PC Gamer

Our Game of the Year awards get more difficult to pick every year. With approximately 38% of all Steam games released this year alone, playing them all is impossible, but we do our best to review a cross-section of releases we think will both appeal to our audience and represent the majority of quickly multiplying corners throughout all genres in PC gaming. Last year, we cut off the list at scores above 80%, but because there were so many games that made the cut, we’ve upped our standards to 84%. These games were reviewed by many different people with varying perspectives, but all according to our reviews policy. As such, try not to sweat it when scores don’t correlate across the board. And if a favorite game is missing, swing by our reviews page to find it or let us know in the comments. 

Dishonored 2

Release date: Nov 11, 2016 ▪ Developer: Arkane ▪ Our review (93%)

Despite some technical troubles—which are steadily being patched out—Dishonored 2 is one of our favorite games of the year. It's no secret that we're big fans of systems-driven games at PC Gamer, and we've celebrated Metal Gear Solid 5 and the new Hitman thoroughly for that reason. Dishonored 2 is another for the list, even better than its predecessor and one of the best stealth/action games we've played.

Football Manager 2017

Release date: Nov 3, 2016 ▪ Developer: Sports Interactive ▪ Our review (85%)If you’ve ever played Football Manager, then you already know what to expect in the latest version. It’s a refinement that makes important information easier to access so you spend more time living the stories of your teams instead of processing dense screens of statistics, but it doesn’t entirely upend the formula. Why would it? Football Manager 2017 is the best entry in a well established series, so far unparalleled. If you want to manage some football, Football Manager 2017 is the way to go. 

Hitman: The Complete First Season

Release date: Many ▪ Developer: IO Interactive ▪ Our review (84%)

We were all a little surprised when we found out the new Hitman would be episodic, but as Phil says in his review of the full first season, pulling back on Absolution's story focus was a boon. While there's still a story, what's at the heart of new Hitman is "a standalone series of sandbox murder playgrounds," as Phil put it. Blood Money fans should be pleased.

Titanfall 2

Release date: Oct 28, 2016 ▪ Developer: Respawn ▪ Our review (91%) 

With the addition of a single-player campaign and no season pass to divide the community, Titanfall 2 sheds two common complaints about the original—and also does what it does fantastically. "If this were a game from the late nineties or early noughties, we'd likely look back at the mission 'Effect and Cause' as one of the greats of the genre," wrote Chris in his review. The multiplayer is better than before as well, but there's one worry—Titanfall 2's population could suffer from its proximity to Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Let's hope it doesn't.

Battlefield 1

Release date: Oct 21, 2016 ▪ Developer: DICE ▪ Our review (89%) 

The leap back in time to WWI had good results, as Battlefield 1's focus on infantry combat pairs well with more meaningful planes and tanks, and its finicky guns slow things down a little, giving us more time to move and more pride in our good shots. The campaign is enjoyable too, which hasn't quite been the case in a Battlefield game for some time.

Civilization 6

Release date: Oct 21, 2016 ▪ Developer: Firaxis ▪ Our review (93%)

There's of course room for improvement, but Civilization 6 is nevertheless the "ultimate digital board game," as we put it in our review. It's the most  transformative version of Civ so far, changing the rules of city-management and tweaking just about everything else. And Civ 6 will only get better with expansions and user-made additions—even though the mod tools aren't out yet, the modders are already at work.

Sunless Sea: Zubmariner

Release date: Oct 11, 2016 ▪ Developer: Failbetter Games ▪ Our review (90%)In any Lovecraftian narrative, the descent always gives way to more unspeakable madness and horror, which is exactly what Zubmariner accomplishes. As an expansion to the oceanic exploration text adventuring of Sunless Sea, it sends the player beneath the waves and on the path to unraveling the mysteries of the flooded world. As scary as it is, there’s nothing spooky about more of an already excellent thing.

Forza Horizon 3

Release date: Sep 27, 2016 ▪ Developer:  Playground Games  ▪ Our review (92%)

One of the best racing games on PC, with a huge open world Australian playground (that's also full of irritating personalities) and over 350 gorgeous cars. As it's published by Microsoft Studios, Forza Horizon 3 is only available on the Windows Store—but at least Chris managed a smooth 60 fps, and didn't have many technical issues despite the Universal Windows Platform's rocky start.

World of Warcraft: Legion

Release date: Aug 30, 2016 ▪ Developer:  Blizzard  ▪ Our review (90%) 

Legion had a lot of work to do after the disappointing Warlords of Draenor, but even before all its pieces are in place, it succeeds. The quest writing, new order halls, and improved class identity are all high points. "For the first time, I don't just feel like I'm playing a druid—I am a druid," wrote Steven in his review.

N++

Release date: Aug 25, 2016 ▪ Developer: Metanet Software ▪ Our review (92%)

A refined action platformer with tricky, floaty jumps, 1,125 levels and a level editor—so there's no risk of being left wanting. Shaun has played over 300 hours of the original PS4 version, and put another 20 into this new PC release. "In some ways N++ feels like the end of the action platformer, like an exhaustive final document, a catalogue of its emotional highs and lows," he wrote in his review. It's safe to say he liked it a bit.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Release date: Aug 23, 2016 ▪ Developer: Eidos Montreal ▪ Our review (88%)

Andy wasn't super impressed by the story, but Mankind Divided's detailed vision of a future Prague, new augmentations, and level design earned it high marks. "Everywhere you look there are sentry turrets, security bots, criss-crossed laser tripwires, and patrolling guards," Andy wrote. "Getting inside, stealing the particular item you’re looking for, and escaping unseen was hugely satisfying."

F1 2016

Release date: Aug 18, 2016 ▪ Developer:  Codemasters ▪ Our review (87%) 

After last year's disappointment F1 2016 deserved some skepticism, but Codemasters came through—F1 2016 is "the most well-featured, authentic recreation of Formula One ever created, and it’s a genuinely good PC port," wrote reviewer Sam White. Better physics, better AI, and new details hoist it above the series' previous missteps.

Overcooked

Release date: Aug 3, 2016 ▪ Developer: Ghost Town Games ▪ Our review (86%)If you need to test your friendships, Overcooked is the game for you. A top down co-op cooking game, Overcooked places up to four players in crazy kitchens and throws an endless series of dishes their way. Getting a high score requires close, coordinated teamwork, but the moment communication breaks down, things can get messy. Tom calls it, “the perfect balance of chaos that can be conquered with skill,” and “hands down one of the best couch party games ever made.” Overcooked is a guaranteed recipe for fun. And disaster. And absolute despair. If you have the company, don’t miss it. 

Abzu

Release date: Aug 2, 2016 ▪ Developer: Giant Squid ▪ Our review (88%)James calls Abzu “an expertly directed psychedelic marine tour without a single UI or text prompt telling you where to go or what to do, purely driven by curiosity.” You control a diver and explore big, colorful underwater scenes, interacting with a wide assortment of sea life while unraveling a quiet story with an environmental message. Accompanied by an inspiring score from Austin Wintory, Abzu is an easy emotional journey to recommend.

Starbound

Release date: Jul 22, 2016 ▪ Developer: Chucklefish ▪ Our review (84%)According to Chris, Starbound is the charming and deep space exploration sandbox we were promised during its prolonged Early Access phase. It’s not perfect, lacking in combat systems and it’s still pretty cryptic, but “Starbound is otherwise a great pleasure, full of verve and laden with seemingly endless diversions and self-directed projects that you can lose yourself in for hours or days at a time.”

Lovely Planet Arcade

Release date: Jul 22, 2016 ▪ Developer: Quicktequila ▪ Our review (84%)

The follow-up to the great Lovely Planet, Lovely Planet Arcade strips the Y-axis from its precision, small-level shooting, meaning you can't look up and down. It's very different from its predecessor, but the essence of what makes it fun is still there: "the thrill of executing prescriptive shooting challenges with nearly zero room for error," as James put it in his review. 

Furi

Release date: Jul 5, 2016 ▪ Developer: The Game Bakers ▪ Our review (86%)

Furi has "a ludicrous premise, strenuous combat, loud neon synth jams, and saturated color palette"—but also restraint, says James. A series of bullet-hell hack n' slash boss fights train you in simple combat techniques:  slash, parry, shoot, and dash. Some bugs and difficulty spikes held it back a little, but Furi is still one of our favorite surprise hits of the year.

Hearts of Iron 4

Release date: June 6, 2016 ▪ Developer: Paradox ▪ Our review (88%)

You’ll find some cracks in the simulation, but how could there not be a few holes in such a sweeping, complicated scenario? Hearts of Iron 4 is “a beautiful, thrilling wargame” that presents the entire globe as it was at the outbreak of World War 2—and everything that happens from there is up to you and the AI.

“The AI may not always be sensible, and maybe combat doesn't always seem quite historically accurate,” wrote Rob in our review, “but then, you might be playing a version of World War 2 where Italy broke away from Germany to create a new Roman Empire with Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union was plunged into civil war and Stalin was deposed by 1942.” 

Overwatch

Release date: May 24, 2016 ▪ Developer: Blizzard ▪ Our review (88%)

A great team shooter that emphasizes positioning, teamwork and tactics over agility and marksmanship, but still leaves room for players to grow in the latter department. There are still character tweaks to be made to ensure they’re continuously viable and fun and all create interesting dynamics, but it’s the sort of game you could tweak forever. Overwatch can't replace Team Fortress 2 for us, but it’s certainly recaptured the experience of getting a bunch of friends together for night-long sessions of the current top shooter. Competitive mode is out now, and we’re keen to earn some golden guns.

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine

Release date: May 31, 2016 ▪ Developer: CD Projekt RED ▪ Our review (94%)

With Geralt's journey into the sun-drenched vintner lands of Toussaint, CD Projekt RED capstones an RPG masterpiece, defining a standard for interactive storytelling. The Witcher 3's Blood and Wine expansion follows Hearts of Stone in adding new gear and combat abilities as well as stitching together small yet eventful scenarios into a greater web of intrigue. The wonderfully paced narrative of an ostensibly routine whodunit set in Toussaint's fairytale countryside reflects what makes The Witcher games so great: a politically divided world, superb dialogue, and distinctly memorable characters. 

Total War: Warhammer

Release date: May 24, 2016 ▪ Developer: Creative Assembly ▪ Our review (86%)

The Total War series and the Warhammer franchise share a love for massive armies crashing into each other on an epic battlefield, but the latter also includes wizards with fire for hair and smelly sentient fungus. That results in more distinctly characterized armies in Total War: Warhammer emphasized by the Warhammer universe’s magic spells and flying units—all added strategy layered on the Total War pedigree of positional and tactical superiority.

Duskers

Release date: May 18, 2016 ▪ Developer: Misfits Attic ▪ Our review (86%)

Piloting drones through abstract maps of derelict spaceships might not sound tense, but Duskers can be nightmarish. “Frantically typing commands into the console when things suddenly go sideways makes me feel like I’m really huddled in a darkened dropship, alone, desperately trying to save my drones and by extension myself,” said Chris Livingston in his review. Watch out for aliens.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remaster

Release date: May 12, 2016 ▪ Developer: Square Enix ▪ Our review (85%)In the last few years, Square Enix started plugging the gaps missing in the Final Fantasy series availability on PC, with varying degrees of commitment. Not every port has been stellar, but X and X-2 HD both function pretty well, albeit not particularly well with a mouse and keyboard. They’re among the more divisive entries in the series and haven’t aged perfectly, but looking back, Sam still thinks, “Spira is a wonderful world that’s well worth exploring, and X and X-2’s different approaches to combat systems are both deep and exciting.”

Doom

Release date: May 12, 2016 ▪ Developer: id Software ▪ Our review (88%)

Doom's reverence of a primordial aspect of FPS design—killing—borders on comical exaggeration with its fountains of demon blood and a main character who communicates by punching things. That fittingly fuels fast and fun combat indulging the nostalgia of id's run-and-gun lineage without smothering its metal brutality. Doom's first major update since launch adds a Photo mode for screenshots and ups the classic feel with an optional center-aligned weapon model. 

Offworld Trading Company

Release date: Apr 28, 2016 ▪ Developer: Mohawk Games ▪ Our review (88%)Imagine an intro to marketing class, streamlined and condensed into a sweet, chewy bubblegum format—and set on Mars. That’s Offworld Trading Company, a strategy and management sim where you take control of a business dedicated to supplying new human colonies. Matt praises the unknowable depth and feedback in his review, stating ‘There’s a simple, tactile joy of seeing every a nudge of the finger explode into a flourish of numbers, but a deep and lasting satisfaction from knowing every profit was carefully engineered.”

Duelyst

Release date: April 27, 2016 ▪ Developer: Counterplay ▪ Our review (84%)

Hearthstone blazed a path by making digital card games popular on PC, and many competitors have followed in the years since. But none of them have broken so far away from the pack as Duelyst. It’s a tactics game and a CCG mixed into one, wrapped up with some of the best pixel art animations and character design of any game all year. It’s easy to pick up, but the addition of movement to largely traditional card game mechanics give it an amazing amount of depth that has kept it as one of our favorite card games all year. 

The Banner Saga 2

Release date: April 19, 2016 ▪ Developer: Stoic ▪ Our review (86%)

We loved the original, and the sequel is even better. The Banner Saga 2 is a weighty tale of survival, and a brutal strategy challenge. Some interface issues carry over from the first game, but as our reviewer put it: “Yes, there’s still room for improvement, but this is a smart, worthy sequel: denser, richer, more complex and yet more intimate. Even if you’ll feel in dire need of a stiff drink once this second act draws to its devastating close.”

Dark Souls 3

Release date: April 11, 2016 ▪ Developer: FromSoftware ▪ Our review (94%)

James calls Dark Souls 3 “the most focused, potent game in the series” in his review. It has diverse and numerous enemies, masterful combat and world design, and a dense, mysterious story to every inch of stone. Most importantly, it’s not good simply because it’s hard

Chronos

Release date: Mar 28, 2016 ▪ Developer: Gunfire Games ▪ Our review (84%)VR is still lacking a deep, directed experience that begs to be played in the steadily growing medium, but Chronos might be the closest we’ll get for a while. It’s a full blown action adventure, taking cues from The Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls with punishing 3rd person sword-and-board combat and winding monolithic level design. It also makes clever use of VR in ways that can’t be replicated on a monitor, but they’re best experienced firsthand. Wes is dying for more, saying, “It’s a rare thing for me to be halfway through a game and already excited to play a sequel.” Let’s hope Oculus moves enough headsets to make it happen.

Samorost 3

Release date: March 24, 2016 ▪ Developer: Amanita Design ▪ Our review (87%)

The greatest work so far from Czech indie studio Amanita Design. It’s a point-and-click adventure, but puzzles aren’t as important here as imagery, metaphor, and surreal weirdness. “They're also so surreal that when I did something right, it was sometimes impossible to tell exactly what I did, or why it was right,” said Andy Chalk in our review. “I crept up behind a glowing, golden gazelle, leapt upon its back, and went for a wild ride along the side of a mountain.” 

Out of the Park Baseball 17

Release date: Mar 22, 2016 ▪ Developer: Out of the Park Developments ▪ Our review (89%)There’s no baseball management sim that comes close to the batting average of Out of the Park Baseball, and while it may not feel like a complete reinvention of the series, it’s still the best in the business. In our review, Ben says, “A wealth of up-to-date licences and attribute ratings make OOTP 17 an essential purchase for the devoted player, while newcomers will swiftly grasp, and love, its relentless brilliance.” 

Day of the Tentacle Remastered

Release date: March 21, 2016 ▪ Developer: Double Fine  ▪ Our review (87%)

Day of the Tentacle is great. Day of the Tentacle Remastered is that great game, remastered, and is also great. It holds up over 20 years later, and the modernization gives us an appealing opportunity to take another trip through time. “You can still play your old copy in DOSBox or ScummVM, of course,” noted Andy in our review, “but if you want a more streamlined, modern experience, with some fascinating insight into how the game was made, the remaster is worth investing in.” 

Superhot

Release date: Feb 25, 2016 ▪ Developer: Superhot Team ▪ Our review (84%)

Time moves when you move in Superhot, a shooter distilling its mechanics into a polygonal portrayal of bullet-time. It doesn't take long to complete, but clearing a level without dying in a single hit is a challenging demand of mental forethought echoing the zen-like state of FPS professionals. A VR version of Superhot for the Oculus Rift is in the works, so you can make those Matrix moves in your living room without looking too ridiculous (or maybe not).

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

Release date: Feb 18, 2016 ▪ Developer: Spike Chunsoft ▪ Our review (86%)

As a visual novel, Danganronpa's length is matched only by the ridiculousness of its premise. That 15 of Japan's most gifted students could get trapped into playing a murderous game of "Guess Who?" by a mechanical bear is certainly a very anime concept. But through that goofy setup, Danganronpa takes a dark turn and displays a real gift for taking absurd characters and making them endearing—which makes it all the more gut-wrenching when they inevitably die. There's a reason that in our review, Andy said, "the story is so compelling that I barely noticed that all I was doing was clicking through lines of dialogue." 

Firewatch

Release date: Feb 9, 2016 ▪ Developer: Campo Santo ▪ Our review (85%)

Great dialogue, excellent voice performances, a minimal soundtrack, and some beautiful visuals brought real life to this first-person adventure game. Set in Wyoming, you play the glum and haunted Henry who is spending a secluded summer as a firewatchman. While the conclusion of the story doesn’t live up to the compelling setup, the believable relationship between Henry and Delilah, another park ranger, more than make up for it.

XCOM 2

Release date: Feb 4, 2016 ▪ Developer: Firaxis ▪ Our review (94%)

Sid Meier once described a game as a "series of interesting decisions." And in our review, Tom said that "XCOM 2 is the purest expression of that ethos that Firaxis has yet produced." From the moment you first take up arms against your alien oppressors, XCOM 2 hits you with a relentless barrage of choices so jaw-clenchingly difficult you're going to need a cigarette after each one. The lives you sacrifice for the greater good will be etched in your mind, and the temptation to reload an old save will be overwhelming. If you can resist and embrace consequence, XCOM 2 will transform you into a grizzled commander through the fires of conflict.

The Witness

Release date: Jan 26, 2016 ▪ Developer: Thekla, Inc. ▪ Our review (89%)

The Witness is brilliant in its simplicity. It speaks in a language without words, but uses shape and form to impart philosophical ideas that will change the way you see its world. Repetition is a stern yet fair teacher, and engaging with that silent discourse as a student begins to unravel the relationship entirely. But The Witness can also feel frustratingly vague. As Edwin said in our review, "what it ultimately seeks to offer is a vantage point, a perspective on life's mysteries, rather than answers." But even if you don't like the answer, The Witness proves questions are worth asking.

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak

Release date: Jan 20, 2016 ▪ Developer: Blackbird ▪ Our review (90%)

To take Homeworld and put it on the ground seems “almost sacrilegious,” wrote Rob Zacny in our review. But it works. “It's not only a terrific RTS that sets itself apart from the rest of the genre's recent games,” he said, “but it's also an excellent Homeworld game that reinvents the series while also recapturing its magic.” Deserts of Kharak is both approachable—less about production, more about tactics—and another example of all the life still flowing through the RTS genre.

Darkest Dungeon

Release date: Jan 19, 2016 ▪ Developer: Red Hook Studios ▪ Our review (88%)

Darkest Dungeon is cruel, probably too cruel. It's a dungeon crawler that doesn't deal in stats and loot alone but also trades on the mental well-being of the heroes you send into its festering crypts. But these heroes don't return stronger for their troubles; they come back battered and broken, a liability you're much better off dismissing. Beneath all that doom and gloom is an innovative take on turn-based RPGs that weaves the positioning of party members with an unconventional class system, that inspires experimentation despite the constant dread of what will happen if you fail.

The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human

Release date: Jan 19, 2016 ▪ Developer: YCJY ▪ Our review (90%)

Our reviewer loved how Aquatic Adventure “fast-forwards through the Metroidvania template, stripping it down to its most essential parts: exploration, atmosphere, and player growth”. It’s an underwater take on the classic genre, where you putter around gorgeous pixel-art environments, collecting upgrades, taking out challenging bosses, and try to decipher how earth’s oceanic apocalypse came about. You also get to swim out of a giant sea worm’s ass, a necessary experience. 

Pony Island

Release date: Jan 4, 2016 ▪ Developer: Daniel Mullins ▪ Our review (91%)

Pony Island is so dependent on its little self-referential gimmicks that it’s hard to explain without giving it all away. In a sense, and because there’s a pun to be made, that makes it a one-trick pony, but it does a great trick. One of its pranks near the end of the game is so devious we won’t likely forget it soon. If you like Undertale or The Stanley Parable, you’ll probably enjoy Pony Island. 

PC Gamer

Saladin and Gandhi declared war on me, and I thwarted their invasion and made peace. Now, for some asinine reason, most of the world is calling me a warmonger. My friends in Rome, meanwhile, have used our open borders agreement to pointlessly surround my capital with swordsmen, forcing me to break our friendship agreement and declare war just so I can move my own troops around again. I guess I am a warmonger, at least when I can no longer play the game without going to war.

The foreign policy of Civilization 6’s AI leaders is absurd, but as irritating as those stories are, there’s a lot of good in the grand strategy series update. The new district system is one of my favorite additions to any Civilization. Cities are no longer a single tile with a few farms and a mine nearby, and can be properly sprawling and unique. It’s much more fun to play with just a few metropolises, carefully managing land usage and bonuses, nestling a campus in a valley beneath a mountain range and linking a harbor with a commerce district.

While they could use work, I’m glad systems like caravans and religion have been carried over from the Civilization 5 expansions. I don’t play Civilization for the discombobulating foreign affairs, but for the design and management of a network of cities—which is what Civ 6 has excelled at improving. 

My only big disappointment is the time it s taking to release mod tools, which Firaxis still hasn t announced progress on.

There’s every reason to be hopeful that Civ 6 will get better, too. When Civ 5 came out, there was a contingent (which I was a part of) which said that, sure, it looks nicer and it’s more accessible, but Civilization 4 is obviously superior. History is repeating itself with Civ 6, and while there are reasons to hold off for now (the inevitable price drop one of them), I’m optimistic that within a few years it will obtain the status Civ 5 eventually did after that initial shunning.

My only big disappointment is the time it’s taking to release mod tools, which Firaxis still hasn’t announced progress on. Not that the lack of tools has stopped modders from tinkering with Civ 6’s files: So far I’ve installed mods to increase the yield of ocean tiles, add useful information to the UI, and simplify my trade route decisions. When proper tools do come, through, it should be a boon for Civ's community of creative historians.

I’m certain we’ll see an official expansion next year, as well, but what I’d like more from Firaxis are free updates to aspects that won’t necessarily be touched by an expansion. Adding new civs and systems is nice and all, but first, the AI should really be more fun to play against—and it looks like that's happening. An update just yesterday claims to have “improved AI deal negotiations and analysis.” I haven’t had a chance to test that claim just yet, but at least Firaxis is on the case.

I m glad my fascination with miniatures is satisfied digitally, or I d be buried in tiny plastic trees and farms and cathedrals.

For the most part, Civ 6 is a collection of great ideas that could each use tweaking and improving. I like the new policies system, for instance, which adds a welcome layer of governance, though the abstractions can be odd—why does class struggle eliminate war weariness? I mostly ignore religion because I find dispersing missionaries tedious, but trade remains a priority for me, and I love seeing roads develop along routes (if any bit of micromanagement deserved to be cut from Civ 5, building roads was it).

I initially recoiled from Civ 6’s more colorful, cartoony graphics—I was all set to call it an unworthy successor to Civ 5—but now I love zooming in on my little mines and markets and harbors to see them work. I’m glad my fascination with miniatures is satisfied digitally, or I’d be buried in tiny plastic trees and farms and cathedrals. Civ 6 saves me space while I waste my time, and for that I am grateful.

PC Gamer

If you're yet to play Civilization 6, here's what strategy guru T.J. Hafer wished he knew prior to conquering the world. If you have played, you'll know Firaxis and 2K's latest slant on the esteemed world domination sim comes packing a pretty impressive roster of world leaders. It's now added Jadwiga of Poland to that list via its first portion of premium DLC. 

For £3.99/$4.99, you now have the opportunity to lead Poland into war—a force which can gain control of rival civ's tiles after they've fortified their borders. Furthermore, leader Jadwiga leverages her power to increase the value of Relics and likewise make Holy Sites more effective. 

The DLC also includes a new scenario: "Stand at the crossroads of Europe protecting the fertile Polish homelands from those who would seize it to empower themselves," reads its Steam page description. "Can you stand as a bulwark against this threat?" 

A new Vikings Scenario Pack lets players rule Europe for 100 turns as a Viking Lord. Playing as either Harald Hardrada of Norway, King Canute of Denmark or Olof Skotkonung of Sweden, you'll get to grips with six new City-States as well as three new Natural Wonders—both as part of the DLC and within the base game. This also costs £3.99/$4.99.

Both DLCs launch alongside a free and expansive 'Winter Update' which introduces a new Earth map, an 'Alert' action for units, new scenario menu options, and a new replay option to Wonder completion movies, among a host of other balance changes and AI and bug fixes. 

Full details for the respective DLCs can be found here and here, while full patch notes for Civilization 6's Winter Update can be found in this direction.

PC Gamer

So this is interesting. Proving that yes, we can all just get along, AMD and Intel have teamed up to offer gamers a pretty sweet deal on a hardware and games bundle.

"Radeon has joined forces with Intel to serve up a compelling, limited time holiday bundle through Newegg that delivers the excellent power efficiency of Intel’s 6th Generation Core-i5 6600K CPU with the powerful, future-ready performance of the MSI Radeon RX 480 Armor 8GB OC (overclocked) video card," AMD's Jason Evangelho announced on the company's Radeon Technologies Group blog.

AMD is hoping to restore parity in the processor space when it releases its next-generation Zen architecture next year. If Zen had already launched, it would be tough to imagine AMD promoting a bundle with rival Intel, but it hasn't launched yet and so here we are.

The bundle sells for $450 and includes the CPU and graphics card mentioned above, along with two free games, Civilization 6 and Doom. If purchased separately, the tally would come to a few pennies shy of $620. The savings add up to about $170, plus there's a $15 mail-in-rebate available (courtesy of MSI), bring the total saved to $185.

Even without factoring in the games, the bundle saves buyers $50 upfront over buying the CPU and graphics card separately, plus another $15 when the mail-in-rebate arrives. So, it's a pretty good deal no matter how you slice it.

The deal runs until December 31. You can grab the bundle here.

PC Gamer

The ruggedly mellifluous Sean Bean drew many a manly tear as the narrator of the Civilization 6 launch trailer. Even though it was a multi-generational affair, spanning eons of human history, it looked as though, for once, he wouldn't die at the end—until he ate a hail of 7.92mm machine gun fire in the skies over England. Unfortunately, it seems like nobody thought to mention that fact to Sean. And he really, really thought he made it through this time.

Actually, he took the news pretty well, all things considered. I suppose he's used to it by now. 

"I was in the dark, which was quite good for me because I didn't know what was going on. I just learned as I was going, and therefore it was quite a surprise to me. It was very fresh and very spontaneous," Bean says in the trailer, comparing the experience of voice acting with his more regular work in film. "You just try to be as truthful as you are in filming, but you have the luxury of having all the lines in front of you, so that's great!" 

Civilization 6 isn't actually Bean's first foray into the realm of videogames: He's previously appeared as Martin Septim in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and last year narrated the bizarre adventure Kholat

He died at the end of at least one of those, too. 

PC Gamer

Civilization 6 received a substantial update today in the form of its 'Fall Update' patch, ushering in DirectX 12 support as well as a host of sweet gameplay additions. As far as the latter is concerned, there's a new multiplayer scenario called 'Cavalry and Cannonades', as well as two new map types in the form of Four-Leaf Clover and Six-Armed Snowflake. According to the patch notes, these map types are "designed to encourage more conflict".

As the first major patch for the game, the list of updates and tweaks is extensive. The user interface has received a number of fixes and improvements; AI is better tuned, and the list of bug fixes is very long. You can read the whole spiel over here, and then compare and contrast with some of the beefs Evan had with the game earlier this week.

As far as DirectX 12 support goes, the patch starts with AMD cards, as well as Nvidia Maxwell series cards and upwards. Firaxis advises to make sure your GPU drivers are updated before booting the game.

PC Gamer

AMD has a new hotfix (16.11.4) available for Radeon graphics card owners and guess what? It introduces DirectX 12 support for Civilization 6! Just kidding (apologies to anyone who just spit coffee onto their monitor in surprised delight), Firaxis and AMD are still working on that. Update: The DirectX 12 patch finally went live, just half a day later than expected. Along with Civ6 getting DX12 support, this driver release helps to ensure everything works optimally with the new DX12 code.

Besides Civ6 tuning and support, the driver release notes mention other items, one of which applies to Titanfall 2. Here are the bugs it stomps out:

  • H.264 content playback may experience playback issues on internet browsers with hardware acceleration when also running gaming applications or content.
  • Radeon R9 Fury Series products may experience minor graphical corruption in Titanfall 2 when inside a titan.

There are some known issues AMD continues to work on. They include:

  • A few game titles may fail to launch, experience performance issues or crash if the third party application "Raptr" has its game overlay enabled. A workaround is to disable the overlay if this is experienced.
  • DOOM may experience a crash when launched using the Vulkan API on some Graphics Core Next products.
  • DOTA 2 may experience a crash when launched using the Vulkan API on some Graphics Core Next products.
  • Flickering may be experience while playing Overwatch in the main menu or viewing character models using AMD CrossFire mode.
  • FIFA 17 may experience an application hang or black screen on launch for some select Hybrid Graphics or AMD PowerXpress mobile configurations.
  • H.264 content may experience blocky corruption when streaming using P2P content players on some Radeon RX 400 series graphics products.t

You can download the latest Crimson hotfix direct from AMD.

PC Gamer

#15: Gilgamesh's superfluous second pinky fingers.

Civ 6 is real good. I agree with most of the stuff that T.J. had to say about it in his enthusiastic review. I think Civ 6's elegant map breathes a ton of life into the series, and I love the Pixar-quality expressions of the leaders. I like most of the UI, how much individual tiles matter, and that barbarians are smart and annoying. I think the changes to combat are smart.

But alongside these improvements are a pile of annoyances that I am compelled to put on the internet. Here are some discomforts that've sapped my enthusiasm for Sid's Sixth.

1. Adjacency bonuses: incredibly important, poorly expressed 

This is the big one. When you're about to build a district, Civ 6 tells you what bonuses you'll get for that tile immediately if I drop a campus beside two mountains, I'll get two bonus science per turn, for example. But you can't really check in on those adjacency bonuses mid-game. Is my aqueduct boosting my theater district? How much are my mines helping my industrial zone? It's bonkers that I can't just hover over a tile and have it tell me in detail what benefits it's giving me.

2. My kingdom for a tooltip

Likewise, some of Civ's biggest nuances go un- or under-explained. For my first playthrough, I struggled to figure out why a city I'd conquered was suffering occupation penalties hundreds of turns later because the (I guess) inconsequential topic of city conquering is afforded a single sentence in Civilopedia, which itself has tons of information gaps. What do you do with captured spies? If I agree to not move too close to my neighbor's borders, will I violate that promise if their borders advance, or if a scout passes by? What determines which type of artifacts spawn from an antiquity site? What's the threshold for gaining or losing the war weariness penalty? If I found a city atop a luxury resource, do I get it?

3. Amenity allocation

On that note: I like amenities. I think they're an interesting counterweight to population growth. But they aren't well explained. Civ tells you that amenities are distributed evenly between cities, automatically. But if I have four cities and five amenities, with equal population, who gets the fifth one? Again, it's frustrating to not have perfect information when you're deciding whether to build a zoo or a spy. It also took me too long to understand that duplicate luxury resources provide no benefit, other than being tradable extras.

4. UI scaling doesn't work at 1440p

5. Distance-based benefits

Some buildings and wonders, like zoos, or a power plant, grant their benefits to all owned cities within six tiles. Getting two improvements for the price of one can be game-changing. Unfortunately, Civ 6 gives no indication of how that six-tile range is determined. If my neighboring city is four tiles north and two tiles east, does that mean it also gains the benefit? You can calculate it out yourself after a building is completed, but again, why isn't there any visualization of this when you're making a building decision?

6. Camera snapping to units

You can disable this easily by tweaking a text file, but the default camera behavior can be pretty aggravating depending on how many 'awake' units you have and how widely they're distributed over the map.

7. Tourism is the loneliest number

I enjoyed my run as Teddy Roosevelt. I founded New York and Yosemite on the same turn! Hell yeah. Accumulating great works and great people remains a satisfying part of Civ: deploying Chopin or Mary Shelley or Dvorak and seeing their creations spring to life, fullscreen, feels like grabbing epic loot off a boss in Diablo.

Ultimately, though, tourism in Civ 6 is a number that you watch go up until you win. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there's no visualization to help me delight in the idea of citizens visiting my museums and resorts. I don't get the same visual payoff that I do with a science victory, where I get to see each stage of the Mars mission shot into space. That's a shame because Civ 6 has some wonderful, handcrafted details: if you build Cristo Redentor, for example, its appearance changes depending on the time of day. But there's no expression of Berlin or Jerusalem being thriving hubs of travel and culture.

Broken record time: tourism's nuances are also poorly explained. I have to do a lot of mouse-hovering over icons to figure out that India's religion is boosting the tourists I get from them, or that, because Germany grabbed the Enlightenment civic, I'm getting fewer tourists from them. Culture also doesn't interact with many of the game's other systems, other than spies. What if tourists had a negative impact on housing?

8. The religious endgame

For many of the same reasons, I find Civ 6's religious victory unsatisfying. Because you've only got three units, it's attrition with very little strategy underneath it. Although some civs like Kongo have interesting interactions with religion, and the 'faith race' to earn a great prophet is interesting, religious warfare essentially operates on a parallel plane from the rest of the game, disconnected from Civ's other systems and goals.

9. The spy assignment UI

Please, just let me click on the tile I'd like to place my spy.

10.  The hidden unit selection menu

"Now where did I put Leonardo da Vinci?" Seriously, I had to help two different people find this thing.

11. The ancient secret of tile swapping

It's strange that the Very Useful ability to swap tiles between bordering cities is buried under the citizen management button. Swapping a big farm or production tile can make all the difference when you're managing population growth or wonder progress.

12. And Civ's secret spreadsheets

Blame this on my own illiteracy (or on #4), but I didn't find the incredibly useful "View Reports" button until about 40 hours in. It's right there, staring at you in the top-middle of the screen, ready to table a bunch of valuable info your cities' output.

13. Diplomacy menu 'lag'

I can click on things within the diplomacy menu while a turn is processing, but that my inputs don't resolve until the turn is done processing. It's weird to be able to push these buttons and have them not immediately respond. Likewise, visualizations like the worker allocation view aren't usable while a turn's being processed.

14. Housing isn't visualized

Housing becomes a big concern in the mid-game before you unlock neighborhoods, and yet Civ 6 hides where housing is distributed across your tiles. There is a UI mod for this, but it's not great.

...And, yeah, the AI, which T.J. dug into in greater detail at the bottom of his review.

PC Gamer

Ubisoft is having an open beta for Steep this weekend, its open world extreme sports game that has players grabbing life by the horns like in Point Break, minus the illegal activities, of course. If you're planning to partake and own a GeForce graphics card, there's a new Game Ready driver release ready, version 375.86.

"Game Ready drivers provide the best possible gaming experience for all major new releases, including virtual reality games. Prior to a new title launching, our driver team works until the last minute to ensure every performance tweak and bug fix is included for the best gameplay on day one," Nvidia says, in case anyone needs a refresher.

In addition to being optimized for the Steep beta, the 375.86 driver release also provides tweaks for The Division Survival DLC, Battlefield 1, and Civilization 6. Nvidia also added a temporal SLI profile for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and fixed a handful of issues, several of which are carryovers from previous driver releases. Here are the ones the release notes list for Windows 10:

  • [375.70] Smearing and ghosting reported with latest NVIDIA drivers.
  • [375.63, GeForce GTX 980 Ti] Artifacts in GIFs after driver update.
  • [SLI, GeForce GTX 1080] Unable to enable Surround with SLI HB bridge; single ribbon SLI bridge works fine.
  • Battle Carnival is falsely detected as Bionic Commando.
  • [G-SYNC, 372.70, GeForce GTX 1080] G-SYNC monitor flickers at 144Hz, not reproduced with 368.81.
  • [SLI, 372.54] Wrong memory usage values in games on Pascal GPUs in SLI mode.
  • [G-SYNC, GP102] Periodic flickering on desktop at 165Hz when dragging or resizing windows with G-SYNC enabled.

And here are the two that apply to Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 7:

  • GeForce Experience icon missing on system notification tray.
  • [GeForce GTX 980 Ti] Unable to detect multiple TV models from Loewe Technologies GmbH.

There are several open issues that Nvidia is working to fix. One of them is a bug that crashes The Division Survival when changing from full-screen to windowed full-screen, which only seems to happen in Windows 10.

You can download the latest Nvidia graphics driver here and view the accompanying release notes here (PDF).

PC Gamer

I first fell in love with Civilization after I was destroyed.

On a giant, fractal map I cultivated a tiny, city-state-like paradise on a remote island, completely (and happily) cut off from the rest in the world. Turn after turn, I invested heavy into culture without building anything as much as a spearman to fortify the small force you spawn in with. My isolationist utopia was cranking towards victory, until one day I was discovered by Otto Von Bismarck and the rest of his German aircraft carriers.

He declared war on me, and an incomprehensibly huge German fleet emerged from the enveloping fog of war. My island, stocked with all the world s wonders and great people of nearly every designation, was shelled to death in about three turns. Just brutal, remorseless technocratic natural selection, and I was laughing so hard as all my hard work burned to the ground.

That s the great thing about Civilization. History is brutish and unfair, but it can also be hilarious. With simple graphics and complex systems, Sid Meier's flagship franchise has given us so many vivid stories grudges against famous world leaders, tales of terrible slides into despotism, classic cases of AI gone haywire all from the privacy of our own bedrooms. With the release of Civilization 6, I reached out to some of Civilization s oldest fans and asked them to tell me about their favorite memory on the tiles.

Bless our proxy states

I was playing as Alexander/Greece in Civilization 5. I was hidden behind a huge mountain range that cut my empire off from the rest of the continent. Mongolia was one of three other civs just East of these mountains. There was a small valley that opened up my territory to the rest of the landmass, but it was controlled by a city-state. As the eras went by, I watch Genghis Khan kill every other Civ one by one as I hide behind this huge mountain range. Mongolia took over the entire continent by the industrial era. He then declared war on the city-state controlling the pass through the mountains. I gifted that little city-state at least a dozen units to help keep them alive during their war against Mongolia. I eventually hit the point where I had no military unit left because I was fighting a proxy war to keep Mongolia from controlling this pass.

The city-state eventually fell to Mongolia only a few turns before I won a science victory. I remember feeling remorse as I left the planet thinking about the city-state that kept me safe. I imaged the spaceship with the name of the city-state written on the front of it; Toronto. YouTuber Drew Durnil

The reverse colonization

I've told this story on my channel before but it's the first one that pops into my mind anytime I think of fun Civ games. It was back in the Civilization 2 days and I started out all alone on a decent-sized island. With no need to put any focus into military I could go all in on tech and economy and thought I was doing really well, I could just imagine myself, once I learned to build caravels and could visit the other islands, marching through their primitive civilizations with my mighty knights. Once that day came I loaded up a couple caravels with knights (and a worker to improve my soon to be lands) and sailed off to discover across the sea. Turns out, all but one other civ was on one massive continent. With the tech sharing of the old Civ games they far surpassed me, and now that they knew of me, and how weak I was, my knights were no match for their tanks and artillery and I was quickly destroyed. YouTuber Nookrium

Image via MyAbandonware.

Nuclear irony

I was playing Civilization 2 as America, and was going for a domination victory. Japan was the other powerful Civilization remaining in the game. I had been at war with them for some time. The war was dragging on and I did not yet have nuclear weapons.

While I was transporting units across the ocean to hopefully close them out, they dropped a nuke on Washington.

In 1945.

The random irony killed me. I only wish I had captured as screenshot. Reddit user JackFunk

The false flag

My best story would have to be from Civ IV. I was playing a multiplayer game with two friends, and as you may be aware, Civ IV features a multitude of random events that may happen throughout the game, most of which we were unfamiliar with. One such event popped up around the renaissance era stating that the dread pirate Blackbeard was ravaging the seas.Not long after, I happened to chance upon his ship... and easily sunk it with my own Frigates. That was a little underwhelming, I thought. But then the most unscrupulous idea occurred to me my friends were still quite unaware that I'd made the villain walk the plank, and in Civ IV, you can build Privateers, which hide their nationality from other players. You can also rename units... see where I'm going with this?

And so, a great fleet of a dozen "Blackbeards" set sail from my ports, aiming straight for my "allied" friends, and started plundering their coasts, sinking their transports carrying settlers to newly discovered continents and blockading their ports. And they bought the ruse hook, lure and sinker! For maybe 30 turns our Skype voice chat was filled with rage at the horrible computer-controlled corsair wrecking their stuff, as I struggled to contain my giggles. Reddit user TakFloyd

Image via Steam user Zigzagzigal

Attrition

This was in Civ V. I was playing as Harald Bluetooth and spawned on the coast. Immediately to the south of me, Montezuma and the Aztecs popped up. Even if I was sharing a continent with the Aztecs, that wouldn't have been TOO bad, except the diplomatic tooltip told me that Montezuma had "coveted lands that I currently own." Which probably meant my seaport.

This should have been a red flag, telling me to just say "fuck it" and restart the game. But I didn't do that.

Cut to a few turns later (still in the Ancient Era), and suddenly, out of the blue, the Aztecs declare war on me with the intent to invade me. My Viking army is constantly being zerg rushed by Aztec Jaguar warriors and other troops. I beat them back every time, even with a military as pitiful as mine. Despite this, Montezuma refuses to make peace with me. Ever.

It is now the medieval era. Both the Vikings (myself) and the Aztecs have been fighting against each other in a fruitless war for 2000 years. There can be no peace. Only constant, senseless bloodshed conducted in the name of both Odin and Quetzalcoatl. My people face a constant Aztec onslaught, wondering each turn whether they will survive for much longer. No matter how many of his troops I kill, Montezuma always comes back with more jaguars, spearmen, and siege engines. He refuses to negotiate peace. Ever. This war can end only with the destruction of one side, and it probably won't be his. Reddit user Willie5000

Attrition

I remember playing Civ 3, going for a science victory and generally minding my own business. I didn't really explore all that much and considered myself safe, since my small island nation was isolated and defended by mech infantry at the time when everyone else was fielding muskets.Well, lo and behold, I get [a declaration of war] by the Zulu. I pretty much scoff at the notion and proceed as usual, waiting for them to send some sacrificial units that I can easily blow to kingdom come. A turn passes, then several, then I forget about the war entirely and switch back to building stuff.

And then I lose the goddamn game.

How, you ask? Well, my small island nation had some fog of war in the far left corner. Nothing there but empty tundra, so who cares. Apparently, Mr. Shaka used that spot as a disembarkation point for what I can only assume were an INFINITE number of cavalry. I just sat there and stared at the never-ending line of cavalry units running at my cities and getting slaughtered, over and over and over again, occasionally chipping some hp from the defenders until they won. I counted at least 30 units before I lost track. I still don t know how many he actually had.

To this day, the very first thought in my head when somebody mentions Civilization, is that damn sound loop of: pa-tup pa-tup, pa-tup pa-tup, blam blam, boom, bleaaargh, flop. Reddit user Grumpy_Hedgehog

The Siberian war machine

When I was a kid I broke my leg playing hockey. I was going to be laid up all summer and I was really bummed about it. My brother surprised me by buying me Civilization 1. On my first game I was playing as America on Earth. I took over all of the US and Canada and thought I was doing just oh-so-great. I had a solid garrison of archers and spearmen in every city, tons of tile improvements, etc. Suddenly a civ I haven't met unloads about four dozen freakin tanks onto the shores of New York, and THIS GUY and his epic 8-bit music pops up telling me I'm about to die.

Turns out that if left alone, the Civ 1 Russia on Earth could leverage Siberia like crazy since it was all "forest" rather than ice or tundra tiles. So Stalin had many dozens of cities and tanks while everyone else is fielding knights. The red armies of Mother Russia overran my paltry forces in days and that music has forever after given me chills.

It was then that I knew I'd be hooked on this game series for life. Played every version, including Alpha Centauri, and I've loved them all. So far Civ 6 is as outstanding as I had hoped. Reddit user JonesitUp

Mandatory fun

I was playing a ring map with some friends as Egypt.

I was basically wonder spamming (Egypt's unique ability lets them build wonders faster) and was getting close to a cultural victory. Ultimately it was me and one other guy playing the game, once the less competitive people dropped out.

I was something like 99% influential over him when I got a Great Musician. Normally you can send a GM into another Civ's lands, but I didn't have an open borders agreement with him. Knowing I was going for the culture win, he refused to make that deal for obvious reasons.So I did what any culturally enriched dictator would do I declared war on him and held a CONCERT BY FORCE.

YOU WILL SIT AND YOU WILL FUCKING LISTEN TO THIS BEAUTIFUL MUSIC GERMANY

I won the game as a result and we died laughing in the process. RIP. Reddit user Patientbearr

The Trojan horse

I was playing vanilla Civ 5 with Japan (me) China and France and some other civilization that I can remember.

So we were on this big continent, China made a bunch of cities so its territory took like 3/5 of the continent, France and I shared the last 2/5. France was above me and China was below me.

During the whole game I was trying to go in the pacifist route, going for a cultural or technological win so I had little to no army, so I tried my hardest to get China to be friends with me so it could protect me just in case. China was at the modern era when we were still in the Renaissance with France, and had a bunch of Helicopters, tanks and a lot of other units.

France declared war on me for some reason, probably wanted a bigger territory but thankfully China came to the rescue and absolutely destroyed the French, who only had its capital remaining. France offered a peace treaty to me alongside a bunch of gold per turn and stuff so of course, being the pacifist that I was, I accepted. China didn't, however, and asked me to open my borders so it could destroy the French civ. Once again I said yes.

So China moved all of its army in my border to get to the French civ and suddenly declared war on me. The AI used the fact that France was above me to trick me into letting its army in my border. I was amazed at how smart the AI was (or how stupid I was to trust China) and I got destroyed in one turn. Reddit user RobbertFruit

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