There is some measure of people out there who look at fancy, high-end PCs with more LEDs than a billboard and wonder just exactly how they're put together. It's a daunting challenge for someone who may never have been instructed how to do it. For those people, PC Building Simulator is part tutorial and part business simulator. It may very well serve as an entry into the realm of building your own personal computer. My first two hours of the game focused on seeing just how much the game got right in terms of buildings PCs.
Unlike fantasy scenarios like being a special forces soldier or dating a beautiful woman, I'm intimately familiar with the subject matter. I've been tinkering with PCs for over two decades. Ten of those years, I've done it professionally through odd jobs. I am wholly confident in saying that I know my stuff when it comes to this area. Does PC Building Simulator get it right? Well, mostly. When it comes to the physical hardware, the game is pretty much bang on. Hardware needs to be secured in mounts or trays with screws or clips and wired up appropriately. The software end of things is handled somewhat less accurately, and I think that's a detriment for the title.
A particular point of failure on a PC is the hard drive. This is analogous to the long-term memory of your computer; when you hit "save" on a word document, your hard drive stores it. There are quite a few jobs in the game where customers ask you to swap out a broken hard drive with no requests to back up any data already on the disk. Data is the only truly valuable thing in a PC, and it's a darn shame that the game doesn't really address this particular aspect of the computer repair industry. It wouldn't have even been that difficult. Plug in an external drive, hit some kind of "transfer files" button, and then repeat the process on the new drive. Data recovery and preservation is one of the most important parts of servicing a computer.
Another common type of job in the game is the "Diagnose and Fix". A PC will usually not turn on, or turn on and not function correctly in some particular fashion. Sometimes you'll have an easy one where the BIOS reports that the CPU isn't found, indicating that the processor needs to be replaced. Sometimes the PC will turn on but nothing will show up on the monitor, indicating a bad graphics card. Much like the data recovery/preservation aspect of the game, the diagnosing of hardware problems is somewhat simplified. As an example (and without going into too many technical terms), it's possible for some of the chips on the motherboard to not be functioning correctly while the rest of the board works fine. I faced this exact problem with my own PC. The graphics card was fine, the PC powered on, but I was getting no image. After replacement, I had noticed heat damage around some of the motherboard's chips which were necessary for the graphics card to function. This finer kind of diagnosis is just not in the game. A part either 100% works or it doesn't, there's no middle ground. The real world version of this job, however, has loads of middle grounds.
Earlier jobs in PC Building Simulator have a bit of a story theme to them. One particular client was a film enthusiast with a massive amount of pirated movies who had increasing demands for hard drive space with each successive job before he sheepishly stated that he had to close down his site due to a number of legal demands from film companies. As the game progresses, these jobs shift to more cookie-cutter style jobs. These boil down to "My computer broke, please fix it," or "My computer needs an upgrade, please upgrade it". You can reject a job if you don't like it and the game will generate another one for you; this makes it entirely possible to avoid one type of job entirely if you're not fond of it. I deeply appreciate this ability to avoid jobs. Any job involving a 3DMark score in any fashion is something I want to stay well away from.
3DMark is a benchmarking tool that cranks out a number on how "good" your PC happens to be. The processor and graphics card largely determine the score. An in-game tool tells you what parts correspond to which scores for individual graphics cards and processors, but it does not tell you what the combined score is. Redditor /u/Mieimsa went as far as to create a spreadsheet that helps you calculate it. This comes down to the costs of parts in-game - you don't want to over-upgrade a PC for a client because that's eating into your profit margin. I muddled through 10 hours of total gameplay, focusing on "Diagnose and Fix" and "Build A New PC"-style jobs as those seemed to give the best profit margin with the least amount of risk. As I leveled up, I gained access to tools that provided simple functionality. Stuff like faster screwing or automatically plugging cables in.
PC Building Simulator has been in Early Access for a couple of months now. The developers have a roadmap showcasing new features they're currently working on. We've seen quite a few new parts and tech partners added to the game. At the same time, we've seen mechanics get mild improvements or outright overhauls. I think the developers will address at least some of the issues I brought up in due time. As PC Building Simulator stands right now, I think a player would get a few solid hours of fun. It gets repetitive very quickly, and the mechanics could do with some increase in their complexity and challenge that brings it a bit closer to real-world scenarios.
If you've never built a computer before, you're sure to learn something from this title. If you have, you're more likely to breeze through this game quickly and wonder what all the fuss is about.
Our PC Building Simulator preview was conducted on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.
What do you think of PC Building Simulator? Do you think the game has long-term potential as a fun title or is it just a fad? Let us know in the comments below!