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Friday, June 14, 2024

The best PC games right now

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2023 is about halfway over, and it’s already brought us a bunch of exciting new PC games, big and small: If you haven’t heard about Tchia or Pizza Tower yet, you’re about to. 

More lists

2023 games: Upcoming releases
Free PC games: Freebie fest
Best FPSes: Finest gunplay
Best MMOs: Massive worlds
Best RPGs: Grand adventures

This list is specifically our answer to the question “what new PC games should I play right now?” with picks pulled from the best recent PC games, a few old favorites we think now is a good time to revisit, and some hidden gems. It’s a reflection of what the PC Gamer team is playing right now, not a list of the all-time best games ever, although there’ll be overlap. (Our highest review score of last year was 95%. Very few games have scored higher than that in PC Gamer’s nearly 30-year history.)

For a more comprehensive list of great PC games past and present, check out our annual Top 100 list of the best games on PC. We have some fresh picks for the best Steam Deck games if you have one of Valve’s handhelds on the way. 

We also stay on top of the year’s calendar with our guide to the new games of 2023, organized by month. 

Some good news related to this list: The graphics card shortage has finally eased up, which means it’s now possible to build a new gaming PC for a non-outrageous price. We have a guide to putting together an entry-level gaming PC for around $750, and we have some recommendations for pre-built PCs, too.

Icon key

Reference these emojis to narrow down what you’re looking for in our selection of the best PC games. 

  • 💻 = Suitable for low-end PCs
  • 🙋‍♀️ = Singleplayer
  • 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️ = Multiplayer
  • 🎮 = Best with a controller
  • 🆓 = Free-to-play

What we’re playing now

These are the games the PC Gamer team is currently playing: the up-to-the-minute (or at least, month) stuff on our Steam quick launch menus. For more, check out all of our recent game reviews as well as last year’s GOTY winners

Street Fighter 6 (89%)

Street Fighter 6 (89%) 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🎮
The new Street Fighter rules, especially for newcomers: After messing about in the tutorials, character guides, and combo trials, I feel like I understand Street Fighter better than I ever have. Could my scrub days be over? (Unlikely.)

Amnesia: The Bunker (93%)

Amnesia: The Bunker (93%) 🙋‍♀️
Amnesia keeps it compact for the latest brilliant game in the series, which is set in a WWI bunker. You have one gun, and there is one monster… which can’t be killed with a gun. Good luck!

System Shock (80%)

System Shock (80%) 🙋‍♀️
A darn good remake of the immersive sim classic that reviewer Josh called “the de facto way to play System Shock in the modern era.”

Jedi: Survivor (80%)

Jedi: Survivor (80%) 🙋‍♀️🎮
Another bad PC port in a string of them, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying Respawn’s second crack at Star Wars, and patches seem to be gradually improving the performance.

Honkai: Star Rail (90%)

Honkai: Star Rail (90%) 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️
The new RPG from the Genshin Impact studio brings “impeccable visual style and strategic depth,” we said in our review. You just have to put up with another gacha game to enjoy it.

Wartales (83%)

Wartales (83%) 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️
A band of mercenaries, turn-based combat, and a grim low fantasy realm: Yep, it’s a computer game. But as our review says, don’t be dissuaded by its dreary look: there’s a “deep and richly rewarding” tactical RPG under the mud.

Everspace 2 (85%)

Everspace 2 (85%) 🙋‍♀️
We used to be sad that the great 2003 space adventure Freelancer never got a sequel, but we can finally dry our eyes: Everspace 2 is here, and it’s even better than Freelancer.

Tchia (90%)

Tchia (90%) 🙋‍♀️
One of the best open world games of this year and of any year: Tchia is “an enchanting world filled with adventure, excitement, beauty, physics-driven fun,” Chris said in his glowing review.

Terra Nil (80%)

Terra Nil (80%) 🙋‍♀️💻
Take it easy with this relaxing “reverse city builder” about tidying up environments, restoring habitats, and leaving no trace of your intervention behind. 

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty (89%)

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty (89%) 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🎮
The PC port wasn’t exactly the best it could be at launch, but things are improving, and we’re glad: “Wo Long is a master of its craft that future soulslikes should study under,” we said in our review.

Company of Heroes 3 (82%)

Company of Heroes 3 (82%) 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️
The big experimental Italian campaign is a dud, but down at the RTS layer, Company of Heroes 3 is “spectacular,” Fraser said in our review.

Pizza Tower (90%)

Pizza Tower (90%) 🙋‍♀️💻🎮
“Play as Peppino Spaghetti, the supersonic Italian middle-aged man” in this ode to Wario Land that’s better than Wario Land.

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Vampire Survivors (87%) 🙋‍♀️💻
The best value on Steam: This is a $5 bullet hell roguelike that would run on a toaster and is hard enough to stop playing that you might want a copy for your toaster. Pick it up on sale and the entertainment to cost ratio gets even more absurdly favorable.

Best of the best

These games aren’t all piping hot out of the oven, but some things get better with age. They’re the cream of the crop on PC, either scoring 80%+ in a review, winning one of our GOTY awards, or appearing on our list of the Top 100 PC games. If you just want a damn fine PC game from the past several years, check these out. 

  • Dwarf Fortress (84%) 🙋‍♀️💻 : The simulation classic now has, get this, graphics.
  • Dead Space (84%) 🙋‍♀️: A remake done right.
  • Dredge (89%) 🙋‍♀️💻: Fishing horror, a strong combo.
  • Pentiment (88%) 🙋‍♀️💻: A great, narrative-focused murder mystery set in the 1500s.
    Marvel’s Midnight Suns (88%) 🙋‍♀️: A deckbuilding tactics game and a superhero friendship simulator.
  • The Case of the Golden Idol (89%)🙋‍♀️:💻 Challenging detective puzzles with a fascinating story.
  • Elden Ring (90%) 🎮🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️: Surprise, surprise: This open world fantasy gauntlet from Dark Souls creator FromSoftware is brilliant.
  • Immortality (95%) 🙋‍♀️💻: Her Story director Sam Barlow’s latest video mystery is his best yet.
  • Teardown (90%) 🙋‍♀️: A physics-based destruction engine that would’ve been fun even if it weren’t also a genius puzzle game.
  • Grounded (90%) 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️: A survival game that doesn’t forget that games are supposed to be fun.
  • Disco Elysium (92%) 🙋‍♀️💻: Our 2019 Game of the Year and #1 best PC game for two years running.
  • Crusader Kings 3 (94%) 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️💻: The king is dead, long live the king!
  • Hitman 3 (90%) 🙋‍♀️: The art of assassination, polished as finely as Agent 47’s head. 
  • Slay the Spire (92%) 🙋‍♀️💻: The deckbuilding roguelike all others aspire to beat.
  • Minecraft (96%) 💻🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️: Build anything you can imagine, as long as it’s made of cubes.
  • The Witcher 3 (92%) 🙋‍♀️: Still one of our all time favorite RPGs.
  • Total War: Warhammer 3 (90%) 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️: A brilliant final act with the series’ most inventive and unusual factions yet.
  • Strange Horticulture (90%) 🙋‍♀️💻: A beautiful and engrossing detective game packed with mysteries, puzzles, plants, and intrigue.
  • Forza Horizon 5 (90%) 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🎮: Even a marginal improvement on the best racing series around is worth celebrating.
  • Wildermyth (90%) 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️💻: Narrative design as genetic engineering, it will live in your head like an imaginary friend.

The best competitive multiplayer games right now

Hunt: Showdown

Hunt: Showdown 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️
Quietly one of the best multiplayer games you can play today. Morgan elaborated on why last year: “When enjoyed with friends, Hunt is one of those games that seems to magically manufacture special moments.”

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (83%) 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️
Infinity Ward has again set the bar for gun design in Call of Duty. There’s plenty to complain about (the crashes, for one thing), but a lot of changes that we find fun, both in Modern Warfare 2 proper and its free-to-play companion game, Warzone 2.0 (especially DMZ, the extraction mode).

Apex Legends (93%)

Apex Legends (93%) 🆓🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️
One of our favorite current battle royale games. The map is fantastic, the ‘ping’ communication system is something every FPS should have from here on, the guns and movement are great fun (no wallrunning, but sliding down hills feels great).

Rainbow Six Siege (90%)

Rainbow Six Siege (90%) 🆓🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️
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. 

The best PC games by genre

Find our selection of the best PC games just a bit too broad? Perhaps you know you’re after a gripping story, or an intense racer, or the kind of sim you can spend a whole weekend playing like a second job. Our genre lists have curated recommendations for RPGs, racing, strategy, and more. Check ’em out:

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