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100 GREATEST

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PC GAMES 28-page special

Revealed

Absolver

Verdict inside

DeUS EX

Meet next year’s biggest indie smash

We play the first seven hours Issue 295 september 2016

Red Alert 2

Revisiting the strategy classic

GAMING KEYBOARDS group test inside: get the best for your PC

Hearts of Iron IV

reviewed inside


#295 SEPTEMBER 2016 Future Publishing Ltd Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA Tel 01225 442244 Fax 01225 732275 Email pcgamer@futurenet.com Web www.pcgamer.com EDITORIAL Global Editor In Chief Tim Clark Editor Samuel Roberts Deputy Editor Phil Savage Art Editor John Strike Production Editor Tony Ellis Web Editor Tom Senior PCG Pro Editor Chris Thursten Section Editor Andy Kelly CONTRIBUTORS Matthew Lochrie, Evan Lahti, Wes Fenlon, Jon Blyth, Chris Schilling, Tyler Wilde, Chris Livingston, Hannah Dwan, Elizabeth Elliott, David Lyttleton, Ian Evenden, Tom Sykes, Andy McGregor, Zak Storey, Matt Elliott, Holly Nielsen, Dave James, Daniella Lucas, Kate Gray, Rob Zacny, Ben Maxwell, Steven Messner, Angus Morrison, Jarred Walton Photography Future Photography Studio Advertising Commercial Sales Director Clare Dove Senior Advertising Manager Lara Jaggon Advertising Director Andrew Church Advertising Manager Michael Pyatt Director of Agency Sales Matt Downs Head of Strategic Partnerships Clare Jonik For enquiries, contact: andrew.church@futurenet.com Marketing Group Marketing Manager Laura Driffield Marketing Manager Kristianne Stanton Production & Distribution Production Controller ​Fran Twentyman Production Manager​Mark Constance​ Printed in the UK by: William Gibbons & Sons Ltd on behalf of Future Distributed by:​Seymour Distribution Ltd​, 2 East Poultry Avenue, London EC1A 9PT, Tel: 0207 429 4000 Overseas distribution by:​Seymour International​ Circulation Trade Marketing Manager Juliette Winyard – 07551 150 984 Subscriptions UK reader order line & enquiries: 0844 848 2852 Overseas reader order line & enquiries: +44 (0)1604 251045 Online enquiries: www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk Email: pcgamer@myfavouritemagazines.co.uk Licensing Senior Licensing & Syndication Manager Matt Ellis Matt.Ellis@futurenet.com – +44 (0)1225 442244 Management Managing Director, Magazines Joe McEvoy Editorial Director Matt Pierce Group Art Director Rodney Dive

NEXT ISSUE ON SALE… August 25 Amember of theAudit Bureau of Circulations

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Have your say! Tweet us @PCGamer

The Top 100 issue I’m always excited about the PC Gamer Top 100. Not just because the idea of an annual 28-page feature makes my team pull the same tired, slightly annoyed expression – I do enjoy that, admittedly – but because it spotlights what rude health PC gaming is in. This year’s Top 100 has a very different feel to last year’s, the top 20 in particular refreshed by a bunch of new entries. That’s great to see, because it shows our tastes as a team are changing to reflect an influx of new, brilliant PC games. Enjoy the issue.

Future is an award-winning international media group and leading digital business. We reach more than 49 million international consumers a month and create world-class content and advertising solutions for passionate consumers online, on tablet & smartphone and in print. Future plc is a public company quoted on the London Stock Exchange (symbol: FUTR). www.futureplc.com

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All contents copyright © 2015 Future Publishing Limited or published under licence. All  rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, stored, transmitted or  used in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. Future Publishing Limited (company number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Registered office: Quay House, The Ambury, Bath, BA1 1UA. All information contained in this publication is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price and other details of products or services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control. We are not responsible for their contents or any changes or updates to them. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Future a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine, including licensed editions worldwide and in any physical or digital format throughout the world. Any material you submit is sent at your risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for loss or damage.

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samuel.roberts@futurenet.com @SamuelWRoberts

The PC Gamer team John Strike

A n d y Ke l l y

P h i l S a v a ge

Specialist in FPS, slow-mo

Specialist in Memes, verification

Specialist in Mercy, no mercy

This month PC Gamer’s design hero once again smuggled Max Payne into the Top 100. And his beloved Battlefield games, of course.

Twitter @ultrabrilliant

Twitter @Octaeder

This month Submitted Top 100 nominations that were a very Andy mix of Alien, GTA and MGSV.

This month Had the job of wrangling the Top 100 together, and ensuring that once again Myst didn’t make the list.

SEPTEMBER 2016

5


Contents

#295

september 2016

Subscribe to Check out our digital bundle! See p32

36

Monitor

08 THE TOP STORY

Nvidia and AMD’s new budget graphics cards go head-to-head.

10 THE SPY

Can people please stop making up rumours about GTA VI?

Previews

14 Gwent 18 Steep 20 Absolver 22 Watch Dogs 2 24 Agents of Mayhem 26 Sniper Elite 4 30 Thimbleweed Park

Features 36 Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Andy spends seven hours getting reacquainted with Adam Jensen.

44 The PCG Top 100 Here are the best games available for PC, no take backs.

72 Resident Evil VII Samuel talks to director Koshi Nakanishi about the horror game’s new VR incarnation.

Network 76 SEND

We answer your pressing queries.

6

august 2016

36

44

72

Andy’s exhaustive hands-on impressions, based on seven hours with the Deus Ex sequel.

Bigger than ever, it’s PCG’s annual celebration of the best games. Did we get anything wrong? We’re sure you’ll let us know at pcgamer@futurenet.com.

It’s all change for the latest in Capcom’s long running series. Samuel relives the horror.

Deus EX hands-on

the TOp 100

resident evil VII


Reviews

44

80 Hearts of Iron IV 84 Inside 86 Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter 88 VA-11 HALL-A 90 Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens 92 Trials of the Blood Dragon 94 Captain Forever Remix THEY’RE BACK 98 Timeshift 99 Singularity 99 Dragon Ball Xenoverse 99 007: Quantum of Solace 99 The Swindle

80

72

Hardware 100 GROUP TEST

Ian tracks down the best, most clackety keyboards around.

106 REVIEWS

Zak puts Asus’s £3,500 gaming laptop through its paces.

Extra Life 112 NOW PLAYING

A tense bit of Gwent, and other stories.

116 TOP 10 DOWNLOADS Finally, a reason to play Watch Dogs.

120 UPDATE

Revisiting Smite to see if it’s godly.

122 REINSTALL

Phil defends liberty in Red Alert 2.

122

126 WHY I LOVE

Matt reminisces about vanilla WoW.

128 MUST PLAY

Andy runs through his favourite games.

126 100

80

Hearts of Iron iv Paradox’s latest strategy game is put through its paces by General Zacny. (Not a real general.)

100

122

Let us find you a keyboard that’s worthy of a Dota 2 pro, even if your fingers aren’t.

Phil returns to the idiot child of the Command & Conquer series, only to find it was more grown up than he remembered. Well, except for the cutscenes.

Keyboards group test

RED ALERT 2

september 2016

7


O P I N I O N

T E C H

G A M E S

T he P C G a m er v i e w o f the w or l d

THE TOP STORY

GRAPHICS DONE CHEAP

I

A new challenger enters the mid-range GPU arena

f you don’t have £600 to spend on Nvidia’s mighty GTX 1080, don’t worry: there’s a cheaper option. Based on the same Pascal architecture as the 1070 and 1080, the GTX 1060 is a $250 GPU that Nvidia says is faster than a GTX 980. It has 6GB of GDDR5 memory and can hit a boost clock speed of 1.7GHz, with room to overclock it to 2GHz. The 1060 has 1,280 CUDA cores compared to the 1,920 cores in the 1070 and the 2,560 in the 1080. That’s also fewer than the 2,048 cores found in the GTX 980, but Nvidia says it can still trump its previous generation of Maxwell cards thanks to Pascal’s

8

September 2016

architectural improvements, along with faster GPU and memory clocks. It’s an impressive bit of tech, and will give people in the market for a mid-range card an interesting choice. AMD’s Radeon RX 480 is another superb mid-range GPU with specs comparable to the GTX 1060. However, Nvidia claims its

If you don’t have deep enough pockets for a high-end GPU, the 480 is a worthy purchase

1060 runs on average 15% faster and is 75% more power efficient. The 480 starts at $200 for the 4GB model and $239 for the 8GB, so it’s a little cheaper for more memory. If you don’t have deep enough pockets for a high-end GPU, the 480 is a worthy purchase. AMD’s new GPU range is its fastest and most efficient yet thanks to its Polaris 10 architecture. Polaris 10 promises increased performance, smooth VR, seamless support for high-end gaming monitors, and CPU-free game streaming and recording. Radeon GPUs also support Vulkan, a new graphics API that, unlike the Windows-only DirectX 12, also supports Linux and OSX. “I’d argue there’s not much reason to create


OPINION

I

GAMES

I

TECH

Highs & lows

THE MONTH IN PC GAMING

highs GTA V Redux

An incredible-looking fan-made mod that manages to make Los Santos even prettier.

Inside

In terms of looks, the 1060 is a clear winner.

We won’t be able to forget that brilliantly weird, disturbing final act any time soon.

Evolve

The troubled 4v1 shooter has been given a new free-to-play lease of life.

Amplitude

Sega adds the Endless Legend dev to its impressive strategy stable.

GPUs

Finally, some powerful graphics cards that won’t break the bank.

Rocket League

Daft novelty arena Neo Tokyo shouldn’t really be in the ranked cycle. There’s a lot of power under the 480’s hood.

Low stock

All these new GPUs are great, but they’re rare like precious diamonds.

CS:GO gambling

The dodgy world of Counter-Strike gambling has been rightfully exposed.

a DirectX 12 back-end for your game,” Valve software developer Dan Ginsburg said at last year’s SIGGRAPH conference. “Vulkan will cover you on Windows 10, on the same class of hardware and other platforms too, including older versions of Windows.”

cost effective

Whatever your budget is, this new generation of graphics cards is ready to take your money, delivering better performance and lower power consumption at every price point. They’re playing it a little safe, though, shrinking and tweaking existing designs without doing a complete overhaul. However, it’s reassuring that you can enjoy some of this new graphics technology without having to spend a fortune on a high‑end card. Andy Kelly

If Commander Shepard owned a mid-range GPU, it would probably look a bit like this.

Overwatch

The robot brain that decides each play of the game needs an upgrade.

Team Fortress 2

The long-awaited addition of matchmaking was blighted by long queues.

LOws

September 2016

9


OPINION

I

GAMES

T H E S P Y

I

TECH

S

w h o wat c h e s t h E s p y ?

liding through air ducts like a greased ferret down a drainpipe, you navigate silently towards a lavish, wood panelled office. Behind a portrait of Lord Percival Nintendo, the founding father of videogames, you find a safe. You enter ‘0451’ on the keypad. It opens, revealing a briefcase marked by a single piece of masking tape onto which the word ‘INTEL’ has been crudely scrawled. Another successful mission. Or is it? For a lesser spy – note the lowercase ‘s’ and lack of a definite article – the contents of such a briefcase would be implicitly trustworthy. Soon after its acquisition, the information within would spread far and wide. However, The Spy is no mere spy. The Spy is The Spy. And as The Spy, The Spy recognises the need for care and diligence, even when it comes to stuff found in secret briefcases. You see, The Spy has spent the past month on the receiving end of a counterintelligence operation – battling forces desperate to see The Spy’s peerless reputation undone. The ruse came in the form of Grand Theft Auto VI rumours – a seemingly endless supply of them, each suggesting a different city for the unannounced but inevitable sequel. Detroit? San Diego? London?

Who could be behind such obviously false information. The Spy suspects it’s Rockstar itself, as part of a last ditch attempt to divert The Spy from the real truth – whatever that may be. It’s either that or unscrupulous internet sites are churning out miserable ‘reports’ in the hope of persuading GTA’s voracious fan base to donate just a few more clicks. That doesn’t seem too likely now, does it? The Spy prefers verifiable information, or at least information that isn’t easily contradicted and that makes just the smallest bit of sense. For instance, there was the time The Spy overheard – from a perch, 12ft in the air – a conversation between PC Gamer and Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox. During the interview, he explained why Halo 5 isn’t coming to PC. “The answer with Halo 5 is, I can go take last year’s game and rework it to go on PC, or I can have 343 look forward in what they’re going to go do,” Spencer said. “You could say

Halo 6 will be coming to PC. While Spencer didn’t outright say those words – it would be unheard of for a game industry executive to say anything quite that definitive – he went on to answer “not at all” to the question of whether there was an ideological reason why Microsoft might not release the next Halo on PC. Short of an announcement, it’s as strong a hint as you’re going to get that Halo 6 is getting a Windows 10 release.

masses effect

Bethesda had lots to show at E3. Announcements included Quake Champions and Prey reveals, more Fallout 4 DLC, and a segment on The Elder Scrolls Online that The Spy took as an opportunity for a quick toilet break. One series, Wolfenstein, seemed notable for its absence. In fact, it was at the show, albeit obliquely and via poetry. The event opened with a DOS-style boot-up screen – its directories corresponding to Bethesda’s back catalogue, from ‘Keen’ to ‘New_Order’. One filename stood out, though. ‘New_Colossus’ hasn’t been announced, but it’s likely the next Wolfenstein game. How does The Spy know this? In part, because of the poem The New Colossus. You’ll recognise it as the sonnet about “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses” – the one inscribed on a plaque in the base of the Statue of Liberty. More relevant to Wolfenstein, it’s the poem BJ quotes during the ending of The New Order. Also, and this is the most damning evidence The Spy can muster, it sounds like the name of a Wolfenstein sequel. Do you see, other, lesser spies? This is how you report on industry secrets. You go straight to the source, be they talking in their sleep, writing “do not tell anybody about the amazing secret that is…” on hundreds of sticky notes plastered all over their office wall, or simply displaying cryptic information on a giant screen that’s being broadcast over the internet to millions of people. It���s not difficult, and rarely requires that you pretend Grand Theft Auto VI is going to be set in Monkeys Eyebrow, Kentucky, or Santa Claus, Georgia, or whatever other ridiculous location it definitely won’t be in. Spy out. The Spy

it’s as strong a hint as you’re going to get that Halo 6 is getting A Windows 10 release

The Spy knows Master Chief’s real name (it’s Barry).

10

MONTHXUK 2016

I’m cheating a little bit by doing a half thing with putting [Halo Forge] on PC, because we have the tools working on PC to see what happens, but this is what we did with Forza, with Apex. I said, ‘This isn’t a full Forza game. Going forward, we’re going to bring our Forza games to PC complete.’” In case you missed it, inherent in that statement is the implication



PC Gamer 295 (Sampler)