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What a year of contrasts it's been for PC gamers. After we'd grown accustomed to almost every big release being an unoptimized, unplayable mess, some of which were disappointing in their own right, our patience was rewarded with some of the highest-scoring and popular games in years.
This latest update to the Best PC Games (You Should Be Playing) list includes new titles that will be on people's drives for years to come, a few indie gems, and some older games that are still worth a look. There's a greater emphasis on single-player entries this year, considering the surge in online multiplayer games currently on offer.
We should also mention that our latest picks don't invalidate our previous PC game recommendations from 2022 and 2021, many of which are excellent games not to be missed and can now be found for deep discounts.
The greatest PC game of all time?
- Genre: cRPG
- Similar: Divinity: Original Sin 1 & 2, Baldur's Gate 1 & 2, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
- Graphics: The best-looking cRPG ever
- Gameplay: Turn-based combat, choice-and consequence, party exploration, optional co-op multiplayer, D&D 5th Edition rules
The full release of Baldur's Gate 3 has only been available for weeks, yet the accolades it has received speak volumes: the highest-rated PC game of all time on Metacritic; the same accolade on OpenCritic, which also ranks it the best game of all time on all platforms; PC Gamer UK's highest-scoring game ever. And yes, it's all well deserved.
Larian Studios had a lot to live up to after Divinity Original Sin II, which many consider one of the greatest games ever, not to mention the pressure of carrying the Baldur's Gate name. Somehow, BG 3 didn't collapse under that weight and has become part of PC gaming legend. It takes the best elements of all previous cRPGs to create a role-playing game without equal.
Baldur's Gate 3 is a truly joyful experience. It immerses players in the amazingly reactive Forgotten Realms world, offering so much freedom with real consequences from choices. It really feels like you're sitting at a table and rolling dice as the DM changes the story based on your actions.
Pretty much everything about it is close to perfect: the writing, the classes, the depth, the abilities, the spells, the acting, the puzzles, the dice-rolling mechanics, the optional cooperative multiplayer, and so on. It's also laugh-out-loud funny in parts. The turn-based combat is a highlight; there will be times when you feel an encounter is impossible, only to discover the perfect combination of scrolls, potions, abilities, and magic that give you a fighting chance.
It's impossible to include all the best points of Baldur's Gate 3's enormous 100+ hour run-time – much longer if you want to do everything – and it's that intimidating depth that could put some people off, despite it being so rewarding. It's still a D&D game, too, which means a few might believe a lengthy beard and familiarity with many-sided dice is a requirement, even though it's not. There have also been complaints about the third act not being as bug-free or smooth as the others.
Baldur's Gate 3 has been credited with reigniting people's love of games and even caused other developers to warn against setting the bar too high. A 3-year early access period helped enormously, of course, contributing to one of the greatest games of our generation.
- Genre: ARPG
- Similar: Diablo 3, Titan Quest, Torchlight 2, Path of Exile
- Graphics: Incredibly detailed and clean, complemented by Blizzard's usual cinematic cutscenes
- Gameplay: open-world, third-person, (spell) shooter, puzzles, wizardly
We've been waiting with bated breath for Diablo IV. Is this how Blizzard is putting the maligned-if-lucrative Diablo Immortal behind it? The company seems to have succeeded, with a game that embraces its horrific roots while appealing to that part of our brain that releases endorphins upon finding new loot, unlocking extra abilities, and encountering subjectively sexy demon women.
If you've played other Diablo games or similar ARPGs, you'll know what to expect here: complete quests, level up, progress the skill tree, and find the best loot. Simple stuff, but the gameplay loop is dangerously addictive.
Diablo IV's classes have enough differences that it's fun trying out different ones. Combat is satisfyingly crunchy and tense, while the whole thing looks luscious and smooth. Diablo IV really opens up in the end-game, too, adding the likes of the Capstone Dungeons that introduce new World Tiers, the punishing Nightmare dungeons, and Grim Favors/The Tree of Whispers.
The game isn't perfect, of course. Live-service games aren't to everyone's taste and some elements of the user experience and design have come with plenty of criticism, too. Moreover, there are times when the grind can get too much.
Fans of action RPGs are most likely to love Diablo IV. There's also a new season (and more to come) that could reignite interest in those who might have gotten a little bored.
Buy it from: Blizzard
Graphics do not maketh the game
- Genre: Rogue-like bullet-hell
- Similar: Soulstone Survivors, 20 Minutes Till Dawn, Brotato
- Graphics: Retro 8-bit style
- Gameplay: Autoshooter, top-down, life-stealingly addictive
How can a title that, at first glance, appears reminiscent of the 8-bit era, was developed and published by one person, has a 349MB install, and costs just $5 be considered one of the best PC games right now? Because this bullet-hell roguelike's addictive nature sinks its fangs into you and won't let go.
The game fundamentally involves dodging and eliminating what are literally thousands of adversaries as you collect experience gems and weapons (up to six simultaneously) that discharge on a short timer – all you need to do is maneuver. The goal is to survive as long as possible on a map as the various monsters grow stronger and their numbers proliferate. Luckily, within ten minutes of starting, you transform into a walking Armageddon, unleashing righteous fury on these demons.
Once you're dead, upgrade your stats and maybe buy a new character with what you collected before trying again.
Like all roguelikes, some might deem the game repetitive, and others may find the visuals unappealing, regardless of how enjoyable the gameplay might be. Nonetheless, Vampire Survivors proves that you don't need ray tracing and an RTX 4090 to produce a quality game. The game gives you the same urge to try another run with a stronger build that makes Hades so great. But be warned: it can become consuming. At $5 and playable on almost any device, Vampire Survivors is unquestionably worth your time.
Buy it from: Steam
There's a whole universe out there
- Genre: RPG
- Similar: The Outer Worlds, No Man's Sky, Mass Effect: Andromeda
- Graphics: Mostly beautiful, often detailed, demanding
- Gameplay: First-and-third-person perspectives, open-world, space exploration, spaceship combat
Starfield, a.k.a. Skyrim in space, has been the most eagerly anticipated game since Cyberpunk 2077. It's too early to tell if the title will live up to the hype, it seems to be doing much better than Cyberpunk so far, though it certainly hasn't received the same universal acclaim as Baldur's Gate 3. For now, Bethesda's massive RPG has a Metacritic rating of 88, indicating plenty more positive reviews than negative ones.
Bethesda's reputation for creating massive worlds has rarely been more evident than in Starfield. There's an overwhelming amount of activities and missions to get involved with, especially the addictive shipbuilding and surveying planets. Get married, smuggle human organs, and live the space farmer's life. You can lose hours in this game without realizing it.
Both the fast action-based combat and ship battles are fun, faction quests are some of the best missions, and many of the main locations are excellent. But Starfield is divisive and it's not for everyone. The lack of maps, unimpressive main story, bugs, the oxygen system, limited planet exploration, and the encumberment mechanic have been cited as some of the less welcome elements.
The bottom line is that a lot more people like Starfield than don't, and many even love it. We can also expect plenty of fan mods and updates from Bethesda to address some of these initial complaints.
Buy it from: Steam
2D Pixel Perfection
- Genre: Retro-style adventure mash-up
- Similar: Dredge, Stardew Valley, Moonlighter
- Graphics: Lovely 2D pixel art
- Gameplay: Management, RPG, action-adventure
In an era when massive, multi-million dollar games are being released (and not all of them good), it's refreshing to see an indie title about fishing and restaurant management become such a massive hit.
Dave the Diver is so enjoyable that a lot of people hailed it as their favorite game of 2023 before Baldur's Gate 3 arrived.
This retro-style 2D pixel-art adventure is a game of two parts: managing your sushi restaurant and spearfishing in the ocean. Dave the Diver smoothly combines several genres, including management and RPG, alongside minigames. It also has some of the most watchable cutscenes in years.
Most of the game takes place in the Blue Hole Shallows, where you'll encounter around 200 different sea creatures, including massive bosses, all while exploring and taking on a few puzzles. The RPG elements come from upgrading or crafting items for Dave to use, bought using earnings from the restaurant.
The gameplay loop in Dave the Diver works brilliantly and makes the whole thing frighteningly addictive. There are also a ton of minigames and features to try (a fish farm! Seahorse racing!), a fantastic story and characters, and more depth than you'd believe from a game about a heavy-set fisherman/sushi bar owner. Not all the minigames are equally enjoyable and the puzzles are simple, but that's nitpicking in what has become a surprise hit of the year. If all that doesn't convince you, know that Dave the Diver is just $20.
Buy it from: Steam
Worth the wait
- Genre: Turn-based tactics
- Similar: XCOM 2, Wasteland 3, Silent Storm
- Graphics: Vivid and detailed
- Gameplay: Turn-based, isometric view, cooperative mode, light RPG and management
It's a great time for old-school gamers who are currently enjoying sequels to the classics of yesteryear. Another long-awaited third mainline entry in a series to arrive recently comes from the Jagged Alliance franchise, and fans of turn-based tactics games will argue it was worth the wait.
Jagged Alliance 3 sticks with the familiar theme of a group of ragtag mercenaries – 40, in all, including some familiar faces – placed into a fictional country.
Any turn-based tactics game is going to be compared to modern XCOM titles. While there are similarities, there are also plenty of differences, such as hiring mercs with backstories and using action points rather than actions-per-turn. It's also quite tongue-in-cheek, paying homage to action movies of the early 2000s (the game is set in early 2001).
There are plenty of fun elements in JA3, like being able to target specific body parts for status effects and the use of gun mods made from spare parts. There's also an impressively open world map filled with potential battles. But the biggest highlight is the combat, offering a ton of ways to take out enemies, destructible environments, cover mechanics, and lots more – there's plenty of depth here.
While it is a turn-based tactics title at heart, there are RPG and management elements, too. Some parts of the latter might not be fun for everyone, the game can be challenging, and the humor isn't to everyone's taste. Get past that, though, and you'll find an engrossing title that will keep you hooked for hours.
Buy it from: Steam
Bring spare pants
- Genre: Survival horror
- Similar: The Callisto Protocol, Dead Space 2 and 3, Resident Evil series, The Evil Within
- Graphics: You can almost smell the blood
- Gameplay: Third-person, shooter, puzzles, pant-wetting
The all-new Dead Space is more visually stunning, gruesome, and terrifying than ever. If Resi 4 is the action-focused Aliens, then Dead Space is the cosmic horror of Alien.
The sense of dread and terror is present from the moment you approach the USG Ishimura, and the jump scares arrive thick and fast once you're on board – play this with some good headphones for the best, most heart attack-risking experience.
If you got a beefy rig, the remake looks gorgeous, adding to the overall atmosphere of being in an environment that wants to eviscerate you. The new zero-G sections, extra sidequests, and improved guns are more reasons to play if you enjoyed the original. Plus, Isaac can now talk.
Although it's not the lengthiest game out there (a Game+ mode is available), and the intense, recurring jump scares may be overwhelming for some, Dead Space is a must-have for every horror game enthusiast's collection.
A beautiful world you won't forget
- Genre: Action-adventure
- Similar: Subnautica, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
- Graphics: hand-drawn gorgeousness
- Gameplay: Open-world, third-person, animal possession
Tchia might have slipped under the radar for many upon release, but there's a reason why this game has been garnering stellar reviews.
Exploring an archipelago in the Southwest Pacific brimming with secrets and mini-games is a joy on its own, made all the better by the soul-jump mechanic. This feature enables the titular character to dive into and inhabit inanimate objects and animals, each with unique abilities.
The climbing and gliding in Tchia definitely bring to mind Breath of the Wild – a comparison to be proud of – while its missions, collectibles, and various approaches are almost Far Cry-like in their implementation, just without the arsenal of weapons and eccentric baddies. Elsewhere, the photo mode and treasure map sidequest are especially impressive; you'll never want for more customization options; and the developers' New Caledonian roots, upon which Tchia's world is based, are evident in the detailed care put into creating this world.
The enemy bases can become a bit of a chore near the end of the game, but that's nitpicking in what is a beautiful experience that will stay in your memory long after you've finished.
Buy it from: Epic Games Store
Dark Souls with guns, part 2
- Genre: Third-person action
- Similar: Remnant: From the Ashes, Elden Ring, Tom Clancy's The Division 2
- Graphics: Unreal Engine 5-powered prettiness
- Gameplay: Soulslike, optional co-op multiplayer, looter shooter, RPG, procedurally generated
Remnant 2 did not have the best launch – it arrived with complaints that it was unoptimized, with even the beefiest of rigs unable to hit a steady 60 fps.
It was the first PC "designed with upscaling in mind" which was also a worry. Thankfully, performance-improving patches have arrived since then, letting most people enjoy what is an excellent game you'll struggle to stop playing.
Its predecessor, Remnant: From the Ashes, earned the accurate description of Dark Souls with guns. While well-received, it wasn't without its problems, but the sequel addresses many of these while building on the original's best elements.
The familiar Soulslike elements are here, such as enemies respawning after resting at checkpoints. The loot and character building of the original have been improved, and it features procedurally generated levels. While the latter can put some people off, it's a blessing that makes Remnant 2 hugely replayable – the storyline and quests are also randomly generated. Moreover, the game is made all the more fun with up to two friends joining in for some co-op action.
The best part of Remnant 2 is the combat: a fantastic, fluid experience that requires efficient use of weapons, skills, and positioning. It helps that there are tons of different enemies in gorgeous worlds, including the now-awesome boss battles that require more than just pounding them with projectiles. Things get even better once you can dual class, letting players equip a second archetype.
The story isn't a highlight and the game might be too hard for some, but Remnant 2 is arguably more forgiving than the likes of Elden Ring.
- Genre: Fishing horror
- Similar: Sunless Sea, sunless skies, Outer Wilds
- Graphics: Colorful low poly art
- Gameplay: Minigame-style fishing, Lovecraftian, third-person (vessel ), inventory and time management
A game about being a fisherman carrying out his professional trade doesn't scream buy me, but there's a lot more to Dredge than a minigame-based fishing simulator, hence the 'overwhelmingly positive' Steam ratings.
Serene fish-catching and Lovecraftian horror don't seem like fitting bedfellowsHowever, these two genres merge seamlessly in Black Salt Games' title. What begins as fishing and selling your catch, paying off your debt, and upgrading your ship quickly transforms into an eldritch nightmare as you delve into the mysteries beneath and above the waves.
The primary gameplay mechanic of catching and storing over 100 different types of fish is enjoyable in its own right, and following the main storyline, exploring the map, and taking on jobs adds an extra dimension to the experience.
The game can feel monotonous at times, and its main storyline can be completed rather swiftly. However, at just $25, Dredge is undoubtedly a bargain.
The best Resi remake so far
- Genre: Action horror
- Similar: Resident Evil 2 and 3 remakes, Dead Space remake, Calisto Protocol
- Graphics: A modern upgrade makes everything look grotesquely pretty
- Gameplay: Third-person shooter, puzzles, inventory management, occasionally scary
Many people were optimistic that Capcom could replicate the success of the Resident Evil 2 and Resi 3 remakes with one of the most cherished entries in the series: Resident Evil 4. The company not only met those expectations but surpassed them with a reimagining that's superior to the original.
The remake eliminates the few outdated elements that marked Resident Evil 4 as 'of its time' and amplifies the game's best features. Certain boss fights have been revamped, the controls have been upgraded, QTEs are no longer present in cutscenes, and everything is faster and more visually striking. Perhaps the most welcome change is the addition of parries. Naturally, there are still numerous horror moments for fans to relish.
The familiar Resi hallmarks are here: monsters, tense combat, inventory management, strategic ammo conservation, and an engrossing story that unfolds in perfect tandem with player progression. Upon completion, you'll be eager to replay it all in the New Game+ mode. It's clear to see why Resident Evil 4 is considered the best Capcom remake to date.
Buy it from: Steam
The battle royale king
- Genre: Battle Royale
- Similar: Valorant, Fortnite, Overwatch, PUBG, Titanfall 2 multiplayer
- Graphics: Arguably the prettiest BR game out there
- Gameplay: FPS, team-based multiplayer
Adding more single-player games to the list means we've cut back on the multiplayer shooters, but Apex Legends keeps its place as the best one for everybody. The game features several familiar f2p battle royale staples, including a shrinking play area, skydiving onto an island, and looting.
Apex's system of pitting up to 20 teams, each with three members, against each other to be the last squad standing, proved so popular that over 50 million players signed up in the first month. It has shown no signs of slowing down, currently averaging 15 to 16 million weekly active players.
While Apex Legends shares a cartoonish art style similar to Fortnite, the backstories, personalities, and unique abilities of its hero characters are closer to Overwatch.
Those familiar with Titanfall – set in the same universe as Apex Legends – would attest that combat is among the best aspects of these games. Respawn shines in the weapons department with Apex Legends, offering a multitude of exciting guns and attachments to experiment with and discover your favorites. As with similar titles, post-release content such as new characters and weapons is introduced through seasons. Additionally, events offer limited-time cosmetics, game modes, and more.
Perhaps the best aspect of Apex Legends is its accessibility for those who've always wanted to try a Battle Royale title but were deterred by internet trolls, largely due to the effective ping communication system similar to the one found in Valorant. In a battle royale-filled world, it's the king of the hill.
Free from: TechSpot Downloads
A modern Freelancer
- Genre: Space sim
- Similar: Chorus, Freelancer, Elite: Dangerous
- Graphics: Very pretty, colorful, cartoonish
- Gameplay: open-world (universe?), third-person view, looter shooter, RPG, adventure
Those of a certain age who are longing for a single-player space shooter reminiscent of the Wing Commander series or Freelancer don't have many options these days. However, the cream of the crop is undoubtedly Everspace 2.
After an extended early access stint, the final version of the open-world Everspace 2 is now available. The roguelike elements of the original game have been stripped away and substituted with a more conventional "die and restart at the last checkpoint" setup, and Everspace 2 is all the better for it.
This third-person space shooter has a vibrant, distinct style. It also grants players a high level of control over the ships, which is great for maneuvering in tight spaces. Battles are expansive and thrilling, and while there is a mission-packed story with comic-style hand-drawn cutscenes, a significant portion of the game centers around collecting loot and upgrading your ships – there's a reason why it's been dubbed 'Diablo in space'.
Everspace 2 is lengthy, which may lead to repetition, but that's one of the few drawbacks in what's one of the best single-player space shooters available.
An old-school turn-based RPG inspired by genre classics such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6. A loving tribute to JRPGs that those who remember the 16-bit era with nostalgic fondness will likely adore. It's no wonder Sea of Stars sold over 100,000 copies on launch day.
FromSoftware's Armored Core 6 offers some fast-paced mech action with amazing combat, missions, and customization options. A shame that it's been overshadowed by some bigger releases.
People say Street Fighter 6 is the best in the series – a bold claim for a franchise that has produced many of the greatest fighting games of all time. But the open world elements, character creator, and an amazing core experience make the statement hard to argue with.
A great pirate-themed stealth tactics/strategy game from the company behind Desperados 3 and Shadow Tactics. Arguably the best title ever to come from Mimimi Games, which makes the recent announcement that Shadow Gambit will be the studio's last project even sadder.