It’s a great time to be a gamer. We are at the beginning of a generation of consoles that promise to deliver visuals that have to be seen to be believed. Sony and Microsoft are duking it out to be the more successful platform, and many gamers have to make a difficult choice when choosing a platform. Most of the gamers I know make that choice based largely on being able to play titles that are exclusive to a platform. For me the Uncharted series being exclusive to Sony makes my choice an easy one, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to play games that are coming out exclusively for Xbox, but I have a hard time justifying purchasing two systems. Solution? I use my PC as my Xbox.
Everyone needs a computer. In this day and age it’s not an option to not own a computer, and who would want to be without one anyway? So why not have a computer that can do more than just type documents and browse the web? Many, if not most, of the biggest games released for the Xbox are released simultaneously on Windows, and many times can be purchased on sale through a variety of online vendors like Steam. So I made the decision to build a budget gaming PC that would still do all of the normal day-to-day things I needed, and I could also get my hands on titles that will never come out for the PS4. All I had to do after that was grab a couple of accessories and buy some games and I was off to the races.
To Be Clear
Before we get too far into this, I want to make it clear that I’m not suggesting that PC gaming is for everyone, and I’m really not even suggesting that you become a PC gamer. I just saw this as a good option to play some games that I might not otherwise have access to and it has worked out well for me so far.
At the moment I have a tower that could stand to have some components upgraded and some RAM added to it, so I won’t go into detail on it’s internals. Suffice it to say that I can play Titanfall at the highest settings and it looks every bit as good as it does on the Xbox One.
I am currently using an stock wireless Xbox 360 controller that connects via the discontinued Microsoft USB wireless adapter. You can just as easily buy a third party controller, though I’m hopeful that someone will get the Xbox One controller to fully work with Windows in the near future. There’s a way to do it now, but it’s not pretty. The Razer Sabertooth pictured above is an amazing controller, and if you don’t already have a 360 controller lying around, check out the link at the bottom of this article.
The graphics card in my tower has HDMI, and at the moment I have it connected to the TV in my living room. I will probably be moving the machine back to my home office where it will be connected to a 24″ Asus monitor, which when you’re sitting right in front of it is just as good as sitting several feet away from a big TV.
Another option that is worth noting is gaming capable laptops. More and more people are choosing to purchase a laptop vs the traditional tower because they want to be mobile. Laptops (with the rare and unsuccessful exception) cannot be upgraded, so getting your hands on the most powerful thing you can possibly afford when buying one is always a good idea. Throw a controller in your bag and you have a mobile gaming rig without having to pack up your console.
Games I Would Have Missed
I just wanted to give a brief list of games that I might never have played had I not explored this option. Again, I know this idea isn’t for everyone, but I’ve really enjoyed having the option, and have even been able to play a few PC games with friends and family members that I wouldn’t have otherwise. All of these games feature complete compatibility with a controller unless otherwise noted.
Titanfall – I haven’t played this much as I just got it recently, and there’s really not a whole lot to say except that it’s amazing. The downside of purchasing this game on the PC is that I am not able to play with my friends, but this may change in the future. According to Microsoft, the Xbox One is capable of supporting the feature, so maybe I’ll be able to get the crap kicked out of me by the Free For All gang when Titanfall 2 comes out…
Mass Effect – For the longest time you couldn’t get the original Mass Effect on the PS3, and with the incredible job that BioWare did in giving us characters that are unique based on our choices, you really want to play this trilogy continuously with your Shepard from the beginning. Playing on PC gave me that opportunity long before I could have owned it on PS3.
Left 4 Dead 2 – This game is the most fun when it’s played with friends, and thankfully I have a few friends who have this game on PC and was able to play with my Xbox 360 controller. Hours and hours of zombie killing joy.
Bastion – This game is an indie title that was originally released on Xbox Live Arcade when the 360 was still current. It’s a great game that is now available on iOS, but playing it with the Xbox 360 controller as it was meant to be played has been great.
Fez – Another indie title that was originally exclusive to the Xbox. Wonderful little game. It has now been ported to the PS4 and Vita, but I would have had to wait a long time to play it had I not played on the PC (with the controller).
Super Meat Boy – Yet another indie title that was originally XBLA exclusive and offered on the PC. I was late to this party, but better late than never.
Dust: An Elysian Tail – If you’re reading this, you probably listen to Free For All’s game episodes (and should listen to ALL of them), and you heard this game discussed recently as a Games with Gold freebie. I was turned on to it by my brother who grabbed it from Steam. And while Sony has stepped up support for indie developers, this is another great indie title that you can only get for the Xbox or Windows.
Team Fortress 2 – This one I’m just throwing in for good measure because I’ve played it with my brothers and really enjoyed it. It’s an FPS with a unique art style and it’s a lot of fun. While this game offers “partial controller support”, I’ve only ever played it with a keyboard and a mouse. It’s completely free and has pretty low requirements to play, and I definitely think it’s worth checking out.
I know that this idea is not new and that it may not be for everyone. But it has been a lot of fun to have my PC as an option for playing games that I otherwise would have missed. There are also a ton of games available from resellers like Steam that will never be released on either console platform and they are worth checking out as well.