RETURN OF THE OBRA DINN
Just like an old-fashioned murder story, Return of the Obra Dinn poses a complex mystery, layered with personalities, motives, secrets, and lies. But it supercharges whodunit conventions by infusing misdirection into every nook and cranny of its intricate, gorgeous murder scenes.
The story is set aboard an early 19th-century merchant ship that shows up in port five years after it was reported missing, presumed lost at sea. The ship is bereft of human life. My job is to board the ship and figure out what happened. I’m soon confronted with evidence of a voyage gone awry. Skeletons, exploded cannons, and destroyed rigging all add up to ... what?
What to think about if you’re stuck in Return of the Obra Dinn
Obra Dinn features a monochromatic art style inspired by early Macintosh game, but it’s also fully three-dimensional in movement and visuals. As the player, you inhabit an insurance adjuster from the Age of Sail who gains limited control over time and space. The game demands attention to detail and cleverness on the part of the player to get to the bottom of what happened to each character, while delighting them at every turn with a story and design that gradually reveals itself with surprising bursts of sound and violence.
StarCraft may not be the first real-time strategy game, but fans of the genre generally agree that it’s among the best RTS games ever made. The fast-paced strategy game is widely credited as the bringing about the modern competitive esports scene.
The trouble with Zerglings: How Blizzard updated a classic (while keeping it the same)
Thanks to StarCraft Remastered, released in 2017, it remains utterly accessible on modern PCs.
For $14.99 you can download both the original game and its vital expansion, Brood War, and play them start to finish in full 4K resolution. That’s not something you can say about many games that are more than two decades old.
This science fiction fantasy shooter blends third-person action and Vanquish-style acrobatics with tried and true MMO systems to create a vibrant community of players. It’s also more approachable than it’s ever been before.
‘Tenno’ is the noun used for the player character, who awakens from cryosleep only to be immediately thrust into conflict with the Grineer. Luckily, my Warframe gets me through the conflict, and I am aided by the benevolent Lotus. Confused at all the proper nouns? It takes a while to pick up the size and scope of Warframe’s plot, but that largely doesn’t matter. Most of it is pretty standard sci-fi stuff — an ancient empire crumbled, the factions of that empire are now at war, and I am a powerful card put into play. But there is a twist that you shouldn’t spoil for yourself if you’re going to play.
What that effectively means is that I unlock a host of missions with variable objectives and I get to jump around and be a ninja. Warframe’s combat is a genuine joy. Movement is fast, fluid, and beautifully lethal. Individual hits can have a huge impact — I take pleasure out of pulling back an arrow and firing it right through an enemy’s head, where he ricochets back and is pinned to a wall. Melee attacks are accompanied with a satisfying sound effect and bright flash, along with a snappy animation.
THE WITCHER 3: WILD HUNT
Years after its release, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt still stands as a towering achievement in modern video game design.
Much has been written about the game’s lengthy main quest and how the series uses player decisions to make thoughtful changes to the game’s world over time. In that regard, it’s the gold standard for digital role-playing games. But where The Witcher 3 truly shines on PC is in providing a glorious spectacle for the eyes. From the game’s rich and moody skyboxes to the environmental and character art itself, The Witcher 3 looks best on PC, with longer draw distances and higher resolutions than are possible anywhere else.
In that regard, the four-year-old title’s age is actually a benefit. You’ll spend far less on an appropriately high-end graphics card today than you would have when the game was first released.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT
A high-fantasy massive multiplayer online game standing on the shoulders of giants like Ultima and EverQuest, World of Warcraft has continually reinvented itself for more than 15 years, and has recently even moved back to the past to try to rekindle the interest of players who may have left the game.
And WoW continues to have a thriving community, even if the total number of players sometimes goes up and down with the times. Whether you land in Azeroth solo or with a close group of friends, you should never need to adventure alone.
XCOM 2: WAR OF THE CHOSEN
Turn-based tactical strategy games are another example of an entire genre that was born on the PC. I can think of no better example than War of the Chosen, the outstanding 2017 expansion for XCOM 2.
The style of game is simple, even if the strategy is not: Take a small group of heavily armed commandos and painstakingly move into and out of harm’s way, taking turns moving or attacking with an enemy who is trying to stop, to accomplish some sort of objective.
What you need to know before starting XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
Where War of the Chosen excels, however, is in its world-building and storytelling. Not only is it based on the exceptionally well-executed reboot by Firaxis Games, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, it also includes a lovable cast of characters. Making things even more fun, the voice-over artists all hail from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
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