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The Best PC Games Of 2017 That You Can't Play Anywhere Else

In many ways, the PC is the most attractive gaming platform out there. PC owners get access to most of the big third-party AAA titles, and since Microsoft now releases most of their first-party titles for Windows as well the Xbox One, that pretty much just leaves the PlayStation and Nintendo exclusives off the table. Best of all, you get access to all sorts of other games that can't be played anywhere else, either because they're designed for mouse and keyboard, or because they're just too quirky to find a home on consoles. Here are a few of the games from 2017 that PC owners got a chance to play that no one else did.

Endless Space 2

There are a lot of 4X games out there, ones that let players "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate." But developer Amplitude Studios continues to show that they're at the forefront of the genre. Endless Space 2 builds on what the studio learned from its previous games, Endless Space and Endless Legend. This time, they've dramatically improved the graphics from top to bottom, including the various routine animations, map and menu design, cinematic combat sequences, cutscenes, and more. The playable race options provide significant diversity in terms of how you're able to construct your empire without being too limiting, while also adding some unique and fascinating flavor to the game world.

The biggest leap forward is the political system, in which a multitude of factions within your empire must be considered when implementing your strategy across many different layers of the game. That all adds significant depth to your decision-making. All in all, Endless Space 2 does a great job scratching that 4X itch that keeps gamers coming back year after year.

Opus Magnum

Zachtronics, the wizards behind Infinifactory and Space Chem, are at it again. This time they've gone beyond their previous functional but satisfying creation puzzles, and crafted a game that is truly beautiful. Opus Magnum puts you in the shoes of an alchemical engineer, and tasks you with building hex-based machines that grab, rotate, push, and pull elements to create all sorts of substances. The story is conveyed via short but charming dialogue interludes that set up what you'll be creating and why. But it's the mechanics and design of the puzzles that really make this game shine.

The engineering tools give you the freedom to solve puzzles in any way you want, and the real fun and challenge of the game is in finding better solutions. After each puzzle, you're shown where your machine falls in terms of cost, cycles, and area, and it's nearly impossible not to resist refining your designs to increase efficiency, or even just aesthetic beauty. This is a hard one to put down.

Divinity: Original Sin 2

While the massive 100-hour RPG is no longer unique to the PC, Divinity: Original Sin 2 reaffirms that PC is the best place to be if that's what you're into. Larian Studios has a uniquely modern take on the classic isometric, party-based fantasy RPG. As with the first Divinity: Original Sin, the sandbox nature of the game's object mechanics are still ever-present, moreso even, allowing for creative solutions and unexpected emergent moments. There are a myriad of ways to approach the complex and punishing tactical turn-based combat encounters, and the game promises to surprise you at every turn to keep things interesting.

Divinity: Original Sin 2, is also stuffed full of narrative content, including multiple origin stories, branching quests, and tons of side missions. Add in a four player co-op mode (up from 2 players in the first game), and creation tools allowing you to craft your own campaigns, and you have the makings of one of the most endlessly replayable experiences of 2017.

Quake Champions

After the rebirth of the Wolfenstein franchise, and 2016's reboot of Doom, the id Software renaissance continues with Quake Champions. While only released as an early access title this year, it already feels like a polished experience. The game features the same basic fast-paced, twitch shooter feel as Quake III Arena, but with vastly superior graphics. More importantly, however, is the addition of special abilities for different playable champions, adding a layer of depth to the combat.

As expected, the old pros from the last era of Quake have been quick to jump into this new installment, and Bethesda is embracing it from an eSports perspective. So not only do casual players get to enjoy Quake Champions as a fresh playground for fragging and rocket jumping, but we also get to enjoy it as the tense and exciting eSport that it once was.

Total War: Warhammer II

There are few intellectual properties that feel like a better fit for the Total War franchise than Games Workshop's classic Warhammer universe. Total War's unique blend of one-of-a-kind, real-time battlefield combat with grand strategy campaigns is a perfect fit for the epic high fantasy of Warhammer. When Total War: Warhammer first debuted, it was clear that this was a match made in heaven. For the first time, Creative Assembly was off of the leash of historical realism and could finally play around with some more interesting mechanics better suited to the unique factions of the Warhammer universe.

Total War: Warhammer II not only builds upon the first game directly, but also features one of the most unique campaigns in the whole Total War franchise, focusing on a central Great Vortex that each faction seeks to control. For owners of the original Total War: Warhammer, there's also the Mortal Empires campaign, which combines the maps and factions of both games to create one of the most gigantic epic battlefields ever. Not too shabby, Creative Assembly. Now, when's the 40K version of this franchise coming?

Dawn of War 3

Speaking of Games Workshop IPs, if you're into Warhammer 40K, real-time strategy veterans Relic Games finally released the long-anticipated Dawn of War III. Everyone's favorite Chapter Master Gabriel Angelos is back with the Blood Ravens. But this time, you not only play as the Space Marines, but the Eldar and the Orks as well. Previously, other factions were only available in multiplayer, but all factions are present in this game's campaign. However, the main difference that Dawn of War III has from its predecessor is that it returns to a more traditional style of base-building RTS, rather than the squad and hero-focused tactical gameplay of Dawn of War II.

There's a lot here for the dedicated 40K fan, and Relic has always been one of the best at capturing the brutal yet elegant tone of the 40K universe. Couple that with the MOBA-esque multiplayer mode, and you've got yourself a PC game worth your time.

The Signal From Tolva

Big Robot's games have a tendency to float under the radar, but they're definitely worth checking out. Their previous title, Sir, You Are Being Hunted, a procedurally generated stealth game in which you're, well, being hunted by aristocratic robots, was an unexpected delight. This year's title, The Signal From Tolva, is a little more conventional, but still maintains the studio's unique brand of charm and style. Also robots. Lots of robots. You are a robot, you fight robots, sometimes alongside other robots. 

You can probably see why they call themselves Big Robot.

The gameplay is a pretty straightforward combination of tight, punchy first-person shooting, loot-collection, enemy camp assaults, and open-world exploration. While we've seen all these elements before in other games, they're combined quite nicely to make for a satisfying experience that will make any non-PC owners jealous.

Starcraft: Remastered

With the recent decline in the popularity of StarCraft II, this year seemed like the perfect time for Blizzard Entertainment to revisit the original StarCraft. Not only was it one of the most influential eSports of all time, it also helped popularize the RTS genre overall. StarCraft manages to have one of the highest skill ceilings in gaming history, while simultaneously being fun for casual players as well. Part of its accessibility comes from its fantastic and memorable campaign. The remastered version includes both the original story, and the Brood War expansion as well. It also has drastically improved the graphics, while the gameplay and campaign have been left pretty much untouched.

Some more casual players might balk at losing some of the quality of life changes that make StarCraft II feel a little smoother, but those quirks and idiosyncrasies are crucial to the soul of StarCraft: Brood War as a competitive game. Blizzard's decision to leave those aspects of the game unchanged is another reminder of how in tune they are with their dedicated fan base. Of course, they have made some updates and improvements on the periphery of the game including extensive localization, cloud saves, matchmaking, and overall integration with Blizzard's modern ecosystem. All that's left is to wait and see if StarCraft Remastered will have a resurgence as a prominent eSport. Either way, we're glad to get a chance to dive back into one of our old favorites.

Heat Signature

Anyone who played Gunpoint will have been eagerly awaiting developer Tom Francis' second title, Heat Signature. In addition to maintaining a similarly quirky sense of humor, it also pushes into unique territory, mechanically. Using procedural generation to create a vast galaxy of ships and space stations, Heat Signature has a lot going on in its game world. Randomly generated ships and missions provide endless playgrounds for its unique infiltration mechanics. The ability to pause the action at any time and choose your next move gives the game an almost turn-based feel, while the array of weapons and gadgets allow for detailed and intricate planning–which, of course, are liable to go completely wrong, causing exciting and unexpected moments of delightful panic.

In addition to a satisfyingly fun heist mission structure, the game also has a larger macro layer in which you complete assignments to liberate space stations. Those in turn give you access to new equipment. This keeps the one-off missions from feeling insignificant, since you're always building towards a larger goal. Meanwhile, the open nature of the galaxy map gives you the freedom to completely ignore the mission and just find random ships to mess around with if that's what you want to do. Overall, Heat Signature, like Gunpoint before it, is a pleasant surprise and keeps us hungry for whatever Tom Francis does next.

Tower 57

At first glance, Tower 57 seems like a random mess of disparate elements. It's a steampunk, retro-pixel graphics, twin-stick arcade shooter...which also has RPG progression and quests. It sounds like too much to work, but somehow the game manages to pull it all off. The action is tough, but exciting. The RPG progression is satisfying. The retro graphics and setting are charming. It just...works. There are a lot of retro-style games these days, but this one manages to stand out with its particular blend of elements.

There are also some well-implemented mechanics that add to some subtle and emergent gameplay possibilities, including destructible objects, fire and lightning that interact with the environment, and enemy swarm behavior. All in all, this little game is more than the sum of its wild mish-mash of parts. Although this game will eventually be coming to other platforms, it's definitely worth checking right now out for all you PC owners.

Oxygen Not Included

Although Oxygen Not Included is technically not out yet, having only been released on early access in 2017, it's too good not to mention in this list. Developer Klei Entertainment has already proven they know how to make a good crafting survival game with Don't Starve, but this time they're doing their own take on the colony survival game. With amazing games such as Dwarf Fortress, Prison Architect, and Rimworld to draw on as a foundation, they've taken this model, translated it into 2D–think Terraria or Starbound–and added their trademark cartoon animation style.

In Oxygen Not Included, you'll be managing a group of colonists, harvesting resources to build and upgrade your settlement, while also managing the living conditions and emotional states of your colonists. The ease of the interface and charming graphical design make this game simple to play, but challenging to master, and incredibly addictive at every point in between. Even in early access, the game already shows a tremendous amount of polish, and we can't wait to see how Klei builds on this already strong offering. Just another great example of why it pays to game on PC these days.