PC Gamer

Welcome, dear reader, to the dumbest thing that has happened this week—in gaming news terms, at least.

A Microsoft marketing executive reaffirmed, on Twitter, that the enormo-corp will be publishing Rise of the Tomb Raider. It's almost as if Capcom's recent announcement that Street Fighter V would be exclusive to PC and PS4 caused the makers of the Xbox One to reiterate their own anticipated acquisitions. The console "wars" are nothing if not childish.

This tweet lead to fans, forums and news sites questioning whether this could harm RotTR's chances of a PC (and PS4, I guess) release. This is despite the fact that both Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome were published by Microsoft, and had timed Xbox One exclusivity. Both eventually crossed over to PC after the deal expired, and were self-published by their respective developers on Steam. This is also despite the fact that Microsoft previously admitted that the deal had a duration.

Despite this, people spent actual time chasing Square Enix and Microsoft for comment. Square Enix then told GameInformer the following:

"Our partnership with Microsoft on Rise of the Tomb Raider does have a duration, but we aren t discussing those details at this time and are focused on collaborating to deliver a great game on Xbox One and Xbox 360."

Like, yeah, obviously. If Microsoft had a full Xbone-only (Xbonly?) exclusivity deal with Rise of the Tomb Raider, they would state it unambiguously. That they never have is a sign that RotTR will probably spend around 6-12 months exclusively on that system before filtering its way on to PC at the very least, and possibly the PS4 as well.

Fun fact: the gaming industry is kind of ridiculous sometimes.

PC Gamer
Rise of the Tomb Raider


The big bombshell of Microsoft's Gamescom presser was the announcement that Rise of the Tomb Raider the follow up to the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot will be available "Holiday 2015, Exclusively on Xbox".

There's a reason I'm putting that line in quotes: I don't entirely know what it means. Microsoft spent the entire conference twisting the meaning of language itself to make its platform look more desirable. During an ID@Xbox section, they showed games like Space Engineers and Smite games already available on PC and used the misleading refrain "coming first to consoles on Xbox".* Admittedly, "exclusively on Xbox" is a more solid statement, but companies have long since stretched the word beyond understanding. Will it be a timed exclusive? A full exclusive? An exclusive exclusively for 'Holiday 2015'? We don't know, and neither the conference nor Crystal Dynamics follow-up statement make it particularly clear.

"As you may have seen, we ve just announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider, coming Holiday 2015, is exclusively on Xbox," writes Crystal Dynamics head Darrell Gallagher. "We consider all of you to be the lifeblood of Tomb Raider and the work we do at Crystal. I d like to give you some insight into this decision, and why we feel this is the very best thing for the Tomb Raider sequel we re creating at the studio.

"Tomb Raider in 2013 was a success due in large part to your continued support. Our goal has always been to deliver something truly special with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Today s announcement with Microsoft is one step to help us put Tomb Raider on top of action adventure gaming. Our friends at Microsoft have always seen huge potential in Tomb Raider and have believed in our vision since our first unveil with them on their stage at E3 2011. We know they will get behind this game more than any support we have had from them in the past - we believe this will be a step to really forging the Tomb Raider brand as one of the biggest in gaming, with the help, belief and backing of a major partner like Microsoft.

"This doesn t mean that we re walking away from our fans who only play on PlayStation or on PC. Those are great systems, with great partners, and amazing communities. We have Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris coming to those platforms this December, and Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition is available on PS4."

What Gallagher seems to be saying is that Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics think the way you put Tomb Raider "on top of action adventure gaming" is to prevent the majority of its fan base from playing it. However you try to spin it, exclusivity is not a positive. It doesn't help the people who own that console they would still be able to play the game if it was multi-platform and it definitely, obviously doesn't help those who now can't play a series they previously had access to. It is a move that goes directly against their fans, and one almost certainly motivated by Square Enix's financial issues over the last few years.

Hopefully, then, this will be one of those woolly, meaningless exclusives, and six months down the line we'll see Rise of the Tomb Raider arrive on PC. The alternative possibility that the true third-party platform exclusive is back as a viable option would be a big step back for gaming as a whole.

*"Coming first to consoles on Xbox" would appear to mean "of the consoles, it will be on Xbox first". But that's not what's being said. Including the phrase "first to consoles" is a deliberate attempt to nest the idea of exclusivity within an admission of none. It means the exact opposite of what the actual sentence is saying. This is the point we've reached in this increasingly desperate battle.
PC Gamer
samsung-4k-teaser


The future aka 4K gaming is made up of very, very small pixels. After spending the past two weeks checking out games on Samsung's U28D590D 4K monitor, I'm still going to call 4K gaming the near future rather than the present. Yes, you can play games at 3840x2160 pixels right now. Yes, 4K monitors are becoming more affordable. But are they worth it? After spending a couple weeks using one, I can comfortably say: no, not yet. Even for a high-end graphics card (or two), 4K is too demanding for max settings and high framerates. If you're willing to play at 30 frames per second, though, 4K is a different story.

If you want to skip straight to the 4K gameplay section, click here to jump to page 2.

The Samsung U28D590D and the basics of 4K
The Samsung U28D590D is a 28-inch, 3840x2160 monitor that has an MSRP of $700, though it's only $570 on Amazon as of this writing. The monitor has a 60Hz refresh rate, unlike some earlier 4K monitors, though you'll have to use DisplayPort for 60Hz. The current HDMI spec only supports 4K at 30Hz.

I gave a general overview of the U28D590D and the demands of 4K gaming in a segment of The PC Gamer Show, which you can watch here:



The monitor looks great and I never noticed any issues with refresh rate or response time, but I didn't perform in-depth testing to determine the actual response time (never trust the too-good-to-be-true listed response time. TFT Central offers a good primer on what those specs mean). Because it uses a faster, cheaper TN panel, response time comes at a cost: inferior viewing angles and color accuracy compared to IPS displays. The monitor stand is also disappointingly limited--it has no height adjustment, rotation, or VESA mount support.

Unfortunately, if you're still running Windows 7, 4K is a terrible experience, no matter what 4K monitor you're using. The OS isn't designed to scale to such a high resolution, and everything will be impossibly tiny unless you crank up DPI scaling to 125% or 150%. But that scaling is for text it doesn't properly resize other UI elements or affect some applications like Steam. Chrome doesn't scale its text properly, either. Windows 8 is much better about properly scaling, and requires no setup to scale text, UI elements like Windows Explorer, and applications to 4K resolution. Text in Steam and Chrome is noticeably fuzzier than system text, but everything is usable and legible without constantly squishing your face up against the monitor.

The Samsung's $570 may be cheap for a 4K monitor, but it's still expensive for a monitor, in general. What that money buys is an extremely pixel-dense display, and games really do look amazing on it. My standard monitor is a 27-inch, 2560x1440 display, which comes out to a pixel pitch rating of 108.79 PPI. That's way higher than, say, a 24-inch 1080p monitor (95.78 PPI) or a 50-inch 1080p TV (44.06 PPI).



At 3840x2160, the 28-inch Samsung U28D590D has a 157.35 PPI. As a result, games running at native resolution look sharp, even without anti-aliasing enabled. The pixel density really does make a difference. Remember, a 1920x1080 monitor creates an image out of 2,073,600 pixels. A 4K monitor displays 8,294,400 pixels. As a result, a graphics card has to push out four times as many pixels. Not even two Nvidia Titans, or a newer Titan Black, can handle refreshing eight million pixels 60 times per second.

On the next page: my gaming experiences with Metro: Last Light, Tomb Raider, and other games, with some gameplay footage captured with Nvidia Shadowplay (at the max capture resolution of 1440p).


Gaming at 4K
The first game I tested at 4K was the most graphically intensive game I could think of: Metro: Last Light. With settings cranked up to Ultra, Last Light had trouble cracking 20 frames per second. Mostly, it ran in the teens, and even lowering a few settings barely helped. The world isn't ready for Metro: Last Light at 4K. Luckily, most of the other games I tested ran better.

For the games listed below, I'm going to give a rating based on playability at 30 fps and 60 fps. While I did tweak some specific settings like antialiasing, depth of field, and tessellation, I didn't turn game settings down to medium or low just to see if they'd perform well. I'd rather play a game at high settings, with better textures, lighting, and particle effects, than sacrifice those graphics options for pure resolution.



Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite runs on a heavily customized Unreal Engine 3, but it's not a particularly demanding game I had no problem running it at 60 fps on an AMD 7870 at 1440p when it was released. At 4K on a Titan Black, with all settings on Ultra, it was playable, but the framerate fluctuated considerably. It only occasionally reached 60 frames per second, and mostly hovered in the low 40s. Not bad! Usually. I found that some particle effects and rapid animations like the carnival games in the plaza near the beginning of the game--sent the framerate plummeting down into the teens.



By switching Bioshock Infinite's settings down to "Very High," I was able to run it at a reliable 30+ fps. I also ran the Infinite benchmark utility on its highest setting: DX11 with Depth of Field enabled. It averaged an overall framerate of 37.01 fps.

Consistent 60 fps at 4K? No.
Consistent 30 fps at 4K? Yes.



Tomb Raider

When I played Tomb Raider on my (overclocked) AMD 7870 last year, I was shocked by how well-optimized it was. I ran the game at max settings, with TressFX enabled, and kept a solid 60 fps. It didn't fare as well at 4K. At first, I ran the game at Ultra on a Titan Black, with only TressFX disabled. Depth of Field was turned to high, and tessellation was enabled. On those settings, the game typically ran at 22-24 fps and peaked around 30 fps. That framerate, combined with the game's handheld-style shaky camera, made cutscenes uncomfortably twitchy to watch. In smaller enclosed spaces, the game ran better when I took Lara into an underground area, it actually ran at 55-60 fps.



Tweaking individual settings in Tomb Raider also makes a big difference. By disabling tessellation and turning down depth of field and SSAO to normal, the framerate hung steady in the mid-30 fps range, even in cutscenes and open environments. I didn't get to any of the game's dramatic action setpieces, but a little settings tuning should be enough to keep the game running over 30 fps at all times.

Consistent 60 fps at 4K? No.
Consistent 30 fps at 4K? Yes.



Sleeping Dogs

United Front Games' Sleeping Dogs has a gorgeous open world, but it relies on the rain-soaked neon of Hong Kong for its looks, not tessellation like Tomb Raider or the lighting and physics of Metro: Last Light. With all of Sleeping Dogs' settings cranked to Ultra (except anti-aliasing) and its high resolution textures installed, the game managed to run at an almost-but-not-quite solid 60 fps during gameplay. It sometimes dipped into the 50s, but still played extremely smoothly.



During cutscenes, the framerate dropped into the 40-50 fps range, but never dipped anywhere near 30 fps.When I ran the Sleeping Dogs benchmark utility (with AA enabled), it returned an average framerate of 56.5 fps, a maximum of 67.1 fps and a minimum of 39.2 fps. Not bad, Sleeping Dogs. Not bad. And you still look pretty good, too.

Consistent 60 fps at 4K? Very, very close.
Consistent 30 fps at 4K? Yes. Easily.



Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Surprise! A game running on the Source Engine runs putters along at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second just fine. On the Large Pixel Collider's three Titan setup, CS:GO blazed past 60 fps with max settings and showed no signs of dipping down below that threshold. Even on a weaker computer, Source engine games should be able to run at 60 fps no problem, especially with tweaking to settings like AA.

Consistent 60 fps at 4K? Yes.
Consistent 30 fps at 4K? Double yes.



Total War: Rome 2

The last game I tried, Creative Assembly's Total War: Rome 2, ran better than I expected. The Total War games are notoriously system intensive on both the CPU and GPU, but even on Ultra settings, the game ran well at 4K. At least, "well" by Total War standards. On the battlefield, zoomed out, the game consistently ran at more than 30 fps. Zoomed in, the framerate slowed to around 24 fps when there were dozens or hundreds of units on screen at once. But that feels normal for Total War, so the game didn't feel sluggish.



In fact, on a Titan Black, Total War: Rome 2 runs better at 4K than it did for me at launch on my AMD 7870 at 1440p. Creative Assembly has patched the game numerous times over the past year to fix bugs and increase performance, but overall Rome 2 ran better than I expected. Still nowhere near 60 fps, but that's hardly a surprise for a game rendering thousands of units at once.

Consistent 60 fps at 4K? No, but that's no surprise.
Consistent 30 fps at 4K? No, but closer than expected.
Wrapping up
The games above are just a small sample of how PC gaming fares at 4K resolution. Obviously performance will differ between systems not everyone has a Titan Black to play on, but a pair of overclocked SLI'd cards could handle these games even better, and even manage to keep framerates hovering around 60 fps. From my testing, though, I don't think 2014 is the year to invest in a 4K monitor. Even 30 fps at 4K is a struggle for some games, but it's doable with the right tweaking.

If you're accustomed to playing games at 30 frames per second already, chances are you don't have a graphics card capable of handling 4K. Buy a new GPU in 2014 or 2015, though, and 4K at 30 fps will be within your reach

For 60 fps, you'll need at least two Nvidia 780 TIs in SLI or an AMD R9 295X2, and neither of those cards will guarantee 60 fps in every game. Total cost for those cards? Between $1400 and $1500. Throw the cost of the 4K monitor in there, and, well...Unless you want to spend a whole lot of money, the 4K future is still a year or two away.
PC Gamer
steam sale day 7


We've now been living and breathing the Steam Summer Sale for a week, losing sleep for every flash sale, antsy with anticipation every time the new deals tick over. We're feverish from the savings, but it would be madness to stop saving now. Today's deals fuel our appetite for strategy, shooting, and launching valiant little green men into space on absurdly oversized rockets.

Don t forget to check out GOG s summer deals, too.

Reminder: if a game isn't a daily deal or a flash sale, it could pop up later in the sale for an even lower price. If you want to be safe, wait until June 30 to pick up a sale-long deal.
5 - The Banner Saga
50% off: $12.49 / 9.49 - Steam store page
One of the biggest artistic achievements in gaming this year. We love The Banner Saga s hand-drawn characters and how they animate on the battlefield, but we especially enjoy the way its detailed, Nordic landscapes parallax as your caravan of warriors and survivors march on. The Austin Wintory score is a cherry on the top.
4 - Kerbal Space Program
40% off: $16.19 / 11.99 - Steam store page
We ve murdered a lot of aliens in games, but only in KSP have we stranded little green guys in planetary orbit due to our grossly incompetent management of a budding space program. The Early Access rocket physics simulator is one of the best games still under development, and already has a large community of engineers sharing stories of harrowing space missions, ship designs, and mods. KSP has even made its way into classrooms.

Read Ian s five-part Kerbal Space Program chronicle to see how he learned rocket-building basics and launched a mission to the M n.
3 - Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
50% off: $7.49 / 5.99 - Steam store page
The best competitive FPS on PC owes a lot to its skill-based matchmaking format. At any skill level, five-on-five Counter-Strike narrows the range of tactical choices available to you and the time you have to make them, creating a wonderfully concentrated competitive mode. Otherwise, CS:GO is mainly a vehicle for microtransactions: beware the allure of $400 virtual knives.
2 - Tomb Raider
75% off: $4.99 / 3.74 - Steam store page Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
Lara Croft returns in a gorgeous action game heavily inspired by Naughty Dog's Uncharted series. This younger, rebooted Lara doesn't have her predecessor's confidence or predilection for interesting puzzles the only tombs in this game are disappointingly short and simple but the shooting is by far the best in the series. Exploring Tomb Raider's island and crafting survival gear is also fun, as Lara is a nimble climber and each area is packed with interesting treasures to hunt down. For a challenge, forgo the assault rifle and grenade launcher for Lara's incredibly satisfying (and silent!) bow.
1 - BioShock Triple Pack
83% off: $10.19 / 6.79 - Steam store page
If you haven t explored the ruins of Rapture, you re in for a treat. BioShock s world is a revelation, an under-the-sea society that s crumbled under its own weight, and exploring what remains of it and shooting its crazy inhabitants in the face with fireballs is a delight. BioShock 2 goes even further, changing your perspective and adding a surprising amount of depth with its own story. Irrational s swansong, BioShock Infinite, may still be polarizing, but Columbia is just as beautiful and terrifying as Rapture, and well worth exploring. All three are included here in a bundle that s too cheap to pass up.

Other great deals today
Remember that games not categorized as Daily Deals or Flash Sales may be reduced further later in the sale.

Bastion (40% off) $8.99 / 6.59
Killing Floor (50% off) $9.99 / 7.49
Mirror's Edge (75% off) $4.99 / 2.49
Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition (66% off) $6.79 / 5.09
PC Gamer
Steam Summer Sale day 4


Just when you thought you were out of the Steam sale racket, they pull you back in - today's crop boasting some delectable bargains across a variety of genres, including the pork-bunniest game of recent years.

Reminder: if a game isn't a daily deal or a flash sale, it could pop up later in the sale for an even lower price. If you want to be safe, wait until June 30 to pick up a sale-long deal. Also, GOG.com are having their own, equally terrific summer sale at the moment, so be sure to check that out too.

5 - Lone Survivor
75% off: $3.74 / 2.74 - Steam store page | Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
One of the best Silent Hill games you'll play - and a better Silent Hill game than Konami have published in the last ten or so years. The story is dreamlike and ambiguous in the best possible way, while the chunky pixel art and atmospheric soundtrack envelop you as soon as you switch the game on. If you're brave enough to face it - and you remembered to bring an energy drink - Lone Survivor is easily worth the price of a large cappuccino. Head here for the full PCG verdict.

4 - Metro Last Light
66% off: $6.79 / 6.79 - Steam store page | Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
Some odd exchange-rating aside, this is still a good price for the mostly great Metro Last Light, which managed the heroic feat of rescuing the first game's abysmal stealth and turning it into something that works. In addition to being a solid shooter and stealth-'em-up, this is a pretty good atmospheric horror and action game too, although the plot is something that will largely pass you by (if you're lucky). You might want to wait for the remastered 'Redux' version of this and its predecessor, however - although there is a discount system in place should you want to upgrade at a later date.

3 - Sleeping Dogs
80% off: $3.99 / 2.99 - Steam store page | Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
If Watch Dogs left you cold, you could always give the relatively silly (but still a bit nasty) Sleeping Dogs a try, which puts you in the role of an undercover cop in Hong Kong. Brawl with bad guys, eat pork buns by the truckload, and solve police cases on the side in a scrappy open world game that's never too ambitious, but manages to be a lot of fun anyway. We didn't think much of the "messy story and horrible characters" in our review, but we had time for the game's "scintillating open world city". 2.99 seems like a very fair price.

2 - Tomb Raider
75% off: $4.99 / 3.74 - Steam store page
Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot isn't without its problems - most of the cast are forgettable, and it's a more linear and shallow game than fans of the originals might have been expecting - but as fairground rides go, this is meticulously and gorgeously staged. Play it to prepare yourself for the recently announced Rise of the Tomb Raider, in which Lara's hopefully brought along a coat, as well as a flannel for all that blood she finds herself swimming through.

1 - The Wolf Among Us
66% off: $8.49 / 6.45 - Steam store page
Creaking engine aside, Telltale have come a long way since the days of their pretty good Sam and Max series, so it's a relief to see that their good work on The Walking Dead wasn't a one-off. The Wolf Among us, based on the Fables comics, is overall just as deftly written as the tale of Clementine and co, although Telltale have been a fair bit slower in putting them out. You probably shouldn't read our reviews if you want to remain unspoiled, but know that we've given the series a (very gruff) thumbs-up.

Other great deals today
Remember that games not categorized as Daily Deals or Flash Sales may be reduced further.

State of Decay (75% off) $4.99 / 3.74
Monaco (67% off) $4.94 / 3.95
To The Moon (70% off) $2.99 / 2.09
E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy (75% off) $2.49 / 1.74
Year Walk (50% off) $2.99 / 2.39
Deadly Premonition (75% off) $6.24 / 4.99
Legend of Grimrock (66% off) $5.09 / 4.07
Betrayer (80% off) $3.99 / 2.99
Outlast (75% off) $4.99 / 3.74
PC Gamer
tomb raider


Every week, keen screen-grabber Ben Griffin brings you a sumptuous 4K resolution gallery to celebrate PC gaming's prettiest places.

Tomb Raider's fictional island of Yamatai, set like a scab off the Japanese mainland, was a place of inhospitable beauty. Storms and shipwrecks plague its coastline, while towards the interior lay violent cults and ancient ruins. I braved the wilds and returned to civilized society to bring you these 4K screenshots.



Download the full-sized image here.


Download the full-sized image here.


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Download the full-sized image here.





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PC Gamer
lpc-tombraider-teaser

The Lara Croft of 2014 may have fancy TressFX hair and a killer bow, but we still have fond memories of the original Lara, who fearlessly explored mysterious and oppressive tombs way back in '96. The rebooted Tomb Raider's Definitive Edition is a console exclusive, but we say the real definitive Tomb Raider has been on PC for 18 years.
To prove that the sunglass-wearing Lara looks as sharp as ever, we grabbed Tomb Raider 1+2+3 from GOG and installed the games on the Large Pixel Collider. The LPC deemed Tomb Raider's original resolution unworthy, however, and opted to run the game at 2400x1800 about 3.5 million more pixels than the Voodoo graphics cards of the '90s were used to pushing. We left everything else about the game pure and unmodified. No mods. No texture packs. Original 4:3 aspect ratio.
How to play Tomb Raider at high resolution
Want to play Tomb Raider at 1080p, or 1440p, or even 1800p like us? It's surprisingly easy. First, grab the game from GOG or Steam. Install the game, and download a free program called nGlide. This handy utility allowed us to run Tomb Raider at the highest resolution we could muster. Now let's go step by step.

Install nGlide. Nothing fancy; stick to the defaults.
Run the nGlide Configurator (nGlide should create an entry in your start menu, or you can run nglide_config.exe). Set your resolution to your preferred res, or leave it as "desktop" to run at your desktop's native res. This is what we did, since the configurator doesn't have an 1800p option!
Navigate to Tomb Raider's install directory and find the file glide2x.dll. Rename it to glide2x_backup.dll. This will allow nGlide's settings to take over controlling Tomb Raider's resolution.
Within Tomb Raider's directory, there should also be a DOSBox folder. Open that folder. There should be another glide2x.dll file inside. Rename it to glide2x_backup.dll as well.
Run Tomb Raider. If nGlide does its job, it should run in glorious high resolution, though the old FMVs will still be low-res and stretched.

Now ready for a dose of early 3D nostalgia? Then grab your dual pistols and check out our screenshots of Tomb Raider, released on October 25, 1996 in the UK and November 14 in the US.
Make sure to click the screens below to download the full-res 2400x1800 images.
Return to the Caves





The Lost Valley: dinosaurs are still scary





Qualopec's Tomb, still lookin' good

Remember Larson?



St. Francis' Folly: being eaten by lions


PC Gamer
TombRaider-image


The how and why of game updates sometimes seems like a strange bit of alchemy. Last year's Tomb Raider reboot is getting a re-release this month in what's being called its "Definitive Edition," but only if you happen to own one of the latest-generation consoles. A recent FAQ with the developer reveals the latest iteration of Lara Croft's adventures likely won't be appearing on PC.

Since it's being billed by developer Crystal Dynamics as the "ultimate expression of our original vision for Tomb Raider," it's only natural that PC owners might be interested in the new version of the game. Set to include all the DLC released since launch as well as improved graphical features and a new Lara Croft character model, it sounds at the very least like a better way to jump into the game for the first time.

"The team didn t just up-rez the game," reports the developer. "They pulled it apart and rebuilt it with new technology, finally allowing us to reach the vision for Tomb Raider that we always wanted."

We learn from Crystal Dynamics that because "Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is not a port of the PC game," it appears players not on a latest consoles won't be seeing the new physics and particle effects for the time being. But the developer's answer to a question about whether or not the original PC version would allow for an update to the new Lara Croft character model remains somewhat cagey: "At this time a PC update is not planned."

For more on what we thought of Tomb Raider at its release, check out our review.

Hat tip, PCGamesN.
PC Gamer
Saints Row 4 1


Welcome to the PC Gamer Game of the Year Awards 2013. For an explanation of how the awards were decided, a round-up of all the awards and the list of judges, check here.

There are always nominees that mean a lot to just one or two judges. In past years these might have been included as runners up, but this year we wanted to recognise them in a more substantial way. In addition to the main awards, we've each taken a personal pick, and written about why that game made such a great impression in 2013.

Tony Ellis - Total War: Rome 2



So Rome 2 didn t fix the flaws of the Total War series. Here s the thing: it didn t have to. The original Rome was so damn good, all they ever had to do was give it prettier graphics and not break it. I m still madly tackling armies twice my size, because I know that if I can just massacre this unit and this one before they join up, I have a chance. I m still dry-mouthed at the sight of a wavering company of Hastati, because I know everything is lost if they rout. When Rome 3 comes out, that ll probably be my game of the year too.

Andy Kelly - Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs



I could never enjoy The Dark Descent because of the sanity system. For me, it got in the way of the story. So I was happy to discover that not only would the sequel not have it, but it was also being developed and written by Dear Esther creators The Chinese Room. As someone who plays games for atmosphere and storytelling, Machine for Pigs is ideal. It spins a strange, compelling yarn, and the increasingly terrifying depths of that awful factory will stay with me forever. I haven t been able to look at bacon since.

Chris Thursten - Saints Row 4



I m easily won over by a good music cue, and SRIV makes phenomenal use of them. Its best bits made me happier than any other game released this year, and it is way funnier, more adventurous and transgressive than a game about gangsters has any right to be. The series has climbed from a GTA alsoran to gaming s answer to Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker comedies like Airplane! and Hot Shots!, and the fourth game in the series was my favourite mainstream game released in 2013.

Ben Griffin - Sim City



OK, let me explain. Look beyond the conga line traffic, broken leaderboards, idiot citizens, shrunken plots, saved game corruption and what might be the most catastrophic launch in gaming history, and you ll find SimCity is quite good. I love the tilt-shift aesthetic. I love how tactile it is. I love watching streams of tourists gamble at my garish casinos. Most of all I love how Maxis made the insane complexity of running a city beautifully simple. There s a brilliant game here it s just really well hidden.

Evan Lahti - Papers, Please



It hands you power and helplessness. As an impoverished checkpoint border officer in a pseudo-Soviet state, if you perform poorly at your miserable, taxing job, you won t be able to keep your family alive. But despite this low position, you re granted enormous influence over the lives of others. With one stamp, you can separate spouses, quash a conspiracy, liberate a killer, or save victims. The way the game stacks these moral quandaries atop your own instincts as caretaker is a big part of what make it worth playing.

Cory Banks - Tomb Raider



More than a reboot, this is simply a better take on Lara Croft. Previously, she was little more than an avatar, climbing poorly rendered cliffs in short shorts with a polygonal smile. Here, Crystal Dynamics turn her an actual person, a 21-year-old with faith in her convictions but fears that she s making the wrong calls. We see her struggle and suffer in the game, an aspect that made many uncomfortable, but we also see her become a hero. She s a Lara Croft I want to follow into future adventures.

Tom Senior - Assassin's Creed 4



Open-world games are benefiting hugely from new technology. Black Flag s tropical paradise is a technical marvel, a bustling archipelago bound together by dynamic oceans full of storms, colonial fleets and vulnerable trade schooners. Whether freerunning through jungles or sailing the high seas, mere traversal feels dramatic, while those islands have a knack for drawing you away from the prescribed path to hunt animals, capture forts and commit piracy. It s 2013 s most vibrant adventure.

Phil Savage - The Stanley Parable



I d played the original mod, so I thought I knew what to expect. Sure enough, I was led across the abandoned office, past the doors, through an underground complex and on to the canonical end. That was the last time across the many different branches and endings that I could confi dently predict what would happen. Nothing else I ve played this year had the same feeling of weird, hilarious and surprising discovery. The beauty of The Stanley Parable is that anything can be on the other side of a door.
PC Gamer
goty


PC Gamer editors are prohibited from celebrating Christmas. For the team, the end of the year is marked by an event known as GOTY Sleepover, a time where we somewhat-voluntarily sequester ourselves away from our families and loved ones in the interest of a greater good: selecting the best PC games of the year. We gather in a room with a very heavy door and very little ventilation and stay there until we ve reached a unanimous decision on every award category. It s a lot like the Papal conclave, but with more Cheetos.

So far, this is what we ve got. These are games nominated for awards in general, not just our single Game of the Year. Consider this a short-list of the games our team loved in 2013, one we ll whittle down into proper, named awards in the coming days.


Dota 2
Arma 3
Spelunky
Battlefield 4
Gone Home
Tomb Raider
Rising Storm
Saints Row IV
Papers, Please
BioShock Infinite
Total War: Rome II
The Stanley Parable
XCOM: Enemy Within

Check in each day over the holiday break to see who's victorious. In the meantime, here's our 2012 winners and some lively year-end video conversations about our best PC gaming experiences in 2013.
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