40. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
RELEASED 2013 | LAST POSITION 54
Steven: This does something I’ve never experienced before in an MMO: it makes me care about the characters. Weaving MMO grinding with a story that rivals Final Fantasy’s best, XIV is one of the most vibrant and engrossing MMOs I’ve played. What’s better, the latest expansion, Stormblood, is the series’ best achievement. It tells a captivating story of war and rebellion that no Final Fantasy fan should miss.
39. Kerbal Space Program
RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION 11
Chris T: It marries the time-absorbing pull of construction with the challenge of a good puzzle while simulating just enough of real rocketry to make you feel like you’re learning something. Getting a rocket and its crew safely into orbit is a substantial challenge, something you’ll feel rightly proud of when you crack it—and the game only broadens from there, with each new goal stretching out organically ahead of you. If that doesn’t appeal to you, KSP is flexible: if you want to focus on building a giant rocket-powered robot, go for it.
Tyler: I shot a Kerbal into orbit and accidentally left him there. I’m afraid to reopen the game because he’s still floating there in orbit, and I feel like as long as KSP isn’t running he’s at least in stasis. I’d like to apologise to all of Kerbalkind for what I’ve done. Anyway, 10/10 for sure. Brilliant game.
38. Heroes of the Storm
RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION New
Steven: By stripping away so much of the complexity of MOBAs, Heroes of the Storm manages to be both accessible and still incredibly strategic. Similar to what Hearthstone did for Magic: The Gathering, Heroes of the Storm distills the drama of a MOBA into something that anyone can enjoy. It also has some of the zaniest hero designs I’ve ever seen. Two players each playing a separate head of a single ogre? Fantastic. If Heroes of the Storm has always been looked down upon as ‘baby’s first MOBA’ then to hell with it, being a kid is way more fun anyway.
Hannah: I’m confident in saying it’s the most well-designed game of its genre. Perhaps the most impressive feature is its diverse strategy—with each map being unique, every niche strategy is catered to in some way, no character or playstyle ends up dying at the feet of a metagame.
37. 80 Days
RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION 76
Andy K: A colourful alternate history elevated by exquisite writing, and it’s endlessly replayable thanks to the multitude of routes you can take across the globe and the many choices you can make in its unpredictable story. Moving, funny, intelligent and surprisingly challenging, 80 Days is, and I don’t say this lightly, a masterpiece of interactive fiction.
Samuel: Fantastic writing and scene-setting art bring this steampunky adventure to life.
Katharine: Phileas Fogg may be a bossy asshat, but balancing the ticking clock of his wager against soaking up every last diversion is tremendous fun.
36. Zero Escape: The Nonary Games
RELEASED 2017 | LAST POSITION New
Katharine: Bundling together two of the best visual novels around, The Nonary Games drums up tension from the simple act of left-clicking text boxes. Both stories lock you in deadly games of trust, with story paths that shine new light on one another and allow for audacious twists. Add some fiendish ‘escape room’ puzzles to break up the (excellent) reams of text, and this feels like serious nourishment for the brain.
35. Total War: Warhammer
RELEASED 2016 | LAST POSITION New
Matthew: Everything you need to know is in the name, and Creative Assembly delivers brilliantly on the promise of vivid battles in the Warhammer world. If you’ve ever consumed army books or drybrushed a Beastman, there’s a joy in seeing it come to life in a game that rewrites the lore every time you play. Every race plays like a different game, but I’ll always be happy spending days rebuilding the Dwarf empire.
RELEASED 2016 | LAST POSITION New
James: Five minutes into the scarab’s journey down Thumper’s hell road, my hands lose color and a pool of sweat drips down into my lap. Tapping buttons and turning sharp corners to a beat with a bizarre time signature while lights strobe and impossible geometry blurs by isn’t easy. Thumper is, after all, a punishing rhythm game designed to make you feel uncomfortable. Through punishment and a drip feed of new rules, Thumper teaches as it tortures. Most will never master it, but that’s the point. The joy comes from stemming a hellish tide, from survival and syncopation with a daunting, dangerous force.
Phil: What if Audiosurf didn’t like you? That’s Thumper, a game that weaponises time signatures to create intense rhythm action.
Evan: Thumper is actually a documentary about the path you take to heaven or hell when you die.
33. Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition
RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION 23
Tom M: Playing an 80-plus-hour RPG entirely co-op was a strangely intimate experience. A flurry of quick saves for the first 20 hours gave way to a rhythm of wordless and efficient combat. But as the game reached those last 20 hours, Divinity ramped the difficulty back up and the dialogue restarted—we moved methodically through each fight, formed fine-tuned strategies to safely take on Death Knights, and at one point even built an obstacle course out of chairs and boxes to slow down a hasted demon. Divinity: Original Sin rewards you for creative thinking, and isn’t afraid to beat you down until you understand that. And working through those challenges with the right partner is an RPG experience I haven’t found anywhere else.
RELEASED 2017 | LAST POSITION New
Samuel: I’m so glad this glorious hack-and-slash game finally came to PC, and that it’s the best version. Unlocking the extra weapons and perfecting the combat system means you can play Bayonetta for about 100 hours if you want to.
Katharine: PlatinumGames is a studio that cut its teeth at the arcade and made its living on console, but on a technical level PC feels like a more natural home for its action delights. Chief among them is Bayonetta, a take-no-prisoners workout for the fingers that has you slipping through cracks in attacks to slow time and unleash combos built from your own hair. Which other hero delivers damage by the megaton, can materialise a guillotine for a finisher or simply give an angel a good spanking? This. Is. Videogames.
Chris T: It’s a treat to have Bayonetta on PC at long last. This exuberant, outlandishly camp brawler from the creators of Devil May Cry is imaginative and deeply, deeply silly. It’s gaming’s own hyperviolent Rocky Horror Picture Show starring a fourth-wall-disregarding, leather-clad nun-witch with guns strapped to her stilettos who kills angels by turning her hair, which is also her clothes, into dragons and bondage devices. Games are rarely this free, fun or surprising.
Phil: It’s fun and campy, but don’t let that fool you: Bayonetta boasts the best combat around. The rhythm feels great, as you chain kicks and punches before topping it all off with a hair-based finisher that acts as the exclamation mark to a combo. But Bayonetta goes deeper still, with slow-mo evades and dodge offsets. You can get by with the basics, but take the time to master its high-level combat systems and Bayonetta feels unlike anything else.
31. Thief Gold
RELEASED 1998 | LAST POSITION New
Jody: ‘The first Thief game is the best’ is a hill I’ll die on. Thief has as much level variety as three other games, from wealthy mansions to tombs with zombies and deathtraps to straight-up horror. Where it’s arguably weak is the AI, but even that becomes a strength when guards go haywire and the story acknowledges it with running jokes about their drunkenness—notes of comedy to alleviate the tension.