PC Building Simulator 2 is here, adding a worthwhile but inessential upgrade to the, er, pc building simulator genre. Much like upgrading from an Nvidia GTX 3060 to a Nvidia GTX 3070.
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That’s PC component humour, and not something I would have really understood before spending a few hours in the quiet backroom of PC Building Simulator 2, taking apart machines and components, before putting them back together better than before.
Many of these new sim games start out with a whole lot of busy work, and the same is true of PCBS2. You start off in a ratty-looking shop that’s not a million miles away from a place in Cornwall I used to buy second-hand video games when I was at university, even down to the shelves that have partially collapsed and the perpetual clearance sale signage promising that everything really, I promise, has to go.
Your PC building batcave is in the back of the store, however, and there you’ll use a handful of work benches to build a PC customising empire, starting by fixing broken PCs and slapping a few stickers of an emoji love heart onto someone’s case, and culminating in full internal rebuilds and also building and flogging your own machines at a profit from the inside of the shop.
The journey definitely has stages. At first you’ll spend a lot of your time pulling out the tiny screws that hold the side of a case on and dragging apart the various cables between your peripherals and monitor, and then the screws that hold the CPU cooler together and then the tiny clips that hold the power supply into the case.
It’s fiddly work and at about the point you decide, an hour or two into the game’s career mode, that you’re sick of it and you never want to turn another screw or plug in another cable, the game lets you buy a tool to do that for you. From here you’ve done your time, and it becomes more about the freeform puzzle experience of improving PCs and using the cast-offs and spare, used, parts to build your own machines. No other game will ask you to scrap thermal paste off of a used CPU, or pull a stock cooler from a graphics card so you can fit water-cooling into the whole deal.
The game is clearly made by people who really care about how PCs fit together and it’s full of nice little details. All of the parts exist in the real world and are fully licensed with all their accurate sizings and compatibility perks, with the weird side effect that your main PC also starts with the same background as your desktop in the real world, letting you get immersed into the world in seconds.
I think the game works best as a puzzle game and capitalism simulator, where you try to take the funny little emails and repair jobs that flow into the store and fix the PCs as quickly and efficiently as possible while trying to make bank in every other area of the store. The game’s writing is funny in a quirky way rather than any belly laughs, but it’s fun enough and remains entertaining.
Buying junked PCs – of which you can get one a day – provides a quick and easy way to make big bucks, but being able to rapidly appraise which of these parts are a simple replacement and which – like a broken motherboard – will sap your will to live is absolutely key.
The chill vibe of the game is soundtracked by some atrocious soft rock that is uniformly terrible, and the only positive from the game’s soundtrack was the serotonin boost I got from turning the music volume down to zero.
It’s not the only issue, but it’s the only one that I found a quick fix for. Elsewhere, one PC I was working on for ages had a compatibility issue that I couldn’t work out. When I eventually took it apart and did a full rebuild, the PC wouldn’t post, which meant that it wouldn’t successfully boot up so I could send it back to the customer. I spent about 10-15 hours of the game with this PC on a workbench while I tried to work out a way to fix it and there just wasn’t any way to get the operating system to work, with very little help added. PCBS2 does a wonderful job of onboarding players as long as you stick to the rules that it sets out, but as soon as you stray off of the beaten track – which you’ll want to do because there’s so many different things for you to immerse yourself in – it can very quickly come apart and be as confusing as troubleshooting for issues on a real PC.
Despite all of this, I quite like it. I don’t think I’ve seen all that PC Building Simulator 2 has to offer, but I’m not sure that I need to: it’s enough as it is.
PC Building Simulator 2 launches on October 12 for PC.
You already know if you fancy the idea of PC Building Simulator 2 by the title. What you do here is build, tweak and repair PCs and it’s represented well. However, it’s dry work and people craving an adrenaline high aren’t going to find it spraypainting cases and reseating RAM. A dry, but no less impressive, work sim.
- Accurate representation of PC building and repair, without the awkward bits
- Lots of customisation options
- A definitive PC building experience
- Can be frustrating
- Core idea doesn’t hold interest for long