Best laptop games 2023

Our list of the best laptop games encompass various genres, from MMOs to farming sims, all of which are great to play with a tracking pad.

What are the best laptop games? PC gaming isn’t always done at a desk, reclining languorously on an ergonomic leather throne, gazing upon a gaming monitor the size of your front window as hundreds of snazzy LEDs light up your peripheral vision. As anyone who has attended a LAN can attest, hauling your heavy box of tricks around is not for the faint of heart (or arm, or back) and so you might be feeling resigned to taking a break from gaming in the event life takes you on a trip away from home.

Don’t do that. Never stop gaming. Take your laptop with you and play games on the train. Play games on the beach. Play games in the laundry cupboard as you hide from your relatives. We’ll guide you through which games for laptops you will be able to run, and which won’t cause you endless frustration trying to control them with a trackpad. You don’t need the best gaming laptop to enjoy this selection of the best PC games that are ideal for gaming on the go.

Here are the best laptop games:

Hero Wars

Though not the puzzle game that the adverts make it out to be, Hero Wars is a simple clicker game that’ll be just what you’re after if you’re looking for a game that’s good at filling those brief windows of time that pop up. The Secrets of the Dragon Mountains event has been released in Hero Wars.

It’s filled with daily challenges that start easy and slowly become more and more difficult as you play. There are so many heroes to unlock, and doing so will be a big part of the appeal for many players because they all fight in unique ways and some of them have interesting and unusual designs. Naturally, it tries to squeeze microtransactions out of you as you get further and further into it, but it’s definitely less predatory than some of the others out there.

Play Hero Wars for free.

Raid: Shadow Legends

Raid: Shadow Legends is a game you’ll find talked about all over the internet. It’s a game that has millions of active players and the reason that it’s so widely played is that there’s a simple, accessible formula at its core, which disguises a surprising amount of depth and nuance. It’s one of those games you’ll find yourself coming back to again and again.

This is a game that’s all about collecting a selection of Champions and then taking them into battle against a plethora of fantastical foes. There are over 300 Champions to unlock, and these range from comical reanimated skeletons, through to the real-life professional wrestler, Ronda Rousey. As you unlock more and more of them through the game’s gacha mechanics, you’ll slowly cultivate a really powerful team. Once you’re ready, you can take them to dominate in the PvP arenas.

Play Raid: Shadow Legends for free.

World of Tanks

Head down to your nearest coffee shop, order a slice of cheesecake, and open up your laptop: it’s time to go to war. World of Tanks is a game that sees you hopping into tanks, driving around, and blowing stuff up. It’s certainly not the most high-concept of games, but then again, many of the all-time greats are based on equally simple premises.

The game has a large selection of tanks for you to unlock, with a range that spans many different regions and many different countries. Every now and then, you’ll get special crossover tanks too. The maps you do battle on are gorgeous, and you can even work cooperatively with your friends if you fancy a bit of teamwork. If you’re out and about with some spare time to fill, pop your laptop out and have a game. It all combines to make this not only one of the best tank games but one of the best laptop games overall.

Play World of Tanks for free.

Forge of Empires

Have you ever wanted to watch a civilization grow all the way from its earliest stages in the pre-historic age, all the way through to becoming a futuristic sci-fi empire in the stars? Well, Forge of Empires puts you in a unique position to do exactly that. There’s something very satisfying about watching your people grow and prosper, knowing you were there when it started as a simple settlement in the wilderness.

History buffs will also appreciate the fact that the game takes you through various real-world eras of history. You’ll get to see how architecture and technology changed throughout the ages, while also using those things to the advantage of your state. Those who appreciate a good battle will also be pleased to hear that you can go to war against other players and their civilizations. For a free game, it’s really substantial.

Play Forge of Empires for free.

Anocris

If you’re a fan of ancient Egypt (and let’s be honest, that’s a lot of people), then you’ll want to try out Anocris. This is a game that’s all about building your own Egyptian empire and doing everything you can to gain control over the Nile. The gameplay is mostly focused on building and maintaining your own city, but there are also times when you’ll battle against other players.

There are two particularly cool details about this game – the first is that it generally follows the path of true history. The second is that it also delves into the worlds of Egyptian mythology and religion. It’s a game that will do a good job of immersing you in its setting, and as a free game, we recommend that you take it for a spin.

Play Anocris for free.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War

Ever wanted to command your own army of pirates? Well, that’s exactly what Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War is all about. In this free-to-play game, you build your own base out on the high seas, then you cultivate your own pirate fleet so that you can attack other bases. Winning battles gets you more resources, allowing you to strengthen your ships and repeat the process on and on as you get more powerful.

Play Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War for free.

Best laptop games - Magic: The Gathering Arena. A screenshot shows a card game in progress.

Magic the Gathering: Arena

Magic the Gathering: Arena is one of the best card games for PC. Although it can take a while to get the gist of the rules, its rich lore and beautiful artwork are just some of the reasons to learn how to play Magic the Gathering: Arena. And best of all, MTG: Arena doesn’t demand a high-end PC to play, you can still enjoy the same tantalizing animations and pristine art from the comfort of your couch.

MTG: Arena receives many updates and expansions, with a range of different modes from draft games to brawls. You can play against the computer until you get the hang of things, but if you ever need a helping hand learning what each card does, check out the guides to MTG: Arena keyword abilities and keyword actions. Our sister site, Wargamer, also has a useful guide on MTGA codes that’s also worth a read. Read our Magic: The Gathering Arena review to find out more.

A player made castle in Minecraft, one of the best laptop games

Minecraft

Minecraft is one of the most popular games in the world, and it’s easy to see why – its simplicity leaves room for you to embark upon any kind of adventure you choose, whether you’re exploring, building, farming, fighting, or delving deep into one of the many Minecraft mods available. Its simplicity also means it runs flawlessly on most machines, making it one of the best laptop games without a doubt. Even if you’re on the road without an internet connection, the joys of starting fresh in new Minecraft seeds will keep you occupied for hours as you traverse the endless blocky landscape, dodging dangerous Minecraft mobs, discovering Minecraft villages, and taming Minecraft foxes.

The night market in one of the best laptop games, Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley

Created by solo developer ConcernedApe, Stardew Valley is a love letter to farming games like Harvest Moon. You escape the grey drudgery of life as a faceless corporation grunt and head for the countryside to transform your grandfather’s farm, and the nearby town, into a bountiful haven, with the help of fantastical forest sprites called Junimos. Thanks to its charming, homemade pixel art, the tranquil pace, and the fact you only really need directional keys and a right and left click, Stardew Valley is the perfect laptop game.

Even better, Stardew Valley is a great co-op game – team up with up to three friends and build a farm together in multiplayer mode. As of the Stardew Valley 1.4 update, you can even play on a Four Corners map with your friends, which splits the farm into distinct regions, each with their own advantages. The update adds a cornucopia of new features and cosmetic items, but if you’re looking to add Japanese buildings or Pokemon reskins to your game to recreate a Pokemon game on PC, you’ll need our guide to the best Stardew Valley mods.

Fishing in one of the best laptop games, Runescape

Runescape

Runescape is an MMORPG that’s been improving and expanding for 18 years. By gaming standards that should mean it’s weary and decrepit, but even now it’s brimming with personality, fresh ideas, and, astonishingly, players. For the most part, it’s standard MMORPG fare: start with nothing and grind away for the best and most colorful gear in the game. As it’s been going for so long, however, it also has hundreds of quests and content waiting for new players to dive into. And if you need any help getting to grips with things then just ask – Runescape boasts an exceptionally helpful and positive community.

The veteran age of the game means it still runs perfectly on just about any rig imaginable, the only caveat being that you’ll need a reasonable internet connection to play it. It’s also very easy-going with regards to its control scheme – so long as you can click and use your number keys you’ll be on a level playing field with everyone else. In 20 years of Runescape, the game has built up a huge, dedicated following, and if that’s not a huge endorsement, we don’t know what is. 

If you’re planning on playing for the first time, read our beginners guide to Runescape, it might make stepping into this new world a little less daunting.

A victory is secured in one of the best laptop games, Hearthstone

Hearthstone

A collectible card game (or CCG for all you youngsters out there) set in Blizzard’s enormous Warcraft universe. You fight against other players using decks of cards made up of magic spells, weapons, and minions that will fight for you. Using these and your chosen character’s special abilities, you must hammer away at your opponent’s 30 health points until they’re defeated. It’s got a huge player base and an ever-evolving metagame, not to mention plenty of inventive expansions to keep it feeling fresh and interesting.

It’s a magnificently simple game, mostly static thanks to the fact that it’s a card game, and even when the magical effects fly it still won’t so much as threaten to bog down your laptop. The drag-and-drop card gameplay makes it absolutely perfect if you’re playing on a touchscreen laptop or a tablet, but it also works flawlessly with a trackpad. This recommendation does come with one proviso though: you’ll need an internet connection to play, even against the AI characters.

The first round of one of the best laptop games, Dota Underlords

Dota Underlords

The Dota 2 custom game, Dota Auto Chess, skyrocketed in popularity as fans discovered the joys of autobattler games – you choose from a small random selection of heroes each round, and arrange them on your board to do battle with one of your opponents, gaining gold each turn and competing for the best team composition in a contest to be the last one standing. Underlords is Valve’s own take on the genre, introducing innovations like the presence of a powerful Underlord on each team which you’ll need to optimize carefully to best suit your squad. Once you’ve mastered it, there’s nothing quite like working up through the Dota Underlords ranking system.

Thanks to its easy-to-use interface and streamlined graphics, Dota Underlords will run easily on any laptop, and while rounds do have a time limit, even using a trackpad to drag and drop your units shouldn’t slow you down too much.

Check out our Dota Underlords guide to make your first time in the game a little easier.

A check succeeds in one of the best laptop games, Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium is a role-playing game written by a novelist, where you take the reins and guide its red-eyed, beleaguered enigma of a protagonist through the investigation of a murder case in the tattered city of Revachol. From the off, the narrative grips you with both hands and shakes you until you laugh. You won’t be punching and kicking your way through the streets, however, unless you imagine your detective as some kind of flamboyant martial artist, fighting the air as a form of locomotion, which would probably suit him.

Instead, your battles are fought in conversation – by putting points into attributes and skills such as Empathy, Suggestion and Rhetoric, you’ll be able to roll to see whether you’ll successfully use these characteristics to reach deeper and uncover the truth. A dream come true for those of us who love to see our specific skill balance unlock unique interactions in a dialogue tree – and for those of us without a powerful gaming PC, as Disco Elysium’s contemplative pace and the isometric, painterly graphics make it a perfect laptop game.

It’s a game that offers a fair bit of challenge, but if you like your games really hard, you’ll be pleased to hear that there is a Disco Elysium hardcore mode. Some players even consider that the definitive way to experience the game – regardless of your feelings, a choice of difficulty options is always a plus. Read our Disco Elysium review to find out more about the game.

A knight jumps triumphantly into the air in one of the best laptop games, Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy

A platformer with roguelike elements, Rogue Legacy sees you march a little knight into the bowels of a randomly generated dungeon on a mission to defeat five bosses. Run, jump, hit things: it’s largely what you’d expect from a 2D side-scroller. Get killed and your character is gone for good. Of course, there’s a twist. Your hero is replaced not by a bog-standard clone, but by their heir: a new character who retains some genetic traits from their parent. Traits include dwarfism, ADHD, and I.B.S. Some traits make your next playthrough agonizingly difficult, like nearsightedness making anything in the distance blurry, others are there for laughs, like I.B.S. making your character fart with every jump.

The 2D pixel art ensures that Rogue Legacy runs smoothly on even the weakest, tiniest netbook. Rogue Legacy can also be played entirely with the keyboard, meaning no smashing the trackpad into oblivion because it’s nowhere near as effective as a mouse. Read our Rogue Legacy review to find out more about the game.

Inspecting papers in Papers, Please, one of the best laptop games

Papers, Please

A game about playing a border control officer in a corrupt communist country. Check passports and visa papers of immigrants to make sure they meet the requirements for entry. Make mistakes and your pay will be docked. Fail to pay rent, bills, and medical expenses, and your family will get ill and die. Sounds simple, but some immigrants may be worth making mistakes for…

At barely 50MB in size Papers, Please is tiny. Its pixel-art visuals are simple enough for any processor to fathom. A trackpad will do the trick to start with, but in later levels where time is pressing and there’s lots of paperwork you might want to make the leap to a proper mouse.

A battle in a sandy locale in one of the best laptop games, Into the Breach

Into the Breach

One of the best turn-based strategy games, Into The Breach puts you in control of a team of mechs, attempting to defend civilians and buildings from giant insectoid monsters called the Vek. The enemy’s movements are telegraphed the turn before, and each level is relatively short, but the stakes are high – you’re the hero trying to protect civilians who are cheering you on, and if you lose a building to the Vek, you lose one of the nodes that power your squad – lose too many, and it’s game over.

You’ll need to take time to puzzle out how to push back the oncoming threat optimally to avoid casualties – you don’t have to kill all the enemies, just delay them. The pace, pixel art, and easy combat controls make this a game perfect to hop into on your laptop.

A zombie threat in one of the best laptop games, The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

A beautifully harrowing tale everyone should experience, The Walking Dead is an adventure game that plays out like an interactive TV show. You play Lee, a convicted criminal who’s about to go through the toughest period of his life as he’s thrown into a zombie apocalypse rather than a prison cell. It’s violent, shocking, and touching on a moment-to-moment basis.

Thanks to its emphasis on story, a lot of The Walking Dead is watching and listening to characters talk and reason with each other. The more action-orientated sections only require a few stabs at the Q or E key to complete, making controlling Lee on a laptop surprisingly easy. Its comic-book visuals also keep hardware requirements very low, so most modern laptops should be up to the job of running it without issue.

Several traumatised children in one of the best laptop games, Binding of Isaac

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

If you’re looking for a game to occupy your time while you’re traveling, The Binding of Isaac will keep you busy for hundreds of hours completing runs that are different every time. You play as Isaac, escaping from a biblical sacrifice through the basement of his home, traversing randomly generated dungeons, and picking up items and power-ups along the way. The pixel art isn’t demanding on your machine, but might be a little hard on your stomach if you’re squeamish – The Binding of Isaac doesn’t shy away from the gory and macabre. Good news for laptop gamers, though – you don’t even need a mouse to play. Movement and combat are controlled solely by the keyboard, making it an ideal game to play on your laptop.

Best games for laptop: Albion Online. Image shows magic users doing battle near an alter.

Albion Online

Albion Online is not your average laid-back laptop-couch experience. This sandbox MMO places an unrivaled emphasis on combat, whether that’s against monsters in PvE, in massive guild vs. guild brawls, or just two players duking it out for bragging rights.

Albion Online is one of the best MMOs on PC, although you should expect a hefty loot grind to keep pace with the game’s dedicated community. With no traditional class system, you are the gear that you wear, which becomes especially important when venturing into the game’s PvP zones where you drop everything on death. Be prepared to lose hundreds of hours in Albion’s massive map, building up resilience to Albion’s unforgiving loot-drop system, where one minute you could be strolling around in an immaculate suit of armor, and the next you’re scrabbling together rusty weapons and ragged tunics.

Best games for laptop: Untitled Goose Game. Image shows a man chasing a goose who has stolen his speaker.

Untitled Goose Game

One of the best indie games to emerge from 2019, Untitled Goose Game is something incredibly special. You play as a disgruntled goose. Your job? Wreak havoc on a community of unsuspecting, innocent villagers, by sneaking around pubs, gardens, and market stools, stealing prized objects, and honking incessantly.

Set in a quaint English village, the low-poly, simplistic, yet highly effective art style means it’s the ideal laptop game to spend the afternoon bothering the locals – it’s pretty good for relieving stress, too. It’s easy to see how Untitled Goose Game sales have passed one million.

These are some of the very best games for laptops, but if you want to push the limits of your portable pal have a look through the best free PC games – if they make your laptop overheat and burn your legs at least you won’t have paid for the privilege. Alternatively, if you’ve got a high-end machine, have a look at the best management games for more entertainment you can spend hours with on the road. Check out our best gaming card guide to find a graphics card that can easily run any of them.