THE best PC games are a varied bunch. From twitchy shooters with hyper-realistic graphics to quaint indie games that will make you cry, it’s the platform with the widest range of choices.
But which games are the best? We’ve trawled through Steam, Game Pass, GOG, and even the Epic Games Store to find out.
These days, we’ve even got PlayStation classics such as the brilliant God of War, on top of multiplatform monstrosities like Elden Ring. PC gaming has never had it so good.
Obviously, that wide selection isn’t always a good thing; there’s a lot of rubbish to trawl through. So think of this list as a cheat sheet – your one-way ticket to PC gaming nirvana.
Before we dive in, some ground rules: old games have to be playable and hold up to modern tastes, and franchises will generally favour the most modern iteration.
Yes, the original innovation might have happened years ago, but video game sequels are generally better than the debut title.
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So make yourself comfortable and settle in as we take you through the best PC games to play in 2022.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
It wouldn’t be a list of the best PC games without Skyrim, a game people are still playing over a decade after it originally launched. And no, they still haven’t finished it. You never really do.
Completing the main story is just the start in Skyrim. There are hundreds of secrets, locations, and little quests that you could easily miss. It’s to be expected in a game where almost every single building can be entered and explored.
Then there’s the PC modding scene, which has helped keep the game alive long after rigor mortis set in.
Whether you want to turn all the dragons into Thomas the Tank Engine or you want a new set of quests, characters, and even locations, there are thousands upon thousands of Skyrim mods to keep you playing until your hands cease to function.
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Another obvious choice. There’s a reason why Minecraft has topped over 1 trillion views on YouTube – similarly to Skyrim, it’s a forever game.
Sure, Minecraft also has a healthy modding scene on PC, but even the vanilla offering has near-endless possibilities. If you can imagine it, you can probably create it here.
From working calculators to mobile phones that can interact with the real world, people have built all kinds of creations using Minecraft’s blocks and redstone electrical currents. And when you’re not feeling creative, there’s a good survival game here too.
Football Manager 2022
It’s hard to focus when you have an entire monitor dedicated to keeping an eye on Football Manager 2022 spreadsheets.
There’s more to the beautiful game than ever in 2022. Whether it’s modelling trending tactics or simulating locker room politics, Football Manager 2022 covers the breadth and depth of modern-day football.
Sure, no one down the pub will really care how far you took Fiorentina into the Champions League, but it will still feel deeply personal to you.
Forza Horizon 5
From a simulation to an adrenaline-pumping, arcade-style thrill ride. Forza Horizon 5 doesn’t care that real cars would crumple if you drove them down a volcano. It doesn’t care because it’s fun.
It’s all about speed and straddling the edge of control.
Mexico is wide open and free to explore in a range of vehicles, from beat-up vans to the sports car of your dreams. While you’re able to jump into a wide variety of different race types, it’s more a driving game than a racing game.
Pick your favourite motor and soak up the scenery at 150mph.
Final Fantasy XIV
World of Warcraft used to rule the world of MMORPGs – those massive online games where people spend 20 hours clicking on creatures. It used to be kind.
How many other games got their own episode of South Park? Exactly.
But these days there’s a new monarch. Final Fantasy XIV has captured the hearts and minds of MMO fans around the world, thanks to how it weaves a deep and personal story into a game about clicking a mouse button for hundreds of hours.
The initial launch back in 2010 was a complete disaster, but now it’s held up as the biggest comeback story in video games. Its active player count now boasts more daily players than the entire population of Puerto Rico.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
Speaking of populations, here’s a game that’s all about increasing your supply of humans before throwing them at other countries, first with spears and later with assault rifles.
Civ VI sees you take a civilization from its birth to the near future, asking you to win by military action, scientific advancements, or cultural superiority. Erect manmade wonders and change the course of history with one of the best strategy games ever made.
Just be careful out there, Gandhi is a bit of a git.
If military dominance isn’t your thing, relax instead in this lovely pixel art game about inheriting a farm. There’s very little guidance in Stardew Valley – it’s just you, your tools, the town, and a patch of land. What you do with them is up to you.
If you want to spend your time battling monsters in the mines, that’s fine. If you want to build a pumpkin-based empire, you can do that too. If you want to just spend your nights in the pub chatting up the locals, go for it.
It’s been out a while now and has had a bunch of free updates, including the addition of split-screen co-op. Play it with your significant other and you can even get married and have a kid if you fancy bringing the stresses of reality into a game where it’s so easy to escape them.
Sure, it’s not to everyone’s tastes, but there’s no denying what an achievement Fortnite is. It’s become as synonymous with gaming as the word ‘Nintendo’, when used by that one aunty who always asked you if you were ‘playing Nintendo’, even though you had a Mega Drive.
From its pop-culture tie-ins to its ambitious live events, Fortnite has quickly become a cultural phenomenon over the past few years. Not bad for a game that was originally about building forts (!) and protecting them from creatures who attack during the night (see what they did there?).
Nowadays it’s all about the battle royale, where 100 players drop onto an island, find weapons, and fight to be the last one standing, while also showing off their characters' skins and back bling. For kids, your Fortnite costume is a fashion statement.
The Orange Box
We won’t see another collection like this again, not least because games rarely even come in boxes these days. Portal, Half-Life 2, and Team Fortress 2, all in one package. Just incredible.
Half-Life 2 still holds up as one of the best story-based shooters ever made. Portal is still among the best puzzlers. Team Fortress 2 has been ruined by cheaters in recent years, but it’s still a bit of gaming history – a team-based shooter that was way ahead of its time.
The Orange Box is a must for any serious PC gamer.
You know how role-playing games are often about magic, swords, and massive dragons? Not Disco Elysium.
This isometric RPG puts you in the shoes of a deadbeat cop (once you find his shoes) and asks you to solve a grisly murder. The only problem? You’ve got insomnia and drug abuse problems. Not ideal.
What follows is one of the best-written games ever created, weaving you through a story that talks about politics, extremism, poverty, and the function of the police.
You’re a supernatural assassin on a revenge mission on a fictional island that you can almost smell. The sense of atmosphere here is thicker than people who queue up for days for the first new iPhone.
The level design is the best in class, featuring wide, looping areas full of back alleys and half-open windows to creep through. It’s a stealth game where stealth is optional, killing is a choice, and every power you wield could carry an entire game on its own.
Boasting 6.8 million average players per month, six years after launch, it’s still high noon for Blizzard’s hero shooter.
Every single character in Overwatch is a game unto itself. Each takes dozens of hours to become fluent with, and even then you’re only scratching the surface.
Switch up your team composition and you almost have to learn each character again, taking into account the interplay between your abilities and those of the other characters on your team. It’s no wonder Overwatch is one of the most dynamic esports around.
Red Dead Redemption 2
It would have been obvious to choose GTA 5 over Red Dead Redemption 2 – both are made by Rockstar, and both are absolutely incredible. But Red Dead 2 is much more assured, more mature, and is guaranteed to leave you with a lump in your throat.
When you’re done crying about sad cowboys, there’s a realistic hunting simulation stuffed inside here, as well as an engaging online component that deserves a big update in the near future.
Metal Gear Solid V
How many other games let you crawl through an Afghanistan military base while listening to Spandau Ballet before stealing all the base’s sheep with a Fulton balloon? I’ll give you a clue: it’s none. The answer is none.
At times it might be a little ridiculous, but that only adds to Metal Gear Solid V’s charm. There are dozens of ways to approach every encounter here, and some of them include hiding inside a cardboard box in the middle of a desert. If you think about it, that’s beautiful.
The Witcher 3
Arguably, we wouldn’t have a Netflix series if it wasn’t for the success of The Witcher 3, a game that elevated its Polish source material to new heights.
Following the story of Geralt of Rivia – a genetically enhanced monster slayer who carries two swords and Jedi-like mind magic – The Witcher 3 takes you on a journey across hundreds of hours.
The main story is fantastic, but The Witcher 3 truly shines in its dozens and dozens of side quests, which are wonderfully written and often completely heart-wrenching.
Both this and The Witcher 3 might be classed as RPGs, but they’re very different beasts. Here the story takes a backseat in favour of methodical combat, a mysterious world, and more hidden areas than an Ikea.
Elden Ring is hostile and unforgiving, but that’s part of its appeal. No other game captures the same sense of elation in victory, and that’s because that victory often comes after a series of humbling defeats.
There’s also some magic in how you can often throw that aside and find a sneaky solution to bypass anything that’s giving you problems. You just have to engage your brain.
Take control of the prince of the underworld as he tries to break free from his fate and join the land of the living.
It isn’t Hades’ brilliant, fast-paced combat that makes it stand out. It’s the way the story unfolds, how the characters slowly peel back over multiple attempts to escape, progressing the narrative with every single failure.
It’s the kind of story that could only be told in video games.
Where most games these days lead you by the hand, Outer Wilds gives you a spaceship and kicks you out into its solar system.
Up there among the stars, you’ll find giant, spacefaring angler fish, black holes, and quantum moons. You’ll also die. Again and again.
This solar system is doomed, fated to be obliterated by a supernova. It’s up to you, a random alien trapped in a time loop, to figure out why and try to put a stop to it.
You’re stranded on an aquatic planet with only a crash pod and its fabricator. To survive, you have to become the biggest fish in the sea.
At the start of Subnautica, you can barely hold your breath for long. But over time, you’ll build bigger oxygen tanks, and eventually, you’ll have your very own submersibles, allowing you to explore the deeps to uncover rare materials that will eventually help you escape off-world.
Sometimes relaxing, often scary, Subnautica is the most atmospheric and immersive survival games out there.
God of War
One of the best PS4 games is now one of the best PC games, thanks to Sony’s increased commitment to bringing PlayStation classics to PC.
What makes God of War special is how it masterfully rehabilitates a character who seemed far beyond redemption. The story is simple – trapped in the land of Norse mythology, Kratos and his son head off on a journey to scatter his wife’s ashes on the highest peak in the land. But it’s the character development that really matters.
If that doesn’t sell it to you, know that your only other companion is a talking head. You decapitate it yourself.
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Written by GLHF.
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