Archive for the ‘PC gaming’ Category

Report: Major PlayStation-exclusive series will get a PC port this year

January 16th, 2020
Would you like to tear through <em>Horizon: Zero Dawn</em> with a keyboard and mouse? And all the other inherent perks of PC gaming? According to insiders, that might happen by the end of 2020.

Enlarge / Would you like to tear through Horizon: Zero Dawn with a keyboard and mouse? And all the other inherent perks of PC gaming? According to insiders, that might happen by the end of 2020. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

Gaming news has emerged that may signal a monumental shift for Sony Interactive Entertainment. According to Kotaku, the publisher plans to port a massive game, previously exclusive to PlayStation consoles, as a standalone purchase for Windows PC gaming storefronts.

The Thursday report, citing "three people familiar with Sony's plans," says that the game in question is the robo-safari adventure Horizon: Zero Dawn, which launched in early 2017 to rave reviews. News Editor Jason Schreier suggests that the game will arrive by the end of 2020. The PC version could be sold on both Steam and Epic Games Store, though Kotaku is careful to say that storefront detail has not yet been finalized.

As a many-armed media company, Sony has published games on a variety of platforms over the decades. One of its most recently formed subsidiaries, UNTIES, is dedicated to launches of indie games like TinyMetal on consoles and PCs. But the part of Sony dedicated to all things PlayStation, which is currently known as SIE (formerly Sony Computer Entertainment), has only recently loosened its grip on PlayStation console exclusivity.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, horizon zero dawn, PC gaming, PlayStation | Comments (0)

Dell’s new Concept UFO puts PC gaming on a Nintendo Switch-like device

January 6th, 2020

CES may be flooded with new tech coming out soon, but it's also a place for companies to show off new things that may (or may not) become a reality in the future. Dell's doing just that within its Alienware gaming family with a new concept device dubbed Concept UFO, a handheld gaming console that looks quite similar to the Nintendo Switch but is built for full-fledged portable PC gaming.

We should preface the rest of this article by saying that this is exactly what its name suggests: a concept. While we got a few minutes to mess around with working models of Concept UFO ahead of CES, Dell currently does not have concrete plans to bring Concept UFO to market. Most questions about specs or detailed capabilities were promptly deflected as well, so the details we know about the inner workings of the device are limited.

First impressions

However, unlike many other concepts I've tested in the past, Concept UFO was quite impressive because it actually worked. It's a rectangular handheld gaming console with an eight-inch display and removable controllers on both ends. Working models I saw all ran Windows and were able to render playable games in handheld mode; docked mode, in which the console was connected to an external display and its controllers were detached; and another portable mode in which the controllers were detached but connected by a center "bridge."

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Posted in CES 2020, Concept UFO, dell, Gaming & Culture, nintendo switch, PC gaming, Tech | Comments (0)

Guidemaster: The best keyboards, mice, and more for your gaming PC

August 23rd, 2019
A person whose head is cropped from the photo poses with 6 computer keyboards.

Enlarge / So many fingers have been typing and clicking in the name of journalism... (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Welcome to Ars Gaming Week 2019! As a staff full of gamers and game-lovers, we'll be serving up extra reviews, guides, interviews, and other stories all about gaming from August 19 to August 23.

Creating the best PC gaming environment to suit your needs is more complicated than just building the ultimate PC from scratch. Once you have your dream machine, you'll need a mechanical keyboard, a gaming mouse, a high refresh-rate monitor, and other accessories. But deciding on the peripherals to invest in has become more difficult—sure, you have more options now than ever before, but the other side of that coin has birthed a congested world of PC gaming devices.

PC OEMs have embraced gaming with open arms, so much so that most PC companies have their own lines of gaming devices, and those often include desktops and laptops in addition to keyboards, mice, and the like. These new participants, along with the well-known gaming device OEMs, have made the pool of potential peripherals so large that one person alone could not sift through all of it.

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Posted in Ars Gaming Week 2019, Features, Gaming & Culture, gaming headset, gaming keyboard, Gaming mice, gaming monitor, gaming mouse, Gaming Week, mechanical keyboards, PC gaming, Tech | Comments (0)

In praise of ultra-short games

May 29th, 2019
Is falling in this hole going to take long? I have a meeting at 2...

Enlarge / Is falling in this hole going to take long? I have a meeting at 2...

These days, the game industry at large seems to be focused on games that can keep players playing, and paying, indefinitely. This overarching genre of "forever" games encompasses esports like Hearthstone and Overwatch, social hangouts like World of Warcraft and Fortnite, and endlessly repetitive grinds like Destiny 2 and even Candy Crush Saga. The idea in each case is to create an experience that can engage a critical mass of players for hundreds or even thousands of hours over a span of years.

There's something to be said for these kinds of endless experiences. These days, though, I'm frequently more fascinated by games at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. This class of "lunch break" games—single-serving, single-player narrative experiences designed to be played once, in about an hour or less—will never be as big or as popular as games that can demand thousands of hours of player attention. But there's also something to be said for a game that makes its impact quickly and lingers with the player for much, much longer.

The latest fine example of the form is Kids, a "game of crowds" that "allows you to move with and against crowds until everyone is gone," as its Steam page puts it. I don't really want to spoil the entirely unique experience by saying any more than that, but this 30-second trailer gives a good feeling for how the game's smooth animation and striking, minimalist, black-and-white characters create a creepy, claustrophobic aesthetic that's hard to shake.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, kids, lunch break, PC gaming, short | Comments (0)

Xbox, PC get a little bit closer with the latest Xbox updates

May 17th, 2019
Xbox, PC get a little bit closer with the latest Xbox updates

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

The May 2019 update for the Xbox One's system software is now rolling out, bringing some small refinements to the friends list, messaging, and game/app list.

Starting with the last one first, the app list will now ignore "a," "an," and "the" when sorting or grouping alphabetically. This is the kind of change that makes me amazed that they weren't already doing this, as it almost always makes for easier-to-use listings. Video games don't even have The The to contend with.

The Messaging change is rather inexplicable. There's a sensible change: incoming messaging requests from your friends are now prioritized, with requests from non-friends put in a separate category. But for some reason, Microsoft is going to wipe all group messages as a result. You can save backups of the messages for a limited time at, and messages with individual users are safe, but the group messages are all going. There's no obvious justification for this change, as even if there were some significant change being made to group messaging, one would expect Microsoft to handle migrating the messages from old to new.

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Posted in console gaming, Gaming & Culture, microsoft, PC gaming, Windows, XBox | Comments (0)

Windows Solitaire inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame

May 3rd, 2019
Windows Solitaire inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

The classic Windows game Solitaire has joined such landmarks as Doom, Tetris, and World of Warcraft in being inducted into the Strong Museum of Play's World Video Game Hall of Fame. The award recognizes Solitaire's role as a significant part of gaming's history.

Solitaire was first bundled with Windows 3.0. Much like the other notable bundled game, Minesweeper, Solitaire was there to serve as a secret tutorial: in a time when the mouse was still regarded as a new and exotic piece of computer hardware, Solitaire honed clicking, double clicking, and drag-and-drop skills. As a computerized version of a familiar card game, it was instantly recognizable. It was bundled with every subsequent Windows version, up to Windows 7. Windows 8 replaced it with a much more varied set of card games.

The combination of approachability and bundling means that the game has been installed on more than a billion PCs, and it has likely been played by many billions of people.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, hall of fame, microsoft, PC gaming, Solitaire, Tech, Windows | Comments (0)

Game Pass “Ultimate” and Game Pass for PC rumored to be coming soon

April 5th, 2019
The arrow is pointing to a PC that's just off-frame to the right.

Enlarge / The arrow is pointing to a PC that's just off-frame to the right.

Microsoft is reportedly planning a couple of new subscription services for gamers, per Brad Sams and WalkingCat.

First up is a "Game Pass Ultimate" that combines an Xbox Live Gold subscription with a GamePass subscription. Xbox Live Gold is routinely on sale, but it typically costs around $60 when bought annually, $10/month when bought month-by-month. Game Pass is a flat $10 per month (though there's a special offer at the moment giving one month for one dollar). The Ultimate subscription is going to be $15/month, making it a break-even proposition for annual subscribers (or even a slight price increase, if you can get Gold for less than $60) but a nice discount for monthly subs.

Second, it's claimed that Microsoft will soon have a Game Pass subscription for Windows, too. Details are thin to non-existent at the moment, but with Microsoft's increasing efforts to unify Xbox and Windows gaming and plans to bring the previously Xbox-exclusive Halo: Master Chief Collection to Windows, a Game Pass for Windows would make a lot of sense.

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Posted in console gaming, Gaming & Culture, microsoft, PC gaming, subscriptions, Tech, Windows, XBox, XBox Live | Comments (0)

Any Steam game can now use Valve’s low-latency, DoS-proofed networking

March 15th, 2019
Any Steam game can now use Valve’s low-latency, DoS-proofed networking

Enlarge (credit: massmatt)

Valve is opening up its latency-reducing, DoS-protecting network relay infrastructure to every developer using its Steamworks platform.

A few years ago, large-scale denial-of-service attacks against game servers were making the news and becoming a frustratingly frequent occurrence in online gaming and e-sports. To protect its own games, Valve has for a number of years been working on developing a networking infrastructure that makes the system more resilient against denial-of-service attacks and lower latency to boot, and the company is using this system for both Dota 2 and CS:GO.

At 30 different locations around the world, Valve has established relaying servers that route networking traffic between clients and servers. These relay points provide DoS-resilience in several ways. They're equipped with an aggregate of several terabits of bandwidth, so they can handle a certain amount of flooding in any case. Games can also switch from one relay to another without necessarily interrupting their connection. This switching can be to another relay in the same location or even to another point-of-presence entirely.

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Posted in APIs, development, Gaming & Culture, networking, Open Source, PC gaming, Tech, Valve | Comments (0)

Love, death, and spaceships: Lee Hutchinson’s Fangs concludes

March 9th, 2019

I've never made any secret about my love for (and occasional frustration with) Frontier Development's space combat/trading/exploration sandbox game Elite: Dangerous. In my 2015 review I called it "the best damn spaceship game I've ever played," and four years later, it's an opinion I still hold. Although it's taken literally years for the developers to flesh out some of the game's mechanics, there's always been something special about Elite, even going all the way back to the beta when it was barely a game at all.

I love it so much, in fact, that a few years ago I started up an Elite: Dangerous Web comic called Fangs (many of the ships in Elite are named after snakes, so the title seemed appropriate). I can't actually, you know, draw anything, but a couple of posts on the official subreddit gave me a neat idea: instead of illustrating panels, I could simply take screenshots directly from within the game and run them through a threshold filter to achieve a very distinctive film noir-esque feeling. Couple that with some clever framing and some snappy dialog, and I was in business.

Fangs originally started out as a series of short self-contained vignettes about various aspects of the Elite universe—I did a comic on exploration, on ship names, on smuggling, and a bunch of others.

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Posted in comic, console gaming, elite dangerous, Gaming & Culture, noir, PC gaming, web comic | Comments (0)

Video: To make 1997’s Blade Runner, Westwood first had to create the universe

February 12th, 2019

Shot by Sean Dacanay and edited by Justin Wolfson. VFX by John Cappello. Click here for transcript. And if you want a close-up peek at the awesome Ladd-style logo Aurich cooked up for this video, you can get that right here.

Welcome back to "War Stories," an ongoing video series where we get game designers to open up about development challenges that almost—but not quite—derailed their games. In this edition, we focus on a genre particularly near and dear to my dead, black Gen-X heart: the adventure game.

And not just any adventure game—we were lucky enough to be able to sit down with Louis Castle, co-founder of legendary game developer Westwood Studios. Castle's hands were on some of the most famous titles of the 1990s, including Dune II, the Legend of Kyrandia series, and, most famously, the Command & Conquer franchise. But as wonderful as those games are—and as many hours as I spent lost in the woods of Kyrandia as a teenager—none of those mean as much to me as Westwood's 1997 cinematic adventure game, Blade Runner.

You know the score, pal

Adventure games were one of the two ur-genres of true computer games (with the other being the arcade-style shooter), and as a child of the '80s, adventure games were what got me into gaming. The genre reached its peak in the early to mid 1990s, with some of the best-remembered LucasArts and Sierra titles making their appearance thereabouts. But by the end of the decade the wheels had come off the cart, and it was clear that the genre was being eclipsed by the rise of the first-person shooter.

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Posted in adventure gaming, Ars Technica Videos, Blade Runner, Gaming & Culture, PC gaming, retrogaming, video, war stories, westwood, westwood studios | Comments (0)