For the PC user, watching E3 is kind of like being at a delicious buffet. Almost everything is available to sample right away, and the few sections that are gated off for VIP diners will probably open up for us next year. What’s this over on the Xbox One table? Oh look, it’s a bowl of last year’s special zombie-flavoured Dead Rising 3. Ahh, hello GTA 5, your graphics are looking tastier than ever after that time away.
Nintendo’s spread is pretty much the only selection of dishes that the PC user is permanently restricted from. If you want to dip in to a little Mario Mignon or some fresh Zelda, you’ll need special utensils: namely a Wii U. No getting around that.
Everywhere else you look though, there are things for PC players to tuck into and enjoy.
Okay, I’m now officially ending the buffet metaphor. It’s getting out of hand because I was writing this bit before lunch. Let’s move on.
Xbox recently put out a list of “Exclusive Blockbuster Games” due out by the end of this year. It has nine titles listed on it, but half of them are either already confirmed, or heavily rumoured, for the PC. Most of the rest are Kinect music games. In short, the vast majority of items shown at Microsoft’s press event will sooner or later be coming our way. Sure, we’ll have to wait a little bit longer than Xbox One owners to play things like Limbo follow-up Inside, but it’s not like there’ll be a shortage of games to entertain us in the meantime.
You could point to titles like Sunset Overdrive or Fable Legends as hold-outs, but the latter series already has two of its four games on PC (with an HD reissue of the first one coming in due course,) so I’d not be shocked to see that heading to our platform. Even Halo isn’t safe from fairly persistent “PC version is in the works” rumours these days.
Consider some of the major titles that appeared not to be coming to the PC back at E3 2013: GTA 5, The Division, Destiny and Metal Gear Solid 5. Two of those are now confirmed PC projects, and Kojima has all-but said MGS 5 will get a PC release. Bungie remain demure about Destiny, but I still consider that a strong candidate for a late PC version once the hype has eased off.
Every time a smarmy executive got up on the E3 2014 stage to twist his words into semantic shapes like “coming first to …” or “exclusive to the XYZ console,” my heart smiled. All of those things meant tacit confirmation of another PC game.
There was a legitimate scare during Sony’s conference where it seemed, for ten minutes or so, as if classic PC adventure title Grim Fandango would genuinely only be coming to PS4 and Vita. But DoubleFine’s Tim Schafer was pretty quick to type some reassuring things on twitter about word of “other platforms” and confirming that Sony only had exclusivity “on consoles.” Crisis averted.
More so than Microsoft, Sony has a couple of titles that the PC is genuinely the poorer for missing out on. It happens. We can’t have absolutely everything. At least not until 2040 when the inevitable open source PS4 emulator is powerful enough. That’d be quite a while to wait for FromSoft’s Bloodborne, which thanks to Sony Japan’s involvement (as with Demon’s Souls) means a PC version is borderline impossible. I don’t see any of Naughty Dog’s work making the jump, either. Which is a shame.
But rather than getting all depressed about the scattering of games we can’t play and soothing the pain with the virtual food from more buffet metaphors, us PC owners should be out there celebrating our own exclusives.
They don’t get widely reported as such because the PC has less of a need to try to differentiate itself from a near-identical competitor, but games like Civilization: Beyond Earth, Elite: Dangerous and Obsidian RPG Pillars of Eternity will only be available in one place. Then there are the thirty thousand indie titles that IncGamers gets offers to look at almost every single day. Not all of them are like Shannon Tweed’s Attack of the Groupies, you know. Some of them are racing versions of Secret of the Magic Crystals.
Who would play Forza when that exists? Only a fool. A mad, buffet-eschewing fool.
Meanwhile, in an era when console developers are taking an unusual interest in factors like frame-rate and resolution, it’s worth remembering that the cross-platform games will all look their best on PC. You need the pre-requisite horsepower to make that happen, but it tends to be less expensive than you’d think to squeeze better-than-“next gen” graphics out of a desktop. And in the long run you’ll be saving money in heavily discounted game purchases.
E3 2014 featured fewer true console “exclusives” than ever (caveat: Nintendo,) and gave PC owners more than enough to consider for the coming year or two. All told, I counted more than 50 different PC titles across the four Microsoft, Sony, EA and Ubisoft conferences. Far more games have been announced and discussed outside of those events. More still won’t even have bothered showing up at E3.
Any time is a good time to jump into PC gaming, but right now it seems easier, cheaper and replete with more choice than ever before. Come join us here. The backlog feels lovely.