90. C&C Remastered Collection
Released 2020 | Last position New entry
Andy K: Collecting the first Command & Conquer and its beloved sequel, Red Alert, this generously priced package is stuffed with some of the finest real-time strategy on PC. The remaster is great, with crisp new visuals and the option to instantly swap back to the old ones at the push of a button. But the real reason to play is the campaigns. Every mission is a satisfying sandbox puzzle to solve, rewarding creative use of the game’s varied selection of units. And the FMV cutscenes are as deliciously silly as ever.
Phil: Every year we seem to highlight a different Command & Conquer, because all of them are special in a slightly different way. (In 2018, we picked the brilliant standalone mod Twisted Insurrection, which is still absolutely worth checking out.) But the Remastered Collection feels like a definitive love letter to the series' early days, and one I imagine will be worth celebrating for many years to come. It's worth it just for the Jukebox feature—a great way to celebrate Frank Klepacki's iconic industrial tunes.
89. Legend of Grimrock 2
Released 2014 | Last position New entry
James: It's not surprising that the most Dark Soulsy game I've played in a while is basically its origin story. First-person dungeon crawlers like FromSoftware's King's Field don't get much play these days because, well, they're a dated pain in the ass to maneuver. Grimrock 2 is a perfect modernization of the genre, a frictionless, massive sprawl of puzzles and demons and dungeons that practically demand a graph paper notebook. But you don't need one because the notebook is baked in.
Robin: James’ arguments for the series during our Top 100 deliberations were so convincing I ended up finally trying the first game, after years of thinking the weird grid-based movement would be too awkward for me. I couldn’t have been more wrong—it ended up being one of the best games I’ve played this year. It’s such a focused creation, sharpening that core concept of the dungeon crawl down to a deadly point and then jabbing you every time you think you’ve mastered it. I’ve not dived into the sequel yet, but hearing that it’s even better has me seriously excited.
88. Doom 2
Released 1994 | Last position 78
Chris: This isn't just nostalgia talking—yes, Doom 2 is an influential classic, but it's still amazingly challenging and intense to play today, and not just as a history lesson. Plus, new Doom 2 mods are turning up on a weekly basis 25 years later. It's the one game you should never uninstall.
Phil: Is it cheating to highlight Doom II on the strength of its mod scene when many of its mods these days are technically for the GZDoom source port? It doesn't matter: there's so much great stuff out there, catalogued lovingly each year via Doomworld's annual Cacowards. If you're looking for a personal recommendation, check out Blade of Agony, a standalone mod that answers the question: what if Wolfenstein was a Doom game?
87. Fallout: New Vegas
Released 2010 | Last position New entry
Robin: Sure, in the harsh light of 2020, New Vegas doesn’t look or play great. It kind of didn’t in 2010 either. But even now it’s absolutely unparalleled when it comes to pure RPG freedom. The sheer amount of choice in who you can be and what you can do is intoxicating.
Jody Macgregor: My favorite part of New Vegas is the Old World Blues expansion, which plays up the B-movie side of Fallout with brains in jars and robot scorpions and a cackling mad scientist villain. While the base game focuses on the wasteland cowboy experience, letting you wander Nevada with a lever-action rifle listening to Johnny Guitar, it also nails the 1950s sci-fi side of Fallout.
Emma Matthews: I played Fallout: New Vegas just before The Outer Worlds released and it's fair to say that it spoilt me, a little. The sidequests in New Vegas were exciting, opening up narratives that felt genuinely interesting to uncover, whereas The Outer Worlds' quests felt repetitive after a few hours. I wasn't sure if anything could top Fallout 3, but I'd happily hop in and play New Vegas all over again tomorrow.
86. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
Released 2016 | Last position 84
Fraser Brown: Desperados 3 might be larger and more complex, but Shadow Tactics remains Mimimi's best stealth tactics game and a high point for sneaky, murderous romps. It takes the classic Commandos formula, conjures up even more elegant puzzles, refines everything and gives you an adorable tanuki to help with your assassinations.
Phil: Stealth games are easier now. MGS5 is a big, wondrous playground. Hitman 2 is a murderous sandbox filled with toys. But Shadow Tactics bucks the trend, and returns us to an era that demanded precision and grace. Your tools are limited in scope, forcing you to engineer the situations that will make them useful. And the patrols you're circumnavigating are fiendishly plotted, ensuring any slip up is punished. But with the quicksave key in hand, it's beyond satisfying to conquer this wilfully old-school top down sneak-'em-up.
85. Homeworld Remastered Collection
Released 2015 | Last position 83
Fraser: No other RTS—heck, few other games—come close to matching Homeworld's incredible style. The art, the soundtrack, the tragic sci-fi yarn—it's so lavish. Even the way the ships move is stirring. It's like watching a cosmic ballet. It's all so impressive that it threatens to overshadow the fact that Homeworld's also a brilliant strategy game with a tricky, persistent campaign and the best space battles around.
Tom Senior: Few studios have tried to make a fully 3D RTS, and with good reason. It's hard enough to manage grouped units on a 2D plane; the extra dimension makes it harder to read the battlefield and command your troops. Homeworld's smart UI gives you the information you need so you can focus on outwitting the enemy fleet.
84. Legends of Runeterra
Released 2020 | Last position New entry
Robin: I love how much of a step forward for online CCG this feels. That applies to the mechanics—where the best bits of Hearthstone and MTG are combined into a tight, strategic back-and-forth—but also to its business model, that does away with randomised packs and, shock horror, just lets you build the decks you want to build. I’m always finding fun new combos I want to try, and thanks to the game’s generosity, I always can.
Steven Messner: Agreed. Runeterra is a welcome reprieve from booster pack bullshit. I never thought one of my favorite games of 2020 would be a card game.
83. Elite Dangerous
Released 2014 | Last position 82
Andy K: This recently became my most played game on Steam, overtaking the likes of The Witcher 3 and even my beloved Euro Truck Simulator 2, which should give you an idea of the impact it can have on a person's free time. I don't so much play Elite as exist entirely within it, living another life in space. It's a worryingly immersive game, whether you're hunting bounties, trading, or just freely exploring its scale replica of the Milky Way. It's grindy and slow-paced, but the feeling of being there, of clawing a living out of a vast galaxy alongside thousands of other players, is a sci-fi dream come true. It's fine with a gamepad, but a flight stick really does take it to the next level.
82. Sunless Skies
Released 2019 | Last position 45
Fraser: A very British game about travelling through space on a little locomotive might have been horribly twee in another studio’s hands, but not Failbetter’s. It’s a mad and magical version of Victorian Britain transposed to the cosmos, where Queen Victoria has weird time powers and people live on floating chunks of rock—surprisingly picturesque ones—or massive space plants or steampunk metal behemoths. It makes space properly alien again, filling it with devils who were once bees, plenty of gothic horror and, appropriately, a clockwork sun, all of which could drive your crew insane at any moment—and all these oddities are elevated by some of the best writing around.
Robin: Sunless Skies is a game that operates entirely by its own logic - making progress sometimes feels like learning a language, a very particular way of talking about objectives and circumstances. It can be awkward, even frustrating, to get to grips with, but it facilitates a world where loot is as likely to be a life-changing experience as a shiny treasure, and dreams can be earned and traded like currency. From its writing, to its art style, to its mechanics, to its sometimes punishing cruelty, it’s a game that 100% knows what it is and refuses to water that down, and I respect the hell out of that.
81. Crusader Kings 2
Released 2012 | Last position 41
Fraser: There's still nothing else quite like Crusader Kings II. There's more soapy drama than an Eastenders Omnibus, and over the years Paradox has fleshed out its already gargantuan strategy RPG through dozens of expansions with changes both bold and granular. You can even dabble in witchcraft now. Its scope is ridiculous. And since all of those expansions came with even larger free updates, the base game hasn't stopped growing. It's also now entirely free. When we wrote this list, though, Crusader Kings III hadn't yet been released—so I expect it to be supplanted next year.
Robin: It’s testament to how clever Crusader Kings II is that I love it despite never actually having given much of a hoot about medieval history. On first glance it looks like dry strategy, but it’s anything but—I truly think it does proper role-playing better than any other PC game I’ve played, and I’m a huge RPG nerd.
And I love that it actually is educational. I don’t mean in the sense of teaching you the names of kings and nations from the time—you could get that from Wikipedia. By putting you in the shoes of these historical figures, it teaches you why they did the things they did. You understand the driving forces behind medieval politics, because you’re forced to navigate them to survive. I find myself oddly empathising with the seemingly cruel and senseless decisions of rules who lived hundreds of years before I was born. I think that’s fascinating.