potato pc budget gaming

Potato PC Games for the Budget Gamer

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There are many gamers who just don’t have the time or resources to go all out on our gaming rig, so here are some games you can still enjoy with a Potato PC.

Many of us are on the “patient” end of the gaming spectrum, either because we just can’t afford a gaming rig or we just have other more pressing matters that actually need our time and resources. So whether your reasons are a full-time job, a family, both, or whatever, welcome to the Potato PC Gaming club! Still, it’s good to know that there are still many games we can enjoy.

The Potato PC

For clarity’s sake, let’s get some specs out of the way. Generally speaking, a Potato PC is either an outdated computer or something that was not specifically designed for gaming – such as the laptop from work that you’re not supposed to install games on. We’ll keep quiet if you will.

Mine is basically a Lenovo Essential G460 that is more or less a decade old. It’s powered by an Intel Core i3 350M with an Nvidia GeForce 310M and I’ve upgraded it long ago to 8 GB of DDR3 RAM and a 1 TB Hard Disk Drive. So it’s pretty outdated but not necessarily the bottom of the barrel. My wife actually used this in her college days as her Adobe editing computer.

Now that we’ve got some specs out of the way, let’s talk about what to expect and what not to expect. First of all, this is not some kind of comprehensive list because luckily we have not been completely left out in the dark. There are dozens – possibly hundreds – of games out there that have modest spec requirements, including many classics and older games you can find on GOG.

And secondly, let’s focus on some of the more popular games or basically the games that still have a lot to be desired even with the many hyped-up releases in the past few months. As mentioned you can practically download an entire library of classic games on GOG, that is the name after all. So, moving forward.

Source Engine Games

Regardless of my opinion on Gabe Newell and Valve, I’ll be the first to admit that the Source Engine is pretty darn efficient in producing exciting gameplay with little resource demands so that budget gamers can still enjoy the competitive scene on low-end computers. Granted you’ll have to turn down the settings to low.

There are a lot of games running the Source Engine, but obviously the most popular of these are Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, Garry’s Mod, Portal, and Half-Life.

Now, if you have not heard of any of these games on the list, then please get out from the rock you’ve been living under. Clearly though, the Source Engine was designed primarily for FPS so if that’s not your thing then I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

Pixel Gems

Among the indie developers category, there has been quite the trend of pixel gaming art styles and there are many games that still have a huge following even after several years of development.

Top of the list would obviously be Terraria. To call it a 2D Minecraft is quite the understatement, and although it has increased it’s resource demands through its many updates. In other words, you’ll also have to tone down the settings a bit, but if nothing else it’s just a resolution issue.

Another is Stardew Valley, a pixel version of “Harvest Moon” that has taken the world by storm. Unlike Terraria though, I’m able to run it on the default recommended settings that the game decided for my Potato PC and I don’t have any complaints about it really.

Some honorable mentions in this category are Starbound, The Escapists 2, Rimworld, and Graveyard Keeper. There are a ton of games on this list with lots of different genres, so take a look for yourself.

The P in RPG is for Potato

I suppose it’s not a surprise that the bulk of RPG’s is easily run on budget gaming specs. Especially, if we keep to the classic style RPG and not the many, many “hybrids” that have come out in recent years. Of course, I’m not excluding the hack-and-slash subgenre since that’s what I’m personally more into than the more strict turn-based versions.

With that said, we have to talk about Grim Dawn and Torchlight, which are basically Diablo-clones but arguably more “classic” style than Diablo 3 of Blizzard. Which, by the way, can actually run on a low-end computer, as long as you lower the settings way down. Of course, we’re all waiting to see what Diablo 4 will be like, but hopefully, Blizzard still has a sliver of care for us patient gamers.

Torchlight will also be getting a new game pretty soon and Grim Dawn has just released a new expansion recently. Both have their own pros and cons, but either way, you really can’t go wrong. Even better is you can also get both DRM-free on GOG, along with a host of other RPGs like Shadowrun and Pillars of Eternity.

Playing With Other Potatoes

I’ve already mentioned the Valve games which are essentially the go-to for the competitive experience. But there are also a bunch of other options for multiplayer gaming on a potato PC, which can either be competitive or cooperative, depending on your gaming preference.

First up there’s Rocket League, which is surprisingly popular for a very unorthodox game concept of cars playing soccer in a futuristic arena. None the less, it can run decently on low-end computers enough to let you enjoy both the cooperation with team mates and the competitive sports aspect.

Then there’s Castle Crashers, which is primarily a cooperative multiplayer game. That is until you get in the way of your “friends” and things can quickly turn competitive from there. In this game, the line between helping and being a nuisance is extremely thin. But that’s what makes it all the more fun to play with friends.

For the last game, I’ll recommend Mount & Blade: Warband. Sure, the sequel has already been released, but there’s no denying that the first iteration still has a huge following, which also translates into a big database of mods that keep the game updated and interesting.

The fact of the matter is that there is still a lot of room for the potato PC gamer to enjoy gaming until such a time we are finally able to get a computer with a little more substance.

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