PC Gaming is Kinda Magical

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

So I’m a console gamer at heart, and I’m greatly looking forward to the PS5 release later this year, but I recently got my first gaming-capable PC and have been giving it a workout over the past month. Here’s a few things I’ve come to appreciate.

Old Games Just Work

Half Life 2 came out in 2004 and at the time ran on most people’s computers at resolutions close to 720p (some higher, some lower, but in that ballpark) and most people got 30-ish frames per second. Since then, technology has evolved considerably and on my current machine I can run it at 4K, 300fps. I didn’t have to wait for a remaster or of the game to be upgraded to 64-bit, I lust clicked the “install” button in Steam and it worked.

This isn’t a remaster by any means, and it looks like a 16 year old game in many ways still, but it looks incredibly sharp, and runs at a frame rate higher than any consumer display on the market can even render.

Compare this to the PS4 where old games simply don’t work in the first place, and even if you play them through PS Now, their streaming service, the games look at low-res as they did when they were released. Supposedly this is going to change in the next generation, and Microsoft has done some good work this generation with resolution and frame rate improvements in their backwards compatibility mode, but it’s so much simpler on PC.

And if you compare it to the Mac where 32-bit apps simply don’t work at all, it’s infinitely better than that train wreck. Half Life 2 simply does not run on macOS anymore.

High Frame Rates are Addictive

As a console gamer, I’m pretty used to 30fps games and feeling totally fine with that in most cases. But after spending some time with a pretty high-powered PC, I’m now hooked on 60fps everything. As a dumb, but perfect comparison, Madden 20 has two modes on PS4 Pro:

  1. Standard mode: 60fps at 1080p
  2. High res mode: 30fps at 4k

On the PC, you of course don’t have to choose, and I can get:

  1. 4k at 60fps+

Madden is not a hard game to run, but this 60fps expectation is possible with basically every game. Similarly, Forza Horizon 4 has similar options in its Xbox One X version, but here on the PC I can run at visual settings higher than the best Xbox version and still get over 60fps.

Before getting this machine I would have told you 30fps was fine, but now I treat 60fps as the base and will configure my settings to make sure I hit that at all times.

More Stores Equal More Sales

One confusing thing about PC gaming is that there are many game launchers out there, and many games are only available on one of these, so you need to have like 5 launchers installed to play all the games you want. But there are plenty of games that are sold in multiple places, and with more stores comes more of a chance for games to be on sale, so it feels like you can get a deal easier than waiting for your consoles one store to run a sale.

Also, it’s a little thing, but I have a wishlist on my PS4 store, but Sony doesn’t tell me when those games are on sale. Meanwhile, it seems the major stores on PC do this pretty reliably.