THE PC GAMER TOP 100

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS -

Six­teen pages of the great­est games ever to grace the PC. Who will take the top spot this year?

These are the games we love. The in­ter­na­tional PC Gamer team has spent hun­dreds of hours sweat­ing over this list across time­zones—metic­u­lously drawn from the PC’s decades of his­tory, these are the games we’ve de­cided you ab­so­lutely need to play to­day. It’s as sim­ple as that. If you’ve played most of these be­fore, well done— you have ded­i­cated your life to a wor­thy cause and de­serve a small cer­e­mo­nial jig. If some of these games are new to you, that’s fine too.

This list has been en­tirely and hon­estly com­piled by us, re­flect­ing the di­verse tastes of our writ­ers and con­trib­u­tors. The PC Gamer Top 100 sums up the amaz­ing legacy of PC gam­ing’s past, and the great games avail­able to­day. En­joy.

100 THE CURSE OF MON­KEY IS­LAND

Re­lease year 1998 Last po­si­tion New en­try Andy The rad­i­cal change in art style didn’t ap­peal to every­one, but this lav­ish, hand-drawn Mon­key will al­ways be my fa­vorite. It had the col­or­ful sparkle of a Dis­ney an­i­mated film, but bet­ter jokes, and ditch­ing the wall of verbs for a Full Throt­tle all-in-one menu made the ad­ven­turin’ it­self much more stream­lined. Emanuel The crest of the Lu­cas-Arts ad­ven­ture game golden age. It was beau­ti­fully drawn, and had just as many great jokes in the logic of its puz­zle de­sign as it did in di­a­logue.

99 COM­PANY OF HE­ROES 2

Re­lease year 2013 Last po­si­tion New en­try Tom WWII’s Eastern Front is a great fit for CoH’s bru­tal RTS for­mula. The de­formable snow and sud­den cold snaps re­flect the bit­ter Rus­sian win­ter, but the chance to har­ness the rum­bling might of USSR heavy ar­mor proves even more ex­cit­ing. The se­quel over­com­pli­cates the orig­i­nal’s nearper­fect blend of mi­cro­man­age­ment and broad strat­egy, but it’s still breath­less, loud and su­perbly tense.

98 SPLIN­TER CELL: CHAOS THE­ORY

Re­lease year 2005 Last po­si­tion New en­try Craig The first prop­erly emer­gent neck-snap­per. I keep com­ing back be­cause it hu­man­ized the man in the shad­ows: he’s glib and silly in the face of nu­clear weapons, kid­naps guards

and talks about mon­keys and Terry Gil­liam’s Brazil.

97 KING­PIN: LIFE OF CRIME

Re­lease year 1999 Last po­si­tion New en­try John The foulest lan­guage and fat­test arms ever to grace the PC. Within the first cou­ple of min­utes you’re beat­ing a man to death with a lead pipe so you can steal his crow­bar, brib­ing a bum with whisky and trad­ing stolen goods for pis­tol ac­ces­sories. A huge hit for rap fans, King­pin’s sound­track was cre­ated by Cy­press Hill and the game even had cameo voiceovers from B-Real.

96 FREESPACE 2

Re­lease year 1999 Last po­si­tion 68 Richard The sad thing is that while it de­serves its ti­tle as best space sim of the last ten years, that’s partly be­cause there hasn’t been much com­pe­ti­tion. But the fans up­dat­ing it and keep­ing space stocked with mis­sions en­sure it’s still well worth check­ing out, even now that both

Star Cit­i­zen and Elite: Danger­ous are fi­nally mak­ing space awe­some again.

95 STAR­BOUND

Re­lease year 2013 Last po­si­tion New en­try Tyler It’s mildly crazy that an in­com­plete Steam Early Ac­cess game is on this list, but be­ing ‘com­plete’ is rel­a­tive. If you de­fine ‘com­plete’ as ‘big, fun, and ex­cep­tion­ally well-crafted’ then Star­bound is far more com­plete than plenty of other games. 2D block

build­ing and craft­ing is pri­mar­ily a Minecraft off­shoot-genre and Star­bound isn’t the first or only game to do it well, but I think it’s the best de­signed and most fun.

Craig There is a mod that adds bee­keep­ing. It’s pretty sweet.

94 THE SIMS

Re­lease year 2000 Last po­si­tion New en­try Philippa The orig­i­nal was the best. My fa­vorite part was the minigame where you had to pre­vent your child be­ing re­moved by so­cial ser­vices. Harder than Dark Souls, that. Sa­muel I’d never played any­thing like it at the time. Noth­ing else brought out my so­cio­pathic ten­den­cies in quite the same way.

92 AS­SAS­SIN’S CREED IV: BLACK FLAG Re­lease year 2013 Last po­si­tion New en­try Tom Your crew cheers when you re­turn to your ship, sing sea shanties as you sail and watch ten­ta­tively as you hop onto an is­land for the odd as­sas­si­na­tion. As­sas­sin’s Creed at its most joy­ful and ad­ven­tur­ous. Chris It’s a great fan­tasy ex­e­cuted bril­liantly, which is what helps it over­come the se­ries’ cus­tom­ary sci-fi waf­fle and all that un­nec­es­sary Ubisoft cladding. UPlay deleted my saves, but I for­got about that when I got out onto the open sea again.

91 OP­ER­A­TION FLASHPOINT: COLD WAR CRI­SIS

Re­lease year 2001 Last po­si­tion New en­try John This was the game I launched a clan for—which is still chug­ging

along in Bat­tle­field to­day. The enor­mity of its is­lands and range of ve­hi­cles were what made it spe­cial at the time, but its map­ping and mod­ding abil­i­ties have been its true legacy, in the form of a thriv­ing com­mu­nity that still ex­ists in the Armed As­sault se­ries to­day.

89 Cal Of Cthulhu : Dark Cor­ners of the Earth Re­lease year 2006 Last po­si­tion 98 Tony Fran­ti­cally claw­ing my way out of the de­cay­ing Gil­man Ho­tel, the mur­der­ous Inns­mouth-folk hack­ing down doors to get at me... that re­mains one of my all-time great gam­ing ex­pe­ri­ences. Per­fectly set up by the omi­nous, slow-paced in­ves­ti­ga­tion that pre­cedes it, per­fectly bal­anced by the man­hunt through the dark and windy streets that fol­lows. DCotE has its faults, but its stand­out moments beat those of any other hor­ror game out there.

88 QUAKE III

Re­lease year 1999 Last po­si­tion 44 Evan Speed. Marks­man­ship. Pu­rity. No FPS matches the height of Quake III’s skill ceil­ing. Fast player move­ment, easy-to-learn, hard-tomas­ter weapons, and stripped-down ac­tion make Quake the most sport­like FPS ever cre­ated. When you’re in the zone, ev­ery +1 to your K col­umn is a re­sult of jug­gling fluc­tu­at­ing math for grav­ity, dis­tance, sight lines, or the quad­dam­age re­fresh time.

87 AS­SAS­SIN’S CREED II

Re­lease year 2010 Last po­si­tion 88 Tony I have a bit of a thing for re­nais­sance Italy, and this is the game that lets me have ad­ven­tures there, and climb all over its won­der­ful ar­chi­tec­ture. It’s a world full of his­tory and color, more vi­brant than any num­ber of fan­tasy set­tings. E Venezia? È bel­lis­sima. Sa­muel I hated the orig­i­nal As­sas­sin’s Creed, but Ezio proved to be far su­pe­rior com­pany to Al­tair. And yes, its in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Venice is still the se­ries’ most im­pres­sive lo­cale. Also: beat­ing up the evil pope.

86 VAM­PIRE: THE MAS­QUER­ADE— BLOOD­LINES

Re­lease year 2004 Last po­si­tion 89 Philippa Pick your way through vam­pire pol­i­tics, pur­sue cu­ri­ous quest-lines and, if you’re play­ing now, revel in the com­mu­nity’s bug-crush­ing ef­forts. Blood­lines is a mas­ter­piece of im­mer­sive sto­ry­telling—a flawed but rare gem. Chris It’s a shame launch is­sues held it back from wider ap­pre­ci­a­tion. It’s a beau­ti­fully struc­tured im­mer­sive sim with a phe­nom­e­nal sense of place. I still se­cretly like the La­cuna Coil song from the cred­its.

85 BAT­TLE­FIELD: BAD COM­PANY 2

Re­lease year 2010 Last po­si­tion New en­try Phil Why did Bat­tle­field’s mul­ti­player stop be­ing so de­struc­tive? Sure, Bat­tle­field 4 does a

de­cent job of de­pict­ing map-chang­ing catas­tro­phe, but Bad

Com­pany 2’ s de­mo­li­tions feel more tar­geted and im­me­di­ate. The most in­tense moments come while crouched in a house, de­fend­ing the team’s M-COM sta­tion. At any mo­ment the walls can erupt in a shower of con­crete and at­tack­ers pour in through the breach.

84 BRO­KEN SWORD

Re­lease year 1996 Last po­si­tion New en­try Andy Bro­ken Sword tied his­tory, mythol­ogy and mod­ern crime to­gether bril­liantly—and years be­fore Dan Brown even lifted a pen. This ad­ven­ture game was well­writ­ten, at­mo­spheric and beau­ti­fully drawn. Later se­quels in­ex­pli­ca­bly turned Ge­orge Sto­b­bart into a stub­bly ac­tion hero, but here he’s the goofy but shrewd patent lawyer who finds him­self em­broiled in a con­spir­acy in­volv­ing se­cret so­ci­eties, the Knights Tem­plar, and an ill­tem­pered goat.

83 X-COM / UFO: EN­EMY UN­KNOWN

Re­lease year 1994 Last po­si­tion New en­try Richard The re­make was cool, but noth­ing else has ever quite hit the level of mak­ing you feel like you could take on an alien in­va­sion, nor as glad that you’ll never have to. It’s a game where suc­cess and fail­ure bal­ance on a knife-edge from the first in­cur­sion, be­fore turn­ing into a right­eous snow­ball ef­fect as you turn the en­emy’s weapons against them.

82 UL­TIMA VII

Re­lease year 1992 Last po­si­tion 90 Richard If you’ve been im­pressed by an RPG in the last 20 years, be sure that on some level it owes a tip of the hat to this one. Epic, po­lit­i­cal, and the last game to be able to get away with ye olde English.

Tony It’s live­lier and more in­ter­ac­tive than those later RPGs ever man­aged, too. It’s like lift­ing the lid off a fan­tasy ant farm: all those lit­tle NPCs scur­ry­ing around, go­ing to work, tut­ting about the weather. An amaz­ing back­drop for an all-time great ad­ven­ture.

81 TO­TAL WAR: ROME II

Re­lease year 2013 Last po­si­tion New en­try Tony It’s all about the bat­tles. The epic sieges that start out all clock­work pre­ci­sion and su­pe­rior num­bers, and col­lapse be­fore your eyes into a des­per­ate last-minute strug­gle for pos­ses­sion. The vast, em­pire-chang­ing con­flicts that end up bal­anced on one wa­ver­ing unit of le­gion­naires, while all you can do is gnaw your mouse ca­ble and watch.

80 SUPREME COM­MAN­DER: FORGED AL­LIANCE

Re­lease year 2007 Last po­si­tion 23 Tom Imag­ine if the SupCom lin­eage had con­tin­ued. Imag­ine the scale and beauty of gi­ant robot war­fare pow­ered by mod­ern graph­ics cards. An in­spir­ing thought ex­per­i­ment, but un­needed. SupCom’s huge bat­tles were way ahead of their time, and

Forged Al­liance adds some of the most mem­o­rable units, like the satel­lite that zaps bases from or­bit. Mas­ter the nerdy base man­age­ment and you’re re­warded with kilo­me­ter-wide bat­tles over land, air and sea.

78 GRAND THEFT AUTO IV

Re­lease year 2008 Last po­si­tion New en­try Ben Once the maudlin mis­sions ran their course, end­less fun was found shov­ing Lib­erty City wise guys down mas­sive con­crete stairs and mar­vel­ling as they tried and failed to find their foot­ing. Andy Some mis­sions were a drag, but Rock­star’s par­ody of New York was in­cred­i­bly at­mo­spheric, and who doesn’t love the Eu­pho­ria physics.

77 DON’T STARVE

Re­lease year 2013 Last po­si­tion New en­try Tim I moth­balled my save around the 375-day mark, hav­ing sur­vived cruel winters, dog rav­agings, and at least three deer­clops at­tacks. The only rea­son I stopped is be­cause this is a game about dis­cov­ery. About wak­ing up in a hand-drawn world as bru­tal as it is gor­geous. Cou­ple that with the pres­sure of just try­ing to keep your­self warm and fed, and you have a game with an al­most unique fla­vor. Sud­den death fla­vor.

76 COM­MAND & CON­QUER

Re­lease year 1995 Last po­si­tion New en­try John C&C took broad strides on from Dune 2, in­tro­duc­ing those

bril­liant com­mando mis­sions, grenade-throw­ing troops, tight Tiberium bud­gets that made ev­ery penny count and the un­for­get­table cutscenes. Every­one re­mem­bers when Kane put a bul­let through Seth’s head in the mid­dle of one of those brief­ings. What a mo­ment.

75 BAS­TION

Re­lease year 2011 Last po­si­tion New en­try Ian The sound­track is amaz­ing, but I had more fun with the re­ac­tive nar­ra­tor. Hav­ing a sto­ry­book voice nar­rate your ev­ery move was an ir­re­sistible hook that drew me into a won­der­ful story. Chris Bas­tion is spe­cial be­cause it’s a tremen­dous ac­tion game—all about mix­ing and match­ing weapons and powerups to suit the sit­u­a­tion—that ex­ists in har­mony with a sub­tle and af­fect­ing mes­sage. And, yes, the sound­track is amaz­ing.

74 WARHAM­MER 40K: DAWN OF WAR

Re­lease year 2004 Last po­si­tion New en­try Emanuel I loved the uni­verse, but from the side­lines, be­cause I didn’t have the pa­tience to play it with dice and rulers. Dawn of War gave me the bru­tal RTS I al­ways imag­ined, and it kicked the genre in the ass by lur­ing play­ers out of their tur­tled bases with cap­ture points. Tom The Sis­ters of Bat­tle strap an or­gan to a truck and call it a tank. When it’s played, mis­siles fire out of the pipes and kill the en­emy. This should be num­ber one, frankly.

73 DOOM 3

Re­lease year 2004 Last po­si­tion New en­try John Yes, it was about 90% metal pipes, but I still love it. Its heavy, metal­lic feel­ing is typ­i­cal of id, who’ve al­ways been am­bas­sadors of the best-feel­ing shot­guns in gam­ing. It was also one of the first games to use real-time shad­ows. Cou­pled with a host of creepy, scratchy sounds it struck the right bal­ance be­tween ter­ri­fy­ing and bru­tal, from which the FEAR games would later draw much in­spi­ra­tion.

72 THE EL­DER SCROLLS IV: OBLIV­ION

Re­lease year 2006 Last po­si­tion 73 Philippa Of the hours I poured into Obliv­ion those spent on the Dark Broth­er­hood quest­line were the best. They peaked with Who­dunit, a creative killing spree at Sum­mit­mist Manor where you con­vince the other guests you’re en­tirely in­no­cent.

Chris I played Obliv­ion for 90 hours, spent 120 hours mod­ding it, and then never played it again.

71 FAR CRY 3

Re­lease year 2012 Last po­si­tion New en­try Tim I’ve for­got­ten the bros-go-on-abad-hol­i­day plot, but what has stayed with me is that feel­ing of free­dom while crouch­ing on a trop­i­cal knoll, look­ing down at a camp full of goons, and con­sid­er­ing all my glo­ri­ous, mur­der­ous op­tions. Chris It’s a far bet­ter shooter than its pre­de­ces­sor, but I did miss Far Cry

2’ s more in­spired ideas—the buddy sys­tem, the fac­tions, and so on. Then again, this game has deadly sys­temic tiger vi­o­lence.

70

Re­lease year STALKER 2007 Last po­si­tion New en­try Craig Games gen­er­ally don’t scare me, for I am Scot­tish and there­fore the man­li­est of all men, but Stalker’s ink-black night and Rus­sian in­dif­fer­ence to player sur­vival is more ef­fec­tive than a hun­dred care­fully chore­ographed scares from other sur­vival hor­ror games. I’ve re­turned to it many times, be­cause I love be­ing alone in the dark with a bro­ken gun, drink­ing vodka. Which is also be­cause I am Scot­tish.

69

Re­lease FEAR year FEAR 2005 Last po­si­tion 62 John used light, shadow, sound and over­lay ef­fects to con­vey dis­ori­en­ta­tion and con­fu­sion. The com­bat and shoot­ing was some of the best I’d played on PC up to that time. Bad guys’ guns would still blast away af­ter they hit the floor and Max Payne- style bul­let-time meant you could savor ev­ery grue­some mo­ment of the com­bat.

68 ARKHAM CITY

Re­lease year BAT­MAN: Asy­lum- 2011 Last po­si­tion New City’s en­try 25 Sa­muel Play­ing through hours of beat­ing story con­tent (mi­nus the Scare­crow bits) was just the start, for me. The chal­lenge rooms, par­tic­u­larly the com­bat maps, en­cour­aged me to dig re­ally deep with the many com­bos you can build out of Bat­man’s ar­mory. Arkham’s melee fight­ing is about op­por­tu­nity and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. And the en­vi­ron­ment proves the idea that hand­crafted de­tail, not size, makes the most ef­fec­tive open worlds.

67 EM­PIRE: TO­TAL WAR

Re­lease year 2009 Last po­si­tion 69 Tom Af­ter an in­aus­pi­cious launch, Em­pire: To­tal War has evolved into one of Creative Assem­bly’s best.Its de­pic­tion of mul­ti­ple the­atres of war strung to­gether by dozens of trade routes re­sults in one of the se­ries’ most com­plex and re­ward­ing maps. The car­toon liv­ery of the time sits un­com­fort­ably with the vi­o­lent boom of a gun-line open­ing fire. Bravado turns to de­spair with ev­ery round of rank fire, and it’s bril­liant.

66 LEAGUE OF LEG­ENDS

Re­lease year 2009 Last po­si­tion 34 Wes League of Leg­ends takes the in­tim­i­dat­ing, re­ward­ing, mad­den­ing com­plex­ity of Dota and sim­pli­fied it just enough to ap­peal to mil­lions of play­ers, be­com­ing the most-played game in the world in the process. A smart free-to-play econ­omy keeps play­ers com­ing back. LoL is the lane­pusher of the com­mon man: deep enough to be a com­pet­i­tive sport, ap­proach­able enough to suck up the free time of teenagers ev­ery­where.

64 BRAID

Re­lease year 2009 Last po­si­tion New en­try Ben There are six uniquely puz­zling worlds in Braid, and they’re all mas­ter­ful. Time and De­ci­sion in­tro­duces a shadow of your char­ac­ter who re­plays your last ac­tion. Time and Place binds time to move­ment—go left to ad­vance and right to regress. The word ‘ge­nius’ is overused, but us­ing it in Braid’s case seems com­pletely jus­ti­fied. Tony I cer­tainly felt like a ge­nius for com­plet­ing the thing. Braid forced me to think in whole new ways, not just once, but again and again with each new world—the buzz you get off of that is in­de­scrib­able.

63 FIFA 13

Re­lease year 2012 Last po­si­tion 42 Ben FIFA 14’ s boggy mid­field bat­tles and over­long an­i­ma­tions left me pin­ing for the snappy pace of its pre­de­ces­sor: a more ar­cadey game, but you al­ways feel in con­trol. There are few games I con­sider my­self ex­pert at, but af­ter 500 hours, I like to think FIFA 13 is one of them.

62 THE SE­CRET OF MON­KEY IS­LAND

Re­lease year 1991 Last po­si­tion 67 Wes In­sult sword­fight­ing. In­ven­tory metahu­mor. The de­fin­i­tive SCUMM in­ter­face. Not only is Mon­key Is­land one of the smartest, sil­li­est ad­ven­tures ever made, it es­tab­lished the tone, tech­nol­ogy and style of ev­ery Lu­cas-Arts game that came af­ter.

Ian It’s the game equiv­a­lent of my fa­vorite ado­les­cent com­edy. End­lessly quotable and equal parts silly and pro­found, there are ideas here about plot, self-aware­ness and clev­er­ness that res­onate through all of mod­ern gam­ing.

60 UN­REAL TOUR­NA­MENT 2004

Re­lease year 2004 Last po­si­tion 59 Wes Re­mem­ber when first-person shoot­ers shipped with 100 maps? And ten game modes? And were re­ally, re­ally fast? Un­real Tour­na­ment

2004 is the crescendo of that era of shooter de­sign, and noth­ing has topped it since. Tyler Af­ter-work in­stagib is a PC Gamer tra­di­tion, and I never want it to end. Evan Yeah, in­stagib is what holds up most. It’s pure marks­man­ship with a level play­ing field played at high speed. Other than Quake III, noth­ing chal­lenges your re­flexes so di­rectly and re­lent­lessly.

59 FALL­OUT: NEW VE­GAS

Re­lease year 2010 Last po­si­tion New en­try Ian By tak­ing the se­ries back to the West, New Ve­gas be­came the up­dated ver­sion of Fall­out and Fall­out 2 that I al­ways wanted. The bleak lone­li­ness of the desert has never been more fun to explore. Craig It’s the PC’s great­est post­mod­ern Western: I play as a wan­der­ing gun, bring­ing order to the dusty plains, liv­ing the life of a Stephen King char­ac­ter, while wear­ing a stylish hat and sharp suit.

58 FI­NAL FAN­TASY VII

Re­lease year 1998 Last po­si­tion New en­try Andy A grand, sweep­ing RPG that mixes sur­real hu­mor, gen­uine heart, and fun tac­ti­cal com­bat. The ma­te­ria magic sys­tem is still a plea­sure to ex­per­i­ment with, Nobuo Ue­matsu’s emo­tive score is heart­break­ing, and that mo­ment still plays my heart strings like a cheap fid­dle. Ex­cuse me, I have some­thing in my eye. Sa­muel Scrap those stupid MIDIs and I’m in. FFVII has aged bet­ter than any other en­try in the se­ries.

57 SAINTS ROW 4

Re­lease year 2013 Last po­si­tion New en­try Richard I loathed Saints Row. Hor­ri­ble, mean-spir­ited rip-off. To my shock, Saints Row IV was eas­ily my game of 2013. The silli­ness speaks for it­self. It’s one of the fun­ni­est games around. But it’s also one of the warm­est, the Saints end­ing their story as a fam­ily who have each oth­ers’ backs to the end of the world and be­yond. To be part of that, just for a while, is a joy.

56 RE­TURN TO CAS­TLE WOLFEN­STEIN

Re­lease year 2001 Last po­si­tion 49 John My fa­vorite FPS sin­gle­player cam­paign by far. With lash­ings of in­spi­ra­tion from films such as Where Ea­gles Dare and Raiders of the Lost Ark, RtCW ex­plores the Nazis’ dab­blings with the oc­cult and fear­some tech­nol­ogy. The game is brim­ming with hid­den Easter eggs, booby traps and a Ger­man sol­dier

des­per­ately try­ing to de­liver a con­sign­ment of posh cheese.

54 CAVE STORY+

Re­lease year 2011 Last po­si­tion New en­try Wes Put this on the Su­per Nin­tendo and it would only be the sec­ond best open-ended 2D ad­ven­ture on the sys­tem, be­hind Su­per Metroid. But on PC, Cave Story+ is king: a re­mas­tered in­die land­mark, in a world full of se­crets and powerups. The shoot­ing, jump­ing, lev­els and pix­els all feel like they were hand-tuned to per­fec­tion for years and years. Be­cause, in fact, they were.

53 HOT­LINE MI­AMI

Re­lease year 2012 Last po­si­tion 95 Sa­muel While my in­ter­est in the fluff story has faded, my ob­ses­sion with nail­ing the combo win­dows has not. The sound­track is prob­a­bly re­spon­si­ble for about 50% of its con­tin­ued ap­peal.

Ben It makes you feel at once del­i­cate and danger­ous, like that scrawny druggy who comes up to you on the street beg­ging for cash. From the puls­ing sound­track to the acid-grime vi­su­als, the aes­thetic in­tox­i­cates while the sav­agery dis­gusts.

52 LEFT 4 DEAD 2

Re­lease year 2009 Last po­si­tion 9 Wes The real star of Left 4 Dead 2 is El­lis’s buddy Keith. Re­mem­ber that time Keith drove his car off a cliff and broke both his legs? Clas­sic.

Evan I keep say­ing it ev­ery year, but if you haven’t mod­ded it with your friends you’re miss­ing out on one of the most bot­tom­less treasure troves of free con­tent in PC gam­ing.

Tom L4D2’ s zom­bies flow over ob­sta­cles with the scream­ing fer­vor of a mob of Justin Bieber fans. Blast­ing the un­dead back with an auto-shot­gun is end­lessly sat­is­fy­ing.

51 COM­PANY OF HE­ROES

Re­lease year 2006 Last po­si­tion 19 Tom A beau­ti­ful mar­riage of re­al­time strat­egy and late ’90s WWII movies, CoH is still an es­sen­tial PC game. The tran­si­tion from fraught in­fantry scuf­fles to tank bat­tles is per­fectly paced, the dy­namic cover sys­tem that forces you to adapt to chang­ing ter­rain has only been at­tempted since in Com­pany of He­roes

2. Relic carved out a new di­rec­tion for real-time strat­egy games back in 2006, and no­body’s beaten it since.

50 BAT­TLE­FIELD 4

Re­lease year 2013 Last po­si­tion New en­try John Launch day was a dis­as­ter, the first few weeks a write-off and the months that fol­lowed a painful re­minder that peo­ple will leave if some­thing doesn’t work. Al­most a year later, the few in my clan who still play are en­joy­ing BF4 in its golden years. Though net­code is still a prob­lem, I’ve racked up 400 hours en­joy­ing those wacky shoot­ing-a-jet-with-a-tank Bat­tle­field moments that you never for­get.

49 OUT­CAST

Re­lease year 1999 Last po­si­tion New en­try Richard For the five peo­ple who could ac­tu­ally play it at launch, Out­cast was an eye-open­ing glimpse into the kind of game we now take for granted. Pop­u­lated by AI con­sid­ered rev­o­lu­tion­ary at the time, this was a real place with a real sense of life; goofy in the clas­sic tra­di­tion of French games, but ab­so­lutely se­ri­ous about giv­ing us a Leg­end of Zelda game to be proud of.

48 ARMA 2

Re­lease year 2009 Last po­si­tion New en­try Evan Arma’s sim­u­la­tion of what it’s like to shoot a gun, fly a Har­rier, or jog end­lessly through the Czech Repub­lic isn’t so much about its au­then­tic­ity, but the way it stim­u­lates un­for­get­table co-op an­tics with my friends. I’ve never been so happy to be in a he­li­copter when it’s hit by an anti-air mis­sile, if only be­cause I get to yell “Eject, eject!” very dra­mat­i­cally.

47 FRON­TIER: ELITE II

Re­lease year 1993 Last po­si­tion New en­try Craig The only rea­son my words are here is be­cause of Fron­tier. It made me want to tell peo­ple about my ad­ven­tures in the stars, as I worked from a mer­chant to a lethal mil­i­tary as­sas­sin, and fi­nally struck out to see what the bil­lions of star sys­tems were hid­ing. I still can’t quite be­lieve it ex­isted in 1993.

46 DUKE NUKEM 3D

Re­lease year 1996 Last po­si­tion New en­try

John More than just rude Doom with jet­packs, this was a prod­uct of the ac­tion-movie in­dus­try, ref­er­enc­ing the Alien, Ter­mi­na­tor and Die Hard films while the Duke him­self was equipped with the lines of Clint East­wood in Dirty Harry. Brave, vul­gar, vi­o­lent and never for­get­table.

Emanuel Duke’s ju­ve­nile jokes are a dis­trac­tion from what made it great: its creative, multi-tiered lev­els and awe­some weapons. De­sign-wise it could teach to­day’s cor­ri­dor shoot­ers a thing or two.

45 DAY OF THE TEN­TA­CLE

Re­lease year 1993 Last po­si­tion 32

Richard Ad­ven­tures come in many forms, and DotT is the height of the ‘puz­zle box’ type—an in­tri­cate col­lec­tion of gears that con­nect so well, you don’t even see it hap­pen­ing.

Ian This was the first time I re­al­ized that games could be funny. The ab­sur­dity and whimsy on dis­play as Purple Ten­ta­cle works to out­smart a bunch of teenage mis­fits is still en­ter­tain­ing two decades later.

44 HEARTH­STONE

Re­lease year 2014 Last po­si­tion New en­try

Tim The whin­ers will say it’s too sim­ple, or too pay-to-win. Both wrong. The only sure route is the re­lent­less prac­tice re­quired to un­der­stand how cards syn­er­gise with each other, which plays are op­ti­mal,

and how to counter the bru­tally strong copy/pasted decks that dom­i­nate Ranked play. Short ver­sion: it’s eaten my life.

Sa­muel It has a de­cay­ing ef­fect on my well­be­ing but I some­how still love it. One of the most gen­er­ous free-to-play games out there.

43 SPELUNKY

Re­lease year 2009 Last po­si­tion 33

Wes Some gamers can play Spelunky ex­clu­sively for months, the way oth­ers play Counter-Strike or Dota. But Spelunky isn’t a com­pet­i­tive game—its en­e­mies, en­vi­ron­ments and items just work to­gether so well, you can play for hun­dreds of hours and still dis­cover new things.

Evan I love that it lets me be as ag­ile and risky or clever and care­ful as I please. Imag­ine what gam­ing would be like if a gen­er­a­tion had grown up play­ing this in­stead of Mario?

42 THE WITCHER 2

Re­lease year 2011 Last po­si­tion 30

Wes Where the first Witcher was rough but promis­ing, Witcher 2 is pol­ished to a beau­ti­ful shine, packed with in­ter­est­ing quests, morally cor­rupt char­ac­ters and a fas­ci­nat­ing mys­tery that ties deep into its lore. There’s rarely a right or wrong choice, just a hard one.

Richard Gave it an 89% at launch. Stand by that, quite a bit was a mess. But its up­dates since would eas­ily push it into the 90s. Please let

Witcher 3 be great at launch.

41 ARMA 3

Re­lease year 2013 Last po­si­tion New en­try

Evan You haven’t shot a gun in a videogame un­til you’ve used math, binoc­u­lars, map-read­ing, and a pile of in­tu­ition to knock some­one down at 1400 me­ters with a scope. What’s more PC than an open-world sand­box that hon­ours your ideas?

Ian It’s strength is the free­dom it gives you. Altis feels like a real place, and the com­mu­nity con­stantly sur­prises me with new things to do.

40 MAX PAYNE 2: THE FALL OF MAX PAYNE

Re­lease year 2003 Last po­si­tion 74

Sa­muel Rem­edy’s most con­fi­dent game, and a type of shooter that’s un­nec­es­sar­ily out of fashion now.

Emanuel Max Payne was de­fined by a cool gim­mick, but this re­vealed Rem­edy’s real spe­cial­ity: ground­ing over-the-top ac­tion with be­liev­able char­ac­ters and en­vi­ron­ments.

Andy The twisted jour­ney through the Ad­dress Un­known theme park is Max’s great­est mo­ment. A dark, pulpy comic book tale with bril­liantly ki­netic gun­play.

38 FALL­OUT

Re­lease year 1997 Last po­si­tion New en­try

Ian The retro-fu­ture art style, where 1950s vac­uum-tube tech evolved into plasma ri­fles with­out ever in­vent­ing the mi­cro­pro­ces­sor, is deep, charm­ing, and invit­ing. Just get­ting the chance to explore that world made it a child­hood fa­vorite of mine.

I’m more than a lit­tle re­lieved that it’s still fun to­day.

37 CRU­SADER KINGS 2

Re­lease year 2012 Last po­si­tion 51

Ian If you took chess and zoomed in—way in un­til you could play pol­i­tics with ev­ery knight’s wife and ev­ery Bishop’s ward—you’d have some­thing close to the depth in

Cru­sader Kings 2’ s medieval Europe. When you add mods that bring the po­lit­i­cal machi­na­tions of Wes­teros, Tam­riel and Mid­dle-Earth, you’ve got a feu­dal king­dom simulator un­like any­thing else in gam­ing.

36

BAT­TLE­FIELD 3

Re­lease year 2011 Last po­si­tion New en­try

Ben I spent £3,000 on a PC in 2012 be­cause I thought the world was end­ing. When it didn’t I wasn’t even dis­ap­pointed, be­cause I had BF3. Sixty-four play­ers packed into Metro sta­tion, ren­dered at 4K res­o­lu­tion and mov­ing at 120 fps, is a reve­la­tion.

Emanuel The per­fect bal­ance of sim­u­la­tion and goofi­ness. It makes war a big sand­box where any­thing can hap­pen, like shoot­ing a rocket at jet fighter while parachut­ing.

35 PLANESCAPE: TOR­MENT

Re­lease year 1999 Last po­si­tion 22

Cory The story of an im­mor­tal’s re­demp­tion in spite of so much emo­tional wreck­age was told so well I hardly re­mem­bered to stop and hit mon­sters. And I didn’t have to.

Tony For me it was the set­ting as much as the story. Sigil is the dusty, ex­otic refuse heap at the cen­ter of the mul­ti­verse, pop­u­lated by the sweep­ings of ev­ery heaven, hell and neu­tral plane ever de­scribed in an AD&D mon­ster man­ual.

34 WORLD OF WAR­CRAFT

Re­lease year 2005 Last po­si­tion 15

Richard While it’s creak­ing at the seams now, World of War­craft is still the MMO clos­est to my heart. So many ad­ven­tures, so much loot. And so much more fun in Hearth­stone/ He­roes of the Storm.

Cory Thank God WoW changed what it means to make a mod­ern MMO—I don’t know if I could have keep mak­ing Ever-Quest- style corpse runs for this long.

33 MIR­ROR’S EDGE

Re­lease year 2009 Last po­si­tion New en­try

Ben Hi, I’m Ben, and I love all the things that you hate. Did you hate the com­bat in Mir­ror’s Edge? I loved it! Did you hate the stop/start park­our? Loved it! The story? OK, that was rub­bish, but the rest of the game? Loved it!

Sa­muel For­get the story—Faith is a silent pro­tag­o­nist to me, as I skip the an­i­mated cutscenes and just fo­cus on free-run­ning and show­ing off with wall kick com­bos. The game’s de­vel­oper, DICE, had al­ways been a

Bat­tle­field fac­tory to me, but Mir­ror’s Edge taught me that the stu­dio is full of in­no­va­tive artists.

31 THIEF II: THE METAL AGE

Re­lease year 2000 Last po­si­tion New en­try

Cory I love Gar­rett’s fragility. Try­ing to stand toe-to-toe in a fight was sui­cide, and a well-timed black­jack was hard to pull off. Also, I wish ev­ery game had wa­ter ar­rows.

Craig Not enough games al­low you to move at your own pace. Thief II lets you skulk, sneak, and lis­ten to pick your mo­ment, but in vast man­sions where you were never quite sure you couldn’t be spot­ted.

30 RIS­ING STORM

Re­lease year 2013 Last po­si­tion 66

Tyler A mul­ti­player shooter where I can press a unique key to bolt my ri­fle is some­thing spe­cial. It’s not a sim, but the fi­delity in Ris­ing Storm makes it fun even when I miss a 100me­ter Spring­field shot and eat an ar­tillery blast.

Evan The best case ever made for asym­me­try. No one does weapon han­dling bet­ter than Trip­wire.

29 PA­PERS, PLEASE

Re­lease year 2013 Last po­si­tion New en­try

Philippa This dystopian doc­u­ment thriller is not so much ‘fun’ as it is ‘chal­leng­ing’, ‘un­nerv­ing’ and ‘bleak’. As a border guard for a com­mu­nist state your job starts sim­ple but events soon lead to tighter en­try re­quire­ments. Some vis­i­tors’ sto­ries lead you to bend the rules but ev­ery one you take pity on means less money for your starv­ing fam­ily.

28 FALL­OUT 3

Re­lease year 2008 Last po­si­tion 63

Sa­muel The Cap­i­tal Waste­land is bleak and won­der­ful—it’s Bethesda’s most evoca­tive en­vi­ron­ment to date. Cross­ing this de­cay­ing, postapoc­a­lyp­tic Wash­ing­ton DC while John Henry Eden reels off pro-En­clave pro­pa­ganda from my Pip Boy is Fall­out 3, to me—even though I’m aware New Ve­gas was tonally more in line with what fans of Fall­out 1 and 2 were hop­ing for.

26 DIABLO III

Re­lease year 2012 Last po­si­tion 96

Tom The se­ries was cre­ated for fans of RPG com­bat who don’t want to sit through reams of quest text, who’d rather kill hun­dreds of mon­sters and be crowned a hero at the end. Ac­tion-RPGs are about com­bat sys­tems, not sto­ries, and Diablo III has the best of the lot. I’ve lost dozens of hours ex­per­i­ment­ing with its vast col­lec­tion of skill com­bos.

25 CIV­I­LIZA­TION V

Re­lease year 2010 Last po­si­tion 20

Phil Civ V’s one-more-turn ad­dic­tive­ness is tech­ni­cally a cheat born of over­lap­ping busy­work. But over the course of a cam­paign, its strate­gic ver­sa­til­ity re­sults in some com­pelling 4X de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

Sa­muel I could play Civ for­ever, and V was my fa­vorite since II. The add-ons com­bat the rep­e­ti­tion that even­tu­ally sets-in, too.

Tyler Steam Work­shop has also been

great for Civ V, with mods that add ev­ery­thing from new civs to bet­ter unit graph­ics. I play as Canada.

24 BAL­DUR’S GATE II: SHAD­OWS OF AMN

Re­lease year 2000 Last po­si­tion 27

Andy The first proper RPG I ever played, and it con­sumed my life.

Cory I should have been play­ing real D&D in 2000, as is the right of all col­lege fresh­men. In­stead I ex­plored Amn, and I don’t re­ally re­gret any butt-kick­ing for good­ness.

Phil Af­ter the first game’s slow progress, BGII is (al­most) in­stantly gen­er­ous in its de­sign. Amn is huge, vi­brant, seedy and packed with stuff to do. It’s the yard­stick by which I’ve mea­sured all sub­se­quent RPG cities.

23 ALPHA CEN­TAURI

Re­lease year 1999 Last po­si­tion 38

Tom Mind worms, fu­tur­is­tic units and evoca­tive fac­tion lead­ers make the cam­paigns more mem­o­rable than his­tor­i­cal Civ. It’s a vi­sion of our fu­ture in which hu­man­ity re­sponds to hard­ship by shat­ter­ing into ex­trem­ist frag­ments. It’s fas­ci­nat­ing to watch those fac­tions clash, ide­o­log­i­cally and on the bat­tle­field.

22 SYS­TEM SHOCK 2

Re­lease year 1999 Last po­si­tion 39

Cory Sho­dan is my fa­vorite vil­lain of all time, and that’s largely be­cause she spends so much of my time on the Von Braun as my ally. She’s not only evil, but ar­ro­gant, and ev­ery stab she makes at my hu­man­ity

makes me want to re­boot her that much faster.

21 GRIM FAN­DANGO

Re­lease year 1998 Last po­si­tion 28

Philippa A charm­ing love story, fine char­ac­ters and the best noir-meets-Day-of-the-Dead art di­rec­tion ever.

Tom The con­trols were hor­ri­ble and the fire swamp was ass, but Grim is so warm, funny and smart its flaws just melt away into gooey nos­tal­gia.

Andy In­spired art, bril­liant voice act­ing, and one of the best sound­tracks in PC gam­ing his­tory.

20 THE WALK­ING DEAD: SEA­SON 1

Re­lease year 2012 Last po­si­tion 82

Ben Af­ter play­ing I won­dered: why did I feel more for the cast of a pointand-click than any other vir­tual char­ac­ters in re­cent mem­ory? Oh right: be­cause they’re well-writ­ten.

Phil The stan­dard com­plaint is that your choices don’t af­fect the big­ger plot. My counter is that those choices af­fected me.

Richard It’s sad that sim­ply hav­ing heart and hu­man­ity can make a game stand out so much from the crowd. But here we are, I guess.

Ian I know you’re sup­posed to re­play these games, but I refuse to go back. What hap­pened, hap­pened.

19 POR­TAL 2

Re­lease year 2011 Last po­si­tion 48

Andy Ex­plor­ing the his­tory of Aper­ture, see­ing the decor change, that was great vis­ual sto­ry­telling.

Wes It’s a mas­ter’s the­sis on game de­sign. It takes one idea, and stud­ies it as deeply as it can, and ev­ery fea­ture it adds serves to un­der­line and im­prove its core.

Sa­muel Stephen Mer­chant’s per­for­mance is a rare ex­am­ple of voice act­ing be­ing fun­da­men­tal to the suc­cess of a game. A West Coun­try English ac­cent in a pop­u­lar videogame? How quaint!

Ian Mer­chant is great, but my love will al­ways go to JK Sim­mons’ spit­ting, fu­ri­ous Cave John­son.

17 DEUS EX: HU­MAN REVO­LU­TION

Re­lease year 2011 Last po­si­tion 11

Sa­muel Jump­ing off rooftops and per­form­ing an Icarus Land­ing into black-and-gold streets— Revo­lu­tion con­tem­po­rized Deus Ex while only slightly con­dens­ing its sys­tems.

Andy A faith­ful se­quel, but also one that wasn’t afraid to break away from its pre­de­ces­sors. Some of the best art di­rec­tion on PC.

Tom You can spike two men at the same time with a re­tractable arm chisel. Best game ever.

16 DOTA 2

Re­lease year 2011 (beta) Last po­si­tion 21

Chris Dota 2’ s de­vel­op­ers are the stew­ards of some­thing big­ger than them­selves: a game so ab­surdly com­plex and com­pet­i­tively ex­cit­ing that it could have only come from a mod­ding com­mu­nity. It is the prodi­gal child of PC gam­ing.

Philippa I have spent more time

play­ing Dota than I have on the rest of this Top 100 com­bined. Wizardly show­boat­ing and dick­bag­gery com­bine in end­less per­mu­ta­tions. In ev­ery match I learn some­thing new.

15 DRAGON AGE: ORI­GINS

Re­lease year 2009 Last po­si­tion 24

Sa­muel It’s the most com­plete BioWare game in terms of nar­ra­tive scope and player ex­pres­sion.

Chris It’s well struc­tured de­spite its long length, which I sus­pect is why so many peo­ple re­mem­ber it fondly—it re­ally feels like a jour­ney.

Cory As fun as your com­pan­ions are, I love Ori­gins’ com­bat more than the story. Paus­ing and set­ting or­ders be­fore my party de­stroys a wave of dark­spawn never gets old.

14 COUNTER-STRIKE: GLOBAL OF­FEN­SIVE

Re­lease year 2012 Last po­si­tion 37

Evan Few FPSes have a match­mak­ing sys­tem to­day, and fewer have the pedi­gree for bal­ance and tight map de­sign that GO in­her­ited. Play­ing GO five-on-five is as close to a team sport as you can get on PC.

Chris Match­mak­ing is the key. It opens up the ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ing LAN CS to an on­line au­di­ence, and that’s what got me back into the game af­ter a ten-year ab­sence.

13 BIOSHOCK IN­FI­NITE

Re­lease year 2013 Last po­si­tion 16

Tony Putting the ac­tion lit­er­ally on rails was at once a great meta­tex­tual

pun, stupid good fun, and the most orig­i­nal thing to hap­pen to FPS com­bat in years. And In­fi­nite is full of in­no­va­tions like that.

Sa­muel So the story doesn’t sur­vive log­i­cal scru­tiny: I don’t care. I think Columbia is a tri­umphant cre­ation. The pac­ing of the set-pieces and story beats shows what rare tal­ent resided at the amaz­ing Ir­ra­tional.

12

DAYZ

Re­lease year 2013 Last po­si­tion New en­try

Evan By sim­ply trust­ing play­ers to find their own fun in a high-fi­delity mil­sim play­ground, DayZ stim­u­lated a whole cul­ture of gangs, doc­tors, hit­men, and sur­vival role­play­ing.

Andy The most fun I’ve ever had in an on­line game, and the most pow­er­ful anec­dote gen­er­a­tor on PC.

Philippa The only game where I’ve started a book club and traded trin­kets with anony­mous strangers for the re­lease of a kid­napped friend.

11 FTL: FASTER THAN LIGHT

Re­lease year 2012 Last po­si­tion 18

Sa­muel The Ad­vanced Edi­tion has re­newed in­ter­est, and rightly so— there are more out­comes than ever in this space­ship strat­egy sim.

Tom Mi­cro­manag­ing the in­ter­nal pro­cesses of a be­lea­guered space­ship clev­erly cen­tral­izes the drama around your crew mem­bers. Weep as they die hor­ri­bly again, and again.

Cory The con­stant sur­prises are my sec­ond fa­vorite part. Suf­fo­cat­ing Man­tis in­vaders is first.

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