We’re well past the halfway point of 2018, which means it’s a good time to take a look at the best PC games released this year so far. As is usually the case with our favorite platform, there’s a mix of genres in this list. From the latest entries in long-running franchises to brand-new IPs, here are the best PC games that the last eight months have given us.
Note this feature is a complement to our regular feature: The Best PC Games (You Should Be Playing), which looks at our current favorite games released on PC at any given moment, past and present, though some titles might overlap. If you're into discovering fresher titles, all of following were released within the past few months...
After the polarizing Far Cry Primal, gamers were excited to find the latest entry in this series returns to the modern era with all its guns and explosions in tow. The pre-release trailers showed the antagonists in Far Cry 5 would be the fictitious, Montana-based Eden’s Gate cult, suggesting that we could expect an in-depth look at the motivations of these groups.
It turned out, however, that the story of the Seed family was the game’s weakest point and one that brought some of its poorer reviews. It barely skims the surface when it comes to the Christian extremism behind Eden’s Gate, and the main characters have a tendency to talk a lot without offering much insight. But does all that make Far Cry 5 a bad game? No, not at all.
The FPS doesn’t vary too much from the previous main entries, though several of the more tedious elements are gone. Some of the missions are enormous fun, and there are plenty of them. Tracking and hunting animals is an enjoyable diversion, and even fishing can swallow up time without you even realizing. But it’s the enormous sandbox of Hope County that puts Far Cry 5 on this list: drive, fly, kill, hunt, or just mess around blowing things up—you’re given the freedom to explore this beautiful setting and do whatever you like. Speaking of beauty, Far Cry looks stunning and plays well on less-powerful PCs.
With the broad range of companions, both human and animal, available to help out, all the upgrades, the huge number of weapon combos and vehicles, arcade mode, and some genuinely hilarious moments on offer, there’s a ton of content on offer. You’ll be playing Far Cry 5 for months—there’s a reason why it’s the best-selling game of the year so far. It’s just a shame that the ending’s crap.
The first Vermintide—a game I’ve poured more hours into than possibly any other title in recent times—is great, but it has its faults and moves from fun to grindy once you’ve played every level countless times. Thankfully, the sequel addresses these issues while giving the whole experience an eye-pleasing revamp.
The core gameplay remains the same: join three friends or bots as you fight your way through the swarms of enemies that occupy each level, though this time there’s more of everything. More things to do, more area to cover, and, thanks to the addition of Chaos forces joining the rat-like Skaven, more enemy types—including some excellent specials and bosses.
One of the best new elements of Vermintide 2 is the addition of career paths. Every hero can (eventually) choose from three careers, each with their own skill tree, and players can swap between each one, meaning you’re free to decide if you want to play a more tanky, DPS, or support role.
Even those who actively avoid multiplayer games should enjoy Vermintide 2, which has one of the genre’s least toxic communities. But with improvements all around, including a reimagined loot system, this is arguably the best multiplayer title of 2018 to date. And on August 28, the first DLC arrives.
Buy it from: Steam (~$60)
One of the best things about Ni no Kuni 2 is that those who never even heard of the original can still enjoy this second entry. Essentially, it’s like playing a Studio Ghibli film, though the famous animation company wasn’t directly involved with the game this time around.
Somehow, Ni no Kuni 2 manages to make the traditional elements of RPGs more accessible while still offering plenty of depth. And while it’s a Japanese action role-playing game at heart, it also throws other genres into the mix, including satisfying RTS-style battles that, for some reason, remind me of the old Cannon Fodder games on the Amiga from the early 90s.
But while there’s plenty of fighting and exploring to be done, anyone watching you play Ni no Kuni 2 might think you’re enjoying a city-building sim. You’ll spend a lot of time using the overhead view of your fledgling kingdom of Evermore, where you’ll create facilities and fill them with the appropriate citizens, allowing you to research and improve armor, weapons, spells, and the lovable Higgledies, whose aid in battles can be invaluable.
Despite its appearances, there’s a lot to learn when it comes to Ni no Kuni’s many systems, which is why the first 5 - 8 hours are almost like a lengthy tutorial that gradually introduces all the various elements. As you progress, the game really opens up, with plenty of missions to take on and ways to customize your party, stats, battle rewards, and more.
I was a bit skeptical about Ni no Kuni 2. Having never played the original, I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy something that looked like a watered-down RPG. But I can honestly say I was wrong—it’s one my favorite games of the year. Not only is it gorgeous, but there’s also so much on offer. The real-time battles are superb, creating your city is fun, and the characters and story are hugely enjoyable. An all-around brilliant game.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire follows on directly from the last game, once again putting players in the shoes of The Watcher, but while playing the original is beneficial, it’s not a necessity. Like other RPGs, decisions made in the previous title can carry over via a save file, or you can use the game’s own text system to decide the choices that were made.
We’ve seen plenty of reimagined cRPGs in the time since Pillars of Eternity launched back in 2015. While it’s still a great game, comparisons to the brilliant Divinity: Original Sin 2, for example, really shows its age. The sequel drags the game into 2018 by revamping the graphics and systems while keeping the core gameplay mechanics that made the first game so good.
If you’ve tried any of the numerous cRPGs out there, you’ll know how this goes: walk around completing the huge number of quests while fighting in pausable battles, all of which improves your characters and brings loot, helping toward completing the main storyline, which involves chasing a colossus possessed by a God—a beard-strokingly appropriate plot for a fantasy game. As with similar titles, you can fine-tune how every member of your party behaves in battle at any given point, allowing more control over the proceedings.
The biggest new addition to Pillars of Eternity II is the ship system, which is like an entire game in itself. Being an archipelago, you need a seafaring vessel to travel between all those islands, and it requires a crew who you have to manage. The turn-based naval battles are fun and surprisingly deep, with plenty of customization options and variables to consider.
Like all the best RPGs of this ilk, it’s the fantastic writing and engaging quests that really make Pillars of Eternity II stand out. The original was mesmerizing when it arrived three years ago; this year, the sequel managed to improve on it in every way.
Despite the majority of critics and players heaping praise on Kingdom Come: Deliverance, it’s likely to be one of the more controversial choices on this list. The reason being that it is one of those ‘love it or hate it’ games. Personally, I'm in the former category.
One of most polarizing elements of Kingdom Come is the way it straddles the line between ‘simulator’ and RPG. This isn’t your typical role-playing game; there’s a heavy focus on realism, including the need to eat and sleep when required. Don’t go in expecting Skyrim or The Witcher set in medieval Bohemia.
But once you’ve played it for a while and the survival elements become second nature, you’ll grow to appreciate the realistic feel of the game, which oozes authenticity. The story of Emperor Charles IV’s son, Wenceslas, might not be for everyone, but it’s rewarding, engaging, and cerebral in way that’s unlike most other titles.
The weapon-based fighting is, once you’ve mastered it, great fun, and a lot more complex than jabbing at the mouse button until someone dies. Unarmed combat, on the other hand, can feel a little random, while archery is pretty fiddly. There are plenty of things in Deliverance that will be familiar to RPG fans: tough decisions, shops, tons of weapons/items, and quests. Lots and lots of quests. Over 100 hours’ worth of gaming is on offer if you decide to tackle them all.
Now that Kingdom Come: Deliverance has a stable release, checking out this beautiful game should be high on your list of gaming priorities.
Monster Hunter: World ($60)
A fantastic game but the PC version is suffering from a host of issues. Check out Steam, where it's got a 'Mixed' rating thanks to its network problems, bad optimization, random critical errors, crashes, etc. It's probably best to buy this once Capcom patches everything.
Into the Breach ($15)
At first glance this might look like a mobile game, but it's from the same team behind FTL so you know you're in for something special. A turn-based tactics game that pits three mechs against bugs on an 8 x 8 grid. If you liked FTL, you'll almost certainly enjoy this.
An open-world survival game set in the ocean of an alien planet? What isn't there to like about that? Beautiful visuals, atmospheric, and some genuinely scary moments. If you think Subnautica doesn't look like 'your type of game,' expect to be surprised.
Survival, city-building, and tough ethical choices all come together in this bleak but brilliant game. It’s from the creators of This War of Mine, so you know not to expect a lot of laughs. Frostpunk isn’t the easiest of games and quite short, but it remains a marvellous title.
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