation of Bolivia as the namesake Ghosts, hunting down drug lords and disrupting narcotics operations with extreme prejudice. How you approach each mission is up to you: Stealth? Sniping? Straight-up guns blazing? Have at it.
But what’s really exciting is that Ghost Recon Wildlands promises to drop you in this dangerous open world with no formal structure whatsoever. There’s no script, no linear missions. This world is your oyster—and we just begged for open world games to dump forced narratives in our review of the superb Witcher 3. We’re excited to see if Wildlands truly lives up to its promises. -Brad
Sword Coast Legends
Sword Coast Legends was my favorite demo at GDC, and it retains the title at E3. To see that Wizards of the Coast is putting out an official Dungeons and Dragons isometric CRPG—reminiscent of the Infinity Engine days—and it's empowering creative types to play Dungeon Master with custom campaigns, custom dungeons, and custom quests? Basically an updated, polished, and more accessible version of Neverwinter Nights?
I think I'm going to spend a lot of time with this one. -Hayden
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Adam Jensen’s back in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. The brief gameplay footage revealed at E3 didn’t reveal much—though one augmentation covered Jensen in a hard, geometric black exoskeleton, which was cool.
But the Deus Ex series’ true strength has always been in its freedom, flexibility, and lore, and Mankind Divided sounds like it’ll deliver in spades. Eidos Montreal is making it less linear than Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and promises that the game’s events will respond to your choices and actions far more, returning to the series’ old-school roots. (Legendary protip: You don’t have to jump out the window when the MIB come for Paul in the original circa-2000 game.) And the “mechanical apartheid” that normal folks are inflicting on cyber-augmented individuals in Mankind Divided sure sounds like a juicy setting for a game that stars a cyber-augmented individual.
And one more thing: You won’t have to kill the bosses in Mankind Divided like you were initially forced to in Human Revolution. You’re welcome, pacifist players. -Brad
Sierra is back. Okay, maybe in name only—but still. This King's Quest remake is shaping up beautifully. With hand-painted art (the team is literally printing 3D meshes, painting them with watercolors, and then scanning them back in) and a voice cast that comprises everyone from Christopher Lloyd to Wallace Shawn, there's a lot of talent (and money, presumably) being poured into this adventure game.
My favorite part? The game is set up like Big Fish, with a grandfather telling his granddaughter a story. This allows for all sorts of unreliable narrator hilarity, a la Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. I laughed harder at this game than any other title at E3. -Hayden
Pillars of Eternity: The White March expansion
Let’s not mince words: Pillars of Eternity blew us away. This massive, sprawling, story-spewing masterpiece is the Baldur’s Gate sequel CRPG fans have awaited for over a decade. But it isn’t constrained by its legacy: Pillars of Eternity tossed tedious gameplay elements out the window (like THAC0) to streamline the gameplay experience and focus squarely on the game’s sweet, sweet story.
And Pillars of Eternity’s The White March expansion will give us even more: more characters. More abilities. More story. More Pillars of Eternity.* If that’s not enough to get excited about, I don’t know what is. Hopefully we’ll have more to tell you about this soon. -Brad
*Oh, and a higher-level cap too. But that doesn’t start with “more.”
Need for Speed
Regardless of whether EA gets to use the questionable term "reboot" to describe its new Need for Speed game, I am psyched. Taking us back to the Fast & Furious-esque street racing that made Need for Speed famous seems like the perfect change of pace for a series that's grow steadily more bland and unsure of itself in recent years. -Hayden
Shadow Warrior 2
Every time I see a Shadow Warrior demo, I know there will be jokes about...ahem, male genitalia. And every time, I laugh anyways.
The recent Shadow Warrior reboot was a surprise hit for me, with excellent shooting and swordplay backed up by a hilarious script. Hearing that Flying Wild Hog is working on another one? And that the levels are more open and exploration-heavy? And there's four-player co-op? Wangtastic. -Hayden
Five years after its release, Frictional Games’ Amnesia: The Dark Descent is still one of the most terrifying PC games ever created—and you’ll want to play its Penumbra with the lights on, too.
Frictional’s forthcoming Soma looks poised to pick up the torch, dropping players into a horrific sci-fi world where machines act like men and “alien constructions have started to interfere with routine.” Really, it’s an excuse to run around in dark, spooky places scared out your wits while evil… things hunt you down. Check out this long gameplay trailer released just before E3 to get a feel for Soma. -Brad
HONORABLE MENTION: Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5
Okay, for some inexplicable reason this isn't a PC title, which is a criminal offense. (And lands it in the honorable mention category.)
The new Tony Hawk is the first to grab my attention in almost a decade, though. The name is indicative of the philosophy behind this game—taking it back to its arcade-esque roots, with insane tricks and a killer soundtrack.
I played a bit of this one, and with levels like "School III" and one that's a cross between the classic Warehouse and Hangar levels, it’s certainly reminiscent of the old-school PlayStation One-era Tony Hawk games we all know and are nostalgic for. -Hayden
HONORABLE MENTION: Rock Band 4
Of course, Rock Band 4 also isn't coming to PC—which isn't too surprising, considering it's definitely a title oriented exclusively toward the living room.
But it's my favorite game of the show, nevertheless. I wanted more Rock Band. I'm getting more Rock Band. That's all there is to it. -Hayden
HONORABLE MENTION: Mass Effect Andromeda
Okay, okay, there isn’t much to go on here. The Mass Effect Andromeda trailer EA showed at its event was incredibly brief and didn’t really reveal much beyond “we’re working on it.” There were no show floor demos, no details. That relegates this to honorable mention status.
But still. A new Mass Effect! Confession time: I burned through five Xbox 360s due to various defects over the years. After the first three, I swore to never buy another. But two games made me break that promise: Mass Effect 2, and years later, Mass Effect 3. You know the ME3 ending that everyone hated? I cried like a baby.
So yeah, these are the games that got us excited at E3, and well, Mass Effect Andromeda got me pretty damned excited personally, even if it is just a useless teaser trailer today. -Brad