When you fire up Epic Games Store, Steam, Xbox, or any of the other digital marketplaces for PC games, you’ll be faced with many purchasing options. Feel like casting spells and slaying orcs in a role-playing game? The Witcher III: Wild Hunt and Xanadu Next got what you need. In the mood to knuckle up against online opponents? A fighting game like Street Fighter V: Champion Edition or Tekken 7 will do you good. In short, the PC gaming space is deep and varied. Don’t get frozen by choice, though; use this guide to help you make a swift and wise purchasing decision.
Please recognize, however, that this is not a historical examination of the most groundbreaking PC games. Sure, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain redefines stealth-based action and the Forza Horizon series is the definitive open-world racing franchise, but they didn’t make it into this guide based purely on those metrics. Simply put, this an ever-expanding collection of entertaining titles you should buy if you own a gaming desktop or gaming laptop.
To clarify, games don’t need to have been released within the calendar year to qualify for this roundup. Any game that’s still available and still considered excellent when ranked against the best of today is eligible. We think that’s the most useful approach to helping you decide which video games deserve space on your PC’s hard drive, and which aren’t worth consideration even when their prices are cut by 85 percent during a Steam sale.
In our newest update, we’ve added a whopping 15 games: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Bugsnax, Cyberpunk 2077, Dirt 5, Fight’N Rage, Genshin Impact, Ghostrunner, Hades, Hitman 3, Immortals: Fenyx Rising, Resident Evil 3, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – Complete Edition, Warframe, Watch Dogs: Legion, and World of Warcraft: Shadowlands.
Compiling this guide was no small undertaking. PCMag’s in-house and freelance reviewers have played a ridiculous number of PC games over the years, so creating criteria for inclusion was essential. Here’s what we came up with, after much deliberation. To be included, a game must have been reviewed by PCMag, still be available for purchase, and received a rating of 3.5 stars or greater.
The first requirement is to ensure that we can give you more insight into a game. Yes, this guide goes tell you a bit about each highlighted game, but the ability to link to a full review benefits people looking for a deeper cut. The second point we’ve already covered. The third criteria required a bit of pondering. We didn’t want to set the star rating so low that nearly all PC games qualified for the guide, yet we didn’t want to set the star rating so high that we exclude quality B-tier games, such as Dead Island and Split/Second. For now, 3.5 stars is the happy medium, but, as we review more games, we may have to be choosier, to keep the list at a manageable size.
There are currently more than 200 games in this PC gaming guide, so making navigation as simple as possible was an extremely high priority for our creative commandos. The games are grouped alphabetically by genre, and the titles in each category are listed in alphabetical order. Simply select a genre, say fighting games, and the page jumps to that section. Easy!
In addition, you should make sure to secure your PC while gaming. We suggest checking out our roundup of the best VPNs for gaming, a roundup of PCMag-tested virtual private networks. Not only will a VPN prevent people with ill intent from snooping your network, but it may enable you to, say, spoof your IP address so that you access games in other countries. Explore our reviews to learn about the VPN services that add the least latency to your gaming sessions.
If you’re a console gamer who thinks that we’re biased toward PC gaming because we’re PCMag—you’re right! Still, our staff has assembled their top picks for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X, and Switch. Those roundups aren’t quite as robust as this one, as the PC has a much deeper library and, well, this is PCMag.