The Banner Saga
If you haven't heard of The Banner Saga, know that it's a tactical strategy RPG featuring a barbarian clan seeking a new home in a beautifully hand-drawn fantasy world. The Banner Saga is being developed by Stoic after being successfully funded on Kickstarter, and the developers (experienced veterans who created their own indie studio) promise this game will feature intriguing character customization options, a complex system of classic tactical gameplay, and a mature story that changes depending on what choices you make while conversing with other characters both within your clan and without. If classic turn-based strategy in a mature Norse fantasy world sounds like something you'd enjoy, get excited for The Banner Sage when it (hopefully) comes to the Mac and the PC this November.
The Walking Dead
The most memorable PC game you'll play all year is probably a point-and-click adventure game based on a comic book. Telltale Games has been releasing episodes of The Walking Dead game since April, and after three episodes we can't wait to see how the series ends this fall. Each episode takes roughly two hours to play through and requires you to make tough decisions about who to trust when society falls apart. Though the games are available on almost every contemporary gaming device, they look best on the PC, with colorful characters and landscapes that look like they were ripped straight out of a graphic novel and then animated onscreen.
End of Nations
Developed by Petroglyph, End of Nations is a futuristic real-time strategy game that's free to play by thousands of players simultaneously. Whether you choose to subscribe or play for free when the game (hopefully) launches later this year, you'll need to log in and accept a mission from an NPC to do battle against the Order of Nations, the monolithic foe that most players are working together to defeat. From there you'll enter into a strategic battle for resources using tanks, fighters, and other military units in typical RTS fashion. Unlike a typical RTS, you usually won't be permitted to build new units or generate reinforcements, making End Of Nations a peculiar MMORTS hybrid that may become a sleeper hit among PC gamers looking to wage war alongside other players across a vast battlefield.
Most gamers remember the classic Mechwarrior games, but fewer recall the fantastic Mechcommander tactical strategy games that came out on PC at the turn of the century. Those who do, remember that conducting real-time tactical combat with giant walking combat mechs is a pretty great idea, and now Piranha Games has secured the rights to create a free-to-play PC strategy game with the Mechwarrior license. We had a chance to play a beta version of the game during a press event, and it plays like a turn-based tactical boardgame with a twist: Players take time to issue orders to their Mechs, and then those orders execute simultaneously. While the game will be free to play when it launches this fall, players can pay to unlock new mech designs, equipment, and other perks.
Did Diablo III leave you cold? Check out Torchlight 2, the long-awaited sequel to the critically acclaimed Torchlight that promises to let players romp around in a lush fantasy world defeating monsters, smashing barrels and collecting plenty of sweet, sweet loot. Runic Games is building Torchlight 2 to be a bigger, better action RPG for the PC that features four playable character classes, a ton of new environments to explore, and (perhaps most exciting) new multiplayer modes, including some form of player vs. player combat and a cooperative mode that will allow somewhere between two and six players to venture through the world of Torchlight 2 together. While the launch of Torchlight 2 has been pushed back multiple times, we're all for delays if it means we get a better game this holiday season.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that 2012 will be the year that mech games made their triumphant return to PC gaming. Mechwarrior Online is the third mech combat game that we expect to be playing this year, and it's the second to feature small-scale battles from a first-person perspective inside the cockpit of a hulking Battlemech. Developed by Piranha Games using the Battletech license, Mechwarrior Online is going to be a free-to-play multiplayer-only combat game where you can earn rewards and unlock new 'mechs with either experience or good old-fashioned cash.