The best PC games

Every year, the team compiles a list of the 100 best PC games you can play today. Our process is deliberately subjective: each participant picks their personal top 15 games, and then the team gathers to narrow that list. We only allow one entry per series, with a couple of notable exceptions. You’ll also find some of our personal picks thrown in—games that we individually love, but which didn't get enough votes to make the list. 

For a celebration of those vital historical games that pushed PC gaming forward, read our list of the 50 most important PC games of all time.

100. Dwarf Fortress

RELEASED 2006 | LAST POSITION New entry

Wes Fenlon: In Dwarf Fortress I’ve seen the circle of death and rebirth. It’s less of a game, more of an ambitious simulation, representing the complexities of existence in ASCII. Eventually you’ll feel like Neo, seeing the truth behind the symbols. Just remember: losing is fun.

Shaun Prescott: You don’t even need to play Dwarf Fortress to marvel at its achievement. Hell, the patch notes are a marvel of their own.

99. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

RELEASED 2016 | LAST POSITION New entry

Fraser Brown: In Shadow Tactics, every infiltration of an enemy palace or compound is a puzzle overflowing with obstacles. Being sneaky is fun. Being murderous is better. Planning the demise of the game’s guards is a singular delight. I’m a fan of the ol’ tanuki distraction method—the little critter distracts a guard by being adorable while one of my ninjas pounces on him from a roof.

98. Shadowrun: Dragonfall

RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION New entry

Jody Macgregor: It’s funny that one of the few games to get cyberpunk right is also one with elves in it, but Shadowrun reduces fantasy and cyberpunk to their essentials while emphasising what’s best about both. Dragonfall is basically Baldur’s Gate 2 with turn-based combat set in near-future Berlin, where hackers and samurai raid corporations and watch a talk show hosted by a dragon. It’s as great as it sounds.

97. FEAR

RELEASED 2005 | LAST POSITION New entry

Andy Chalk: Combat in FEAR is magnificent chaos. Glass shatters, dust billows, and sparks, paper, and body parts fly in loud, explosive gunfights against some of the finest, most believably ‘real’ AI ever created for an FPS. Enemies flank, they take cover, they chatter and they toss grenades with infuriatingly good timing and accuracy. But what I love most about it is the way it weaves a genuinely horrific tale through all that action, breaking up the manic combat with intensely disturbing stretches of creepiness and a few moments worthy of any pure horror game.

Andy Kelly: I reinstall FEAR at least once a year just to experience that amazing shotgun again. Every shooter has its own unique shotgun, but there’s something immensely satisfying about the one in FEAR. How it violently kicks back when you fire it, and the exaggerated way enemies tumble when you shoot them in slow motion. I’m not usually one for fetishising weapons, but I’ll make an exception here.

Steven Messner: Speaking of fetishising guns, how can we not talk about the 10mm HV Penetrator, the gun that fires giant steel stakes and crucifies enemies against walls? I get that FEAR’s shotgun deserves a lot of praise, but to me the Penetrator is one of the greatest guns of all time. It’s the perfect weapon to use against FEAR’s ragdoll enemies. I used the gun so damn much that I feel like whoever had to go through after me and clean up all the dead bodies probably suffered some pretty severe trauma from seeing hundreds of people nailed to cubicle walls.

96. Grim Fandango Remastered

RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION New entry

Tom Senior: Manny Calavera is one of the coolest heroes in PC gaming, and he happens to live in one of the coolest worlds in PC gaming. It’s a vibrant take on the afterlife, and a great place to set an epic noir love story. Even after all these years Grim Fandango is funny and is still worth everyone’s time. Play it and enjoy the jokes.

Andy K: I love it when you explore Rubacava in year two. Reading beat poetry at the Blue Casket, listening to Glottis play the piano in Manny’s casino. It’s like stepping into a classic film noir, albeit one populated by skeletons and giant bees.

95. Metro: Last Light

RELEASED 2013 | LAST POSITION New entry

Shaun: It seems wrong to describe a FPS set in a decrepit metro network as ‘beautiful’, but Last Light manages it. Between the often-unforgiving combat and the light-but-rewarding survival elements, this sequel manages to tell an engrossing tale which isn’t at odds with the relentless violence involved.

Samuel Roberts: Probably my favourite apocalypse in games—it’s realistically dour, yet still gorgeous and unsettling. 

94. Spider & Web

RELEASED 1998 | LAST POSITION New entry

Jody: This is a free text adventure that begins as a story about a guileless tourist, then frames that as a cover invented by a spy under interrogation, then continues switching between the game you play and the interrogator interrupting to say, “That’s not what happened!” Each flashback gets closer to a truth you the player wants to learn, but you the protagonist want to hide. It’s clever, twisty, and explosive.

93. Nuclear Throne

RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION 74

Wes: Perhaps the greatest use of Early Access as a model for development, Nuclear Throne is a punchy top-down roguelike shooter honed over nearly 100 weekly updates. Like the best games of its type, what seems like a simple setup – collect powerful guns, survive randomly generated levels as you progress to a final boss fight – belies hidden stages and characters and secrets to give you the upper hand. The roster of heroes gives you so many different ways to play. I’m partial to the samurai Chicken, who can briefly survive without his head, and the noob-friendly Crystal, who can reflect bullets. But the real reason to play this over other roguelikes is how great the action feels. It nails that rhythm of explosive action, bullets and enemies flying towards you, with brief moments of respite as you inch towards whatever’s around the corner. Action anxiety perfected.

92. Nidhogg

RELEASED 2014 | LAST POSITION New entry

Tyler Wilde: The best sickly-looking fencing game there is, Nidhogg speeds up the mind games and finesse of Street Fighter, chaining tiny, rapid duels between stabby pixel people into hilarious, constantly tense tug-of-war sessions.

Joe Donnelly: Don’t let appearances fool you: beneath the modest veneer lies a deep and engaging versus mode masterpiece. Be it tactful fencing, aerial karate kicking, sword javelin tossing, or turning tail and running—there’s a strategy for everyone as you push your stick-figured foe back one screen at a time, spawning at either side as you die and regenerate, regenerate and die. Nidhogg also comes with a less enjoyable singleplayer mode that can be wrapped up inside half an hour. Often hilarious, but equally known to bring out the competitive streak in any payer who enters the fray. Be prepared to lose friends over this one.  

91: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords

RELEASED 2004 | LAST POSITION New entry

Fraser: Everything ‘Star Wars’ about it is subverted. The result is one of the most interesting yarns in the franchise, peeling back a lot of the fantastical elements of Star Wars and exploring them.

Samuel Roberts: As I watch the new films I feel like they’re not showing us anything we haven’t seen before. Perhaps that’s because I’ve been spoiled by KOTOR II, where there’s more nuance in the portrayal of the force and memorable characters. 

Wes: The buggiest game I’ve ever completed, even with the essential fan patches. Still worth it for Kreia.