It's often said that PC gaming is dead, and that the platform has been all but forgotten by game developers. This couldn't be farther from the truth. The list ahead consists of the 20 top exclusives for the PC that are destined to remain exclusive to the platform.
Guild Wars 2
The first "Guild Wars" redefined the MMORPG genre with its free to play set up and competitive leagues. With a tightly knit cooperative gameplay experience, Guild Wars went above and beyond what most pay-to-play MMORPGs (with a few exceptions) accomplished.
"Guild Wars 2" is a return to that setting, now featuring many different races to play as, including the dog-like Charr with whom you did battle in the first game. The game promises to feature a more open environment, with larger scale battles and an interesting story to boot. If you aren't willing to invest time and money in a hardcore MMORPG but want to enjoy a cooperative online experience, "Guild Wars 2" is definitely your best bet.
Shogun 2 Total War
The "Total War" series has always been a little hit and miss. It's featured classics like "Medieval" and "Shogun", but also flops like "Empire". It's hard to say whether "Shogun 2 Total War" will be a hit or a miss, but I'm counting on it being a hit.
The formula itself is pretty simple: you control a shogun (that's a Japanese warlord) who owns various territories on an overland map dotted with cities, constructions and unit pieces that represent your armies. When you move your units into enemy territory held by opposing forces, the game drops you into a battleground where your armies, separated by columns and other formations, do battle in real time.
Judging from the trailers and some of the new RPG elements that Creative Assembly intend to put into the game, it'll look pretty and inject a lot of new gameplay mechanics into the formula.
The Witcher 2
"The Witcher" thrust you into the role of Geralt, last of his kind–a Witcher. Genetically engineered and trained in the deadliest skills, a Witcher's task is do do battle against supernatural creatures.
The sequel to "The Witcher", titled "Assassins of Kings", puts you back in Geralt's shoes. There is a storm on the horizon. A war is coming. Little else is known about the game's plot, but it is rumored to feature 16 different endings. The game features an entirely new engine–one that's leaps and bounds better than the highly modified Aurora ("Neverwinter Nights") engine used by it's predecessor, and a similar combat system.
Players can expect to make a wide array of decisions throughout the game, much like in the original, and follow a multilinear story with branching paths. Needless to say, the game is one of the most highly anticipated titles on the PC platform due to it's exclusivity.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
"World of Warcraft" may well be the reigning MMORPG at the moment, but Bioware intends to give Blizzard a run for its money with "Star Wars: The Old Republic". The game will allow you to side with the Republic or the Sith while choosing from a variety of classes like the Han Solo-inspired Smuggler and the Bounty Hunter.
While not terribly different from traditional MMORPGs, "The Old Republic" diverges from "World of Warcraft" by offering fully voiced characters and a large emphasis on story. Players will also be able to own their own starship as an in-game base.
We'll just have to see if it's enough to topple "World of Warcraft".
Heroes of Might and Magic VI
The "Heroes of Might and Magic" series was originally a spinoff from the "Might and Magic" series of RPGs but managed to earn a place of its own in the pantheon of classic games. In HoMM, players control a single faction that has its own units and heroes. Every faction has a castle where units are produced and placed into stacks. Heroes (who can earn levels and wear equipment that you find in the game world) then take these stacks who make up their army to do battle against enemy armies in turn-based mode over a battlefield.
Due for release in March, "Heroes of Might and Magic VI" is being developed by Black Hole Entertainment. Although largely faithful to the "Heroes" series, "Heroes VI" will involve a mix of traditional gameplay and innovation, with new features such as boss fights, town conversion functionality and the introduction of a new reputation system. The game will feature four campaigns that can be played in any order, with five total factions: Haven, Inferno, Necropolis, Stronghold and a brand new faction.
Black Hole has some damn fine artists working for it, so the game is sure to look as pretty as it plays.
What started as a simple mod for "Warcraft 3" has turned into a worldwide phenomenon, especially in Asian countries where "DOTA", or "Defense of the Ancients" is played at the tournament level. IceFrog, one of the original game's creators recently signed on with Valve to produce "DOTA 2", a sequel to the original mod and a future competitor to games like "League of Legends" and "Heroes of Newerth", two games which use the "DOTA" formula.
"DOTA 2" will feature most (if not all) of the original character classes, classic gameplay and Valve's magic touch. We can only hope that the game will come the customizability of "Team Fortress 2" and plenty of hats.
Ever wondered what it might be like to be the dictator of a banana republic? Well, "Tropico" gives you the opportunity to be just that. You can choose to be like Fidel Castro, a benevolent leader of a socialist paradise, or like Hugo Chavez, a popular dictator who rules with an iron fist.
"Tropico 4" is the fourth addition to the long running series and will include the addition of import monitoring, new superpowers and a council of ministers to aid you in your rulership.
End of Nations
The ominously named "End of Nations" is an upcoming MMORTS, a genre seldom touched by any developers. In development at Petroglyph Games, the same crew which created the original "Command & Conquer" games, End of Nations is anticipated to combine the action and strategy of a regular RTS with the persistence, progression and social features of an MMO.
While games like "Shattered Galaxy" managed somewhat to deliver an MMORTS experience, they simply fell short when it came to the strategy aspects. "End of Nations" hopes to answer the need for a real MMORTS.
The Black Mirror III
"The Black Mirror III" is an independently developed point and click horror adventure that takes place in a modern gothic horror setting. Like most indie adventure games, the graphics aren't really much to look at but the well-written story and setting are sure to enthrall.
The Sims Medieval
What is "The Sims Medieval"? It's a whole new franchise that reintroduces the Sims in a whole new setting: The Middle Ages. Wait, I guess that's not really new–well, I suppose it's new for "The Sims". It's not just "The Sims" transferred back to the Middle Ages.
The game is built around three core pillars: heroes, quests, and kingdom. The game will allow you to build up a kingdom and tell a very medieval story through the heroes. You can expand your kingdom by constructing new buildings and upgrading preexisting ones, leveling up your king and your heroes, and going on epic quests. In short, it's a kingdom simulator. You don't see that too often.
Based on Spore but designed as a whole new game, "Darkspore" is an action RPG in the vein of the "Diablo" games that allows you to develop your own set of mutant creatures to do battle across various alien worlds to save the galaxy from other mutant creatures.
While I don't suppose that we'll be able to kill user-designed penis monsters, the idea of being able to design your own creature by collecting thousands of different body parts is fantastic to say the least.
A Game of Thrones: Genesis
Cersei Lannister utters the words "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground." when speaking to Eddard Stark in the first book by George R.R. Martin. It's my hope that "A Game of Thrones: Genesis" manages to keep the spirit of the books by being a solid adaptation.
Little is known about the game at the moment, apart from the fact that it is being developed as a real time strategy game taking place in the Westeros setting exclusively for the PC. With any luck, it'll be more like "Total War" and less like "Command & Conquer".
Xenonauts: Strategic Planetary Defence Simulator
In "Xenonauts", the earth is invaded by aliens and an organization called Xenonauts is formed to spearhead the defense of the planet. The player, put in charge of the Xenonauts, constructs a base with government funds and forms a squad to engage the hostile forces whenever they are sighted. Battles take place in turn-based mode within a map and downed aliens can either be captured or killed for study, which allows you to research new weapons and capabilities to fend off the alien menace.
"Xenonauts" capitalizes on everyone's desire to see a new "X-COM" game. Featuring everything from the Geoscape and base management to turn-based tactical missions, "Xenonauts" is pretty much "X-COM" with better graphics and without the name.
Sword of the Stars II
Slated for a late 2011 release, "Sword of the Stars II" is the sequel to the space strategy game developed by Kerberos Productions. SotS2 shares the same gameplay as the original title, where the goal of the player is to form an interstellar empire and conquer the galaxy.
In the new game, players will be reacquainted with the original six races in addition to a whole new playable faction. SotS2 comes equipped with a new graphics engine, a much larger tech tree and detailed star systems with planetary orbits.
Before there was "tower defense", there was "Stronghold". "Stronghold 3" is a return to the original game's mechanics which were considered by many to be far superior to those in its sequel and the spinoffs that came from it. Using Havok physics, "Stronghold 3" will feature physics-based traps, crumbling walls and other environmental effects. Additionally, the game will have real time day and night transitions, allowing for nighttime sieges and the use of fire-based devices to illuminate parts of the map.
"Microsoft Flight" is intended to replace the long running "Microsoft Flight Simulator" series, a franchise that has existed for more than 28 years. Few details are known about the flight simulator, but Microsoft has announced that the game will be much friendlier to players new to the series. The game is also expected to feature full support for Games for Windows Live for multiplayer gameplay.
"Firefall" is Red 5 Studios' massively multiplayer team-based third person shooter. Looking a lot like a cross between "Borderlands", "Halo Reach" and "Gears of War", Firefall takes place 200 years in the future in a post-apocalyptic Earth ravaged by storms.
"Firefall" features a large, open world cooperative campaign shared between hundreds of players. It's not too different from how "Guild Wars" handles things. Like many upcoming MMOs, "Firefall" is planned to be a free-to-play online game with an online store to support the game's continued development.
TERA: The Exiled Realm of Arboren
Atypical of most MMORPGs, the Korean-developed "TERA Online" features a real-time battle system that uses the third person camera view, and plays akin to games like "God of War" and "Bayonetta" rather than titles like "World of Warcraft", which feature automated attacks. In addition to typical RPG elements, players must be skilled in combat by actively dodging enemy attacks and executing moves. The game can be played through a keyboard and mouse or a gamepad.
Players can choose from six races, one of which includes the adorable race of animals called Popori. Not to be confused with furries, the Popori are stubby, diminutive creatures who resemble fat animals in costumes more than anything else. They come in a variety of cute forms, including rabbits, dogs, raccoons, pandas and badgers. Squee!
Red Orchestra: Heroes of Stalingrad
What was first developed as a mod for "Unreal Tournament 2003" became a full fledged game. "Heroes of Stalingrad" is a sequel to "Ostfront 41-45" and is being developed as an exclusive for the PC with no plans to port it to any of the consoles.
Among other things, Heroes will introduce a new first person cover system combined with blind firing, which isn't unlike the system used in "Rainbow Six: Vegas", first person collision detection for more fluid gameplay and a new system of statistics tracking, which allows for players to earn ranks and progress online.
Diablo returns. He might have been killed in the first two games, but there's little doubt that he's returned in some new form. It's probably that flaming iguana-looking thing in the trailer.
Needless to say, "Diablo 3" is going to be huge. We've all been waiting for the game to come out for close to 10 years, and the fact that it's finally coming out is an occasion not only to celebrate, but to play the game non-stop for at least 24 hours, if not longer.
Featuring 4 all new classes and the return of the Barbarian, "Diablo 3" promises to retake the action RPG throne that's been left vacant since furor for the 2nd game died down. So far no other title, not "Titan Quest" or even "Dungeon Siege" have managed to claim it. It's up for grabs, and the king is back. Long live the king.