5 games that look great even on a budget gaming PC
PC gaming is great. The advantages that PC gamers can see over console gamers, especially as far as game visuals, go is pretty amazing. Sadly, not every PC gamer can afford the kind of gaming rig that can run Crysis 3 in 4K resolutions at 60fps and so those with more modest gaming rigs can feel a bit left out when playing the latest games.
For those of you out there with a low to medium spec rig there are still plenty of opportunities to experience jaw-dropping visuals and I've got a handful ot first-person titles that look great on a budget gaming PC. The machine I game on is a fairly low-end machine that cost under £300 but can still manage to play Titanfall in 1080p at 30fps on medium detail. It's powered by a Intel i3 3.4GHz Haswell processor, 4GB of DDR3 1600Mhz RAM and a Nvidia GeForce GT 630 GPU with 2GB of VRAM and this is the low end spec I've used as a benchmark for this feature.
I'm kicking it old-school with this first recommendation because, despite its age, Mirror's Edge still looks eye-wateringly good. It may be powered by a six-year-old version of the Frostbite engine but DICE has managed to create some visuals that really stand up to the test of time.
As a bonus, on my modest machine I can now run Mirror's Edge with the detail levels maxed out at 1080p with 16x anti-aliasing. While this may not match some of the details experienced by high-end gamers playing Watch Dogs or the current Star Citizen or Elite: Dangerous betas, Mirror's Edge's clean, bright and simple cityscapes are still a sight to behold.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim has been played to death by most RPG fanatics but with the sheer volume of mods available on the PC there is plenty of new content to get to grips with even now that Bethesda has stopped building official expansion packs for it.
One of their best additions was the high-res texture pack. If you have a DirectX 11 video card with 1GB of VRAM then this is a must for Skyrim fans. Running in 1080p with high detail levels Skyrim is still a gorgeously eye-hugging experience and it's much cheaper and warmer than a holiday in Scandinavia.
This is another favourite of the PC gaming community and with its distinctive cel-shaded visuals you can see why. It's actually surprisingly forgiving on PC hardware and even my old Intel Core2Duo 1.86GHz PC with a Radeon 4550HD and 512MB of VRAM could run it at 1080p.
On my new machine it runs a treat on fairly high detail settings and it almost makes me wonder why Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel isn't being released on next-gen consoles. Gearbox has modded the Unreal Engine 3 significantly to get the best out of it and Borderlands 2 is still a triumph of gaming visuals. And it's almost as addictive as crack.
Far Cry 3
There's one downside to playing Far Cry 3 and that is that it uses Ubisoft's awful Uplay online platform. Once you get past the initial unpleasantness of loading up Uplay though it looks amazing.
It's important to not that it only runs smoothly on my machin with the anti-aliasing turned off but at 1080p on a 23-inch monitor it really doesn't need it. The foliage is amazingly lush and verdant compared to the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions and the dynamic lighting really shows the Rook Islands at their best even though they're crammed with hostile wildlife and murderous pirates.
Batman: Arkham City
If you're setting yourself up for the final instalment of Rocksteady's Arkham trilogy there really is only one game to play and that is Batman: Arkham City. This is still a breath-taking game and with a low-to-medium end gaming rig you can still enjoy it at its 1080p best. There's lots of dynamic shadows around and the animation is spectacularly fluid.
Rocksteady has set a fantastically high bar for themselves with their Arkham series and Arkham City is still a dark pinnacle of what gaming visuals have managed to achieve during the previous console generation.
So there you have it. A handful of PC games that will allow you to make the most of your low-to-medium-end PC gaming rig. There's a lot that can be achieved even with budget PCs and these five games benefit som much from the added power that your PC can offer over and above the Xbox 360 and the PS3.
Who said you need to buy the PS4 or the Xbox One to get a fantastic 1080p gaming experience? Not me, that's for sure.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops III is coming to the PS3 and Xbox 360 after all
- Tomonobu Itagaki's Devil's Third gets a release date
- Adr1ft is coming to PC and consoles at the end of the summer
- EA gives the new Mirror's Edge a name – Mirror's Edge Catalyst
- ZombiU PS4 and Xbox One port reportedly in the works
- Mike Bithell's Volume to be released this August
- Gearbox's new shooter Battleborn gets a pre-E3 trailer
- Steam Controller launches in October, Steam Machines arrive in November
- Gears Of War devs Black Tusk change their name to The Coalition ahead of E3