Despite Bill Gates' big speech about Games for Windows last year, PC gaming nearly dropped off the map in 2007. Microsoft devoted the majority of their press conference to Xbox 360 games like Rock Band and Halo 3, EA chose not show anything new of Spore, and Blizzard revealed only that they're working on a third title besides World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2. There are, however, some promising multiplayer PC games that should hit store shelves this winter.
One game that did manage to grab some attention and walk away with a few awards was Call of Duty 4, which is being developed for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. Departing from the WWII theme for the first time in the series, Call of Duty 4 is set in modern day with a full compliment of high-tech weaponry, including airstrikes and howitzers. The graphics are outstanding and they're doing some neat things with physics, such as allowing you to shoot through certain walls and destroy cars piece by piece. Infinity Ward, the developer, also plans to improve on the multiplayer end of the game, offering more gameplay modes, more character customization, and a persistent stats system not unlike Battlefield 2.
Image © 2007 Funcom
We learned a lot about Age of Conan at last year's E3, and information on this upcoming MMORPG from Funcom has flowed steadily ever since. Mounted combat, trebuchets, sieges - there's a heap of potential here if they can make it work. The game is now in beta and we're hearing more about the action-oriented combat system. It has you swinging your sword in different directions and aiming your bow, which is a big change from the auto-attack mechanisms most MMORPGs employ. With heads and limbs being severed, Age of Conan will have a mature rating, and it is headed to consoles as well as the PC.
Humans are fighting back an invasion of Strogg aliens intent on taking over the planet in this team-based shooter from Splash Damage. The game is using the latest id Software technology to create high-tech vehicular combat and objective-oriented multiplayer maps. Quake Wars will have a full compliment of features people expect in the next generation of shooters, like highly customizable classes and persistent player stats with rewards for accomplishing certain goals. There have been some delays in development, but the game is now in beta and should arrive in early 2008.
Epic's Unreal Tournament series has the stuff that makes games legendary, and the next installment is pushing the envelope again. It's shaping up to be a visual extravaganza that draws on the best features of earlier titles in the series. New vehicles include the gigantic Darkwalker, a three-legged death machine that will strike fear in the hearts of your enemy. With 40 multiplayer maps and the ability to take mods from PC to console, Unreal Tournament 3 will be yet another FPS to watch for this fall.
Image © 2007 EA Games
Anticipation continues to build over Warhammer Online, a MMORPG being developed by Mythic Entertainment, which was acquired by EA Games not long ago. Given their history with Dark Age of Camelot, you can expect a well thought-out, realm vs. realm PvP system. One feature will be "public quests," which everyone in the area can help with even if they're not grouped. The release date has been pushed back to 2008 but it looks like Age of Reckoning will be worth the wait.