My Year as a PC Gamer

It has been a year since I switched my primary gaming platform from consoles to a gaming PC. In my year as a “PC gamer”, I’ve learned a lot. This article will be a recap of the good and the bad experiences I had when I switched to PC gaming after a life of relying on consoles for playing games.

The Good

Graphics

One of the very first things that I could say I enjoyed about owning a gaming PC was discovering just how great games could look. Having been limited to the capabilities of the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, both dated pieces of hardware, I did not experience 60fps all too often, aside from the occasional hack-and-slash and fighter. Moving to a world where all of my games, despite age, moved at a fluid framerate, was pretty dandy. Coupled with high resolution outputs and a myriad of PC graphical options, I won’t deny that simply having better looking games is something that I enjoy.

Mods

Now, you might think I’m holding to graphics a bit too much when I give my first mod example … but look at that picture above.

When I first played Skyrim, I just couldn’t get into it. I sank nearly 100 hours into Oblivion, but I couldn’t do the same with its sequel. I attribute my general lack of interest to the game’s visuals, not graphically, but artistically. Vanilla Skyrim is drab, dark, and visually unstimulating. If you know me well enough, you probably have learned I love color. I love stylized art directions, packed with vibrancy. With mods, I was not only able to improve Skyrim’s textures and effects, but also its color palette. Sure, there’s an argument that I’m playing with visuals not intended by the game’s developers and artists, but modding the game has allowed me to appreciate what the rest of the game has to offer.

Outside of Skyrim, I’ve enjoyed some time in Garry’s Mod and Just Cause 2’s multiplayer mod. Garry’s Mod isn’t my cup of vomit tea, due to being filled with loud teens and dreary sounding adults that take memes too seriously, and being a game founded in chaotic and inconsistent gameplay, but it’s got its audience and I respect that. A lot of things can be made in that game.

The ability to tweak older games to work to modern standards (for me: System Shock 2’s HUD, Silent Hill 3’s aspect ratio), is extremely valuable as well.

Multiplayer

I’m not really big on competitive multiplayer. I sorta used to be during the early days of the Xbox 360’s life cycle. I played a whole lot of Gears of War, Perfect Dark Zero, and Far Cry: Instincts Predator. While I still prefer singleplayer, story-focused games, DayZ has become my most played game … possibly ever. Steam tells me I have logged 280 hours into that game. Why do I like it so much? Perhaps its the scope of its multiplayer world, where nothing can happen for hours on end, but the threat of being seen or attacked keeps you ever-vigilant.

Overall, multiplayer games on PC are less restrained in their scope. Just Cause 2’s multiplayer mod supports up to 1000 players. 1000! It’s madness.

Even a game like Battlefield 4, also on consoles, allows for twice as many online players on PC. It’s that sense of scale that heightens multiplayer for me, and until now, I’ve not experienced it.

Did I mention that I don’t need a subscription to play with other people online? That’s been nice!

Backwards Compatibility

There’s not much to say other than I can play old games, with resources like GoG, whenever I want. Unlike consoles that need to find software or hardware solutions on a system-wide level to make older games work or become accessible, there’s less of a concern playing old games on PC. If there ever is an issue, fans have the option to help make games playable again with the ability of mods.

Reviewing

Reviewing, previewing, and developing content on games has never been easier for me. The immediate perk of playing a game on the same machine that can run other software means that I can record footage, stream my game session, and edit content quickly. Before I had a gaming PC, my only option was to purchase a capture card (with decent ones costing $100 or more), and rigging it up to my TV and my laptop. My headset would also get in that mix, covering my media area with an uncomfortable amount of semi-suspended wires.

Now all I do is run OBS to record footage, then play, and then edit the file when I’m done.

For reviews, coupling my pretty capable gaming PC with my Astro A40 surround sound headset means I can enjoy games to their fullest. Clean visuals, and crisp surround sound audio allows me to soak up a game’s detail to new levels of appreciation. For horror games … oh boy.

The openness of the platform also allows me to receive advanced review code, which makes my job a lot easier. Deep Silver sent Saints Row 4 PC a month in advance. I had more than enough time to fully enjoy the game prior to writing my review – something more publishers should consider.

The Bad

Tech issues

I may know a few geeky things and am able to work my way around some basic issues, but my biggest fear with PC gaming is running into tech issues. I recently had a scare where I started to get the BSOD after going a year without any real issues, and it gave me an unhealthy portion of anxiety.

What scares me about tech issues with a gaming PC is the multitude of culprits that may be responsible. Is it a driver? Is it a virus? No, I did a virus scan. Is it a faulty Windows update? No. Is it something hardware based? Shit! Is it the HDD? Is it the GPU?. IS IT THE CPU? THIS IS GONNA COST SO MUCH MONEY TO FIX! IS IT THE MOTHERBOARD? IS IT DUST? FUCK YOU DUST?!!!!

Thankfully, I think I resolved that issue…I hope.

*Lights some incense, borrow some feathers from my parrot, and prays to Zeus to keep my PC healthy*

Console Exclusives

The downside to stepping out of the console world (at least for the time being) is missing out on the exclusives. I want to get a PlayStation 4 down the line. Games like inFamous: Second Son, Metal Gear Solid 5, The Last of Us, Kingdom Hearts III, Destiny, and others call to me, because they’re on consoles only.

I’m not beating myself up about not having a PS4, I can wait, but there will be games that I won’t be able to play until I buy another gaming machine, preferably Sony’s.

Inadequacy

Despite building my PC just a year ago and being able to run many things at visually impressive levels, there’s always the thought what if I can have better? Sometimes I’m just a few settings away from maxed out visuals and a consistent 60fps, and I think to myself maybe I should get better RAM; the sticks I have were free. Maybe I should overclock just to get a few more frames in [Insert Game Name]. 

Ideally, I would like to overclock my CPU to a safe level and boost my RAM, but finances will prevent that. Also, my S.O. would yell at me for spending the money. But I won’t be spending frivolously boosting my PC and become one of scary people on /r/battlestations. Prepare to feel like shit if you click that link.

So, it has a been a year since I became a “PC Gamer”. Would I recommend it? Hell yeah.