The best laptop games

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(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

Laptop gaming once meant settling for the likes of Solitaire or owning such a behemoth of a gaming laptop that you needed a specialized backpack to carry it. Those days are mercifully gone. Today even an ultralight laptop has some gaming chops, while the best gaming laptops offer close to the performance of a desktop without guaranteeing you chronic back pain if you attempt to move them. A laptop is a fine place for PC gaming now—maybe even the default place, as more and more of us use portable computers for both work and day-to-day life.

Best of the best

Baldur's Gate 3 - Jaheira with a glowing green sword looks ready for battle

(Image credit: Larian Studios)

2024 games: Upcoming releases
Best PC games: All-time favorites
Free PC games: Freebie fest
Best FPS games: Finest gunplay
Best MMOs: Massive worlds
Best RPGs: Grand adventures

With that in mind, our selection of the best laptop games includes great games we'd recommend you play on any device if you have the chance. But we do tend to skew towards those with lighter system requirements to ensure you aren't chewing through your battery at a speedrunner's pace. And while we love our Steam Decks, that gaming handheld is best suited to controller-based games, leaving the laptop and its trackpad or easily connected USB mouse still the best place for a lot of the PC's finest strategy and puzzle games.

The best laptop games are ones that can run on low-spec systems or don't rely on mega-high framerates or flipping RTX ON to really shine. Most of the games below are perfectly suited to a trackpad, but a few faves have been highlighted with a 🖱 to indicate you'll really want a mouse to get the best out of them.

Some of our recommended games for laptops can scale up to more powerful systems, so you'll still be able to put that 144Hz screen or mobile RTX 4080 to use if you have them. But none of them require that level of oomph.

Unlike our selection of the best Steam Deck games, here we haven't given as much concern to controller or Linux support. The bigger screen of a laptop is also simply better suited to certain RPGs and strategy games that we'd have to squint to make out on a handheld. As with Steam Deck games, though, some of these are ideal for play in short bursts, so you can sneak in a round of Balatro at the cafe between emails.

Below you'll find our favorite just-one-more-round games for laptops, as well as free-to-play shooters and roguelikes and absorbing adventures. We've mostly stuck to recommending games from the last few years that have modest system requirements, but remember that just about anything from the early 2010s or prior will run on a new laptop with ease. Check out GOG's old games or the Internet Archive's in-browser emulation library for many, many more classic options.

And if reading about the best laptop games has you thinking it might be time for an upgrade, here's our guide to the best gaming laptops

Best laptop games: Strategy & card games


(Image credit: LocalThunk)

Release: 2024 | Developer: LocalThunk | Link: Steam

The indie card game sensation of 2024, deckbuilder Balatro uses the theming of poker to create a game that is very much not poker. Get ready to put together some wild "illegal poker hands" with jokers galore and blinds and point totals that ascend into the multimillions. "It’s like watching a Poker game on a cursed TV accidentally tuned to 1972, filmed by a crew gradually coming down from hallucinogens," as we wrote in our 91% review. "A roguelike deckbuilder debut already worthy of joining Slay the Spire and Monster Train at the King’s table. Essential."


Teleporting hero Rebound spins with her knives

(Image credit: Daedalic)

Release: 2024 | Developer: Spitfire Interactive | Link: Steam

After Midnight Suns we're happy to play another superhero tactics game, this one a bit more focused on combat than book club with Blade (no shade: it was one of our favorite games of 2022). We appreciated how each hero in this game feels like they fit perfectly into a team and have their own clear-cut roles. "Clever decisions keep Capes' battles brilliantly tactical and riveting all the way through," Robin Valentine wrote in our 80% review. "It's these kinds of clever decisions that keep Capes' battles brilliantly tactical and riveting all the way through. Great pacing helps there, too—when you're feeling a little frazzled after a particularly complicated boss fight or a careful stealth mission, that's when the game will throw you a big dumb fight against an overwhelming horde and let you unleash satisfying havoc on them."

Cobalt Core

Cobalt Core deckbuilder

(Image credit: Rocket Rat Games)

Release: 2023 | Developer: Rocket Rat Games | Link: Steam

A blend of FTL's space journey with Slay the Spire's deckbuilding, Cobalt Core manages to not feel too derivative of either. You'll use cards to do more than attack: positioning your ship and dodging attacks are key to battles, and the meta progression will see you recruit new crew members and unlock new ships that change how you play. It may sound like standard roguelike stuff, but the way all the pieces come together makes Cobalt Core quite possibly the best one of 2023.

🖱 Dwarf Fortress

(Image credit: Bay12 Games)

Release: 2022 | Developer: Bay 12 Games | Link: Steam

The strategy sim to end all strategy sims, Dwarf Fortress took off a rocket when it launched on Steam (with graphics!) in late 2022. As of 2024, it now also features Adventure mode, a sort of roguelike RPG companion to the primary Fortress mode that has you overseeing a colony of dwarves. "The absurd depth of simulation gives Dwarf Fortress a frankly unreasonable amount of detail," our reviewer wrote. "It barely affects mechanical gameplay in any real way. But it doesn't need to. That ludicrous, near-pathological intricacy is what's kept me fascinated for over a decade."

While the new mouse-friendly UI can get cluttered, our reviewer couldn't imagine going back to the ASCII graphics and arcane keyboard commands that gave Dwarf Fortress its reputation for being impenetrable. If you've always thought about giving Dwarf Fortress a try but were too intimidated—now's the time.

🖱 Age of Wonders 4

Age of Wonders 4 battle

(Image credit: Paradox)

Release: 2023 | Developer: Triumph Studios | Link: Steam

A new 4X favorite in 2023. Age of Wonders 4 resembles big strategy games like Civ, but with its own magical flavor. As Fraser wrote in our 87% review: "By selecting the physical form, traits, cultural leanings and societal quirks of your people, you're able to create all sorts of unusual empires, from sinister mole-people with a penchant for cannibalism to industrious goblins who just want to build epic cities and make new friends. Through these choices you'll determine your empire's starting bonuses, alignment and magical affinities, establishing how you'll influence the world ... every time, I return from my fantasy foray with a sack full of anecdotes, like when I resurrected a rival ruler who had been plaguing me all game as an undead minion, forced to serve me for eternity. Magic just makes everything more fun."

Slay the Spire

Slay The Spire - The player on the left side of the screen battles two enemies on the right in a turn based battle. The card "Strike" is highlighted in the player's hand of cards.

(Image credit: Mega Crit Games)

Release date: 2019 | Developer: Mega Crit Games | Link: Steam

An instantly addictive card combat roguelike, which takes the strategic fun of deckbuilding board games and marries it with the sensibilities of games like The Binding of Isaac and Risk of Rain, where finding random "relics" can change how you play. Or, if you get a lucky combination, turn you into a murderous card god. Like the best roguelikes and deckbuilders, Slay the Spire feeds you that immense satisfaction when you find a combo that absolutely wrecks. Enemies that were once intimidating fall before you like flies. It's a fun one to replay again and again, thanks to unlockables like more powerful cards for each deck type, and protagonists that play wholly differently from one another.

Best laptop games: RPGs

Shin Megami Tensei 5: Vengeance

Shin Megami Tensei 5: Vengeance

(Image credit: Atlus)

Release: 2024 | Developer: Atlus | Link: Steam

The director's cut release of this former Switch-exclusive RPG finally brings the latest entry of the series that spawned Persona over to PC. This is the Japanese RPG series for you if you're a bit less into Persona's life sim half and want to dive even deeper into combat and building out a retinue of specialized demons. "Appropriately enough for a game whose central themes are freedom, choice, and knowledge, Vengeance is eager to give me the tools I need to forge my own path through the trials ahead...  It's an epic adventure packed full of surprises, with enough bite and strategic depth for the oldest of old hands, and more than enough assistance to help newcomers feel right at home. No series does the whole 'taking on god' thing as perfectly as Shin Megami Tensei," we wrote in our 91% review.

Disco Elysium - The Final Cut

Disco Elysium - The player character and Lt Kim Kitsuragi stand in the Whirling In Rags cafe.

(Image credit: ZA/UM)

Release: 2019 | Developer: ZA/UM | Link: Steam

This is one of our favorite RPGs of all time, and our Game Of The Year in 2019. Disco Elysium is gorgeous in a sad, gritty way, but its painterly 2D environments won't push your system. It's a detective RPG that feels quite a lot like playing a classic adventure game or a visual novel. Expect to slow things down here to discover clues and secrets in its detailed environments and read a lot of fantastic writing. It's sly, clever, and full of surprises, meaning you can get some of the best new RPG action without needing a GPU that handles ray-tracing. 

Thanks to the Final Cut version of the game that now comes standard, Disco Elysium's installation size is a bit beefier than it used to be. If you've got the space to spare though, it should still run swell.

Best laptop games: Puzzle & Adventure


Riven 2024 remake

(Image credit: Cyan Worlds)

Release: 2024 | Developer: Cyan Worlds | Link: Steam

"This is how you remake a classic," we said in our 90% review of Riven, the 2024 update to the sequel to Myst. We reviewed this game on an aging laptop with an Nvidia GTX 1070 and found it played fabulously with the graphics dialed right up, while the experience of exploring Riven's world absolutely holds up thanks to some smart changes from the original. "The Riven remake preserves that unique sense of estrangement even though I've been to this world before," we wrote, pointing to how some puzzles have been changed. But "what hasn't changed in 27 years is that this is less a game to be solved and more a place to be experienced."

A new in-game notetaking system proves to be a smart addition, though, if you do want to fully unravel Riven's big mystery.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes

A woman is interviewed by a man with a maze for a head

(Image credit: Annapurna)

Release: 2024 | Developer: Simogo | Link: Steam

This puzzle mystery is quite a departure from developer Simogo's last game, the music- and rhythm-focused Sayonara Wild Hearts. But we boldly called it as an early contender for Game of the Year in our 89% review, praising how the pacing is built "around your own wit." Expect to think your way through "a whole haunted manor filled with puzzle boxes, safes, locked doors, mazes, and other puzzles that aren't immediately evident."

Chants of Sennaar

(Image credit: Rundisc)

Release: 2023 | Developer: Rundisc | Link: Steam

A deeply thoughtful and clever puzzle game about language, deciphering the writing on a mysterious tower as you explore your way across it. Chants of Sennaar was a late 2023 sleeper hit, becoming one of our favorites of the year. "Chants of Sennaar has made me feel like a kid again, eking out my play sessions over a month as if I'm a grade schooler waiting for my weekly computer lab visit, literally giddy with excitement about solving each of its vocabulary-based riddles," wrote editor Lauren Morton in our GOTY 2023 awards.

Dave the Diver

Dave the Diver relaxing with a book.

(Image credit: MINTROCKET)

Release: 2023 | Developer: Mintrocket | Link: Steam

An "adventure RPG" that sort of defies genre; Dave the Diver has you managing a sushi restaurant and diving in the sea as an explorer, with many more activities layered on top. Like, many more, as described in our 91% review: "Nearly every time I sat down to play Dave the Diver it threw a new feature or activity at me. Night fishing opens up the pursuit of new species and turns the once comforting ocean spooky, and new gear like tranquilizers and submersibles give you new ways to catch fish. A staff management system for the restaurant lets you hire and train workers to help out... There's a farm to breed fish so you don't have to rely entirely on daily dives, and a farm to grow rice and vegetables for new recipes, and eventually even an underwater farm to grow different types of seaweed. As soon as you've gotten comfortable with one system, the game throws a new one on top."

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Ghost Trick

(Image credit: Capcom)

Release: 2023 | Developer: Capcom | Link: Steam

A long-awaited remaster and PC version of a Nintendo DS game that didn't quite get its due, Ghost Trick is a very funny, very clever puzzler about possessing objects as a ghost to eventually solve your own murder. As described in our review: "This is the gaming equivalent of an unmissable crime novel, a gripping mystery where every answer leads to three more questions and connects 10 seemingly unrelated people or places together in a way you'd never imagined. I honestly couldn't stop until I'd seen it through to the end and when I did all I wanted to do was dive back in again."

The Case of the Golden Idol

Mystery game

(Image credit: Color Gray Games)

Release: 2022 | Developer: Color Gray Games | Link: Steam

Investigate a dozen baffling and gruesome murders, all involving the same mysterious artifact, in one of the most inventive and satisfying detective games in years. In The Case of The Golden Idol you're shown the moment someone has been killed, a grisly tableau frozen in time. Investigate by clicking on anything that seems suspicious or interesting—you can go through the pockets of the victim and bystanders, learn the names of everyone involved, and slowly collect clues, in the form of words, needed to solve the crime. Place the words into blanks on incomplete scroll to solve the murders and the motives behind them, each more puzzling than the last.

Alongside the individual mysteries there's a sprawling story spanning decades centered around the powerful and bizarre idol itself and the horrifying things people will do to possess it. The murders are fun to solve, and the story behind them is fascinating. I don't say this often (or ever) but this is one videogame that would make an outstanding mystery novel.

Best laptop games: Action & Platformers

Animal Well

Animal Well

(Image credit: Bigmode)

Release: 2024 | Developer: Billy Basso | Link: Steam

This metroidvania-styled adventure may have actually fit in better with the puzzle games above. It plays like a platformer but diverges from other games in this style like Hollow Knight to focus far more on unraveling the world through clever puzzles, like modern classic Fez. There's no combat, and the more we played it the more inventive it revealed itself to be. In our 90% review we praised how puzzles are sometimes single-screen affairs, while other times they "spawn whole regions."

"The credits rolling in Animal Well just marks the end of one game and the beginning of another," wrote reviewer Shaun Prescott. "Animal Well morphed from a fun-verging-brilliant indie metroidvania into something that now keeps me awake at night. I'm not ready to move on, and I won't, but I'm going to need a hivemind's help to unpick its deepest secrets."

Hades 2

Hermes, with his tortoise

(Image credit: Supergiant)

Release: 2024 (early access) | Developer: Supergiant | Link: Steam

If you're still playing the first Hades, we wouldn't blame you. But this follow-up is already the bigger game, even in early access, and makes enough fundamental changes to combat and boons that it's less a replacement for the original than it is a fantastic complement to it. We think it's absolutely worth playing right now, and we think you'll come to love some of the changes from the first action roguelike, even if they take awhile to settle in.

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered

(Image credit: Aspyr)

Release: 2024 | Developer: Aspyr | Link: Steam

A trio of formative PC platformer adventures, the original Tomb Raiders have been lovingly updated for modern systems. They're great laptop games as the system requirements remain incredibly low even in these remasters, but you can now play them with either controller or keyboard and switch between new and old graphics to suit your tastes.

"Playing through these remasters confirmed that the original trilogy really were as amazing as I remembered them outside their very '90s flaws," our reviewer wrote. "Every puzzle solved felt like a well-earned victory, and the sneaky swerves these games pulled as they plunged Lara into an unseen trap remain exciting challenges. Simply nailing a risky jump (and a manual ledge grab) to avoid certain death is still a rush of adrenaline here, a tension modern adventure games have buffed out."


Terraria - Two players fly kites next to one another.

(Image credit: Re-Logic)

Release: 2011 | Developer: Re-Logic | Link: Steam

Terraria is a huge game in a very tiny package. Even if you originally wrote it off as a 2D Minecraft clone, it's grown far beyond that label in the years since. Terraria is a crafting adventure with heaps of updates to its name with new bosses, biomes, fishing, and too many other things to name, and it's still seeing updates as of 2023. It's also wild how little this huge game demands from your computer with its tiny install size and modest system requirements.

Best laptop games: First-person shooters

🖱 Mullet Madjack

Mullet Madjack

(Image credit: Hammer95)

Release: 2024 | Developer: Hammer95 | Link: Steam

A mouse is a must if you want to play an FPS on a laptop, but assuming you're kitted out with that vital accessory, here's a perfect laptop shooter with a striking aesthetic and generously low system requirements. Even more fitting, it's designed to be played in short bursts, with a Hotline Miami-style approach to blasting your way through short and brutal death gauntlets, each kill granting you a few more seconds of life. Great for a spot of the old ultraviolence at the coffee shop.

🖱 Counter-Strike 2

Counter-Strike 2

(Image credit: Valve)

Release: 2023 | Developer: Valve | Link: Steam

After years of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive being the biggest FPS in the world, Valve has transformed it into Counter-Strike 2, a free shooter that is largely similar to its predecessor. Then again, in the grand scheme of things Counter-Strike hasn't changed that much since its very first iteration in the '90s. As a result the small details matter a lot, and CS2 does make some meaningful changes that will keep the competitive scene on its toes for the next year or so. Whether you've never played CS or haven't played in years, now is an ideal time to jump in: the game hasn't been this shiny and new for a decade.

Best laptop games: Multiplayer

Abiotic Factor

abiotic factor

(Image credit: Deep Field Games)

Release: 2024 (early access) | Developer: Deep Field | Link: Steam

This fantastically inventive co-op survival game feels a bit like an off-key version of Half-Life. You're stuck in an underground science lab when an alien disaster strikes, and you've got to use whatever's at hand to survive—the more comical the resource, the better. Expect to make chest plates out of couch cushions, survive on vending machine rations, and have your character defined by positive and negative traits. "I chose to have a weak bladder (I have to relieve myself 20% more often) so I could afford the Decathlon Competitor trait (sprint a lot longer)," writes Morgan Park. "I'm realizing that it's not survival-crafting that I was tired of all along, it's the homogeneity of trees, cabins, furnaces, and caves that wore me down."

Lethal Company

Scientists in a lab

(Image credit: Zeekerss)

Release: 2023 (early access) | Developer: Zeekerss | Link: Steam

A viral smash hit from 2023, this dirt cheap survival game features the rarest of all multiplayer coups: making voice chat essential. Also hilarious, as described by editor Jacob Ridley in our GOTY 2023 entry:

"What makes this game so absurdly entertaining is 1) the proximity-based chat and 2) the lack of polish and 3) the social mechanics. The game is scary, and it's going to make you jump at times, but it's fun for the massively overblown reactions it generates and way it always keeps you either talking to one another or talking about one another (when you're dead).

"You'll find yourself giggling as your pal creeps deeper into a dark room. Then laughing as a far-off scream turns to a sudden silence. Then as quickening footsteps approach the room you felt oh so safe inside, the laughing quickly subsides and you're the one screaming as you sprint towards the door."

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley - One player sits in a crafted chair in the sand while another player fishes in the water nearby.

(Image credit: Eric Barone)

Release date: 2016 | Developer: ConcernedApe | Link: Humble

An indie sensation that brought the idyllic farm life of Harvest Moon to PC. Build your farm into a vegetable empire, go exploring, learn about the lives of your neighbors, fall in love and settle down. Simple graphics ensure this one will run like a dream on your laptop, and it'll make long flights pass by in a snap. Stardew Valley has officially supported co-op farming for a couple years now, which is undoubtedly a great way to go back to Pelican Town.

🖱 Minecraft

Minecraft Nether Update key art - A player wearing Netherite armor walks through a stylized rendition of The Nether surrounded by Hoglins and Pigmen.

(Image credit: Mojang)

Release: 2011 | Developer: Mojang | Link: Official site

One of the main questions you see asked online about laptops is “Will it run Minecraft?”, to which the answer, for future reference, is “Yeah probably”. Mojang's infinite block-'em-up isn't terribly demanding specs-wise, and it's the perfect game to mess around with on a laptop when you're supposed to be writing features for PC Gamer about low-spec games. While it's often played on a tablet, phone or console these days, you're getting the latest updates and mod support if you choose to build stuff with your PC. Here's our frequently updated list of the best Minecraft mods.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).

With contributions from