The PC Gamer Top 100

40 Command & Conquer: Red Alert

RELEASED 1996 | LAST POSITION New entry

Tyler: This feels like it was pulled from my childhood imagination—or maybe it just influenced my imagination. It’s clean and readable, like the maps I’d draw on grid paper with forested blobs, rivers, and just enough of a sense of perspective to notate terraced cliff edges. Its weapons are the cool, riveted metal machines in my illustrated military history books, with some Tesla coils bolted on. It’s a lattice of simple strengths and weaknesses—infantry against armour, ground against air against sea—more concerned with nailing the right feeling than being meticulously balanced. On top of that, it’s easily moddable—rules.ini is still my favourite file in existence.

Samuel: It has a kind of magic to me, particularly its more chaotic skirmish mode and laughable lack of balance. Getting this and the expansions was a highlight of my young life.

39 Her Story

RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION New entry

Andy: This bold narrative experiment tells its tale as only a videogame could, letting you piece the mystery together in any order by searching a database of video clips. Non-linear, it has all the drama of the best scripted stories.

James: One hour in, my desk was a mess of notebook papers on which I’d scrawled keywords and conspiracy theories. It turned Googling into an even more unsettling game than before.

38 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

RELEASED 2012 | LAST POSITION 20

Evan: Some of CS:GO ’s individual techniques have more depth than entire FPSes. The AWP isn’t a sniper rifle, it’s a whole discipline composed of dozens of smaller manoeuvres like flicking, noscoping, passive sniping, and crouch-peeking. You can spend a whole evening practising pop flashes, or working on your spread control with the AK, or your retake tactics for bombsite B on de_dust2. Or you can skip all that homework and play a perfectly satisfying, 12-on-12 casual match with weapons that’ve had 15 years to mature.

Steven: I’ll never forget the adrenaline rush of my first kill in Counter-Strike 1.5 . CS:GO carries that tradition forward, demanding more but, in return, offering an experience I’m convinced is immune to ageing.

37 Fallout 4

RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION New entry

Jarred: If I had my way, every Fallout and Wasteland game would go on this list, but the latest release can count for all of them. Open-world RPG action with fun sidequests and hours upon hours of entertainment, and workshops enabling you to upgrade your equipment. Add mods and you can kiss your social life goodbye. It’s sort of like an MMO, but without all that ‘other people’ nonsense, and that’s the way I like my gaming.

Samuel: This lacked the wow factor of a decayed world that Fallout 3 had, but sidequests like The Silver Shroud demonstrated Bethesda was firing on all cylinders when it came to quest design. Boston is an impressive world, too.

36 StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void

RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION New entry

Jarred: This might seem like sacrilege, but I don’t care about multiplayer—arguably the biggest draw of the StarCraft series. I’m here for the story, and like a good book series that leaves you saddened when you finally turn the last page, Legacy of the Void wraps up the storyline we’ve been following for decades. StarCraft II is equal parts fun, stress, excitement, and silliness rolled into a tasty whole.

35 Stalker: Call of Pripyat

RELEASED 2009 | LAST POSITION New entry

Chris L: Following the glitchy brilliance of Shadow of Chernobyl and its disappointing prequel Clear Sky, the third entry in the series wound up being the best. It perfectly recaptured the brutal and unforgiving atmosphere of the Zone from the original while improving on the AI, world, and action. There are plenty of FPS horror games, but none quite so tense, so terrifying, and so utterly drenched in dread as Call of Pripyat.

Steven: Stalker ’s realisation of ruined Pripyat is so vivid that I can close my eyes and picture it perfectly in all its grim, haunting glory. There’s a pervasive sense of wrongness that I can’t look away from. Like watching a natural disaster on the news, all I can do is shake my head and press on, deeper into the Zone.

34 Planescape: Torment

RELEASED 1999 | LAST POSITION 16

Tony: Superficially an RPG in the pre-rendered mould, this is a journey to an exotic world and a whole different way of doing the genre. You explore it mainly through dialogue, and you can lose yourself in the labyrinthine conversation trees of other people’s lives. But it all comes back to your own character, the terrible things you’ve done, and that question: “What can change the nature of a man?

33 Resident Evil 4

RELEASED 2014 | LAST POSITION 53

James: It took me nine months to finish Resident Evil 4. I was expecting tense combat and B-grade horror going in, but when I entered the first village, heard the chainsaw rev up, and the villagers started pouring out of every window and doorway, I paused the game and went on a walk. It was huge departure from the typical slow burn of survival horror, so overwhelming I could only play the game in short bursts. No game has made me feel as small and ill-prepared as often as Resident Evil 4.

Samuel: It’s the pacing and variety of the game that I love. It’s non-stop excitement for about 16-18 hours, taking you from that opening village to a gigantic castle full of impossible contraptions and eventually, an exploding island. The first time through, I never saw any of those set-pieces coming. It’s a thrillride, and at its best on PC.

32 Diablo III

RELEASED 2012 | LAST POSITION 79

Tom S: Somehow this RPG about hitting millions of monsters doesn’t grow old. The game has been in a holding pattern this year, but a couple of new zones and enemies are all the incentive I needed to roll a new hero and violently convert the forces of Hell into delicious XP. Endless glittering loot drops complete the engrossing kill-loot-level loop, and seasonal rewards provide moreish ongoing incentives. This is the action-RPG as comfort food, and after years of work, the recipe has reached perfect balance. Please make more, Blizzard.

Steven: I hate to be the one to say it, but there’s little comforting about permanently losing a hardcore character because of an unfortunately placed wall and a sweeping laser. There’s only the gaping emptiness in realising hours of my life turned to dust. I still can’t bring myself to roll another witch doctor. 

Tim: I used to treat Diablo III like a comforting bath, only instead of bubbles I would sink into a froth of giant numbers, an iPlayer police procedural on one monitor, an AoE spell-spamming, Excel aneurysm on the other. Man, I miss it. It’s like a fantasy-themed Lazer Floyd show for accountants. I was also one of the scumbags who enjoyed the Auction House, because it put cool gear within range of small IRL spend. Obviously I appreciate the loot system is much more sensible now, and the game has improved immeasurably since that messy launch, but I haven’t found time to go back. Perhaps I will, but... Oh, there’s the new Deus Ex.

Phil: I love the Wizard’s Disintegrate spell. It’s a massive, piercing laser that, true to name, makes just about everything disintegrate into a fine red mist. It’s the best.

31 Crusader Kings II

RELEASED 2012 | LAST POSITION 13

Chris L: It’s a grand strategy game that also happens to be one of the most intensely personal games ever made. You send armies marching across the globe, but you also have to deal with your goddamn family. It’s like they squashed The Sims inside Civ, and it works perfectly.

Phil: By building a strategy game around people—their plans, triumphs, flaws and failures—Paradox has made a historical soap opera that gives you the starring role.