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Like a rollercoaster, 2011 was full of transient highs and enduring lows – mostly the latter for PC gamers. The year began with a promising lineup, but title after title fell flat. Some were incredibly buggy, others had console-esque interfaces and far too many shipped without DirectX 11 support. We'll spare you of a list because you surely recall their names, but for reference, even the well deserved game of the year, Skyrim, somehow fits in all of the above.
Determined to redeem themselves, developers have readied yet another tantalizing roster. In fact, many of last year's most anticipated titles have spilled over into 2012, including Diablo III, Guild Wars 2, Mass Effect 3 and Max Payne 3. As usual, we've assembled a list of the hottest PC games expected to hit shelves over the next 12 months. Titles are sorted alphabetically as most of the release dates aren't set in stone.
It goes without saying that some chosen games won't materialize this year and we've undoubtedly excluded some noteworthy titles – not least of which are End of Nations, Firefall, Fortnite, Natural Selection 2, Planetside 2 and The Darkness II (coming on February 10). If we included everything, our list would reach unruly lengths, but there's nothing stopping you from sharing your most anticipated PC games for 2012.
|Alan Wake||Third-person shooter||Early 2012|
|BioShock Infinite||First-person shooter||2012|
|Borderlands 2||First-person shooter||July 2012|
|Counter-Strike: Global Offensive||First-person shooter||Summer 2012|
|Diablo III||Action role-playing||Q2 2012|
|Dota 2||Hero RTS||TBA 2012|
|Far Cry 3||First-person shooter||Late 2012|
|Grand Theft Auto V||Action-Adventure||TBA 2012|
|Guild Wars 2||MMORPG||TBA 2012|
|Half-Life 2: Episode Three||First-person shooter||TBA 2012|
|Hitman: Absolution||Third-person shooter||TBA 2012|
|Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning||Action role-playing||February 2012|
|Mass Effect 3||Action role-playing||March 2012|
|Max Payne 3||Third person shooter||May 2012|
|MechWarrior Online||Action||Mid 2012|
|Metro: Last Light||First-person shooter||Late 2012|
|Microsoft Flight||Flight sim||Early 2012|
|Prey 2||First person shooter||TBA 2012|
|Prototype 2||Action||April 2012|
|Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City||Third person shooter||January 2012|
|S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2||First person shooter||TBA 2012|
|StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm||RTS||TBA 2012|
|Syndicate||First person shooter||February 2012|
|Thief 4||Stealth, Third person||TBA 2012|
|Tomb Raider||Platformer, Third person||Mid 2012|
|Tribes: Ascend||First person shooter||Early 2012|
|Warface||First person shooter||TBA 2012|
|World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria||MMORPG||TBA 2012|
|XCOM & XCOM: Enemy Unknown||Tactical shooter||TBA 2012|
First released for consoles in May 2010, Alan Wake won countless awards, including game of the year in Time magazine. Greatly influenced by Stephen King's work, critics praised the title's storytelling, atmosphere and graphics – the latter of which should be even better when the game relaunches early this year. The PC version will be self-published by developer Remedy Entertainment through Steam and will include two DLC packs, The Signal and The Writer. Remedy hasn't shared much beyond that, but we expect good things.
BioShock's third installment exits the abandoned underwater metropolis of Rapture and introduces players to Columbia, a floating city suspended by giant blimps and balloons. It unfolds in 1912 – prior to the events of previous entries – and players control ex-Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt as he rescues a young woman named Elizabeth (a companion character) who has been trapped in Columbia for most of her life. To accompany the new characters and environments, Infinite will encourage players to explore the weapons more.
Although Borderlands offered an intriguing mashup of RPG and FPS gameplay, the title wasn't without its faults. Players complained about its repetitive experience. Enemies were uncoordinated and respawned too fast, weapons were greatly rehashed across the board and the multiplayer component used GameSpy's much-despised service. Set five years after the original on the same rustic planet of Pandora, Borderlands 2 plans to address most of those shortcomings with more customizable equipment and smarter AI.
Originally planned as an Xbox 360 port of Counter-Strike: Source, Valve decided take advantage of the situation with a multiplatform release that expands upon previous versions. Although Global Offensive won't offer a drastically overhauled experience, CS diehards can expect new maps, characters, weapons, matchmaking, leaderboards, and a game mode called arsenal that's being co-developed with mod makers. Meanwhile, newcomers will be happy to hear it's not too late to experience updated versions of the classic content.
It's been a decade in the making, but the long-awaited follow-up to 1998's epic dungeon crawler is finally on the horizon. Set 20 years after its predecessor, Diablo III will bring the franchise into the 21st century with polished graphics, PvP arenas, NPCs who sell, craft and enhance gear, as well as an online auction house that lets players exchange virtual goods for real money. Between Blizzard's online platform, custom 3D engine and random encounter/level generator, Diablo III promises to deliver a rich hack-and-slash experience.