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Let's get one thing out of the way before we dive into the deep end of the pool: This is not a historical retrospective of the best or most-groundbreaking PC video games.
Instead of penning a piece that would assuredly cause rabid fanboy rage in the comments section (and one guaranteed to bring in monster levels of hate traffic), we decided to handle the best PC games topic with a more informative, practical approach. An approach that will help you decide which titles to download for your gaming rig when Battle.net, GOG, Origin, and Steam are calling your name.
The Game Selection Process
Compiling this list was no small undertaking. PCMag's writers and editors have reviewed an insane number of PC games over the years, so selecting the cream of the crop requires significant time and effort. A game was deemed worthy for inclusion if it received at a rating of at least 3 stars. Yes, flawed games can be fun games, too—but not broken games.
On the topic of flawed games, we revisited a few busted and/or incomplete high-profile titles to see if the developers had patched in fixes since our initial reviews. Our goal was to determine if the updated games were now worthy of being included. That was a wise move. Street Fighter V is a prime example of a title that greatly benefitted from this decision. The half-baked original release earned a disappointing 2.5 star review, but now bears 4 stars after several software updates. It's become an excellent game, even though it's still not complete. Don't get us started on games being released before they're finished, though.
Digging Into Our Picks
There are dozens of games in this story, so making navigation as simple as possible was a high priority for our crack team of editors and visual artists. The games are grouped alphabetically by genre, and the titles in each category are listed in alphabetical order.
Keen-eyed gamers will notice that there are two genres that are a bit skimpily represented at the moment: MMORPGs and MOBAs. Now, before you break out the pitchforks and torches, please understand that we hold no ill will toward games such as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn or Dota 2. The truthful answer is that we haven't reviewed very many MMORPGs and MOBAs, but that will change as we frequently update this article. We're just as eager as you are to see which MMORPG and MOBA games make the cut.
Speak Your Mind
If you disagree with our picks, or feel that we should review a game that somehow slipped through the cracks, sound off in the comments section below—we welcome your input! Just keep it civil.
Oh, and if you're a console gamer who thinks that we're biased toward PC gaming because we're PCMag, you're wrong! We have top picks for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, and 3DS too. Those roundups aren't quite as robust as this one, as the PC has a much deeper library. Still, consider those articles great starter kits if you game on those platforms.
We now present the best PC games. Enjoy!
Adventures of Pip
Tic Toc Games' Adventures of Pip is a side-scrolling action-platformer that's based on an interesting premise: evolving and devolving a pixel-based hero between his 1-bit and 16-bit forms to fight through level after level of goons and bosses. The unique premise, rich environments, and fun gameplay combine to form a game with a lot of heart and charm, despite the limited scope of its weapons and power-ups.
Arslan: The Warriors of Legend
%displayPrice% at %seller% Koei Tecmo's Arslan: The Warriors of Legend takes Dynasty Warriors' absurd, large-scale action warfare, adds stylistic anime flourish, and puts it all an interesting and unexpected setting: pseudo-fantastic Persia. The game features more than a dozen characters with over-the-top attacks slapping around hundreds of similar looking, brain-dead mooks across a variety of themed maps. The Persian architecture, high level of detail, and the politically charged story that's ripped straight from the anime series give Arslan: The Warriors of Legend enough substance to be worth your consideration.
%displayPrice% at %seller% Developer Tom Happ, who is known for his work on EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour and NFL Street franchises, has gone indie and crafted a delightful tribute to the exploratory action genre (aka Metroidvania). This 2D platformer combines the best aspects of classic side-scrollers like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Metroid to deliver a refined experience for newcomers of the genre and seasoned vets alike. Axiom Verge is a fun, engaging title, but plodding story elements and seemingly pointless weapons mar the experience a bit.
Batman: Arkham City
%displayPrice% at %seller% "If you liked X, you'll love Y!" might be the cheapest of critical plaudits, but sometimes nothing else will do. So here goes: If you liked Batman: Arkham Asylum, you'll love Batman: Arkham City. Developer Rocksteady Studios borrows everything from Asylum that worked (thrilling fighting, excellent voice acting), though it delivers far less innovation. This makes Arkham City derivative, but the game's packed with enough goon-busting fun that it still stands as one of the PC's best action games.
%displayPrice% at %seller% When Techland's Dead Island trailer debuted, it featured one of the most moving video game sequences ever produced: a small child and her family being slaughtered by zombies against the backdrop of a soft, haunting Giles Lamb musical score. Dead Island's gameplay doesn't quite match the trailer's promise, but the open-world action-RPG offers a very solid zombie-slaying good time as you craft weapons and try to stay alive in an island paradise gone wrong.
Dead Rising 2: Off The Record
%displayPrice% at %seller% Frank West returns to zombie-slaying action in Dead Rising 2: Off The Record. Capcom's reimagining Dead Rising 2 sees the gruff photojournalist facing off against a wider array of monsters, building new weapons, snapping photos, and best of all, mixing it up in a new open-world sandbox mode. Stomping the undead is fun—for a while—but bugs and repetitive gameplay keep Dead Rising 2 from achieving true greatness.
Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition
%displayPrice% at %seller% Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition takes everything that made Capcom's original 2008 release an impressive action game and expands on it. The game includes the Legendary Dark Knight enemy horde mode that was added to the original PC port, as well as three new playable characters, improved visuals, and subtle gameplay tweaks. Some of the weaker aspects of the original release, such as the repetitive story campaign, remain and slightly tarnish an otherwise brilliantly polished title. Overall, Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition is a rock-solid action game that is well worth picking up for fans of the series and action buffs alike.
Far Cry Primal
%displayPrice% at %seller% With Far Cry Primal, developer Ubisoft abandons all political pretenses and focuses on what made Far Cry stand out from its peers when the series debuted: the open-world sandbox. You play as a Stone Age hunter named Takkar, and your goal is to secure a safe haven for your people, the wandering Wenja tribe, in the prehistoric realm of Oros. Melee combat and beast companions set Primal apart from past Far Cry games and make exploration feel much more personal and engaging. But its story is simpler and more straightforward, so if you were hoping for eccentric villains and outlandish melodrama, Primal may leave you a tad disappointed.
%displayPrice% at %seller% GalaxyTrail's Freedom Planet is a retro-platformer that looks and feels like a long-lost 16-bit mascot game. Freedom Planet's 14 levels are large, colorful, and varied. Almost all have Sonic the Hedgehog-style loops, ramps, and corkscrews. Each level also introduces its own unique elements, such as disappearing blocks, colored switches, and keys. These elements sound like basic platforming obstacles, but they're so well-crafted and diverse that they always feel fresh and don't overstay their welcome. The downside? Some cringe-worthy voice acting.
Jet Set Radio
%displayPrice% at %seller% In 2000, Sega gave us a look into the future of funk with Jet Set Radio, a cel-shaded action game that starred a cute band of rollerblading miscreants who tagged walls, battled rival delinquents, and avoided out-of-control cops. This updated PC version flexes high-definition graphics, developer interviews, and all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a Steam game. Dripping in manga-influenced hip-hop flavor and boasting one of the greatest soundtracks ever crafted for a video game, the grind-happy Jet Set Radio is a title that belongs in the library of anyone who digs fast-paced action games, incredibly catchy tunes, and street culture.
Killer Is Dead: Nightmare Edition
%displayPrice% at %seller% Goichi Suda (aka Suda51) is the Robert Rodriguez of the video game industry. The Japanese developer crafts projects noted for their style, edginess, and violence, but once you peep beneath the cool veneer, the work is exposed as a somewhat empty, if fun, experience. Such is Suda51's Killer Is Dead: Nightmare Edition, a Steam game that stars a cybernetically enhanced assassin named Mondo Zappa who slays vampires, mystics, and other monstrosities for a government agency. Killer Is Dead is dripping with Suda51's trademark humor, character swag, and fast-paced action, but it lacks the killer level design and supporting elements that would elevate the game to the top of its genre.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
%displayPrice% at %seller% TT Games's Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham squeezes in a lot of DC Comics fan service and silliness, while maintaining a whimsical and simplistic approach to its action and story. Whether it's the subtle 1978 Superman theme that plays when the caped do-gooder is flying, or Nightwing reminiscing about his sidekick days while compulsively spewing "holy" exclamations, Lego Batman 3 is so filled with Easter eggs that it feels like a love letter to all of DC Comics. The gameplay doesn't deviate much from the familiar Lego formula, but the experience is solid, nonetheless.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes
%displayPrice% at %seller% Lego Marvel Super Heroes is a near-perfect blend of three wonderful childhood staples: comic books, video games, and, well, Lego. Steeped in Marvel Comics goodness, Lego Marvel Super Heroes puts players in the role of superheroes—including the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man—who are tasked with recovering all-powerful Cosmic Bricks before top-tier baddies such as Loki, Dr. Doom, and Magneto get their hands on them. The open-world game features fun brick-bashing action and light puzzle challenges.
Mega Man Legacy Collection
%displayPrice% at %seller% Capcom, in collaboration with Digital Eclipse, revisits Mega Man's past with a package that does the original six NES Mega Man games justice. Besides featuring high-definition versions of the classic 8-bit games, the collection contains new trial challenges, leaderboards, video replays, and developer art. It's one of the best retro compilations around. Besides the recent Rare Replay, Mega Man Legacy Collection is the closest to a video game equivalent of the Criterion Collection the medium has seen. If you're a Mega Man fan, consider this a must-have collection.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
%displayPrice% at %seller% Konami's Metal Gear Solid series is known for its stealth-based gameplay, but its spin-off, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, is a straight hack-and-slash action game starring stooge-turned-badass, Raiden. Developer Platinum Games bundles the game with numerous goodies not associated with the original console version, including graphical enhancements and three DLC packages that were separate console purchases—all at a reasonable price. In short, if you liked the console version of Revengeance, you'll dig this one, too, despite the occasional rough camera angle and frame rate drop.
Metal Slug 3
%displayPrice% at %seller% Run-and-gun video games have a long history of thrilling fans with high-octane, shoot-everything-that-moves action, but few do it better than SNK Playmore's Metal Slug 3. Originally released to the Neo Geo platform in 2000, the acclaimed Metal Slug 3 has appeared on nearly every console and handheld since then—and now it's available for PCs. In this title, you control adorable, armed-to-the teeth soldiers who defend Earth from an alien invasion using guns, rocket launchers, and the eponymous Metal Slug tanks. Metal Slug 3 is a genre masterpiece due to its charming (and hyper-violent) cartoony graphics, tough-as-nails challenges, creative weapons, and varied level design.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
%displayPrice% at %seller% Fresh and wide-eyed from her exploits in Japan, the young and ambitious explorer Lara Croft is pitted against a cult of fanatical zealots in pursuit of immortality. Rise of the Tomb Raider features more of the spectacular set pieces, powerful combat, and tricky puzzles that made the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot so well received by critics and fans alike. Series fans may get a distinct feeling of déjà vu when running through the similarly styled gameplay scenarios and platforming sections, but Rise of the Tomb Raider is a solid action-adventure title.
Shadow Complex Remastered
%displayPrice% at %seller% The original Shadow Complex is a 2.5D platform-adventure game that became an Xbox 360 cult classic thanks to its fast-paced, exploration-heavy gameplay. The title has since received the remaster treatment, which gives the beloved game updated graphics, hard-hitting new contextual melee attacks, and Master Challenges. The run-and-gun game's plot and voice acting don't quite match the rest of the stellar package, but if you can overlook those ills, you'll find an excellent title that's well worth the $14.99 price.
%displayPrice% at %seller% Retro "8-bit" side-scrolling indie platformers have flooded the video game market, and it's easy to discount the entire genre as an easy-to-develop cash-in on nostalgia. Then there's Shovel Knight from Yacht Club Games, a studio created by former WayForward Technologies director Sean Velasco. You play as a shovel-toting knight who must rescue his partner, Shield Knight, from dastardly foes. It's an incredibly satisfying and expertly crafted platformer that recalls games like DuckTales and Mega Man, but also has some of the most authentic NES-style graphics to appear in the HD era.
Tembo The Badass Elephant
%displayPrice% at %seller% Tembo the Badass Elephant's story takes place in Shell City, a populous city that's plunged into a state of emergency by an evil force known as The Phantom. The National Army is unable to contain The Phantom's destruction, so it enlists the aid of an old war buddy, the Rambo-like elephant known as Tembo, to push back the enemy troops. The game's frequently compared to the 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog games, as it's published by Sega and features a relentlessly speedy main character who obliterates foes. However, developer Game Freak (of Pokemon fame) also implemented elements from classic franchises such as Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Country to create a well-rounded 2D action-adventure platformer that stands apart from the titles that inspire it.
%displayPrice% at %seller% Transformers: Devastation, by developer Platinum Games, is a fast-paced brawler that combines explosive combat with nostalgic, cel-shaded visuals that recall the 1980s TV show. Devastation is fairly by-the-numbers by Platinum Games' standards, but it borrows gameplay mechanics from other games in the developer's library to create an enjoyable beat-'em-up. A weapon-crafting system keeps you coming back for more sophisticated gear, and the higher difficulties and challenges give the title plenty of replay value. Even better, Devastation reunites many of the surviving voice actors from the original Transformers 'toon, including Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime), Dan Gilvezan (Bumblebee), and Frank Weller (Megatron, Soundwave).
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Back to the Future: The Game
%displayPrice% at %seller% Historically, video games based on popular movie franchises tend to be disappointing. It's rare when a game like N64's GoldenEye 007 gives studio tent-poles the proper treatment. Telltale Games' Back to the Future: The Game joins that illustrious title by delivering a story that not only respects the movies on which it is based, but also proves itself so endearing and engaging that it can serve as an unofficial fourth tale in the classic Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis franchise.
D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die
%displayPrice% at %seller% Film student turned video game designer Hidetaka "Swery" Suehiro wears his influences on his sleeve. Last generation, the video game auteur was the driving force behind the bizarre, Twin Peaks-inspired Deadly Premonition; now his special brand of storytelling insanity graces the PC in the form of another oddball, David Lynch-like murder mystery called D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die. It tells the story of a widower, detective David Young, who is obsessed with unearthing the events that led to the death of his wife, Little Peggy. The game—with its supernatural elements, quirky characters, and compelling investigative gameplay—is one that should not be missed.
Game of Thrones
%displayPrice% at %seller% Telltale Games' Game of Thrones parallels the HBO show, establishing some tenets that fans of the series have long since come to embrace. The realm of Westeros is cruel and harsh, and very little is sacred when nobility and madmen make a move for power. There is an obvious history and weight to the events leading up to this game that can be intimidating for newcomers, but the crux of the conflict is more centralized and concise.
The Walking Dead: Season One
%displayPrice% at %seller% Based on Robert Kirkman's popular comic book series, The Walking Dead: Season One combines the zombie apocalypse with Telltale Games' unique brand of accessible adventure game storytelling. You play as Lee, an ex-con who protects an orphaned child, Clementine, from the evils of zombie and man, alike. Much like its source material, The Walking Dead is an emotional rollercoaster filled with memorable characters and scenarios.
The Wolf Among Us
%displayPrice% at %seller% The Wolf Among Us, a game that's a canonical prequel to Bill Willingham's popular Fables comic book series, features a well-written story, light puzzle-solving challenges, and reflex-testing Quick Time Event (QTE) sequences. The visually striking title draws inspiration from film noir cinema, while keeping the heavy black outlines and bright colors associated with its source material. The murder-mystery isn't particularly challenging, but if you want to spend a few hours in an immersive world filled with interesting characters and top-notch voice acting, The Wolf Among Us should find a home in your PC gaming library.
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%displayPrice% at %seller% Iron Galaxy Studios' Divekick is the most hipster game ever created. It's the product of the indie scene, and it mercilessly parodies fighting games and their diehard community, yet demands that you be part of the underground circle to fully get all of the references and in-jokes. It's also a lot of fun if you open your mind to the insane concept of a one-on-one fighter based almost entirely on the idea of jumping and kicking.
The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match Final Edition
%displayPrice% at %seller% The King of Fighters '98 is widely regarded as one of the best fighting games ever made, so it's no surprise that developer SNK Playmore has returned to the title many times since the game's original release. In 2008, SNK Playmore celebrated the game's tenth anniversary by porting the team-based fighter to the PlayStation 2 as The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match, a game loaded with extra characters, stages, and gameplay modes. Now, a tweaked Ultimate Match is available for PCs as The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match Final Edition, a game that rebalances the massive 64-character roster and adds Steam trading cards and achievements. Final Edition's gameplay retains its predecessor's wonderfully deep and flexible fighting mechanics, but it's missing features that were present in the beloved PS2 version.
The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition
%displayPrice% at %seller% One of the most impressive sprite-based games ever created, The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition brings SNK Playmore's excellent 3-on-3 2D fighter to the PC via Valve's digital distribution platform. If you've rumbled with friends and foes in the version that appeared on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms, you'll feel right at home here: the intricate combat mechanics, gorgeous graphics, and up-tempo music are successfully ported over to this Steam game. Even better, The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition contains all of the console DLC, the King of Fighters XIII: Climax arcade features, and PC-centric graphics options.
Mortal Kombat X
%displayPrice% at %seller% Mortal Kombat X is the game that places NetherRealm Studios' iconic series in the top-tier fighting game bracket alongside the likes of Street Fighter and Tekken. Despite the console versions boasting a slight advantage over this Steam game in terms of downloadable content and patch support, Mortal Kombat X for PC has graphics enhancements that complement the compelling story, as well as the series' trademark hyper-violent, bloodletting combat. With its X-Ray Attacks, Stamina Meter, and Fatalities, Mortal Kombat X is easily one of the best PC fighting games on the platform.
Street Fighter V
%displayPrice% at %seller% Street Fighter V is almost a finished game! In February 2016, Capcom's newest one-on-one fighting game arrived on PC with many flaws that detracted from the stellar gameplay, including awful server instability, no true single-player mode, and a surprisingly limited multiplayer Battle Lounge. However, several updates have since addressed many of those issues and added new playable characters. The fixes, combined with new and classic characters, fresh and returning fight systems (like the cool V-Skills and V-Triggers), and cross-platform play with PlayStation 4 owners, finally make Street Fighter V a game to pick up even for gamers who don't have Evo dreams. It's still not a fully finished product, though.
Ultra Street Fighter IV
%displayPrice% at %seller% Ultra Street Fighter IV marks the fourth version of Street Fighter IV and the third version available on the Steam platform. This final iteration of the one-on-one fighting game adds five new characters, six new stages, a YouTube upload option, and a host of gameplay tweaks. It's Street Fighter IV's best and meatiest update, though some balance and DLC issues prove a bit irritating. Still, Ultra Street Fighter IV is an excellent competitive fighter with strong netcode
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%displayPrice% at %seller% Alien: Isolation may be the best Alien-based game ever made. Instead of using James Cameron's action-focused Aliens as its foundation, as so many video game developers have done in the past, Creative Assembly looked at Ridley Scott's original 1979 film for inspiration. And it pays off. Rather than focusing on running and gunning, Alien: Isolation is all about evasion and subterfuge. Though you gain some assistance via radio, you, as the daughter of Ellen Ripley, must navigate a world of survival horror on your own, dodging the alien stalker using your wits, the environment, and the tools you craft. Alien: Isolation is smart, dark, and oppressive in all the right ways.
Resident Evil HD Remaster
%displayPrice% at %seller% Nearly 20 years after its debut, Resident Evil returns as a HD remaster of the 2002 GameCube remake of the 1996 original. Resident Evil HD Remaster, grants the remake a new lease on life by unshackling the game from Nintendo's console and bringing it to PC. However, Capcom had some trouble during the transition to HD. The remake's gorgeous pre-rendered backgrounds and video cutscenes were difficult to update for the modern era of widescreen displays and maxed-out resolutions. As a result, there's a mish-mash of uneven quality backgrounds, many of them inferior to the GameCube originals. Don't let that deter you, though. Resident Evil HD Remaster is still a great zombie-blasting game, even if it is a little worse for the wear.
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Blade & Soul
%displayPrice% at %seller% Blade & Soul is a highly stylized Korean MMORPG inspired by martial arts and Asian mythology. The free-to-play game stands out from other MMO titles in the market thanks to the blend of combo-centric action, lush Asian fantasy locales, and bombastic artwork by manhwa artist Hyung-Tae Kim. The combat is amazingly well balanced for both PvE and PvP, and the game looks great and runs well. The downside? Blade & Soul has a relatively unimpressive questing and leveling system, and most of its dungeons are quite linear. Nonetheless, there is a lot to enjoy with what's launched so far.
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Heroes of the Storm
%displayPrice% at %seller% Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard's debut MOBA (or multiplayer online battle arena), is the company's attempt to not only reclaim the successful formula built on the back of its games, but also to rework the notoriously complex genre into a friendlier form. It's an all-star mashup that combines characters from across the company's franchises (StarCraft, Warcraft, Diablo, and The Lost Vikings) in a display of fan service not unlike Super Smash Bros. There's a fig leaf of a story about combatants getting sucked into some interdimensional portal, and it isn't the prettiest title around, but the game is all about familiar faces strategically beating the crap out of each other.
League of Legends
%displayPrice% at %seller% League of Legends, Riot Games' free-to-play, multiplayer online battle arena title is, simply put, the best MOBA game you can buy. Its gameplay incorporates elements of role playing, tower defense, and real-time strategy—a combination that differentiates it from the many cookie cutter MOBAs flooding the market. More importantly, the playable characters (known as Champions) show a deep level of variation, and each match's competition level increases as the game sinks you deeper and deeper into addiction.
%displayPrice% at %seller% If you've ever dreamed of being a powerful god who battles other gods, check out the free-to-play Smite. Hi-Rez Studios' action-focused MOBA puts you in the role of a deity chosen from among the Chinese, Greek, Egyptian, Hindu, Japanese, Mayan, Norse, and Roman pantheons in a war for godly supremacy. Smite is an excellent, fast-paced PC game with numerous game modes and an ever-expanding character roster. However, recurring server issues, the lack of cross-platform play, and other issues prevent the game from achieving true godhood.
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%displayPrice% at %seller% Bejeweled 3, when compared to its predecessors, is a gold rush of new features and enhancements. Skeptics who previously found little appeal in gem-swapping will enjoy new objective-oriented modes, be it saving butterflies, digging for gold, shattering ice, or concealing a poker hand. Bejeweled 3 doesn't remake the franchise, but that isn't the aim. For the millions who already enjoy it on computers, websites, and mobile phones, Bejeweled 3 polishes an already shining gem.
Papo & Yo
%displayPrice% at %seller% Papo & Yo, a puzzle-platformer from Minority, crossed over to PC from PlayStation Network with grace and style. This tale of a boy and a monster takes places in an imaginative world filled with South American-style houses, reason-defying physics, and a heartfelt story that explores the relationship between a child and an alcoholic, abusive parent.
%displayPrice% at %seller% Valve's original Portal was noteworthy for its witty and acerbic dialogue, creativity in blending the previously incompatible brain-teasing-puzzle-game and first-person-shooter genres, and relative shortness. With Portal 2, Valve has left intact the first quality, expanded and elaborated on the second, and done a bit to address the third. What this adds up to is a sequel that stands up proudly to the original, updating the characteristics that made it a distinctive success without dulling their memory. Limited multiplayer and post-campaign options slightly diminish the replay factor, but in almost every way Portal 2 is just as amusing and exhilarating as its predecessor.
%displayPrice% at %seller% The video game industry is dominated by space marines, regular marines, super-soldiers, and zombie-killers—the headshots and gun-blasts permeate the business. That's why it's particularly nice to see a clever title like Airtight Games and Square Enix's Quantum Conundrum, a project from Portal designer Kim Swift. The first-person puzzle game focuses on solving increasingly challenging puzzles using a dimension-shifting tool within a mansion filled with wacky inventions.
%displayPrice% at %seller% Scribblenauts Unlimited, 5th Cell's latest word-adventure title, lets creative gamers use a magic notebook to summon a wild array of items—from the mundane to the extravagant—as they attempt to reverse a spell that's turning their in-game sister, Lily, into stone. It's a very basic plot that kickstarts the action, but Scribblenauts Unlimited excels at sparking imagination as you attempt to solve puzzles. It's one the wordsmiths and imaginauts will love.
%displayPrice% at %seller% Imagine a game soup flavored with chunky bits of old school 2D Castlevania, Portal, and BioShock, and you still wouldn't get close to describing The Swapper. The game's not quite a platformer; it's a puzzle game, packaged with a brooding sci-fi story set in space. Finnish company Facepalm Games delivers a fascinating, memorable exploration title that can sustain at least two plays through because of multiple endings and achievements.
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Racing & Sports Games
Out Of The Park Baseball 2016
%displayPrice% at %seller% Fans of America's favorite pastime only have two worthwhile video game selections in the Steam store: Out Of The Park Baseball 2016 and Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings. Unlike Super Mega Baseball, a cartoonish, action-based take on the sport, Out Of The Park Baseball is a numbers-driven, hardcore management game that carries the official Major League Baseball license. With its deep rosters, incredible number of managerial options, and news reports, it's one of the best baseball games you'll find on PC.
Ridge Racer Unbounded
%displayPrice% at %seller% The Ridge Racer series may not carry Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport's swagger, but the long-running franchise has a dedicated fan base that loves the drift-centric racing action. This entry, crafted by Bugbear Entertainment, brings a chaotic element to the familiar gameplay by adding environmental and vehicular destruction as you race for street cred in the fictional Shatter Bay. The story is something you can flat out ignore—it's a racing game, after all—but the driving action is interesting and varied. Just play against human opponents if you wish to maintain your sanity.
%displayPrice% at %seller% There are few video games that drop all dark and portentous pretenses and give you a straightforward, honest-to-goodness game. Rocket League is one such title. It blends the charm of RC racing with the heated competition of soccer, and adds plenty of over-the-top spectacle to keep every match interesting. Rocket League is just as fun during your first hour as it is during your twentieth; there are very few multiplayer games that utilize addictive simplicity as effectively. It even supports cross-platform play with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gamers.
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RPG & Roguelike Games
Dark Souls II
%displayPrice% at %seller% Dark Souls returns to the PC, and it's every bit as terrifying as you may have heard. Don't worry, Dark Souls II avoids the missteps of its predecessor's infamous port, allowing you to focus on the rich, gloomy action-RPG world and fantastic, unforgiving gameplay. Dark Souls II is a relentless barrage of demonic enemies and enraging boss encounters that will test your reflexes—and your patience. This is not a game for the faint of heart or quick of temper, so clear your desk of ceramics, take the framed pictures off the walls, and prepare to enter the dark world of Drangleic.
Dark Souls III
%displayPrice% at %seller% Dark Souls III is developer From Software's return to the Souls series after the eldritch madness that was Bloodborne. In fact, the newest Souls game incorporates gameplay and design elements from virtually all of the team's recent titles. As a result, the gorgeous and action-packed Dark Souls III feels highly familiar, yet fresh and content-rich at the same time. Like all of From Software's launches, however, the game is in need of a few patches to adjust weapon balance. Nonetheless, Dark Souls III is easily one of the best games in the series.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
%displayPrice% at %seller% Blizzard seems to be one of the few companies committed to sticking with old-school expansions for its games and not just DLC packs. World of Warcraft received several large, and full-priced expansions, as did Diablo III, with Reaper of Souls. The add-on contains a good chunk of content that, with some much-needed tweaks to the base Diablo III, make the whole game feel fresh and fun.
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
%displayPrice% at %seller% Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is a single-player RPG, with action-driven gameplay akin to Capcom's Devil May Cry and Monster Hunter franchises. It draws inspiration from classic fables and myths, setting the game in a world burdened with the return of a destructive red dragon. Its combat is flashy and engaging, and the open-world environments are rich with detail, but the quest-driven plot and sparse character development weaken what would be an otherwise interesting story. The RPG leveling stalls combat, as well, so you won't fight at your full potential until you've leveled your class sufficiently. These issues may turn off less patient players, but those hoping for a grand, long-lived adventure across an action-packed open world will find plenty to discover and enjoy.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
%displayPrice% at %seller% Bethesda's Elder Scrolls series has consistently been on the front lines of RPG immersion, giving you ever bigger and more elaborate realms to explore. The quantum strides made in Morrowind (2002) and Oblivion (2006) continue in Skyrim, which provides the most delicious perspective to date on this fascinating world over which you have almost complete control. It's no challenge to set yourself up as a warrior, a wizard, or a pickpocketing miscreant, of either gender, of any of ten species, and with just the physical and facial characteristics you desire.
Mass Effect 2
%displayPrice% at %seller% The BioWare-developed Mass Effect 2 picks up exactly where the original space opera left off. In fact, one of the great things about this RPG, beside the incredible character development, is that you can upload your character from last game directly into this one. In terms of fresh features, there's a new cover system, and a revamped health recovery system lets you heal most wounds by camping out of harm's way. Although Mass Effect 2 is much more shooter-like than the original, role-playing is still at the game's core.
Mass Effect 3
%displayPrice% at %seller% When the fate of the galaxy is in your hands, how often does it feel like it's really in your hands? It does in Mass Effect 3. Picking up where Mass Effect 2 left off, Mass Effect 3 thrusts you back into the persona of Commander Shepard, who's standing at the brink of one of the most daunting challenges ever. He's tasked with nothing less than rescuing the Earth, and the entire Milky Way, from the clutches of the all-consuming Reapers that are threatening them as never before. Packed with action, character development, and customizability that transcend what you find in most games, Mass Effect 3 is an entertaining and frequently engrossing trip into the psychology of helplessness, if one that doesn't realize all of its towering ambitions.
%displayPrice% at %seller% RymdResa is a fascinating PC game that features a narrative structure, music, and environments that play out like an art-house drama. While drifting through the emptiness of space, collecting resources and materials to survive, your character occasionally drops poetry gems via diary entries, while reflecting on the loneliness that vastness represents—as well as the depression, hope, and desire that comes with it. RymdResa features nearly zero in-game interactions, but the roguelike adventure game uses a single character and simple graphics to dissect the human psyche in a story that flirts with the possibility that we are one with the universe in more ways than we imagine.
%displayPrice% at %seller% Wasteland 2 is a return to the classic computer RPG conventions that have been largely absent in the contemporary gaming scene. CRPGs have seen a recent resurgence with the release of Divinity: Original Sin and Shadowrun, and developer InXile Entertainment has followed suit with a proper sequel to its 1988 classic. The core of any good CRPG is choice, and Wasteland 2 embraces this wholeheartedly. You can either choose from a list of premade characters or create a more specialized and customized party by allocating skill points and attributes. There is no single protagonist; instead, you control a party of Desert Rangers. Wasteland 2 isn't without flaws, however. The combat in particular is a tad underwhelming, but it's still an enjoyable return to post-apocalyptic Arizona and California.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
%displayPrice% at %seller% The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the final installment in CD Projekt Red's action-RPG series. Geralt of Rivia sets out one last time to slay beasts, collect bounties, and protect the child of destiny. CD Projekt Red changes the game formula by introducing a massive, open world filled with monsters to hunt and quests to undertake. But it also greatly improves the series' combat by making alchemy more accessible and tightening the action controls. The rich story narrative that drives the game is rife with tragedy, folkloric horror, humor, and intrigue, keeping you on your toes every step of the way.
Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim
%displayPrice% at %seller% Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim is an excellent top-down hack-and-slash RPG by Japanese developer Nihon Falcom. Originally released exclusively for PCs in Japan, Ys VI was ported to the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable by Konami in 2005 and made available around the world. This newer version of Ys VI features an XSEED localization that includes an improved translation, a more challenging game mode called Catastrophe Mode, enhanced graphical settings, and Steam support—features that more than make up for the missing content that was in the Konami-published port.
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%displayPrice% at %seller% Game studio Cave holds true to its promise of porting its shoot-em-up (or "shmup") catalog to Steam with the release of Deathsmiles. You play as one of five gothic lolitas who defend their land from a demon invasion using familiars and intense, enemy-wrecking firepower. It's a simple premise that's bolstered by huge enemies, big explosions, beautifully detailed environments, and a thrilling goth-rock score. All in all, Deathsmiles is a thoroughly enjoyable PC shooter, despite cramped environments and sprites that were already considered a bit dated at the time of its original 2007 arcade release.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions
%displayPrice% at %seller% Top-down arcade shooters have been a video game staple for a long, long time. The 1980s saw Robotron: 2084 popularize the genre with easy to use twin-stick controls, while the 1990s added Arnold Schwarzenegger flair and Paul Verhoeven panache with Smash TV. Recently, the best shooter wasn't newfangled fare like Halo or Gears of War, but a simple gem called Geometry Wars. True to its title, sequel Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions takes the addictive shape-shooting action into the third dimension with near-immaculate results. The game is rendered with Tron-like grids, wire-framed objects that explode into kaleidoscopic fireworks as a Daft Punk-ish soundtrack pulses in the background. It's a feast for the senses.
%displayPrice% at %seller% Death's frosty hand will grip us all in due time, but, fortunately, it's a one-and-done situation. We fight the inevitable but ultimately succumb without a repeated struggle. However, if you fire up Mushihimesama, a bullet hell shooter from developer Cave, you will die a lot, but may eventually cheat death should you master your guns and the ability to weave between waves of fat, neon-colored enemy bullets. This excellently crafted PC game doesn't do a very good job of introducing newcomers to its systems, but seasoned pilots will enjoy this game's huge insect enemies, awesome firepower, and many thrills.
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%displayPrice% at %seller% When it comes to evaluating any title in the Battlefield franchise, it's important to remember that the only reason anyone plays campaign mode is to unlock new weapons in multiplayer. Despite great voice acting by Michael K. Williams (Omar from The Wire), campaign mode is little more than a four to six hour tutorial teaching you how to play the game. Multiplayer combat, on the other hand, captures the awe of destruction. You can run across the battlefield, ducking in and out of cover, board a helicopter, hop on the mini-gun, cut enemies to shreds, then hop off the gun and repair the helicopter while in flight. It's all in a day's work on the battlefield.
%displayPrice% at %seller% Shattered dreams form the foundation of BioShock Infinite, the third installment in Irrational Games' impressive saga exploring the devastating effects of isolation (and isolationism) on the human psyche. But even if you loved the original BioShock (2007) and its sequel, BioShock 2 (2010), this chapter won't leave you with the impression your dreams have been betrayed. Wedding familiar gameplay elements from the preceding titles with exciting new mechanics, an engrossing story, and stunning visual design, BioShock Infinite is the culmination of the series' aesthetic and its promise to turn a mirror on humanity by probing as deeply into the self as possible.
%displayPrice% at %seller% Gearbox Entertainment and 2K Games take you back to the warzone with Borderlands 2, the sequel to the hit apocalyptic RPG-shooter that isn't Fallout. If you played the original Borderlands, you understand this game. You play a Vault Hunter, a treasure hunter looking for an alien vault on the barely colonized planet of Pandora. While doing so, you cut a swath of death through thousands of Mad Max-style raiders, mutant animals, and robots. Throughout your adventure, you level up your character in an RPG-like fashion, and collect hundreds of different guns, each with its own unique stats and attributes.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
%displayPrice% at %seller% Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops is less like a traditional first-person shooter than it is a plunge into someone else's fever dream. A jolting collection of intense action sequences, haunting writing, and ultra-dark humor, this installment in the popular franchise revitalized the historical-fiction FPS genre. Though its captivating campaign is on the short side, it's loaded with additional things to do, including cooperative and competitive multiplayer scenarios and plenty of unlockable extras.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
%displayPrice% at %seller% Let's start with what will be the meat of the Black Ops II experience for many: multiplayer mode. Developer Treyarch has not toyed significantly with the formula, giving players numerous options for facing off against others across the country and around the globe. The missions include Team Deathmatch, Free-for-All, Search & Destroy, Capture the Flag, and eight others; you can also engage in two types of Combat Training runs to hone your skills, or play four Party Games that put interesting for-entertainment-only spins on the weapons you can use and the rules you play by.
%displayPrice% at %seller% Don't let the non-numerical name fool you. Doom is the latest sequel in the hallowed series, and it's the best modern update one could hope for. It's also the best first-person-shooter in recent memory—so long as you stick to the gory, frantic, and lovingly satanic campaign. The multiplayer is lackluster and the DLC is a shame, but the real star, the single-player mode, blends old-school design with modern know-how to form a satisfying, unholy concoction.
Far Cry 4
%displayPrice% at %seller% Far Cry 4 is a fun sandbox of shooting with an interesting land to explore and tons of missions to find and collectibles to grab. It slavishly follows Far Cry 3's structure, but when the action is this entertaining, hard to complain. Far Cry 4 doesn't do much new, but it's an enjoyable and good-looking excuse to spend some hours stomping through jungles and sniping people from towers.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
%displayPrice% at %seller% Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, the first DirectX 12 PC title, just about sets the standard for what a remastered game should offer. The third-person shooter was already a great game when it debuted a decade ago on Xbox 360, but this updated title adds 4K resolution, unlocked frame rates, and content that was once paid DLC. That said, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition isn't perfect; it doesn't work well with AMD GPUs, bugs from the original game are still an issue, and it lacks some of the updated mechanics found in later Gears games. But if you own an Nvidia-powered gaming rig, you'll be good to go.
Halo: Spartan Strike
%displayPrice% at %seller% Is there anything that sounds more cynical than a top-down shooter Halo spin-off for phones and tablets? Ever since single-handedly saving the original Xbox, Halo has remained Microsoft's gaming cash cow, so sticking its name on something is a great way to drum up extra interest. However, instead of being a mere cash-in, Halo: Spartan Assault is a legitimately fun and well-produced game, triumphantly translating Master Chief's missions to PCs and mobile devices. Halo: Spartan Strike maintains much of that game's strengths, while cutting out most, but not all, of its weakness.
%displayPrice% at %seller% Shooters don't always need to be dark, gritty, or realistic. Cartoony fun has its place, too. Blizzard Entertainment's Overwatch is a prime example of exactly that, with its colorful levels, multiple game modes that focus on teams attacking and defending, characters with vastly different play styles, and a few MOBA-like twists. Overwatch is a thoroughly enjoyable first-person shooter that's filled with mechanical variety, but it has one glaring problem—its awful micro-transaction structure.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
%displayPrice% at %seller% The original Garden Warfare married PopCap Games' zany Plants vs. Zombies universe with strategic, class-based third-person shooting, resulting in an addicting, polished multiplayer shooter. Garden Warfare 2 expands the roster of playable characters and variants, adds all-new customization options, introduces new game modes, and fleshes out the single-player experience, creating a much more rounded game than the original. That said, balance issues make some classes feel more potent than others, and the server connectivity is spotty at times, resulting in jittery matches. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is a solid title nonetheless, and one that fans of the original and newcomers alike can enjoy.
Star Wars: Battlefront
%displayPrice% at %seller% Star Wars: Battlefront is a multiplayer shooter that reboots the classic LucasArts video game series. Unlike previous games in the series, Star Wars: Battlefront lacks an overarching narrative and historic battles to reenact; it's basically a modern shooter given a liberal coat of Star Wars paint. The veneer is a fine one, and Battlefront has some good action to offer, including a playable Emperor Sheev Palpatine. However, once you look past the façade, the game doesn't have enough content or variety to keep you invested for a super-long time.
%displayPrice% at %seller% Superhot is the most innovative shooter to come along in some time. Despite its unimpressive visuals, this game is a genuinely creative and challenging experience that injects puzzle elements and a bizarre meta-narrative into quick, bite-sized servings of computerized violence. It might seem like a short and simple game at first, but between the addictive time-pausing mechanic and some very satisfying and repeatable extra modes, you'll quickly find yourself playing it for hours, and the built-in social media features for sharing your best runs will keep you coming back to get more consecutive, stylish kills.
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Sim & World-Building Games
%displayPrice% at %seller% If you want to appreciate the vastness of space, play Elite: Dangerous. This PC game by Frontier Developments is a crowdfunded follow-up to the classic Elite series of space sims. It's a game that gives you a ship, a handful of equipment, and a full tank of fuel, then sets you out on your own in the vast cosmos. It's huge, slow, deliberate, and open, and it will reward players with the patience stay with it.
%displayPrice% at %seller% Minecraft is a blocky, beautiful sandbox that lets you explore the depths of your imagination. The core of the game is exploring and surviving in a hostile world made from blocks that you can build with as you please. But as you play, you'll quickly see that this game has so much more to offer than just architecture. What Minecraft presents is plenty of space for players to enjoy their own kind of play. The detail-oriented will thrill at the possibilities of an enormous sandbox, but even a dabbler will find pleasure facing off against an unfriendly wilderness. If you've never experienced it, start exploring and see if you can resist the call of its endless potential.
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth
%displayPrice% at %seller% Building on our inborn desire to see things no one has ever seen and take chances beyond the boundaries of reason—and, of course, exploit our hunger for addictive turn-based strategy games—Civilization: Beyond Earth catapults you off the planet that's housed your kings, wonders, and wars for millennia (or at least since 1991, when the original Civilization was released), and lets you fend for your life and begin a new history on a literally alien world. But if there's one problem with this game, it's that it never quite feels alien enough.
The Sims 3
%displayPrice% at %seller% With The Sims 3, the Sims series has finally grown up. No longer are the Sims just digital action figures in a big dollhouse. The new Sims have personalities, goals, and unique body types and hairstyles. The Sims themselves aren't the only thing overhauled in this release, either. The game mechanics have been changed to make it easier to customize your environments and surroundings, giving users millions of ways to create the worlds of their choice.
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%displayPrice% at %seller% Arkane Studios' Dishonored is a fantastic first-person game that puts you in a playground of murder and stealth, while still keeping focused on an interesting story in a rich and enthralling fantasy world that's filled with supernatural happenings. It's not quite as large, as open, or as well-written as Deus Ex, but it stands as a solid spiritual successor to one of the best PC games of all time.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
%displayPrice% at %seller% Stealth-action series Metal Gear started life on the MSX home computer and at long last returns to the PC after an extended absence. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes sees series protagonist Big Boss undertake extraction and elimination missions against the mysterious Cipher organization in this Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain prologue. Boasting beautiful graphics that were built on the impressive FOX Engine, a wide selection of weapons, and a variety of ways to tackle missions, Ground Zeroes sets the stage for the final chapter in the series, even if it can be beaten in roughly an hour.
Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine
%displayPrice% at %seller% In this production by Pocketwatch Games, a ragtag group of criminals escape from the French Riviera prison and go on several heists: for money, documents, and, eventually, the chance to retire from the business once and for all. Monaco has the co-op formula down pat; it's easy to jump in, and complex enough to reel in long hours of sneaking and thieving. With plenty of charm and a novel design that makes stealth work, Monaco is one of the best PC co-op experiences.
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StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void
%displayPrice% at %seller% The third and final StarCraft II expansion is both a fantastic conclusion to Blizzard's five-year saga and a great entry point into one of the most complex, but satisfying, strategy games ever made. Unlike the previous StarCraft II expansion, Legacy of the Void doesn't require you to buy any previous versions of the game to play this package. It's completely standalone. Factor in a varied single-player campaign, gorgeous cinematics, and new noob-friendly co-op modes, and you'll see that Legacy of the Void is one of the best PC games of all time.
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
%displayPrice% at %seller% StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is a sci-fi real-time strategy game in which you build structures and gather resources to build an army and defeat your opponent through cunning tactics and sheer firepower. Nothing could quite live up to the hype surrounding the real-time strategy game's release, but, even so, this is a wonderful title. The story is well-paced, and the strategy and resource-management missions will lock you into finishing the game.
Supreme Commander 2
%displayPrice% at %seller% Gas Powered Games' Supreme Commander 2 probably doesn't deserve the word "supreme" in its title, but then changing the title would defeat the purpose of making a sequel. Not that this game isn't a fine follow-up to the 2007 original, but it's definitely aimed at a broader (and less patient) audience. With much of the micromanagement minutiae reduced or removed entirely, Supreme Commander 2 is more of a garden-variety real-time strategy title than a proud member of a distinctive series. Still, it's a lot of fun if you can accept the gameplay changes.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
%displayPrice% at %seller% 2K Games and Firaxis succeeded in rekindling a long-dead franchise with XCOM: Enemy Unknown. This turn-based strategy game is a reimagining of 1994's X-COM: UFO Defense, a long-beloved game that last saw a sequel in 2001 with the ill-received X-COM: Enforcer, a shooter that didn't have any of the first game's strategy. XCOM: Enemy Unknown feels like a straight remake of the original, bringing almost everything gamers loved about it to the PC, along with updated graphics, streamlined gameplay, and plenty of challenge.