There's been a lot of talk lately that PC gaming is "dead." If 2012 taught us anything, it's that PC gaming is FAR from it. Based on some of 2012's game releases, I'd say it's quite alive and healthy, thriving even. I'm not talking about multiplatform games that were also available on consoles; I'm talking about PC-exclusive titles that brought PC gaming back into light for many.
Let's start with how 2012 brought us one of the most eagerly anticipated sequels ever, Diablo 3. Despite a rough launch in which the servers struggled to accommodate the high volume of players, Diablo 3 quickly established itself as the fastest-selling PC game ever. Unfortunately the game launched without a few major features — PvP being the most noteworthy one.
Thoughts may vary on the new direction Blizzard went with Diablo 3 (no customizable attributes or stat points, the implementation of the auction house), but there's no denying Diablo 3 recaptured the hearts of many PC gamers. That void left in the PC universe from 2000 was filled with all-new loot — and lots of it. This time, though, players could sell that loot for real cash.
Guild Wars 2
Diablo 3 wasn't the only sequel released in 2012. ArenaNet also released Guild Wars 2, an MMORPG that abandoned the traditional concept of questing. I never played the original Guild Wars, but having played multiple MMOs in the past, Guild Wars 2 was definitely a step in the right direction.
I still don't think companies have found a way to deal with end game properly, but Guild Wars 2 was one of the first to really make me care about exploration and not want to rush to max level. I wanted to enjoy the leveling process, something I can't say I did in past MMORPGs. Part of the reason for this was that even while exploring, it didn't feel like a waste of time. That's because Guild Wars 2 rewarded you for it. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, in Guild Wars 2 rewarded you with experience. Exploring, discovering, crafting, fighting, you name it. Everything yielded experience, which made it completely worthwhile in my eyes.
Traditional questing was replaced with dynamic events. Simply being in an area and participating in world events like random bosses or npc invasions would earn you experience. There were still a few fetch quests, but for the most part you could level up simply by exploring and participating in events. In other words, Guild Wars 2 isn't reliant on the grind. That's definitely a nice change to see with PC gaming.
FTL Faster Than Light
Ah, the joys of Kickstarter. Not everything on that site gets crowd-funded, and even sometimes the things that do aren't necessarily worthy in my eyes. FTL Faster Than Light is definitely not the case. One of the first notable Kickstarter successes, FTL is a space flight simulator game with tons of strategy required. Don't let the simplistic graphics fool you, FTL packs quite a punch.
Despite its complexity, the game is still very inviting thanks, in part, to its addictive nature. The catch is that you'll always be presented with a more difficult challenge to overcome. Basic gameplay involves you managing a spacecraft through a series of randomly generated sectors filled with different combat challenges. The hard…is what makes it great.
We find ourselves with another sequel. Torchlight 2 is a sequel to Runic's 2009 action-RPG, Torchlight. It's been most compared to the Diablo franchise due to its action-RPG looter mentality. The game may lack the innovation of other games and, for the most part, gameplay is similar to its predecessor, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
To put it simply, Torchlight was a great game already. Torchlight 2 expanded on that with a longer campaign, day cycles, weather effects, and a redesigned user interface. Best of all, Torchlight 2 added multiplayer, a feature omitted from the original.
Orcs Must Die! 2
Another sequel that didn't see much change over its predecessor; again, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The original Orcs Must Die! game, released in 2011, was an already solid game. Robot Entertainment took what they had and expanded upon it.
The tower defense strategy game had the same basic gameplay, but improved upon it with a co-op gameplay. The main antagonist in the first game, the Sorceress, was added as a second playable character so players could join forces and play together during the campaign. It also added an Endless Mode. Overall, Orcs Must Die! 2 was just a solid game all-around.
As you can see, PC gaming is far from the grave. If anything, I'd say its only gaining steam. We didn't see too much innovation in PC gaming this year, but for that'd I'd just turn to 2013. Looking ahead, 2013 promises even more ground-breaking PC-exclusive titles. We'll hopefully see the release of Fortnite, the first game to use Unreal Engine 4. We will also see the arrival of the highly anticipated SimCity and Rome 2: Total War.