E3 2016 pc gaming show header

The PC Gaming show presented by PC Gamer Magazine and AMD was a feature again this year at E3 2016, but it butted into the same time slot as Ubisoft by half an hour, which was a slight disappointment. This isn’t your typical E3 presentation – it’s all about the PC platform and PC gaming, and it also lacks a lot of the bomb and pizazz of the larger shows from Microsoft and Sony. However silly it might appear to be, this is still the second PC Gaming Show in a row, and it’s much slicker than the 2015 show. It plays an important part of showing gamers what’s happening on the PC platform, and that message is starting to bleed into E3 itself as well – Microsoft dedicated a lot of time to the Windows 10 platform in their presentation, as it now forms an important part of their gaming portfolio. Lets dive in, starting with the hardware announcements.

AMD introduces the Radeon RX 470 and RX 460 for budget builds

Source: Ars Technica

Source: Ars Technica

You may have missed my article detailing the Radeon RX 480, AMD’s new $199 contender for the GPU market. AMD’s Polaris architecture targets a number of form factors in the $100 to $300 price range, and these two new cards fit in under $199 to compete against the GeForce GTX 950 and GT 740. AMD’s Lisa Su appeared on stage to announce the cards and show them off, but her appearance was quite disappointing. No specs were revealed, nor pricing, and AMD hasn’t said anything about availability for these cards. The Radeon RX 480 is set for a 29 June launch, but it’s anyone’s guess if the cards will get to our shores on time to launch on the same day.

Radeon RX 470 and RX 460 Polaris slide

The Radeon RX 470 is positioned one rung below the RX 480 and will probably retail for around $150-$160. This card is based on Polaris 10 and features a six-pin connector and regular GDDR5 memory, just like the RX 480. Some shaders and execution units will be disabled to drop the card’s performance to the levels AMD feels comfortable with, and it should have at least a 4GB frame buffer to handle all the upcoming AAA titles that consume more than 2GB of memory at 1080p. If the RX 480 is the successor to AMD’s Radeon R9 390X, then the RX 480 is somewhere around the performance of the R9 380X, but consumes 75W less power.

The RX 460 is positioned as the “eSports GPU”, which means it’s cheap and uses less than 75 watts of power. The actual card Lisa Su showed off was the sort of thing you’d expect in an ITX machine, and it seems to top out at 2GB of GDDR5 memory.

AMD shows off new Zen processor playing DOOM

Hey, it’s Zen running DOOM. And that’s about it really.

Some interesting things can be noted in the video though. The offices you see in the beginning of the video are AMD’s driver testing labs, so that means that they’ve got much more than a handful of Zen chips to use in testing. The short bit of video showing them unboxing Zen chips also tells us a bit about the amount of chips they have to play with – the blue crate seen at 0:14 holds twelve CPUs per tray. There are five trays per stack, so that’s about 60 chips per stack (54 actual in this video).

AMD was careful to not show how many chips they have per box, but let’s assume there’s two per box due to packaging – AMD’s labs have about 360 Zen processors to play with. That’s more than enough to get an idea of how well the samples hold up to mass production. If they’re playing DOOM on these chips already, then we’re probably about two months away from leaks about the real performance of these chips on the internet.

And now to the game announcements. There were lots of things that popped out that are of particular interest, and I’ll concentrate on those to keep this at readable length.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 3 debut gameplay

Relic Entertainment showed up first with preview footage of the Dawn of War 3 alpha, due to launch in 2017. The new DoW is quite a looker, and promises heavier action and many more strategic options to win a battle (par for the course in the RTS genre, you get where this is going). The new mechs piloted by the space marines are imposing, and will definitely be the hot ticket options players will aim for, resource permitting. The campaign also shifts from the normal experience to something like the Starcraft series, where the main storyline is told through a campaign that follows three factions vying for power. Each faction will have their own hero unit, and the strategies for each will differ enough to make gameplay more challenging.

The framerate in the footage is a bit low in some places, but given it’s pre-alpha status perhaps there’s room for improvement between now and the game’s launch next year. Real-time strategy titles like this one tend to be CPU-limited and bog down in heavy firefights, but with DirectX 12 possibly in the loop, I think we might see that becoming less of an issue for the next generation of PC titles.

Oxygen Not Included, by the Don’t Starve developers, out early 2016

Klei Entertainment’s Don’t Starve series has been a hit on every platform it’s been ported to, and the studio’s next game, Oxygen Not Included, takes Don’t Starve‘s survival formula and ups the ante. Instead of being responsible for the horrible death of one person, now you’re in control of an entire population of people housed in some sort of cave dwelling.

It looks a bit like Fallout Shelter in the sense that there’s a lot of micro-management that needs to be done to keep your people alive, but it’s going to be much more stressful to play with all the things going wrong at the worst possible times.

ARK: Survival Evolved gets settlements and giant dinosaurs

ARK is one of those games that just keeps on surprising you. This survival adventure on an island shared with freakin’ dinosaurs is set to get some very important expansions, one of which is actually an official adoption of a mod made by a community member that now works for Studio Wildcard. That expansion is called Primitive Plus, which lets survivors build towns and communities that allow players to get a leg up on the island’s beasts and, you know… survive? If you’re a merchant, you can also open up a storefront to trade things with other players in the game.

The second is called Redwood, and this adds in a forest that reminds one of the forest on Endor in Star Wars, populated by the Ewok tribes. As luck would have it, someone actually thought it was funny to include someone outfitted to look like an Ewok, which you can see at 0:47. This update adds in the ability to start a forest settlement, as well as the Titanosaur, the only dinosaur in the game that cannot be tamed by normal means and is strong enough to hoist a small fortress on its back.

The last update is called Primal Survival, and it allows players to take control of many of the island’s monsters and small animals. This was also a community mod that became adopted officially when it proved incredibly popular. There’s a button for making your avatar poop. There’s also one for mating with other animals controlled by players. How scary would it be to have a pack of sentient Direwolves roaming around and causing chaos? Primal Survival will answer that burning question for you.

Giant Cop, a VR game where you’re literally Big Brother, launching late 2016

Did you ever want a game that makes you feel like a god? Well, that’s not what this is. Instead, Giant Cop lets you, the player, assume the role of a mostly invisible force of justice noticeable only by your aviator black sunglesses, your officer’s hat, and your floating hands. You can bring peace to your city, or wreak vengeance as you crush your subjects who break the law. You’re a giant cop after all, it’s up to you really. This game currently only works on the HTC Vive platform, but it should make its way to other VR solutions in due time.

Mount and Blade II allows you to panic more while under siege, releasing in 2016

What’s the best thing to do during a siege? Panic. What’s the second best thing to do? Panic some more. The third best? Start working on how to survive the onslaught. Mount and Blade II promises significantly improved combat and warring strategy, and adds a siege component to your battles. The siege tactics players will have to use look really cool, and the multiplayer aspect of the game, where both sides of the battle need to work together to win or survive, make this a really compelling reason to pick the game up.

The Surge, by Deck 13, currently in an alpha stage

Take the guys who did Lords of the Fallen. Give them a blank slate with the following directive: “Dark Souls in space. No wait, Dark Souls crossed with Dead Space in space. Obviously.” That’s what this looks like. Lords of the Fallen has mixed reviews on Steam, but The Surge might give Deck 13 the boost they need to be considered more seriously. Lets hope they’ve taken all the feedback from Lords of the Fallen and made The Surge the best it can be.

Lawbreakers, coming to Steam Early Access in August 2016

This is Cliff Blezinski’s baby. If that’s not enough to get you excited, then you might as well buy Overwatch now. Lawbreakers is the return to arena shooters from the creator of Unreal Tournament, a game that is STILL played online to this day (albeit with a lot of workaround to make networking function properly). Set in a future version of California where everyone drives electric cars underground, the city streets and sidewalks have been reclaimed by incredible set pieces and beautiful architecture, and it’s about as close to a regular old deathmatch sort of setup with all the trappings of modernity. While I believe there’s a lot of competition in this genre, there can’t be too many arena shooters.

Vampyre, by Dontnod Entertainment, explores being human and being immortal simultaneously

Set in 1918, Vampyr tells the story of man-turned-thing-that-goes-bump-in-the-night, Doctor Johnathan Reid, a surgeon who battles with his conflicting moralities as an ex-human and a creature of the night. As a World War I veteran, Reid also suffers from PTSD, and this plays into his fears and guides his moral compass throughout the game. There’s some cues taken from Sony PlayStation’s Until Dawn, where the impact of a choice made by the player will affect their relationship with NPCs in the game further down the road. The game is a multiplatform release for PC, PS4, and Xbox One in 2017.

Tripwire Interactive a VR game in the form of Killing Floor: Incursion

Incursion looks like the game that could pull the rug from beneath your feet if you’re not paying close attention! This is Tripwire’s take on light gun games from the early 2000s on the PlayStation 2, with the player also free to move about the levels to gain higher ground and fight off the zombie horde.

Tyranny, by Obsidian Games, set for a 2016/2017 launch

In Tyranny, the grand war between good and evil is over – and the forces of evil, led by Kyros the Overlord, have won. It looks a lot like a Diablo clone with its isometric RPG gameplay, but Tyranny promises to give players much more than that. The game is already listed on Steam if you want to add it to your wishlist. You’re not the hero in this game, though. You’re the villain!

Observer, by Bloober Team

It’s another VR game set in a futuristic dystopia where hackers have begin to use technology for nefarious purposes. There’s some Mr. Robot-level hackery combined with visuals and technology leeched from Ghost In The Shell, and it looks quite surreal and fantastic. I want it, and I don’t even know what it is yet.

The Turing Test

While The Turing Test has been announced before (we just never spotted it because it didn’t get a lot of press), I’m quite interested in it now. Borrowing heavily from puzzle platformers like Portal, The Turing Test seeks to find out if humans could survive on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons covered in thick blankets of ice. It’s developed by indie studio Bulkhead Interactive, and it honestly looks like my cup of tea. Players take the role of Ava Turing, an engineer stranded on Europa in a facility designed for researching the planet’s core.

The game’s title is both a play on words (testing Ava), as well as referencing the actual Turing test whereby it’s determined whether an AI can pass off as a human or not through interacting with it, which is a nod to Ava’s transformation into a cyborg as she fights to survive. The Turing Test lands on PC (Steam) and Xbox One in August 2016.

Overland, a strategic survival horror game

Take Oregon Trail. Turn the backdrop into a post-apocalyptic America, give it procedurally generated environments, make it look super nice graphically, and unleash your creation into the world. That’s basically Overland, and it looks great. The game is currently in a closed alpha, and occasionally the developers seed more keys to players to help with testing the game out and reporting bugs.

Dual Universe by Novaquark Games, releasing in 2017

Well, it’s almost like a No Man’s Sky clone, except it’s not and it’s in VR. There’s some Star Citizen DNA in there as well thanks to the planet exploration activities. I enjoy seeing the surge in popularity in space simulators lately, and this one looks quite ambitious.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare set for a 2016 launch

Think Chivalry, but with magic and more colours. In fact, no, that’s exactly what this game is, because it’s developed by the same people!

Warframe Luminaro update brings sports to the table

Just think, guys. If the goal posts were higher, and if there were three goals on each side of the field, and if everyone was allowed to fly, then it would be quidditch in the Warframe universe. It even has a quaffle! In the end this is a bit like Rocket League, and its going to be a lot of fun.

That’s all for our E3 2016 coverage of the PC Gaming Show! Tune into Day 2 of the E3 podcast to hear our thoughts about the show.

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