Released 2011 | Last position New entry
Wes: I paid 10 bucks for Terraria nine years ago, played many hours of it, and was satisfied. It's surreal to go back to it in 2020, after its last (free) major update, to find the same compelling crafting and exploration expanded with literally thousands of items, massive bosses, and secrets I have to read a wiki to find. Those additions long ago distinguished Terraria from being a 2D Minecraft clone, but it's still staggering just how much awaits discovery in this humble-looking game.
Released 2018 | Last position New entry
Fraser: I could build mechs all day. There’s something very calming about putting together titanic killing machines. Sticking jetpacks on axe-wielding behemoths, swapping out piddly little lasers for armour-melting super cannons—it’s not a bad life. The battles are great, of course, but I’m always excited to get back to the garage so I can tweak my lance.
Jorge: Battletech has everything I want, space politics, giant mechs, and the never-ending existential dread of trying to keep my band of mercenaries from going bankrupt.
Evan: Post-launch updates filled in what was a somewhat shallow sandbox at launch, making Battletech a more varied campaign game. But what stands out two years later is the fundamental, pugilistic style of fighting that mechs promote as unique vehicles. Unlike the many zombies, helicopters, spiders, and goblins we fight in videogames, mechs can take a hit. The slow death that mechs experience, their bruises, their limps, their shattered limbs—it's a metallic boxing match that plays out over big battlefields. And like boxing, the knockdown and the knockout are the biggest moments.
28. League of Legends
Released 2009 | Last position 26
Steven: League of Legends defined esports, but even 11 years on it also continues to be a ridiculously fun and challenging game. Recent changes in season 10 make matches even more dynamic and unpredictable in a good way, and Riot's aggressive balancing keeps the competition fierce.
Fraser: I’ve played one game of League of Legends and that was enough for me. Teamfight Tactics, on the other hand, has somehow managed to get its hooks in me deep. I never make good builds, I can never find the characters I need, I get progressively more drunk and frustrated every time I play, and I love it.
27. Alien: Isolation
Released 2014 | Last position 23
Andy K: The best horror game on PC—and a pretty great stealth game too. Your alien adversary is unpredictable, dynamic, and adaptive, which makes it a terrifying thing to have stalking you from the shadows of Sevastopol. And the space station’s hard-edged sci-fi aesthetic, inspired by the 1979 movie, is to die for. Literally, if you spend too long standing around admiring it.
Tom: I love the chunky bulkheads and spectacular lighting of the station. The Alien is still magnificent, of course, and it's still so refreshing to match wits with the huge, near-immortal Xenomorph from the first film. I think it overstays its welcome by a few hours, but that's a small complaint when the run up to the finale puts you through increasingly terrifying scenarios. Shout out to the Working Joes, the androids who give you something else to worry about when the Alien decides to go hunting elsewhere on the ship.
26. What Remains of Edith Finch
Released 2017 | Last position 11
Rachel: What Remains of Edith Finch is a collection of strange, fantastical tales about the doomed Finch household. As the last living member, Edith has returned to the family home to discover her relative's hidden histories, exploring each of the family's many rooms to find out how each member met their unfortunate end. It's a first-person narrative adventure that tells surprisingly woeful vignettes in an artful and gentle way.
Andy K: This is the only game I love that I’ll never play again. One moment in the story hit me so hard that I don’t think I can go through it again, and so that original playthrough will remain my first and last encounter with the game. But I still think anyone who values story in games should play it, because it tells its tale of an eccentric family in a wonderfully clever, elegant way. The Finch household is an incredibly evocative place too, stuffed with secrets and subtle details that help flesh the story out.
Tom: There's something quite magical about Edith Finch's anthology of tragedies. It gets dark at times, but I came away strangely moved by the game's presentation of a strange family that lives in the weirdest house ever. The tag 'walking simulator' used to be an insult, but time and again we can see that it's a good format for storytelling.
25. Rainbow Six: Siege
Released 2015 | Last position 16
Harry: Rainbow Six Siege is both complex and beautifully simple. On the surface, all you need to do is capture/defend your objective, so beginners can quickly grasp the aim of the game, but veterans with thousands of hours clocked can still find plenty of ways to improve all the way up to professional level.
With guns that can end your round with one bullet and hundreds of tactical micro decisions needing to be made during its many intense moments, I often need half an hour to calm down after a session. Recent new operators and revamps to some of its labyrinthine maps have been strong, too, but the battle against toxicity and bugs isn't over.
Evan: Ubisoft deserves praise for sustaining a game like Siege with continuous meaningful updates despite not being a studio with a ton of institutional experience making competitive multiplayer games. Now a five-year-old FPS, Ubi continues to disrupt Siege's meta with experimental new operators (Iana, one of my recent favorites, spawns a holographic copy of herself that she can pilot around) while still making a lot of time to renovate big (and often boring-but-important) systems and old maps, demonstrated again very recently.
24. Persona 4 Golden
Released 2020 | Last position New entry
Robin: This iconic JRPG boasts all the usual tropes: dungeon crawls, turn-based battles, attacking and dethroning God, etc, but it’s in the mundane, not the supernatural, that it really grabs you. It’s got a wonderful sense of place, its Japanese countryside town utterly evocative and authentic as you progress through the seasons. What really sticks with you is its lovable cast of characters, a tight-knit crew of goofballs and misfits that form one of the most convincing and endearing friendship groups in games.
Wes: Years before it was on PC I spent a good month playing Persona 4 in bed nearly every day, getting to know its great group of characters. The fanbase may overhype how truly interesting they all are, but the slow burn nature of Persona 4 lets you really live with them, and get to know them to a degree that few games can match, as you spend days just hanging out by the river talking, going shopping, or eating beef bowls. So many beef bowls. All the rest of the JRPG stuff is fun too, but really, Persona 4 is just a great teenage friendship simulator.
23. Return of the Obra Dinn
Released 2018 | Last position 8
Wes: There's no better feeling than noticing some tiny detail—could that really be a clue?—and being rewarded by Obra Dinn's enthusiastic burst of music when properly guessing how one of these sailors met their grisly end. Just pay attention to everyone's shirt, is all I'm saying.
Rachel: Lucas Pope's haunting detective game makes you witness things that have only existed in the gossip of sailors. Its bleached 1-bit visuals invite players to look a little closer before a chilling realisation sinks in. It's one of the best mysteries on PC, and if becoming an expert on all the different crew on a merchant ship from the 1800s sounds like fun, this is the game for you.
Phil: I love talking about Obra Dinn with other players—discovering the slightly different ways we all came to the same conclusions. It's a clear sign of mastery when a mystery lets you arrive at difficult revelations from a number of different directions.
22. Total War: Three Kingdoms
Released 2019 | Last position New entry
Steven: Total War has explored several important historical periods, but none of them feel as fully realized as Three Kingdoms. That's because Three Kingdoms' emphasizes the characters that defined that era of Chinese history, making for a dramatic and fun strategy game with a lot of wonderful little flourishes and quirks. I love how factions are now defined by the personality of their leaders, like the conniving Cao Cao or the aging dignity of Liu Bao, and how that focus on personality also makes diplomacy actually matter over the course of a campaign. Instead of fighting faceless factions, you're sitting down with enemy generals with their own stories, motivations, and weaknesses, and it makes the battles feel all the more intense when they're the result of interpersonal conflict between warlords.
Fraser: Right out the gate, Three Kingdoms was already a strong contender for the best Total War game, and since launch Creative Assembly have only added more to make it stand apart from the rest of the series. Expansions have introduced new campaigns that slot neatly into the regular campaign, fleshing out the timeline with more events and factions without making it feel bloated. The phenomenal campaign is now even better, then, with a greater variety of starting scenarios and a bunch of new factions with unusual mechanics. Even without that, though, you won’t find a more polished or better looking Total War.
21. Final Fantasy XIV
Released 2013 | Last position 28
Steven: If there's one MMO you should play in 2020, FF14 is it. The latest expansion uses years of careful character development and world building to deliver a dimension-spanning gut-punch that rivals the series' best, and I really enjoy how FF14 tells such a coherent yet expansive story. But FF14 is just a joy to play. It's classes are distinct and fun, and dungeons and bosses are so unique and well-crafted that I don't mind running them over and over again for new gear.
Tom: This game properly has its claws in me now. As a fan of Final Fantasy, it's great to see old archetypes return—it even has its own version of Biggs and Wedge. It takes ages to get going, but when I started hitting the dungeons at level 20 I knew I was in for the long haul. The malleable class system is great too, and I admire the way the game doesn't overwhelm you with skills before you've learned the purpose of your class. As a tank I successfully pulled a green dragon off puddles of poisonous goop as my companions battered it into submission. I felt like a hero.