noiseredux vs.

Posted on May 28th 2017 at 12:00:00 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC, tablet, Windows

When the Nintendo Switch was first revealed, I actually gave it a fair amount of thought. It was strange for me to even consider, since I've been a primarily-PC gamer for such a long time. But the more thought I gave it, the more I realized that I wasn't actually all that interested in the games themselves. It was just the idea of having a new portable toy. And so I passed. The truth is that I don't actually do much gaming "on the go." So really, the bulk of my portable gaming is actually done in my house - usually on the couch with the TV on in the background. But having said that, I do like having the option.
I've dabbled with many Android based portable devices over the years; ranging from low end cheapies like Amazon's Kindle Fire to upper-end "powerhouses" like Nvidia's Shield (which the Switch's own hardware is based on). But ultimately, I'm always drawn to the idea of gaming on a Windows-based device. Perhaps the biggest reason is that I already have a rather gigantic collection of PC games. And thanks to cloud saves, it's easy to share a game between desktop and tablet. It's just a matter of figuring out what will play nice on a Windows tablet.

Not that long ago, I replaced a low-end Windows 10 2-in-1 made by Acer with a Surface Pro 3 that I got a great deal on. So this thing acquisition has once again sent me on the hunt to figure out how much gaming can be done on a Windows tablet. Now obviously your mileage may vary depending on which Windows tablet you may have, but the truth is that much of your experience should come down to how much you're willing to tinker. Integrated graphics have come a very long way. So basically, if you can lower graphical settings and unneeded bells and whistles, and as long as you can find a way to successfully control the game itself, you may well be surprised at all the stuff you can get away with playing portably.

Now obviously not all Windows tablets are equal. So nothing that I'm saying here is going to be totally universal as far as hardware goes. The most obvious thing I can say is that you'll get what you are willing to pay for. If you're trying to game on a Windows tablet with 1 or 2GB RAM, then you're going to severely limit yourself; 4GB is really the minimum you should be aiming at if you hope to play anything somewhat recent. And as far as integrated graphics go, you can usually do a Youtube search for the particular chip to see how it handles games. On the software side, Windows 10 is just a good idea. Its tablet mode is excellent, and it really has a rather brisk UI that feels lightweight compared to Windows 8.
Perhaps the most obvious starting place to tinker with modern games on a tablet will be to tweak the graphical settings. This might be a no-brainer, but knocking down the resolution and setting everything to minimums can be a huge resource-saver. And since you'll be playing a smaller screen anyway, often these concessions really don't end up being as noticeable as you'd think. There's also fan-made patches out there that tend to address playing on lower powered machines. These patches will often limit even more graphical options that you can't so easily get to in the options screen proper.
As far as which games to install on a tablet - well that's obviously going depend on what you personally consider a good portable game. Another thing to keep in mind is how you're going to control it. Very few PC games are built with tablet touch controls in mind. So getting games that weren't actually intended to played that way to work will require some thought. Some games may well just work with touch. For other games, it might be a good idea to get yourself a controller. The new Xbox One S controllers have bluetooth support and drivers for Windows 10 right out of the box, so I'd recommend one of those. You may also consider either a keyboard dock, or some kind of portable keyboard and mouse or trackpad setup should you need to input text in a game. Again, this is all on a game-by-game basis, depending on what you're actually hoping to play.

So where should you get games? If you're like me and have shelves of actual physical PC games then USB CD-ROM or floppy disk drives are going to be your friend. But let's be straight up here: it's just plain easier to buy digital games on a tablet, isn't it? And Microsoft's own storefront is a pretty obvious place to start. While most scoff at buying games from the Windows 10 Store, this is definitely a very easy way to see that a game is compatible with your tablet. It's also one of the better sources of finding games that are actually built with touch controls in mind.
Of course Steam is the other super obvious storefront to install. I'd recommend changing the UI to display your games as giant thumbnails rather than the default tiny text list of your library. This will just be easier on your pointer finger. While you'll have to do some more detective work to determine which games may well work in your Steam library, there are a couple of user-curated lists of touch friendly games. As an added bonus, if you've got a nice beefy gaming rig on the same network, then you can go ahead and use it to stream your Steam games to your tablet. This will enable you to play some more intensive games than you would be able to natively.
GOG Galaxy is another must-have for your Windows tablet. Considering the majority of GOG games are pretty old, this means that you won't need much muscle to run them. I used a cheap super pathetic Windows 10 tablet to play lots of GOG games in the past and it worked great. And if it's indie games you're after, then start browsing which is full them and also has some various tags like "touch friendly" to help you narrow things down as well.
And now how about some games to get started with?

Civilization V - I actually just recently played Civ5 for the first time myself and had a rather great time. One thing that kept crying out to me every time I played it was the option to start the game in touchscreen mode. Yup, Firaxis is one of the few developers to actually make their PC games with touchscreen in mind. And I think it's safe to say that something like Civilization with its map to drag around is a pretty perfect game for a tablet.
Fallout Shelter - What started out as a spin-off of Fallout 4 and straight up mobile game about keeping a fallout shelter full of tiny people happy became an addiction to enough folks to eventually inspire Bethesda to bring it to PC's as well. This means that it is well suited for Windows tablets.
Lara Croft Go - There are actually a few of these Square-Enix G games now... Hitman Go and Deus Ex Go are just as good of picks really. But I myself have truly enjoyed Lara Croft Go and how well it has transposed the Tomb Raider games and their settings into these tiny little turn based strategy games. Great stuff.
Minecraft - As you may well know, Minecraft is on every format - and plays well on every format. Fittingly, the Windows 10 Edition is actually based off of the mobile edition. So with that in mind it's got touch controls built right in. This is certainly a highly recommended game for your tablet. And maybe the only game I can think of that has support for Windows 10 tablets and Oculus Rift both built right in!

Pinball FX2 - Here's another game that's on everything. But hey, if you like pinball then Pinball FX2 is a good idea. You can buy a bunch of tables and tap away on the left and right side of the screen. Might I recommend the Aliens Vs. Pinball tables?
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed - Good old Sega... not only did they give us a sequel to one of the best kart racers in years, but they actually gave the game full touch and tilt support. This is the rare PC racing game that can be played on a tablet without using a controller. How cool is that?
XCOM 2 - My love of XCOM is certainly no secret. As such I've recently loaded up XCOM 2 on my Surface Pro 3 to start working on the Long War 2 expansion. That being said, while this one does work well with a tablet, it may be a bit demanding on lower end hardware.
X-Mercs - And if you do find the XCOM games too demanding, then I'd suggest checking out X-Mercs on the Windows store. This one was originally released on iOS/Android so was made with touch controls in mind. As such it works perfectly on a Windows tablet. And it's free!
And some other suggestions...

Adventure Games - There's lots of classic point-n-clicks that work great on a tablet. Consider things like Monkey Island which work completely via the left-click of a mouse. There are also more recent adventure games that require just as little physical input such as Cibele or Sara Is Missing - the latter of which is actually meant to replicate finding a lost cellphone, so it works rather brilliantly on a tablet.
Board Games - What a perfect fit! Board games replicate to the digital world excellently on a tablet. And many of them even offer local multiplayer via the old hot-swap method. Meaning you can just pass the tablet around the living room from player to player. I've personally played things like The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain and Talisman: Digital Edition with great success. Other favorites such as Ticket To Ride are easily obtainable on Steam as well. There's also more mahjong games out there than you can shake a stick at.
Browser games - There's a whole slew of games that are meant to be played within your browser. Many of these require nothing but a mouse (or touch) to control so they're actually quite fitting. FreeCiv, (which is, you guessed it) a free version of Civilization, is one such game. And there's much out there to investigate along these lines.
CCG's - Alright, personally I always have at least a handful of card games on my tablet. There's the super obvious stuff like Hearthstone or one of the many iterations of Magic: The Gathering of course. But there's lots of newer stuff to check out as well. The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a great take on the Hearthstone formula that features two lanes to control. Both Duelyst and Faeria combine the tactical placement of strategy board games with card combat. And even the fan-favorite card game Gwent that originated within The Witcher III has just now received a public beta as a stand-alone game. Oh, and don't forget that Windows still comes with Solitaire!

Puzzle Games - If you've ever played a game on your phone then you know that puzzle games go rather hand-in-hand with mobile gaming. Luckily even the Windows 10 store recognizes this and you'll find plenty of touch-friendly puzzlers like Bubble Witch Saga 3 and Candy Crush Soda. Or you can hit up Steam for various Puzzle Quest games (I recommend the Marvel variant) or Bejeweled 3.
Visual Novels - In fairness, this is not a genre that I know a lot about, but what I do know is that they work flawlessly on tablets. I've fired up Don't Take It Personally, Babe and played the first couple of chapters and was quite impressed with the experience. So if there's any certain visual novel that you've been meaning to check out, the chance is good that you could throw it on your tablet and do so comfortably away from your desk.
Xbox One games - Alright, maybe this is cheating, but if you've got an Xbox One setup on your network, then the Xbox app on Windows 10 allows you to stream all of your Xbox One (and backwards compatible 360 games) to your PC. This means that a Windows 10 tablet, a wireless controller and a decent network will give you Xbox games in any room of your house.

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Great article.  I also got a Surface Pro 3 at a can't-pass-it-up price, but I do a lot of gaming on the go.  While I tend to use mine for productivity (while I'm out on the field), I always keep games loaded for those "just in case" moments.  Most are GoG games and some older Steam games, I also use it for Retroarch gaming (which pairs nicely with my Dual Shock 3).
Ooh, thank you for the reminder about The Long War expansion. I think another XCOM2 playthrough is in order. I just wish I could get that on XBox.
What game is shown on the Surface in the very first picture?

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