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E3 2016 was packed with plenty to entice PC gamers — here’s our favorites

For a show normally dominated by controllers and consoles, there was a surprising amount of news that specifically pertains to those who prefer the keyboard and mouse. Virtual reality, new graphics hardware, a new library of exclusive games, and more — these are the biggest announcements in PC gaming.

Xbox games? For PC?!

We were fairly certain heading into E3 that Microsoft was going to announce Xbox titles for Windows 10, in one form or another. What we got was Xbox Play Anywhere, which allows users to buy a game once and use it on both platforms.

First party Microsoft titles will come to both platforms, which includes upcoming titles like Gears of War 4 and Forza, but non-Microsoft exclusives are subject to developer decision. It also doesn’t include existing titles, so you’ll have to wait until the Halo 6 to kill covenant with a keyboard and mouse.

Unfortuantely, users will have to buy the Universal Windows Platform version of the games. Currently UWP apps have some problems. They don’t work with in-game overlays, like Steam, or with most benchmarking utilities, like FRAPS. They also lack a dedicated fullscreen mode.

Still, it’s a huge move for the Xbox, and one that greatly expands its potential player base and online community.

AMD fills out its new mid-range video cards

AMD-Radeon-RX480-press-10

After announcing Polaris at Computex, AMD came to E3 with information on two new GPUs, the RX 460 and 470. Details on the specifics are still a mystery, but with the VR-ready RX 480 coming in at a wallet-friendly $200, these new options should be even more budget-minded. We expect the RX 460 will be slightly north of $100, and the RX 470 around $160.

AMD is focusing on the mid-range market because 84 percent of gamers spend $100-$300 on their GPU. That’s a crucial price point, and dominating it could mean big sales for Radeon this year.

Polaris, the architecture all RX 400 cards are based on, boasts the latest DirectX 12 compatibility and improved asynchronous compute capabilities. Make sure to head over to our announcement write-up for all the details. The cards are set to launch on June 29th.

Fallout 4 VR

We guessed there would be new games heading to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but didn’t expect Bethesda to announce Fallout VR. The title is one of the most influential to hit PCs and consoles in quite some time, and the addition of VR can only improve on the game’s already stellar reception.

It’s not the only game to hit VR either. Oculus has announced there will be 30 Touch-compatible games by the end of 2016, twenty of which will launch as exclusives. HTC fired right back, announcing that over 240 Vive-compatible apps are already available on the Steam marketplace.

Star Trek VR

star trek bridge crew

Speaking of virtual reality, Ubisoft stunned us with its upcoming Star Trek VR experience. This is no tech demo or amusement park ride, but instead a multiplayer bridge simulator coming to home PCs. By donning up to four Oculus Rifts and the Oculus Touch controllers, gamers can each take a specific role behind the helm of a Starfleet cruiser.

While we weren’t able to assemble a full team to try out the game at E3 this year, we heard rave reviews about it from all corners of the gaming sphere. The intense, multiplayer action takes you and your friends to a different world, and is arguably the first example of co-op VR gameplay that wouldn’t be possible without virtual reality.

Quake is back, baby

Quake is a bastion of the PC gaming world. It’s also, likely to the dismay of console gamers, a PC exclusive. Quake’s twitchy, hair-trigger combat requires players to spin, jump, and snap quickly, something that even veteran shooter fans will acknowledge doesn’t happen as smoothly with a joystick.

Tim Willits of ID Software confirmed that there was no console version in the works during an E3 interview. He clarified that he doesn’t want to “lock out” consoles, but that at this time there are no plans to bring Quake: Champions to Xbox One or PS4. In other words, even if a port does happen, it won’t be anytime soon.

Civilization VI

Civilization is one of PC gaming’s most important franchises. The last game in the series, Civilization V, was released in 2010 – yet it’s still among the top 10 most-played game on Steam. The only older titles in the top 10 are Garry’s Mod and Counter-Strike. The new game, Civilization VI, brings more expansive cities, increased diplomacy options, and a revised skill tree.

If you’re curious about everything new headed to Sid Meier’s latest and greatest, Digital Trend’s own Will Fulton spent some hands-on time with it. While he’s already a big fan of the series, even he was blown away by all of the great additions.

Absolver

In a small trailer tucked away in the back of the Devolver Digital booth, a team of ex-Ubisoft employees have cooked up a unique and beautiful fighting game called Absolver. The third person action-adventure-RPG features intense, calculated combat that rewards patience and foresight.

It opens things up even further with an attack deck, which allows players to customize their combos, stringing together different types of attacks and maneuvers. Add to that a Dark Souls-esque online combat system, and you and your friends will be punching and kicking your way to a good time.

If that sounds appealing, make sure to check out our full hands-on review of Absolver, which hopefully won’t be the last look we get at the game before its 2017 release on PC and PlayStation 4.

ARK: Primal Survival

Ark: Survival Evolved owes a huge amount of its success to mods and the modding community. And the developers have certainly given back, hiring mod creators to work on the team, and promoting officials mods for the game

One of them, ARK: Primal Survival, caused quite a stir at the AMD PC Gaming Show. Rather than trying to survive in a hostile world as a human, players can choose to be anything from an ant to a shark, and everywhere in between.

It may not sound like all that and a bag of birdseed, but the trailer Studio Wildcard showed off looked like a ton of fun due to the game’s large world and focus on emergent gameplay. In a game where every living thing is playable, anything can happen.

And all the rest

And that’s not all. There was a wealth of minor PC gaming news pieces throughout the show. For one, the AMD PC Gaming Show expanded this year, with presentations from a number of prominent developers and hardware partners.

We also got a chance to try out Space Pirate Trainer on the Vive in mixed reality, using a green screen. It’s not exactly news for the device, but it’s a major advancement.

Whether or not you actually play on a computer, PC gaming is still driving the bleeding edge of video games. In virtual reality, strategy, and even shooters, the keyboard and mouse is leading the charge.