The best PC games to play right now
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 clones continue to crop up. What keeps millions coming back to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, though, is that it is 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.
Complimenting that gameplay are two 8x8km 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 a multiplayer marvel - a game that can only be conquered by those with survival instincts that match their honed trigger finger.
Want more? Use our PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds guide to get the jump on your foes.
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 is also deeply silly - a breezy yet hardcore tactical RPG in which most battles tend to trigger a series of unintended explosions. It is 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.
Want more? Check out our glowing Divinity: Original Sin II review.
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 is a reason Warhammer is the best-seller: it adds variety to campaign play, and sheer cinematic joy to battles. It has made the series more fun and replayable than ever.
With Warhammer II, Creative Assembly have 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 have not lost sight of the little things.
The elegant but plain-flavoured 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 do not 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.
Want more? Learn the ropes of Total War: Warhammer II with our strategy guide.
The humble walking simulator has evolved significantly since the days of Dear Esther. But of all the memorable efforts, it is 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 hallucinogenic 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.
Want more? Here are the best indie games on PC.
Inversely to an average Rainbow Six Siege round, 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 the greatest competitive online FPS available.
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 is 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 everything feeling fresh - there has never been a better time to have your SAS handed to you over and over.
Want more? Check out the best Rainbow Six Siege operators to get you started.
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 is 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, Project Cars 2’s vehicles respond to your inputs in exactly the same way a real one would.
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 are the kind of player who prefers the chase cam view, this is not the game for you. But if you are prepared to fully immerse yourself in this demanding racer, you will discover the most rewarding videogame driving model yet created.
Want more? Drift over to our list of the best racing games on PC.
In Dishonored 2, you can kill yourself to save yourself. Playing as Emily Kaldwin, you are 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. The thing is, developers Arkane want you to bend the rules, to see what’s beyond the veil. They want you to see what’s possible and, oh boy, there is so much you can do if you are inventive enough.
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 are slinking across the rooftops or sprinting through, knife-in-hand, it is a place that begs to be explored as much as your abilities do. If you like your games with both violence and brains, do not overlook this clever assassination sim.
Want more? Creep over to our breakdown of the best stealth games on PC.
Dark Souls is indisputably a modern classic of gaming. Its many imitators have spawned a whole subgenre of ARPG - the Soulslike - 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 you are 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 after all this time, there is no way to rebottle that particular lightning bolt, to our nightly despair. Instead, Dark Souls III offers refinement: this is the definitive Soulslike, the best on the market right now.
Director Hidetaka Miyazaki’s magic touch, so conspicuously absent from the second 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 have not played it, you simply must. Yes, indeed.
Want more? Get ready for an adventure with the best RPGs on PC.
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, against the might of an alien enemy who have already conquered Earth.
This new guerilla perspective produces some of the best tactics the PC has ever seen. Timed missions force hard choices, between evacing 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 expansion, which binds soldiers in relationships just so that it hurts all the more when those bonds are inevitably broken.
Want more? Check out our XCOM 2 War of the Chosen guide.
There is a reason GTA V still consistently tops the charts, years after its release - it is 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 is 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 dirtbike.
Rockstar’s crime series generally attracts headlines because of its violence, but it is not the shooting that keeps players exploring its world - it is 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 more sweet.
Want more? Mess around in the best way possible with the best sandbox games on PC.
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 plotline, you will empathise with him, despite his disgusting character flaws. It is dark fantasy at its very darkest - an adult game that is actually for grownups, full of moments that will stay with you well after the credits roll.
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 are looking to lose yourself in another world for well over 100 hours, it doesn’t get better than staring at The Witcher 3’s burnt orange sunsets.
Want more? Somehow make this dark fantasy masterpiece even better with the best The Witcher 3 mods.
The Hitman series is full of incredible, tense, and sometimes hilarious missions, and the latest 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 are drowning folk in a toilet or carefully lining up a sniper shot in time to some fireworks, Hitman is full of inventive ways to deal death. Each mission is designed to be played over and over again, begging for you to approach it in myriad different ways. 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 fiber wire and grab Hitman by the throat.
Want more? Take a gander at our Hitman review.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm takes the formula at the heart of the original game and strips it back. 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 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.
Want more? Check out our list of the best adventure games on PC.
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 is 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 is also insanely fun to play.
Even if you are not regularly logging on, it is impossible to dodge the bombardment of fan art, highlight gifs, and new skins that regularly cycle through 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.
Want more? Stay in the know with our regular Overwatch updates coverage.
If you have 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 is constantly learning - if it discovers you hiding in a vent, it will 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...
Want more? Blow your mind with the best VR games on PC.
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 are 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. Constant updates and a solid content plan make it one of the most enjoyable games to be involved in.
Want more? Find some online pals to tackle the best MMOs on PC.
Her Story is a revolutionary game, 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-looking 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 is 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. In Her Story, 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.
Want more? Here is our Her Story review.
Everything Titanfall 2 does it does flawlessly. It is 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.
On top of that, Titanfall 2 has an extraordinary single-player campaign with some of the finest set-pieces we have ever seen. It is 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 - do not spoil it for yourself, but do play it as soon as possible.
Want more? Get a head start with our Titanfall 2 class guide.
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 playable champion 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 are looking for.
Want more? Here are the best League of Legends champions.
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 it is remarkable how well the whole thing 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 have 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.
Want more? Add these stellar new games to your PC.
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 is 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.
Want more? Here are the best games of 2017 so far.
It is nearly a decade old, but it is still nigh impossible to recommend another sandbox crafting game. Minecraft is one of the best PC games for creators, something so simple it has become a bona fide phenomenon among kids and families, and yet one that boasts sufficient depth and complexity to sustain massive communities of modders, architects, warriors, role-players, survival experts, game designers, and storytellers.
It is easy to forget that below all of the headline-grabbing mods and builds, Minecraft is still 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.
Want more? Discover new worlds with the best Minecraft seeds.
Coming shortly after the disappointing SimCity, all Cities: Skylines had to do was be a modern city builder without all the always-online nonsense. Developers 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 are demanding jobs, healthcare, and plumbing that does not back up with poop - you will 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 modders, updates, and new expansions, Skylines has evolved into the most complete and playable city builder around.
Want more? Take a look at the best Cities: Skylines mods.
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 are five hours into forging your path as the land’s best dragon slayer.
Long after you have exhausted Skyrim’s great quests, though, you will 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, there are thousands of mods available to augment Skyrim. The best PC games do not end upon completion of the final quest, and this is particularly true of Skyrim.
Want more? Check out some console commands for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
‘Football with cars’ sounds like a simple concept, and at its most basic level, that is 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 the surface, and you will realise that Rocket League 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 will 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.
Want more? We have some handy tips and tricks for you in our Rocket League guide.
And that is the lot, our heart and soul poured out for the world to read. What do you think? A solid list, or a collective losing of the plot? Let us know in the comments.