Games, graphics cards and VR: PC gaming stays relevant at E3 2015
PC gaming got a little more attention than usual at this year's E3 expo, with its own dedicated event known as the PC Gaming Show. There was also a big PC virtual reality presence at the show, with Gizmag getting a look at both the consumer Oculus Rift and new contender for the VR crown, StarVR. Read on as we pick out some of the biggest E3 announcements for PC gamers.
Starting with the games, the PC Gaming Show provided a look at upcoming strategy title Total War: Warhammer. The developer discussed the challenges of moving the franchise out of its comfort zone, melding it with the tabletop strategy game's fantasy world. We're yet to see gameplay of the title yet, but it's certainly a promising project.
Developer Hello Games announced that its space exploration game No Man's Sky will launch on PC at the same time as it does on PS4. There's no word exactly when it will actually arrive though, and given that it's such an ambitious project, we wouldn't be surprised to see it slip to 2016.
Microsoft's Phil Spencer made an appearance on stage, announcing that Xbox One fighting title Killer Instinct will be coming to PC, in addition to Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (which will support resolutions up to 4K) and the free-to-play Fable Legends.
We also got a behind-closed-doors close look at just how gorgeous Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will look on a high-end gaming rig, powered by the Eidos Montreal's in-house Dawn Engine. The title makes use of Direct X 12 tech, and features some impressive depth-of-field and lighting effects. Complementing the graphical upgrades is the expansion of Adam Jensen's stealth and combat abilities (including a Dishonored-like dash move), further enhancing the play the way you want theme that's been a part of the series from the get-go.
Moving on to hardware, one of the biggest reveals for PC gamers was a pair of new graphics card ranges from AMD. The wallet-friendly Radeon R7 cards and 4K-capable R9 GPUs offer DirectX 12 support, with prices ranging from US$109 to $429. They'll land on June 18.
The company also announced the flagship Radeon R9 Fury X GPU – a top-tier card that makes use of High-Bandwidth Memory (HBM) tech, offering 60 percent more memory bandwidth than GDDR5. It's also more efficient than GDDR5, providing three times the performance per watt in 94 percent less PCB surface area. The new card is tailored towards virtual reality gaming, offering support for various headsets. It's set to land June 24 for $649.
AMD took the opportunity to announce a new dual-GPU card, used to power a new small form-factor gaming PC called Project Quantum. While there aren't yet many details on the card itself, we do know that the system it powers packs 16 teraflops of computing, offers an attractive design and is built for the living room. There's no word on when (or if) it will hit shelves.
Virtual reality landed at this year's E3 expo in a big way. Aside from AMD's VR-centric GPU, there was one other big surprise at the show, coming in the form of the StarVR headset. Gizmag got a chance to put the new entry in the VR war through its paces, and was impressed with what it saw. We also got a chance to go hands-on with the consumer version of the Oculus Rift headset, set to launch in Q1 2016.
The last of the (current) big PC-based VR headsets, the HTC Vive, is set to launch later this year – but wasn't on display at E3.
A little before E3, Microsoft outed a dongle that allows PC players to use Xbox One controllers wirelessly with their system. The company sweetened the deal even further during the expo, announcing a new Xbox Elite controller that works with both the company's current generation console and PC. The new gamepad is aimed at pro gamers, providing modular controls, configurable profiles, a new set of paddle buttons and hair-lock triggers. It's available this October for an enthusiast-only price of US$150.
While the big E3 events have traditionally focused on console gaming, it's great to see the PC getting a little more attention. With new games on show, the ever-increasing presence of VR and an all new pro gamepad from Microsoft, perhaps a PC gaming renaissance is on the horizon.
For more from E3, you can check out Gizmag's analysis of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo's showings at the expo, as well as our thoughts on virtual reality at the show.