We’ve come a really long way since the dawn of PC gaming. What began as a simple pixelated shooter with Space War in 1962 has evolved rapidly into the heavy-hitting fan-favorite series we’ve come to know and love.
And naturally, in 60 years’ time, some games have risen far above the rest, more than earning their spot as some of the best games ever made for PC. Between graphic improvements, interesting gameplay, good story-telling, and more, here’s our list for some of the best PC games out there.
Updated November 13, 2022 by Gabrielle Castania: It’s been a really big year for PC gaming, and with so many new games rising to the top, it’s high time we look back at our list to polish it up so we can keep bringing you the best.
|Release Date||September 15, 2015|
Who would have thought that a pixelated indie RPG would develop such a lasting presence in the gaming scene? Undertale puts you into the shoes of a child exploring The Underground, a world beneath the surface of the earth, solving puzzles and making friends as you decide exactly what to do with all the monsters you’re facing. With a branching story path and multiple endings, your decisions in The Underground really matter. The game quickly earned a cult following and sealed its place on top PC games lists forever.
|Release Date||August 21, 2007|
|Developer||2K Boston and 2K Australia|
Would you kindly give this iconic horror FPS the respect that it’s more than earned? Extremely heavy in its Ayn Rand references, in Bioshock, the ’07 smash success that launched a long-running and much-adored franchise, you make your way through Rapture, a once-idyllic underwater metropolis. By the time you find it, it’s overrun with genetic mutants and enormous protectors known as Big Daddies, and between eerie visuals, a tenseness that carries throughout, and a well-executed plot twist, this game definitely deserves all the praise it’s gotten.
13/15 Apex Legends
|Release Date||February 4, 2019|
Set in the same in-game sci-fi universe as the Titanfall series and featuring several characters from it, you take control over control of Legend characters as you break into teams to compete in battle royale deathmatches.
Despite the game releasing as a surprise to fans who thought a direct Titanfall sequel was in the works, Apex Legends remains one of the most-played games of all time, with 25 million people jumping aboard in the first week and reaching its 100 million player in April 2021.
12/15 Sid Meier’s Civilization II
|Release Date||February 29, 1996|
This staple PC game might not have been the first in its enduring series, nor the most recent, but it is the title that first gave the Civilization games their legacy. Your goal in them is simple: oversee your empire through time as you compete with other civilizations to complete your victory conditions. Scout the map, raise an army, settle a capital city, and race to be the first to win by getting to space, defeating everyone else, or surviving until the year 2020 (which probably sounded way cooler in the mid-90’s than it ended up being).
11/15 Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn
|Release Date||September 24, 2000|
BioWare makes our list once again with this huge RPG sequel, and for good reason – not only is Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn great, but it’s jam-packed with 200-300 hours of content. That was absolutely unheard of when the game first released in 2000, but between the main story and all its dozens of side-quests, fans more than got their money’s worth with this game. Critics even offered high praise when the game came out as well, calling it, “captivating,” “polished,” and even “exemplary.”
10/15 Persona 5 Royal
|Release Date||October 21, 2022|
While the vanilla version of Persona 5 released in 2016 for console and was a contender for several Game of the Year awards, Persona 5 Royal, the enhanced re-release with additional content first came out in 2020 and took the fandom by storm, becoming Metacritic’s top game for the year.
In it, you follow Joker, a wrongfully convicted teenager serving his sentence in Tokyo, as he and his rag-tag group of friends navigate a metaverse to change the hearts of the entire country of Japan.
|Release Date||November 18, 2011|
|Genre||Sandbox or Survival|
The vice-grip that virtual block-building sandbox, Minecraft, had on the online gaming community when it first launched can’t ever truly be forgotten. The game initially released in beta back in 2009, and it received a steady stream of developer updates until Mojang released the final version in late 2011. The game sold over a million copies in its first month alone, a number that’s only grown as the years progress and consistent updates keep it feeling fresh even more than a decade on.
8/15 World of Warcraft
|Release Date||November 23, 2004|
Almost two decades on from its release, World of Warcraft is still going strong with just shy of 10 million people still playing at the time of writing this list. Events of the game follow what occurred in 2003’s Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, bringing players back into Azeroth once again and encouraging teamwork to bring down the monsters of the world, or even the other players. The game is easily one of the biggest and longest-lasting MMORPG titles, still boasting an impressive and loyal fanbase even almost two decades on.
7/15 Grand Theft Auto V
|Release Date||April 13, 2015|
When you blend wacky and iconic protagonists, fast luxury cars, expensive bank heists, and the ability to totally troll people online, it’s no wonder at all that Grand Theft Auto V remains the most enduring title in the long-running series.
In this installment, you follow retired (and presumed dead) thief Michael, street gangster Franklin, and all-around maniac Trevor through a completely open world that’s both beautiful and studded with dozens of activities to do as you wreak all kinds of havoc on the city of Los Santos.
6/15 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
|Release Date||November 10, 2011|
|Developer||Bethesda Game Studio|
Long home to one of the most active modding communities online, Skyrim (as it’s most often shortened to) has spent over a decade now as one of the most prominent PC game for some. While how many platforms the game’s come out on becoming a meme itself by now, the game has more than made a name for itself in its genre. Lauded with praise for its versatile, engaging, and well-rounded approach to a classic genre, Skyrim remains one of the most beloved RPGs even today.
5/15 Mass Effect 2
|Release Date||January 26, 2010|
In Mass Effect 2, you continue on with Commander Shepard’s mission to save the human race – after you watch him die in the first ten minutes of the game, that is. The sequel to BioWare’s also-impressive and much-beloved 2007 release, Mass Effect 2 vastly improved on the series’ combat system, as well as added complex and well-written characters to the series that would quickly become fan favorites. It’s impossible not to get invested in the characters and their stories as you play through the game.
4/15 The Sims
|Release Date||February 4, 2000|
Will Wright had a hit with Sim City, so he took a magnifying glass to it and let you play dolls with the citizens, too. Throughout the years since its release, The Sims has taken on a life of its own, eclipsing Sim City and going on to spawn sequels, spin-offs, and add-ons.
The game is fun and easy enough to bring casual gamers in, promising friendships, romances, careers, and homeownership. It was even inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame in Rochester, NY in 2016.
3/15 Portal 2
|Release Date||April 18, 2011|
Sure, the cake may (or may not) have been a lie, but Portal taking such a high spot on our list definitely isn’t. Guiding voice and classic video game antagonist, GLaDOS, returns once again, and she’s a little pissed you killed her in the prequel. This 2011 follow-up to the smash-hit original Portal game followed the puzzle-platformer format, but added new elements including tractor beams, light bridges, and lasers. Teachers have even reported using the game to help their students learn physics at school, too.
2/15 Half-Life 2
|Release Date||November 16, 2004|
Released in 2004 to continue the success of its predecessor, Half-Life 2 puts fans back into the mind of Gordon Freeman once again. You’re joined by Alyx Vance as you fight through the campaign to help the Combine for sake of freeing the human race. The game’s reception has remained positive throughout the years, earning a total of 39 Game of the Year awards with additional nominations for things like stellar voice acting and sound effects. When a game is referenced in the 2008 Guinness Book of World Records as the Highest Rated Shooter, you know it’s gotta be good.
1/15 Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
|Release Date||March 30, 2021|
You go through most of Disco Elysium as a cop with amnesia, trying to solve a murder case through dialogue with citizens of a city destroyed by war. Though the game was already great on its initial 2019 release, it was enhanced significantly and rereleased with a free update in 2021. Written and designed by Estonian novelist Robert Kurvitz, this independent developer didn’t know what a hit he had until the Game of the Year awards began to pour in and a television series was announced for it in 2020.
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