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Published on October 31st, 2011 | by Brandon


The Essentials – Brandon

Last month, John kicked off our Essentials series with his list of must-play PC games.  This series took a short hiatus, but we’re back this week as I bring you the titles that have most influenced me and that I consider must-plays for anyone who calls himself a serious PC gamer.

1) Starsiege: Tribes

Tribes is, without a doubt, the most important PC game I’ve ever played. At age 11 on a 56k modem, Tribes was my first foray into the world of online gaming.  I still remember using the game’s built-in IRC client to log on to the Tribes IRC server and find my first clan.  I loved the concept of Tribes–futuristic capture the flag with weapons and jet packs.

And while the base game was great, I consider Tribes a true masterpiece because of the countless mods created by the Tribes community.  I quickly latched onto a mod called UltraRenegades that featured unlimited jet packs and boosts/brakes, changing the game into a fast-paced aerial battle where flags would often be taken and captured in a matter of seconds.

I wouldn’t expect any of you to try to play the original Tribes today, as it won’t even run properly on Windows 7.  However, many of you know that I’m extremely excited for the Tribes: Ascend beta, which begins this Friday!  From what I’ve seen and played so far, I believe Tribes: Ascend will be a worthy present-day successor to the original.

Check out the video below to get a feel for Tribes gameplay and see some truly unbelievable shots as well:

2) Counter-Strike

This game requires no introduction.  Still boasting over 100,000 players daily among 1.6 and Source, Counter-Strike is the quintessential modern first-person shooter.  While it’s certainly showing its age these days, no first-person shooter has come close to matching the staying power of Counter-Strike.  (For reference, I started playing CS when I was in middle school; I still play CS today, and I’m 23.)  Given that this game is responsible for putting online military shooters on the map, is it any wonder we’re all looking forward to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive?


3) Quake 3/Quake Live

While I’m sure many of you have never played Quake, you’ve undoubtedly touched the Quake engine, id Tech.  The brainchild of John Carmack, the Quake engine has served as the basis for countless games and derivative engines that drive many of the first-person shooters throughout history, including the Call of Duty series.  If the Quake engine had never existed, the first-person shooter landscape would have an entirely different look today.

That being said, Quake 3 (playable these days as Quake Live) is the granddaddy of online first-person shooters.  I consider Quake 3 to be the closest we’ve ever come to the perfect twitch shooter; it requires mastery in both movement and aim, and one without the other will make for a mediocre player at best.  Competitive Quake is incredibly exciting to watch, and the skill required to compete professionally puts nearly every modern shooter to shame.

Just watch the video below of Cooller (one of the most well-known professional Quake players) and tell me I’m wrong:

4) Enemy Territory

Originally built as an expansion for Return to Castle Wolfenstein and later released as a free stand-alone game after the single-player portion was scrapped, Enemy Territory was an underappreciated masterpiece.  Built on the Quake engine, Enemy Territory refined the class-based gameplay introduced in Return to Castle Wolfenstein.  As John mentioned, movement skills were paramount to flanking enemies, and the ability to perform key trickjumps could turn the tides of a match in a heartbeat.

And did I mention this game was free?  Though free-to-play games abound these days, quality free titles were few and far between back when Enemy Territory was released in 2003.  And while the only players you’re likely to find in Enemy Territory servers these days are bots, you can still download it and try it for yourself.

5) World of Warcraft

Love it or hate it, I would be remiss not to include the largest and most successful massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) of all time.  The truth is that World of Warcraft is so successful because it is an incredibly addicting and fun game.  WoW reached the dominant position it enjoys today because it’s incredibly polished, has an engaging storyline, and is easy to pick up for even the most clueless of players.

I started playing WoW in high school, shortly after quitting Star Wars Galaxies; little did I know at the time that it would consume my life for years to come.  Having started a few months after the game was released and playing on and off through every expansion, I’ve probably put more hours into WoW than any other game on this list (and that’s really saying something).  Essentially my entire freshman year of college was spent inside my dorm room playing WoW with my roommate.  Though I don’t currently play, if history is any indicator, it’s entirely possible I could get sucked back in at some point..

While I don’t necessarily recommend you try WoW if you have a job, significant other, children, or just want to keep any semblance of a social life, you can download it and play for free up to level 20.

I have many fond memories of my earlier WoW days, and I met a lot of great people (including our own Dan aka NipNops).  Thus, the final video I bring you is my former guild, Evolved, downing Ragnaros–the final boss of the first raid instance, Molten Core–for the first time.  (Bonus: If you listen carefully, you can actually hear Dan talking at certain points in the video.)

So there you have it.  While I have enjoyed and been influenced by a great many games over the years, these are the ones I call essential.


8 Responses to The Essentials – Brandon

  1. Pingback: Tribes: Ascend on its way to greatness | Keyboard + Mouse or Die

  2. Dan says:

    is it me or the link to john’s post broken? i get 404’d.

  3. Pingback: KBMOD’s Week in Review 10/30/11 – 11/6/11 | Keyboard + Mouse or Die

  4. ApotheosisNemesis says:

    >Man I wish it was 2006 all over again… It was when I started playing ET, it was so good.

  5. Seventy2 says:

    >I still don't know what ram to use, fuck you brandon.

  6. Mikan says:

    >Thinking of getting back into WoW again, I need to get past the boring as leveling from 60-80. I wish I could just skip it, after Cata playing from 1-60 is amazingly easy and actually interesting now, but I seriously couldn't get through Northrend, it was litterally too boring. Strong list of games here though, definetly trying out Tribes: Ascend.

  7. Eyrod says:

    >I can't wait for Tribes Ascend. I might actually get back into WoW as well for a while.



Brandon started his PC gaming days playing Doom II (IDDQD/IDKFA for life) and has been hooked on online gaming since the original Starsiege: Tribes. The way to his heart is through proper grammar, corn dogs, and cookie cake.

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