PC Gamer
PC Gamer

For a small indie studio that couldn't land a proper publishing deal, inXile Entertainment sure is busy these days. Wasteland 2 has been out for a few months now, but it's hip-deep in the development of the ambitious RPG Torment: Tides of Numenera, and just this past weekend it announced that The Bard's Tale IV is on the way as well. But the studio says that embarking on anothrer new project won't have any impact on what it's already doing.

"As you may remember from Torment's funding, inXile operates on a 1.5 team system, where one team is fully dedicated to our main ongoing project (Torment) and a smaller team is working both on continued support of existing titles (Wasteland 2) and prepping the very early pre-production of our next title," inXile wrote in today's Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter update.

"Just as Torment's preproduction had no impact on Wasteland 2, this project has no influence on Torment's production because different people are involved," it continued. "The Bard's Tale IV is in its very early stages, with some technical research being performed along with early design work on things like the storyline, combat system, dungeon design, etc."

The studio won't be revealing any details about the new Bard's Tale game "for a long time yet," but invited fans to share their thoughts and opinions about the game on its forums and Facebook page.

PC Gamer

According to an Nvidia employee on the company's forums, the graphics card manufacturer is working on a driver update to address the GTX 970's performance issues when utilizing more than 3.5GB VRAM.

In the last few weeks, commenters across the Internet uncovered that the GTX 970 only seems to use 3.5GB of its 4GB VRAM and encounters a serious drop in performance when pushed to (what should be) its limit, using all 4GB. Nvidia responded with a statement explaining how the GTX 970 uses a different configuration than the 980 and allocates its memory into a 3.5GB and a 0.5GB segment. The GPU has higher priority access to the 3.5GB section, but dipping into that secondary section can have a real impact on gaming performance.

Nvidia employee PeterS commented on the issue on the Nvidia forums yesterday, noting that a driver update is in the works that will "tune what's allocated where in memory to further improve performance."

The driver update will hopefully help, but while it might optimize performance, the architecture of the 970 can't be changed through software. The card won't be able to access that last 500MB of VRAM at the same speed as the GTX 980.

Regardless of the driver update, PeterS posted that "If you don't want the card anymore you should return it and get a refund or exchange. If you have any problems getting that done, let me know and I'll do my best to help." Keep in mind, though, that the GTX 970 is still an all-around great performer and overclocker. The impressive benchmarks of our original review haven't changed. Currently, few games require the full 4GB VRAM. But the card's limitation may make it less future-proof for games down the road.

If you're just catching up on the issue, check out our breakdown here.

PC Gamer

What's the best way to ensure your opponent stops pestering you once you've given them a good drubbing? A good old fashioned skull crush, of course! That's Reptile's strategy, and judging by the above Mortal Kombat X video dedicated to the "two-legged humanoid raptor", it works wonders. He also spits acid, which is handy.

The video is the latest in a steady stream of character showcases. We saw Kitana and Kung Lao having a tiff last week, as well as Quan Chi and Kano, among others. The game releases April 14.

PC Gamer

Offworld Trading Company was announced last May as an "economic RTS" being developed by Mohawk Games, the indie studio founded by Civilization 4 Lead Designer Soren Johnson. We haven't heard much about it since, but today publisher Stardock Games unveiled a trailer featuring the first look at gameplay and a few words from Johnson about what's in store.

The game takes place on Mars, "the final frontier on which dreamers and entrepreneurs can make something of themselves" by staking out and developing claims to the planet's abundant and untapped resources. Players must buy and sell materials, resources, and even food and water on a real-time, player-driven market, but there's more to it than simply buying low and selling high: Dirty tricks and underhanded market manipulation have their place too. Hey, it's a tough world.

The developers have been playing the game for quite awhile now, but Johnson said the studio is looking forward to getting more players involved in the process through the upcoming Early Access release. The Early Access version of Offworld Trading Company will offer head-to-head and free-for-all online multiplayer matches, a single-player campaign, and a skirmish mode against the AI.

"We don't want to develop this game in a vacuum. In fact, we believe that players understand games often much better than their designers do," he says in the video. "We've been playing Offworld for a long time, we've been having a lot of fun with it, but we feel like there's no way we'll be able to bring it to the next level until we're able to see what happens once players out in the wild start playing it."

The Early Access release of Offworld Trading Company will hit Steam on February 12, but can be pre-purchased now at a ten percent discount at offworldgame.com.

PC Gamer

Sex has always been a relatively prominent part of The Witcher videogames. The original release actually included a series of saucy in-game collectible cards that provided a record of Geralt's many and varied conquests during his world-saving adventures. And, unsurprisingly, he'll keep on keeping on in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which according to The Guardian contains 16 hours (!) of sex scene motion capture data.

That sounds like an awful lot of sex scene motion capture data, and the game apparently even opens with the tail-end, so to speak, of a libidinous encounter between Geralt and Yennefer. But that moment, and all the others, are there for a reason that goes beyond mere titillation.

"We are establishing that your character was intimate with this woman recently in order to plant in your mind, that, at the very least, he must enjoy her company," Senior Game Designer Damien Monhier said. "Through sex we have shown that this is a person who Geralt would be compelled to chase after if she went missing."

Sex is the quickest way to establish a meaningful relationship between characters, Monhier explained, and to justify Geralt's pursuit of Yennefer. "We couldn't just tell you to go find someone you don't know or care about," he said. "It wouldn't work."

The infamous digital sex cards in The Witcher may have been a little tacky, but as The Guardian notes, the presence of sex as an unremarkable element of life in The Witcher's fantasy setting actually lends it a layer of believability lacking in other games: The characters come off as real people, behaving as they would in a world that's nasty, brutish, and with few avenues of escape from its overbearing unpleasantness. In a character-driven game series like The Witcher, that's important.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt comes out on May 19.

PC Gamer

EVGA recently announced four new models in its TORQ line of gaming mice: the X3, X3L, X5, and X5L, priced at $39.99, $39.99, $49.99, and $59.99, respectively.

All four models are ambidextrous, have eight buttons, and support five different button profiles. The X3 and X5 are optical, with Pixart sensors, while the X3L and X5L feature the Avago 9500 and Avago 9800 laser sensors, respectively.

The primary difference between these four mice and the rest of the TORQ line (the X10 and X10 Carbon) is that the newcomers don't allow for adjustable weight and height. The X3 and X3L are both rated for 10 million clicks, while the X5 and X5L double that number.

The X3 has 4000 max DPI, the X3L has 5000, the X5 has 6400, and the X5L towers over the rest with 8200 max DPI. (The X10 and X10 Carbon are both also laser mice rated at 8200 DPI.) The X3 features a red LED light, while the other three have a full RGB LED.

One catch: the X3L is exclusive to Best Buy, for some reason. It is, at least, a nice shade of blue.

PC Gamer

More Buying Guides

Here are our lists of the best PC accessories and hardware:  

— Best gaming mice — Best gaming keyboards — Best gaming laptops — Best graphics cards — Best gaming headsets — Best webcams Best gaming monitors — Best gaming processors — Best controller for PC

New to PC Gaming? Here are 10 things every PC gamer should own.

Article by Phil Iwaniuk

Fact: wired headsets hugely outnumber their wireless brethren in the PC peripherals marketplace. Why? Why hasn t the technology that unshackles us from our machine rendered wired models obsolete? Well, historically, cable-free cans have had a number of drawbacks, some of which remain today.

One: battery charge time. Ever had a wireless headset run out of charge on you mid-game, bleating its pathetic warning tone at the exact frequency that makes you want to chew through your tongue? Then you can see why some might be put off by the idea of having to manage their charge level, and even cut sessions short if their cans drain completely.

Two: latency. Particularly in cheaper wireless audio gear, latency can fluctuate and lead to a distracting slow down, speed up auditory jerkiness in whatever you re listening to as your hardware tries to keep pace. Distracting, and annoying.

And three: price. There s always been a considerable premium thrown on the price tag of any wireless headset, because that receiver and rechargeable battery aren t cheap to produce. The silver lining? Manufacturers know those first two problems are deal-breakers, and have invested a lot of resources into minimising them. So today, you mostly just have to worry about price. That hasn t changed, because all that resource investment is expensive.

If you are prepared to pay a slight premium, some incredible, zero-hassle gaming audio equipment awaits. And we think the best of the whole bunch is the SteelSeries H Wireless. With a retail price set at $299 (though it is available for more like $260 if you shop around), it s certainly a serious investment. But for the money you get not only the comfort level, surround sound and audio fidelity of the very best wired headsets, but a bunch of cool extras unique to itself. Two swappable lithium ion batteries? Check. Impossibly stylish transmission unit? Double check.

Of course, you might not be inclined to part with quite so much money just for the pleasure of cable-free listening pleasure. That s fine—we ve got you. Looking right the way down the price list, we ve made our picks at the $150 and under $100 mark too, to help you make the right decision however much money you want to throw at this.

Testing wireless headsets

Many of the qualities you re looking for from a wireless headset are the same you d hope to find in any audio equipment—tone, build quality, and reliability leading the charge. As such we listen to each review model while playing different genres of game, listening to music, and watching movies with bombastic sound effects and surround mixes—think less Werner Herzog, more Chris Nolan. We also run a simple sine wave swoop across the stated frequency response range (almost always the full 20Hz-20KHz these days), and in the case of surround headsets we ll listen to positional audio tests from Dolby, like its DTS Headphone-X test. There s also our old favorite, the Virtual Barber Shop. YouTube s compression does limit the overall sound quality, but it s still a great way of separating the wheat from the chaff in surround sound earphones.

There are a few wireless-specific elements we need to test for, too: battery life, charge time, range and latency. The former is pretty self-explanatory, though in addition to an everyday use battery life test we also run the headset at full volume to discover how quickly the charge drains under those conditions. To ascertain charge time, we… well, we charge the headsets and note how long it takes.

Range and latency are trickier to test in a scientific manner. However, having a good old walk around the house gives a good indication of range, and latency ultimately comes down to perception. With all that taken into account after several days of use, we re in a good place to make the call on a headset.

On the next page: the best wireless gaming headset.


Page 1: Introduction to the best wireless gaming headsets Page 2: The best wireless gaming headset Page 3: The best mid-budget wireless gaming headset Page 4: The best budget wireless gaming headset Page 5: Wrapping up: competitors and future

The best wireless gaming headset: SteelSeries H Wireless

Specs

Price: $299 ( 220) Headphone Frequency Response: 20Hz—20KHz Weight: 297g (without battery) Max Volume: 100dB* SPL @ 1kHz Ports: Wired Mode / Share Port, Chat port, mini USB FW update port

Transmitter Wireless Range: 12m (40ft) straight line Latency: <16ms, fixed Ports: Analog In, Analog Out, mini USB, Optical In, Optical Out, Power Battery Type: Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 1000mAh Battery Life: 20 hours per pack, typical usage

Microphone Frequency Response: 100Hz—10KHz Mic Pattern: Unidirectional Indication: Red LED on mute

Well, here it is: our pick for the absolute best wireless gaming headset available, the Steelseries H Wireless. And hoo boy, it isn t a cheap one, weighing in just below $300. We know that's a lot of cash, but there are two major considerations at play here. First is that wireless headsets tend to be pricier than their wired counterparts in the first place, so if you re browsing this side of the market you ve probably set aside a reasonable chunk of money in the first place. Secondly, scrimping on wireless tech is like seeking out bargain bin dentistry—a lot more can go wrong than right. The $300 in question buys not just incredible sound, comfort and convenience, but a free pass through any potential latency and battery issues.

SteelSeries strikes gold with its H Wireless by combining top-end virtual surround sound, fantastic frequency response, and comfort with a ton of extra functionality and versatility. Despite the serious financial investment, it s a genuine one-stop shop for PC, Mac, consoles and mobile devices.

Added bonus: its manufacturer also restrained itself from overdesigning the headset like a Pimp My Ride producer s fever dream, naming it after a Roman or Greek god, or having an e-sports gamer sheepishly endorsing it on the packaging.

The basics: the H wireless is a closed-cup, circumaural headset, which mean it totally covers your ears and seals the sound around you, using memory foam padding in this case. That s crucial; so many manufacturers bleat about the size of their drivers, but unless the low-end frequencies those drivers generate find an enclosed space in which to resonate, that thumping bass effect is lost. Suffice to say, these earcups have plenty of thump.

There s also plenty of power and clarity in the mid range and precise highs. If you go in with a sound snob mindset, you will hear that the overall mix doesn t sound as organic as high-end stereo headphones aimed at the music market, because the audio s running through a 7.1 virtual surround sound engine. The loss in overall tonality is unnoticeable to all but those who find themselves damned to live out life on this earth as the store employees from High Fidelity, though, and those people are too busy taping Japanese import albums by the Liqorice Comfits to care.

The surround itself is excellent, in both games and movies. It ll genuinely have you hunting down Blu-Rays with 7.1 mixes just to enjoy the flyover effects, panned ambient noises and sound cues from high above. Unlike many top-end surround cans like Creative s Sound Blaster Recon 3D Omega, the H Wireless doesn t come with a footstep or sniper mode that dulls all but the sound sources in your vicinity, but honestly we don t feel the loss. Maybe we re just not good enough at shooters to exploit that feature, but we find a good surround mix like this is ample assistance in locating our would-be killers by footsteps or gunshots alone.

This isn t a particularly light headset, weighing well over 300g (more than half a pound) with one of its two rechargeable batteries fitted (more on those later). However, memory foam pads at every contact point—around both earcups and the headband—make it an exceptionally comfortable one over a long duration. There s enough pivot and extension in the frame to accommodate any head shape and very little sound produced when doing so, which is a good indicator of build quality. The orange stitching around each cup does fray easily though, messing up an otherwise impeccable and understated aesthetic.

As with all SteelSeries models, the mic here is retractable, so you can push it back inside the left cup and out of the way when it isn t needed, and a quick tap of the power on button on the bottom of the right cup mutes it. There s also a volume wheel at the top of the right cup, and a rubber cover on the bottom next to the power button which conceals an aux cable connection so you can connect up your Xbox One or PS4 controller and chat if you want to use this with a console, and another connection allowing you to connect a second headset. Two-person silent gaming sessions and really low-key silent discos are go.

As odd as it sounds, it s actually the transmitter that elevates the H Wireless above its peers. Firstly, it doubles as a battery charger. While one of its lithium ion batteries is powering the headset, another occupies a charge slot within the transmitter so you genuinely never have to stop using it, or even connect it to a charge cable. Considering what a hassle that can be, that dual battery design gives it a massive advantage over its peers. Astro s A50 and Turtle Beach s i60 both offer similar luxury to the H Wireless in sound and comfort, but simply can t compete with the way it elegantly sidesteps the charging problem.

Its batteries cling to life for up to 20 hours, too. That s the stated figure in SteelSeries own documentation, and it holds true in the real world too. Even extended max volume sessions have little effect on it. Speaking of the spec sheet, the proposed signal range is an enormous 12 meters (40 feet). In reality, that means the signal remains clean literally anywhere in this tester s apartment.

There s a plethora of connection options at the back of the transmitter (optical in/out in addition to USB) which means it s fair game for just about any device you can throw at it, and includes a handy voice chat/game audio mixing feature called ChatMix. With this you can either manually adjust both levels, or let the transmitter boost the voice audio only when someone s talking—essentially it s working like a sidechain compressor, pushing the game audio down when someone talks and pushing it up again afterward.

There simply isn t another wireless headset on the market that does everything SteelSeries H Wireless can do—and with some considerable style, too. It s certainly not cheap, but the variety of applications it can handle mitigates that to an extent. Above all, it lets you forget about all the drawbacks traditionally associated with going wireless. A class act.

On the next page: the next mid-budget wireless gaming headset.


Page 1: Introduction to the best wireless gaming headsets Page 2: The best wireless gaming headset Page 3: The best mid-budget wireless gaming headset Page 4: The best budget wireless gaming headset Page 5: Wrapping up: competitors and future

The best mid-budget wireless gaming headset: Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300

SPECS

Price: $160 ( 127) Drivers: 50mm Noise Cancelling: No Microphone: Yes, detachable Inline Volume: Yes Battery life: 15 hours Design: circumaural

Turtle Beach has the console headset market pretty well sewn up, but its position in PC audio is of a relative outlier, particularly compared to familiar, reliable names such as Creative, Logitech… you know, the companies who were making headphones before you got your first PC. For context, then: the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300 is a wireless PC variation on its excellent PX4 and Stealth models for PS4 and Xbox One, respectively.

It boasts a specific surround technology from Dolby called DTX Headphone: X, which is particularly good at tricking your ears into hearing a broad vertical space in addition to a wide stereo pan. When using these to listen to a 7.1 surround mix that makes use of that tech, the effect is wonderfully cinematic.

In fact it s that surround sound quality, coupled with the Z300 s excellent construction, that has us singling it out from the crowd at the $150 mark (give or take a few bucks). The circumaural cups do a brilliant job of filtering out external noise while also minimising heat levels thanks to a breathable material cover over its cushioned pads. It s extremely adjustable, and the wide design of the headband allays any sensation of its weight digging in to the top of your head.

Compared to our absolute top pick, the Steelseries H Wireless, there is a noticeable difference in comfort levels during long sessions (largely down to the softer materials used in the Steelseries model s contact points). There s less between them in surround quality, though. Turtle Beach has been building surround cans for consoles for years now, and knows the algorithms needed to trick your ears into perceiving a wide space.

What s more, it s a really unfussy piece of hardware. Setup requires connecting a single, memory stick-sized USB receiver, and… that s it. No long, dangling wires from the receiver to your PC as with so many other wireless setups. There are volume, mic volume, EQ options and compression on/off buttons on the earcups themselves, but the design doesn t look busy or crowded.

Bonus feature: it s Bluetooth compatible, so you can hook it up to your smartphone or tablet in addition to your PC. However, that plus point actually leads us onto a flaw in the Z300 s overall package. Wireless range using the USB receiver isn t great—the bar s set high enough that you expect to be able to continue listening anywhere in your home, and that wasn t true for us in this case. Via Bluetooth it s much better though, so if you have a Bluetooth receiver for your PC it s a good idea to use that format.

Perhaps the above issue makes this a slightly controversial pick, but in addition to the tank-like build and surround sound chops of the Z300, there s also a really handy 15-hour battery life to win you back over. As with the SteelSeries H Wireless, we found the manufacturer wasn t lying on the spec sheet, and that a fully charged pair really does last longer than you d ever want to use them for in one session—comfortably three or four sessions, actually.

Competition is fierce at this price point; relative superiority between one manufacturer s prize fighter and another is slim. But Turtle Beach is wise to pack its strengths in the console market into this PC headset, and though it s not a perfect offering in terms of range, the surround experience will blow you away in-game. The Turtle Beach Z300 is the best wireless headset we've used at a mid-budget price.

On the next page: the best cheap wireless gaming headset.


Page 1: Introduction to the best wireless gaming headsets Page 2: The best wireless gaming headset Page 3: The best mid-budget wireless gaming headset Page 4: The best budget wireless gaming headset Page 5: Wrapping up: competitors and future

The best budget wireless gaming headset: Corsair Gaming H2100

Specs

Price: $90 ( 78) Frequency Response: 40Hz—20kHz 5/-5dB, -10dB @ 35Hz Impedance: 32 Ohms @ 1kHz Drivers: 50mm Connector: Wireless USB

Microphone type: Unidirectional noise-cancelling condenser Impedance: 2.2k Ohms Frequency Response: 100Hz to 10kHzSensitivity -37dB (+/-3dB)

It s an oldie, but  Corsair s Gaming H2100 wireless set is as strong a package now as it was at launch in late 2013, and of course a couple years before that in its earlier incarnations. And now that it s dropped below the $100 mark, it s kind of a no-brainer for budget buyers.

As with every peripheral Corsair puts out, the build quality on show in these cans is extraordinary. The closed-cup design features massively oversized cups, big enough to envelop any set of ears, and thus block out distracting noise while giving the bass a little chamber to resonate in. The body s constructed using a mixture of plastics and lightweight aluminium, keeping the overall weight low enough to maximise comfort levels. Oh, and the enormous padded headband doesn t exactly hurt on that front, either.

There s just one on-off switch on the right cup, and a nicely textured volume roller below it, so it isn t bursting with inline controls like our $150 pick, but the simplicity really adds to its look.

However, like our $150 pick, The H2100 is another fuss-free setup, requiring only a single USB slot to connect its receiver. Battery life is a perfectly usable ten hours—less than our other picks, and not something to brag about on the packaging, but certainly enough to get you through any one session before those beeps kick in.

It s in the sound quality where you start to hear the difference $200 makes—the H2100 s midrange lacks a little clarity compared to our newfound favourite, the SteelSeries H Wireless, but for the money it still offers powerful low-end and convincing positional audio that ll immerse you in your games. You ll feel the lack of sparkle when listening to music, but them s the breaks at the budget end.

All things considered though, $90 is practically theft for the level of quality on offer with the  Corsair H2100. They re arguably the best-looking cans in the whole roundup, and though their sound and battery life can t compete with the upper echelon, the downside to you when using them in the real world is minimal.

On the next page: wrapping up, competitors, and future testing.


Page 1: Introduction to the best wireless gaming headsets Page 2: The best wireless gaming headset Page 3: The best mid-budget wireless gaming headset Page 4: The best budget wireless gaming headset Page 5: Wrapping up: competitors and future

Wrapping up: competitors and future testing

The wireless market s considerably smaller than its wired counterpart—most of the big players in USB/3.5mm gaming headsets have a wireless option, but usually just the one. As such the current market competitors list is a bit slim. The range expands when you look as far as console-specific wireless cans, but in the interest of ensuring full compatibility we ve stuck to officially supported PC models.

Plantronics .Audio 995 - Oddly, Plantronics doesn t have a bespoke wireless gaming headset; this .Audio 995 is designed for office and multimedia use but is about as close to gaming spec as the manufacturer gets sans cables. It has a good rep for comfort and sound quality, and an appealing price at around $45, but as it s designed for use when you re on the clock rather than on the ranked servers, it s best to look elsewhere.

Sades Stereo 7.1 Surround Pro - don t be taken in by the sub-$30 price tag. Online customer reviews tell a woeful story involving nonexistent driver support, defective mics, and even suggestions that this is a grey market model which isn t authorised for sale to the United States.

Creative Sound Blaster Recon 3D Omega - Edged out of best overall contention by a fraction. Despite fantastic surround sound and comfort levels, the Recon 3D soundcard creates a lot of cable clutter and its headset s admittedly strong battery life can t compete with SteelSeries elegant swappable battery solution.

Turtle Beach Ear Force i60 - The last word in luxury in all aspects… if you re a Mac user. Full functionality is possible but not guaranteed on Windows, and though it s very nearly worth the risk, there are other options of the same or higher quality which make it a moot point.

Astro Gaming A50 - Another candidate that missed out by a whisker for best overall. Flawless sound, bomb-proof build quality, and a few minor niggles such as unpredictable battery life, and a strangely short charge cable.

Logitech G930 - Looks and feels the part, offering great surround sound too. However, many users report problems with stutter or random disconnections. Battery life isn t great for the price, either.

Creative Sound Blaster Evo - ticks the basic sound/build quality boxes, but is let down by mediocre battery life and develops noisy joints over time. Oddly, mic sound quality is extraordinarily good. Go figure.

Creative Sound Blaster Evo ZxR - More expensive than the Evo, and with more functionality to show for it. However, being built around the same basic design, it suffers the same physical problems. And, look, we don t want to get personal, but it s really ugly.

Razer Adaro Bluetooth - As the name suggests, this is a Bluetooth-only set, and not really intended with the PC gamer at the front of the queue. Good sound quality and range, but lacking the extras we take for granted in the gaming market and if you don t have a Bluetooth receiver on your PC—well, forget it.

Future testing

For now, the Steelseries H Wireless is our favorite wireless gaming headset. The wireless end of PC gaming audio gear offers less choice than that of wired peripherals, but it s still a big marketplace—what s more, it s populated by models with incremental improvements and price hikes from the same manufacturers. As such, we haven t tested every single model available, but done our best to seek out the cream of the crop. And from that cream, we ve cherry-picked a) the absolute best options available right now, and b) a really odd, food-themed mixing of metaphors.

It s also a marketplace that moves fast—so we ll be keeping our eye on it and updating it as promising new models are released.

A note on affiliates: some of our stories, like this one, include affiliate links to stores like Amazon. These online stores share a small amount of revenue with us if you buy something through one of these links, which helps support our work evaluating PC components.


Page 1: Introduction to the best wireless gaming headsets Page 2: The best wireless gaming headset Page 3: The best mid-budget wireless gaming headset Page 4: The best budget wireless gaming headset Page 5: Wrapping up: competitors and future

PC Gamer

Volume 1 of the Music of League of Legends, a collection of 15 "new and classic" tracks from the game, is now available for purchase from iTunes, Google Play, and other fine online retailers. Or, if you prefer, you can just download it for free directly from Riot.

The tracks are in MP3 format, perhaps disappointing for die-hard audiophiles, but they're 320kbps, which is about as good as it gets. Each track can also be played individually on the LoL site, if you want to try before you buy—although "buy," remember, in this case means "download at no charge."

I haven't listened to all of the tracks yet, but what I've heard so far is really good, sometimes brooding, sometimes bombastic, and in the case of The Curse of the Sad Mummy, kind of... well, sad, too. But as good as it is, the real treat for fans of videogame music may actually be Frequencies, a 46-minute documentary that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the soundtrack. 

"Music and games share an intertwined history stretching back to neon-soaked arcades and dusty living rooms crowded with tangles of twisting plastic controller cords. From chiptune scores to the sweeping symphonies of expansive fantasy worlds,the relationship shared between games and music simultaneously elevates both art forms," the Frequencies site says. "Frequencies is a behind-the-scenes look at that harmony at Riot; the moment when creativity, collaboration, and passion collide to forge and reinforce story through music."

As far as I can tell there's no time limit on the freebie, but the fact that it's being offered for sale—as in, not for free—on other sites makes me think that there may be a clock ticking away somewhere. Best grab it while you can.

PC Gamer
WHY I LOVE

In  Why I Love, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. Today, Sam marvels at the attention to detail in Arkane's Dishonored.

There s nothing memorable about the toilets in most games, but I ll never forget the toilets in Dishonored. When I reflect on the WCs in gaming s recent past, I can remember plenty instances involving toilets—flushing the loo in almost every first-person games, for example or finding a recording in a particularly dirty one in BioShock—but the toilet itself, as a piece of visual design, is always unremarkable. It doesn t need to be an outstanding flourish of a prop, after all, because it s functional. PC Gamer would not mark a game down for having a boring toilet. Even in Andrew Ryan s Rapture, the best that mankind has to offer is satisfied with a bit of familiar porcelain—unless mediocre lavatories were the real reason the civil war kicked off, which I m pretty sure isn t what Ken Levine and company were going for.

Dishonored s fancy opening and closing chamber pot, pictured below, shows just how granular the team at Arkane got with world building in the 2012 immersive sim. It s so pretty that I d happily use it as an ottoman in my flat. I love this toilet because it shows how far the team was willing to go in making even the most functional elements of the world a little bit special. Late last year, I played through for the second time and invested hours in exploring every detail, locked room or systems-driven variables in how I completed each level. I wanted a comprehensive playthrough, having foolishly mainlined the story the first time. What I considered along the way is that Dishonored s environments are collectively the perfect size: enough for the player to get a proper snapshot of the world, but not so large that it feels like it s repeating itself (even instances where you revisit parts of the world later in the story are given a strong narrative justification).

You might only spot Dishonored s toilets once every few missions, or maybe not at all, but I enjoy the idea that getting something like this right is as important to Dunwall feeling coherent as something high-concept, such as the Tall Boy walkers or automated turrets. World-building should not be limited to just the big stuff, and it speaks to how consistent Dishonored is as an immersive sim. I can t think of a single basic element of the game that they get wrong: later parts of the story that leave the mission structure behind might lack the energy of earlier levels, but there s little I can think of that would improve the art direction, combat, AI and stealth.

Dishonored is a brilliant piece of work, whatever angle you take with it—the success of creating this world comes down to that ideal balance between size and detail. Even if you empty these worlds of NPCs—and I did, because I prefer the kind of stealth scenarios where everyone dies in increasingly novel and hilarious ways—it s worth hanging around to pick out the side rooms and artistic flourishes. Like the very best immersive sims, Dishonored tells a story with its art direction, one of class difference, outrageous and gaudy wealth built on a foundation of socioeconomic decay. The contrast between rich and poor is one of the strongest visual ideas this game has, but this only works because the world feels so lived in and fleshed out. Every piece of set design is there for a reason, to contribute to the telling of Dunwall s story. Even the shitter.

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