Skip to main content

PC Building Simulator 2 is Guitar Hero for nerds

I’ve been building PCs for most of my life, so PC Building Simulator was never a game I actively sought out. I’ve played it dozens of times for hours on end, but it was more a social experience — a game I’d boot up when friends were over to mess around or gawk over expensive graphics cards that we only wish we could afford.

PC Building Simulator 2, now in open beta on the Epic Games Store, isn’t any different. It’s Guitar Hero for PC enthusiasts, leaning more heavily on being a game than being a tool for learning how to build a PC. As someone who tenses up at too much thermal paste, I expected for PC Building Simulator 2 to disappoint me, but it didn’t — despite some gamified elements getting in the way of actually building a PC.

Related Videos

Becoming a nerdy rock star

A custom PC in PC Building Simulator 2.

Guitar Hero is the best touchstone for PC Building Simulator 2. It gives you the feeling of building a PC, with some licensed components in tow, but it glosses over a lot of the critical areas when it comes to assembling a machine. Cable management? Don’t worry about it, just click the highlighted ports. RAM placement? Any slot will do. The list goes on.

I started my preview of the beta with the timed career mode. If you’ve played the first game, you know the deal: Your faceless uncle left you another decrepit PC shop, and it’s your job to bring in orders, complete them with competence, and balance your budget so you can afford new components (and most importantly, rent).

My business was starting to boom, but things were a little too quiet. I started pushing back, malignantly messing up PC builds to see if customers would get upset. I left PCIe brackets missing, intentionally installed the GPU and RAM in the wrong slots, and absolutely drowned every CPU in thermal paste.

Thermal paste on a CPU in PC Building Simulator 2.
To be clear, this is too much thermal paste applied incorrectly.

But nothing happened. Every order went out without a hitch, no matter how hard I tried to sabotage them. There’s a fine line PC Building Simulator 2 has to walk between being an enjoyable game and being a tool for learning how to build a PC. There are plenty of teachable moments in the game that are just looked over, though.

For example, an early job came from an aspiring Fortnite streamer whose PC didn’t meet the minimum requirements. The machine just needed a CPU upgrade, but I noticed that the two RAM sticks were installed next to each other (most motherboards need them spaced out between slots for full speed). The problem is that there wasn’t any reward for noticing that problem, nor was there a consequence for intentionally messing an issue like that up on other systems.

The worst issue came when the game introduced its new bench system. You now have access to three workstation types: Building, watercooling, and case modding. The career mode takes you through each bench early on, including filling and installing a custom liquid cooling loop.

As opposed to the first game, you now have to mod the components you want to watercool. That involves replacing thermal pads on a GPU, taking off heat sinks on the motherboard, and so on. It’s an awesome system, and I love the flexibility of being able to choose the components I want, both in the PC and in the custom loop.

A custom water cooling loop in PC Building Simulator 2.
Yeah, that wouldn’t work in real life.

But it’s not always accurate. In your introduction to the watercooling bench, for example, PC Building Simulator 2 instructs you to install the lines on the same side of the GPU block. This wouldn’t let any liquid into the GPU block, and it’s one of the most common mistakes with liquid cooling.

PC Building Simulator 2 doesn’t need to provide full documentation on how to build a PC, but addressing small, common mistakes could provide some huge benefits to players interested in building their own PC. It would make PC Building Simulator 2 a better game, too, with a push and pull of consequences and rewards that gives you the sense of running your own PC repair business.

Free play for days

An open graphics card in PC Building Simulator 2.

Although some common career mistakes make me cringe, PC Building Simulator 2 is all about free play where you can build the rig of your dreams, benchmark it, and overclock it. The new bench system is a massive boon here, allowing you to go deeper than ever before.

Liquid cooling is a treat alone, where you’re given the freedom to make choices that come up when assembling a custom loop. Do you want a monoblock for the full motherboard or just a CPU block? Want the ROG Strix RTX 3090 paired with a certain GPU block? That’s all included. Custom liquid cooling was an option in the original release, but PC Building Simulator 2 fleshes it out massively.

Case modding in PC Building Simulator 2.

The other bench is case modding, which is a simple but powerful workstation. You can paint cases custom colors and apply stickers, which allows you to truly make a build feel like your own. I hope we see more here either in the full release or a future expansion because I could burn dozens of hours just modding PC cases.

A worthy sequel

Beyond the new benches, PC Building Simulator 2 also introduces a tablet into the game, which just saves you time running back and forth from your PC when you want to order new parts or check your email. It also allows you to change the music, and PC Building Simulator 2 has a stacked soundtrack with every genre you could imagine.

The tablet in PC Building Simulator 2.

Most importantly, it brings the much-requested room customization where you can point at a wall or ceiling and instantly swap it with a different look. I imagine this is an area developer Spiral House will build on massively in future expansions.

I expected PC Building Simulator 2 to leave me disappointed, wanting for a free update rather than a new paid release. But it’s a worthy sequel, one that expands the original release with new components and features, and dives deeper on things like overclocking and benchmarking — even if it has some issues with accurately representing how PCs are built.

PC Building Simulator 2 launches exclusively on the Epic Games Store later this year. You can wish list it now for access to the free open beta.

Editors' Recommendations

Dead Island 2 avoids Star Wars Jedi clash by bumping up its release date
Dead Island 2 zombie

Dead Island 2, a game that never seemed like it was going to come out, has gone gold and even had its release date moved up by a week. Originally slated for April 28, Dead Island 2 will now be released on April 21. That means it'll launch one week before Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, which just had its release date pushed to April 28.
The developers of the LA-based zombie game revealed the news via a tweet with a video that highlights a bunch of comments asking if the game was polished and if it will actually ever be released before it confirms that Dead Island 2 has gone gold and is coming out a bit earlier than we currently expected.
Release dates moving up instead of being delayed are a rarity, with one of the only recent examples being Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Still, the delay makes sense now that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is coming out on April 28. This announcement also feels cathartic after Dead Island 2's rough development. The zombie sequel has notoriously been delayed significantly more than most games. Originally announced in 2014 with a Q2 2015 release window, Dead Island 2 got pushed back again and again, switching developers multiple times and slowly seeming more and more likely to become vaporware.
Deep Silver Dambuster Studios' new version of the game finally reemerged as the big final reveal of Gamescom Opening Night Live 2022, but even after that, the game got delayed one more time to April 28. Even if it's moving its release date up by just a week, the fact that Dead Island 2 has gone gold and even moved its release date up a bit feels like the satisfying end to an excruciatingly long journey. Whether it's good or not, we finally don't have to wait much longer to actually play Dead Island 2.
Dead Island 2 will be released for PC, PS4, PS4, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on April 21. 

Read more
Hi-Fi Rush director reveals the secret to making a great music game
Chai points a finger gun at a robot in Hi-Fi Rush.

I’ve never played a rhythm game that keeps me on beat as well as Hi-Fi Rush. While I’m a musically inclined person who fronts his own band, even I have trouble keeping time in music games. I’ll inevitably start to drag behind notes and then speed up too much to overcompensate. Sometimes I lose the music altogether and need to stop clicking entirely just to rediscover the beat. But in Hi-Fi Rush, I always feel like I’m completely locked in as I attack, dodge, and zip to the sound of early 2000s alt-rock.

That’s no accident. For Game Director John Johanas and a small development team within Tango Gameworks, “accessibility” was a keyword when embarking on the unique passion project. Johanas knew that rhythm isn’t something that comes naturally to every player, putting a natural barrier to entry over any game that requires precise beat-matching and button timing. If Hi-Fi Rush was going to be a fun and welcoming experience for a wider range of players, it would require a more flexible approach to design.

Read more
Over 100 PlayStation VR2 games are in development, Sony says
Playstation VR2 headset on a PlayStation-themed wallpaper.

Sony has released a massive FAQ about the PlayStation VR2 on the PlayStation Blog ahead of the headset's February 22 launch. It reveals some key new details about games for the platform, namely that over 100 PS VR2 titles are in development, and that Sony doesn't plan on giving its games physical releases for now. 
For the most part, the FAQ is full of basic information about the PlayStation VR2's specs, how to set it up, and what's required to use it. But the Games section of this FAQ reveals quite a few illuminating details about the future of the system. It reiterates that there will be around 30 launch titles for the system, but also reveals just how much is in the works for the headset. In response to the question, "How many games are in development for PS VR 2?" Sony writes, "There are currently more than 100 titles in development for PS VR2."

That's a good sign, as a new, expensive VR headset like this lives or dies on its game lineup. PSVR2's early days might be a bit odd as Horizon Call of the Mountain is one of its only true exclusives -- and it's not backward compatible with PlayStation VR titles (something this FAQ reiterates. However, those picking one up can still know that lots of games are in the works for it.
Another FAQ question asks, "Will PS VR2 games be digital only or will there be physical disc releases?" -- which is sensible to clarify as this headset's predecessor had physical games. "Initially at launch, PS VR2 games will be digital," Sony says. "Physical disc releases for select titles may be available at a future date." So don't hold on to the idea of picking up a physical copy of Horizon Call of the Mountain; you'll be getting PS VR2 games through the PlayStation Store for the time being.
Check out the full FAQ if you have any technical questions about PS VR2's setup and which games it supports. PlayStation VR will be released on February 22. 

Read more