As 2016 comes to an end, Steam is hosting their annual Winter Sale from now until January 2nd at 10AM PST. Steam’s annual Autumn Sale ran this year from November 23rd to 29th, so if you missed out on that, this is probably the last chance to get some savings for the year. Then again, Steam does sales routinely -- careful use of the wishlist means you’ll get notifications as items go up for sale throughout the year.

For today, we have a list of some of our best PC games of 2016 as well as some titles from 2015 that are discounted significantly. As these Steam sales come to a close, we will just be arriving in Las Vegas for the year’s Consumer Electronics Show, so do follow closely for that! News will ramp-up significantly post-Xmas.

Here is the shortlist:

Benchmarking in Vulkan or Dx12 is still a bit of a pain in the NAS, but PresentMon makes it possible to conduct accurate FPS and frametime tests without reliance upon FRAPS. July 11 marks DOOM's introduction of the Vulkan API in addition to its existing OpenGL 4.3/4.5 programming interfaces. Between the nVidia and AMD press events the last few months, we've seen id Software surface a few times to talk big about their Vulkan integration – but it's taken a while to finalize.

As we're in the midst of GTX 1060 benchmarking and other ongoing hardware reviews, this article is being kept short. Our test passes look only at the RX 480, GTX 1080, and GTX 970, so we're strictly looking at scalability on the new Polaris and Pascal architectures. The GTX 970 was thrown-in to see if there are noteworthy improvements for Vulkan when moving from Maxwell to Pascal.

This test is not meant to show if one video card is “better” than another (as our original Doom benchmark did), but is instead meant to show OpenGL → Vulkan scaling within a single card and architecture. Note that, as with any game, Doom is indicative only of performance and scaling within Doom. The results in other Vulkan games, like the Talos Principle, will not necessarily mirror these. The new APIs are complex enough that developers must carefully implement them (Vulkan or Dx12) to best exploit the low-level access. We spoke about this with Chris Roberts a while back, who offered up this relevant quote:

The only widespread implementation of Vulkan that presently exists is The Talos Principle, which offers both the Vulkan and DirectX 11 APIs. We've mostly seen negative scaling in the Talos Principle when switching to Vulkan, but id Software's DOOM promises gains in framerate by switching from OpenGL (4.3 & 4.5) to Vulkan.

AMD was first-to-market with Doom-ready drivers, but exhibited exceptionally poor performance with a few of its cards. The R9 390X was one of those, being outperformed massively (~40%) by the GTX 970, and nearly matched by the GTX 960 at 1080p. If it's not apparent by the price difference between the two, that's unacceptable; the hardware of the R9 390X should effortlessly outperform the GTX 960, a budget-class card, and it just wasn't happening. Shortly after the game launched and AMD posted its initial driver set (16.5.2), a hotfix (16.5.2.1) was released to resolve performance issues on the R9 390 series cards.

We had a moment to re-benchmark DOOM using the latest drivers between our GTX 1080 Hybrid experiment and current travel to Asia. The good news: AMD's R9 390X has improved performance substantially – about 26% in some tests – and seem to be doing better. Other cards were unaffected by this hot fix (though we did test), so don't expect a performance gain out of your 380X, Fury X, or similar non-390-series device.

Note: These charts now include the GTX 1080 and its overclocked performance.

Doom is one of PC gaming’s most celebrated titles. A flagship title and pioneer of the FPS genre, Doom established first-person shooters as one of the most prolific genres in gaming. Despite this, the franchise is almost 23 years old -- and that age bears with it a need to update. A whole generation of gamers weren’t even born when the first and second games were released (1993 and 1994). The third title was fairly well-received, but didn’t seem to have the same impact and staying power as its older brothers. Now, eleven years after the eponymous film, the fourth installment has been launched, simply named “DOOM” (caps optional). This is effectively Doom 4.

Doom carries a lot of stature with its name, but it’s being launched into crowded waters. Id Software has always put an emphasis on singleplayer when it comes to the Doom titles; the focus on multiplayer was left to their Quake titles. If it was Doom that made FPS games popular, it was Quake that made competitive gaming and online twitch play popular. The most popular FPS games around today are vastly different than the twitch shooters of old. Like classic twitch shooters, games like Call of Duty still place a heavy emphasis on mobility, speed, and reflexes; unlike the older games, however, games like CoD put more emphasis on what happens in-between games. Building a loadout/class and unlocking weapons plays significantly into how progression and staying power are managed. Regenerating health means encounters with other players are more likely to be fair, and the wondrous world of pickups has been all but abandoned.

Like most games, id Software's Doom greeted launch day with its share of bugs and crash-to-desktop issues. To some extent, it's permissible – games are hard to make, there's a million hardware configurations (we benchmarked Doom on several GPU configs over here), and developers are under serious deadline pressure lest they risk missing the market timing. But that doesn't make it easier for gamers to deal with – particularly after spending $60 on a dysfunctional product.

Having put Doom through the ringer with several hardware configurations, we've seen the most common issues and have found the solutions. This quick guide contains Doom 4 crash fixes, FPS drops, and FPS locks.

Following our GTX 1080 coverage of DOOM – and preempting the eventual review – we spent the time to execute GPU benchmarks of id Software's DOOM. The new FPS boasts high-fidelity visuals and fast-paced, Quake-era gameplay mechanics. Histrionic explosions dot Doom's hellscape, overblown only by its omnipresent red tint and magma flows. The game is heavy on particle effects and post-processing, performing much of its crunching toward the back of the GPU pipeline (after geometry and rasterization).

Geometry isn't particularly complex, with the game's indoor settings comprised almost entirely of labyrinthine corridors and rooms. Framerate fluctuates heavily; the more lighting effects and particle simulation in the camera frustum, the greater the swings in FPS as players emerge into or depart from lava-filled chambers and other areas of post-FX interest.

In this Doom graphics card benchmark, we test the framerate (FPS) of various GPUs in the new Doom “4” game, including the GTX 980 Ti, 980, 970, Fury X, 390X, 380X, and more. We'll briefly define game graphics settings first; game graphics definitions include brief discussion on TSSAA, directional occlusion quality, shadows, and more.

Note: Doom will soon add support for Vulkan. It's not here yet, but we've been told to expect Vulkan support within a few weeks of launch. All current tests were executed with OpenGL. We will revisit for Vulkan once the API is enabled.

Id software today announced Doom's native support of the Vulkan API, recently ratified to its 1.0 specification by the Khronos group. This move makes id one of the earliest adopters of the Vulkan API (along with Croteam), and continues the company's legacy of early OpenGL support.

Doom is a prime example of an FPS; the series created many mechanics used today in modern games, and a community has risen around Doom that exists even to this day. This year at Quakecon, one of the most-anticipated events was the preview of the newest Doom game -- simply named “Doom.” The unveil did not disappoint in the slightest.

doom-unveil

Id software talked for a bit about it, showed a short trailer, some screenshots, and then two real time gameplay demos. Unfortunately, recordings and photography were prohibited for the gameplay demo, and of the screenshots they showed, but we wrote down everything we saw -- ranging from the definite to the speculative.

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