DEFCON - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

An entirely objective ranking of the 50 best PC strategy games ever made, now freshened up to include everything from 2017 and 2018. From intricate, global-scale wargames to the tight thrills of guerrilla squads, the broad expanse of the genre contains something for everyone, and we’ve gathered the best of the best.

The vast majority are available to buy digitally, a few are free to download and play forever. They’re all brilliant.

(more…)

Half-Life 2

Earlier this week, we asked you to tell us the last physical copy of a PC game you bought, while sharing our own choices. Today, as a kind of sequel to that question, we ask, what was the first downloadable game you bought on PC

In the PC Gamer Q&A, we ask the global PC Gamer team for their thoughts on a particular subject, then invite you to add your thoughts in the comments below. We'll also feature a few answers from the PC Gamer Club Discord, accessible to anyone who's a part of our membership program.

You'll find our answers below, and we'd love to hear what your first paid downloadable game was too. 

Jarred Walton: Half-Life 2

I'll take the easy route on this one, because it's also true: Half-Life 2 was the first downloadable game I bought. I also played Counter-Strike 1.6 on the platform (including using the Steam beta), but that was a mod for Half-Life so I didn't pay for it. Anyway, HL2 required Steam, so what else was I going to do? I'm old enough that having a credit card and high-speed internet back in 2004 wasn't a problem, and I was luckier than some, in that Steam worked basically without a hitch for me. Sure, there were a few outages, but I don't recall them ever really affecting me. 

I played (and benchmarked) Half-Life 2 all the way to the end in the first week or so after its release, and I thought the convenience of downloading a game was pretty awesome. Others hated the idea, but I don't think any of us could have guessed how huge Steam would become over the next decade. It went from a place where you bought Valve games and maybe a few others, to eventually becoming the virtual storefront for 95 percent of all the games I own. No wonder EA, Ubisoft, and Activision want a piece of that pie.

Jody Macgregor: Uplink

I kept buying boxed copies of games for ages because slow Australian internet made downloading them a hassle, until I got into small indie games that wouldn't bust my data limit. The first was Uplink, which let me live out the fantasy of being an elite computer hacker and also the fantasy of having really fast internet.

It's designed to make you feel like you're in the movie Sneakers, and for a while it did. Like every other hacking game I've tried—games like Hack 'n' Slash, and else.Heart.Break()—it eventually started to feel like work instead of fun. Now when I want to pretend I'm a hacker I just go to hackertyper.net. What it did get me into was playing more small, personal projects and I found plenty of those to love. The next two were Atom Zombie Smasher and Audiosurf, both of which became favorites.

Samuel Roberts: Audiosurf

Right when rhythm action games were blowing up on console, but tended to focus on guitar music that I didn't really like and plastic controllers that took up way too much space in a single person's bedroom, a friend explained how there was a rhythm action game where you could play your own songs. The novelty of this was huge to me. I was 20 at the time, working on a PlayStation magazine, and I didn't really have the cash for a good PC, having wasted hundreds of pounds on a PS3 I needed for work—which broke a year later. Sigh. At least I got to play Uncharted, I suppose. Eventually, my parents bought me an okayish laptop, and one of the first things I did was download Audiosurf on Steam. 

It was pretty amazing, to upload my favourite tracks into the game and to have so many cool and challenging ways to play them, along with leaderboards. This was one of the first PC games of the modern era that really showed me why playing on PC was better—both in terms of the variety of games available, and the experiences that only PC could give you. If I wanted to play the theme tune from Max Payne 2 in a rhythm action game, I could do it, damn it! 

Now I own close to 1000 games across Steam, GOG, uPlay, Battle.net and Origin, and I don't know why I've done that to myself. 

James Davenport: SiN Episodes

Remember the short-lived SiN Episodes reboot? I can't remember why I chose to make that my first digital purchase rather than, say, Half-Life 2, but it was. It was this whole ordeal. I didn't have a credit card and Steam bucks weren't really a thing back then, so I went to a friend's house (hey, Anton, I'll find that copy of Kingdom Hearts and return it as soon as I can) just to ask their older sister to let me use hers. Digital game marketplaces were a new concept back then, and she didn't play many games anyway, so it 100-percent came off as a con. 

Your little brother's good friend rolls in with wearing the edgiest Linkin Park t-shirt he could find at Goodwill, then asks, under his breath, to borrow your credit card to purchase something from "Steam" called "Sin". My ma had just started preaching at the local Presbyterian church and everyone knew it, so the look Anton's sister threw my way had me worried her eyes might pop out. Not sure why she agreed in the end, but thanks, Roxie. Only had dial-up internet at the time, so my parents paid for it next with a phone line that wouldn't put a call through for a day or two. And when I finally played Episode 1, the only episode ever released, I remember feeling like all the trouble was worth it. The novelty of a game floating somewhere in the ether that I could call mine and play from any computer was incredibly empowering. Bit of a shit game, but SiN Episode 1 got me hooked on Steam, and set me right in the path of innumerable indie games I would have missed otherwise. 

Phil Savage: Prey, the original one

I spent most of my 2000s dealing with a laptop that became too hot to handle after just 20 minutes of Command & Conquer: Generals. As such, the advent of Steam passed me by—if it wasn't a sedate isometric strategy game or RPG, I wasn't prepared to suffer the third-degree burns required to play it. In 2008, though, I got a real job and saved enough money to buy a desktop PC. I downloaded Steam, fully intending to finally play Half-Life 2. Instead, I ran face first into a Steam sale. Prey was on offer for about £3. I didn't know what it was, or if it was any good, but at that price how could I not immediately buy it?

It was good. Prey is far from amazing, but if you don't know any better—for instance if you hadn't played an FPS since Quake because your last decade had been spent ordering many sprites to gib many orcs in the various Infinity Engine RPGs—it looked spectacular. I also bought Audiosurf on the same day, because everyone bought Audiosurf in 2008.

Chris Livingston: Half-Life 2, probably

My Steam purchase history only goes back to 2007 for some reason, but I have to assume it was Half-Life 2. I remember staying up late to unlock it. It launched fine, and I remember seeing those Combine metrocops walking around on the menu screen. Instead of playing, though, I decided to change a couple graphics options, and then had to restart. And that's when Steam completely tanked. I couldn't get back in. I missed my window to play a game I'd been waiting years for, and after about three hours of not being able to connect, I just had to give up and go to sleep because I had work in the morning. I'm sure glad that 15 years later games no longer have launch day issues, huh? Huh?

The PC Gamer Club

We got a few answers from the Club Discord, so thanks all who responded. "I'm pretty sure my first digital game was Mass Effect 1 &2 in 2010 because I'm old and until that point I always got games from a store," says user IronGnomee. "A podcast I listened to at the time was always saying how amazing Commander Shepard was so I finally tried it out." 

"As far as I can remember, it would be The Orange Box," says user Buttface Jones in Discord. "I had played PC games before TOB, like Quake, Command and Conquer, and WoW but always from a disc. I bought TOB on Xbox and fell in love with TF2, despite how bad and limited the Xbox version was. I eventually got fed up and downloaded Steam specifically to play 'the real TF2'."

User Buttz says Garry's Mod on Steam. Imbaer adds, "Orange box in 2008 for me." Fellow user erdelf adds "Stargate Resistance honestly, before that I bought games in the store or played f2p online games." 

Let us know the first downloadable game you bought below!

DEFCON - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alister MacQuarrie)

civilization-vi-rise-and-fall-growth-1

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall wants to solve a problem. That problem is perpetual growth, and it plagues many 4X games. Whether your aim is world conquest or cultural hegemony, victory in Civilization and many of its cohorts depends on domination. However peacefully you try to play, you’re often straight-jacketed into a utilitarian-psychotic view where all resources and people are just raw material to be assimilated, Borg-like, until the whole map is monochrome.

But as the early excitement of exploration and expansion ebbs to late game stagnation, the fun runs out. Historically, stagnating empires tend to fragment and collapse. But in Civilization VI, like many games, you’re the star of the show and there’s nowhere to go but up.

(more…)

Uplink - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brendan Caldwell)

As anyone who watches their feeds knows, we live in a constantly evolving cyberpunk dystopia. They’re connecting toilets to the internet, for heavens sake. If this Gibsonist world is just too REAL for you, we have put together the ten best videogames about hacking, programming and computing so you can escape into meta-dystopia. Which I’m sure is a much better place.

(more…)

DEFCON - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brendan Caldwell)

spawn-pont-company-of-heroes

Hello. This is Spawn Point, a new not-quite-regular feature in which we take a genre, series or other facet of gaming culture, and try to convince you to give it a shot. It might be those hero shooters you ve always wanted to get into, or that terrifying space game played by thousands of jerks. We ll briefly explain the thing, followed by some ways for you to breach it.

First up, it s… the real-time strategy. (more…)

Uplink

Most patch notes are boring. Fixed a bug that stopped a menu from opening properly. D.Va's Defense Matrix doesn't last as long. Wukong's attack speed is 10 percent slower. That's the usual stuff, chronicling important but dull balance changes across years of a game's life. And then there are patch notes like this: "Added cat butchery." "Made all undead respectful of one another." "Tigerman does not have ears."

That's the good stuff.

Those are the kinds of wonderfully crazy patch notes Dwarf Fortress has given us over the years. Determined to top the absurdity of Dwarf Fortress's bizarre changelogs, I put on my deerstalker, grabbed my magnifying glass, and set out to find the strangest patch notes in the history of PC gaming. These absurdities are the result. 

Rimworld

Alpha 12

  • Colonists will visit graves of dead colonists for a joy activity. 

Alpha 16

  • New alert: Unhappy nudity 

Alpha 17

  • Raiders will no longer compulsively attack doors. 

---

Conan Exiles

Patch 15.2.2017

  • Rhinos should no longer try to walk through players 

Patch 15.2.2017

  • Emus now give less XP 

Patch 23.02.2017

  • Players can no longer use chairs to travel great distances 

Update 24

  • Imps, ostriches and other non-humanoids no longer go bonkers if you hit them with a truncheon 

Update 25

  • Seeing dead people can now lead to great rewards 

Update 28

  • Fixed a small issue where a player in some instances could walk underwater. 

--- 

Rust

Update 149

  • Bucket no longer hostile to peacekeepers 

Update 152

  • Pumpkins only have 1 season (instead of 7) 

August 28, 2014

  • Bald inmate digging grows hair bug fixed 

---  

Terraria

1.2.0.2

  • The game will no longer look for the square root of zero. 

1.2.1

  • Mice can no longer spawn in hell 

1.2.3

  • Red Stucco no longer spreads corruption. 

---  

The Sims 4

02/04/2016

  • Sims carving pumpkins or working at a woodworking table will no longer ignore Sims who die near them. 

02/04/2016

  • Babies will no longer send text messages congratulating your Sims on their marriage, engagement, or pregnancy. 

01/12/2017

  • Confident children will no longer get a whim to practice pick-up lines. 

05/25/2017

  • Babies will no longer change skin tone when they are picked up. 

---  

Don't Starve

January 29th 2013

  • Darts and poop won't magically accumulate at the world origin. 

October 1st 2013

  • You can no longer trade with sleeping pigs. 

November 19th 2013

  • You can properly deploy or murder captured butterflies 

---  

Ark: Survival Evolved

254.9

  • Beers can no longer be eaten by Dinos 

---  

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

1.2

  • Taking items from dead owned creatures is no longer a crime 

--- 

World of Warcraft

1.3.0

  • The quest NPC Khan Jehn no longer becomes confused and unresponsive 

1.4.0

  • Roast Raptor now has an more appropriate inventory sound 

2.1.0

  • Fixed an error where some characters appeared to be drinking while standing up 

2.4.0

  • Zapetta will no longer become confused about whether the zeppelin in Orgrimmar is arriving or leaving 

3.1.0

  • Yaaarrrr! now has a detailed tooltip 

--- 

Uplink

1.314 

  • Fixed : Dead or jailed people don't answer their phones 

1.35 

  • Fixed : LAN Spoof progress graphic overflow 
  • Fixed : Time freezing and unclickable buttons on computers running for several weeks

--- 

Everquest

July 10, 2001 

  • Reevaluated the values of the various fish fillets 

--- 

August 15, 2001 

  • The Giant Tree Flayer is now Large instead of Tiny 

December 6, 2001 

  • Fixed a bug that was preventing characters from being bald 

--- 

Two Worlds 2

1.4

  • Horse behaviour - improved 

--- 

Battlefield 1942

1.2 

  • Bots do not jump in and out of vehicles anymore 

--- 

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

1.02 

  • Dead party members will no longer show up later in the game. What with thembeing dead and all 

--- 

Black and White

1.1 

  • The word "Death" no longer said when villagers die of old age
  • Creature doesn't become constipated if you punish him for pooing 

--- 

No One Lives Forever 2

1.3 

  • Fixed problems with camera rotation after slipping on a banana 

--- 

Hitman: Codename 47

Patch 1 

  • Dancer in "Gunrunner's Paradise" is no longer confused by dead bodies 
DEFCON - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 85% on DEFCON!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Friday at 10AM Pacific Time
Uplink - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Introversion Software’s seminal hacking sim Uplink may be fifteen years old but it’s still one of the finest hacks ’em ups, Brendan will tell you. It’s now looking super-fresh too, thanks to the amazing makeover mod UplinkOS [official site]. Along with a new look, UplinkOS brings fab features like support for opening multiple windows at once, now draggable and with tabs. Fancy! We’ve mentioned UplinkOS before but now, after several months of beta, a final release has arrived. Here, look at this swish style: … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

If you fancy a break from watching the crawl towards nuclear annihilation live on TV, you can now jack into virtual reality and watch it sped-up in Defcon VR [official site]. Introversion Software today launched the free VR doodad, which lets goggheads enter a virtual war room to spectate matches in the nuclear war RTS Defcon. Our Adam will tell you Defcon is one of the best strategy games, and I… don’t disagree but don’t have the stomach to play again. Watching wars with your chums in cyberspace seems deliciously wicked and fitting for something so awful. … [visit site to read more]

Feb 15, 2017
Community Announcements - elDiablo
Introversion joins the VR party!
After Prison Architect, our most successful game is DEFCON - a nuclear war strategy game inspired by the 80s movie War games (If you've not seen it, so yourself a favour and check it out over the weekend)

DEFCON VR allows you to spectate DEFCON games in the comfort of your own virtual War Room. Join others and marvel at total global annihilation as nuclear missiles arc over the globe on their path to destruction. Have a look as Chris, Mark, and Finlay show off the glory of nuclear doom.

https://youtu.be/jaepnLVWedE

We're giving away a prototype on steam, but if there's enough interest we may decide to carry on and build a fully playable version of DEFCON in VR - lets us know what you think in the comments of the video.
...

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