Look outside. Is it snowing? Well, it's snowing in video games, where it matters. The winter months are here to lay frosty waste to the Northern hemisphere, which is where list goblins like me originate.
To celebrate the first flakes of glimmering ice wafting out of the sky like God's own sub-zero dandruff, here's a list of the best snow in PC games. Put on a hat, for heaven's sake.
As an extreme winter sports game, Steep is far from perfect. But as a trudging-through-the-snow simulator, it is unparalleled. The visual effects and frumpy sounds as the frosty powder compresses beneath your big boots make you wanna pause and stir some hot choc. On a snowboard, it smooths away in a clean line. On skis, it carves a silky twin track as you barrel down the Swiss Alps, as personified with weirdly sexy voices. Actual races and the performing of tricks feels wobbly, but as a snowscape, it deserves a flurry of praise.
Anyone who's seen Ice Road Truckers will understand the nail-biting compulsion of big wheels on bad slush. Snowrunner is the wintry alternative to four-wheel-drive 'em up Mudrunner, and a lot of the map doesn't actually include snow. But when it does, the stakes really go up. There's a mission where you've got to transport a rocket on the bed of your truck to a Russian cosmodrome, crossing rickety wooden platforms and winching your way up snow-packed inclines, with all the desperation of a stubborn dad trying to push a sofa up the stairs by himself. Don't worry if the expensive rocket tips over and is irreparably damaged. I'm sure Putin won't mind.
Subnautica: Below Zero
"Hypothermia imminent" warns your computerised pal in this subaquatic sequel. There's a snowstorm on, you see, and if you spend even thirty seconds out of the water, you're going to catch your death. The first Subnautica kept things watery, tropical even. Below Zero gives you ice floes to trod 'pon, freezing caves to crunch through and snowy glades to zip across on a hoverbike. You can warm yourself at big, hot flowers and gather snowballs to make water, as per your survivalist needs. And sometimes - just sometimes - you stumble across a snowman left behind by previous visitors to the planet. Nobody's looking. Do your worst.
Red Dead Redemption 2
I gave up on Red Dead Redemption 2 because I lack the 19 fingers required to realistically open a can of tuna. But there's no denying the excellence of the snow in this darn tootin' six-shooter. It crumbles, it crushes, it kicks up in front of your boots in little clumps, it whips around your scarf as biting dust and makes your horse complain. That the whole game is not dedicated to this one fluffy and harsh environment is an obvious power move by giants of the open world genre, Rockstar, whose ongoing pursuit is not to make the perfect snow, but the perfect everything, so they may better achieve their goal of turning reality into a worryingly lifelike simulation for grimy drunks to take warm baths in.
The finale of Journey's metaphorical wanderings brings you to a stormy mountain peak, where an indignant blizzard shoves back against your last push toward the game's uber-weenie. It's a lonely climb, the rime and snowflakes hardening your once-crimson cloak into a glittering case of stiff folds, like a towel left out on the washing line until January. This snow is not a friend, it's your antagonist. But what chimes close behind? It's another player, struggling against the same bitter winds. Together you can do this. You can beat the snow, right? RIGHT?
I see you've got some novice alchemists out on the battlefield, a bunch of spearmen too. That's very nice. Oh, this? It's just a little bit of snow, I shouldn't be too worried if I were you. It'll only kill off your weakest units. Relax, it's just weather. I mean, these climate-altering cards are good. But they used to be better. Remember when that one card called White Frost used to cover all your lanes in cold glitter, and it'd last aaaages, and everything you put down would - are you listening? Oh, you've died.
Tom Clancy's The Division
The Division 2 is a better game. But The Division 1 is a better apocalypse. New York in the biting maw of winter sells the end-of-days feeling far better than Washington's humid summer. Christmas decor hangs lifelessly in windows, trash piles up within mounds of snow and slush. And then the fog descends and the snowflakes drift around in fitful eddies under the street lights, which are somehow still functioning amid the death rattle of a city. It's mostly decorative weather, unless you too have endured the mostly forgotten yet strikingly atmospheric Survival mode, in which a freezing megablizzard gets between you, loot, and other players. If that's you, fellow survivor, I know. I know. Take a breath. We don't need to go back. Nobody can make us go back.
One Off The List from... the best shotguns in games
Last time we played a shell game, and under our cups lurked the 9 best shotguns in PC games. It turns out you lot LOVE shotguns. That's sweet. But we still need to eliminate one of them from the list. Sad to say it's...
The Mozambique from Apex Legends
"I thought including the Mozambique was well-played," says list connoisseur 'StropheCat', inspecting the weapons rack. "However, I still want it off the list: I actually got two or three kills with it in the eight or nine months I've been playing, negating its purpose."
Its purpose, in case you forgot, is to be a middling gun that makes the others look good. And in this very list it has again proven useful. Bless you, Mozambique, you have yet again taken one for the team. A true martyr. We will not forget your sacrifice. God speed.