During this drought of AAA titles in the video game world I have been going through my Steam library and playing games that I did not get a chance to play last year, Dishonored being the number one time sponge. I have also been sinking hours into Path of Exile, which, even though it is free to play, is a blast. I am anticipating Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) and Titanfall, both for the PC, and at this point my anticipation is beginning to take its toll. My want for these games was satiated by getting the opportunity to play betas for both games and, luckily, I have a PC that can handle these games with ease and ultra settings.
My PC is not the most beastly of PC's out there, but it does the job and makes games look great. I am running an AMD FX-8350 with a mild overclock to 4.5ghz which sits snugly in the ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 motherboard. The GPU that I currently have is a Sapphire HD7950 Vapor-X Edition with a mild overclock and it is one good-looking card. I house all of this in a Cooler Master HAF 912 that I modded over the summer of 2012, adding a side window and painting the inside white. Please, do not close the screen out of envy, I am not bragging about how awesome my PC is, I am humbled daily by the PC's that I spy online; I am here to help. I simply want to give you an idea of the system that I was running the betas on. Before we get to the builds I have some brief snippets of my time spent with ESO and Titanfall that will hopefully fuel your excitement as they did mine.
I participated in three closed betas for ESO and, I must say, it is a great Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game or MMORPG for short. My time spent with it was addicting and fun. I am not allowed to go into serious detail about the game, especially after giving my digital signature to Zenimax Studios on about 15 different agreements, so I must keep tight-lipped here. What I can say, for a fact, is that the game is beautiful; the world is vast and the terrain lush. I spent a lot of time exploring the hills, caves, and shores of Tamriel, while fighting anything that moved. The world flowed from one area to another seamlessly and the environments were diverse with great attention to detail that really pulled me in and heightened my immersion. The spell animations looked brilliant along with the finely detailed characters, which pulled me further into the game. I wanted to keep trekking through the world seeking more adventure, more experience, and more fun. I cannot wait to get a group of friends together to do some spelunking, as I called it in Skyrim when I would just go for clearing caves, and work as a team to decimate hoards of enemies. Addiction to ESO is in my near future.
However, I am not solely about MMO's. I have strong roots within FPS (First Person Shooter) games and Titanfall is refreshing for a fairly stagnant genre. Having spent a couple days playing the beta, I can say that the action is fast, the titans awesome, and the guns pack a punch. The level design is incredible and full of buildings to climb, rubble to jump, and windows to peek through. Even though there were only two maps available within the beta I can imagine that the other maps will be just as amazing. I stuck with playing the game mode “Attrition”, which is a basic team versus team death match, but there are some twists added to the structure. For starters, the Titans add a whole other dimension to the battlefield and it’s a big dimension at that.
Let me paint a picture with my words for you: I am running on a wall, which leads me up to a roof. As I run across the rooftop I cannot miss the Titan looming ahead. I hope that it will not spot me as I duck behind cover. Then, I cloak, double jump to the next roof, switch to my anti-titan weapon and fire a rocket, mid air, while the cloak dispels and I am landing on the next roof. The Titan turns, following the trail of rocket smoke and spots me. Immediately the Titan begins firing a barrage of bullets in my direction. As bullets fly by me and I take some damage I jump down to the ground level and take off running through buildings while a hail of rockets explode behind me. My Titan is ready to fall. I hit the right button and it comes rocketing down from the sky with a glorious thud, I slide between its legs and swoop up into the cockpit. The doors close and the screens flicker to life. I head back for vengeance with the same ease of movement that I enjoyed as a Pilot. I get my vengeance with child-like glee.
I was absolutely surprised with how well the game handles. Moving about the map with your Pilot is fluid and does not feel clunky, ever. Even the Titans movement felt uninhibited while you move between buildings and battle other Titans in fairly tight quarters. The free running aspect of the game adds a freedom of movement to the FPS genre and I cannot wait to get my hands on the full game to see what more the team at Respawn Entertainment has in store for us.
So, you are anticipating those games along with myself, but you look at your dusty old PC with disdain. Then, you look at your budget and cry out in pain. Your PC needs to be upgraded but the wallet, or, more reasonable significant other, will not allow it. I understand wholeheartedly. It is torment when your PC will not perform well enough for new games and this is one of the reasons that many people say, “consoles are better,” I get it. I was a PC gamer before I got a console, but then, the rise of the consoles swallowed me and I stopped gaming on the PC for a long time. With my Xbox 360 becoming a relic, I decided to build a gaming PC and it was a good decision.
My PC laughs in the faces of consoles and that includes the “new” generation of consoles. Now, I am not saying that consoles are not awesome, they are. I will someday own a PS4 and Xbox One, blasphemy I know, but a true gamer is not bias. My current PC has better graphics than the new consoles and it runs all games at 1080p and 60FPS (Frames Per Second), which is something that the new consoles have not been able to achieve. Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 achieve 1080p in some cases, but most games are running at 720p-900p with a max of 30FPS right now. I really hope they figure out how to push these machines. My PC is not even considered “top of the line” at this point and it makes them look like old consoles.
After talking about how awesome those two games are going to look on PC I felt the need to offer up some solutions to your PC woes, if you have them. I put together three builds that range in price for anyone interested in upgrading to a new PC or building their first gaming PC. These builds are just suggestions that will give you an idea of which direction to go within specific price ranges. I will start with the budget build and work my way up to the more expensive build. Also, one last thing before the builds: I did not include the Operating System (OS) into the builds because there are free OS's in the form of Linux versions and the new SteamOS coming out. If you want to add Windows, either 7 or 8.1(for the love, don't bother with 8), just add about $100 to the price. A lot of times students can get discounts on Windows, but I am not writing about OS's, just the hardware.