Once a year, the global PC Gamer team gathers. The topic: What are the best 100 PC games that you can play today? Ahead of the discussion, the team suggests additions, changes and removals. We then gather over the following hours and days to painstakingly discuss every suggestion. To an outside observer, it might have the appearance of a big, week-long argument.
The result of that discussion is this list, which is our attempt to turn the different opinions and tastes of a nearly 30-person team into an earnest catalogue of our current recommendations—games we think that every PC Gamer should experience.
There are a few rules and principles we stick to. Firstly, this is not a list of the most important PC games—you can find those here (opens in new tab). Rather, these are our picks of the best PC games to play right now. How influential a game was doesn't matter. How much we enjoyed playing it at the time is not our concern. The simple question, always, is: does this hold up today?
Secondly, we want to celebrate the breadth and variety of PC gaming. To that end, we limit ourselves to one game per series. Sorry Half-Life 2, but if Half-Life: Alyx is in the list, you can't be too.
The most important principle of all: this is our subjective list. If the people on our team aren't advocating for it, we're not going to include it. And if newer members of the team add the weight of their support behind a game, we're going to push it higher up the list.
Read on, and find 100 great games to add to your wishlist. Maybe you'll love them just as much as we do.
100. Zero Escape: The Nonary Games
Released 2017 | Last position New
Jody Macgregor, Weekend Editor: Puzzle dungeon visual novels of the "you wake in a room" variety, the Zero Escape games burst with gory deaths and narrow getaways. Nine people get trapped in mazes as twisty as the games' plots, jumbles of esoterica and hidden history.
Phil Savage, UK Editor-in-Chief: Satisfying puzzles and philosophical paradoxes, all through an anime filter. The twists will keep you guessing as you navigate the timeline, unpicking a grand mystery.
Mollie Taylor, News Writer: I'm still reeling from Virtue's Last Reward years later. What a goddamn trip.
99. Shadowrun: Hong Kong
Released 2015 | Last position New
Jody: One recruitable companion in this cyberpunk-fantasy RPG is a Japanese ghoul samurai. Bringing him along on heists and infiltrations means fast-talking guards and civilians to convince them he's an actor or a cosplayer. Your whole crew is made of misfits, including a rat-spirit shaman who treats garbage like gourmet. They're one of the best RPG parties around.
Robin Valentine, Print Editor: The excellent Shadowrun: Dragonfall has been in our list for a few years now, but I definitely prefer Hong Kong for its brilliantly evocative setting.
Fraser Brown, Online Editor: I've got a big soft spot for urban fantasy, and Shadowrun: Hong Kong does it a lot better than most. Hong Kong, and especially the Walled City, are messy, chaotic and feel even more alive thanks to the magic that alters them in ways both subtle and significant. It's a great magical cyberpunk yarn, but just as great as a story about cities, and how they—and the people living in them—can become victims of the machinations of the wealthy and powerful.
Josh Wolens, News Writer: Dragonfall is my favourite Shadowrun game, but Hong Kong's take on Kowloon Walled City is a triumph. It's the perfect cyberpunk setting: grimy, dank, and claustrophobic, soundtracked by the thrum of distant machines, and always, always raining. I can't think of a suppurating psychic wound I'd rather spend my time in.
98. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
Released 2016 | Last position 95
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: Shadow Tactics is the immaculate tactical stealth success that proved Mimimi Games had the chops to take up the Desperados series. Every mission is a lovely puzzle and there's an immense joy in meticulously setting up and pulling off the simultaneous kill I envisioned using all of my party members.
Phil: One of the most rewarding stealth games of recent years, embracing the hardcore, unforgiving attitude of the genre but still modernising it where it counts. The real pleasure here is being dropped into large maps full of guards, and slowly picking apart the puzzle of their intricate patrol routes as you work your way through. Your motley crew brings a variety of different ways to distract, dispatch and disappear your foes, and it's these asynchronous abilities that make the difficulty so satisfying to overcome. Some are nimble, able to navigate rooftops and tricky terrain. Others are stuck to the ground, but bring traps and tricks to help clear a path. This leads to myriad options within a single level, creating a playground of possibilities.
Shadows Tactics' coup de grace is Shadow Mode, which lets you queue up moves for your whole team to perform at the same time. It's inherently cool, as you painstakingly plan out multiple takedowns, to hit a single button and watch the synchronised action play out.
97. Teamfight Tactics
Released 2019 | Last position New
Fraser: TFT is one of the last autobattlers left standing—the product of a short-lived trend that no doubt benefited from sharing a launcher with the rubbish but immensely popular League of Legends. I love the constant reinvention of characters and mechanics, and building my loadout of heroes mid-battle, but the real appeal is how easy it is to just hang out and shoot the shit with friends while my diligent little warriors duke it out or die.
Phil: Fraser, you're going to get emails for calling LoL "rubbish". Nevertheless, as someone who's also terminally bad at MOBAs, Teamfight has been a welcome excuse to explore the peripheries of Riot's most popular game. You construct a roster, ideally based around the major synergies of that season, and watch them battle your opponents' teams. The battles themselves are entertainingly over-the-top, but it's the experimentation and strategising that keeps me coming back.
96. The Forgotten City
Released 2021 | Last position New
Jody: Groundhog Day with gladiators. There's only one gladiator, but you get the point. You're in a timeloop, reliving a single day in ancient Rome.
Timeloop games seem like a great idea, but it turns out redoing the same thing even more than videogames usually demand is actually super frustrating. The Forgotten City gets around that with two inventions: an arguably anachronistic zipline, and a sensible human being. The wonderful Galerius greets you each day, and when you barrel up to him shouting instructions to save the lives of people you figured out how to save in the previous loop, he just gets on with it. Gordian knot elegantly cut.
That knot was Greek, but you get the point.
Fraser: Anachronistic ziplines and magical timeloops aside, The Forgotten City still revels in history and makes you feel like a time-travelling archaeologist—an enviable job. The time-stuck Romans, meanwhile, are a likeable, or at least interesting, bunch, even when they're being antagonistic. On the last loop, as I shouted my final instructions to MVP Galerius, I was genuinely torn, knowing I'd have to say goodbye to this lost city and nobody would ever know what I went through to save it.
Released 2016 | Last position Re-entry
Nat Clayton, Features Producer: Once, in Berlin, I played an early build of Thumper so hard my thumbs literally bled. Deep, violent bass throbbing through my skull, an assault of neon violets burning my eyes, desperately trying not to shed blood all over a shared gamepad, I embodied Thumper in its entirety—a pure, singular rhythm hell where you stop looking what beats are coming down the track, and start feeling it in the rhythm pounding through your body.
Jody: You're a god-killing space beetle. It's immaculate. The sense of acceleration and impact as you thump into corners is unrivaled, and the end of every sequence is basically a religious experience. Someone write a Book of Thumper and I'll be your apostle.
Phil: Just pure rhythmic anxiety—a digital panic attack from beginning to end. But, y'know, good.
94. Titanfall 2
Released 2016 | Last position 88
Nat: Last year, Titanfall 2 was basically dead. While that campaign is still solid as hell, DDoS attacks had rendered multiplayer servers largely unplayable. But in December, Titanfall 2 got a Christmas pressie in the form of Northstar—a fan-run server browser that shot new lift into the knackered old mech.
In 2022, Titanfall 2 isn't just playable. It's thriving. While early builds only allowed for certain modes on certain maps, Northstar is now a wonderfully chaotic mess of custom gametypes and modded mechs, the best of which sees BT literally throw you into the start of each new round. It's a throwback to the good ol' server browser days, and a perfect place for Titanfall 2 to spend its long-overdue retirement.
Fraser: This is still one of the best FPS campaigns around, with each level boasting the kind of creativity that puts it on par with the wildly imaginative Dishonored 2. Plus your best friend is a mech.
93. Fallout: New Vegas
Released 2010 | Last position 87
Jody: New Vegas blends the strengths of Fallouts old and new. It's got some of the originals' problem-solving variety, letting you talk round a fascist legionnaire or a brain in a jar, and the 3D world and VATS combat of modern Fallout, with the pleasant ding of XP earned and the foreboding rumble of new quests begun.
Imogen Mellor, Features Producer: Can't believe we don't have rules against games that require a library of mods to work well.
Jody: Three mods isn't a library! All you really need is New Vegas Anti-Crash, the 4GB Patcher if you're on Steam, and MTUI to expand the interface. Then you're good to go.
Nat: Janky, ugly, rubbish.
Chris Livingston, Features Producer: Bethesda plus Obsidian, yeah, you're gonna get tons of jank. But for an RPG I've already played multiple times I could dive back in today and have a wholly different experience with new choices and consequences I've never encountered before.
Sean Martin, Guides Writer: Plus it's got some of the best expansions ever made. I'm not sure any other Fallout DLC has hooked me quite the same way as robbing a ghost casino in Dead Money or tracking Ulysses across the hellscape of The Divide. Each expansion tells its own story, but still informs the decisions you have to make in the main game. Masterful stuff, really.
92. Command & Conquer: Remastered Collection
Released 2020 | Last position 92
Phil: Two classic RTSes in one loving package makes this an easy recommendation despite the age of its source material. Red Alert, in particular, is practically timeless—an alternate history World War 2 where Einstein travels back in time to assassinate Hitler. The result is much as you'd expect: campy FMV cutscenes, a pumping industrial soundtrack, and the deadly thrum of Tesla Coils as they prepare to decimate your army. Still a joy to play.
Evan Lahti, Global Editor-in-Chief: It's not the most strategically deep RTS in 2022, but it is a delightful '90s time capsule and a perfect example of what early CD-ROM games were.
Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: Now do Red Alert 2, please.
Released 2016 | Last position New
Rich Stanton, Senior Editor: Inside may be bringing up the rear in this list but, for me, it's one of the very best experiences I've had in gaming. A contemporary re-casting of the Frankenstein myth, the environments are a near-seamless blend of clever puzzles and evocative, bleak suggestions about where you are. Horror, science fiction, and for my money the best twist in games.
Sean: For me, Inside is the perfect narrative sidescroller: it's got atmosphere, a moody soundtrack, smart puzzles, and most important of all, tension. As you pilot the boy through rainswept ruins and enslaved cities towards whatever end, Inside does that rarest of things, making you consider the act of playing the game itself, and the nature of that control.
Nat: Inside is a game you only play once. But that one time is a masterclass in mood, in building up tension and dread as you push a small child further into a brutalist meat grinder. It's playing in almost the exact same space as Limbo, a trial-and-error platformer more than a real puzzler, but the artistry on display is phenomenal, woods and barns and deeper, darker industrial places all painted in a dreary watercolour greyscale that pushes you towards hopelessness.
Robin: Has to be said, it's got one of the best endings of any game. If it's not been spoiled for you yet, then oh boy are you in for a treat.
Released 2020 | Last position 80
Morgan Park, Staff Writer: Snowrunner is the best game about driving trucks through mud ever made. Not that it has much competition, but this is one sim you should really try for yourself. Jobs are various versions of "deliver X to Y," but they're really just reasons to have fun carving a path through natural hazards. It also sports some of the best physics-based suspension and land deformation tech around. It dropped a few places this year, but Snowrunner is still an easy recommendation.
Fraser: Mud plus snow is a winning combination. Snowrunner is more of a physics puzzler than an open-world driving game, and those puzzles are going to make you work hard and get absolutely filthy doing it. There are few things as satisfying as liberating a stuck vehicle out in the muddy wilderness.
89. Homeworld Remastered Collection
Released 2015 | Last position 78
Nat: Homeworld is PC gaming's great space opera. A majestic, galaxy-spanning drama played out in a way only games could manage—by way of a perfectly executed three-dimensional spacefaring RTS. Gearbox did a hell of a job remastering the games to not only look gorgeous, but play with a little less '90s faff, and a thriving mod scene means Homeworld also doubles as a phenomenal RTS adaptation of Star Wars, Star Trek, Halo, Mass Effect and more.
Fraser: Homeworld's 3D movement still feels like a revelation, decades on. I was still in school when I took command of a refugee fleet looking for a new home, but it's no less impressive now. The remaster is extremely welcome, but if you switch off the enhancements you'll still find a game that's rich in atmosphere and smarts.
88. Tekken 7
Released 2017 | Last position 74
Mollie: Bombastic, crisp combat and an electrifying soundtrack keep me coming back to Tekken 7 time and time again. I still can't find another fighting game that's this much fun to watch and play. It has a steeper learning curve than the likes of Street Fighter, but it's totally worth it. The dramatic slow-mo cam that inches in on the final punchup should be in every fighter!
Morgan: Tekken freakin rules. Its' the only fighting game that I like to watch (partially thanks to those crisp hitboxes and slo-mo finishers) and the only one I've considered playing. I recently sat through a multi-hour video explaining the series storylines and I now understand why its fighting tournament setup also makes for a pretty good Netflix anime series.
87. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Released 2015 | Last position 71
Morgan: This 7-year-old open-world stealth gem is starting to show its age, but the best bits of Metal Gear Solid V are still some of the best moments in the genre. Even the best immersive sims struggle to match The Phantom Pain's freeform approach to missions and huge variety of tools.
Rich: See I don’t think it does feel old, though that may be down to there being nothing that’s picked up the baton. Still a dream to play and a take on open-world that favours density over scale, but it’s the endless different ways to play that keep this installed on my machine: every so often, I just feel the urge to call in a chopper blasting out Kids in America.
Wes: Some say Kojima's a visionary because of politics or somesuch. Nuts to that. He's a visionary because everyone's going to be collecting cassette tapes in five years and MGS5 called that shit in 2015.
Josh W: One of the few games I went out of my way to get every achievement in, just because I wanted excuses to keep playing.
Released 2018 | Last position 71
Sean: In the often warm and cosy city-builder genre, Frostpunk is a shard of ice. You're not an omnipotent eye in the sky governing a faceless population; as you balance sacrifice and survival in a snow-strewn apocalypse, Frostpunk forces you to face the people, and ultimately be held accountable.
Jody: When I played SimCity I'd always get to that point where my city was running so nicely there were no challenges left. That's when I'd open up the disaster menu. Floods and fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, sometimes Godzilla. It was fun in the same way as watching a sandcastle you've built all day get washed away by the tide.
In Frostpunk, the disaster's already here. Winter isn't coming, it's arrived and it's never going away. All that's left of humanity is one pseudo-steampunk city in a pit of misery. You don't get to pick where to build it like in a regular city builder, nor do you get to sprawl your grid of streets across a map. There's no sandbox here. There's just the pit, where you mine coal and fight sickness and shore up buildings to keep out the cold.
Then it gets even colder, and you need to crank up the generator to dangerous levels. Anyone beyond the shrinking range of its warmth freezes to death and there's nothing you can do about that. Frostpunk starts somewhere after the point I'd reach at the end of a game of SimCity, and then it tells you to hold back the tide.
85. Alien Isolation
Released 2014 | Last position 83
Jody: Alien Isolation is a cinephile's dream, recreating the look and sound of Alien with loving care. It's also a nightmare, recreating the xenomorph from gurgling growl to lashing tail and letting it loose to stalk you through a space station's corridors. (The corridors are also lovingly recreated.)
If someone's not into strategy games I don't feel guilty convincing them to play one. When people aren't into horror, it's usually with good reason. If you don't like being afraid you won't like Alien Isolation. It's terrifying. That said, if you enjoy the relief of triumphing over a boss in a soulslike, think how relieved you'd feel confronting actual fear rather than some guy who transforms into a thing with long arms.
Sean: Made by Alien fans for Alien fans, and it's so easy to recognise the care and attention to detail in how wholly it embodies that cinematic style. Also I'm pretty sure it's responsible for popularising all those smart, scary monsters that hunt you in games now. Thanks for that!
Fraser: Every year I say I'm finally going to finish my playthrough of Alien Isolation, and every year I fail. This year I've actually made some progress though! This is a testament to how much this thing terrifies the shit out of me, but also how utterly perfect it is as an Alien game. I have to keep going. Slowly. Very, very slowly.
Josh Lloyd, Video Producer: I don’t think a licensed game has ever captured the art and production design of the original media, or so successfully built on it, as Alien Isolation does. You really feel like you’re in the same world as in the original movie, and there are so many small details, like the eye holes slightly visible on the xenomorph that the performer would use to see, that really hammer that point home. You feel truly helpless against every threat, and it’s honestly just cruel to have so many things in the environment sound exactly like the hiss of the Alien.
Josh W: I loved Alien Isolation, and then it went on for another 10 hours.
Jody: The early parts are the best parts, for sure. Just like the Alien series as a whole.
Released 2019 | Last position New
Robin: The vibes are just impeccable. If you could distil Control's weird, SCP-inspired atmosphere into a liquid, I'd drink a gallon before lunchtime. And I love how much fun it is to move and fight through its bizarre, impossible spaces while you're soaking all that in.
Fraser: It's brutalist architecture porn. And as striking as it is, boy does it have a glow up when you turn on ray tracing. There are a lot of flat, reflective surfaces in the Oldest House, so it's a great showcase of those fancy reflections.
Josh L: Control is a game all about being lost, lost in the maze-like architecture of the Oldest House, lost on your place in its world and lost in the knowledge—or rather the unknowableness of the objects and places the bureau deals with. It’s easily the best game Remedy have put out (and I say that as a big fan of Max Payne). There's really nothing quite like it. Even outside of the gameplay, the cutscenes are edited in such an experimental way, the only point of comparison would be the likes of David Lynch, who’s appearance inspired the look of one of the game’s characters.
Jody: Nice vibes for sure. Shame about the shooting.
Released 2019 | Last position 50
Wes: In Satisfactory we built a power plant tower so tall you could see it from across the planet. We built factories with so many glass windows that even an RTX 3080 gave up on rendering them all. We connected conveyor belts carrying precious resources across the desert to a cargo train that spiraled up the side of a mountain. We built a mining facility so far away it needed aerial drones to collect its materials—even though we couldn't actually build drones yet.
Satisfactory begins as a game about optimization, finding the most efficient ways to pump out resources. Master that, and you're left with a sandbox that rewards building however and wherever the hell you want, just for the satisfaction of it.
Morgan: The stories that come out of Satisfactory sold me on it instantly. I, too, want to look over a mighty empire of automation and discover that my robot children no longer need me. I'm also just really into watching materials actually travel down conveyor belts and pass through machines, instead of everything happening inside a menu. More games should do this.
82. Resident Evil Village
Released 2021 | Last position 43
Jody: Village is Resident Evil at its most decadent and gothic. There's a bit with a baby in a puppet house that's as scary as the series has ever been, a werewolf attack in the village that pays homage to Resident Evil 4's early siege, and the vampire-haunted Castle Dimitrescu, which lives up to its reputation. Playing RE8 a while after release, I didn't think Lady D could possibly be as cool as the hype around her suggested, but she absolutely was. And there are plenty of surprises after that, with plot twists I wasn't expecting, neat references to older games in the series, and a Mercenaries mode that's basically bullet heaven.
The puzzle with the sinking platforms on the lake is rubbish, though.
Jacob Ridley, Senior Hardware Editor: If you're a new player looking for a good entry point into the Resident Evil series, Village is it. It's more run and gun than previous games, but since it's a modern vision of Resident Evil it's not short of variety to keep things interesting. You visit heaps of beautifully designed levels throughout, and each one offers a taster session in everything Resident Evil has done well over the years. The story does follow on from Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, so you may find you want to start there before hitting up Village, but Village does do a pretty good job of explaining what's going on in case you're not up to speed.
From Village you can dive back into the horrifying and gory world of Resident Evil with the remakes, but be prepared to feel a lot more panicked and underpowered in those games—Mr. X is absolutely terrifying in high definition.
81. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Released 2012 | Last position 37
Rich: As CS:GO's twitter bio says, this is "your favourite first person shooter's favourite first person shooter." Still attracting almost a million daily players, still the biggest esport around, and still the best 5vs5 tactical shooter—and despite what some fans say, Valve continues to put out intermittent content updates and new modes.
Evan: It's the purest competitive FPS on PC. And incredibly, the most-played game on Steam 10 years into its lifespan. But it's waning in importance as the tail of battle royale and extraction shooters lengthens. I love CS, but I'd rather play Hunt: Showdown in 2022.
Morgan: It's remarkable that CS:GO has held onto its community so tightly after Riot burst out of the gate strong with Valorant. Speaks to the timelessness of Counter-Strike's stop-and-pop design that it doesn't need new seasonal guns or magical movement abilities to stay interesting.
80. Company of Heroes 2
Released 2013 | Last position 65
Fraser: There's understandably still a great deal of fondness for the original Company of Heroes, but here the multiplayer really got to shine, leading to CoH2 having a much longer tail. And, honestly, I've had enough of France and the invasion of Normandy. The main campaign has a lot to recommend it, too, if you don't mind the Russian cold, and is further elevated by the impressive non-linear Ardennes Assault expansion, paving the way for the impending Company of Heroes 3 and its dynamic campaign.
79. Psychonauts 2
Released 2021 | Last position New
Morgan: Psychonauts 2 is what happens when the brilliant folks at Double Fine get as much time and budget as they need to make a 3D platformer. This is a gorgeous sequel that picks up right where the first left off. A charming, heart-wrenching story through the lens of a 2005 collectathon platformer.
Jody: The original Psychonauts was a wonderful concept buried under uneven concessions to its genre. Which is to say, it was a Double Fine game. What a concept, though: a summer camp for psychics run by a spy ring that trains them for espionage by letting them rummage around inside the mental landscapes of troubled folk. If only it weren't for the fussy boss fights, and platforming that was let down by poor controls and checkpointing.
Like Morgan says, Psychonauts 2 is Double Fine finally getting the freedom it needs to make a game that lives up to that idea. So, uh, thanks, Microsoft? It's a Pixar movie you can run around in, zooming across levels based on a psychedelic Yellow Submarine or a papercraft library where you end up trapped in a book, leaping across pages as the platforming suddenly transitions to 2D. One level's a hospital that is also a casino, with a maternity ward where wannabe parents gamble on a roulette wheel of babies. It's constantly imaginative and twisted.
78. Anno 1800
Released 2019 | Last position 62
Phil: A city-builder about creating elaborate, automated production chains—ferrying myriad resources from across the world to turn into the goods your citizens crave. The cities you create will be ornate and beautiful, but the real joy is found in watching a successful, stable supply of sewing machines leave your factories.
Fraser: The DLC has made it feel a bit bloated, especially now that you can set up colonies in even more places, but the logistics porn keeps me coming back anyway. It's intensely satisfying serving the needs of your demanding citizens, and like Phil says the cities make for great eye candy.
Released 2013 | Last position New
Evan: Perhaps the best raw, customizable storytelling engine on this list, RimWorld is the progeny of hyper-granular colony sims like Dwarf Fortress. Your pet turkey can break individual bones (or lose their beak to say, frostbite in the winter after a specific level of cold exposure). It's moddable as hell: I played 125 hours this year with a multiplayer add-on.
Fraser: I've started and abandoned so many RimWorld games, and I don't think I'll ever stop. Every fresh start means it's time for new experiments, which have been greatly enhanced by the expansions, introducing royals, psychics and cults. It works surprisingly well on Steam Deck, so I've fired it up yet again to play on the go. Finally I can live the dream of sitting on a noisy bus while leading a colony of tyrannical transhumanist cannibals.
Katie Wickens, Hardware Writer: Firmly is Rimworld embedded in my yearly game rotation, as the call of sandbox colony sims inevitably draws me in when real life gets hard to parse. "So much agency, so little time," I cry, eyes bloodshot as the rising sun breaks me from my hypnotic state. Rimworld has so much to give, with each restart delivering a totally unique experience. I bid thee tug on my heartstrings once more, o' tiny pawns of the outer Rim.
76. Arma 3
Released 2013 | Last position 69
Evan: The launch of the early access prototype Arma Reforger in May complicates this a bit: Arma is improving on its path to Arma 4, but slowly. For now, Arma 3 is still my recommendation for a feature-complete military sandbox. Arma 3 continues to remind us that scale is one of the precious feelings games can give us. That doesn't just mean "big maps." In Arma's case, scale is as much about the absolute freedom players have to be a part of epic firefights in different, interconnected ways: to be the ace helicopter pilot, the frontline medic, the tank killer, or the commander watching it all happen from a map-level perspective.
Morgan: Arma 3 is the game that pushed me to finally get a desktop PC in 2013. I picked up the best prebuilt PC a 16-year-old could afford, meaning Arma 3 still ran like crap. That's OK, because I still managed to dump 100 hours into AI scenarios, Day-Z adjacent sandbox survival modes, and a proto-version of PUBG battle royale developed by PlayerUnknown himself (you'd join servers from your external internet browser, it was pretty cool). Arma is one of the few series out there actively pushing the capabilities of videogames and placing that power in the hands of players to make new things. After a decade of updates, Arma 3 is both gigantic and often cheap.
75. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Released 2011 | Last position 75
Robin: I can't believe this is still on here. Both we and Bethesda need to let it go already
Nat: I'm with Robin.
Jody: I get it. I'd be tempted to replay Morrowind if I wanted a full playthrough of an Elder Scrolls RPG today, yet I still keep Skyrim installed and hop back on the regular just to check out new mods. I've recently explored a cyberpunk city and begun a multi-part quest mod with fully voiced followers. Skyrim's alive, and people are doing more interesting things to it than most live-service games.
Mollie: Robin, you're going to have to pry Skyrim from my cold, dead hands. It's been my comfort game for the past decade, the one I can easily fall back into for some bittersweet nostalgia. Will I ever play anything other than a stealthy archer? Who knows. Old habits die hard.
Sean: Skyrim is irreplaceable, but that's also its biggest fault. Without another Elder Scrolls game to take its crown, I'm doomed to keep returning to it even though I know full well I've done everything there is.
Released 2020 | Last position New
Lauren M: How does one bond with friends if not by stomping around a haunted house and wailing increasingly awful "where are you?" Blink-182 impressions at angry ghosts?
Jacob: I used to jump into Phasmophobia expecting to be terrified almost immediately, now I do it because it's a great social game to play with a handful of friends. Enjoying a stroll through an abandoned and potentially haunted campsite or prison is now my idea of a good time, just shooting the breeze and poking fun as we idly check for ghosts on our vast array of ghost hunting gear.
I love those moments simply tracking spectres so much that I've actually explored haunted castles (or those claiming to be haunted) with friends in real-life because of it. Phasmophobia made me realise I love the quirky ghost-hunting culture that I thought only existed in episodes of early 2000s British TV show Most Haunted; a world filled with EMF meters, spirit boxes, infrared thermometers, and 'I'd rather be ghost hunting' caps.
Rich Stanton: I return to Phasmophobia every few months with the same group, because it's always different. Yeah we've seen much of what the game has but its combinations, its capacity to shock you out of over-confidence, remains undimmed. My favourite horror experience ever.
Fraser: Too many people know what my screams sound like now. Thanks, Phasmophobia.
Josh L: I love paranormal investigation shows, and this game lets me experience that world for myself, in VR, and it's terrifying, I love it!
73. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
Released 2004 | Last position 93
Jody: Bloodlines remains an unbeatable example of a specific kind of RPG: one with sexy vampires you can kiss. It's got atmospheric urban hubs to explore, wonderfully animated NPCs, and a sudden switch to full horror that scared me shitless even on playthrough three.
The Unofficial Patch continues being updated long after fixing Bloodlines' biggest bugs (back in the day I got stuck in half-open doors and had to reload more than once). It even inserts shortcuts past combat-heavy areas, the main weak spot of a game otherwise happy to let you sneak, talk, or kiss your way out of problems.
Actually, I think kissing caused more problems than it solved. But they were newer, more interesting problems, so that's OK.
Josh W: It just nails the World of Darkness vibe so well: the scheming elders, the ancient conspiracies, the general millenarian dread. Sure, some aspects—like literally every interaction in the Chinatown section—have, ah, not aged so well, but where Bloodlines shines, it shines brighter than any game that's tried to do the same thing before or since.
Phil: Someone should make a good Bloodlines sequel. That'd be neat.
72. Cities: Skylines
Released 2015 | Last position 72
Katie: Seven years is a long time for any game to stay relevant, but Cities: Skylines remains the (big) apple of my eye as one of the greatest city builders of all time. It's not moved in the top 100 list this year, since we consider it truly representative of the genre—the pinnacle of traffic management and a well rounded city design sandbox.
The game's easy to pick up, and deep strategies reveal themselves as you learn to manage traffic flow, master road hierarchy, and exert your authority with evil cycle-to-work schemes. The fact there are still tons of active modders in the community today, and that Colossal Order is still releasing DLCs, means there's a constant stream of content to keep you amused until they finally grace us with Skylines 2.
Fraser: Every time I think I'm done, Colossal Order spits out some new DLC, or someone directs me towards a new must-have mod, and then I'm hooked all over again. I've got two cities on the go at the moment. One of them is a new attempt at a cyberpunk city, after my last one got a bit out of control thanks to some broken mods. The other is one that's aggressively anti-car, because cars can fuck right off.
71. Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Released 2018 | Last position 77
Sean: Vermintide 2 is the most down-to-earth Warhammer game around; it's essentially about five roommates trying to deal with the end of the world. They drink together, bicker together, and yes, slaughter an endless number of humanoid rats together. In a setting rife with OP gods and champions, I love that it's about a bunch of misfits just trying their best.
Robin: And I love that that set up lets it just be this perfect encapsulation of what the Warhammer Fantasy setting is about. It's got that wonderful humour and satire in the dialogue, the characters sniping back and forth, but always against this absurdly grim, violent backdrop. It's authentic to that world in a way that I think few games outside of Total War manage.
Fraser: There are few things in this world as cathartic as smashing lots of evil rats. Vermintide 2 is the best panacea for a bad day. Just try to frown when you're covered in blood and guts and fur.
Wes: After a few years of playing Vermintide's missions over and over, I really enjoy the roguelike-esque mode Fatshark added. A full run takes a couple hours, but each level is a smaller commitment than a normal stage. Bring on Darktide.
70. Farming Simulator 22
Released 2021 | Last position New
Chris: For years I wondered what the appeal of a hardcore farming sim was, but then I spent a couple seasons plowing, planting, cultivating, growing, and harvesting. When my first crop of beets began pouring into my trailer—and I am not being sarcastic here—it was a genuine rush. The deep complexity of the farming systems and the exquisitely recreated farming vehicles, which to my mind are just as impressive as sci-fi spaceships, make it easy to turn farming into an obsession.
Morgan: I haven't kept up with the Farming Sim series in recent years, but I'm glad to know it's as chill as ever. This is the game that truly kicked off the "simulator" trend on Steam, but it's never treated the label like a joke. This is an honest-to-god snapshot of farm life: a lot of menial labor building up to a single delivery that doesn't pay quite as much as you hope, but enough that you should probably plant more wheat and do it again.
Sarah James, Guides Writer: If Farming Simulator has taught me anything, it's that you don't want to be anywhere near me when I'm reversing something with a trailer attached to it.
Phil: Excuse me while I mourn the fact that this has become our sim du jour over Euro Truck Simulator 2—for my money still the king of the pretend-to-do-someone-else's-job genre.
69. OlliOlli World
Released 2022 | Last position New
Robin: I genuinely had to uninstall this game to make myself stop playing it, because I was in so deep I could feel it giving me RSI.
Phil: I love a recommendation that's secretly a cry for help, Robin.
Dave James, Hardware Lead: I fell in love with this game while I was reviewing the Steam Deck. It's the perfect pick up and play game and fits perfectly with Valve's handheld. As much as it's a skateboarding game it reminds me of the compulsive nature of scrambling action puzzler, Trials 2, where I would restart levels time after time and settle for nothing less than a clean run every time. It's the same thing with OlliOlli World, but with a more esoteric aesthetic.
68. Football Manager 2022
Released 2021 | Last position 66
Dave: While Football Manager 2022 absolutely is a management simulation of what it's like to control the finer points of a football team in modern times, it's also one of the most engaging RPGs around. Most people will simply dismiss it as little more than a set of spreadsheets with no soul, but for the people for whom FM has become the game they play, it means so much more than that.
Sure, at its simplest FM is about shuffling a pack of little computer people into an order and with a strategy that will win you more football matches than you lose, but the wider career can last for years, even decades, as you live a full life in football. And in that lifetime you can experience the many varied highs and lows of football; whether that's a last minute winner delivering an elusive Champions League win, a courageous full-back declaring their sexuality to a packed press conference, a brilliant season pushing your tiny home team of Bath into the professional leagues, or the pain of relegation, sackings, and a son who turns out to be too rubbish a footballer to fit in with your team and you have to destroy their career and the tender age of 21 with a cancelled contract.
It's also become a game I don't just play at my PC; I deliberate over transfer decisions in the shower in the morning, agonise over tactical tweaks long after I've shut down my rig from a bad run of matches, and dream of actually making it into the football league again.
Lauren Aitken, Guides Editor: I hate spreadsheets in real life, but will apparently spend hundreds of hours in one to take Rangers to the top of the Champions League. My favourite regens were called D.J. Truman and I.B. Innocent, and that's all I have to say about FM22.
Released 2018 | Last position 67
Robin: This game's such a vision for what the place of point-and-click games could be in the modern industry. Instead of resting on laurels of nostalgia, it's pulling in inspiration from Bioware and Telltale to craft a brilliantly textured narrative and world to go with its smart puzzles.
Fraser: Not just one of the best adventure games around, Unavowed is also a high point for urban fantasy. There are shades of Dresden Files and John Constantine, but this is a singular yarn, grounding the fire mages, ghost assistants and confused demons with human drama, and setting it in a version of New York that absolutely feels tangible. Designer Dave Gilbert loves this city and loves these characters, and that makes me love them too.
66. Jackbox Party Pack 8
Released 2021 | Last position New
Morgan: Jackbox Games continues to demonstrate why it's the master of party games. You'd think eight releases later these packs would be out of good ideas, but Party Pack 8 features some of the cleverest games the series has ever seen, like a hidden drawing murder mystery game Weapons Drawn or a genius twist on Family Feud in Poll Mine. I especially love the creativity of Job Job, a game where you write stories using word clouds written by each other.
Imogen: I wanted Jackbox to be kicked off this list in favour of Gartic Phone. Sure, Jackbox is unique and fun, but it's the series that's good, not any one individual game. Whenever I’ve played it with friends, I've needed to boot up multiple entries to enjoy the night to the fullest.
Mollie: Sometimes I think Jackbox has had its day. Then I'll end up drinking with some buddies, the game will come out and the floodgates open to countless Jackbox-themed inside jokes. I agree with Imogen, the series is good rather than one particular pack standing out as the must-have. I'm partial to Jackbox 5 myself—the last time I played Patently Stupid I had bellyache from laughing so hard. Even if each pack has its duds, you're bound to find a good time from at least one game.
65. Guardians of the Galaxy
Released 2021 | Last position New
Morgan: This gorgeous, well-written, and downright fun story didn't get the love it truly deserved across the internet last year. Yes, the combat is simple, but Eidos Montreal's take on the Guardians of the Galaxy demonstrates a lot of love for the source material and a high bar of comedy that I wouldn't have expected from the Deus Ex studio. The characters are so good, this game made me like the Marvel movies a lot less. Give it a shot.
Fraser: GotG has been accused of being a movie knock-off that couldn't afford the expensive cast, but it's really one of the best comic adaptations around, capturing the argumentative found-family far better than any two-hour MCU flick ever could. Like Morgan says, the gags are great, but the comedy is accompanied by powerful emotional highs and lows that make this rollicking space adventure incredibly heartfelt and genuine.
64. Card Shark
Released 2022 | Last position New
Fraser: I'm terrible at cards and even worse at sleight of hand, but Card Shark makes me feel like a master. As the mute apprentice of Comte de Saint-Germain, I've learned a lot about how to part 18th century French nobles and revolutionaries from their cash. The mechanics of deceit are both complex and compelling, embracing the tactile nature of card games and then layering oodles of intrigue and a nice big conspiracy on top.
I finished the whole thing in a single long afternoon, but I've hardly stopped thinking about it since. I even picked up a real deck of cards to see if the game rubbed off on me, but no, I've still got the dexterity and wits of a sloth.
Morgan: Ashamed that I haven't given this one a proper shot. Cheating at cards is such an immediately fun game premise and I'm delighted that it actually works.
63. Portal 2
Released 2011 | Last position 63
Wes: Surely you've heard of Valve's FPS puzzle comedy Portal and its sequel, which will make you laugh and feel incredibly smart at the same time. I'm going to assume you've played the campaign, because you strike me as a reader of fine taste and culture. What really keeps Portal 2 on the Top 100 year after year is its co-op campaign and staggering Steam Workshop scene, providing effectively infinite test chambers to solve. Play nothing but Portal 2 and Kerbal Space Program for the next year and you could probably earn an honorary physics degree.
Nat: It's so easy to forget how Valve's writing was on top of its game in 2011. Razor sharp and effortlessly funny, even without memetic cake jokes.
Morgan: Portal 2 lives in the corner of my brain reserved for perfect games. It's not a crowded space. Man, I can't wait for Valve to make narrative games again.
Sarah: It's hard to believe Portal 2 is over 10 years old. I haven't played recently but I remember the last time I fired it up, it hadn't aged at all. I think it's time for another replay.
62. Microsoft Flight Simulator
Released 2020 | Last position New
Nat: I'd always written off Flight Sim as this stodgy old thing, something dads fuss over on their yellowed old CRT in the garage. But a 1:1 scale model of the Earth is a hell of a thing, and with a flight model that can be as accessible or as finicky as you like, I've found endless joy in even the familiar drudgery of an Edinburgh to London flight—especially if I'm doing it in the Halo Pelican.
Fraser: My love of flight is usually overshadowed by my hate of airports and uncomfortable seats. Flight Sim's perfect for me, then, cutting out all the shit and just letting me soar above the clouds and occasionally do flyovers of Paisley to see if it accurately simulates the amount of broken glass and dog poo on the streets. It doesn't, but it's still an incredible recreation of Earth.
Morgan: My brief love affair with Flight Sim in 2020 sent me down a long road. Not only am I way more familiar with plane operations than I never imagined, but I'm also way more afraid of these magnificent steel beasts that regularly defy god. Even when I think I'm doing everything right, stuff goes wrong and I just start flipping switches. I'm not sure I'll ever sleep on a flight again.
61. Mass Effect Legendary Edition
Released 2021 | Last position 91
Jody: So many space games are about being a pilot or the spaceship itself. Mass Effect understood we wanted to be the ship's captain, just like on TV. The one who bosses people around, gives inspiring speeches, leads the away team, plots the journey, and, yes, macks on blue alien honeys.
Imogen: Mass Effect is two of my favourite aspects of games rolled into one. Stupid otherworldy politics that make no sense and gun action. Oh, and my third favourite too, smooching aliens. The point is Mass Effect games showed me how deep relationships can go in games whether they be platonic, intergalactic, or romantic. Nothing has ever made me feel the same as realising the consequences of the suicide run or saying goodbye to Tali.
Mollie: I'm all here for alien smooching. Every day I wake up disappointed that I'm not dating Garrus IRL. What a babe.
Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: I often find myself ragging on Mass Effect, its militarism, the way it ended, the questionable ethics of its workplace romances. But at the end of the day I replay the whole trilogy at least once every two years. It's a touchstone for me, a world I'm always happy to go back to. It also doesn't hurt that the Vanguard class lets you teleport around shotgunning dudes in the most satisfying way imaginable.
Nat: They "improved" the Mako for this "remaster", as if it were ever possible to improve on perfection. Gutted.
60. Paradise Killer
Released 2020 | Last position 59
Morgan: A murder mystery visual novel set in a twisted vision of heaven. The pitch was enough for me to try Paradise Killer, but what kept me around is the unique approach to its central mystery, allowing players to track each citizen's timelines, solve puzzles out of order, and make your own conclusions about whodunnit. It's pretty serious business wrapped in a completely absurd world, with memorable characters like Lady Love Dies, Dr. Doom Jazz, and The Witness To The End.
Fraser: Detectives are prone to clichés, but not in Paradise Killer, where everything and everyone is as bizarre as they are absurdly cool. To solve the brutal murder, you first need to make sense of this world and its strange rules. Unravelling this mystery isn't all that challenging, it turns out, but it's absolutely rewarding.
Wes: I did wish in the end that this mystery had required a bit more deduction and a bit less "talk to everyone after finding every new piece of evidence," but I loved how freeform it was, loved that it would've let me present my case way earlier if I'd chosen to, loved how it cleverly organized evidence, and loved the creativity poured into every single bit of this world. If I'm not interviewing an immortal skeleton bartender assassin in the next mystery I play, why bother?
Josh L: I’m not usually into visual novels, but this game's striking environments, engaging mystery and not to mention the fantastic soundtrack absolutely pulled me in.
59. Path of Exile
Released 2013 | Last position 54
Fraser: After nearly a decade, no ARPG has managed to grip me like Path of Exile and its incredible, labyrinthine passive skill tree. And with every new expansion and league, it subtly reinvents itself, beckoning me back. There are always new builds to experiment with. New challenges to overcome. Path of Exile 2 is coming, but I'm in no particular rush to move on. Every ARPG that's come since simply reminds me why this one is the best of the bunch.
Jody: If you find Path of Exile a bit murky and boring-looking, may I recommend the vibrant MMO/ARPG Lost Ark? Lost Ark is basically Path of Exile yassified.
Sarah: I've tried getting into Path of Exile several times but I always feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the skill tree so never usually get very far. Diablo 3 suits me much better when I want my ARPG fix.
58. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Released 2019 | Last position 53
Wes: I put 120 hours into Elden Ring this year, yet it's Sekiro I think about most. It's FromSoft's tightest game: all action, no RPG fat, 10,000 blood-spurting death blows standing between you and victory. Is there a Louvre for ninjas?
Sean: Sekiro did for me what all of Soulsborne could not: make parrying fun.
Josh W: People like to talk about Sekiro being a game of mastery. To hear some folk tell it, it's a combination rhythm/fighting game, all about perfect parries and graceful dodges, but I think that misses something important. Sekiro didn't click for me until I realised it wasn't just a game about straight-up sword fights, it's also about throwing ash in your opponent's eyes and fleeing the battle, about dousing them in oil and setting them alight, and about exploiting all the nasty, low-down tricks in the shinobi handbook to fight every battle purely on your terms. Honour is for suckers: let it warm the dead in their graves.
57. Assassin's Creed Valhalla
Released 2020 | Last position 52
Lauren A: AC Valhalla is the least Assassin's Creedy game in the franchise, making it the best of all. It should definitely be higher up in this list because who doesn't love roleplaying as a sexy Viking lady with a big hammer? Unimaginative people, that's who.
The various DLC added classic black box missions and new abilities that turn Valhalla from a regular Viking adventure into a mythical masterpiece as you smash god-tier enemies to pieces as the All-Father.
Fraser: I'm a bit tired of Assassin's Creed now, but Valhalla is still a cracking Viking RPG, full of entertaining characters and one of my favourite AC protagonists. I wish Ubisoft would spice up the increasingly staid quest structure and stop just piling on very similar systems, but I've still put more than 150 hours into this behemoth.
Josh L: As mentioned, this really isn't an Assassin's Creed game, but maybe that's a good thing?
Robin: Ubisoft don't get enough credit in my book for the sheer scale and craft of their modern open worlds. I think accusations of bloat are warranted—Valhalla is absurdly long and full of filler—but they're not justification for dismissing the incredibly technical achievement that is the game's rendition of medieval England.
Released 2021 | Last position New
Mollie: A zen puzzler with very few words, yet says so much through the possessions you neatly stow away inside cupboards and wardrobes across multiple years and living spaces.
Jody: Every object clicks in place delightfully, telling a story while it does. But the partner who doesn't leave wallspace for your degree, aaargh.
Fraser: I find it nearly impossible to keep my flat tidy with a chaotic cockapoo puppy roaming around, so tidying up in Unpacking was incredibly cathartic. The more I played, though, the more it was the unspoken story pushing me forward. And now I'm worried about what my own possessions might tell people about me. I'd better hide some stuff.
Wes: My girlfriend brought her diploma home recently, and thanks to this game I had a slight moment of panic about whether she'd have any place to put it.
Mollie: Awww, Wes.
Sarah: Unpacking is such a chill game. It's so satisfying to organise a room—or an entire house—just the way you like it. The story of the nameless person who's stuff you're organising with each life-stage is subtle and surprisingly moving (no pun intended).
Released 2017 | Last position 55
Morgan: Prey is everything great about immersive sims crammed into one huge space station. It's got wrenches, shotguns, computers with mouse pointers, and a set a systemic rules that everything follows. I'll never forget the first time I bypassed a locked door by sniping a button with a nerf crossbow. This is Arkane's grand homage to System Shock and I'm still amazed it turned out so good.
Jody: This is the direction I want immersive sims to go. A singular location modeled down to the tiny, characterful details. Talos I is a lonely place, perfect for sci-fi horror, but you get to know its people through the things you find—even character sheets from their roleplaying game.
Morgan: Hell yeah, Jody. If you can't tell, it's us two that love Prey on staff. This year and last we tired to usurp Dishonored 2 with Arkane's true masterpiece, but were swiftly defeated by consensus. This is way too low!
Josh W: Add me to the list of Prey-lovers. History will vindicate us.
Phil: As a representative of PC Gamer's Dishonored 2 camp, Prey is great. It has one of the only truly good crafting systems in gaming, and is absurdly smart throughout. Everyone should play it, no arguments here.
I just wish, for a game with as much combat as Prey has, the enemy design was better. Mimics are fun little trick at first, but by the end of my time in Talos I, I was glad to see the back of them.
54. The Sims 4
Released 2014 | Last position 42
Lauren M: Every one of us who enjoys The Sims 4 is eagerly awaiting the day it has legitimate competition. Until that happens, it's still genuinely the only game filling the ongoing demand for building dream homes and simulating wacky families. Plus I can be a werewolf living in a little cottage now.
Mollie: My love-hate relationship with The Sims 4 continues. There's still nothing quite like it, but I struggle to recommend a game that requires remortgaging your house to experience fully.
Katie: Further to Mollie's comments about how gosh darn expensive this series is, I've never considered stealing a game so hard as I have with the Sims 4. It's a genuinely impressive evolution of a game that saw me through some difficult times as a kid, but it's become so much of an antithesis of its original idea, I also struggle to recommend it in its entirety.
Morgan: I experience The Sims 4 entirely through my partner, who both plays the game and watches YouTubers who make gorgeous houses, complain about missing features, and justify spending a whole lot on DLC packs. You can tell from their passion that The Sims is really special, even if EA is always on the edge of souring its community on the whole series.
53. Chivalry 2
Released 2021 | Last position 58
Tyler Wilde, Executive Editor: Chivalry 2 wouldn't work if its combat design weren't so clever. The complex blocking, riposting, and countering system creates the possibility for skilled players to enter into a multiplayer swordfight outnumbered and win, which is brilliant. At the same time, a lot of Chiv 2's fun purely comes down to the volume of janky, farcical ways to beat the piss out of other players. Thus the medieval warfare game charged a few yards up the list this year (yelling at the other games in Ye Olde English as it passed) thanks to its Steam release and a big update which added two new objective maps and, most importantly, horses. Galloping around with a pointy stick is as fun as it sounds like it would be.
Fraser: You can murder someone with a chicken.
Released 2021 | Last position New
Robin: One of the things I love most about Dorfromantik is that it is fundamentally aimless. As you build up your little slice of countryside one tile at a time, trying to match up elements like fields, rivers, and railways, you're not trying to exploit the landscape or build a map-conquering empire; you're not recruiting an army to conquer your enemies; you're not even really trying to complete an over-arching goal, most of the time, other than just a good score and a pleasing layout. You're basically just quietly piecing together a place that would be quite nice to go on holiday to. There's a satisfaction to placing pieces in the best, highest-scoring ways, but really for me it's subsumed by the satisfaction of this lovely field all fitting together just right inside this perfect loop of river. It's one of the best mindfulness tools I've ever used. Which is perhaps a sign that I should just get into model railways.
Katie: Everyone keeps telling me this game is "super chill," but it kind of stresses me out. I think it's down to the fact I'm always having to shift my attention to the other side of the map where some forest or village needs completing. It's not even timed, but it forces me to go against my Mother's wisdom: "Finish one thing before you start another."
Wes: I spent a solid two weeks just building little worlds on the couch with this gem on my Steam Deck. When you plop down one of those combined boat/rail stations in the middle of a lake and tie an entire river system together: mmm, tasty.
51. Rainbow Six Siege
Released 2015 | Last position 21
Nat: Rainbow Six Siege isn't my go-to shooter (see #4). But it's the best take on a slower, more tactical kind of shooter—a more bombastic Counter-Strike where positioning is key, kills are quick, and every single wall can come crashing down at a moment's notice. Plus, while the launch lineup was a fairly dull roster of masked CS:GO rejects, Siege's operators have only gotten cooler, gayer and more mechanically bizarre as the game continues to grow.
Mollie: I still don't know shit about Siege. My map knowledge sucks, my operator knowledge sucks, I suck. But I think that actually helps me enjoy this game so much more. I always have a good time dicking around with friends in Siege—playing footsies with my pal while scooting around a hostage will never not be funny to me.
Morgan: Rainbow Six Siege isn't my main squeeze anymore, but it's still one of the best competitive shooters around. No shooter has managed to outdo its per-bullet wall destruction and I don't know if I'll ever have a bigger thrill in videogames than clutching out a round with a combination of good aim, smart camera positioning, and teammates giving useful callouts.
50. Hardspace: Shipbreaker
Released 2020 | Last position New
Nat: There's nothing so satisfying as a job well done, especially if that job is peeling apart a billion-dollar spaceship like an onion. Hardspace: Shipbreaker's zero-gravity disassembly feels like learning a real trade, mastering the ins and outs of its ships even as those ships become more and more hazardous to take apart. When a laser meant to trim off hull plating ends up igniting a fuel canister that blows half the ship (and you) to pieces, you can't help but laugh.
Jorge Jiminez, Hardware Writer: The thing about Hardspace: Shipbreaker that I love is how fast it can escalate at any given moment. One minute you're skilfully cutting apart a ship making some serious cash then, ooops, who put that fuel line there? It's a game that loves putting you under the pressure. Death isn't a big deal because you're a replaceable clone. And sometimes clones accidentally blow themselves up. Work in the future is hard to come by, I guess.
49. Kerbal Space Program
Released 2011 | Last position 49
Dave: As one of the oldest games on the list it would be easy to dismiss this 11-year-old space sim. But there are so many layers to KSP, so much charm, and so many tricky, varied gameplay challenges, that it's still absolutely worth playing in 2022.
Wes: I lobbied against KSP this year because I'm saving myself for co-op in Kerbal Space Program 2. If you want to take a crash course in astrophysics now, though, or just build some funny rockets and watch them explode, this is certainly the right choice.
Josh W: I have never gotten to the Moon (or Mun, as it's known in the Kerbal-verse) and I will never get to the Moon: I simply lack the patience. But what I have done is had a great time learning about the physics of space travel by strapping little green halfwits to heroic quantities of rocket fuel and sending them to meet their god. They're still out there, somewhere, drifting in the space between the stars.
48. Spelunky 2
Released 2020 | Last position 48
Evan: Its procedurally-generated environments and slippery physics are a brutal combination, but Spelunky 2's unfair deaths are balanced by moments of wonder as you dig through more of the moon's odd crust. Get knocked into a lava pit by baby draculas on one run, discover the secret passage to an alien mothership on the next.
Phil: As an old Spelunky 1 obsessive, I've still not actually played the sequel. Everything about it seems bigger, harder and just busier than the hard-as-nails roguelike I grew comfortable with. It's a series that lives by the motto "fuck around and find out", and here there seems to be more to find out than ever. Tens—maybe hundreds—of hours finding out, to the point that I'm scared to take that first step. I know I'll cave eventually. It's just a matter of time.
47. It Takes Two
Released 2021 | Last position New
Imogen: It Takes Two is a co-op adventure where a divorce-bound couple's kid accidentally turns them into toys. The story is nothing special—and I hate that damn thrusting, gyrating book—but It Takes Two has some of the best platforming I've ever seen so it deserves this spot.
Wes: I wouldn't put It Takes Two on the Top 100 for its platforming, which is fine. I'm absolutely here for Dr. Hakim, though. More thrusting, book man.
Josh L: Don’t be fooled, It Takes Two isn’t actually a game. It’s several games stacked on top of each other in a trench coat, each with their own fully-developed and satisfying mechanics. None of the level gimmicks miss, the story is engaging, and it’s always fun to play. It’s so much game you need an entire second person just to handle it.
Robin: Having played this with my fairly videogame-averse partner, I think it's secretly one of the best gateway games out there. It gently introduced her to 3D platforming, shooting, puzzle-solving, and more, all while I could play along with her to demonstrate the trickier techniques or point out where we needed to go next. It's such a clever design for a co-op game, because it means you can play it with nearly anyone.
46. Forza Horizon 5
Released 2021 | Last position New
Jacob: We've left the rainy coastline of Britain and flown halfway across the world for the next stop in the Forza Horizon series. The bright sunshine and varied landscape of Mexico makes for an excellent playground to burn up rubber in, and there's no shortage of excellent cars to take for a spin in what has to be Forza's finest and most fun Horizon fest to date. Just try and take it easy on the anime car decals, yeah?
Phil: Have you been spying on my garage, Jacob?
Fraser: The Hot Wheels expansion has seen me return to Forza Horizon 5, and it's an even more joyful experience than before. The playground has never been this zany and exhilarating, causing me to whoop and cheer with every massive loop. In real-life, I don't care about cars or driving, but this is what I thought it would be like back when I was a kid, tossing tiny vehicles around in my bedroom.
45. Half-Life: Alyx
Released 2020 | Last position 45
Dave: That liquid shader and Jeff… Alyx is easily the best VR game and one of the best Half-Life games.
Chris L: Despite being wedged in the middle of an established timeline, Alyx managed to take some surprising turns and contain some, ahem, full-life consequences for Half-Life lore. And I've never played a VR game that felt so completely comfortable and natural to move around in that I was able to keep my headset on for hours at a time. Brilliant game.
Josh L: Alyx manages to take the top spot for 'game you need to play once you get VR’, a spot once held by Beat Saber. Sure, Boneworks got close, but Alyx is so polished, immersive and interesting that it’s not just one of the best VR games on the market, but one of the best Half-Life games.
Josh W: Yeah this game's probably great, but the moment I came across a poison headcrab I ripped off the headset so hard it tore hair out.
44. Rocket League
Released 2015 | Last position 27
Tyler W: Early in this year's Top 100 meeting I said that I'd deal with it if the rest of the staff decided to bump Rocket League off the list to make room for something new. After all, what more can I say about a multiplayer game that doesn't need any more iteration to be fun forever? I've been writing about how Psyonix's car soccer game is great for seven years now, and it continues to be great, but I have no notes. Not any that relate to the fundamental design of Rocket League, at least; as much as I've probably blamed "the physics" for bad nights, I wouldn't change a thing about the weird, ultra-challenging way the rocket-powered cars handle.
The more I thought about Rocket League and all the good times I've had over the course of my thousand-plus hours, the more I resented my past self for being so deferential. No Witcher 3 fans are shoving it out of the top 10 (spoiler) just because we've spent the past seven years saying that it's good, so why should I let a game I once called "the only good videogame" be cut? I'm glad that Rich, PC Gamer's other primary Rocket League-liker, kept his guard up and it only ended up moving 17 places. I know it isn't traditional to say this unsarcastically, but what a save!
43. Kentucky Route Zero
Released 2013 | Last position 35
Tyler Colp, Associate Editor: Playing Kentucky Route Zero must be what it's like to experience ASMR. It's a tingly, intimate adventure game about the rot of capitalism that slips into the deepest parts of my brain and whispers to me that, despite everything, maybe it'll be okay.
Nat: A haunting tale of American decline that seamlessly traverses adventure game, text adventure, amateur stage play and dive bar gig. Kentucky Route Zero is a literary experience rivalled only by the likes of Disco Elysium, one less constrained by the look and shape of what a "game" is supposed to be—especially when it comes to between-act interludes. Play it with the lights dimmed, and a heart open to some literary melancholy.
Released 2021 | Last position New
Wes: Quake: Groundbreaking FPS, Romero's last game at id, grandfather of esports, progenitor of the rocket jump, yada yada yada. Quake could live in the Top 100 forever, honestly, but it's back for an especially good reason this year: Nightdive's 2021 remaster, which makes it absolutely sing on modern PCs. No more digging around folders to configure one of the dozen confusing Quake source ports: you can just boot it, crank your fps to 144, tweak your FOV and be off and running. Quake Remastered also includes some entirely new stuff: Wolfenstein: The New Order developer MachineGames built two expansions that dwarf the scale and intricacy of the original game, riffing on '90s level design after 25 years of study. A+.
Jody: The foomp-tink-tink-tink of Quake's grenade launcher is still one of the best sound effects in all of videogames.
Released 2020 | Last position 41
Jody: Supergiant's a consistent studio with a string of bangers to its name. It began with Bastion, a rare action-RPG with a story worth caring about, and Hades built on its strengths. The combat is frenetic, varying with your loadout but usually built around using a perfect-feeling dash to get yourself both out of and then back into danger. The story's just as engaging, a Greek myth saga that takes the obscure son of the god of the underworld and makes his quest to escape Hades into a sexy soap opera.
Imogen: Hades is hot. Hot action, hot setting, hot characters, hot dialogue. It's all a melting pot of extremely spicy takes on roguelikes, gods, and mythology. What's not to like?
Nat: Pyre's still better.
Wes: Crazy talk. Pyre was by far Supergiant's weakest game to play, even if you loved the story. Hades made up for that in a big way, with action that keeps getting more fun and varied as you unlock more modifiers.
Robin: Hades is super fun to play, really beautiful to look at, and full of endearing characters—but what really stuck with me about it is how it plays with the roguelike format. By building the play-die-repeat structure into its actual story, and using that to create a world that reacts instead of resetting when you fail, it creates a loop that's engaging far beyond just the usual buzz of mechanical progression. I think it'll quietly be really influential on the genre.
Released 2020 | Last position 40
Nat: Harebrained Schemes' riff on BattleTech is proof that the stodgy old wargame could be brilliant. It's a turn-based strategy that hides the fussy dice-rolls of the tabletop game without losing their complexity, a space opera that trades the tired '90s pulp BattleTech so often trades in for a grand interstellar tragedy. BattleTech is a crunchy, personal, Bebop-esque tale of a mercenary band struggling to survive—but one that still realises blowing a robot's entire left torso to smithereens should feel phenomenal.
Jorge: BattleTech is one of those strategy games I can play all the time. Career mode lets your mercenary troupe of Mechwarriors take jobs all over the star system in any way you want for fame and profit. If you love mechs and strategy, BattleTech is a no-brainer.
Fraser: One of the best mech games around, and one that's been enhanced and elevated by the work of talented modders. Even if you've gone through the campaign, there are plenty of reasons to fire it up again and drop some beefy metal bastards into the battlefield.
39. Into the Breach
Released 2018 | Last position 25
Robin: I really think this is as tight and focused as turn-based strategy has ever been. Every level is an exquisite, satisfying puzzle, with the roguelike structure adding enough weight and drama to make you agonise over every move. When I first saw this still on our list, part of me thought 'Has it had its day?'. But the truth is I don't think anyone's even come close to making something as brilliantly precise in the time since. And thanks to the Advanced Edition update released this July, it even has some new surprises for veterans in 2022.
Evan: Big yes on the Advanced Edition. The new Squads (and enemies) in there often feel quite powerful (imagine a chess piece that lets you teleport any two units!!) but that splashiness is the perfect bait for those of us that already played the game front to back in 2018, when it was our Game of the Year. The elegance of design is enduring, and we continue to see Into the Breach as a modern classic.
Phil: Normally your next choice in a turn-based tactics game is pretty obvious: move your lads into cover, pop them on overwatch, and console yourself that, if anything goes wrong on the enemy turn, that was just the luck of the draw. But Into the Breach tells you exactly what the enemy are going to do, and gives you the chance to stop them. And then it gives you a bunch of extra objectives that award bonus resources that you absolutely, definitely need. I'm frequently spending long, fraught minutes planning every single turn, desperately searching for the combination of moves and attacks that will make sure everything is OK. Everything is never OK though.
38. Citizen Sleeper
Released 2022 | Last position New
Jody: A synthetic being on the run, you pretend to be an ordinary citizen of Erlin's Eye station by spending a pool of dice each day on activities like working shifts at a dive bar, tending a garden, or hacking security systems. Meanwhile, your artificial body's condition decays and your planned obsolescence draws closer. So do the hunters who want to drag you back to the corporation that technically still owns you. There are more pleasant timers too: as you make friends their stories unfold, a new chapter arriving every few cycles.
Keeping track of all this can feel almost like a job, but really what it adds up to is a full life. One with danger and compromise, but also companionship and inspiration. The blimps in Blade Runner say a new life awaits you in the off-world colonies, and in Citizen Sleeper that's true.
Wes: The lovely character illustrations really pulled me into the lives of everyone I met, and the writing took it from there. I expected the dice rolls to be tedious additions to a visual novel, but they end up essential to Citizen Sleeper's vibe. As your body breaks down you have fewer dice to work with, so I had my heart in my throat more than once using a wimpy 1 or 2 die on a dangerous job. The dice add tension to each early decision and a gratifying sense of having 'made it' as life slowly gets easier.
37. Nier: Automata
Released 2017 | Last position 37
Ted: This existentialist sci-fi ARPG's runaway success turned its creator, the masked weirdo Yoko Taro, into a gaming icon, but I remember my feeling of shock and euphoria when I discovered it was being made at all. Poor sales on the first Nier caused developer Cavia to shutter, and it's a small miracle we got this mind melting masterpiece of androids duking it out at the edge of history.
Mollie: One of those games I wish I could experience again for the first time. Gorgeous and emotionally charged with some of the best damn combat I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Bless Yoko Taro for bringing 2B into this world.
Wes: What other game will let you commit suicide by eating a fish?
36. Return of the Obra Dinn
Released 2018 | Last position 36
Wes: How the hell did Lucas Pope decide that unravelling the mysterious fate of a 19th century ship and its dead crew using a magic pocket watch would make for a brilliant puzzle game? Lucas Pope, will you trade brains with me? Mine's only lightly used, but it does come with priceless memories of the 12 hours it took me to learn what happened to every sailor on this damned vessel.
Chris: It's refreshing (and risky) for a game to trust the player as much as Obra Dinn does, but by giving me the absolute minimum of help to untangle a bunch of interwoven mysteries, it meant that each time I solved one I felt like a genius. A unique detective game.
Phil: If you're coming to this for the first time, try to rope a friend into starting it too. It's a great game to compare notes on, discussing the slightly different ways you each arrived at the solution.
35. Guild Wars 2
Released 2012 | Last position Re-entry
Lauren M: Somehow, it was an MMO that finally made me into a better platformer. Nevermind the excellent living story, PvP, and top-tier in-game holidays. I love jumping puzzles.
Seriously though, Guild Wars 2 has earned my loyalty even though I'm not the active player I once was. ArenaNet has been tackling seasonal stories with its Living World format before such a thing was popular in live service games. Guild Wars 2 has been brave enough to rebuild its main player hub multiple times over the years based on those stories—I'm not talking seasonal decor, I mean old Lion's Arch versus destroyed Lion's Arch versus the new Lion's Arch. The dedication is incredible.
Its approach to shared open world events and shared credit for kills inspired other MMOs to do the same. Its structured PvP modes are still excellent. And yeah, I actually like the jumping puzzles.
Phil: I tolerate jumping puzzles, but I love Guild Wars 2. As someone who dips in and out of games erratically, and always forgets to cancel an MMO subscription in time, Guild Wars 2 has been a blessing. No subscription, and its expansions don't invalidate the gear and skills I earned before. Its newest expansion is doing some breathtaking things with its open world encounters, too.
Sarah: I've only played a dozen or so hours of Guild Wars 2 and I don't think it's a bad MMO. It's just one that I've added to my "not as good as World of Warcraft" list.
Phil: Sarah, it's painful to see what years of WoW addiction condition a person to believe. I promise you there's a better MMO out there. It's this one.
34. Old World
Released 2020 | Last position 34
Fraser: Civilization might still be the biggest name in historical 4Xs, but Old World will make you forget all about it. Mohawk Games' ancient world strategy romp is a special concoction, splicing turn-based conquest and expansion with personal diplomacy, intrigue and heaps of drama. It's Civ for fans of Crusader Kings, and the kind of game I dreamed of but never thought would appear. It's people, not nations, that move this epic forwards. Stepping out on their spouses, murdering their siblings, building cults—they're a busy bunch. And by limiting it to the ancient world, Mohawk gives these characters room to grow, instead of skipping a century in the blink of an eye. After all this soapy drama, it's hard to go back to Civ's comparatively plain immortal rulers.
Wes: Old World really does add the exact dash of characterization Civ needs. When I previewed it I was worried the final game would be a bit boring, but I'm glad to be wrong.
33. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Released 2019 | Last position 22
Nat: Halo Infinite was, unfortunately, a bit of a bust. But who needs Master Chief's flawed open-world outing when the MCC is right here, a perfect package of four all-time great FPS campaigns (plus Halo 4), with the ability to hop between the multiplayer offerings for each at will. While seasonal updates have ceased, the game continues to receive cosmetics and playlist updates every now and again—and with full mod support for Halos 1 through 3, the MCC will likely continue to shape and reshape what Halo on PC looks like for years to come.
Halo Infinite? Never heard of it.
Wes: After the tyranny of Xbox Live's rigid playlists, I love being able to just click "CTF." That's peak Halo.
Released 2020 | Last position 79
Imogen: Another year, another jump up the list for Valorant. Riot Games' delve into low time-to-kill, ability supported FPS mayhem is going from strength to strength and, since release, the game keeps growing and improving at an astonishing rate. What makes the game special isn't just its cast, balancing, maps, or visuals, it's Riot's dedication to supporting the game with players in mind. Never have I played a game with such a continuous rolling meta, and it keeps Valorant exciting.
31. Destiny 2
Released 2017 | Last position 31
Sean: Destiny 2 still feels so fluent as a shooter to me: the way that its movement, weapons, and supers combine to create such an audacious style of gameplay in both PvE and multiplayer. It can't help but feel like the evolution of what I loved in the original Halo games, and that's an ongoing experiment I want to be part of.
Phil: "Experiment" is the right way to describe it, Sean. Over the years, Bungie has completely changed the cadence and content of its seasons, had multiple different systems for its guns, and—more controversially—spent a while removing older campaigns and activities in order to prioritise the new. There's still not an obvious map for how a live-service game should operate, and Bungie's never been afraid of taking a shot in the dark—for better and worse.
Nevertheless, Destiny 2 is broadly in a good place right now. This year's expansion, The Witch Queen, added the best campaign in the series' history—filling it with exciting encounters that build on the already strong foundation of its movement, gunplay and space magic. But as good as the campaign is, the real joy comes after—in raids and dungeons that feature some of the smartest and most exciting FPS encounter design that you'll find. Last Wish lets you fight a dragon. It's wild.
Fraser: Destiny 2 mostly pisses me off. The quests aren't very good, the story is mostly shite, the raids make me hate myself and the seasonal structure makes me feel pressured into jumping in even when I'd rather be playing something else. But there just isn't a game out there with shooting that brings me this much delight.
Phil: Fraser only hates the raids because I forced the PCG team to fight Riven the proper, intended way. No cheese on my watch.
30. Deep Rock Galactic
Released 2018 | Last position 30
Robin: Forget No Man's Sky, this co-op shooter is the true king of procedural exploration. Even 80 hours in, I still regularly discover stuff in its generated levels that blows my mind. And the brilliant thing is, it's not just set dressing—Deep Rock Galactic's mechanics, based as much around digging, drilling, and navigating as combat, force you to interact directly with these unique environments. Every neat, weird rock formation is its own puzzle to work out or obstacle to overcome. Seriously clever stuff.
Sean: Deep Rock has depth. Whether it's the unique fauna and flora that populate its distinctive biomes, or its patented mix of crafting, platforming, and blasting insects with big guns. In PvE co-op terms, it's so much more than just standing back-to-back, blazing away at hordes of enemies. And Robin's right: its procedurally generated maps add endless variation to your subterranean exploits.
29. Monster Hunter: Rise
Released 2021 | Last position 29
Mollie: I still prefer World, but nobody can deny that Rise is a damn good Monster Hunter game. It's fluid, mobile and gorgeous to look at despite being a Switch port.
Sean: With the Sunbreak expansion Rise goes from strength to strength, deepening the combat mechanics and adding some of the most spectacular fights I've seen in a long time. NPC hunters finally fight alongside you, too. What other game lets you KO a monster by hurling a giant insect at its face? 10/10.
Wes: I found Rise both a bit too streamlined in its "proceed directly to the fight" hunts and a bit too bloated in its "manage an entire army of cats" busywork, but it does feel damn good to play. I was finally brave enough to try hunting horn and I'm a bard now.
Mollie: Welcome to the coolest weapon in the game, Wes. Glad you finally joined us.
Phil: I liked World, but I loved Rise and the way its hunts just get to the point. Not every game is better for being bigger, and Rise is the proof. I just wish Capcom would figure out the whole cross-save thing. I'd love to play this on PC, but I'm not about to lose the 50+ hours of progress I've logged on the Switch version.
Released 2017 | Last position Re-entry
Jorge: I can't believe I'm saying this but, I'm a Fortnite guy now. No Build Mode has made Fortnite more approachable and frankly fun than ever before. Big epic events keep things fresh, and it's the only game where you can play as Batman beating up Dr. Strange with Darth Vader's lightsaber.
Wes: I appreciate that Fortnite's constant reinvention makes it the only live service game I can enjoy without even playing. The week Goku and Vegeta were added to Fortnite and everyone was posting viral clips of them doing kamehamehas all over the place? I had a blast, man.
Lauren A: My sister and I once made a grid map of the Season 1 battle royale map to teach kids about co-ordinates and mapping. I will complain about the state of Fortnite until the end of time and I hate the skin/V-Bucks concept with a searing passion, but it remains the best battle royale out there. I enjoy cosplaying as a colour-changing cat who wields Christmas-themed weapons 24/7.
27. Outer Wilds
Released 2019 | Last position 15
Phil: A time-loop adventure with a simple yet daunting premise: discover why your sun keeps blowing up. Outer Wilds' handcrafted solar system is full of weird and wonderful ideas that makes each 22-minute run a joy. Each planet is a little puzzle unto itself, and packed full of interesting things to find.
Imogen: Accepting death has never been so enjoyable.
Josh L: Outer Wilds is nothing short of being one of the finest games to have released in recent memory. A unique and challenging combat-free game, with DLC that acts closer to a fully-realized and satisfying sequel than a simple expansion. This is a game full of heart and smarts—an interstellar trip that makes it worth getting stuck into the in-flight material.
26. Strange Horticulture
Released 2022 | Last position New
Jody: You run a plant shop and solve puzzles, helping villagers find herbs to cure skin irritations, or flowers to brighten a wedding. Then Strange Horticulture grows to encompass poisonings, druids, and supernatural investigators until you're entangled in a mystery with much higher stakes than whether Mr. Burbidge gets a rash.
Chris: A brilliant detective game that presents a new little mystery every time someone walks into your shop, and a larger one to slowly piece together while you learn more about the world and its inhabitants. The plants you have to identify are all wonderfully detailed and it's endlessly satisfying to examine them with a magnifying glass, pore over your botany bible, and affix little tags to them once you've figured out what they are. This is easily my favorite game of 2022.
Released 2020 | Last position 66
Nat: Teardown left early access this year, and that rip-smart campaign of creatively destructive heists is a small part of why it's shot so far up this year. Teardown's real killer feature is that, over the past year, it's secretly turned into Garry's Mod 2.
When you're done tearing down (eheh) the campaign's levels, you can pop into the Steam Workshop and find hundreds more voxelated sandboxes to smash, tools with which to smash them with, and modifiers to the way things even smash apart. It is, in short, smashing stuff.
Morgan: And that campaign is surprisingly good! On top of being a very cool toy, Teardown is also one of the smartest, most open-ended puzzle games I've played.
Phil: Echoing Morgan here. I assumed Teardown's campaign would just be about smashing stuff up, but it's so much smarter in what it asks of you. The key is the way its alarm systems work: forcing you to painstakingly prepare for your heist before you perform the actual crime in a tight, 60 second run.
24. God of War
Released 2022 | Last position New
Jorge: It's no surprise that the PC port of the best game on PlayStation 5 makes the list. In many ways God of War on the PC is the best version of this epic father/son bonding trip. Unlocked framerates, ultrawide support, and a host of graphical options only available on PC make the feeling of tossing your magical axe into the skull of a gruesome troll a near-religious experience. I just hope God of War: Ragnorok doesn't take as long to makes it way to the PC.
Josh L: In a series known for providing unfettered violence and rage, a pure masculine fantasy, this entry sees the aftermath of leading such a life, and the remorse that comes with time and age. Sporting one of the most satisfying action game movesets of the last few years, and some astoundingly stunning art design, God of War is the biggest must-play of the PlayStation Studios lineup.
23. Total War: Warhammer 2
Released 2017 | Last position 23
Jody: Total War: Warhammer 2 remains the peak of Creative Assembly's brand of expansive, more-is-more strategy. That's not because Warhammer 3 is bad, but because it's had less time to scale up. It can't compete with what all the updates, rebalances, and DLC have done for Warhammer 2. Mortal Empires made it truly gigantic, and later patches streamlined the turn times. It picked up undead Pharaohs, undead pirate captains, and a goblin warlord who is also a chef. I don't like to throw around the word "epic" because I don't know if many videogames really deserve the same adjective as Beowulf, but Warhammer 2 feels pretty epic.
Maybe Warhammer 3 will get there in a year's time. I hope it does.
Sean: I think Total War: Warhammer 3 is already there to be honest. Sure, Immortal Empires is in beta and things are a little bit buggy, but the size and potential of that campaign is unprecedented in the history of Total War. The second game is amazing, but I suppose the true strength of this trilogy is that nothing is wasted or lost. Immortal Empires means all of it gets to fuel one massive grand campaign experience. I already have 2,500 hours in this trilogy, and yet, I think its best days might still lie ahead of it.
Fraser: When we included this in the magazine edition, it was before Total War: Warhammer 3's Immortal Empires update had come out. I still love Warhammer 2, but unquestionably the best way to play Total War: Warhammer now is via Immortal Empires. With hundreds of factions and around 80 legendary lords, it's the most extra thing Creative Assembly has ever created, and I'll be playing it for years and years.
22. Stardew Valley
Released 2016 | Last position 26
Mollie: Many have tried, but still nobody can capture the magic of Stardew Valley's immaculate vibes. This quaint pixelated farming sim is the first game I recommend to anyone looking for something cheap and cosy to play. I've spent countless hours jazzing up my farm, letting Abigail eat a small quarry's worth of quartz and marrying Shane for the umpteenth time. It's the kind of game I'll 'quickly' boot up to start a new farm before blinking and realising it's now 4am while I'm frantically bombing my way down to the bottom of the Skull Cavern.
Katie: Confession time! I've never actually gotten past summer in Stardew Valley. It's on my gaming to-do list, but I keep getting distracted by other farming sims. I tend to complain about the game on the internet, and yet I'm always drawn back to it. There's something special about Stardew that will always hold a place in my heart.
It's one of the only co-op games my partner and I have played that didn't stress me out, since our base wasn't getting attacked every five minutes. Also I can send him off into the mines while I pootle around, watering the crops and decorating, maybe do a spot of fishing. It's what virtual farm life is all about: sharing the load.
Wes: Seeing your farm come together in co-op is such a treat. But honestly, I'm just here to make mayonnaise.
21. Doom Eternal
Released 2020 | Last position 18
Morgan: It may have fallen a few spots this year, but Doom Eternal is still one of the best FPS campaigns around. The sequel demonstrates a clear throughline from where Doom started and where shooters have gone since, marrying the original's simplicities with a few decades worth of good ideas to spice up the action. Eternal finished the work Doom 2016 began. As I airdashed across hell, laser-swording aliens in two, I wondered if shooters will ever be this good again.
Wes: Doom Eternal is the evolutionary pinnacle of one interpretation of Doom, which puts all its focus into making combat a logic puzzle you solve while juggling chainsaws and flamethrows at 240 fps. I hope the next Doom explores a totally different path, refocusing on the creative and labyrinthine level design that made the old games so fun to explore.
20. Yakuza 7
Released 2020 | Last position 20
Lauren M: I didn't believe a new main character could carry the Yakuza series mantle until I fell in love with eternal optimist Kasuga Ichiban. He made me literally laugh and literally cry and that's truly the highest praise there is for a Yakuza game. Of course, we've just recently found out that, just kidding, he isn't going to carry the series because Kiryu is coming back to join him as a co-protagonist for Like A Dragon 8 in 2024. All the same, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio pulled off a mean feat, managing to craft an entirely new and equally lovable main cast for the reboot.
I took issue with the pacing of the new turn-based battle system at points, but I know so many people who latched on to it easier than they would have to the classic Yakuza brawlers. If you do want to go back to classic combo-based bike bashing, I'll always recommend starting with Yakuza 0. The prequel set in the sequined glamour of the '80s isn't quite as modern as the Yakuza Kiwami remake, but has the best setup for falling in love with its protagonists and my favourite iteration of the brawler fighting styles.
Jorge: Yakuza 7 restored my faith in humanity. It's also a fun JRPG where you fight enemies called Piss Wizards. This game never ceases to put a smile on my face.
Phil: And your summons are called 'Poundmates'. One of them is a chicken. Yakuza's shift to JRPG has revitalised the series, allowing its broad, childish humour and deep love of distractions and minigames shine in a new way. If you're new to the series, this is a great place to start, but check out Yakuza 0 or the newly-released-on-PC Judgment anyway.
19. Umurangi Generation
Released 2020 | Last position 19
Tyler C: Umurangi Generation is a game that blares. It drips with a reality that I can taste even after capturing the end of its crumbling world. It's potent in a way that games so rarely are.
Nat: A loud, furious protest piece that firmly shuts down any complaints about politics in games, all while quietly functioning as the coolest photo mode around.
Jody: Umurangi Generation is the best photo safari game I've ever played. You're a courier in an apocalyptic Aotearoa who documents the approach of alien mechs under red skies as well as the breakdown of society as the UN steps up its control. It's a high-contrast world of eye-jarring visions: street cats and graffiti and businessmen with Playboy bunnies, wired-up dolphins and penguins on benches. Don't miss the Macro DLC, which has some of my favorite levels in it and also gives you roller blades.
18. Red Dead Redemption 2
Released 2018 | Last position 5
Morgan: Look, Rockstar's definitive cowboy shooter and horse care sim is one of the greatest games ever made, but I couldn't convince these chuckleheads to see reason and keep it higher on the list. That said, Red Dead Online has puttered along with few meaningful updates in nearly four years. A shared world cowboy MMO is too good an idea for Rockstar to keep screwing it up.
Lauren M: Red Dead Online is one of the most gripping shared worlds I've ever been in. It allows you to use your horse, lasso, guns, and every other tool to become a chaotic cog in the world the way that MMORPGs just never do. I spent every night for months in 2020 lassoing my friends, hunting side-by-side, and going on trail rides. Rockstar may be putting RDO up on the shelf now, but its world is so massive and detailed that it supports just riding out alone and finding a new quiet spot to explore more than any other online game I've played.
Phil: Wild that so much of this entry has been about Red Dead Online so far. For me, it is not the reason to play this. The reason to play is that the campaign, and its world, is incredible. Just an absurd amount of life and detail, where setting out into the unknown feels mysterious and rewarding. And given the overbearing, obvious satire of the GTA series, Red Dead Redemption 2 proves that Rockstar is at its best when it's being earnest.
Chris: While the mission and story structure gets repetitive in the second half (Dutch has a plan, it goes completely wrong, and you have to massacre hundreds of people), the world itself is so wonderfully detailed there's never a bad time to spend a few more hours in it, even without a goal. Just ride, explore, take in the sights, marvel at the weather, watch people work on a farm or mill about in town. It's an open world that always feels alive, even when it's not being lively.
17. Hollow Knight
Released 2017 | Last position 16
Wes: The mystery, melancholy, and pin-sharp action in Hollow Knight kinda ruined Metroid: Zero Mission when I played it last year. Metroid's blocky map design and missile spam boss battles felt so quaint in a post-Hollow Knight world. I expect to be obnoxiously lobbying for Silksong to take the #1 spot next year.
Jody: I'm careful about who I recommend Hollow Knight to and how, because the first couple of hours are so dull. Metroidvanias are all about unlocking abilities, but the way Hollow Knight holds back the basic maneuverability tools means it doesn't feel as good as it looks until you're a ways in. It's an easy game to bounce off. Get the Mothwing Cloak to dash and then the Mantis Claw to wall-hang and it finally becomes as interesting to move around in as it is to look at.
And it looks so gorgeous. I went to an exhibition at the Australian Center for the Moving Image to get a look at Team Cherry's development sketchbooks full of early concept art and maps, and nobody does crowds of sad bugs and haunted caverns like they do.
Released 2021 | Last position 14
Jorge: Wildermyth is one of the most unique games you'll ever play. This fantasy turn-based strategy game uses procedural storytelling to craft a seamless narrative in a pop-up storybook art style. Each playthrough is different and you never quite know what's in store for your band of heroes as you move from chapter to chapter in a world filled with magic, monsters and hijinx. Characters can die of old age, have kids, turn into werewolves, or replace severed limbs with mystical prosthetics.
Fraser: The procedural storytelling is the highlight, but Wildermyth's fights also have much to recommend them. They're easy to overlook on the more forgiving difficulty levels, but when things heat up you really have to get creative, especially when it comes to magic, which lets you weaponise your environment by possessing various objects. It ties nicely into the exceptional character progression, too, as magical prosthetics, lycanthropy or becoming a magical being filled with arcane fire naturally come into play when you're beating up monsters.
Jody: After you finish the tutorial I strongly recommend playing a campaign called Eluna and the Moth. It highlights Wildermyth's strengths most immediately, giving you a couple of characters tied to its story who you play alongside your returning legacy heroes. And its villains, the insect-dream-fey called thrixl, are Wildermyth's most interesting twist on folklore. I took a little while to warm to Wildermyth, but once I played Eluna and the Moth—and started building up a proper roster of warped legacy heroes with crystal eyes, raven claws, wolf heads, and tree arms—I was hooked.
15. Dishonored 2
Released 2016 | Last position 13
Phil: Arkane's masterpiece, and still the best first-person stealth game you can play today. The levels are peerless, full of intricately laid paths that reward exploration and mastery of your traversal tools. The action is refined, allowing for both methodical planning and graceful execution. And the commitment to immersion means that every choice and action is reflected back at you. As Arkane shifts towards taking the lessons of Dishonored 2 into other genres and styles, I fear we won't see its like for a long time to come.
Fraser: Like Phil, I'm not convinced we'll ever see an imsim as tight and clever as Dishonored 2. Thank goodness, then, that it's immensely replayable, with each assassination giving you so much room to create your own unique plans. Arkane's later games are great, too, but Dishonored 2 is just such a rarity: a game that contains not just one but several of the best missions of any FPS, imsim or stealth romp.
Phil: Wait, are we saying "imsim" instead of "immersive sim" now? Is that a thing?
Released 2021 | Last position 10
Lauren M: Valheim singlehandedly rekindled my love for crafting survival games. Even in early access it ripped apart what wasn't working for me in the genre, setting my new standard for building systems and finally making me care about cooking.
Sarah: I still love the low-stress vibe of just simply existing in this world. Heading out to explore or getting stuck into a building project without having to constantly check your hunger levels is just one of the things that makes this my favourite survival game.
Chris: I've written so much about Valheim since it launched I'm not sure what's left to say, so rather than gush about how it thoughtfully revised familiar survival systems and shrewdly left PvP as an afterthought to focus on co-op, I'll just talk about vibes. Valheim has the best vibes in games, and so many of them. There's the cozy, comfy feeling of tinkering around in your base and doing a spot of farming, but there's also the gripping terror of being caught in a storm at sea in the middle of the night. There's the spookiness of the black forest, the utter dread of the swamps, and the heavenly lure of the plains (before a deathsquito snipes you, of course). It's replaced Minecraft as my go-to procedurally generated world of choice, and that's saying something.
13. XCOM 2
Released 2016 | Last position 12
Jody: XCOM 2 remains ahead of its imitators in the turn-based squad tactics space thanks mainly to tactility. When a sprinting soldier slides into cover it feels like moving a board game piece, when the camera swings down in a dramatic moment it's like leaning down to get a closer view of a tabletop. XCOM 2 is what I saw in my head playing Warhammer 40,000.
Though some of its imitators have abandoned random chance-to-miss, going back to XCOM has made me appreciate its diciness too. There's a gambler's thrill to the surprise hit against the odds, and the missed 90% shot at a viper who is about to crush a teammate that forces you to scramble for an alternate solution.
Fraser: Everyone is still just trying to make a tactics game as good as XCOM 2.
Wes: My taste leans more towards strategy games where accuracy isn't the overriding mechanic—hurry up and get here, Tactics Ogre! But even so, I spent a good chunk of the early pandemic getting lost in XCOM 2. I especially appreciate how the War of the Chosen expansion's bad guys make fights feel more personal, and layer on new challenges every time you beat back one of the Chosen warriors. Having a nemesis rules, turns out.
12. Death Stranding
Released 2019 | Last position 6
Dave: I always love Kojima games… until I reach both the expositional cutscene event horizon and the hard no barrier of those damned character names. There's always this point where I can't take any more and just have to go, naaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.
Wes: Death Stranding is a comedy, and it's funny as shit. You just need the right headspace: like watching a Yorgos Lanthimos film, it's sometimes going to be profound, sometimes deeply sad, and the rest of the time it's going to be really funny, whether you're slapstick-tumbling down a hill or listening to someone explain Sam Porter Bridges' name.
Jorge: Despite its mostly nonsensical story, Death Stranding's systems and overall vibe are just splendid. Whether it's finding a way to deliver a pizza past a field filled with weird shadow-goo monsters without getting murdered or reconstructing a highway across the midwest of the United States that'll make zipping across the land easier, Death Stranding is a game like no other.
Jody: If Death Stranding had come out on PC first instead of PS4, the conversation around it would have been different. Instead, for the first eight months after its release the Death Stranding discourse was dominated by Metal Gear tragics and console critics who didn't have the right background for it. They couldn't see what Death Stranding really is. It's a game about topography, a direct descendent of PC classic Populous and a travel sim as detailed as Euro Truck Simulator 2.
I'm being facetious, but I'm still right. The gigantic midsection of Death Stranding, bulging between the layers of tasty bread that make up its story-heavy beginning and end, makes you engage with terrain more than any other game. You have to plot courses up and down mountainsides, use your tools to cross ravines, and lay out highways between settlements. Then you have to pivot on the fly and recalculate your route because you stumble across a nest of death ghosts who'll drag you into ground that they've transformed into an oil-slick ocean that monstrous whales are swimming in. They're your ultimate enemy because they take away the thing you've been relying on all this time: the goddamn topography.
11. Divinity: Original Sin 2
Released 2017 | Last position 11
Jody: It's a good time to be into fantasy CRPGs, even if you're one of those heathens who thinks the C stands for 'classic' instead of 'computer', with games like Solasta and Pathfinder taking tabletop experiences and dropping them onto your PC in relatively faithful fashion. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is still top-tier thanks to the way it anticipates everything you think to try, the chaotic combat, the co-op, and that oddly whimsical tone. You can talk to animals and do sidequests for chickens and a ghost cat. You can be a skeleton who disguises your undead nature by wearing a bucket on your head, then go around picking locks with your finger bones.
Lauren M: The "C" does stand for "classic" now, Jody, and Original Sin 2 is nothing less than one. It's truly the gold standard for modern party-based RPGs. Larian really understood my desire to just try silly things and the timeless delight in realizing the developers have acknowledged my off-the-wall thoughts with a specific line of dialogue. Or, better yet, that they didn't anticipate just how much I'd abuse those teleportation gloves but are fine with it anyway. Original Sin 2 is designed to be fiddled with nearly as much as a sandbox sim game and still manages to be a wonderful RPG romp on top of that.
Some folks get rightfully frustrated with the elemental interactions. Being constantly on fire in every fight can wear a bit thin. But never have I felt so compelled to sneak, prod, cheese, and finagle my way around a tricky fight and delighted in the journey more than the success at the end. And damn, what a soundtrack it has.
Wes: My frothing demand for Baldur's Gate 3 increases by the day.
Jody: This we can all agree on. I've played through the opening a few times, I can't wait to see the rest of it.
10. Final Fantasy XIV
Released 2013 | Last position 17
Lauren M: I finally started my free trial and now I stand around Limsa Lominsa admiring everyone else's outfits. Can recommend.
Mollie: Limsa is nothing more than a vessel for cool glamour and showing off ultimate raid weapons.
Tyler C: My friend once described Final Fantasy 14 to me as a singleplayer JRPG with community mechanics. They were right. I continue to be astounded with how incredibly intimate and massive FF14 can be, especially in a genre that often trivializes your impact in the world. It’s home in a way that no other MMO has been for me for years.
Mollie: I'm gonna try and not gush about Final Fantasy 14, because I think everyone on the PC Gamer team is sick of hearing me talk about it. But I've put in some 2,500 hours in the past 12 months and it's become my home away from home. People tend to fall off the game when ploughing through A Realm Reborn, but if you can push through to the expansions you'll find a genuinely fantastic storyline that only gets better and better. Shadowbringers and Endwalker are by far the strongest, and makes that journey to get to the end all the more worth it.
Tyler's friend is right, this game is a singleplayer JRPG experience with a dash of high school cliques. Visit Limsa Lominsa and you'll see the same groups standing in the same spot for hours on end, having claimed their territory over virtual sun-bleached bricks (hi, it's me). Roleplaying venues are a genuine blast even if, like me, you're not huge into the actual roleplaying aspect. I've frequented my fair share of nightclub venues, cafés and even a storytelling club, where I watch as a bunnygirl makes up a story on the spot for a handful of captivated peers. Some of my closest friends have come from this game, and they're what keeps me coming back to this game day after day. Also the bunny boys, the bunny boys are very good.
Sarah: I love Final Fantasy and I love MMOs so I don't understand why I'm not playing this. I feel like it lacks something that I can't quite put my finger on—that and combat feels really clunky and weird after playing WoW for so long.
9. The Witcher 3
Released 2015 | Last position 9
Lauren A: Fiddly combat aside, The Witcher 3 has some of the best characters and storytelling in this list. I still love cutting about as the grumpy Geralt of Rivia and romancing Yen exclusively. While the main story is full of love, loss and subterfuge, it's the sidequests that really make The Witcher 3 shine.
Blood and Wine was by far the superior DLC, and Equine Phantoms is its best side quest, with Geralt tripping on mushrooms as he has a friendly chat with Roach, who conveniently side-steps the "how come you always show up right away when I whistle?" question.
By the end of the expansions, you really understand that instead of an emotionless freak, Geralt is a grumpy old da who loves his hot wife, horse and swords. And maybe a round of Gwent.
Wes: In the wake of Cyberpunk 2077, I appreciate The Witcher 3 all the more for what it accomplishes. There are just an absurd number of sidequests in this game that reveal another layer of Geralt's personality or teach you something about the world, and the Northern Kingdoms are such a treat to just exist in. I shamefully never played Blood and Wine, but the upcoming ray tracing update will pull me back in.
Released 2011 | Last position 8
Lauren M: As was said in the yearly Top 100 debates, "recommending Minecraft is like recommending water," which maybe implies it's boring but also that it's essential. Stay hydrated, survival crafting players. Minecraft is still the bedrock (pun intended) of the genre. It innately supports both creative and combative pursuits, but the community around it continues to supply even more playstyles in PvP servers, custom platforming maps, overhaul mods, and third-party tools for immense builds. Over ten years on, Minecraft feels as enduring as the internet itself. If I ever grow bored of it, it's only ever until I find some new niche fixation to draw me back in.
Mollie: No other game makes smacking blocks and building pretty things this fun.
Imogen: Lauren's comment has reminded me of an interview. Back in the day, when I was truly obsessed with the music of Queens of the Stone Age, its frontman answered a question about vanilla ice cream. Like Lauren's anecdote about water, he said that some people think vanilla is boring and the worst ice cream out there just because it's the most popular option. But really it's the "king shit" of ice-cream and will always be at the forefront of that entire food group. And that's what Minecraft is. It will be a long time before anyone makes a game better at what Minecraft does. It's literally, and metaphorically, the building blocks on which many creative sandbox games sit. The LEGO of gaming, built for all ages, with boundless amounts of modification potential.
7. Slay the Spire
Released 2019 | Last position 7
Imogen: As a recent Slay the Spire convert, I wasn't satisfied with just playing it on my PC, I had to own it on mobile for ganks on the go. It's the perfect card game. The more I played the deeper that love went. Where I first thought the Silent was the best of the bunch, I was quickly disproven by friends who taught me how to utilize The Ironclad's sacrifices and The Defect's Orbs.
Wes: I don't dare put Slay the Spire on my Steam Deck, because I still need to do things other than play Slay the Spire at all times.
Robin: Slay the Spire isn't just brilliant, it's PC gaming canon at this point. It launched the deck-building roguelike genre into the mainstream, and spawned a whole family of imitators and descendants. Even the new Firaxis game takes heavy inspiration from it—when the kings of turn-based strategy are picking up what you're putting down, you must be doing something right. And, crucially, it's still the best at what it does. Monster Train, Fights in Tight Spaces, Roguebook... they're good games, but they're just not Slay the Spire.
6. Hunt: Showdown
Released 2019 | Last position 28
Evan: Crytek's creepy "extraction shooter" is smart, bold, but above all, messy. You're fighting it out in swamps and condemned mines crawling with headless horrors and shambling beehive women, sloshing through eel-rich ponds clutching a revolver slathered in mud, aiming it at a shirtless man who, himself, is slathered in mud. "Eff this place" is not something I say about Fortnite maps.
But out of that ugliness comes beauty of design. Hunt challenges our modern concept of balance in multiplayer shooters. The unevenness of its weaponset—slug shotguns, rifles with axe blades stuck to the stock, crossbow bolts that erupt in barbed wire—create a true marksman's game of tracking prey across weird terrain.
You can defeat one of Hunt's boss monsters, earning the match's prize bounty, only to be gunned down on your way to the finish line by someone who bought the Mosin-Nagant M1891 Avtomat, a 19th-century AK-47, and the most expensive gun in Hunt. "Balanced?" No. But that's the game you're playing, and its peaks and valleys are way more pleasing than every shooter that's had its edges shaved off.
The way Hunt draws on skills like listening, trapping, and camouflage makes it a rare shooter where a single ordinary kill is more meaningful than 10 Call of Duty matches.
Jacob: Hunt: Showdown is the game you haven't been playing but absolutely should be.
Morgan: Top 10? It's about time.
5. Hitman 3
Released 2021 | Last position 2
Phil: On its own, Hitman 3 is a quality stealth game that would no doubt ride high on this list. But it's the full package that puts it over the top. Combined with the Hitman 1 and 2 Access Passes, you can play Io's full 'World of Assassination' trilogy in one game—an absurd wealth of intricate puzzle sandboxes, each massively replayable thanks to their multiple opportunities, challenges and remixes.
Hitman's stock in trade is social stealth—the ability to disguise yourself in order to gain access to places you shouldn't otherwise be allowed. And this latest trilogy features some of the best levels in the series' long history. From a murder mystery in an English manor, to an unforgettable holiday in the Italian seaside, Hitman is packed with subversive scenarios that will keep you entertained for hundreds of hours.
Imogen: I've always wanted to play the investigator in a murder mystery, and Dartmoor's Skyfall-esque setting in the misty moorlands of England encapuslates so much of what makes that part of Britain both beautiful and cruel. It solidifies Hitman 3's sandboxes as some of the best places to play not only in the series but in all gaming, like, ever. From nightclubs to skyscrapers, Hitman 3 has it all, and pulls it off seamlessly.
Lauren M: Hitman 3 was my very first Hitman game and it's a travesty it took me so long to try one. I'm not even finished with it yet, since I play at about a one level per month pace, spending 20 hours or more going after each of the contracts and special kill achievements in Dubai, then Dartmoor, and onto Berlin. I'm downright obsessed.
I'm so completely enamored with its level design and story-based puzzles that I've taken to telling my friends and game-playing family members "this is like a Hitman level" when visiting interesting public places. Disney World? It's like a Hitman level with its secret back tunnels, staff-only areas, multiple levels of security, and countless performers. Would Agent 27 steal a costume and replace the actor in the "Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular" at the Hollywood Studios park? Yes he would. I recently visited several historic bourbon distilleries in Kentucky and said to my brother "it's like a Hitman level" while pantomiming shoving an imaginary person into a two-story, boiling distillation vat. At another location a tour guide pointed out that the huge glass windows on the front of a whiskey rickhouse were blast proof and I thought to myself "ah yes, that was the ambient dialogue that begins a mission story". Agent 47 could totally sneak in the oft-open windows of a rickhouse, crouch walk behind rows of barrels, and knock out a guard with a copper whiskey thief.
What I'm saying is, I would have kept Hitman 3 even higher on this list because I literally cannot stop thinking about it.
4. Apex Legends
Released 2019 | Last position 4
Nat: What do I even say about Apex at this point? Respawn's battle royale has taken over my life, to the point where I'm literally writing this while wearing Horizon's jumpkit. It's the best shooter you can play on PC, period. The gunplay is sublime, the movement dense with intricacies, the maps vibrant and dynamic. Beyond BR, experimental modes like Arenas and Control continue to redefine what Apex can even look like.
But more than any other hero shooter, Apex cares so damn much about its characters. The Legends are flawed, deeply human people with messy, dynamic relationships. Respawn is constantly experimenting and improving on how it can tell a sci-fi drama through battle royale. When my delightful doppelganger snarls at Ash for being a back-stabbing blender, Apex is elevated from "good" to being an all-time great.
3. Crusader Kings 3
Released 2020 | Last position 3
Robin: Another year of DLC and updates have only cemented this sequel's place as the definitive medieval grand strategy game. Or is it a role-playing game? Or a kingly life sim? Whatever you'd call it, the magic of stepping into the shoes of a historical ruler and attempting to steer their chaotic life like a baboon pushing a three-wheeled shopping cart is stronger than ever.
Fraser: I can't envision a time where I'm not obsessed with CK. Especially now that it's become so granular that I can decorate my throne room and order artisans to craft me mystical weapons. It's absurdly rich in story, intrigue and delightful oddities, all bolstered by wonderful and often extremely funny writing. If this ever drops off the top 5 I'm going to kick off.
Lauren M: You lot convinced me to try CK3 since these debates were originally held and I am trash at it but boy do I ever want to learn how to orchestrate these wildly intricate succession battles and unlikely coups that everyone talks about. As a first-time idiot player, I'd like to give a special shoutout to CK3's tooltips, specifically nested tooltips which allow me to get a refresher on what the hell "De Jure rights" are or all my character's many opaque personality traits, even if the resulting explanations also winds up going over my head. CK3 is genuinely invested in helping me learn to play it, even if I've not done a spectacular job so far.
2. Elden Ring
Released 2022 | Last position New
Nat: Elden Ring is not my favourite FromSoft (what's up, Bloodborne). But it is the most FromSoft game, a Soulsborne of such dizzying, existentially terrifying scope that rolling credits on it feels akin to finishing the entire extended cut of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. A true epic, one where the memories of first setting off from the pastoral fields of Limgrave feel like a lifetime ago.
There is so much stuff in Elden Ring that it's dizzying, but almost all of it—even major bosses—is optional. On my first run, I systematically eliminated every lord, shardbearer, evergaol and catacomb boss from the game in a slow, 160-hour ordeal. On my second, I sprinted straight to the midpoint of the game in 90 minutes.
Sarah: There's nothing that beats the feeling of killing a boss for the first time, especially if you've been struggling with it for days—I'm looking at you, Malenia. Even after I finished the game, I spent an obscene number of hours exploring every corner, hoping to find something lore-related that others had missed.
Dave: Elden Ring's been the first FromSoft game I could stand, or even actually play (I'm not very good at games) and its mix of exploration and reward really struck a chord. But deep down I know there will come a time when I can no longer cope with some attritional boss I cannot beat and will quit the game for good. For now it still lives on my SSD as wonderful gaming potential, though I'm actually now a bit scared to dive back in lest I arrive at that expected hard stop and it negates all the fun I've had so far. Yeah, I have issues.
Phil: This is the Top 100, Dave, not therapy.
Ted: Playing Elden Ring had me feeling like the food critic in Ratatouille, only instead of a bucolic French cottage it sent me back to playing Dark Souls on a dorm room floor in 2014. It has just the right level of challenge, a dizzying array of character build options in a fantastic combat system, and the best setting FromSoft has created to date.
Wes: The highlight of my year is convincing Andy Chalk, our delightfully grumpy news lead, to play Elden Ring. After swearing he'd hate it he got so deeply hooked that he finished the game before I did. Elden Ring: It's For Everybody.
Robin: Like Dave, I never quite clicked with From games before. I liked Dark Souls and Bloodborne well enough, but they didn't really stay with me. Elden Ring, though, burrowed right into my mind the minute I stepped out into its open world. I don't think it's the easiest From game, but it's certainly the most accessible, combining clearer storytelling with a setting that lets you choose your own challenge and pace. It's a more familiar fantasy world than Dark Souls' setting, and yet still shot through with From's distinctive identity, at every turn contrasting wonder with sadness and horror.
And who knew that From's organic approach to environmental design would be such a perfect fit for an open world? It's been said to death already, but it can't be overstated how refreshing it is to explore a landscape and just find cool, weird stuff around every corner without a map marker or a quest log in sight. The sense of true discovery is magical, and the land's stories are told not through journals and exposition, but just in the physical scenes you creep your way carefully through.
1. Disco Elysium
Released 2019 | Last position 1
Robin: I really think there's no game out there that has a stronger sense of its own voice than this one. Three years on from its original launch, I still regularly see people talking about its characters, riffing on its unique dialogue, and making memes about communism. That's a testament to how much its personality shines through in every line. It's all killer, no filler.
Its approach to stats and character building remains brilliantly unique—turning each of your abilities into its own voice in your head, and not so much giving you moral choices as moral traps in its quest to nail down your political standings. It's so refreshing to see a game push so hard for innovation in a genre as old-fashioned and nostalgia-driven as isometric CRPGs.
Katie: How sad that I only discovered the morbid joy of this game in 2022. And yet, how perfect that it coincides with my current obsession over true crime. It's sharp, intense, and sumptuously dark, yet it somehow manages to make me titter under my breath at every encounter.
Jacob: If there's a game that truly deserves a rerelease every year for the next decade, it's Disco Elysium. That's not just me throwing shade on Skyrim, I adored it, but there are few games that feel as timeless and sure of their storytelling as Disco. I've played it through twice and I still feel it has much more to tell me—I just can't bring myself to lean into the authoritarian cop lifestyle, no matter how entertaining that side of the game appears to be.
Fraser: I knew I'd love Disco Elysium when I died trying to get clothes from a ceiling fan in the first minute, which was further cemented when I had a heart attack after kicking a mailbox. It's hysterically funny and absurd, but simultaneously blessed with lots of smarts and the ability to make me weepy and introspective. I thought Elden Ring might knock it off the top spot, but here it is again, for the third time, and really this is the only place for it.
Wes: Wait a second, Elden Ring isn't #1? This list is a sham! … is what I would say if any game besides Disco Elysium beat FromSoftware's magnum opus. Elden Ring's scope was incredible, but it was very much Bigger Dark Souls in most ways, and we've played a hell of a lot of Dark Souls over the last decade. Meanwhile, no one else has made a game like Disco Elysium: an RPG that eschews combat, is a little bit Nietzsche and a little bit Mr. Bean, and still manages to deliver a gripping mystery despite being weird as hell.
You can play Disco Elysium on consoles now, but this is unabashedly a PC game, and a worthy evolution of the '90s RPGs that were once the best the PC had to offer.
Jody: Some games rely on lengthy cutscenes to tell their stories, like dragged-out work meetings that could just as easily have been summarised in a couple of paragraphs. If you've ever watched a Quantic Dream cutscene and thought David Cage should have sent you an email instead, the way Disco Elysium deploys paragraphs of beautiful words read by Lenval Brown to tell its story comes as blessed relief.
Its descriptions of crime scenes bulge with evocative phrasing, the bumps on a corpse's skull are "alien landscape", while inside its mouth "teeth are budding". Your skills talk to you in styles of their own, Shivers describing the city and its inhabitants distantly while Electrochemistry shares its expertise on drugs and drinks with a pusher's eagerness, begging you to try them all. Visual Calculus examines clues so adroitly it's like being inside the head of Sherlock Holmes.
Then there are the characters, whose voices are distinct whether you're discussing obscure philosophy with a scholar of the weird, talking political history with old soldiers, or being shouted at by the feral Artful Dodger called Cuno. And of course there's your partner, Kim Kitsuragi, whose seemingly endless patience occasionally gives way to a wry observation or snippy comment that comes across powerfully as anything Cuno screeches thanks to the contrast with his usual saintly calm.
I've played a couple of games inspired by Disco Elysium this year, but none of them measured up. If you want another RPG that does philosophical arguments about the nature of reality this well, you still have to go back 23 years to Planescape: Torment. I don't see Disco being dethroned for a while.
In closing: Disco is not dead, Disco is life.
Only 100 games? It's not enough! There are plenty of amazing games that didn't make the cut, so here are some of the PC Gamer team's personal favourites.
Katie Wickens: The Stanley Parable
There's a distinct lack of walking simulators on this list, which is kind of depressing. For me, The Stanley Parable is one of the finest examples of branching narratives. It's an old game—although an Ultra Deluxe edition released this year—but it explores the concept of freewill and determinism in such an accessible way, it's pretty hard to beat.
Sarah James: World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft hasn't had the best year but I can't help it—it's still my favourite MMO. Most of its troubles have been with the overly-complex endgame power systems but there's still nearly 18 years of content to explore, along with lore that spans back to the earlier Warcraft games.
Ted Litchfield: Dread Delusion
This Early Access RPG sees you exploring a civilization clinging to the asteroids orbiting a constellation of neutron stars. Its open-ended exploration hooked me, but the high-concept writing of the Planescape: Torment school really blew me away. It's been a long time since I was genuinely flummoxed by a game's ethical dilemmas like this.
Alan Dexter: Magic the Gathering: Arena
For a game that's been around since 1993, Magic: The Gathering still manages to surprise with new interesting takes on turning cards sideways. MTG Arena is easily the most accomplished PC take on the game, and being able to play the latest sets without leaving the comfort of my armchair has made it a mainstay of my gaming.
Chris Livingston: West of Loathing
An open world Wild West RPG filled with evil cattle, ghost pickles, stick figures, and most importantly, more jokes per minute than any other game, ever. I kept playing long after I'd finished the main story and unraveled a surprisingly deep mystery just looking for (and finding) more laughs.
Mollie Taylor: Hatsune Miku Project Diva MegaMix+
The best rhythm game series finally came to PC. Easy to learn yet difficult to master, your thumbs will be sweating as they frantically dance across inputs to a massive library of computerised Japanese beats. Vocaloid isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's catchy as all hell.
Phil Savage: Deus Ex
Still one of the best immersive sims you can play. It can be hard to get into—many of its ideas have since been streamlined and refined—but those rough edges are the result of its sheer ambition. Deus Ex is still the master, able to reward every last bit of the effort you put into it.
Jorge Jimenez: Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord
Mount and Blade 2 brings the most satisfyingly clunky action you'd expect from a PC game still in early access. Despite that, expect to have some of the best arm-chair general experiences out there. There's something about crashing through a line of archers with your mounted cavalry that never gets old.
Robin Valentine: Legends of Runeterra
As the best ever online CCG sadly leaves the Top 100 this year, it falls to me to ensure it is gone but not forgotten. Its combo of brilliantly generous free-to-play model, tense back-and-forth matches, and well-maintained meta make it the perfect game for rescuing your friends from Hearthstone.
Lauren Aitken: Stray
I can't think of anything more enjoyable than napping, parkour and screaming incessantly at closed doors, so imagine how happy I am that I can do all this and more in Stray. The titular cat is orange, much like my own sons, making it the finest game ever made.
Dave James: Oxenfree
It's an always engaging surprise of an indie adventure game that draws you in with its dialogue and innate weirdness and keeps hold of you until the end. Whichever one you end up with. Oxenfree's compelling simplicity means that it holds up to a playthrough as well today as it did when it released six years ago.
Imogen Mellor: Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade
At first I refused to admit I liked Final Fantasy 7 Remake. It's ridiculous, cheesy, beautiful, and with the addition of the Intergrade DLC, it's currently one of my favourite singleplayer games. I am so ready for the next part—I can't wait to gently ridicule it too.
Jody Macgregor: Quest for Glory 2: Trial by Fire
The Quest for Glory series combines adventure game puzzling and RPG questing. When you've had enough of one you bounce to the other like you're alternating mouthfuls of raita and curry. My favorite is Trial by Fire, with its Arabian Nights theme and goofy references to Casablanca and the Marx Brothers.
Nat Clayton: Sable
Sable isn't a game about action, adventure, or saving the world. Instead, your journey across this Moebius-esque pastel world is a warm hug of self-discovery—climbing mountains for the sake of it, trying on new faces, meeting new people, and gliding your jetbike to the relaxing sounds of Japanese Breakfast.
Sean Martin: Rain World
Everything in Rain World tries to eat you and I kind of love that. The only tool the Slugcat has to survive these nightmare-ish, dystopian predators is your smarts, and that simultaneously makes it the weakest and the most deadly creature in the entire ecosystem. Also you can tame lizards.
Jacob Ridley: Project Zomboid
Project Zomboid is a stellar survival simulator disguised as simple fun. The depth to this game is phenomenal—one mistake you're overrun in minutes. But that's not all that makes this game sing. It's also the way in which it's all so very easy to dive into with friends since its major multiplayer update.
Fraser Brown: Overboard!
Solving a murder is fun, but covering one up is better. Overboard! makes you the killer in your own Agatha Christie-style murder mystery. So far I've managed to trick people into thinking it was a suicide and pinned it on some of the ship's other passengers, but I'm not done yet—I'll definitely kill again.
Tyler Wilde: Lovely Planet Remix
Neon White is hot right now, but if you want a brilliant speedrunning FPS that gets to the point, the Lovely Planet games stand alone. I still prefer the first game, but if you've played that, Remix adds some great twists. The whole series feels experimental, like a bunch of FPS lab projects, in a great way.
Wes Fenlon: Norco
This narrative adventure filters cyberpunk through southern gothic literature and the dev's personal connection to Louisiana, creating a setting that's vividly weird, yet authentic. When the writing threatens to get up its own ass it gearshifts into comedy, with a cult of teenage slackers all named Garrett offering a reprieve from the dystopia.
Joshua Wolens: Uplink
A 21-year-old, mostly text-based hacking sim, and still nothing beats the cat-and-mouse thrill of robbing a bank in Uplink. Scrimping together the necessary tools, worming your way into some millionaire's checking account, and racing the authorities to clear your tracks before they can run a trace and smash down your door? Unmatched.