I’ve built a number of gaming machines over the years, not only for myself but also for friends, family, work mates and the like. However, this was typically an upgrade to an existing setup. These people already had computers (albeit old ones) and so already had a Steam / Ubisoft / Origin / Blizzard account. They had games, all they needed was better hardware with which to run them.
Recently though, I was in a position where I was building a PC for an individual who until now hadn’t been involved with PC gaming. This led to a large hard drive with very little on it. Naturally, on obtaining a new gaming machine people want to… well, play games on it.
There wasn’t a huge amount of cash left over after building the PC so I started foraging about for quality (but free) content to install on the machine. It was an interesting journey and one that I thought I might share with you in case you ever find yourself in a similar position. Further to that, many of you probably have already been in this position and have some great ideas of your own.
Let me be clear at this point though, I wanted to thoroughly avoid software piracy, so ‘downloaded’ games just weren’t going to work here. You might think I’d disavow software piracy simply because I write for a video game centric website, but the truth is it’s something I earnestly avoid. If I can’t afford a game I’ll simply wait 12-18 months until it’s heavily discounted, fully patched and includes all the DLC.
So with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the major gaming platforms for PC and some of the titles you should be considering for this wonderful person joining the PC master race.
The biggest and the most obvious platform. Steam actually has a dedicated ‘Free to Play’ space, although that doesn’t mean everything in it is good. There is enough content in the front page of the ‘Top Sellers’ section (ironic right) to keep anyone busy for months.
Warframe, Team Fortress 2, TERA, Dota 2, Path of Exile, SMITE, Star Trek Online, Eternal, Spiral Knights, The Elder Scrolls: Legends, Fallout Shelter and Lord of the Rings Online are just a few of the games I would recommend here. Tailor to suit tastes of course.
Blizzard makes some fantastic games and half of them are currently free to play. Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone and now Starcraft II are all titles you should install on a fresh PC, offering great variety and quality gaming.
Most of us have bought a few Humble Bundles over the years and this means we probably have a slew of Steam games we never cashed in. Go through your list and anything you aren’t ever going to play, send to the new Steam account. Quantity often trumps quality when starting out and the owner of the PC will likely spend the money on games they really want in the near future. A few extra items on the Steam list sure will be appreciated until then.
Itch.Io has a wealth of free games or ‘pay what you think is fair’ games made by independent developers. Like Steam, they have a ‘Free Games’ section which you can sort by platform and popularity. While I haven’t played it myself, ‘Raft’ looks fairly interesting and Ravenfield has a lot of positive reviews.
Most of what can be found here is less intensive gaming and more casual or arcade fun, perfect if the owner isn’t into competitive gaming or twitchy reflexes. To be fair there are plenty of times when all of us like to chill out with a game of Mahjong or the like.
In regards to Ubisoft and Origin, it’s really just a case of logging in and seeing if they have any free games at the moment. As of writing this article World of Conflict is free on Ubisoft for instance. They do offer a few free games all year round but nothing to write home about.
GOG is much the same; while they tend to sell older PC games, they do offer freebies every now and again and it would be remiss of you to not check for the sake of your new gaming PC buddy.
League of Legends is an extremely popular title and if you think your new PC owning friend might like it, make sure you install it as well.
Hopefully this helps you if you find yourself in a similar situation to myself. Simply by browsing the above sites and snagging even a few of the best on offer the new PC gamer will have plenty to keep them busy for months, enough time for them to rebuild their savings and make game purchases of their own.
Got a few tips of your own? Let us hear them in the comments below. Perhaps you’ve hit a treasure trove I’ve not explored.