Did you just buy a spiffy brand new rig for Diablo III? Do you have fond memories of playing Doom over a LAN with a bunch of friends? Maybe you are just sick of the crazy prices and serious lack of discounts on your favorite console games?
Well my friend, now is the time to get back into PC Gaming.
There is a lot more out there than World of Warcraft and Diablo 3 in the PC world. Most games you can get on a console can be gotten on the PC, often times at a much better price. The advantages of buying on the PC are usually better prices, better resolutions, better frame rates, instant downloads, and the flexibility of mods to enhance your experience.
So you got this new rig and want to start gaming? What are the essentials?
Steam: This is where the addiction starts. Steam is the #1 digital distributor of games for the PC. You name a game more than likely it is on Steam. Steam also deeply discounts its catalog on a regular basis. There is a at least one deeply discounted (50% – 75% off) daily deal every day, on top of that they have weekend deals and “midweek madness” deals that take up the entire week.
Steam keeps track of your game library and lets you access your games from anywhere! So long as you have Steam installed on a computer, you can log into your account from anywhere and install your games directly through their client. Steam also acts as a social hub for gaming where you can keep a friend list, trade games, chat, and join player groups. Also like the Xbox Live and PSN service Steam has achievements for certain games that enable them.
Steam is owned by Valve, the creators of the Half-Life games, Team Fortress 2, Portal, Left 4 Dead Series, and the most recent DOTA2. Steam also hosts a number of Free to Play games including Team Fortress 2, Spiral Knights, DC Universe Online, and DOTA2. These games are often funded through microtransactions that are generally cosmetic upgrades for your characters, thus no monetary obligation on your part!
Check out http://www.steampowered.com to get started on Steam!
Controller: Yes, despite the fact you have a mouse/keyboard you still want a controller handy as some games just handle better with them. If you use Windows 7, the Xbox 360 controller is one of the all purpose best choices for games as most are already mapped for that controller, and you can literally just plug it in and play most of the time.
Click here to get the Xbox 360 Wired Controller – as a gamer it is the best $30 – $40 you can spend.
Click here to get the Xbox 360 Wireless Adapter – If you already have a wireless controller, use this to play on your PC.
What kind of Mouse/Keyboard should I use? Well that is really up to you, pick something that is comfortable and in your price range. Realistically you don’t need a lot, a cheapo Acer keyboard will do you just fine. But Logitech makes a wide variety of gaming keyboards that have a programable LCD display above them. I generally found this handy for World of Warcraft raids so I could see who was talking in Ventrilo while playing. They also have additional keys you can remap to in game that may help you out as well.
Logitech G110 Gaming Keyboard – Really any Logitech G Series Keyboard is great, just depends on if you want a LCD display or not.
Logitech G510 Gaming Keyboard – Again, this one has the LCD display, unnecessary … but if you want it, go for it!
The mouse is another accessory you can spend a lot of unnecessary cash on. Don’t fall for the crazy WOW or game themed mouses, those can often be gotten at a lot cheaper price without the licensed graffiti all over them. You can get a mouse with a ton of buttons, or just the basics … you just want to weigh how much you will use the mouse. A mouse with a lot of buttons will generally help out the MMO and RTS community. You just want to make sure you get a good precise mouse that fits your hand well.
Logitech G500 Gaming Mouse – I use this one and love it, for less than $50 you really can’t go wrong.
Razer 3500 High Precision Gaming Mouse – Razer makes quality gaming products as well.
Where to get your games:
So you heard us PC gamers have cheap games? Well you would be correct! If you are a sale watcher the PC market will bleed your wallet dry. Every day you will be confronting the next Steam sale thinking “well it’s only $2.50 how bad can it be?” That will be the start. Then you will find yourself buying indie bundles, then publisher bundles, and finally you will sit back and realize you have a backlog of 200+ games.
Does that sound like fun? Then here are the places you need to go to get your games:
Steam: As I said earlier, Steam is the top dog right now. Any PC release that uses Steamworks will come with a code that is redeemable on Steam. Often times other Digital Distribution retailers will provide a Steam Code when you buy a game and you can just plug it into Steam and go wild.
Amazon: Amazon has become my close second for digital distribution. They just recently broke into the scene and are fighting Steam prices pretty tightly and hosting some pretty huge sales. You will know a game is Steamworks on Amazon as it will say “Requires Steam Install” in the MISC info for the title. Their installers are pretty straightforward as well.
Gog.com: Good Old Games, a great site that has a very deep library of PC Games. All games are DRM free so you will not need a client to play them.
Origin: This is EA’s new digital distribution model, it is also the exclusive place for their new release triple-a titles such as Mass Effect 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Battlefield 3. The service has it’s own client and runs decent sales from time to time.
Battle.net: They really don’t have sales but it’s the only place to get Blizzard products, and what PC gamer doesn’t own at least one Diablo, Starcraft, or Warcraft title?
Desura: The #1 Indie game portal. If it’s done by a small developer it is probably here … also most indie bundles will include Desura codes, so it’s worth installing their client if you plan to troll the bundles.
DRM: DRM is protection coded into games to prevent piracy. Some is very unobtrusive, others will drive you nuts. Steamworks is a form of DRM most people seem to be okay with, as it doesn’t really interupt gameplay. Some other examples include GFWL (Games for Windows Live) which will require you to have a Windows Live account, note that if you already have a Live account on your Xbox this will work with it. Ubisoft has had a record of using annoying DRM that would require the user to be online at all times while playing. To Ubisoft’s credit, they have stripped a lot of their games of this and have even released games like Rayman: Origins with no DRM at all. Most major game publishers have their own versions of DRM.
Free-To-Play: Some games go free to play for weekends to promote a new patch or just to drive interest. Other games are made free to play such as DOTA2 and Spiral Knights. Some games after reaching a certain saturation point will go free to play, generally MMO’s that are not World of Warcraft will do this. Often times free to play games will be filled with ads or offers to buy content in game, this is typically how those games make their money selling gold or items to their player base.
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