The best PC games right now

Not sure what game to buy next? On this list you'll find the best PC games we're playing right now—recent singleplayer hits, thriving esports, and a few modern classics that would improve any game library. We'll continue to update this list as new games release, removing older favorites and replacing them with our latest obsessions. Rather than an ever-expanding list that reaches deep into the past, we're shooting for a practical answer to the question: 'What new PC game should I get?'

If you're looking for a more comprehensive list which includes our favorite games from the past few decades, check out our yearly Top 100 list  or our list of the most important PC games. Need a new system to play these games on? Here's our advice on what kind of gaming PC you should get.

Page 1: Competitive games, singleplayer shooters, and action games
Page 2:  RPGs, survival games, and strategy games
Page 3:  Puzzle games, great stories, simulations and city-builders
Page 4:  MMOs, local multiplayer games, and platformers

The best PC games right now

If you're looking to kill a rainy Sunday afternoon with a 'one more turn' obsession, Slay the Spire, which comes out of Early Access this month, is your game. Tom explains why in his 2018 Personal Pick award

In the same vein, our 2018 Game of the Year, Into the Breach, is a run-based strategy game that appears simple—enemies even telegraph every move they're about to make—but is a series of tactical risk-vs-reward puzzles that are deeply satisfying to solve.

If you're looking for competition, the battle royale genre is still dominated by Fortnite and PUBG, though CS:GO has recently gone free-to-play and added its own royale-like mode, which is worth checking out with friends. Call of Duty's battle royale mode, Blackout, is fun too if less of a phenomenon, and can currently be purchased without the Zombies mode for $30. (Look for the 'Battle Edition.') Battlefield 5 has a battle royale mode coming, and we'll be checking it out as soon as it's available. Meanwhile, Rainbow Six Siege remains our favorite smaller-scale tactical shooter of late.

For solo shooting, throwback FPS Dusk is amazing fun, and Hitman 2 has kept the PC Gamer team obsessed with the series—though clever stealth is more the game there, whereas Dusk is pure speed and strafing.

If you want to slow things down for a more meditative singleplayer experience, Return of the Obra Dinn was our pick for Best Puzzle Game of 2018.

Competitive online games

Rainbow Six Siege
Released:
2015 | Developer: Ubisoft Montreal | Humble Store, Steam | Our review

Counter-Strike's sexier cousin. Siege might lack the sharp hit detection and purity of CS:GO, but it's a more accessible and modern FPS that rewards clever timing and coordinated teamwork as much as aim. Siege's learning curve is a result of all the stuff (characters, gadgets, elaborate maps, and guns) that's been added since December 2015, but eventually you find yourself picking operators, map spots, and roles that you're comfortable with. Ubisoft continues to support Siege, dropping four major updates per year along with regular fixes.

Overwatch
Released:
2016 | Developer: Blizzard | Battle.net | Our review

With Overwatch's colorful characters and bright, inclusive world, Blizzard brought the world of team-based hero shooters to an entirely new market. Teams of six take the roles of tank, DPS, and healer to battle over objectives, not just who can get the most kills. It's a game that rewards—if not requires—teamwork. And with a growing cast of now 27 heroes to choose from, there's a character to fit just about any play style.

Fortnite Battle Royale
Released:
2017 | Developer: Epic | Official site | Free-to-play | Our review

What started as a sterile PUBG imitation has evolved into the Minecraft generation’s arena shooter. Fortnite’s building system rewards good aim and an eye for architecture equally, extending battle royale shootouts from green pastures to impromptu skyscrapers slapped together in a minute. With ridiculously frequent updates from Epic Games that introduce new weapons, traps, tools, and skins, Fortnite is easily worth the price of admission, and even then, worth the time it takes to master such an obtuse, irregular building system.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
Released:
2017 | Developer: PUBG Corp. | Humble Store, Steam | Our review

100 murderous hopefuls skydive onto an abandoned island, grab whatever weapons and ammo they can find, and fight to the death. Rinse and repeat. Though the concept wasn't new (PlayerUnknown himself is responsible for multiple battle royale modes and mods), PUBG made the battle royale genre into the phenomenon that it is today. As a third- or first-person shooter, PUBG is more realistic and less arcadey than Fortnite. The joy of it is how it forces players to move and take risks as an ever-shrinking forcefield funnels surviving players toward each other until a winner climbs out of the wreckage. Every instant of every game is a flood of important decisions to make, and any one of them—even a minor one—could lead to your doom. 

Rocket League
Released:
2015 | Developer: Psyonix | Humble Store, Steam | Our review

The best and only synthesis of hockey and soccer than you can play with rocket-powered battle cars. Where most esports rely on gunplay or clicky top-down wizardry, Rocket League is all physics and speed. Simply put, you're trying to smash a giant soccer ball into a goal with a car. But the cars can jump, and flip, and fly into the air once you get the hang of it (which will take a while). Even after three years, Rocket League players are still inventing new moves and tricks—if there's a skill ceiling, no one's bumped it yet. It's intimidating and your first matches will probably be rough as you learn to steer and backflip and ride the walls, but since there are so many other new players at any given time, as well as training modes and bot matches, you can still get up to speed even if you're entering the arena late. Note that while you can play Rocket League with a mouse and keyboard, and some good players do, most prefer a controller.

Hearthstone
Released:
2014 | Developer: Blizzard | Official site

Despite the departure of game director Ben Brode, he of the flannel shirt and megaton laughter, Hearthstone remains in relatively rude health. The game's last two expansions—The Boomsday Project (August 2018) and Rastakhan's Rumble (Devember 2018)—have rightly been criticised for failing to freshen the meta sufficiently, but nonethless it's possible to build a deck with any class and pilot it successfully on the ladder. Those looking to try-hard on a budget should consider Spell Hunter, which is relatively cheap to build, whilst those looking to make instant enemies may prefer the ultra aggressive Odd Paladin, which remains obnoxious despite a recent nerf. For those of you with ladder anxiety, Hearthstone also now includes a rich suite of single-player content in the Solo Adventures section. There you'll find Rumble Run, Puzzle Lab, Monster Hunt and Dungeon Run—plenty of fun, without the pressure of a turn timer. 

League of Legends
Released:
2009 | Developer: Riot Games | Official site

MOBAs are hard, rewarding competitive games because they demand teamwork, quick reaction times, and knowledge of beginning, middle, and endgame phases that vary with the role you play. And if you're going to play one, LoL is the best place to start. League of Legends has had remarkable staying power as one of the most popular games in esports for a couple simple reasons. One, it strikes just the right balance of depth and approachability for a MOBA. A gargantuan roster of heroes means you could spend years learning the ins-and-outs of the game, but mechanically it's less demanding than Dota 2, and more involved than Heroes of the Storm. Two, Riot Games hasn't been afraid to make significant changes to the map, characters, and other systems over the years, so there's always something new to learn.

If you can, play with a team of friends—it's far more fun (and effective) to coordinate on a headset than deal with randoms over text chat. If you bounce off of LoL, Dota 2 is of course extremely popular as well, and both are free-to-play, so give it a shot.

Battlefield 1 and Battlefield 5
Released:
2016/2018 | Developer: DICE 

While Battlefield 1 diehards insist that it's the superior game, we recommend both BF1 and BF5. On BF5's side, EA has done away with paid seasons passes, and is releasing all new maps free, plus a battle royale mode which is coming early this year. Meanwhile, though, Battlefield 1 is included with Origin Access (both Basic and Premium) and is pretty cheap otherwise, so if the World War 1 setting appeals to you, it's a low-cost entry into the series.

Here's our Battlefield 1 review, and our Battlefield 5 review.

Singleplayer and co-op shooters 

Doom (2016)
Released:
2016 | Developer: id | Humble Store, Steam | Our review

The original Doom—back in 1993—is the most influential shooter of all time. With a pedigree like that, 2016's Doom reboot could have coasted by on the family name, had some fun, and called it a day. Instead, Doom surprised us all by being a spectacular shooter in its own right. More than that, Doom abandoned a lot of the storytelling conventions and cutscenes we've come to associate with modern games: about 30 seconds into the first level, the main character physically throws the plot across the room and shoots a demon in the face. Doom has a singular purpose, and if you're not a gun or a demon's face, it doesn't care to know you.

The remarkable thing about Doom is how eagerly it embraces ridiculous ideas as long as they're fun. Punch a demon until extra ammo pours out? Yes. Infinite stream of high-explosive rockets? Absolutely. The entire game is a crescendo, a heavy metal guitar solo that just gets louder and louder. Speaking of heavy metal, that soundtrack? Phwoar. What a game.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Released:
2018 | Developer: Fatshark | Humble Store, Steam | Our review

Vermintide 2 takes place in Warhammer's filthy fantasy setting, a grim medieval alternative to Warhammer 40k's grim sci-fi universe. Warhammer Fantasy is particularly defined by its apocalypse, its ragnarök: the Vermintide, where a wave of ratmen and evil vikings will end all of civilization. Now the end times have come, and its up to four heroes to save the world by punching each and every rat in the face individually.

Like Vermintide 1, Vermintide 2 takes on the format of Valve's classic co-op shooter, Left 4 Dead. Each hero is generally capable but vulnerable on their own. Among the swarms of rats are elite enemies that specialize in ambushing individual players, leaving them helpless until a comrade rescues them. The mutual need for protection makes Vermintide unusually dependent on good teamwork, and sharp spatial awareness and generous instincts are better for survival than perfect aim.

There are five heroes to play, and each has three subclasses and a long list of possible weapons and specialty skills. Every successful mission rewards players with random weapons and loot, and a surprisingly deep crafting system helps players customize their heroes. Random matchmaking to find groups is fine, but Vermintide 2 is a real joy when played with friends, like a corporate team-building exercise with swords and axes.

Dusk
Released:
2018 | Developer:  David Szymanski  | Humble Store, Steam

If you have any nostalgia for DOS-era shooters like Doom and Quake, Dusk has got it all: finding color-coded keys and secret chambers, a metal soundtrack, and high-speed strafing with dual-wielded shotguns while blasting the faces off of demons. An ideal way to spend an afternoon. Check out our Dusk review for more.

Action games

Grand Theft Auto 5
Released:
2015 | Developer: Rockstar North | Humble Store, Steam | Our review

GTA 5 runs beautifully on PC, and its open world is still the best of any game, a gorgeous sprawl that replicates everything we associate with Los Angeles: the flat heat, the atmosphere, the fact that the city is so damn big. The campaign is the series' best ever, punctuated by ambitious heist missions involving all three protagonists. It's a lot of fun to spend time in this world.

If you want to take things further, GTA Online is waiting for you with an absolute ton of stuff to do. Not all of it is amazing, but with a few friends, it's great fun to knock through the Online mode's bespoke heists, and owning a business feels pretty cool too. There are plenty of ways to play this game forever, including all of these great mods.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Released:
2018 | Developer: Ubisoft Montreal | Steam | Our review

Ubisoft nailed the latest in the Assassin's Creed series, fully embracing the roleplaying genre and retooling its typical open world to-do list into an adventure full of quests worth doing—all set in its grandest world to date.

Dishonored 2
Released:
2016 | Developer: Arkane Studios | Humble Store, Steam | Our review

The best immersive sim around, with sprawling, complicated levels that are wonderful to unpack, as well as a couple of high-concept missions that you'll never forget. It's like Arkane made a sequel based on how much everyone loved Lady Boyle's Last Party in Dishonored—most of the levels here are just as good. The option to play as two characters, with their own version of the story and sets of powers, offers even more replay value.

Crucially, too, Dishonored 2 offers more non-lethal ways to play if you're not a perfect stealth player. Being able to block enemy sword attacks, get them into a chokehold, shove them over then boot them in the face, knocking them out, is the best fun. Likewise, using Emily's domino ability to knock out multiple enemies at once feels incredibly empowering. And that's just one of many ways you can play.

More action games

Hitman 2
Released:
2018| Developer: IO Interactive| Steam  | Our review 

Agent 47 has been taking contracts and knocking off targets in games for almost 20 years, but the latest in the series is his best work yet. What's extra great about Hitman 2 is that if you didn't play the previous Hitman reboot (also great), you can purchase upgraded versions of all of its levels. And if you do own 2016's Hitman, you can have those for free. For more on why we love Hitman's latest incarnations, head to our 2018 award for Best Stealth Game.

On the next page: The best RPGs, survival games, and strategy games...