There’s something completely Zen about putting together a PC. It’s slow, meticulous work that sometimes requires a bunch of trial and error to get right. The first couple of times you do it are horrifically daunting too. Any error could easily brick the expensive parts, and lord help you if you put the CPU in backwards. 

Once it’s done the pleasure of seeing your work boot up into the setup screen is always as rewarding. It’s immediate feedback on the work you’ve done, something you can enjoy right away. 

But these projects are often limited by your budget and, to an extent, skill. Even more experienced builders will think twice about how elaborate they want their water cooled systems to actually be, because the process of making them is quite frankly a pain in the ass. Not to mention costly should a seal fail. 

To help with this comes the PC BUILDER SIMULATOR, a nitty gritty and extremely niche product for those who just like tinkering for the hell of it. Expanded now with this Esports edition, the cult favorite comes with a bunch of quality of life improvements and more elaborate campaign mode. 

But is the virtual experience as rewarding? Well, yes and no. It’s certainly a far easier access point compared to trying this out on real parts, and there’s a lot to be said for how relaxing it is to just put on some music and try out things. But as a whole the campaign mode still feels like busywork that isn’t as fun as just lounging around and building something just for the hell of it. 

Just as with the base game the vast majority of time is spent on answering emails, cleaning cases, and installing virus scanners for a quick buck. This time the campaign luckily moves along at a brisker pace and introduces an Esports rising star in need of your help at the very beginning. He’ll keep sending messages all throughout the story asking for additions to his rig or emergency service for a bricked part. 

As a management game it’s all quite light hearted and fun, even if it’s not very involving or deep. The quality of life improvements make things a lot more enjoyable this time around though. The computers in your office allow for multitasking much better, and computer screws can be removed all at once instead of one at a time. 

But it does make one wonder if making things easier kind of defeats the purpose of the simulator itself. Building a computer, after all, is an involved effort. One where every piece matters to the point of frustration. The original release of the simulator took that into consideration almost to a fault, making the player screw every single piece back in at every turn, and even gave you a mocking achievement for forgetting to insert heat paste into the processor.

A lot of that is gone from the expansion and the focus is now squarely on the quicker experience of putting together something cool. And that’s fine, especially since the expansion sits as an almost standalone experience (even though you do need the base game). 

It’s for those who want to try things out for the first time and don’t want to get elbows deep into the hardware just yet – even if it is virtual. 

At its full price the Esports expansion is a lot harder to recommend, but pick it up on a sale and you’ll be rewarded with a brisk campaign and a fun sandbox for experimenting. Even if it’s not something you’ll want to come back to over and over again.