Not only is the PC the best platform for enjoying games, but it also offers the broadest range of titles. That means the choices we face when deciding what’s going to take up hours of our lives can be overwhelming. That’s where this guide comes in, suggesting the best PC games you should be playing right now. In addition to factors like overall quality and being fun to play, we take into account each game’s lasting appeal. For this edition of the best PC games we have included a few more games than the usual ten considering you may have a little more time in-between holidays and some of the not-so-new titles may be found at a nice discount. Without further ado...

Lara's origin story concludes

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Click on image for gameplay video
  • Genre: Action adventure
  • Similar: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider (2013), Uncharted series (PlayStation)
  • Graphics: Some of best around, if your PC can handle it
  • Gameplay: Third-person, exploration, puzzles, stealth, shooter

If you’re a fan of the other two rebooted Tomb Raider games, you’re pretty much guaranteed to love this one. Some might say it’s a little too much like the previous entries, but if it ain’t broke…

While there are plenty of ways that ‘Shadow’ is similar to ‘Rise’ and 2013’s ‘Tomb Raider,’ there are enough differences to make it stand out on its own. For a start, there’s more of an emphasis on puzzles, such as the excellent challenge tombs that manage get your brain working without making you scream at the monitor (probably). Players run into actual combat less often than before, but it’s still great fun, and the game encourages a more stealthy approach – until everything goes wrong and you run in all guns blazing.

This is another Tomb Raider that looks absolutely stunning on the PC, especially if you’ve got the hardware to push it to its limits. The South American setting will take your breath away, especially when you come across the hidden cities and dense jungles. And while there are plenty of optional side quests, not all are as entertaining as going off on your own to discover the many tombs, crypts, and secrets.

Regular series staples including skill trees, campfires, and weapon upgrades remain, as do the cinematic set-pieces. And the ability to independently adjust the difficulty of the puzzles, combat, and exploration allows you to make individual elements easier or more difficult, which is highly welcome.

There are some weak elements within SotTR, and ignoring many of the optional extras will see you complete the main questline incredibly fast, but with plenty to see and do, and a total of seven DLC episodes on the way, it has the potential to keep you busy for a while.

Buy it from: Steam

 

One of the best driving games ever made

Forza Horizon 4

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  • Genre: Racing
  • Similar: Forza Horizon 3, Forza Motorsport 7, Project Cars 2
  • Graphics: Amazing, especially if you've got a card that can handle 4K
  • Gameplay: racer, optional online multiplayer, open-world,

If you enjoyed the excellent Forza Horizon 3 on PC, you’re pretty much guaranteed to love the next game in the Horizon series (we’ve also had Forza Motorsport 7) to hit the platform. This time, the action moves from Australia to the roads and fields of the UK.

The Horizon series is often labeled as driving games for people who don’t like driving games – at least not hardcore ones – and the arcadey feel remains in this latest entry, though you can crank up the realism to make it more sim-like.

The games have always looked stunning on powerful rigs, and Horizon 4 is the prettiest by far. The seasons, which change every real-time week, alter the look of the landscape with winter snows and autumnal leaves, which also force you to adjust your driving style.

Probably the best thing about Forza Horizon 4 is that there’s so much to keep you coming back: a live, online event every hour where you work cooperatively with other players, seasonal challenges, a ridiculous number of vehicles, story events, skill chains, leveling, stunts, and all those races scattered about the open-world map.

Forza 4 is better optimized than its predecessor, though you still have to endure the pain that is the Microsoft Store. But it’s worth it for what is undoubtedly one of the best racing games ever made, and one that is guaranteed to hold your attention for months.

Buy it from: Microsoft Store

 

The best game in the series to date

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

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  • Genre: Open world, action adventure
  • Similar: Assassin’s Creed: Origins, The Witcher 3
  • Graphics: Beautiful, detailed, transports you back to ancient Greece
  • Gameplay: Third-person, RPG-lite, stealth, decisions & consequences, naval battles

Remember when AC: Origins came out last year and people called it the series’ best entry? Ubisoft wasn’t content to sit back and feel pleased with itself; instead, it went on to release an Assassin’s Creed that builds on the previous entry’s best elements to create a stunning, memorable title, and one of the best open-world games ever seen on the PC.

As was the case with Origins, the star of the show here is the meticulous, open-world recreation of an ancient era. Egypt was fantastic, but Greece in 431 BC looks even better, especially when all the settings are cranked to max. Standing atop of mountain as Ikaros swoops around you and the orchestral score soars is a truly cinematic experience that can elicit a “wow” from players.

This is unarguably the most RPG-like AC game ever. It’s not quite The Witcher 3, but the influence of CD Projekt Red’s genre-defining title is felt here: dialogue options, consequences, branching quests, and quite a lot of sex.

The abilities tree has been streamlined so players can better spec characters to suit specific playstyles. The Mercenaries and conquest systems are like entire subgames in themselves. Some side quests are both brilliant and hilarious. And the combat remains satisfyingly meaty – expect to find yourself shouting “THIS. IS. SPARTA,” every time you boot an enemy off a cliff.

Yes, the naval battles aren’t as good as the cannon-infused ship combat found in Black Flag, and it can at times feel a bit grindy, which brings us onto its worst element: the microtransactions. They’re optional, true, but being able to pay extra to speed up your experience and resource gathering feels cynical, and Ubisoft’s excuse that it’s for “those who value their time” is laughable. Who doesn’t value their time? Immortals? Luckily, it’s still a breathtakingly brilliant game, and one that probably would have got more attention had it not been released so close to Red Dead Redemption 2.

Buy it from: Steam, Origin

 

Gwent 2.0

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales

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  • Genre: Card-based RPG
  • Similar: Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, Hearthstone, The Elder Scrolls: Legends, The Witcher 3
  • Graphics: Pretty, laptop-friendly
  • Gameplay: Card battles, isometric, RPG elements, exploration, moral choices, narrative-heavy

I can honestly say that in 35 years of playing games, I don’t think I’ve loved a title as much as The Witcher 3, and part of what makes it so great is card minigame Gwent. But despite this fact, I eyed Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales with slight skepticism. A light RPG set in the Witcher’s world that replaces combat with cards? Surely that’s the kind of simplistic game you might see exclusively on smartphones?

I was mistaken. Like The Witcher 3, the writing and voice acting in Thronebreaker are astounding. And while the battles themselves follow Gwent’s basic mechanics, victory conditions change during the many special matches, including the excellent puzzle games that give you specific rules and cards.

When moving Queen Meve around this colorful world, exploring all its nooks and crannies as you search for resources and secrets, there are times when you’ll play something closer to the original Gwent, albeit with two rows instead of the usual three. You also get to make tough decisions that come with consequences, all feeding into its epic story.

The base camp where you can buy upgrades and build new cards adds a more RPG feel to proceedings, and, like most role-playing games, there are a good 40+ hours of content here.

Caveats? Sometimes it can feel a bit frustratingly unfair, but that was also the case with the original Gwent. And experienced players of The Witcher’s minigame will probably find all but the hardest level a tad easy.

Ultimately, Thronebreaker is a fantastic game that mixes card, RPG, and puzzle ingredients to come up with something that gels together flawlessly. Engrossing, fun, satisfying, and perfect while on the move with your laptop. A must for all Witcher fans.

Buy it from: Steam, GOG

 

The best role-playing game in years

Divinity: Original Sin 2

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  • Genre: cRPG
  • Similar: Pillars of Eternity, Wasteland 2, Tyranny
  • Graphics: Gorgeous, enchanting
  • Gameplay: Fantasy roleplaying, turn-based combat, squad management, lots of choices, chickens

Playing Original Sin II is, quite simply, like being wrapped in a blanket of warmth. As you become immersed in its fantastic world and stories, time slips away without you realizing it. Be wary of sitting down for a quick gaming sessions and suddenly finding you’ve not eaten in 24 hours and have missed work.

The game has been out for over a year now, and those who jumped on it already have likely already completed the 60-100 hour campaign. But that doesn’t mean you’ve seen all the game has to offer. At that point, you should restart with a new character who specializes in a different field. Maybe go with some different members for your party. Tackle quests differently. And stick that difficulty level up a notch. Once you’ve done that, why not run a game with a group of friends via the Game Master mode? Or you could check out the mods and Arena mode.

Not everyone’s a fan of beard-friendly games where knowing that some dice have more than six sides is an advantage, and yet its appeal is nearly endless for fans of the genre. After garnering PC GOTY last year from many publications, those who discovered Original Sin II in 2018 have been rewarded with a game that is simply brilliant.

Buy it from: Steam, GOG

 

Still easier to pick up than DOTA 2

League of Legends

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  • Genre: Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA)
  • Similar: Dota 2, Heroes of the Storm, Smite
  • Graphics: World of Warcraft-esque
  • Gameplay: Multiplayer, 5 vs 5 team battles, competitive

For all the popularity of Fortnite Battle Royale and PUBG, the most played PC game in the US and Europe is still League of Legends, according to Newzoo. While the arguments rage on over which game is 'better'—LoL or its MOBA rival DOTA 2—we’ve picked the former on the basis that it’s considered the easier to learn and play out of the two titles.

Like DOTA 2, LoL is free and takes many, many hours to master its gameplay mechanics and become proficient at using a few of the 130+ champions on offer. But despite the potential for frustration, it can be an incredibly addictive and satisfying game, and one that will usually run without problems on even the most potato-like of PCs.

In the most typical game map/mode called Summoner's Rift, two teams of five players compete to destroy the opposing team's "nexus," a structure which lies at the heart of a base protected by defensive structures. Each LoL match is discrete, lasting anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. All champions start off weak and increase their strength by accumulating items and experience over the course of the game. More recently, a new game mode called Nexus Blitz was re-opened, still 5v5 but Blitz is designed from scratch to produce shorter games with a ton of action. There map is more compact, experience is collected in groups and there are random events happening in the short ~15 minute matches, offering a very enjoyable yet different LoL experience.

An unwelcome similarity LoL has with DOTA 2 is its notoriously toxic community. Having friends to show you the ropes when you’re starting out is a big advantage, and expect to hear some shocking facts about your mother. But there’s a reason why it has long been, and remains, so incredibly popular.

Free to play: Official site, TechSpot Downloads

 

Finally fixed the bugs

Monster Hunter: World

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  • Genre: Action RPG
  • Similar: God Eater 2: Rage Burst, Toukiden 2
  • Graphics: Beats the console versions
  • Gameplay: third-person, optional online multiplayer

Monster Hunter: World received rave reviews on the Xbox One and PS4, but it arrived on the PC in August with a slew of problems, resulting in a ‘Mixed’ rating on Steam. Now, with the bugs fixed and connection issues addressed, the game has undoubtedly become one you should be playing, as reflected by its new Steam rating of ‘Very Positive.’

At its most basic, this is a third-person action RPG about hunting down and killing or trapping Monsters, all while using harvested materials to create better armor and weapons that let you take on bigger, badder beasties. It’s obviously a lot more complicated and deeper than that, with multiple weapon types offering a wide variety of combat techniques, and some end-game battles that can last over an hour.

The game looks stunning on the PC, offering graphical improvements and faster loading times compared to consoles. There’s also an uncapped framerate option, which is highly appreciated.

MH: World is an enormous timesink that has the potential to steal hundred of hours of your life, especially when making the most of the online co-op element. But some players, especially casuals, might find themselves overwhelmed by everything on offer. It’s worth sticking with, though, as Monster Hunter is a truly special experience.

Buy it from: Steam, GOG

 

More addictive than heroin, so they say

Fortnite Battle Royale

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  • Genre: Multiplayer battle royale
  • Similar: PUBG, DayZ: Battle Royale, H1Z1: King of the Kill
  • Graphics: Cartoony
  • Gameplay: Shooter, survival

What can we say about Fortnite that hasn’t already been said? The game that stole the limelight from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has gone on to take over the world, loved by Twitch streamers, celebrities, and pretty much (almost) everyone else. It passed 40 million users early this year, and in November, it blasted past the 200 million mark.

Such is Fortnite’s unparalleled success, developer Epic Games was recently valued at an incredible $15 billion. So, what makes it so good? The huge helping of massively addictive, last-man-standing fun – an attribute that often gets it into trouble.

Fortnite is more colorful and faster-paced than PUBG, the map is smaller, it’s better optimized, weapons are easier to come by, and everything feels a lot more casual. There’s also Fortnite’s crafting system, which allows players to break down objects into resources and create structures such as walls, traps, and stairs.

The bigger question might be how long can Fortnite remain on top? Years, probably. Notable games such as World of Warcraft, Counter-Strike and League of Legends have shown that retaining a dedicated fanbase for such a long time is possible, and with constant updates arriving, new seasons (number 7 just recently launched), and its popularity on mobile increasing, this cultural phenomenon is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Free to play: Epic Games

 

But will Red Dead Redemption 2 have an effect?

GTA V

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  • Genre: Open-World
  • Similar: Watch Dogs 1/2, GTA: Vice City, GTA: San Andreas, GTA IV, Saints Row series
  • Graphics: Still excellent, and even better with mods
  • Gameplay: Third-person, first-person, driving, shooter, optional multiplayer

Best-selling game of all time in the US, check. Appears in ‘top 10’ sales charts five years after launch, check. An online element that earns Rockstar a small country’s GDP, check. Yes, GTA V’s entry in the history of video games compendium need only read: “The greatest.”

GTA Online still receives plenty of new content, bonuses, discounts, etc., which keeps its legion of players sticking around – 2017 saw record player numbers, and the game reached second place in the UK charts back in March.

It will be interesting, however, to see how the recently launched Red Dead Redemption 2 Online affects things, especially once the famous cowboy game makes its way to the PC. Could it lead to GTA V eventually dropping off the list? Along with Overwatch, it’s the only other title to have clung on since this bi-annual feature’s inception two years ago.

In addition to the multitude of multiplayer modes, the main campaign remains fun, especially when you pack it with mods and graphical upgrades. Sadly, the chances of ever seeing any single-player DLC appear to be zero. And with Rockstar so busy these days, don’t expect to see GTA VI for at least a few more years.

Buy it from: Steam

 

In the shadow of Fortnite, but still immensely popular

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

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  • Genre: Multiplayer battle royale
  • Similar: Fortnite Battle Royale, DayZ: Battle Royale, H1Z1: King of the Kill
  • Graphics: Functional
  • Gameplay: Shooter, survival

Given the number of headlines Fortnite makes, it’s easy to forget that PUBG remains the third most-played game on Steam. In March, it was revealed to be the third highest-earning title to appear on Valve’s platform and reached a peak of 3.25 million concurrent players back in January.

Recent times haven’t been as kind to PUBG. Competing in the shadow of Fortnite is no easy task and, given that so many games now come with a Battle Royale element, the genre has reached saturation point. All of which saw PUBG fall below one million players for the first time in a year back in September.

Peaking at around 800,000 – 900,000 concurrent players every day is something most game makers would kill for, of course. And don’t forget that it’s played by plenty of Xbox One, PS4, Android, and iOS users, too.

PUBG remains an excellent game that keeps adding new content, such as the recent Joker and Harley Quinn skins, and is immensely fun to play with a group of friends, though hackers and cheaters are still an annoyance. It might not be the behemoth it once was and is facing plenty of competition, but PUBG isn’t going away anytime soon.

Buy it from: Steam

 

A sequel that surpasses the excellent original

Warhammer: Vermintide 2

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  • Genre: Online multiplayer
  • Similar: Left 4 Dead 1+2, Killing Floor 1+2, Evolve
  • Graphics: Some of the best the genre has to offer
  • Gameplay: First-person, co-operative, RPG elements

Having poured close to 200 hours into the first Vermintide, I couldn’t wait for its sequel... and it hasn’t disappointed.

Developer Fatshark has gone with an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to Vermintide 2. It still contains the same mechanics introduced by Left 4 Dead: you and 3 other players/bots work together to make your way through a level as an AI director throws hoards of enemies at your team. Joining the giant humanoid, rat-like Skaven this time are the forces of Chaos, bringing with them a host of terrifying, massive monsters waiting to tear you apart.

What’s great about Vermintide 2 is that not only does it look and sound so much better than its predecessor, but it also addresses many of the first game’s shortcomings. Even with all the DLC, the original with its limited number of enemy types and maps started getting repetitive after a while. Now, we’ve got new, (mostly) longer levels with more activities to perform in each one, giving them extra replayability.

Another great addition to Vermintide 2 is the characters’ career paths, letting you specialize in different play styles while offering separate skill trees (another new addition). Meanwhile, the loot system—one of the original's least-loved elements—has been revamped, giving players more than a solitary post-match item, which was often no use to your favorite character.

Some may find that the RPG mechanics in general aren’t perfect, and even long-term Vermintide fans might be surprised by how difficult this sequel is, especially during the first few hours of play. But despite these minor caveats, it’s a wonderful title with one of the least toxic communities you’ll find in an online game.

Buy it from: Steam, Humble Bundle

 

Blizzard's FPS is as popular as ever

Overwatch

Click on image for gameplay video
  • Genre: Multiplayer FPS
  • Similar: Battleborn, Dirty Bomb
  • Graphics: Fantastically bright and vibrant, cartoon style
  • Gameplay: Team shooter, character/class-based, multiplayer

Overwatch’s depth, characters, balancing, map design, and sheer fun factor is what got its hooks into gamers, but, as is the case with so many games that keeps adding new players, it’s the constant stream of new content that helps it remain so popular.

The venerable multiplayer title has continually appeared on this list since the beginning, something only GTA V has also managed. Its player numbers have continued to rise since it was released back in 2016. At last count in May, there were over 40 million worldwide.

The Overwatch league and the amount of people who stream the game on Twitch help boost follower and player numbers. Even in a world where third-person, last-man-standing games rule, this team-based FPS keeps on going from strength to strength.

Buy it from: Amazon, Battle.net

 

A realism-focused RPG set during the 15th century

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

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  • Genre: Role-playing game
  • Similar: Mount and Blade: Warband, Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Graphics: Superb if you've got the power
  • Gameplay: first-person, swordplay, player choices

Whatever you do, don’t buy Kingdom Come: Deliverance thinking it’s Skyrim without the magic and dragons. This is a lot closer to ‘simulator’ than your typical RPG, asking players to sleep and eat (non-rotten food) when required. Even saving the game isn’t performed with a usual menu click; you have to take a swig of Saviour Schnapps, which you need to replenish, or by resting somewhere. It’s quite a surprise to learn the devs didn't add ‘bodily function needs,’ too.

However, the survival-like elements don’t detract from what is a brilliant title. This is a game for adults, but not in a Leisure Suit Larry way, though it does feature swearing and sex. The complex story of Emperor Charles IV’s son, Wenceslas, is packed with (mostly) historically accurate characters, while the look and atmosphere of medieval Bohemia are captured so well that you can almost smell the dysentery.

While brawling isn’t brilliant and archery is pretty underwhelming, the deep, weapon-based fighting system is supremely satisfying once you get used to it. When you’ve mastered the skills taught to you by others and levelled up a bit, you’ll be walking around feeling like Game of Throne's Sword of the Morning. But it's the stories and deep immersion that make this game worth playing.

It may have RPG staples such as decisions with consequences, alchemy, multiple ways of tackling quests, and buying/selling, but Deliverance is unique in the genre. Its focus on realism might not be for everyone, but sticking with it reaps a rewarding, compelling game that’ll keep you interested throughout its 30+ hours, or 100+ hours if you want to tackle all the quests.

Buy it from: Steam

 
Honorable Mentions
Dropped from the list (great, but had to make room for others)
(For reference only) Titles we loved playing last year