When Epic Games announced that they would be acquiring Mediatonic and all of its properties, it raised questions about what would happen to some of those more niche IPs that fell under the Mediatonic banner. Clearly, the acquisition was meant to bring in Fall Guys, which is very popular, but what would become of games like Good Company, Balsa, and of course, PC Building Simulator. The short answer is, most of these games continued as usual. Which bode well for PC Building Simulator.
Earlier this year, Epic announced that PC Building Simulator 2 would be coming exclusively to the PC via the Epic Games Store. There had been some subtle hints leading up to this announcement, like a website for the fictional repair shop that you run in the original game, showing its “expenses,” so it seemed like something was brewing.
On October 12th, PC Building Simulator 2 (PCBS2) released to the world, and what Spiral House and Epic have put together is certainly quite something.
What Is It?
Much like the original game, PCBS2 is a light business management sim. You begin the game in a run-down store downtown. Your Uncle Tim relocated the shop there after it mysteriously burned down. For those who played the original game to completion, you’ll know why this is fishy to begin with, and it presents a slight continuity issue. But, aside from importing the same files from another platform to keep your shop’s name and status going, there isn’t much Spiral House could’ve done here. Plus, in the grand scheme of things, this is a minor detail that doesn’t really affect the game’s story too much. If you’re starting fresh with PCBS2, you won’t be missing anything by not having played the first game and knowing what happened there.
The game starts you out with a few in-progress jobs that serve as its tutorial. Rather than a standalone tutorial section like in the first game, PCBS2 tutorializes elements as they’re introduced, making it easy to get up to speed on how to play the game. It will hold your hand through the first hour or so of gameplay, and then slowly begin to take the training wheels off. What is also very cool is that you will get a taste for the more advanced things in the game like installing custom water blocks to graphics cards and painting and stickering cases right away. They don’t make you wait to level up to start experiencing the new features the game has to offer.
As you level up by completing jobs, you’ll be rewarded with more and more parts to choose from in the game’s shops, as well as new features and time-saving power-ups you can purchase, like an Auto-Connect tool, which will plug the Power, Keyboard, Mouse, and HDMI cables into the PC automatically when you try to power it on. There are others, too, and by the time you’ve spent a few hours with the game, you’ll likely have bought them all. Thankfully, the power-ups are nowhere near as expensive as they were in the original game, so you won’t have to set aside large chunks of your funds to streamline your gameplay experience.
When you reach Level 3, the game offers up the option to renovate the busted up storefront, which opens up the ability to sell PCs you build to make even more money. From that point, it’s up to you to decide how you want to balance customer jobs with building and selling PCs.
If you’d rather just build PCs to have fun and not bother with the Campaign mode, you can do that as well within PCBS2’s Free Build mode.
This has seen a number of improvements since the first game, including the implementation of much requested PC Import and Export functionality. So, you can now build PC’s, take a glamour photo of them, and export the file to share with your friends online. You can likewise, download PCs shared with you online. You can have some informal overclocking or case customizing competitions, or just share something you think looks pretty.
Why Should I Care?
Simply put, PC Building Simulator 2 is fun, educational, and relaxing. The story jobs in the career can be downright side-splitting, thanks to the clever writing. Randomly generated jobs offer up a good deal of variety in what the clients ask for. You’ll be painting cases, water cooling motherboards, scanning for viruses, applying stickers, trying to hit a benchmark score, and more. That’s besides the obvious diagnosing and replacing of broken or faulty parts.
Therein is another new mechanic in PCBS2. The original game had PC parts in working or broken states. This game adds a third Faulty state. This means that the part works, sort of. Maybe a fan is making a weird noise and not spinning like it should. Maybe a stick of RAM is overheating. Maybe a graphics card’s fans aren’t working right. You’ll need inspect the PC to figure this out. Thankfully, PCBS2 introduces a Thermal Camera app on your work tablet.
With this app, you can look at a PC and see the heat being generated by components. Naturally, some components are going to be hot by nature, but if you see a stick of memory sitting there, glowing brighter than the rest, you know there is something wrong there. It’s a nice feature, and it will save you time compared to just pulling parts and checking your inventory to see if they’re flagged as broken. Interestingly, Faulty parts ask you to confirm whether you want to sell them. Perhaps there may be a feature added in the future to repair them. For now, though, that isn’t possible.
The Tablet also serves as a mobile hub so you can check emails to make sure you’re not missing a job requirement without having to walk over to the office PC. It can also change your entire environment.
The Decorator app allows you to change up the rather run-down shop’s floors, ceilings, walls, desks, and posters. Several options are available from the start, and you can change the look out at any time, for no fee. It’s very likely more customization options will be added in the future, but the handful that are available now do look nice.
What Makes It Worth My Time and Money?
PC Building Simulator 2 makes a number of improvements over the original game. It leads to a game that feels decidedly more polished and refined than the original PCBS. That’s not to say there aren’t rough edges that need to be sorted out. This section will go over some of the improvements, and the areas that still need improving.
A game like this relies heavily on its selection of licensed and well-known parts. PCBS2 has over 1200 parts to choose from, with a number of new parts appearing for the first time in this game. Intel 12th Gen CPUs, Z690 motherboards were the latest and greatest at the time of the game’s release in mid-October. PC hardware is always evolving, and we now have 13th generation Intel and Ryzen 7000 series processors from AMD on the market, along with new Nvidia 4000 series cards. Much like the original game, this one will be updated with new parts over time, but there will be some delay between a part releasing and it showing up in the game.
There are also a number of parts that were in the original game that are not in the sequel. Seagate is no longer partnered up, so their hard drives have been replaced with Stuart Morton’s house brand. There’s a handful of examples like this scattered throughout the game’s inventory, but by-and-large, most of the parts from the original made it in.
Water cooling has also received an improvement in PCBS2. In the original, you were limited to CPU blocks and pre-built water-cooled graphics cards. Toward the end of PCBS1’s support cycle, a handful of motherboards with full-coverage CPU and voltage regulator module blocks were added. In PCBS2, These things are still in place, but now you can install your own blocks on specific motherboards and graphics cards. You can also now water-cool RAM, which is admittedly pretty neat, but totally overkill.
However, installing a water-block is a one-way street. If you install a GPU block, there is no reverting back to air cooling. The same goes for CPU blocks. If you install a CPU block or full-coverage block on a board via the water cooling workbench, that board is now a single unit, and the processor you put on there is now married to it. I don’t have any doubt this will get improved on in the future, but for right now, it means that when you’re doing a client’s water-cooled build, you’ll need to be sure that the parts you’re putting on there are correct, because aside from reloading a previous save, there’s no getting them back.
Next, there’s the improvements to cooling and overclocking. Coolers are much better at keeping temperatures in check, and in this game, fan speeds can be adjusted to help with temperatures, too. However, though this is a massive improvement to the original and does allow for much easier overclocks, it’s still not quite where it should be. It’s far too easy to saturate a 360mm radiator with heat than it should be, and this leads to situations where you’ll thermal throttle the CPU and have to dial the overclock back in order to keep that from happening. Oddly, this doesn’t seem to be an issue for graphics cards, just CPUs. Hopefully, this also gets improved as time goes on. For now, high CPU overclocks require multiple radiators to work around the problem.
Finally, there are the bugs and glitches that often crop up. There are jobs that would not register as being complete, despite having identified all of the broken and faulty parts, replacing them, and even going as far as rebuilding the entirety of the PC to make sure no parts were missed. There are also numerous weird fitment issues, where parts will not fit, despite there being more than enough room available.
It would be very easy to call the game out as a buggy and glitchy mess, but the fact of the matter is that a game like this is incredibly complex. There is a lot going on, with a variety of things that need to interact with each other. With so many parts available and so many combinations of those parts, there will be conflicts. Looking at the game from an engineering point-of-view, there is a lot more going on here than most people even realize. So while pointing out the bugs is fair, it has to be tempered with the knowledge that this is a complex, rube-Goldberg-esque machine of a game, and sometimes not everything is going to go off without a hitch.
The end result, though, is a game that you can sink hundreds of hours into, because it’s just fun. Building PCs in Free Build mode with parts you’ll never be able to find or afford is an appealing prospect. Once you have them built, you can tweak them for better performance, benchmark them using a suite of tools, customize the cases and make the PCs look completely unique.
The game will also teach you a bit about PCs and how things fit together. How BIOS settings work and how to do things like apply thermal paste to a processor. While it’s no substitute for the hands-on work, it just might make building a PC a less daunting prospect for someone who has wanted to, but been intimidated by all the bits and bobs.
It’s relaxing, too. There are no time-limits, apart from the time-frames that some clients want jobs done in, and those are measured in days, not minutes, so the game never feels like it’s too demanding. There is also none of that daily logon or live-service nonsense to try to compel you to devote more time to the game than you want to. It’s a game that can suck you in for hours, but never demands that you do more than you want to. That, in today’s modern era of gaming, is truly refreshing.
If you have never played the original, just jump in here. If you have but you’re not sure if the jump is worth it, I can wholeheartedly say that it is.