THE PC GAMER TOP 100
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.