The best PC games

Across all ages and genres, PCGamesN present our list of the best PC games to play right now

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best pc games

What are the best PC games available today? From triple-A world-beaters like GTA V to enchanting indie releases such as Rocket League, these classics are the biggest Steam games you can buy.

Finding the best PC games is no easy task. There are, you may have noticed, quite a lot of them. From Steam games to… all those other platforms you love so much, there has never been more choice available to the discerning PC gamer.

So let us help. Below you’ll find our list of the best PC games you can play right now (before the shouting starts: this is not an ‘all-time greats’ round-up). We have tried to include a broad range of genres and have explained our picks using the medium of words. Whether you want to cruise around Blaine County in GTA V, explore a captivating abandoned house in What Remains of Edith Finch, or indulge in fantasy sex acts in the sublime The Witcher 3, these are the best PC games you can buy today…

Here are the best PC games:

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

100 players enter, only one can claim the coveted chicken dinner. The battle royale premise is not unique to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and as it continues to surge in popularity, more and more riffs on the idea continue to crop up. What keeps millions coming back to PUBG, though, is that it’s the only game to offer a realistic vision of the Hunger Games scenario.

Unlike its competition, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds forgets all the survival gaming trimmings like crafting and traps, focusing instead on punchy, simulation-worthy gunplay, and tactics that would not go amiss in an SAS training school. The guns are great, so make sure you check out our PUBG weapons guide.

Complimenting that gameplay are maps that are completely open for everyone to roam: firefights rage across tower blocks; humble shacks house hidden dangers; and don’t even think about trying to cross open ground. Add to that random weapons locations, spawn paths, and a constantly constricting safe zone and you have one of the best multiplayer games on PC – a title that can only be conquered by those with survival instincts that match their honed trigger finger.

Divinity: Original Sin 2

The word ‘simulation’ tends to come with an air of seriousness: the po-faced responsibility of landing a plane, or the anatomically accurate stoicism of freezing half to death in the Canadian wastes. Divinity: Original Sin II is definitely a simulation. It tracks body temperature, vision cones, and whether an NPC will like you based on your appearance and the general mood about town.

But it’s also deeply silly – a breezy yet hardcore tactical RPG in which most battles tend to trigger a series of unintended explosions. It’s two parts Dragon Age and one part Monty Python, and features a campaign that tells a decent story while leaving enough space for you to be yelled at by a head on a stick as you trek across the map.

Take the action online, and Divinity: Original Sin II PvP gets even sillier, where a Game Master mode lets you convincingly recreate the unpredictable storytelling of tabletop roleplaying. It’s no wonder we went absolutely gaga for this masterpiece in our Divinity: Original Sin II PC review. What. A. Game.

What Remains of Edith Finch

The humble walking simulator has evolved significantly since the days of Dear Esther. But of all the memorable efforts, it’s What Remains of Edith Finch that represents the pinnacle of this narrative-led form. As the titular Edith, you return to your childhood home: a scatter-brained, rickety collection of rooms, crawl-spaces, and most importantly, stories.

Each bedroom Edith explores transports you to a vignette that reveals the tale of a Finch family member. From simple activities like flying a kite, to the fantasy worlds inside the head of a man working a mundane job, the methods with which Edith Finch tells its stories is simply beautiful. No prior walking sim has felt quite this creative, and any future game that manages to surpass the bar set here will be a very special game indeed. Edith isn’t just one of the best indie games on PC, it’s one of the finest titles of any kind of the past decade.

Rainbow Six Siege

It hasn’t always gone smoothly for Rainbow Six Siege. Ubisoft Montreal’s exacting shooter began life in a fraught manner before the run of relative stability it enjoys today. After more than a year of updates, the introduction of several new operators and maps, and a concerted deep clean dubbed Operation Health, Siege is now arguably one of the best FPS games on PC.

It takes a little while to realise this – Siege’s learning curve is dauntingly steep – but the investment of time required is small change compared to the satisfaction you will feel when you win your first clutch or bag an ace in this tense 5v5 shooter. Sure, it’s possible to draw broad comparisons to some other games – not least Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – but Siege stands apart from its peers for its remarkable depth and towering skill caps.

Given that Siege’s player base continues to swell – as word gets around, and Ubisoft’s mischievous tweaks to the meta keep it feeling fresh – there has never been a better time to have your SAS handed to you over and over. If you’re struggling to succeed in this demanding shooter, check out our Rainbow Six Siege Operator guide to improve your chances of winning those terrorist tussles.

Total War: Warhammer 2

Total War has been a strategy institution for years now, and its most recent historical entries – Attila and even Rome II, after a bit of work – are really good. But there’s a reason Total War: Warhammer 2 is the best-seller: it adds variety to its story mode and sheer cinematic joy to battles. It has made the series more fun and replayable than ever before.

With Warhammer II, Creative Assembly has taken this success as permission to go even bigger. It sees four powers crossing oceans to control a magical vortex – a global conflict, whereas Warhammer was a continental one. Its races and their armies are the most exotic yet: the Lizardmen are led by almighty wizard-toads on floating platforms and can field feral T-Rexes, for goodness’ sake. And yet, in all this gleeful bombast, CA has not lost sight of the little things.

The elegant but plain High Elves are a dose of common sense amid the madness. The new Vortex victory condition may seem like fantastical indulgence, but it serves the game by keeping the pressure up right to the end, when you would previously be cruising to an easy win. So don’t be fooled by the dragons and dinos – this is the best Total War has been by the old, analytical metrics, as well as the flashy new fun ones. Read our Total War: Warhammer 2 PC review to find out why it’s one of our favourite strategy games of the last few years.

Project Cars 2

Historically, driving sims have tended to focus on the challenge, rather than the enjoyment, of flinging a car around a circuit at speed. Somehow, over the years, ‘realistic handling’ has come to mean ‘unrealistically gripless and unmanageable handling’. The latest wave of big-name driving games is attempting to address that, and Project Cars 2 is currently leading the pack.

Slightly Mad’s interpretation of car physics is not perfect, but it’s perhaps the closest any developer has come so far to simulating the real feeling of driving. You can sense what every wheel is doing, the shifting weight of the car, and every minute change in surface texture. More often than not, the vehicles respond to your inputs in exactly the same way a real one would. It’s no wonder we raved about the game in our Project Cars 2 PC review.

There are caveats to getting the most from the game, however: you must use a wheel, and switch off all of the assists – if you’re the kind of player who prefers the chase cam view, this is not the game for you. But if you’re prepared to fully immerse yourself in this demanding racer, you’ll discover one of the best racing games on PC. If you dig driving games, you need this gem in your collection.

Dishonored 2

Sometimes in Dishonored 2, you have to kill yourself to save yourself. Playing as Emily Kaldwin, you’re able to cast a ghostly doppelganger at street level and jump down onto its head, plunging your dagger into its neck to break your fall, negating any damage.

Doppelganger’s intended function is to be used as a distraction, a way to escape from a confrontation. But developer Arkane want you to bend the rules; to see what’s beyond the veil. You’re supposed to experiment, to see what’s possible – and, oh boy, there’s so much you can do if you are inventive enough. In fact, there’s so much to revel in, Arkane’s sneaker is one of the few games we’ve awarded a perfect score. Read our Dishonored 2 PC review to find out why we love it so damn much.

You get to play with these systems in Karnaca – a gorgeous, stylised, fictional slice of the Mediterranean. It is one of the most cohesive, story-rich environments in videogames, every room telling a story with its props. Whether you’re slinking across the rooftops or sprinting through, knife-in-hand, it’s a place that begs to be explored as much as your abilities do. If you like your games with both violence and brains, don’t overlook this clever assassination sim. Indeed, it’s one of the best stealth games on PC ever. Not bad for a series that’s only a few years old.

Dark Souls III

Dark Souls is indisputably a modern classic of gaming. Its many imitators have spawned a whole subgenre of ARPG – the ‘Souls-like’ – but its legacy is broader than that. In 2011’s world of patronising hand-holding and player-centrism, Dark Souls had the integrity not only to be difficult – which would have been radical enough – but, through its desolate and uncaring world, to tell you that you’re not special. It was the Tyler Durden of videogames, and every bit as darkly charismatic.

However, the original Dark Souls is showing its age, and its PC port was infamously shoddy in the first place. Dark Souls III may not have its novelty, but what it does offer is refinement: this is the definitive Souls, the best on the market right now, as you’ll discover in our Dark Souls III PC review.

Director Hidetaka Miyazaki’s magic touch, so conspicuously absent from the second game in the series (and his every imitator) is back, and his bleak yet beautiful vision makes for an even more striking game on modern hardware. Combat is also the best in the series, with the most weapons and spells to play with, and after two DLCs it is bursting with content. Dark Souls III is thus the final form of one of the best games ever made, and if you haven’t played it, you simply must. Yes, indeed.

XCOM 2

XCOM 2 is a special sequel. Most gaming follow-ups are iterative improvements on a formula, but this one works to justify its existence by being a different game altogether. Where Enemy Unknown granted you the support of all the planet’s governments and asked you to watch it dwindle, XCOM 2 starts you off with next to nothing: a handful of ragtag fighters of questionable background, fighting against the might of an alien enemy that has already conquered Earth.

This new guerilla perspective produces some of the best tactics the PC has ever seen, and as our XCOM 2 PC review attests, it’s one of the best strategy games in years. Timed missions force hard choices, between evading the rookie with your best grenade, or the sniper you’ve been fondly upgrading. Cold, cruel decisions like these will bring you success and guilt – only exacerbated by the War of the Chosen DLC, which binds soldiers in relationships just so that it hurts all the more when those bonds are inevitably broken. If you’re struggling to save the human race from those pesky aliens in the expansion, check out our XCOM 2 War of the Chosen guide.

Grand Theft Auto V

There’s a reason GTA V still consistently tops the charts, and boasts incredible Steam stats years after its release: it’s still the pinnacle of the sandbox genre, not to mention one of the best PC games of all time. We have had a bunch of other open-world games release since, but none match the fidelity of GTA V’s fictional recreation of LA: its sprawling hillsides, the distant Mount Chiliad, its jutting metropolis, and the dusty trailer parks surrounding it all.

It’s a world that calls to you, begging for you to speed across it on a motorbike, weaving between traffic as you go. Plenty of games lure us to the peaks of their mountains, but very few let us then base jump from the mountain’s peak while riding a dirt bike.

Rockstar’s crime series generally attracts headlines because of its violence, but it’s not the shooting that keeps players exploring its world – it’s the feeling that anything can happen, the Rage engine’s slapstick physics system providing endless entertainment as you barrel down hills or take a clout to the head with the wing of a plane. The fact that you can experience all of this online with friends makes it all the sweeter. There’s no two ways about it: GTA V is one of the best sandbox games on PC. Actually, screw it. It’s the best sandbox you can buy.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The best RPGs keep their greatest stories in their side-quests, and those in The Witcher 3 contain some of the most memorable and heartbreaking moments in videogames.

Its genius lies in how nuanced its characters are. Take the Bloody Baron – when you first meet him, he comes across as a hateful, nasty man with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. You begrudge helping him at all. By the end of his plot, you’ll empathise with him, despite his disgusting character flaws. It’s dark fantasy at its very darkest – an adult game that is actually for grown-ups, full of moments that will stay with you well after the credits roll. Simply put, it’s one of the best PC games ever made, as you’ll find out in our The Witcher 3 PC review.

When the credits do roll, though, you still have two of the best videogame expansions in existence to get stuck into. The first, Hearts of Stone, takes a seemingly innocuous character you meet at the start of the main game and turns them into the most menacing, disturbing adversary you’ve ever seen. The second, Blood and Wine, is almost another game in itself, taking you to the sunny land of Toussaint to combat a growing vampire problem. If you’re looking to lose yourself in another world for well over 100 hours, it doesn’t get better than staring at this beauty’s burnt orange sunsets. Want to make the game even better? Read up on the best The Witcher 3 mods going.

Hitman

If you thought Hitman: Absolution was a misstep, put those worries aside – everyone’s favourite barcode-headed baldie is back on fine form in Hitman.

The Hitman series is full of incredible, tense, and sometimes hilarious missions, and this episodic entry houses some of the best. Sapienza is an instant classic, asking you to take out a mob boss in a picturesque Italian town. In it, you can eliminate your target by popping an explosive golf ball into their caddy sack and watching them take a swing at it. Never has golf been more exciting than this.

Whether you’re drowning folk in a toilet or carefully lining up a sniper shot in time to some fireworks, Hitman is full of inventive ways to dish out death. Each mission is designed to be played over and over again, begging for you to approach it in myriad ways. As you’ll discover in our Hitman PC review, you can spend days mastering each, there is that much to do. If you want murder in your games to be more meaningful, stretch out your fibre wire and grab Hitman by the throat.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm

Taking the formula at the heart of the original, Life is Strange: Before the Storm strips it back and improves on its predecessor in key areas. Retiring wallflower Max Caulfield is gone along with her time-travel powers. In her place is the bold, brash Chloe Price, whose distance from the supernatural makes for a much higher-stakes experience.

Without the science fiction of Max’s story, Before the Storm doubles down on the teen angst of the first game as Chloe goes through thick and thin with her fiery school friend Rachel Amber. The distraction of Life is Strange’s apocalyptic hurricane is absent, making Chloe’s adventures a more intense, earnest, and truthful representation of teenage friendship. Like all the best PC games, Life is Strange: Before the Storm will stay with you long after you have completed it. Of course, if you’re short on time, you could merely read our Life is Strange: Before the Storm spoilers, you beautiful, impatient soul, you.

Overwatch

Get 30 million loyal players together and you get to be on this list of the best PC games too. Jokes aside, that achievement is reason enough alone for Overwatch to get its place – but it has a lot more going for it than numbers.

The game took over the world in 2016 and is yet to let go. It’s an easy to learn, impossible to master work of genius, cobbling together everything Blizzard, and the industry at large, has learned about how to get players interested and keep them engaged. All that, and it’s also ludicrously fun to play, as our gushing Overwatch PC review points out.

Even if you’re not regularly logging on, it’s impossible to dodge the bombardment of fan art, highlight gifs, and new skins that regularly cycle the internet. Overwatch stopped being just a game almost as soon as it released, and will be a cultural phenomenon remembered for a long, long time.

Alien: Isolation

If you’ve ever watched Ridley Scott’s horror film Alien and thought, ‘I’d love to be inside that movie’, then Alien: Isolation is your golden ticket. Creative Assembly’s survival horror game replicates the world of Wyland Yutani and xenomorphs with astonishing attention to detail, right down to the computer terminals that flicker and hum as if it were 1979 all over again.

But Isolation’s pitch-perfect recreation of the movie’s setting and era is only part of what puts it among the best PC games. The real triumph is the xenomorph itself: a solitary, unstoppable beast that stalks you incessantly on your journey through the game.

What makes it truly remarkable is the adaptive AI system that means it’s constantly learning – if it discovers you hiding in a vent, it’ll begin to search vents during subsequent encounters. This turns the creature into a true menace, keeping tension levels high both during play and long after you have shut down your computer. And if you have nerves of steel, you can hook up Isolation to Oculus Rift for one of the best VR games on PC you’ll ever play.

World of Warcraft

Still the only subscription MMO to get it right, and now living through a resurgence in popularity and quality, World of Warcraft is an easy recommendation once again. Its Warlords of Draenor lowpoint left many wondering if there was still a future for one of the most famous games of all time. Fortunately, the Legion expansion showed that not only was it still alive and well, it would not be going away any time soon. No matter what you’re logging on for, it remains one the best PC games around.

Each expansion provides a massive, co-op enabled RPG storyline of its own, with only the most climatic moments requiring the presence of other people. Of course, if you want to delve into the endgame and join 24 others in taking down the world’s biggest bads, all that is there as well. World of Warcraft raiding remains amazing, while constant updates and a solid content plan make it one of the best MMOs on PC.

Her Story

Talk about a revolutionary game. Her Story is made all the more impressive by being built around one of gaming’s oldest technologies: full-motion video. FMV was used at a time when it was too expensive to create good CGI cutscenes. Over the years it began to get a reputation for cheapness and kitsch and fell out of use. In Her Story, though, it’s used to create a sense of reality.

Where the game shines is in the openness it gives you to investigate its central crime. Other detective games often make investigation a matter of finding a glowing object in a murder scene. As you can find out in our Her Story PC review, you have to scour short archived clips for clues, entering keywords into the in-game search engine, as though you were directly questioning the woman on film. Her Story has to make this list because, since its release in 2015, no one has tried to copy it. It remains one of the best PC games because it has no competitors.

Titanfall 2

Everything Titanfall 2 does it does flawlessly. It’s simply one of the best PC games ever made. The flow of Pilot combat is still unmatched in showcasing how well shooting and movement can be combined in a first-person game, even with a time-to-kill ratio matching Call of Duty. On the other hand, the hulking, slow, strategic combat of Titan fights brings an entirely different mode of play, and interaction between the two phases is a whole other kettle of fish. Only Doom (2016) – which comes close to having its own entry in this list – competes with the pure thrill of managing to melee execute an opposing Titan.

As we point out in our Titanfall 2 campaign review, this FPS is blessed with some of the finest set-pieces we’ve ever seen. It’s a masterpiece of pacing and structure, which manages to make even its sewer level a joy to play through. The most well-known mission, Effect and Cause, has gone down as one of the finest in memory, and for good reason – don’t spoil it for yourself, but do play it as soon as possible.

League of Legends

Trying to decide which is the best MOBA is an argument that could rage on for hours, but League of Legends is a pretty good place to start. Since its release in 2009, it has become a global phenomenon, consistently one of the most-played games in the world, and at one point had a player base of more than 100 million.

Easier to grasp than Dota 2 but mechanically deeper than Heroes of the Storm, LoL hits a sweet spot in terms of accessibility while still managing to constantly evolve. New and updated champions arrive on the Rift several times a year, keeping the game fresh despite its age. Every one of the best LoL champions is unique, too; from ancient gods to pirates to monsters from another world, there is a way to enjoy the game no matter what you’re looking for.

Portal

Portal is perfect. Repeat: Portal is perfect. That is not hyperbole or questionable lack of restraint on our part: Valve’s first-person puzzler is absent of any flaws. In fact, the only crumby thing to have emerged from the game is how everyone has so voraciously latched onto that line about cake.

Play the game today and you’ll find it remarkable how well it has aged. Its interdimensional portal puzzles feel as fresh as they ever did (even for those of us who have completed the game a dozen or so times) and those visuals – somehow as utilitarian as they are charismatic – still hold up.

Every single joke lands perfectly (even if, as a result of occasional poor portal placement, you sometimes do not) and GLaDOS is, for our money, the greatest videogame character ever conceived. As if all of this was not enough to net it a spot on this list of the best PC games, Valve has also layered in an incredible, fourth-wall breaking story. The jam to Portal’s puzzle cak… oh, for goodness sake, please stop talking about the cake. If any of these upcoming PC games can come close to Portal’s genius, they’ll be doing incredibly well.

Braid

Back in 2008, we were in the throes of the indie boom, and getting a grasp on Braid’s deep moral and philosophical questions seemed vaguely important. Pretentious poetry is not why the game is still worth playing today, though. No. Braid is great because its puzzles bend your brain into new and satisfying shapes.

It begins by introducing you to a time-rewind mechanic familiar to anyone who has played Forza or Prince of Persia. And then it turns that mechanic on its head. And again. And again. The magic is that Braid never tells you what is possible with each new trick, instead it lets you work them out in your own time. It’s breadcrumb brain training, and the takeaway feeling is one of personal pride, so long as you stick with it. Where some games might reduce your thought process to simple loops, this one treats you as the smart person you are. Not one of the best games of 2017 can quite match this seminal puzzler.

Minecraft

It’s nearly a decade old, but it’s still nigh impossible to recommend another sandbox crafting game over Minecraft. Simply put, it’s one of the best PC games for creators – something so simple it has become a bona fide phenomenon among kids and families. And yet, it also boasts sufficient depth and complexity to sustain massive communities of modders, architects, warriors, roleplayers, survival experts, game designers, and storytellers.

It’s easy to forget that below all of the headline-grabbing maps and the best Minecraft mods, it remains a remarkably humble game about building yourself a shack in order to survive the myriad monsters that come out at night. The beauty is that it works on both levels, so if you fall in love with it there are infinite possibilities as to where the player-made add-ons can take you. Suffice to say, we’d be tickled a particularly delighted shade of pink if Minecraft 2 gets announced.

Cities: Skylines

Coming shortly after the disappointing SimCity, all Cities: Skylines had to do was be a modern city builder without the always-online nonsense. Developer Colossal Order delivered that and so much more.

Cities: Skylines is a beautiful tribute to city planning, letting you sketch out suburbs and skyscrapers onto a lush landscape. You cannot sit idle, however, because as quickly as your citizens move into their new homes they’re demanding jobs, healthcare, and plumbing that does not back up with poop – you’ll be putting out the fires of urban planning as they crop up all over your metropolis (literal and metaphorical).

Shortly after release, Cities: Skylines took on a life of its own, with modders pouring in new building styles, AI subroutines, and even adding a way to fly over your city in a first-person view helicopter. Since then, the game has never been without novelty. Between the best Cities: Skylines mods, updates, and new expansions, the game has evolved into the most complete and playable city builder around.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Bethesda’s 2011 fantasy open-world RPG remains an oft-played favourite to this day, and with good reason. Skyrim is a colossal game with a thousand stories to tell, be that one of the development team’s lore-laden quests or a crazy tale of emergent gameplay. The freedom Skyrim offers is liberating, and any bugs and glitches will long be forgotten when you’re 50 hours into forging your path as the land’s best dragon slayer.

Long after you’ve exhausted Skyrim’s great quests, though, you’ll still be playing thanks to the dedicated mod scene. From new lands and storylines to monster mounts, dazzling spells, and… erm… the ability to make it rain explosive steam trains, the best Skyrim mods add to the experience immeasurably. The best PC games don’t end upon completion of the final quest, and this is particularly true of The Elder Scrolls V. And if you want to play the action-RPG like an absolute boss, read our guide to Skyrim console commands.

Rocket League

‘Football with cars’ sounds like a simple concept, and at its most basic level, that’s more or less exactly what Rocket League is. You blast around the map in a rocket-powered car, trying to get an over-sized football into the opposing goal.

But scratch away the surface, and you’ll realise that this soccer speedster, as we point out in our Rocket League PC review, is one of the most complex and demanding sports games ever made. A single second of indecision can be fatal, one wheel out of place can throw an entire match. You’ll need lightning reflexes, tactical genius, and mechanical mastery to succeed in a game that is as much white-knuckle ride as it is FIFA.

At its peak, Rocket League is a fast-paced aerial ballet, a game that takes seconds to understand, but years to master. And if you want to achieve said mastery, read our Rocket League tips for guaranteed soccer success.

 

There we have it, the best PC games you can buy today. While we impatiently wait for The Witcher 4 and Half-Life 3, why not read up on some of the most exciting upcoming PC games headed to a rig near you? To be honest, the above masterpieces could easily last you a lifetime, so perhaps you never need to play a new release ever again. Actually, screw that. Give us GTA VI right the heck now, Rockstar! Yes, we’re horrendously impatient. What of it?