8 games most likely to melt your PC in 2023

Diablo 4 cinematic screenshot
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

It's a good thing my PC can't talk because I think it would have a lot to say about what I've put it through over the years. I forced it to make The Witcher 3 look pretty no matter how loud the fans got; I tore out its guts and replaced them with all new hardware; and I made it churn through Cyberpunk 2077's catastrophic bugs and performance issues. It's done a lot over the years and probably needs a break.

Maybe next year, because there's an army of games coming out soon that will probably bring it to its knees.

PC gaming might not have another Crysis situation on its hands, but some of the games coming out this year might absolutely wreck your PC. All of these games look like computational burdens, but some more so than others. I'll score them with 🔥 (out of five) to rank their ability to turn your PC into a puddle.

I'll also give you some idea on what to upgrade if you don't have a fire extinguisher nearby. The target for recommendations will be a mid-tier PC that wants to hit a solid 60 fps at 1080p on medium-to-high graphics settings. A lot of the games in this list don't have confirmed system requirements, so the best I can do is make educated guesses.

Kerbal Space Program 2 

Kerbal Space Program 2 — A trio of Kerbal astronauts emerge from their lunar lander to gaze with a kind of vacant awe at the wonder of space.

(Image credit: Intercept Games)

Release date: February 24 (early access)
Recommended upgrade: CPU - Intel Core i5 12400
Melt meter: 🔥🔥🔥

Kerbal Space Program 2 might actually be one of the most intense games here. The spaceship builder and simulator will launch later this month in early access and it could be rough to start. The original game asked a lot of your CPU and it seems likely that the sequel will too. With all of its planets and ship parts to simulate, KSP2 will have a ton to keep track of. A CPU upgrade is a real consideration if you haven't swapped yours out in a while.

System Shock

System Shock screenshot

(Image credit: Nightdive Studios)

Release date: March 2023
Recommended upgrade: GPU - AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT / RAM - 16GB
Melt meter: 🔥🔥

The modern remake of System Shock already has a playable demo and its system requirements aren't too steep. But that doesn't mean it won't be worse when the game launches. Developer Nightdive Studios hasn't confirmed whether or not the game will have ray tracing, but if it does, that could push this one up the resource killer tier list. With all of its shadow-heavy environments and effects, this game could really drain your PC if you're not running semi-recent hardware.

The Last of Us Part 1

The Last of Us Part 1 screenshot

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

Release date: March 28
Recommended upgrade: GPU - AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT
Melt meter: 🔥🔥🔥

Sony's PC port of God of War was stellar. The Last of Us Part 1 might be too. A game with this level of fidelity, even if it's a little dated, could send your PC fans flying. It's not an open world game, nor does it throw billions of enemies at you at once, but scenes that take place in collapsed, grown-over environments with tons of lighting and shadows are where it'll have the highest demand. A solid graphics card should be able to handle it, but it might be hard running it at 4k with ray tracing and high settings without having to concede with a little DLSS. 

Diablo 4 

Diablo 4 gameplay

(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Release date: June 2
Recommended upgrade: CPU - Intel Core i5 12400 / GPU - Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
Melt meter: 🔥🔥

Blizzard is known for making PC games that run rather smoothly on most PCs, but Diablo 4 could be an outlier. Everything about it has been increased, from its world size to the number of demons and spell effects on the screen. Diablo 4 might tank your PC if you crank the settings up to high and try to survive a whirlwind of particle effects and gore. It will also be the first Blizzard game with ray tracing, which means its fanciest combat arenas could kick your PC in the gut.

Homeworld 3

Spaceships approach loose debris.

(Image credit: Gearbox)

Release date: 2023
Recommended upgrade: CPU - Intel Core i5 12400 / RAM - 16GB
Melt meter: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

It's probably going to take a hefty PC to take on a fleet of Homeworld 3 ships. RTS games already have a lot going on for your PC to handle, but Homeworld 3 looks particularly intense. Developer Blackbird Interactive has a whole pocket of space to fill with ships of all sizes, rendered at impressive detail. And all these ships are going to be actively fighting each other with loads of simulation happening in the background. Your best bet to prepare your rig for this game is to look at upgrading your CPU if it's more than five years old. I'd also seriously think about getting an SSD so that load times won't be a pain.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine 2

Warhammer 40K: Space Marine 2

(Image credit: Focus Entertainment)

Release date: 2023
Recommended upgrade: GPU - AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT / RAM - 16GB
Melt meter: 🔥🔥🔥

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine 2's trailer has buckets of enemies on screen. It almost looks like a musou game. And if years of tech demos have taught us anything, hordes of enemies mean your PC is going to have a lot of rendering work to do. The game also looks great; it runs on the same engine as World War Z. A solid graphics card from the last few years will do a lot to help you run this one, but RAM will be important too.


Astronaut walking through room with statues

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Release date: 2023
Recommended upgrade: GPU - AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT / RAM - 16GB / SSD - WD Black SN770
Melt meter: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

You never know with Bethesda games. Starfield is the first of its kind to use the Creation Engine 2, the sequel to the engine behind Fallout 3 and 4. That could mean ray tracing and a level of graphical fidelity that might not have been possible in its previous games. Starfield has a very real possibility to be a game that will gut punch your PC. And given that it's a massive open world game with huge planets to explore, you'll probably need a modern GPU to survive it. An SSD wouldn't hurt either.

Cyberpunk 2077 RTX update 

Cyberpunk 2077 car

(Image credit: CD Projekt)

Release date: 2023
Recommended upgrade: GPU - Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
Melt meter: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Cyberpunk 2077, like The Witcher 3 before it, will put its grip around your PC and squeeze. CD Projekt Red games are made to use every ounce of power in your PC to deliver stunning, detailed worlds. Cyberpunk 2077's open world already dazzles, but with its upcoming Overdrive mode, it's going to be a real threat to any gaming PC out there. The update will add ray tracing to things like street lamps, headlights, and billboards. And the ray-traced reflections will be rendered at full resolution. The Overdrive setting won't mess around. DLSS 3 will help you out a bit, but if you want to run this game at even a modest frame rate, you're going to need to spend a lot of money on a 40-series Nvidia graphics card.

Associate Editor

Tyler has covered games, games culture, and hardware for over a decade before joining PC Gamer as Associate Editor. He's done in-depth reporting on communities and games as well as criticism for sites like Polygon, Wired, and Waypoint. He's interested in the weird and the fascinating when it comes to games, spending time probing for stories and talking to the people involved. Tyler loves sinking into games like Final Fantasy 14, Overwatch, and Dark Souls to see what makes them tick and pluck out the parts worth talking about. His goal is to talk about games the way they are: broken, beautiful, and bizarre.