What game would you recommend to a complete non-gamer?

Every week, we ask our panel of PC Gamer writers a question about PC gaming. This week: what game would you recommend to a complete non-gamer? We also welcome your answers in the comments. 

Samuel Roberts: Rocket League

What if football, but with cars? Rocket League took off precisely because it's so easy to pick up and play, with fast matchmaking, intuitive controls and short matches. Within one game, any player of any skill will get it. 

And then the obsession begins. Cars fly overhead in your dreams. You wander through the streets imagining what would happen if that BMW over there did a backflip to score a goal. You haven't spoken to your parents in weeks because you're trying to climb the ladder in ranked. You started playing in January, but now it's August and you've played nothing else, and you've had Prey sat on your hard-drive for months. Maybe you should stop? "I think we should see other people," your partner says. "No problem." you reply. But did you say that, or were you merely selecting a quick chat option in yet another game of Rocket League? You're 80 years old and dead, and you only ever reached Gold II rank.  

Anyway, yeah, Rocket League. Great game, regardless of skill level. 

Phil Savage: Kerbal Space Program

(Image: © https://www.reddit.com/r/KerbalSpaceProgram/comments/3duql5/one_of_my_best_ksp_screenshots_decommissioning_a/)

Technically Kerbal Space Program is a very difficult game. Just ask the many Kerbals who are stuck endlessly orbiting the various moons and planets I have tried to visit. But, while hard, its difficulty isn't abstract. Kerbal Space Program is difficult because going to space is difficult. By basing itself on real-world, observable concepts, its challenge makes sense. That makes it an incredibly effective starter game. Also the fact that, if in doubt, you can usually just add more rockets.

It's also good because its success is scalable. In sandbox mode, you're never punished for failure. Instead, you're given an opportunity to learn, tweak and reassess. It's a great teacher, not just of the physics of rocket science, but also of how games can support experimentation and play on the path to a greater goal.

Andy Kelly: L.A. Noire

Basically prestige TV in game form. A compelling series of mysteries to solve, proper actors bringing the characters to life, and a larger narrative of corruption and scandal to get swept up in. You don't even have to drive anywhere: just get your partner to do it for you. And if you're having trouble with the action sequences—gunfights, car chases, and so on—the game lets you just skip them. It has some problems, sure, but if you don't 'get' games, L.A. Noire will immediately make sense. Everyone loves a good detective mystery, and Rockstar's game presents its varied, mostly well-constructed cases with the lavish feel of a US TV drama.

Tim Clark: Hearthstone

I know, I know, but probably Hearthstone. I've been teaching my nephew on holiday and they've done a ton of work to make the new player experience more friendly. Until you start getting serious about trying to climb ladder, it's also a free-to-play game that you can genuinely have fun goofing around in without having to drop dollars. Tavern Brawls, Arena Runs, even just administering kickings to the Innkeeper AI are all a fine way to spend a few hours on your PC when you're supposed to be working. I should know.

Tom Senior: Her Story

You don't need any knowledge of game genres or complicated control schemes to play through this fascinating mystery. If you can Google, you can play Her Story. The game is a database of videoclips showing police interviews with a woman—is she a suspect, a witness, a victim? You search for key phrases to bring up new clips containing fresh clues to search for. The format is surprisingly good at delivering twists, and the game is particularly fun if you have friends around to help put the pieces together.

Chris Livingston: Plants Vs Zombies

It's bright, it's colorful, it's amusing, and there's just about the most perfect learning curve in a game I can think of, where you're given just enough time to figure how to best use a new plant when a new zombie shows up, and you're just about on the brink of having your home invaded when the final zombie falls. There's also plenty of extra modes and activities that are fun to play around with. It's also addictive as hell, so even if it's their first game it won't be their last.