The Epic Games Store has some tasty exclusives - it’s the only place you can buy Red Dead Redemption on PC, for instance - but Valve’s Steam remains the biggest storefront in PC gaming. The best Steam games reflect the pinnacle of the platform: from indie games to AAA, the library is huge, and keeps on growing. Best of all, you can always pick up a bargain thanks to regular sales, with great games going at half price or less.
With so many games on offer, in fact, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. What should you spend your money on? What are the must-have Steam games everybody should play at least once? This list will give you everything you need to know, and we’ll keep expanding it over the next few months. Here are the best Steam games you can play today.
10. Destiny 2
Bungie’s shared-world shooter has finally arrived on Steam after years on Blizzard’s launcher, and this free-to-play version, New Light, is everything we hoped it would be. It’s a generous slab of brilliant shooting, with multiple campaigns, plenty of side quests and the full, frantic PvP experience thrown in. You could easily get 100 or more hours out of it, and by that point it may well have earned the money it costs to unlock its latest expansions.
Destiny 2 has always had excellent weapons and even better weapon handling, and the Steam version, naturally, is no different. You’ll constantly find new guns with slightly better stats and unique traits, while landing headshots is always a joy thanks to the way your enemy’s skulls pop on impact. It can be confusing to get started in Destiny 2 given how large it’s grown over time, but it’s very hard to go wrong with it. Whatever corner of this world you choose to travel to, just pick your favourite weapon, point it at an enemy, and squeeze the trigger.
9. XCOM 2
A streamlined strategy game about defending the earth from invading alien forces. XCOM’s sleek UI and on-screen tooltips make it easy to pick up - but there’s surprising depth to its combat, especially when you start customising your soldiers before you send them out to battle on grid-based maps. You’ll get attached to your recruits as they rank up, which makes it all the more painful when, inevitably, they get mauled by a Chryssalid.
This isn’t a game for perfectionists: success means getting through a level by the skin of your teeth, usually with one of your squad fatally injured. It encourages careful unit placement and proper planning before you move, all for those plans to be turned on their head when a new pod of enemies shows up on your flank. It’s difficult, but that makes it all the more rewarding when you pull off a clean run, and we enjoy the slow, steady progress back at home base, which you add more rooms to over time. The perfect strategy game for newcomers and genre vets alike.
8. Divinity: Original Sin 2
Simply the best game you can play on PC right now. It’s a tribute to isometric PC classics like Baldur’s Gate 2 and Icewind Dale, but you don’t have to like old-school RPGs to get the most out of it. Alongside the pillars of the genre - poetic writing, deep characters and branching storylines - is a wonderfully tactile combat system with proper physics, complex skills and elemental spells that you can combine in satisfying ways. These range from the simple, such as throwing oil and then setting it on fire, to the more imaginative, such as making enemy corpses explode and then healing yourself with their spilled blood.
Outside of combat you’ll find story that keeps surprising you, and a wonderful crew of characters to get to know. It’s a brilliant solo RPG, but it’s even better with a friend: in co-op, you can have arguments - resolved via a minigame - about what your party should do next. Plus, teaming up with a buddy makes that punchy combat feel even more clever.
7. Into the Breach
It’s chess, but with rocket launchers and mechs instead of knights and bishops. Okay, it’s not actually chess, but Into the Breach’s rules feel equally as simple and elegant. Your alien enemies - usually giant insects - always telegraph their next move, whether that’s moving one square, attacking a skyscraper, or spitting bile in your direction. It’s your job to slot those puzzle pieces into place, and decide how you can wipe out as many of them as possible in one turn.
You take control of one of eight mech squads, which you unlock sequentially, each with their own speciality. The Blitzkrieg are lightning specialists, the Frozen Titans use ice, the Steel Judoka use raw physical strength. Your three units have their own skills, and you must work out how to apply them to the situation at hand. As the Blitzkrieg, you might use your Hook Mech to move enemies into a line, then strike with your Lightning Mech to send a pulse of electricity through them all, for example. Randomised levels and the chance of upgrading your units keep tempting us back for one more round.
6. Doom (2016)
Doom is what happens when old-school action meets modern design. It’s violent, shotgun-toting, demon-blasting escapism, but it all happens inside open levels that are cleverly designed, and funnel the action towards particular spots. Enemies swarm and swoop on your location, responding instantly to your jukes - they’re powerful, but you’re better equipped.
The weapons are the stars here: they’re variants of guns you’ll have seen before, but bigger and more deadly, with a long list of weapon mods to make them all the more ridiculous. No, we don’t need nine barrels on a gatling gun, but we’re not going to complain when pulling the trigger feels this damn good. Playing Doom is a physical, almost primal experience. Melee attacks range from ripping off a demon’s jaw to tearing off their arm and beating them to death with it. Fast movement and a metal soundtrack means that Doom grips you from its opening gunshot until the final body hits the floor.
Get Doom on Steam here
5. Slay the Spire
A deck-building roguelike in which you’re just one card away from a wildly broken combo that can obliterate any enemy - at least it feels that way. Your attacking and defensive moves are each determined by cards, and as you travel between nodes on its procedurally generated maps you’ll meet merchants, who will sell you cards or buy your worst ones. The three starting decks are always the same for the three playable classes, but your plans will veer off path very early: perhaps a pesky monster chomps half your health in one fight, meaning you have to focus on healing from then until the boss at the end of the map, or perhaps you get an unexpected, ultra-powerful attack card that you can build your deck around.
Slay the Spire is at its best when your deck works like clockwork: if you shed enough throwaway cards, it’s even possible to create endless damage cycles where you deal an attack, redraw that card, deal it again, redraw it, and so on. The fact you always feel so close - and yet so far - from these powerful combos is what keeps us coming back to Slay the Spire, run after run. Even if you don’t like card games, you need to play this.
4. Dishonored 2
When anybody asks for our number one action-adventure recommendation, we always give them Dishonored 2, a first-person assassin game with lavish levels of dizzying scope. Each mission drops you into a huge, branching environment full of secret entrances and hidden passageways, and asks you to kill a given target. How you do that is up to you, and Dishonored 2 supports every possible playstyle, from skulking through the shadows choking guards, to running through the front doors, chucking grenades.
You can play as two characters, Corvo and Emily, and their unique skills necessitate at least two play-throughs. Corvo can, among other abilities, slow time and possess enemies, while Emily can clone herself or chain enemy fates together, dispatching several targets at once. It’s worth exploring the vast, detailed maps before heading for your target, because you’ll find secrets that will help your mission, and give you even more options for deciding their final moments.
Get Dishonored 2 on Steam here
3. Return of the Obra Dinn
The best detective game ever made - and you’re not even a detective in it. As an insurance adjuster, it’s your job to find out what happened to the crew of the Obra Dinn, a ship that has just floated back into port, mysteriously empty. Alongside your powers of deduction, you have a magic pocket watch that can transport you into static versions of the past, where you can walk around scenes of gunfights and tentacled monster attacks while hunting for clues. When you’re finished searching, you jump to another point in time, eventually building up a picture of events.
It asks you to pay attention to the details, including characters’ accents and clothes, and it never tells you where to look next. With enough exploring you’ll always find a pertinent clue, and before long you’ll be holding a bundle of loose threads. It might take you a while to tie them together, but when you do - jotting down the fate of each crew member in your notebook - you’ll feel like a genius. We love the grainy black-and-white art style, too.
2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3, not Skyrim, is the PC’s ultimate fantasy RPG’. Its massive open world is richer and more rewarding than anything Bethesda has ever built, and you get to explore it as Geralt of Rivia, a badass swordsman who loves a good bath. Wild Hunt is as much about story as it is about action, and both the main and side quests will introduce you to some of the best characters in video games: dialogue is consistently witty and believable, especially when you’re talking to the people Geralt knows and loves.
This isn’t a ‘choose-you-own-hero’ type of RPG - Geralt has a distinct personality and look - but you will get to make decisions, both big and small, that shape the towns, villages and cities of the picturesque Northern Kingdoms. Every quest, even if you’re just clearing out an ancient beast for a bounty, peels back the curtain a little further on this gorgeous world, and once you’ve tugged on a story thread those believable, flawed characters will make it hard to let go.
1. Rainbow Six Siege
Siege is still the PC’s premiere team-based shooter – although Blizzard might have something to say about that come the release of Overwatch 2. You still have to launch Ubisoft’s native Uplay client to play Siege, but you can purchase its various editions on Valve’s store: you just need to link your Steam and Uplay accounts to get it all working. That’s a minor inconvenience for playing a masterful FPS, which blends steady aim, quick reactions and, most importantly, coordination with your teammates.
A microphone is advised, but not essential. Listening to your allies and trying to work as a squad, however, is mandatory. We’ve had our most fun in Siege when combining with our allies for slick, lethal manoeuvres: one player breaches a wall, another throws a smoke, while a third peers down a thermal scope, popping headshots. The variety of the maps and the number of operators - 52 and counting, each with their own abilities - make every round unique.
If you're after some more great games for your PC, check out our list of the best pc games.