Every year, the global PC Gamer team gets together to decide the top 100 PC games. The process is simple: we take last year’s list, propose a bunch of additions, tweaks and removals, and then hold a series of hours-long discussions going step-by-step through every suggestion.
Here’s the result: a list of what we think are the best PC games you can play today. That caveat—play today—is important. These aren’t necessarily the most important or most influential games (if you’re looking for that, check out the 50 most important PC games of all time). Every entry in the top 100 is something we recommend that PC gamers play in 2020.
As always, we prefer to celebrate the breadth and variety on the platform, so we’ve limited ourselves to one entry per game series. We’ve also included a selection of personal picks—games that didn’t make the list, but that individual members of the team still love. Enjoy!
100. Team Fortress 2
Released 2007 | Last position New entry
Phil Savage: It’s true: Team Fortress 2 is still good. Sure, it’s 13 years old. And yes, it’s gone through many changes—from hats to matchmaking. But for all the many hero shooters released in its wake, no other multiplayer FPS offers the same pick-up-and-play hilarity of a good TF2 server. As an experimental sounding board of games-as-a-service ideas, the current TF2 is weird and baggy. As a game about nine idiot characters competing over patches of gravel, TF2 remains a triumph.
Evan Lahti: And playing it today is also a reminder of what we’ve lost as a result of the genre moving almost entirely to skill-based matchmaking systems. TF2 servers are playful spaces with their own special history. They’re self-regulated digital bars with regulars, referees, traditions, and unique preferences. When’s the last time you shared a rivalry with another player over a series of weeks?
Released 2014 | Last position 90
Tim Clark: Your view on the current state of Hearthstone depends on how you feel about three things. 1) The release of the game’s first ever new class: Demon Hunter. 2) How much you like super high variance cards like Dragonqueen Alexstraza and Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron. 3) Whether you play the Battlegrounds mode. Despite multiple nerfs to its core card pool, I think Demon Hunter has been a success and helped refreshed Standard. I’m less convinced those splashy swing cards are good for the health of the game. And Battlegrounds is an almost unreserved success, providing a welcome distraction when the Standard ladder looks grim. For the first time in its life, Hearthstone also faces very real competition in the form of Runeterra and Magic: The Gathering Arena. Is this the golden age of CCGs on PC?
Robin Valentine: This was the game that sparked the most argument for us on the team this year. I think for such a seemingly inoffensive game, it’s actually become incredibly polarising. Tim’s obviously still all-in, but these days me and Steven find it actively depressing to play.
For me, that’s down to a combination of issues with the business model around expansions—it just seems absolutely impossible to keep up and maintain a decent card collection—but also the game itself, which I don’t think has ever really found a good groove when it comes to in-game balance. For me, it still has the same problem it’s always had – decks are so swingy that while it can be fun to win, it’s almost always incredibly frustrating to lose. I even had the same issue when I came back to try Battlegrounds.
For me, I’ve moved on to Legends of Runeterra—you’ll find me singing that game’s praises further down the list.
98. Sayonara Wild Hearts
Released 2019 | Last position New entry
Jacob Ridley: Sayonara Wild Hearts straddles the space between a techno-pop album and rhythm-action videogame. A belter of a soundtrack acts as a heartbeat to the game’s meandering levels, and helps to direct you between the many obstacles in your way as you traverse psychedelic forests and high-speed city pursuits—oftentimes following a group of neon-clad bikers or theatre thugs that speak only through the medium of dance.
But beyond its 23 action-packed levels, there’s a sense of progression that’s far more personal. The game’s protagonist starts out her journey by tumbling into an interdimensional highway following a traumatic life event. But it’s not long before your masked alter ego is confident, collected, and ready to reshape her world.
Sayonara Wild Hearts is just as much a message of self-love as it is an action-rhythm game with a soundtrack that absolutely slaps. It takes roughly only an hour and a half for a single playthrough, yet like any good playlist you’ll be wanting to come back again and again. If not for the achievement of reaching gold rank in every level, just to breathe in the audio-visual experience. There are few others that are so wholly engrossing as Sayonara Wild Hearts with as little screen time, and I wholly recommend you try it out.
97. Metro Exodus
Released 2019 | Last position New entry
Andy Kelly: It’s an amazing and strange feeling leaving the claustrophobic gloom of Moscow behind and exploring the wider world in a Metro game. Exodus is a post-apocalyptic road trip that massively broadens the scope of the normally tunnel-based series. It’s still the same game deep down, mixing scrappy, violent first-person combat with exploration and light survival elements. But dramatic changes of scenery and bigger, more open maps, including a vast desert region, give the series a new lease of life. It also has a lot of heart; particularly aboard the Aurora, the train that’s ferrying you and your friends across the wasteland. Here things get slower and quieter, letting you get to know your travelling companions, and yourself, as you search for a better life in a shattered world.
96. SuperHot VR
Released 2017 | Last position New entry
Graeme Meredith: The time-sensitive action-puzzler, Super Hot VR is proof high resolution textures and intricate animation aren’t necessary for maximum immersion. For a white void, the sense of presence as your dodge enemies is incredible—it’s easy to forget the vague architecture around you doesn’t exist. More than I’d like to admit, I’ve curled into a ball on the floor to avoid attacks, then tried picking myself up by leaning on objects that aren’t actually real.
Moving time with your body is a top ‘you are the controller’ experience, too, showing good VR games aren’t just the ones you know but with a thing strapped to your head. And any gaming session leaving you crumpled in a heap on the floor is either very bad… or very good.
95. Sludge Life
Released 2020 | Last position New entry
James Davenport: It’s Pokemon Snap by way of Marc Ecko’s Getting up. It’s a first-person parkour sim full of dejected, piss-poor bottom feeders like me. Every frame is a photo ripped from a zine, every line of dialogue a potent zinger worthy of its own comic panel. Eat banana slugs and trip hard, float into the sky or under the sludge for a peek at reality. Spit into a CEO’s food. Trigger a nuke. Walking sims have come a long way.
Chris Livingston: It’s a bizarre world yet an instantly relatable one. The characters you encounter are definitely weird, but there’s also something grounded about them. They’re all tired, dazed, frustrated, full of opinions, mostly jobless, and hooked on TV and cigs. So many things are wrong with the world but who can summon the energy to fix them? I was so intrigued by the people inhabiting Sludge Life that I wasn’t just running around trying to 100% the official activities but also making sure I found, talked to, and photographed every single character. It’s a small open world, but the delight of scouring it for every last bit of dialogue makes it feel much bigger than it is.
Released 2020 | Last position New entry
Tyler Wilde: In our Top 100 meeting, Emma said that Valorant only made her want to play CS:GO. It’s the opposite for me. Whenever I’ve tried to play CS:GO, it’s felt like wandering into someone else’s decade-old game of make believe—and no one will explain the unwritten rules. After just a few games of Valorant, I finally understood what my CS:GO friends had been talking about. It might be a watered down CS:GO to veterans like Emma, but for me, the quality of life features and special abilities, which let me at least feel useful while I got used to the weird shooting, were the on-boarding I needed. Now I can finally enjoy a type of FPS that always scared me away, and it rules.
Phil: I’ve only just started playing Valorant, but like Tyler, it quickly clicked in a way Counter-Strike never did. It smoothes away just enough of CS:GO’s deliberately rough edges to feel approachable, while retaining much of the competitive depth. I can already see myself losing hours to this.
93. The Jackbox Party Pack 4
Released 2017 | Last position 88
Robin: The Jackbox series is pure social lubricant. The right game deployed at the right time can make any party or gathering sing—whether you’re with friends, relatives, or even people you don’t know too well yet. And the simple mobile phone interface—with no app download required—means anyone can get involved. Pack 4 is solid, but I think I’d recommend any of them really.
I will say, be aware that there are duds in every pack. For some reason none of them are 100% quality games – but the good ones are always so great they make up for it.
James: I didn’t really know my mom until we played some Jackbox together. A preacher’s daughter with a pretty clean no-cussing and no-vulgarity record, through the medium of Jackbox I’ve seen her draw hairy dicks, make jokes about my death, and use words my dad swears he didn’t teach her. It’s a holiday tradition now, watching the person that raised me transform and distort like this. Thank you, Jackbox.
92. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
Released 2018 | Last position 64
Wes Fenlon: Underappreciated is that FFXII has the best English voice cast in the history of JRPGs. Square skipped the usual LA anime crowd and opted for British theater actors, and their performances still crackle with Shakespearean grandeur.
Andy K: There are so many beautiful, exotic locations in Final Fantasy XII, I’m constantly finding new favourites as I traverse its evocative, connected world. There’s a lot to love about the game, but the gambit system, which lets you tinker with the AI of your party and automate combat, is an easy highlight. And you can fast forward all the dull, low-level battles in the PC version, which is a massive time saver.
91. Deus Ex
Released 2000 | Last position 72
Phil: The Top 100 is a celebration of what’s worth playing today, which is why many older favourites struggle to make the cut. It’s not enough for a game to be influential if it’s no longer much fun to play. The difference with Deus Ex, though, is that so much of what makes it great is tied to its age and antiquated, alienating systems. It’s a game that I don’t think could be made today, because—as newer Deus Ex games show—the rules for FPS design are too formalised and streamlined. The original Deus Ex feels wild and experimental, the consequence of a development team that had to figure out how to let a player do what they want. Within that folly lies a magic that is yet to be replicated.
Andy K: Yeah, Deus Ex is still great. I’ve played it at least once a year for as long as I can remember, and every time I do, I’m stunned by how fun it still is. A lot of that comes from being familiar with the game, knowing how far I can push its systems. But that’s really the beauty of it. It’s as wide as it is deep, with big, intricate sandbox levels that are ripe for experimentation. Even now I’m finding new ways to play. This year it was the discovery that I could defuse the hostage situation in Battery Park, non-violently and without being detected, with a couple of flares and nothing else. Deus Ex is PC gaming at its best.
Continue Reading: Source link