We’re approaching the end of the year, which means game publishers are about to start throwing highly anticipated games out like candy at a parade. It’s a busy time for everyone, and PC owners are not immune.
Here are some of the PC-exclusive titles that are about to start taking up all of your time for the rest of the year.
The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep
The last proper installment to this seminal dungeon-crawling series came out 30 years ago (that 2004 entry with Cary Elwes doesn’t count, as much as we’d like it to). The new one came about after developer inXile secured the funds via Kickstarter.
The latest entry maintains the first-person perspective, exploration, and wry humor of the previous games. But it gooses it up with shiny, contemporary graphics and a clever combat system that feels both classic and modern.
Gamers have been playing CrossCode for a few years now via the Early Access program on digital distribution platform Steam. But now it has its proper release.
This retro-inspired action RPG offers a trip back to the 16-bit era. Players will explore a fantastical world and battle monsters while diving into a mysterious story. The game’s protagonist, Lea, is herself trapped inside of an in-universe RPG. And the only way to escape and discover her true identity is by beating the game.
Star Control: Origins
The ‘90s spacefaring series is back with this title that takes place in an alternate universe but maintains the design and tone that made the originals so popular. The story puts players in command of Earth’s first interplanetary ship as it responds to an alien distress signal.
Exploration is key, and each game will be different since Origins features a procedurally generated galaxy. Players will have to decide when to be diplomatic and when to fight. And if they get tired of that, they can even create their own plotlines in the story editor.
It’s one thing to be the boots on the ground — or in space, or wherever — in the bulk of role-playing games. But the latest in the Pathfinder series aims a little higher. It places players in full command of a locality and leaves them to build their influence. And in-game decisions will affect both the larger world and the main character’s Dungeons & Dragons-style alignment. They’ll also get to build a party as they go because it gets lonely at the top sometimes.
Overkill’s The Walking Dead
Surprise: Not every PC game coming out this year is an RPG. One notable exception is Overkill’s The Walking Dead, which takes place in a zombie-infested version of Washington, D.C. It’s a first-person shooter built around teamwork in which players must cooperate with their team to survive.
Console owners will get their shot at The Walking Dead next year, but for now, it’ll only be for the keyboard-and-mouse crowd.
We had high hopes for this one, though unfortunately the critical consensus is Underworld Ascendant is quite broken. With a 36 on Metacritic currently, some of the problems being reported can’t be ignored. Such as reloading a save point without changes to the world being changed back.
The idea itself was solid. This action-RPG is for players who want to be rewarded for experimenting. Its puzzles and obstacles don’t have discrete solutions. Instead, it has an “Improvisation Engine” that allows for more creative answers.
The lack of constraints also applies to character creations, which doesn’t force players to pick a certain class to specialize in and lets them put points into whichever skills they want. So if they want a huge, strong guy who’s really good at stealth even though that makes no sense, Ascendant is down.
Developer Valve has continued its streak of not making Half-Life 3 by creating this customizable card game. It takes place in the same universe as the multiplayer online battle arena title Dota 2 and boasts the same designer as the blockbuster, real-world CCG Magic: The Gathering.
Artifact wields the full power of the Steam marketplace to provide a place for players to buy and trade cards and create their ultimate, powerful deck. They’ll take their collections up against each other in player-versus-player matches online, where we assume there will be no keyboard command to just sweep all the cards off the table and go home if you start to lose.
Just be aware this is not a free-to-play game. In addition to the upfront game cost, there’s no way to earn cards through play, and even playing in expert matches will cost you money.
Warhammer 40K: Mechanicus
In the long-running Warhammer 40,000 universe, the Adeptus Mechanicus is the tech-loving, Mars-based faction that provides weapons and research to the galactic empire, the Imperium. This spin-off to the isometric tactics series will put players in control of this machine-loving army as it explores a new planet.
The focus will be on augmenting your “Tech-Priest” forces, replacing their weak, mortal flesh with superior machinery like the Borg from Star Trek. It would be terrifying if it didn’t sound so awesome.