E3 2015 PC Gaming Show: console.
«For the first time in history» is a good start for this material. For the first time in the twenty year history of the largest, most bustling and important gaming exhibition on the planet – E3, the PC platform has been given special attention in the format of a press conference.
This is mainly the merit of PC Gamer is one of the most popular gaming publications, and AMD is one of the leading companies which we are indebted for this belated recognition of the importance of good old personal computers as a gaming platform.
Year after year the focus at E3 was the console, which will no doubt make up a significant part of the commercial video game market and traditionally outshine the PC platform. It is extremely unfair trend for a number of reasons. Of course, it’s not because of less popularity of the PC-gaming – on the contrary, unchanged for many years computers successfully compete with consoles. Moreover, almost all significant innovations in gaming technology are starting their lives on the PC platform and then adapted for the needs of consoles, and in the next life cycle of the Xbox or PlayStation.
Historically, we have repeatedly witnessed when the classic computer configuration, assembled in a more compact housing and equipped with the appropriate logo, called the «game console». So it was with the first Xbox (no more, no less, the computer, rely on the combination of Intel Pentium III and NVIDIA graphics cards GeForce 3), so it is with the two current-generation consoles: Xbox One and PlayStation 4, which use hardware from AMD.
The purpose of this spatial introduction to prove two things: that the situation today isn’t much different. While the current Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are fighting for the «mythical» 60 frames per second at a resolution of 900/1080p, many PC gamers on the planet are already part of the future of 4K. Not to mention other important features that console owners can only dream of: a disk system with lightning speed, based on SSD and NVMe technology next-generation technology G-Sync and FreeSync which are able to provide the highest quality gaming experience and more.
And in spite of all the above, only now, in mid-2015, the PC platform has received well-deserved attention and place at E3. Well, as they say – better late than never.
Let’s see what happened on the first of its kind special event E3 PC.
All is not gold that glitters…
Fans of colorful, noisy and flashy press conferences, which are something of a trademark of E3, «lecture» AMD probably seemed a bit boring. And too long all this lasted for two and a half hours. Announcements were enough, not only software (games), and hardware – with the new graphic processors AMD and several interesting future products of the company. Undoubtedly, the aim of the speakers was not so much advertising, how much informational support, so in this respect, the press conference was more like a class event Intel Developer Forum or the Microsoft Build than on a typical event E3.
On the one hand, a good decision because of the emphasis on utility at the expense of entertainment. On the other hand, this approach only strengthens the opinion of most of the popular gaming publications that the PC platform is «boring» and «niche», that is only for «geeks». Of course, this is not true – particularly given the current generation of consoles, which I never tire of repeating, in essence, represent AMD-based computers with a relatively modest (by today’s standards) performance.
For many years, computer gaming has undergone a massive revolution, especially in the most criticized aspect: ease of use and accessibility. Today, thanks to digital distribution platforms such as Steam, Origin, UPlay and GOG Galaxy, download and install computer games easier than ever.
At the same time, the PC platform often offers a higher level of graphical detail, great opportunities for additional modifications and most importantly – more affordable prices!
And now, when all is said – a few words on the merits and about the event itself – that it showed the guys from AMD and their partners?
The main emphasis on long press conference was the announcement of graphics chips, AMD next-generation Radeon R300 family.
Leading among them the product, formerly known under the code name, officially called the AMD Radeon R9 X.
From a purely technical point of view, the new leader of the family Radeon offers 1.5-fold increase in performance per watt of energy consumed compared to its predecessor, the R9 290X. Graphics processor Fury X consists of almost 9 billion of transistors – much larger 6.3 billion 290Х. In addition, Fury X has 4096 stream cores vs 2816 have 290Х.
The key innovation in the new graphics flagship is the type used by local video memory. Instead of the traditional chips GDDR5 AMD made a bet on a new technology known as High-bandwidth memory (HBM). It is able to offer about 3.5 times higher memory bandwidth compared to GDDR5. At the same time, 1 GB of such memory takes approximately 95% less space on the PCB of the video card than the same amount of memory type GDDR5.
AMD immediately showed that the advantage of HBM chips, showing the Radeon R9 Nano: video card with the core of Fiji, offering more performance than R9 290X, but with a length of only 15 inches. It’s a pretty impressive achievement, given the fact that the length of modern graphics adapters, high-class is often 30 cm or more, depending on the implementation.
Another example of a compact nature and excellent energy efficiency Fiji was Project Quantum device that can be called a supercomputer with microrasbora. It is a full PC with «console» the size of which is equipped with two cores class Fury with a special liquid cooling. According to AMD, this compact beast is able to «pull» any modern PC game at 4K resolution and 60 fps.
By the way, Fury X without any problems managed to provide more than 45 fps in Tomb Raider at Ultra-level graphics settings and resolution 5K!
Of course, this is preliminary data from AMD – the first independent benchmarks will come next week when the Fury X and the other members of the family R300 will appear on the market.
It was the most interesting part of the presentation, and although it passed without fanfare, fireworks, famous pop musicians and powerful sports cars on the scene, we heard a very promising statements about upcoming projects for the PC.
Square Enix, for example, demonstrated a greater commitment to the PC platform for future game projects. In fact, it is not surprising for fans of the Japanese company, which after buying one of the most iconic game studios in the recent past – Eidos, working in this direction very actively. It is no coincidence that many reputable hardware reviewers use their games for performance testing of computer components. For example, Hitman Absolution, Tomb Raider and Thief are often used as a mandatory attribute test methodology, as they are one of the few modern computer games that have built-in algorithms to measure the performance of the equipment.
However, soon, probably, many enthusiasts will have to upgrade your «test package». This winter the world will see new additions to two of the most popular game series from Square Enix new Hitman (December 2015) and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (beginning of 2016).
Particularly impressive was the demonstration of Deus Ex, as Eidos Montreal showed some of the new capabilities of the Dawn engine, which created the game.
At the end of this year or maybe early next we will see the new Tomb Raider (Rise of the Tomb Raider), but still remains unconfirmed, but common Microsoft Studios release date on PC.
And speaking of Microsoft – the company also had representatives at the press conference, which is to be expected, given the upcoming official launch of Windows 10 and DirectX 12, which Microsoft is pinning much hope on it.
Personally, Phil Spencer, President of the Xbox division, spoke briefly about future plans regarding Windows 10 and Xbox One. In particular, he announced a little late, but nice gift Microsoft for the PC-gamers, the iconic game Killer Instinct, one of the most successful launch titles for the Xbox One, will get a version for Windows 10.
On the PC we will see Gears of War: Ultimate Edition – a remake of the super successful action from Ers Games and cliff Bleszinski supports 4K resolution, mouse control and keyboard.
By the way, appeared on the scene and he Bleszinski, who, apparently tired from their long rest, and announced that in the coming months plans to return to his old love: making games.
It will work on an interesting project called Project BlueStreak. Details are being kept secret, but the cliff has mentioned Counter-Strike: Global Offensive as the core and inspiration, so you can roughly guess what type of game it is.
You shouldn’t miss is definitely the two interesting announcement from Blizzard Entertainment, one of the most influential companies in the market of computer games of all time. They presented Heroes of the Storm: Eternal Conflict – the expansion to their latest game project, designed in the MOBA genre. We saw and a short presentation of StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void – the third and final part of the cult of real-time strategy, which will be the completion of its extensive history with narration from a third key race in the game – Protos.
Among other interesting novelties was the Dirty Bomb project from the guys at Spash Damage, which finally started to develop their own titles instead of working on someone else’s franchise. While the game looks in the spirit of Team Fortress is a fresh combination of action and humorous style.
Creative Assembly – the authors of a landmark series of strategic Total War, also showed a bit of his following games: Total War: Warhammer. The combination of phenomenal visual effects, fun gameplay, and popular dark fantasy universe of Warhammer looks mildly promising, and there is no doubt that this game will feel (look) better on the PC.
At the end of the event was one not particularly amazing, but very good news: only original and innovative project Hello Games: No Man’s Sky will be released on the PC.
The game includes procedurally generated open world, in which you’ll assume the role of a space traveler and explore a whole universe of experience that is guaranteed addressed to every fan of Star Trek.