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2013 preview: PC gaming

Why keyboard and mouse gamers won't have time to notice the arrival of new consoles

If you think the PC was under-represented at E3 and GamesCom last year, you should've seen how many demos were using them.

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From Unreal Engine 4 to Watch Dogs to Star Wars 1313, every demo that pointed towards the future did so with the help of custom PCs guzzling electricity under tables and behind curtains.

2013 is going to be a significant, disruptive year for consoles, but it's also going to be another glorious twelve months for desktop gaming aficionados.

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AIN'T NO PARTY LIKE A THIRD-PARTY PARTY

Those who already have a good PC set-up should set their faces to 'smug' - CVG recently published its "most anticipated PS3 and Xbox games of 2013" feature, and a very healthy number of those titles listed will be coming to PC too.

The list includes: Devil May Cry, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2, Aliens Colonial Marines, Dead Space 3, Tomb Raider, Lost Planet 3, Crysis 3, Metro: Last Light and Splinter Cell: Blacklist.

And though there's a GTA V sized hole in that list, it's highly likely that the game will be delayed on PC as opposed to completely ignored.

But gamers don't forsake sofas for swivel chairs just to play games already available on consoles, and 2013 will provide a wealth of promising titles custom built for the PC.

Adhesive Games is opening the year with its Hawken public beta. This free-to-play mech-deathmatch title is exclusive to PC and could change perceptions of core freemium gaming. It's potential alone has earned it a number of Game of the Show awards, and is available to try right now here.

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TEST BEDS

Speaking of beta tests, Minecraft fans should expect access to Markus Persson's next game around March. Given the working title 0x10c, the game is a Venn diagram of divergent genres - from space faring to first-person shooting. At the moment it's hard to know exactly what Persson is going for, which in this age of ultra-safe game releases is a godsend in itself.

Other experimental titles on the horizon includes Clang - a motion control game that promises to be both intuitive and precise - now where have you heard that before?

Clang is slightly different from your classic motion-control project by virtue of being built from the ground-up due to what appears to be a passion for the idea, as opposed to delegation from a console manufacturer. Will this be the first motion control game you care about? Well, the omega-nerd Neal Stephenson has teamed up with fellow sword-fighting fantasists to ensure his team has the best possible chance to be just that.

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SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW

A new range of classic PC staples are on the horizon too. Command & Conquer, Sim City, Company of Heroes 2 and Rome 2: Total War are all scheduled for release this year.

New blood comes via the long-delayed yet long-anticipated End of Nations, as well as Mojang's Scrolls and the initial release of Peter Molyneux's Godus project. ZeniMax Online Studios' will also give people the opportunity to immerse themselves in Tamriel once again in The Elder Scrolls Online.

CVG loves Jon Blow - well, I do at least - and one shouldn't underestimate the potential impact The Witness, the next project from the Braid creator. If it adds to puzzle-adventure games anything like what Braid added to platformers, the genre could be enriched with new ideas and approaches.

Equally disruptive is the Oculus Rift headset - a virtual reality helmet for the man who has everything and some cash to spare. CVG's tests found the device to be just as impressive as promised.

Of the growing list of PC games that will support the new headset, one of the more intriguing is Dream. We'd go as far as saying that Dream's premise has staggering potential. One of the core strengths of video games is their capacity to create worlds in beautiful detail and, at the whim of the developer, dramatically transform that at any given moment.

Dream is a puzzle game which, had you watched it without knowing its name, explains with wonderful nuance that what you're viewing is set within a dream. The oddities of the world have an air of familiarity to them; a sense that you may have seen the same illusion in your own dreams.

Likely constructed on the back of exhaustive research, Dream could be a game that studios will envy not thinking of themselves.

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FANTASTIC FOUR

There's a quartet of four other indie games that we'd feel silly to not add to the list.

Ron Gilbert - as in THE Ron Gilbert - is working on an adventure game called The Cave. Yes, it's barmy and complex and probably everything you expect the co-creator of Monkey Island to come up with when left to his own devices.

Gilbert is also apparently helping out on Double Fine's Adventure Game - famously known as the game that launched Kickstarter, rather than the other way around. We know little about this project, sometimes referred to as 'Reds'. However, the pressure on Double fine to create something special must be quite intense - since it's being developed under the utopian circumstances of nearly ten times more money than Double Fine initially wanted, without any other the conditions that a publisher might impose.

Thirdly, there's Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs - a first-person horror title handled by the creators of Dear Esther, so expect it to be the most intensely horrifying and atmospheric game of all time. Again, no pressure.

Finishing the key indie quartet is Sir, You Are Being Hunted - a slightly annoying name for a promising survival game where the player escapes death from an onslaught of tweedpunk robots (Bender in a top-hat). The world is procedurally generated, and we're told that strategy will be just as crucial as sharp survival instincts. It'll need amazing AI to live up to the hype, we suspect.

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BACK FROM THE DEAD

While we're back on the theme of survival, we should add that DayZ Standalone will be released this year too. It's an immensely popular and celebrated mod and, now with less pressure of it competing commercially with the (disastrous) War Z, has potential to make a huge impact.

There's also promise in Epic Game's intriguing new IP, Fortnite. We're certain that, while it didn't send shockwaves across the industry when first announced, some of the Epic team are so sick of Gears of War that they've jumped on the Fortnite project with exceptional gusto.

So, another daring and diverse year for PC gaming awaits you. Provided you have an internet connection, you should be sorted for whatever takes your fancy, be it Battlefield 4 or a game paying homage to Franz Kafka (actually real).

There is another, possible, potential, theoretical PC game that we've omitted from the list. Something from Valve. It's a game that's so important and yet so staggeringly overdue that we fear even mentioning it these days. Whether that particular game is announced or not, and let's be honest - it's going to be announced eventually - mouse and keyboard gamers already have so much great content ahead of them that they'll hardly even notice that the new generation of consoles has arrived.

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