The 100 best PC games of all time

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70. League of Legends

Release Date: 2009
Last year: New entry

Josh: LoL is still the only MOBA game that’s dared to innovate on DotA’s original formula, and it did so with great success. The added passive skills, persistent meta-game, brush to juke with, and new hero skill mechanics elevate the genre to a whole new level. And it embraced the most sensible business model for the genre: free-to-play.

Cooper: Also, the fact that every single game you’ll play in has ¾ of the players using premium (see: expensive) skins shows how much gamers are willing to embrace this F2P.

69. Flight Simulator 2004

Release Date: 2003
Last year: New entry

Andy: This is the one that really brought the series into the modern graphics era. FS9 improved its predecessor’s AutoGen scenery and ATC interaction significantly and the featured classic aircraft (celebrating “A Century of Flight”) were an absolute treat to fly. I still remember trying to re-create Lindbergh’s trans-Atlantic crossing in the Spirit of St. Louis and marveling at his skill at keeping that flying gas tank aloft. The third-party mod community really adopted this chapter as its own too because there are still almost as many downloadable planes and scenery files for FS9 as there are for FSX.

Tim S: The charisma of those historic crates also nudged me towards re-enactment. I'll never forget my unaccelerated Vickers Vimy trip across the Atlantic in 2006 (http://bit.ly/f9Vsph). It managed to be both the most tedious thing I've ever done in a game and one of the most thought-provoking and satisfying.

68. Dwarf Fortress

Release Date: 2006
Last year: New entry

Graham: We choose to play Dwarf Fortress and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because it’s worth overcoming obtuse menus and arcane graphics for the rewards of the fantasy simulation that lies within. Before I started playing it, I’d read a lot about DF’s enormous detail - and fair enough, since this is a game where dwarves carve memorable events from their civilization’s history onto their coins. But I never realised how funny it would be. After ten hours of play, when my fortress flooded and my cheesemaker went insane and started biting everyone, I wasn’t frustrated. I laughed.

Troy: Yes, it is ASCII. Yes, it is punishingly hard to pick up casually. But no other game in the last five years has led to as many interesting stories about what just happened to little computer people. All those memorable events and that elaborate history are often just figments of our imagination, giving meaning and plot to very simple AI action. Hurrah for a game that feeds imagination. With a real budget and real art, this game could be huge. Bay 12 Games prefers to keep it small and free, and that itself is worth recognizing.

67. Anchorhead

Release Date: 1998
Last year: 97

Tony: Home alone on rainy Sunday afternoons, my treat to myself was to play this text adventure. Its low-key sense of gloom seeped out of the screen and into my bones. I poked around its twisty streets for so long it became a real place to me. And clue by innocuous clue, I uncovered the horror lurking below.

66. Torchlight

Release Date: 2009
Last year: New entry

Chris: Torchlight was my favorite friend with benefits: I could stop in, play for 15 minutes, quit out and feel satisfied without a lick of guilt. It also ran on a netbook—making it my ideal travel buddy. I wish my reallife dog would go to town and bring back cash.

Tom: It's called the Draining Epic Boar Cannon of Venom, and it is a gun I have enchanted, socketed, re-enchanted, un-socketed, re-socketed, re-enchanted, re-enchanted and re-enchanted. Torchlight is as smart a progression of Diablo as Blizzard could manage, tailor made for the loot obsessive who wants that spectacular weapon they love to stay useful forever.

Cooper: At one point, I asked the Torchlight developers how long it took, from start to finish, to make the game. It was something like eight months. How could they put together something so stunning in such a short amount of time, but Blizzard can’t figure out how to finish Diablo III for 2015?

65. Zeno Clash

Release Date: 2009
Last year: New entry

Dan: What were they smoking? Whatever it was, it needs to be legalized, and perhaps made mandatory for game makers who are setting out to create a unique and interesting world.

Evan: How up-close and personal you get to that world and its inhabitants counted for something, too. You’re not just vaguely wandering a world filled with parrot-men, you’re battering them with elephant-femur swords and exploding gangly humanoid avocados across a Labyrinth-like scene. The combat system genuinely earns one of the titles we throw around freely about games: it’s actually visceral.

64. VVVVVV

Release Date: 2010
Last year: New entry

Graham: A Commodore 64-inspired platformer in which you can’t jump, but instead flip your character’s gravity to move between floor and ceiling. Its level design is immaculate, its characters are cute, its writing is funny, its soundtrack is so good I bought it and still listen to it regularly, and although some of its levels killed me a hundred times, I never stopped having fun. It is perfectly formed, and you can buy it now for £3.27.

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63. SimCity 2000

Release Date: 1993
Last year: 81

Evan: Admit it: it was your evil ant farm for disasters, too. The crisp color of everything made cities that much more fun to wreck. Tornadoes were my favorite; I’d cheat my way to a five-minute metropolis, then deploy a twister or the giant floating eyeball-alien to knock it down. In 1993--before physics, before destructibility--this was the closest thing to gaming havoc that we had.

Chris: Sim City 2000 almost caused me to flunk my freshman year of high school (I also got detention for utilizing the "FUND" cheat during a PC class). I loved making long lines of parks only to pointlessly bulldoze over them to build polluting industrial zones.

62. Left 4 Dead 2

Release Date: 2009
Last year: New entry

Craig: The slapstick sequel, a game that sets me up for a post apocalypse full of clowns and electric guitar-based deaths. When the time comes, you’ll find me fending off Jockeys with a frying pan.

Rich: It teased with moments of mastery: when I got an M60 or a jar of boomer bile, it made me feel unstoppable and untouchable. Until the ammo ran out and the horde regrouped. Then it was back to sprinting and shrieking my way to the safehouse like a tiny baby man.

Tim S: Behind the viscera and the vomit lie some delicious ethical dilemmas. I adore those moments when common-sense is telling you to leg it, and common decency is telling you to head back into some seething hell-hole in the vain hope of saving a cornered comrade.

61. Frontier: Elite 2

Release Date: 1993
Last year: 31

Craig: It’s nearly 18 years old, and I’m still waiting for a game to hook me as completely as this did back when I was 14. What’s remarkable is this space adventure, where you’re given no guidance on how to live in the 513982470 star systems, is its simplicity. The complicated balancing act of living in Eve Online is a barrier that Frontier doesn’t have. Five minutes to learn; a lifetime of adventure.