Don’t worry about the PS5, because with a gaming PC you’re already set for the next generation. The best PC hardware can outstrip consoles with ease, and the modding scene extends the lives of the best PC games far beyond their console equivalents. But what we love most about PC gaming is the dizzying number of quality games on offer, from AAA blockbuster to tiny solo indie projects, and you can often pick them up cheap during regular sales on Steam or other stores.
With hundreds of thousands to choose from, how do you know which to invest in? You've come to the right place, because this list showcases only the best of the best PC games. If you're a newcomer – welcome! – then these are the PC games you should buy right away. And if you're a long-time PC gamer, read this list to make sure you haven't missed out. Note that these are the best PC games you can play today, not the most important PC games ever made: as much as we love old-school classics like System Shock 2 and Half-Life, you won't find them on this list. Equally, if an older game crops up, you can be assured that it's still worth downloading.
If you need to upgrade your PC to run some of these best PC games, check out our high-end gaming PC build guide. Alternatively, if you need a pre-built machine, here are the best gaming PCs of 2019, and the best gaming laptops.
Without further ado, here are the 25 best PC games.
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Spelunky is a bottomless treasure chest: its simple mechanics are easy to learn – jump, whip, bomb – but the way they rub up against its procedurally-generated levels, enemies and items never stops surprising you. In one run you’ll find a freeze ray and a teleporter, and try to rob a shopkeeper, in the next you’ll find spring shoes and climbing gloves that let you bounce around, sticking to walls.
Completing the game, which means beating each of its five themed areas, is tough, and every level is full of traps and hazards. The controls are razor-sharp, so every time you die you know it was your fault, which only gives you more motivation to go again. Even when you defeat the final boss, you’ll want to replay to see what it throws at you next, and there are five hidden levels that are all worth finding.
If you’ve never played Spelunky, then it’s time to find out what all the fuss is about: if you’re a long-term player, consider this a reminder that it’s always worth revisiting, especially because a sequel will be out next year.
24. Total War: Three Kingdoms
Any number of Total War games could’ve made this list – Warhammer 2 was a close second – but 2019’s Three Kingdoms feels like a huge step forward in many ways. It still has the epic, dense campaigns fans of the series are looking for, but the way it makes diplomacy completely transparent, telling you exactly what it will take to strike a deal, makes dealing with other factions more streamlined. New temporary, multi-faction alliances called coalitions add another strategic notch to your bow.
You could argue that other Total War games capture certain elements of the series better. Warhammer 2’s factions are more exotic, and Shogun 2’s Japanese themes more coherent. But Three Kingdoms is strong in every area, and its multiple, complex campaigns feel very different depending on which leader you pick to try and unify China. If you want the most complete Total War experience, Three Kingdoms is your best bet.
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23. Assassin's Creed Odyssey
The story feels less focused than other Assassin’s Creed games, but the sprawling map and endless list of activities makes Assassin's Creed Odyssey one of the great PC time sinks: you could easily get 100 hours of fun from it without finishing the main quest.
Set in ancient Greece during the Peloponnesian War, Odyssey is an exotic adventure full of enemy forts to infiltrate, hidden caves to discover, and giant naked statues to climb. On a properly-optimised set-up it looks gorgeous, and you’ll never tire of finding new, beautiful areas to explore. The combat is much improved over Origins, the boat combat is addictive once again, and the supporting cast is genuinely interesting, rather than simply being a collection of quest-givers. Just when you feel like you’ve got a grip on it, a whole new section will open up, and you’ll happily dive right in.
22. Portal 2
Portal 2 is nearly a decade old, but it remains our favorite co-op puzzler on PC, and the single-player is amazing too. This is Valve’s writing at its brightest: every line of dialogue hums with humor and charm, particularly when Steven Merchant’s Wheatley is on-screen, and it gives you lots of ways to interact with your co-op partner, whether you’re high-fiving them or laughing behind their back.
Most importantly, the puzzles are outlandishly clever. Just like the first Portal, the game is about placing an orange portal on a surface, a blue portal on another surface and leaping through – but if the original set the table, Portal 2 brings the banquet. New mechanics such as gels that can increase your speed or bounce you high in the air make the puzzles even more fiendish, and more satisfying to solve. We love returning to it with a friend every few years to savour it all over again.
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21. Stardew Valley
A satisfying Harvest Moon experience on PC has long been a fantasy of many, but until recently every attempt at replicating the cartoony farming simulator has fallen well short of the mark. But Stardew Valley not only delivers a comparable sim, it actually leverages a number of new systems that expand on the core Harvest Moon formula in some refreshing ways.
While the heart of Stardew Valley remains the management and expansion of your farmstead, the game adds a huge number of other elements to juggle, from battling your way through the dangerous, monster-ridden depths of the local mine to romancing various members of the local citizenry. Stardew Valley ensures that you’re never short of people to meet and things to do, and practically every system is enriched with interesting rewards or standout mechanics.
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Turn to page two for our picks of the 20 -11 best PC games to play right now...