Look, I love kicking back on the couch and playing my PS4, but I recently got back into PC gaming and it’s been some of the most fun I’ve had in years. I started out as a PC gamer, so didn’t really own many consoles save for the original NES and the Xbox 360 later in life.
The years between I spent building and modding PCs, eventually landing a stint writing about it for MaximumPC magazine in college. Then I graduated and life sort of whisked me away, taking much of my PC gaming with it. Sure, I’ve still continued to build PCs, but not like I used to. That changed within the last year, and I recently just upgraded my graphics card to an NVIDIA GTX 1060. Everything is coming swirling back to me, and I’m remembering how much joy I get from PC gaming.
Here are five reasons you should dive right back in with me (if you haven’t already!)
Customization and modding
This is probably my favorite part of PC gaming: actually building and modding the PC I’m gaming on. I used to water-cool and overclock my PCs as a kid, but I’ve since mellowed out a bit and haven’t done that in years. I still like to add things like cold cathode and USB case lights, though, adding a bit of flare to my system so it has a tricked-out glow when I turn down the lights. I also dig that I can upgrade one part at a time, like my graphics card just a few weeks back, without having to redo the whole system. Plus, building a PC lets you keep things to your budget, though I don’t recommend skimping on a graphics card or a processor if you really want to game. (Please don’t laugh at my wire job.)
Gaming on the go
You can use Windows 10 or Sony’s software to play PS4 and Xbox One anywhere in your house, even on the go if you configure the former properly, but I’ve found you can get an even better experience with NVIDIA GameStream. If you buy a supported card, like the GTX 1060 for example, certain games will automatically enroll with support for game streaming inside the GeForce Experience app. Then, with an NVIDIA Shield TV, an NVIDIA Shield K1 tablet or an NVIDIA Shield portable, you can easily play your PC games wherever you are. Pro tip: you can also download software called “Moonlight” for free on Windows, Mac, Android and iOS, and play those same games with a controller or mouse/keyboard where supported. Seriously – I was just out in California playing games powered by my PC back in New Jersey on my laptop, graphics on high since they were being rendered on my PC back at home. Overwatch on your Android smartphone? Yep, easy as pie. Oh, and side note: I ordered a Nintendo Switch and I can’t wait to use that on the go, too.
One of my favorite games growing up was Team Fortress, the multiplayer mod to Quake that launched way back in 1996. I played a bit of Team Fortress Classic and eventually Team Fortress 2, and the closest I’ve gotten to reliving some of those old glory days is through Overwatch. It’s different, certainly, but has some of the same elements in the fact that each character has different traits you can use. I love that Blizzard has continued to issue tons of updates with new characters and skins, and have had a lot more fun playing it on PC with a controller and mouse than on a PS4 with a controller. It’s my favorite game going right now.
It might sound like a silly reason, but PC gaming is a great excuse to pick up a mechanical keyboard. If you haven’t yet, you sure as heck don’t know what you’re missing out on. They’re great for tapping with incredible speed, but are also amazing to type on once you get used them. Plus, who can resist the charming click-clack of the switches as you’re running around the battlefield?
I’m a sucker for Cherry Red switches, but there are a variety to choose from including green, brown, blue and more, all with different feels. I actually currently use a Logitech “Orion Red” switch, which was introduced on one of Logitech’s newer keyboards and performs pretty well. A lot of mechanical keyboards are designed for gaming now, too, so you’ll find fun backlighting options, full or no-numberpads, additional keys for macros and all sorts of other goodies. They aren’t cheap, but you won’t regret the purchase.
This last step I haven’t quite fully achieved yet. With the introduction of the GTX 1060 and other affordable graphics cards, you can now build a gaming rig at a pretty affordable price and have enough power for the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive. I bought a Rift for a weekend and returned it since I couldn’t really justify the cost to my spouse, but damn was it cool. Yes, PSVR is an option if you have a PlayStation 4, but there are so many software mods out there for the Rift and Vive that let you jump into tons of games, even those that aren’t designed for VR. It’s a neat option, and one that I suspect is only going to increase in popularity over the coming years. Why not get started now?