Best PC games of all time

74 of 75

Divinity: Original Sin 2 (2017)

Larian Studios

After years of nearly-greats and not-so-goods, Larian released the game we always suspected they had in them with Divinity: Original Sin 1. The sequel continues their hot streak and is as exciting as anything that’s happened in the RPG genre for decades.

Richard: Writing about games, it’s easy to sound like a cynical bastard, especially when you are, in fact, a cynical bastard. But it’s not always true. I’m incredibly happy to see Larian Studios’ recent success. It’s a company that’s always had its heart in the right place, trying to make Ultima VII level games with some incredible gimmicks, only for struggle with the foundations, or tech, and always money.

With Divinity: Original Sin, all the pieces came together. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is even better – right up there with Witcher 3 as one of the best RPGs in years, a huge improvement in everything from story to character to AI, and a strong contender for that coveted Ultima crown*. Really, the only area it really slips up is the odd way it paths your progress around maps, often with no rhyme or reason. If the next game can fix that, and play like the more open world it likes to present, there really won’t be any stopping it.

(* Ignoring of course that no game can ever match up to the warm fuzzies of something you loved when you were 13.)

Adam: I didn’t feel quite ready to nominate Original Sin 2 but I’m oh so glad that Richard has picked it. It’s not just my favourite RPG in many years, it is, as he says, a true link to the past. But it never feels like a nostalgia act. Instead, it takes all of its inspirations and uses every modern trick (and invents some of its own) to deliver a game that is as flexible, strange and exquisitely constructed as anything available today.

I probably use the word ‘systemic’ more than any person should, particularly when I’m talking about Divinity, but it is an important word. The world of this RPG is constructed to take all manner of complex rules into account, informing everything from the behaviour of NPCs to precisely what will happen to that particular piece of scenery when a cursed fire licks against it. All of those systems seem like the heart of the game, but they’re more like the skeleton. The heart is the writing, the art, the music, all of which can either disguise those systems for those players who don’t care to know how the machinery works, or can be peeled back to allow a look at the innards.

It’s a game that weaves art and craft together superbly, relying on terrifyingly complex coding and scripting, but never neglecting storytelling and character-building. Whenever I have a conversation about it, or write about it, I kick myself later because I forget to mention one of the things that I love about it.

Is it better than my RPG fave Ultima VII? Give me another six months to think about it. It’s that close.


Top comments

  1. Ossian says:

    Very happy to see Sid Meier's Gettysburg on the list. It had such an impact on me in it's day that I am always slightly surprised/disappointed that "best of" lists never include it. Also surprised that it doesn't appear to be available anywhere least not the places I peruse to make my game purchases. I suspect it would probably stand up well today if I ever have the chance to play it again.

    First MP game I played. Single player was good, but nothing like coming up against an equally matched opponent. Or playing with a friend against a couple of other people in an larger engagement. So many tense moments.

    So glad it was included, finally!

    Also, just "finished" Oxenfree last night. Played it in a single sitting, so it was a late night, but I don't regret it. Awesome game. I usually don't like to replay games like this, but Oxenfree begs for it, and, if I'm reading things right, is incomplete without at least a second playthrough.
  2. -funkstar- says:

    Star Wars: Tie Fighter. (My favourite game.)

    I played this with my best friend for months, taking turns. Starting from the muck-with-config.sys-and-autoexec.bat 'game' to even get it to launch, then getting music working, and then general sound effects, and then, when we finally got it all running, what awaited was glorious.

    There's bound to some measure of nostalgia involved when looking 23 years back at the experience, but I still play this, occasionally. It's got some of the best music of any game I've played, and it blew me away at the time - a fantastic score, that changes dynamically according to the action on screen. The ever present possibility of getting one-shotted in a T/F makes especially the first couple of battles very tense. The control scheme and UI is a marvel, with some small, but utterly critical improvements over X-wing, such as a 3D model of your current target in the 'display' shown relative to your orientation, rather than X-wing's blue print. (And so on.)
  3. syllopsium says:

    You know, that's a damned good list. I haven't played them all, but the ones I have played are all good.

    The only quibbles I'd have is that Quake seems to show its age more than pure Doom, or Doom with the Brutal Doom engine does. Half Life (which I still haven't finished) has so far aged amazingly well, though.

    Don't get me wrong - at the time Quake was amazing, and is why I bought a Voodoo2, but I never replayed it and used mods in the way I did for Doom, or loved it as much as Jedi Knight, which I still play at times. Engines and mods to prove I've been missing out are welcome..

    Also, DOTT is good but personally I'd place Fate of Atlantis above it.

    Thank you for including Blackwell in there, it's clunky at first, but a truly outstanding set of adventure games. Epiphany made me cry, and still makes me well up. Definitely in the top 5 ever for atmosphere and writing (Planescape is up there too), and I do read quite a few books..
  1. peterako1989 says:

    By the time I complete reading it, it wouldn’t matter what I comment. I dont think people will go all the way down whene theres an everest worth of comment scrolling

    • peterako1989 says:

      BTW Dune II was my first RTS aswell

      • Kirasath says:

        Same here, had some issues playing it since i had not yet started really learning english, but i loved it anyway! and continued playing it as i started learning english and well after haha :D

        Great game, oh so many fond memories in my room with some friends trying to figure out how to beat some levels :D

    • Raoul Duke says:

      I’m gonna cynically hitch a ride on your comment up here…

      Lots of great picks on this list. Original X-COM! Civ IV (not V or VI…)! Deus EX (the good one)! STALKER: SOC!

      But then… halfway through it gets weird. Legend of Grimrock? Invisible Inc? Papers, please? Proteus?? These games are… ok. Just ok. They are nowhere near, IMHO, “best PC games of all time” territory.

      And a few others indicate that this list is not entirely serious (Google… Stick Shift… Deadly Premonition…)

      So in the end I’m not sure what to make of this. Is this meant to be taken seriously or not?

      • BooleanBob says:

        Hijacking this hijacking to thank the hivemind for not numbering their list. You’ve reduced the amount of bickering we now have to do in the comments by at least 40%.

        I don’t agree with everything (Dragon Age over Baldur’s Gate 2?) but I do agree with much of it. It’s probably impossible to even remember all the best games you’ve ever played anyway, especially when you’ve spent decades doing it for a living. So good job everyone!

      • Grumpy Trooper says:

        You have to remember that this list is made up of the games that the staff of RPS loved – their opinions of their favourite games so there is no right or wrong in this list just peoples opinions.

      • John Walker says:

        Yes, this is a list of RPS’s writers’ favourite games. Your disagreeing is welcome, but in no way undermines our sincerity.

        • Raoul Duke says:

          Well, the article says it’s “our picks for the best PC games ever made”, which is arguably a little different from just “our favourites”, but I get what you’re saying.

          Even then, I find it hard to imagine anyone sitting down to list their personal top 10 or 20 or even 50 and putting some of the titles mentioned in that list. But that’s just me.

          • Ben says:

            It also says, “All we care about are which games we love. The resulting list is personal and eclectic,” which I think covers it.

        • hfm says:

          The headline of “The Best PC Games of All Time” is misleading then. It’s an invitation to come argue about this list, and frankly there’s a lot to argue about in that list.

  2. Grizzly says:

    I am quite happy that you also asked Tim Stone for this run, and in a lot of ways this list is also what I like about RPS: It gives obscure indie titles from decades ago the same amount of reverence as the mainstream hits of today (And everything in between!)

    My favorite game of all time would have to be Need for Speed: Porsche 2000. There is however little I can say which Rob Zacny hasn’t already said.

  3. fish99 says:

    No System Shock 1 or 2 but you include Bioshock? System Shock 2 is probably better than every single game in that list.

    At least you got Thief 1/2 and Stalker SoC in there.

    • Marclev says:

      I’d have included Prey. It’s like what System Shock 2 would have been if it were made today.

      • Godwhacker says:

        Agreed, sad not to see the new Prey on here.

      • Unclepauly says:

        Except Prey doesn’t have a SHODAN.

      • GepardenK says:

        I love Prey but it’s not quite comparable to SS2. It has some issues with maintaining a sense of a real internally consistent situation that doesn’t feel like a entertainment product (relatively speaking of course, Prey is still miles better at this than most games). That tangled mess between Xerxes, Shodan and The Many in SS2 just feels so all encompassing and authentic, even today. And I say this as someone who first played SS2 a few years ago.

        Interestingly what I love most about Prey is what it did on it’s own, not what it took from SS2. I particularly love the sense of space you get by how everything loops in on itself through the spacewalking and the maintenance shaft. The level design is truly spectacular. The glue gun is great fun as well.

    • Replikant says:

      I second that. Bioshock had better graphics, sure, but overall seemed to be a shallow but pretty copy of System Shock 1/2.

      • ADorante says:

        System Shock 1 made me fail an university exam. And it has elevator muzak. System Shock 2 didn’t and hasn’t. So the first one is my personal best game ever.

        • Replikant says:

          Elevator Muzak! That feeling of “I made it to the elevator, I am saved!”. The peace of the elevator and the relaxing music are marvelous. A few moments of calm before the storm and then the doors open and you tighten the grip on your gun and creep out into the next level of the station.

          • Michael Fogg says:

            Or that shocking moment when you reach Science deck and are swarmed by the zombies the moment the elevator doors open.

    • Shazbut says:

      Apart from Stick Shift of course

  4. Someoldguy says:

    I’ve never seen RPS produce a list where so many of the games considered worthy of being ‘best’ a couple of years ago have been eased out of the rankings to be replaced by things I’ve never considered playing. I guess it must be a sign of changing times and advancing age on my part. Not all bad changes, of course. Some have clearly been ousted by superior games. It’s impossible to argue that venerable titles like Baldur’s Gate have a right to be in the list in perpetuity when modern masterpieces like Witcher 3 and D:OS2 now exist.

    Nevertheless, the list seems to be a way of stirring debate. I’ve put some hours into NMS and enjoyed it for what it was, no question, but I wouldn’t call it best in show for anything. Dune 2 gives me warm nostalgic feelings but i wouldn’t call it the top RTS. Revolutionary, of course, but surpassed by later offerings.

    If we’re inserting titles that should have featured for nebulous reasons but didn’t, I’ll plump for Life is Strange. It allowed me to enjoy a form of gaming I never had before, having always regarded the ‘interactive story’ genre as a bit crap and not really gaming up to that point.

    • John Walker says:

      The list was compiled without the notion of stirring debate being considered (beyond the knowledge that no matter what is picked, there always is some). We picked our favourite games.

  5. thischarmingman says:

    I reaaaally wish there were comments under each game, I come here for the articles, but stay for the comments.

  6. Ossian says:

    Very happy to see Sid Meier’s Gettysburg on the list. It had such an impact on me in it’s day that I am always slightly surprised/disappointed that “best of” lists never include it. Also surprised that it doesn’t appear to be available anywhere online…at least not the places I peruse to make my game purchases. I suspect it would probably stand up well today if I ever have the chance to play it again.

    First MP game I played. Single player was good, but nothing like coming up against an equally matched opponent. Or playing with a friend against a couple of other people in an larger engagement. So many tense moments.

    So glad it was included, finally!

    Also, just “finished” Oxenfree last night. Played it in a single sitting, so it was a late night, but I don’t regret it. Awesome game. I usually don’t like to replay games like this, but Oxenfree begs for it, and, if I’m reading things right, is incomplete without at least a second playthrough.

    • SquarePeg says:

      I loved Sid Meier’s Gettysburg also but I’m always dismayed when Alpha Centauri gets no love in these best of articles. It was the best of all the Sid Meier’s strategy games and a sure top 20 as best game ever for any platform.

      • Rainshine says:

        I’m with you there. I still install SMAC(X) on every computer I own, because it’s amazing and wonderful. The graphic style isn’t like some older games that I remember enjoying, but have trouble getting into now., The character of the game itself was just so amazing that all it takes is the start of any of the VA pieces and I can finish the quote, even after all this time. Sure, it’s got flaws, but I would take it over Civ IV any day of the week.

  7. zulnam says:

    The list is bugged on mobile devices. Every 2nd page it jumps two numbers ahead.

    The whole site is lackluster on mobile, though.

    Also your list is wrong because you didn’t include

    • poliovaccine says:

      That’s not happening on my phone. Maybe it’s a browser thing (I’m on Chrome, for comparison)? Or laggy loading causing you to hit the button twice?

      Conversely, in my experience this is one of the better sites for mobile I visit, in that the borders are never stretched by ads or unscaled images, things actually load within a second or two of clicking them, I’m not constantly accident-clicking ads shoved under my cursor by rascally delayed image loading, and it doesnt give me some stupid popup every time asking me to sign up for the newsletter.

    • Stijn says:

      This also happens for me, on the desktop. Using Safari on macOS.

    • AthanSpod says:

      For me it was failing to increment the number every other game (Android, Chrome as browser). This was the cause of it then jumping by 2 for the next game.

  8. Cyber Ferret says:

    RE: FF7

    Final Fantasy 7 may be a great game (although there are plenty who would argue it’s not even the best FF game) for the platform it was designed for, but it doesn’t belong on a “best PC Game” list. The PC port of this game is one of the most wretched playing experiences I’ve ever had with a game on the PC platform.

    If this was a “best video games” list, then sure–but then the list would look a whole lot different.

    • GiGinge420 says:

      HD mods really tidy the game up, making it in my opinion superior to the blocky (yet still charming) characters of the ps1 version

  9. R. Totale says:

    I’m glad the Blackwell series is on here – I don’t think I’ve ever cared about another game’s protagonists as much as I did with Rosa and Joey.

  10. -funkstar- says:

    Star Wars: Tie Fighter. (My favourite game.)

    I played this with my best friend for months, taking turns. Starting from the muck-with-config.sys-and-autoexec.bat ‘game’ to even get it to launch, then getting music working, and then general sound effects, and then, when we finally got it all running, what awaited was glorious.

    There’s bound to some measure of nostalgia involved when looking 23 years back at the experience, but I still play this, occasionally. It’s got some of the best music of any game I’ve played, and it blew me away at the time – a fantastic score, that changes dynamically according to the action on screen. The ever present possibility of getting one-shotted in a T/F makes especially the first couple of battles very tense. The control scheme and UI is a marvel, with some small, but utterly critical improvements over X-wing, such as a 3D model of your current target in the ‘display’ shown relative to your orientation, rather than X-wing’s blue print. (And so on.)

    • Replikant says:

      Those escort mission, though. You make it through all the laser fire from the rebel scum and protect all the bloody shuttles just to have the critical one blow up seconds before it enters hyperspace.

    • Dogshevik says:

      What made TIE Fighter so special was its superior mission design.

      No braindead tasks (bringeth me five shrubbery!), no series of repetetive filler between cutscenes, actual, complex and varied, multi-stage military missions that did fit into a greater picture seamlessly and created a narrative this way.

      To this day it has no equal in this regard.

    • BooleanBob says:

      While we’re pouring one out for the space-fighter, how about FreeSpace 2?

      I didn’t play it until over a decade after its release, but it didn’t feel remotely dated. It felt bold, exciting, like travelling down a path that the industry could have, but didn’t take.

      Definitely one of my all-time favourite games.

      • OmNomNom says:

        Easily my favourite space sim of all time. I remember ranting to my friends about how great it was and what it meant for future games in the genre and series…

    • OmNomNom says:

      Yep I adored this,played so much and was very disappointed when i lost the manual and couldn’t play because of the entry code thing. First game i hacked…
      Fired up a hex editor and changing values in the exe until i found one that let me in no matter what i entered. Lets face it, the Empire’s security was always lacking

  11. TheBuff1 says:

    Dune 2 with HD support and modern UI you say??! Then try Dune 2000 Gruntmods edition I say! For freeeeeeee as well!

  12. lancelot says:

    I think the standard categories might be a tad obsolete. How do you classify Arkham Knight or Mirror’s Edge Catalyst? “Open world action game” is probably the best that can be done there.

    And I’d say the adventure game list is rather obsolete as well. KRZ and To the Moon probably don’t even belong in that category, so, with the exception of Blackwell, everything else is “classics”, very unrepresentative of the modern state of the genre. While there are quite a few adventure games that really move the genre forward and are better than 95% of the “classics”.

  13. Cyber Ferret says:

    All we care about are which games we love.

    Fair enough. But isn’t the appropriate title of this article then “Our Favorite PC games of All Time”, rather then “Best PC Games of all Time?” I really enjoy David Lynch’s Dune and would watch it over Citizen Kane any day, but I’m not putting it on any “Greatest Films Ever Made” list.

    List contains No Man’s Sky as one of the 75 “Best PC Games of All Time”. I feel like if I had noticed that in the tags, I could have saved myself a lot of clicking for a list with a deliberately misleading title.

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Every “best” list is actually just a “favourite” list, because there is no objective ranking for measuring the quality of games. Some other sites might ask a larger pool of writers, or have votes and then average out scores to pick a final selection, or might exclude their own picks for what they guess ‘the public’ like at large, but those lists are still subjective (and are also often quite boring).

      • Cyber Ferret says:

        Nonsense. Every list is indeed subjective, but that doesn’t mean they have the same goals. It is entirely possible to enjoy something for any number of reasons without thinking it a better example of the craft than something else.

        By your own admission, you are deliberately disregarding craft and the relative historical impact of the games in favor of simply naming games you enjoy–which is fine. But favorite =/= best. Some of the individual entries so much as admit to personal nostalgia, rather than critical analysis, as the reason for its inclusion.

        It is possible to enjoy martial arts movies and favor them over other movies as a personal preference, without thinking them to be particularly well made movies by the criteria which we normally judge films as “good”–acting, direction, writing, historical influence, etc. It is possible to favor comfort foods over a finely prepared meal, while still acknowledging the latter as a better example of craft.

        “Favorite” should not be conflated with “best”, if the goal of the article is critique and analysis, rather than nostalgia and anecdote. If the goal is otherwise, the title should reflect that.

        • Premium User Badge

          Graham Smith says:

          Thing is, we’re not disregarding craft at all, as many of the write-ups make clear. We /are/ disregarding historical importance entirely or almost entirely, as many ‘best of’ lists do, because otherwise every one of them would end up with roughly the same set of games.

          Even if you’re judging based on craft however, that’s subjective. To use your film example: how much you value writing over cinematography is on some level subjective.

          In any case, this list isn’t “what we love, even if what we love is just comforting and a bit shit in terms of craft.” It’s, “here are the best games, with an emphasis on what we love over and above historical importance.”

          A bunch of just really like No Man’s Sky, and would argue that it is in many ways finely crafted.

          • LexW1 says:

            It’s odd that you say that, given the only reason you seem to have Sims 2 over Sims 3 is “historical importance”. It’s very hard to believe anyone who actually played both significantly would prefer Sims 2.

          • Cyber Ferret says:

            Even if you’re judging based on craft however, that’s subjective.

            We keep coming back here. I get the feeling you think I’m denying the subjectivity inherent in all artistic analysis. Not at all. But “Greatest” lists, and “Favorite” lists generally have different levels of ambition. “Best” lists are generally trying to make a critical case for why something is better than something else, whereas the only criteria for “Favorites” list is whether you personally enjoy something for any reason whatsoever–it might be because it reminds of the time you got your first cat.

            I know you want to argue this, but if I were to make a serious, non-winking case for a Cheech and Chong movie movie being a “better” movie than “Goodfellas”, you would have a certain opinion of my critical abilities. If I said a Cheech and Chong movie was one of my favorite movies because it reminds me of watching movies on late night television in the 80s, you wouldn’t think much of it.

            Clearly there is a distinction in those terms, and in the goals of comparison. They are not interchangeable.

          • welverin says:

            Calling judgements subjective is a cop out. Yes, it’s true you can’t eliminate subjectivity, but it’s the striving for and attempt at objectivity that separates critical judgements from ranting and raving.

          • Rack says:

            In your “best” list you include a game that even its advocate says isn’t worth playing. Calling this the best list seems to have gone from a parody to a joke to being wilfully contrarian and now just openly trolling.

          • poliovaccine says:

            Re: Cheech and Chong vs. Goodfellas… tit for tat, one is more ambitious than the other, so one “wins” by default, right? But in a list of “best of,” best comedies would be part of that, as in, best of type. Obviously, Cheech and Chong does not aspire to serious drama, so Goodfellas has it beat there. But it gets more laughs than Goodfellas does – only a sociopath would consider Goodfellas the funnier movie. Those differing goals are a huge part of this subjectivity they, and now I, are talking about.

          • Cyber Ferret says:

            I’ll admit, I’ve never seen more than a few minutes of any Cheech and Chong movie other than a scene where Cheech makes a joke out of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. That was pretty much enough for me.

            I was just reaching off the top of my head for an example of a movie that no sensible person would try to make an argument for being superior to “Goodfellas”. Foiled again by the internet.

        • poliovaccine says:

          It’s really not nonsense, and in fact it was pretty well explained. Insisting upon a concrete difference between “favorite” and “best” is a foregone pedantic paddle battle, because “best” is relative to its subject. The “best day ever” is obviously subjective. The “best American made car” may sound more like something derived from objective standards, but ultimately it comes down to what attributes you happen to find most important in a car – your own personal rubric. And that’s just focusing on craftsmanship and performance, not even getting into questions of aesthetics or style.

          Within a certain rubric, things can be objectively best and worst and otherwise ordered. But when the only rubric is “how much fun you have,” trying to be objective is just going to become a game of finding the average of many subjective opinions.

          Basically, I’d love to see someone’s actual idea of an objective “best games” list – and then I’d love to see if the comments that follow are nothing but a chorus of rapturous consensus and enthusiastic agreement because the list is objectively correct and everyone agrees and it can’t be argued with… or not.

          I mean, I know this quibble is going to happen every time someone on the internet makes another “best of” list, but it’s interesting the way some people will insist, every single time, that whatever given list is *subjective* while an *objective* list is nonetheless possible. This whole idea that an objectivity exists out there for everything – I dont know why that is so *necessary* to people, or how it gets to be so common.

          The general mentality reminds me of this lady in my town. She was complaining about the deer crossing signs posted along various woodsy backroads – “Why do they put the damn deer crossings in the way of the road?? Why dont they just put em somewhere out of the way instead??” It took me a minute to realize her thought process there – she just sort of thought that “they,” the state, the government, whomever, were choosing where to post these signs in order to *instruct* deer where to go. I tried to explain that the deer are the ones who “make” the deer crossings, and people just put up signs where they observe deer cross often. She was angrier for being embarrassed, so her retort was, “Well then they should *fix* that!”

          The best games/books/movies are the ones people enjoy the most. There is no objective rubric or formula for quantifying entertainment-had, there are no fixed units of fun. What gets me about this inevitable quibble, though, is that it never seems to have anything to do with the selections in particular – rather, it always seems like the folks carrying that torch are irritated by the pervasive sense of *subjectivity itself.* I think that’s a personal/personality-type thing which goes beyond just feelings about videogames.

          I reiterate: it would make an interesting challenge to try and design a truly *objective* “best of” list. Though, again, the reason it would be so interesting is because an objective list of the best videogames is an oxymoron, so far as I can see.

          • Cyber Ferret says:

            The best games/books/movies are the ones people enjoy the most.

            You might as well say that things that are more “popular” are therefore artistically superior to things that aren’t. I trust you realize the folly of that argument.

            No one is saying that artistic critique isn’t subjective, and ultimately pointless. We engage in it for the sake of the discussion and appreciation of the subject matter.

            But as I’ve demonstrated above, the concepts of personal enjoyment and serious critique are separate concepts, even if they do frequently overlap. If you want credibility in circles that take a medium seriously, you don’t conflate the two. A strip of beef jerky might be a personal favorite for any number of reasons, but you’ll sound like an idiot comparing it favorably to a well prepared steak by anyone who is really serious about food.

            My only objection was that the second paragraph in the article describes *exactly* a list of someone’s personal “favorite” games, and rejects a lot of the traditional criteria one might apply to a “greatest ever” list. I have no trouble accepting the article as a list of “stuff RPS likes”. But as a “Best of all Time” list, a lot of it is highly dubious and ill-supported. Why admit that you’ve just posted a list of personal favorites, but lead with a click-baity title, unless you’re deliberately provoking controversy?

            What I’m saying is not controversial. Read any serious critic of any medium, and they will reject the notion of “favorite=best”. “Favorite” is one thing, “good” is another, and they sometimes overlap. To deny this is to say that one cannot like something despite knowing it is bad, but still take a guilty pleasure in it. This is viewpoint of a child who thinks that canned pasta is the best, because they don’t like adult dishes yet. As they learn more about the subject and gain a capacity for nuance, their viewpoints will change, even though they might always have a fondness for canned pasta shaped like animals.

          • poliovaccine says:

            Actually no, I don’t see the folly of that argument – that is still imposing an objective standard on a subjective experience. Art critics, movie critics, book critics are all different people with different opinions. Pauline Kael wrote criticism for the New Yorker since the 70s in a way which attempted to be rigorous beyond personal standards, and it results in her absolutely trashing some films which have become beloved or which are considered exemplary forms of the craft by the majority of critics elsewhere. Critique is not an objective science, and while the most “popular” things are not always the most complex or sophisticated media you could consume, to say that stuff has objectively less merit is deliberately missing the point that some pieces of media cater to different goals. The next Marvel movie is not shooting for Gone With The Wind, and we all know that when we begin to formulate our opinions. But saying the next Marvel movie is objectively better is not, actually, some laughable folly of critique – it would be entirely a function of the critic. I do see your point, but as far as choosing “classics of cinema,” great dramas stand right alongside great blockbusters. You criticize work on its own merits, just as you say – but again, that doesn’t mean there is some objective standard. Some things are accepted as classics, but there is no objective rubric for that. Gone With The Wind would never have become a classic if nobody enjoyed seeing it. And, at bottom, all critics do not agree.

            Believe me, I understand your position, I just don’t buy it. This is not a list of purely their favorite games, but it’s one informed by the knowledge that a truly objective list is actually impossible, and so they’d rather embrace subjectivity in order to produce a list that isn’t just the same tour through the history of game development that this list is when almost any other website does it. And to say that has no place is, again, supposing there’s some genuinely objective standard to be had, when there isn’t. The classics *are* popularly determined – the classics are what’s popular with the art crowd who are bored by summer blockblusters. And again, nobody reviews the next Marvel movie in the same mentality as they write about Taxi Driver, because one is aware of the different goals of each. That subjectivity is innate, and I think that striving to excise it to the point where personal favorites mean nothing is very literally an exercise in futility. This imposition of an objective standard on the quality of art or craft is incredibly common – and it is inevitably exploded at every next innovation. Pulp Fiction angered some people, I don’t know if you remember, but some folks were absolutely incensed that this crass, violent shlock was being talked about as if it were art. Popular =/= better, no, but the two are closely related. There are no “classics” of any medium that nobody enjoys or likes. I daresay even that popularity is where being a classic starts, and only once a thing is sufficiently popular are its merits celebrated so broadly as to seem as if they’re objective.

            Criticism of art and media does not measure by anything objective. The standards of quality are subjective to critics, and while some things will be obviously held in common, that will always be because those critics *like* those things, not because they consider those elements objectively good in spite of themselves.

            Basically, if you didn’t *know* if Half Life was a classic or not, would it still be fun? Well, yeah, that’s how it got to be a classic. If you’d never heard of Star Wars or The Godfather, how would you know they’re classics? Well, you wouldn’t know what anyone else thought in that scenario, but if you like a good story told well you’ll probably like both of those. What makes a story “good,” what makes it “told well?” The primary criteria are holding our interest and engagement. That’s *as far as it narrows down.* The quintessential mark of quality, by which we attempt to define and identify quality, is subjective enjoyment. What you’re talking about isn’t objectivity, it’s just being an art snob. Hardcore Henry is my favorite “action” movie since Pulp Fiction, and I think that because it is my favorite “action” movie since Pulp Fiction, and for all the same reasons: its kinetic energy, its brisk pace, and its novel format. It also succeeds at a number of things I was told in film school to never do because they were obvious folly and couldn’t be done in the language of film. But what works is what works, and all critique comes after that in an attempt to deconstruct and understand the subjective experience of being wowed.

            Again, I do understand your point, I just don’t buy it, and I think the difference between people who do and who don’t is, as I say, a difference in types of people, beyond just what you consider quality in a videogame. It’s a left brain/right brain difference. I understand your insistence on an objective standard separating low art from high art, but I’ve put some thought into this notion before and I’m convinced that does not exist. Great art *is* what’s “popular.” There is no great art which nobody enjoys.

          • poliovaccine says:

            Btw, I do hope the irony of arguing that “nobody will take you seriously” in critical circles if your opinions are subjective, against the opinions of the critics who wrote this piece and the one who was actively responding to this thread, isn’t lost on you. Being so beholden to some abstract idea of “what will be taken seriously” is really just being beholden to popular opinion of the serious type, you realize that, right? That’s that same abstract phantom of objectivity I was talking about being so baffled by before.

          • Cyber Ferret says:

            Actually no, I don’t see the folly of that argument – […] Great art *is* what’s “popular.”

            So you’re comfortable then saying that Michael Bay’s Transformer movies are great movies simply because they are popular? Or more on topic, that the Call of Duty game X is a better game than another, simply because more people like it (as evidenced by relative sales figures?

            The entire conceit of lists like this, and this site in general, is that art can be analyzed and critiqued, the relative merits stacked up against one another. If everything is as unknowable as you suggest, then why the list title at all. Why not “Here’s 75 games for no particular reason”. Personally, I accept the premise of the article, which is why I object to its methodology and conclusions.

            To a large extent, we cannot control the things we like. Those tastes are formed early in our life, and inform us for the rest of our lives. That is why “loving” something is not a reliable metric for quality, as we are also capable of loving terrible things, and rejecting quality things because they’re outside of our comfort zone. I guarantee you that Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue is not a “worse” album than “Journey’s Greatest Hits”, simply because the latter ends up in my rotation more when nobody else is listening, and I happened to be exposed to classic rock more when I was a kid than jazz.

            We can, however, control what we apply our critical thinking abilities to, and take into account historical context and component analysis when trying assess when one thing is better than another. Unless, of course, your thought process is so lazy that you think things are good just because they are popular. Good things might *also* be popular, but they frequently aren’t. Popularity is one axis, quality is another, just as personal preference and quality are separate things that sometimes overlap.

    • John Walker says:

      I cannot think of a more tedious exercise than a list of films/games/whatever that includes entries one thinks are “better” by some elusive high-minded standard instead of ones one enjoys/appreciates/is moved by most.

      “Here’s a list of films you won’t like as much as other films, but will have to acknowledge are made to a very high standard.” No thanks!

      • Cyber Ferret says:

        The fact that one might enjoy reading Harry Potter because it’s reasonably entertaining and only requires heating up about 3 brain cells to process really shouldn’t be a barrier to acknowledging Dickens as far greater, and more important literature.

        I can’t imagine how exhausting it must be to have to rationalize why so much ambitious, challenging, and important art is actually somehow inferior to some of the dumb stuff that one might like, rather than simply acknowledge that one’s personal tastes are not a reliable metric for quality, and sometimes you prefer comfort over ambition.

        Personally, I have no problem keeping two lists of movies–one list of my personal favorites, and one list of movies I think are the greatest ever made. Some movies appear on both lists. But I no longer believe that “Diehard” is superior to “Lawrence of Arabia”, simply because I watch it more often. Also, I’m no longer 15 years old, which I find helps me to apply greater nuance to my artistic appreciation.

        • John Walker says:

          Yes, I already understood your thesis. Repeating it again in response to my pointing out how gruesomely tedious and useless the results of it always are didn’t advance the discussion.

          • Cyber Ferret says:

            If your intent is to bully and insult me until I get angry enough to cross some line in which you’ll look better banning me and deleting my comments for disagreeing with you, you should know that won’t happen. Just do us both a favor and get it over with.

          • Sin Vega says:

            He didn’t bully or insult you, he just said that repeating yourself is tedious.

          • MattM says:

            Vega, I sympathize with Cyber Ferret here. John likes to lower the level of discourse on the RPS comments and increase the amount of emotion and anger.

        • poliovaccine says:

          I feel like anything I would say now can just be substituted by quoting myself earlier: what you’re talking about is being an art snob, not objectivity.

          Nobody denies that Goodfellas is a more ambitious and sophisticated movie than Cheech and Chong. But “best” includes “best of type” or “best of genre,” because genres and their goals vary so widely that film in general cannot all be held to the same rubric. However, that is also why you see stuff like Blazing Saddles or Some Like It Hot in AFI best films lists or the like.

          Again, I repeat: I’d like to see someone genuinely produce an *objective* “best of” list, one which absolutely nobody argues with because it’s plainly objective and everyone agrees with both its reasoning and its results.

          Also, it’s not mine, but Die Hard is a lot of peoples’ favorite movie. That’s a bad example to have picked, because it’s actually a dumb schlocky action movie which is widely recognized as being one of the best of its type. In any list of the “best action movies” it would likely appear, and that makes it similarly likely to appear in a “best of” list overall. Just like Blazing Saddles might for comedy or Doctor Zhivago might for drama. Again, you’re not talking about objectivity, you’re just talking about being an art snob. We all know the difference between Goodfellas and Cheech and Chong, we all agree that one is more serious than the other, we just disagree that one is objectively “better” than the other, because “better” or “best” is a completely relative term. There are, of course, certain conventions to critique, but they change according to the genre, and the aims of the project. That’s a lot of what it means to judge a work on its own merits – as opposed to rating a space opera above a western because you find sci-fi highbrow and westerns lowbrow.

          And again, the whole irony of arguing with critics about what critics will take seriously… just saying.

          • Ben says:

            Woah there, Die Hard is not dumb and schlocky. It’s got a tight script full of set-up and pay-off, great characterisation and dialogue. Gorgeous cinematography and special effects/stunt work, a witty score that mixes in Christmas jingle and Beethoven, great performances across the board, and ground-breaking editing (people fought against McTiernan, telling him the way he wanted to edit between moving shots could not be done).

            I’m pretty much firmly on your side of the debate here, but there seems to be an assumption on all sides that people’s favourite/comfort-viewing films are bound to be trash. This is just not true, at least in my case. My favourite films all have technical and creative merit, from Back To The Future and Die Hard right down to A Goofy Movie and Freddy Vs Jason, otherwise I couldn’t watch them over and over. The Harry Potter books have a lot going for them and require more than three brain cells to be used if you’re going to catch all the hints to the mysteries and the connective tissue of the world-building. If someone says “it’s a great movie, you just have to turn off your brain,” that’s a big red flag for me; if you have to *turn your brain off* for a movie, it’s not good enough to be on any best or favourite lists.

          • Sin Vega says:

            Die Hard is indeed an outstanding film by any metric. I’ve seen very few films that were anywhere near as finely crafted or as entertaining or bold or intelligent, let alone all of the above. Just because it has explosions and shouting and creative swearing that became a meme, doesn’t mean it’s somehow less artistically valid (indeed, it uses some of its most blockbuster-y elements to subvert expectations and make scathing cultural and political commentary. While also being exciting and shooty and cool as hell). Being popular with people who have little avowed interest in “the arts” or detailed analysis of cinema etc, or who even have pretty low standards doesn’t mean it’s not also brilliant. A better example would be The Boondock Saints, which is bizarrely popular with some young American men, but is fucking terrible.

            In his day, and for several centuries afterwards, Shakespeare’s work was considered cheap peasant rubbish about cock jokes.

            The notion of “the classics” being somehow innately superior is largely a function of time.

          • poliovaccine says:

            Haha to clarify, dumb and schlocky are meant as neutral descriptors, not denigrations, and the phrasing was somewhat catered towards CyberFerret. But I agree with everything you say, which is why I tried to defend it. It isn’t popular because it has the biggest explosions, it’s popular and lasting because it’s a smart, tightly-constructed movie on all levels.

            And again, there is no “great art” which everyone hates. This talk of acceding to standards of critique, in spite of one’s own enjoyment, is really just copping to what others think.

            Ultimately, though, I feel like I failed to address the most fundamental thing: “best” is entirely relative. It’s relative to the stated goals of a thing and how much it succeeds at them. I agree, comfort media does seem like it’s getting trashed on, though it’s my intention to defend it as equally valid. Comic books have only recently been elevated to high drama in film, but now they are.

            Sin’s comment about established classics being a function of time is really the simplest, most eloquent way to put it, I think.

        • puckers says:

          Hi RPS love your work. Cyber Ferret, I want to believe that some art works are objectively better than others but I have tried and failed to convince myself of this. We would need to come up with measurable(?) criteria with which to judge. A few I can think of off the top of my head are
          time/effort spent making the art/’conceiving of’ the art before making it
          – Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds
          mastery of a skill required to create the art
          – Michelangelo’s David
          complexity/depth of the work
          – I dunno maybe Schoenberg’s pierrot lunaire? (He was obsessed with details and Numerology)

          If you can explain why Lawrence of Arabia is objectively ‘higher’ art than Diehard using measurable, objective criteria then I dunno how I could disagree. (You would also have to explain why those criteria are objectively good maybe? Like mastery is good because technology and human flourishing or something)

          Also as others have mentioned, you can’t escape the context in which you are perceiving the art which is problematic.

          Anyway my point is I have long tried to say that Bach is objectively better than Bieber but maybe they just serve a different purpose in a different time. Please convince me otherwise if possible

    • kuertee says:

      Let me add my two cents to this. And I apologise if my line of thought described below has been proposed before.

      The difference between my ideas/opinion of which game should be included in a “best PC games list ever”, any other readers’ ideas, the authors’ ideas and their editor’s ideas is: professionalism.

      My ideas don’t matter. Any other readers’ ideas don’t matter. Only the authors’ and ultimately their editor’s ideas do. They can add which ever games they want in the list. It’s their article. It’s their publication.

      HOWEVER, where it matters to us readers is the content – specifically: accuracy of content.

      If a list is published with the title, “best PC games list ever”, its content has to be or has a semblance to be (in accordance to an acceptable general and public review standard) the best PC games list ever. To be specific, the content of the list need be justified with more than a normal measure.

      I understand that “best”, “better”, “favourite”, “liked”, “good”, etc. are subjective. And that different critics will describe one subject “the best” while another will describe the same as only “so-so”. However, those discrepancies only happen in individual single review articles. When the subject is tested against others for inclusion in a “best of …” list, the size of the discrepancy will decrease to a generally acceptable margin because of professionalism. I can’t think of a respectable critic who will rank “The Room” over “Goodfellas” in a “best of films list” only because “we had so much fun laughing at Tommy W and Tommy DeV is too scary.” Would you think a list with “The Room” ranked as a better film than “Goodfellas” credible? What would you think of the critic with that list?

      Ditto with video game articles, critics, lists, reviews, commentaries, opinions, etc.

      Ultimately, the list should be considered with the given disclaimer (it’s the “PC games we most enjoyed list ever”) rather than the title. And the only defense I can think of for the use of the title is that “It’s a business.”

      But really, RPS, why not title it “Best PC games list of all time (ranked by the several hours we enjoyed playing it divided by the entire PC games industry lifetime)”? :P

    • GiGinge420 says:

      To be fair, they did link to the absolutely hilarious youtube video under No Man’s Sky that totally shows the marketing and hype did not stand up to reality, which was a buggy overpriced POS. Even with the improvements, the game $$$ean Murray was hyping really isn’t what the finished project is (and i don’t care if one of them worked on it, that doesn’t anger me, I believe they can have subjective opinions on RPS and as they say,Alec didn’t nominate/comment)

    • dawnsherearequiet says:

      It’s really baffling how many people can’t see the difference between “my favorite” and “the best in my opinion”, yeah.

  14. Replikant says:

    Hi RPS, you must be my age, at least on average. A lot of the games give me warm feelings of nostalgia and/or would have made it on my own personal list (XCOM, STALKER, Thief, Dark Souls, Portal (I prefer 1, but only because that is where I first met GLaDOS and because of the song)).
    But I would like to thank you for choosing Morrowind. It’s so strange and beautiful and the freedom was/is astonishing. Levitating over half the map for a while and then later using fortify acrobatics for the insane km-wide jumps. Really great. Oblivion and Skyrim always felt like a copy to me. And level-scaling killed any semblance of immersion in the later games. Fighting mechanics were atrocious in Morrowind, though.

  15. Carra says:

    Interesting list and quite personal of course. My list would be quite different, here are some games I would add:

    – Pharaoh
    – Rollercoaster Tycoon
    – Return to Castle Wolfenstein
    – Broken Sword
    – Starcraft / Warcraft 3
    – Hearthstone
    – Team Fortress 2
    – Anno 1602
    – Europa Universalis 4 / Crusader Kings 2
    – Age of Empires 2
    – FTL
    – Life is Strange
    – Monkey Island 2

  16. johannsebastianbach says:

    No Myst, no Best Of.

    Awaiting angry counter arguments, but my point still stands: Myst is bae (as the younglings say I head).

    • John Walker says:

      Haha! Good joke!

    • GepardenK says:

      I agree. Myst goes mostly underappreciated these days but the design of that thing is brilliant. It’s so simple and elegant in its execution.

      Through if I had to pick one it had to be Riven. It’s a completely different experience to Myst (to the point where you can hardly call it a puzzle game, the puzzles are few and it plays closer to an archeology simulator anyway), but that’s also it’s greatest strength. Nowhere else have I seen a game merge gameplay, lore and environment so effortlessly and so profoundly.

  17. Shazbut says:

    The absence of Star Control 2 from your lists is getting embarrassing.

    If you’d just sit down and play the bloody thing, you’d discover the mistake you’re making.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      Yes – a glaring omission. Top 10 material, let alone top whatever this list is.

  18. Arkteryx says:

    I always enjoy these lists but I’d enjoy them a lot more if they were formatted as 5 or 10 to a page instead of making you click for each one. Sure you can use the arrow keys but that breaks the flow of normal browsing. At the very least could we get the links to the next page above the picture instead of below it so I don’t have to hunt for it when the image size changes?

    • Cyber Ferret says:

      Those clicks aren’t going to farm themselves. You sound as if you’re under the impression that the primary purpose of this site is to deliver quality content in the most accessible fashion possible to consumers.

    • Grizzly says:

      I really like the arrow-keys based list changing, I find it far easier for browsing then arbitrary pagination.

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Yeah, there are a bunch of problems with this functionally – sorry about that. We hope to have something better soon, without the tiny wandering arrows and with better mobile functionality.

      In concept, some people seem to like this kind of layout, others don’t. I think there are advantages and disadvantages. But we’re aiming to fix the execution, at least.

      As for CyberFerret: I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the 30,000 word article you got for free.

      • Cyber Ferret says:

        I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the 30,000 word article you got for free.,

        Well, you get what you pay for. Don’t take it personally. I don’t hold you guys responsible for the commercial realities of the cesspool that is online traffic driven content. Thankfully, in the next year or so after Net Neutrality is killed, we can all watch the internet burn together, and no longer have to feel guilty about running ad and script blockers just to make content a little less abrasive and intrusive.

        Hey, you think print media will make a comeback? I’d buy an RPS magazine.

      • Rack says:

        Do RPS supporters get an option to read it in a format designed for the benefit of readers rather than advertisers?

        • John Walker says:

          Graham literally just told you that’s not the reason. It’s not the reason.

          It’s the best layout we’ve got right now, until we get a lot of the crappy behind the scenes stuff fixed.

          It’s astoundingly rude to assume Graham was lying.

      • Premium User Badge

        subdog says:

        My only issue with it is that the arrows move on the page depending on how tall the image is, meaning you have to move the mouse after each click which is a pain in the ass when trying to scroll through several pages.

        Using the keyboard solves it, but that’s a pretty ugly workaround for site usability.

        • John Walker says:

          We completely agree, and we’re working hard to fix it.

          • Arkteryx says:

            Good to hear and nice to see folks actually pay attention to comments instead of letting them fall into the void (insert net neutrality political statement here).

  19. syllopsium says:

    You know, that’s a damned good list. I haven’t played them all, but the ones I have played are all good.

    The only quibbles I’d have is that Quake seems to show its age more than pure Doom, or Doom with the Brutal Doom engine does. Half Life (which I still haven’t finished) has so far aged amazingly well, though.

    Don’t get me wrong – at the time Quake was amazing, and is why I bought a Voodoo2, but I never replayed it and used mods in the way I did for Doom, or loved it as much as Jedi Knight, which I still play at times. Engines and mods to prove I’ve been missing out are welcome..

    Also, DOTT is good but personally I’d place Fate of Atlantis above it.

    Thank you for including Blackwell in there, it’s clunky at first, but a truly outstanding set of adventure games. Epiphany made me cry, and still makes me well up. Definitely in the top 5 ever for atmosphere and writing (Planescape is up there too), and I do read quite a few books..

    • Premium User Badge

      subdog says:

      Replaying Quake these days is actually pretty great. It’s fast, grim and brutal. It takes a monstrous amount of precision and I don’t understand how I ever played it without mouselook back in the day.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Is Pip freelancing for you guys now?

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Sadly not! Articles this large take a long time to produce and Pip’s entries were written while she was still on staff.

      We’ll update list early next year with entries from Matt and Katharine.

  21. Spacewalk says:

    So, you were going to put System Shock and Ultima Underworld on the list but just forgot about it, right?

  22. LexW1 says:

    Sims 2 and not Sims 3 is utterly senseless. It’s directly analogous to having Witcher 2 instead of Witcher 3.

    Literally the only reason it’s there is that the people making the list clearly hadn’t played Sims 3 much. Sims 3 is a superior and more important game in all regards.

    • Cyber Ferret says:

      Heh. Just to drive home a point from elsewhere in the thread, I actually enjoyed the Witcher 2 more than TW3, even though I recognize that on balance, TW3 is a better game in most respects. Aspects of TW2 appealed to my personal sensibilities a bit more, and I had become a bit fatigued with the setting and character by the time TW3 rolled around. It led me to really stumble on some of the third game’s pacing issues (seriously, are we still looking for Dandelion? –I’m pretty sure I’m beginning to hate Dandelion, and at this point would be happy to kill him myself in order to advance the story)

      I am capable, however, of separating my personal tastes from my critical appraisal, and recognize the leaps in sophistication of writing, mechanical polish, and visual spectacle the third game has over the second. I just can’t make myself love it. It doesn’t stop me from recognizing it as one of the best CRPGs ever made, whereas TW2 is a game I really enjoyed at the time I played it.

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        I enjoyed The Witcher much more than The Witcher 2, which stems from expectations, wanting more of what I liked in The Witcher: combat, music, enemy/environment variety. The Witcher 2 also felt mostly dark all the time, while The Witcher had more variety in moods.

        The only real complaint I have, besides them not including VtM: Bloodlines, is seeing Dragon Age Origins there, which is clearly inferior to Knights of the Old Republic. I played DA:O wanting more of what I liked in KotOR and it gave me that, except when it came to combat and music. The grindy combat made me hate it and the lack of atmospheric music couldn’t lessen that emotion. I did very much enjoy the huge amount of voice acting and dialogue choices, though.

        My time with DA:O is a bit like The Witcher 1/2 experience above, except that The Witcher 2 is much better than most other games, especially DA:O, despite being a few steps below The Witcher.

        • Cyber Ferret says:

          Again, important to point out that I think TW3 is clearly a better game.

          The original Witcher is not, though. I took several attempts to make it through that slog and bounced off every time. I appreciated the ambitious text trees and interesting character concept, but it was mired in gameplay I found off-putting, and interminable stretches of tedium. In fairness this was probably due to technical constraints of the engine they used and lack of budget, but a barrier all the same.

    • poliovaccine says:

      While I don’t agree with your reasoning, I absolutely agree with your conclusion. Sims 3 > Sims 2 in every way I can think of.

  23. welverin says:

    Ultima 6, for basically the same exact reasons Adam picked Ultima 7. Probably as well simulated world as could be built at the time. With an open world before we called them such.

    Using the Orb of the Moons to travel to the Gargoyles home early in the game only to fund out they weren’t the monsters you were led to believe really affected my perception of things going forward. I just wish the game was able to allow you to change how you interacted with them instead of the rigid enemy/not enemy types they had.

    I find it endlessly disappointing that 27 years later developers still fail to do things Origin did in 1990-92 with Ultima 6 & 7.

  24. poliovaccine says:

    This is either my own personal best of list, or else it’s games I havent played – those are the only two categories.

    The fact that this list includes New Vegas, but not FO3 or FO4, and Morrowind, but not Oblivion or Skyrim, just serves to remind me why I read RPS: I tend to trust their judgment cus I have that same judgment largely in common. As critics and a buyers’ guide, this place is basically bespoke to my needs.

  25. Spider Jerusalem says:

    Don’t have many squabbles with the list. Good list. I am somewhat puzzled by the adoration that Edith Finch gets, but such is life.

  26. FogRender says:

    No Command & Conquer ?

    • BooleanBob says:

      Shall we make this the RTS sub-list? My favourite is Company of Heroes.

      The RTS vs RTT debate will rumble on, but either way Relic contributed so many mechanics that pushed the genre to new heights: directional damage, the covering fire/suppression system, infantry squads, and a huge list of units which weren’t just rock-paper-scissors counters but often had interesting ways to interact with the battlefield for strategic benefit: building emplacements, bringing down buildings, even creating improvised cover by tearing shell-holes out of the Earth.

      It has visuals and sound design that still impress a decade later, and some of the very best voice-over work in all of gaming.

      • poliovaccine says:

        Personally, I could spend some time in the RTS sub-list, but your remembering Company of Heroes makes my Empire Earth submission feel weak as hell in comparison.

  27. Stijn says:

    I find it hilarious that Fallout: New Vegas ends up on a number of these “Best Ever” lists while RPS’ review of it was so controversially negative. Of course there’s the benefit of hindsight, and different people have different tastes, but it’s still a funny contrast.

    • Edski says:

      New Vegas was way closer to the original games in scope and structure than 3 or 4. I didn’t think much of 3 or 4, but loved New Vegas.

    • Rack says:

      Quinns is an amazing writer and video producer but he doesn’t half have some odd opinions from time to time.

    • Cyber Ferret says:

      If you think that’s hilarious, what about the fact that common RPS hive-thought has always been that the sequels to KOTOR and Bioshock were superior games than the originals, but that doesn’t seem to qualify them for entry on this list in lieu of the originals. Or that on their “Best RPG” list there are fully 10 games ranked higher than Dragon Age:Origins, yet somehow being a “worse” RPG than those other games still makes it an all time better game…?

      It’s almost as if these lists are just nonsense they’re pulling out of their ass as they go, hoping to farm clicks and get chumps like you and me to argue about them.

      Well no more for me, thank you. I’m not failling for that…except maybe to say…DRAGON AGE : ORIGINS??? SERIOUSLY? No Baldurs Gate 2, but Dragon Age: Origins? I will burn this place to the ground!

      I feel better now.

      • Premium User Badge

        Graham Smith says:

        “It’s almost as if these lists are just nonsense they’re pulling out of their ass as they go, hoping to farm clicks and get chumps like you and me to argue about them.”

        Please stop saying this. There is no intent to create controversy or anger people. We asked our writers what they thought the best games were, they wrote down their answers.

        Different lists have different authors, thus explaining the difference in opinion. That is all.

        As we say in the article, our hope is that people will skip tedious arguments in the comments in favour of sharing something *they* think is the best.

    • poliovaccine says:

      Yknow, I’ve been tempted to never let RPS live that one down, but ultimately I figure, yknow, like you say, hindsight. The game doesn’t yield up as quickly or easily as many other games do, so you can maybe see why someone reviewing an open world game (the scale of which they have no idea beforehand, and which is huge and dense in variables anyway) on a schedule would skim over a lot of the depth. I’ll give em that one. I mean, it didn’t take me long to decide that was the shit that was gonna get me back into gaming after a decade-plus-long hiatus, but YMMV.

      But yeah, I do remember that from time to time as a black mark in RPS history. I hate to say it, because I hardly mean to cast aspersion on the author in particular, but I mean… Krishna on the cross, man, what were you thinking??

      • Cyber Ferret says:

        Say what you want about Quinns diverging from popular opinion on that one, but the site would still be better is Quinns was still writing for it. I miss both he and Kieron deeply. They were both a big part of what drew me to RPS in the first place, back when it really was producing the
        kind of content
        I couldn’t find any place else.

    • Premium User Badge

      subdog says:

      Eh, that’s why the reviews are called “Wot I Think” and not “Wot RPS Thinks” (those are called Verdicts)

  28. Edski says:

    ‘Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday’ should be in the top 3 RPGs. Top 10 minimum. Disgraceful.

  29. Crais says:

    Really enjoyed the list. Made me a little sad that Mass Effect didn’t make the list.
    It was my Ultima VII.

  30. fuggles says:

    Some unusual choices! No freespace 2 though, which makes me sad – or outcast the 57th best game ever.

  31. Seyda Neen says:

    Pleased to see The Last Express there. Wasn’t expecting it, but damn, what a good game.

  32. Ghostwise says:

    The link to the Diablo II mod discussion in the RPG discussion isn’t enabled – no URL.

    Still, you have quite a treasure there in that Horadric selection.

  33. Calibre says:

    no SOF, Operation falshpoint or joint ops unbelievable Jeff

  34. Mungrul says:

    Dungeon Master is better than Grimrock, and can be played for free:

    Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate Grimrock and its sequel for what they are, and more importantly, for reminding the gaming world at large that the formula Dungeon Master pioneered is still relevant today.


    Dungeon Master’s RPG levelling system was better, and I would argue is one of the best computer RPG systems ever made. It was one of the best “level by doing” systems, and isn’t as hilariously imbalanced as the Elder Scrolls ones, which are the closest modern games get to Dungeon Master’s.
    Let alone which, unlike Grimrock, Dungeon Master allowed for effective multi-classing.

    Dungeon Master’s magic system makes the one in Grimrock look anaemic by comparison. Hell, it makes any magic system in any RPG that isn’t Dungeon Master look anaemic by comparison.
    Although I am quite fond of the one in Arx Fatalis, which seems like an attempt at an evolution of Dungeon Master’s.
    But even that doesn’t allow for the level of nuance that Dungeon Master’s did.
    Look, this is obviously an objective, indisputable fact: Dungeon Master has the best magic system in any RPG ever, and that’s that. I’ll fight anyone wot says any different.

    In all seriousness though, Dungeon Master is now thirty years old, is still playable on modern hardware without any faffing about, still looks pretty damn good, and most incredibly, has a mouse-driven user interface that is clean and well enough thought out that it is still intuitive today. That is positively remarkable.


    • poliovaccine says:

      You might have just sold me with the portcullis thing.

    • syllopsium says:

      Thanks for that, I’ll be checking it out

    • hfm says:

      Dungeon Master was one of the games I bought along with my Amiga 500. Will never forget how fun that game was. Truly ground breaking.

  35. fenriz says:

    i think i don’t care to discuss something that’s important “to me”, that’s personal. If i discuss it’s to try and convince people that what i say is undeniably true :)

  36. Titler says:

    Reading further and further into this list, trying to grasp the irritating itch in my mind about what seemed off about the decision process, I finally hit on what it was; This is a collection of games that doesn’t have any examples outside of main stream successful genres that are still extant today.

    RPGs, FPS, Flight Sims, Quirky Indies all there yes… but no one at RPS seems to like genres that aren’t well known today. Think of all the missing genres that still are around, but don’t get much attention; SHMUPS, either vertical or horizontal. Side On Adventure games. Thinking about it, there were no sporting games except E-Sports like MOBAs either; So despite there now being Sociable Soccer for PC, there’s nothing like Sensible Soccer on the list…

    Was that ever on the PC? Is this because I’m just getting old, and the whipper snappers don’t remember an age when gaming was pre-PC and these genres were huge? But original Doom is there on the list, so we’re talking 486 years … And Dune 2 is too, which was better on the Amiga.

    Is this just a case where RPS matches what came to dominate on PC, because they love the same sort of things? But then, No Man’s Sky is on the list, so it can’t be mainstream conformity, yuk yuk. One of them did work on NMS though.

    But then I tried to ask myself what the last, non-emulated classic of any of the missing genres I played was… and you know, I can’t think of one either.

    So maybe the niggle is that this article made me realise just how powerful taste-shaping is in the industry. There’s no reason I couldn’t check out more modern SHUMPs … but I never do. Most of us don’t seem too?

    Or maybe I am just feeling really old. “But… but … R-Type? No one mentions R-Type any more.” Sniff etc.

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      I love Sensible Soccer and SWOS, and some FIFA games, and Football Manager. Some iteration of all of them would likely be in my top twenty and of the 8 or so PC Gamer Top 100s I did,I think I got SWOS and Champ Manager into all or almost all of them. But my tastes have changed and some of those old loves have faded away, replaced with new things that excite me more.

      There are certainly blind spots on the team when it comes to certain genres, though. At least in terms of preferences.

  37. Couchfighter says:

    Quite strange that there is no sign of ‘Diablo-like’ ARPGs anywhere in this list. No Diablo, PoE, TitanQuest, nada.

    Otherwise, I found myself nodding in approval on a lot of these picks.

  38. mpk says:

    I am surprised at how many games on this list are from the last few years – I would have expected a “best of all time” to include far more nostalgia.

    That said, I am also grumpy because I no longer have the time to play games as I once did, so have missed out on pretty much all of the more recent titles.

    But at least you covered all my bases – Doom, Half-Life, Portal, EVE. Even if I’ve played more XCOM than I ever did X-Com, you’ve still accounted for thousands of game hours from my lifetime.

  39. Shazbut says:


  40. wonderingmonster says:

    Thumper. The way the game assaults your senses is both exhausting and immensely satisfying. I had to develop a Zen-like calm to be able to do the S-ranks. I love the musical flow and polish of its levels.

  41. syllopsium says:

    I’m a huge Ultima fan, but do agree with not including Underworld in the list. It’s still a decent game, but the viewport is small, and the interface is incredibly painful by modern standards. Ultima 7 by comparison just has annoying inventory management (especially keys if you’re not using Exult)

    Grimrock I enjoyed but am finding difficult – killed quickly by the knights. Any advice on this is welcome, I wish it was more turn based.

  42. bacon seeker says:

    Some good games on this list, especially the RPGs. I would have picked some additional ones:
    System Shock 2 and Prey for immersive sims;
    Shadow Tactics and Mark of the Ninja for stealth;
    Homeworld, Starcraft, and Dawn of War 2 for RTS;
    plus Medieval 2 Total War and Sins of a Solar Empire when you factor in mods;
    Europa Universalis 4 for grand strategy;
    Distant Worlds for sandbox strategy;
    Hollow Knight for metroidvania;
    Beyond Good and Evil for adventure;
    XCom2 for turn-based tactics (although other platforms/emulation do better here)

  43. icarussc says:

    So delighted to see Proteus on here! It’s a truly beautiful experience.

  44. R. Totale says:

    I’m just gonna list off a bunch of my favourites that aren’t on this list:
    Silent Hill 2
    Yume Nikki
    LISA the Painful
    Space Funeral
    Hotline Miami
    Cave Story
    Her Story

  45. khaoselement says:

    Was reading this and having a blast until I saw No Man’s Sky.

    Nope. I’ve played the updates…it’s still a pretty garbage game. There are literally thousands better than it. “Best of the games one of us worked on so we have to promote it.”

    • John Walker says:

      I was going to delete this, because it’s just so fucking rude, but I think I want to leave it to hang instead.

      What an outstandingly rude and unpleasant remark. Guess what – when we asked our writers to write a list of their favourite games, in private, some picked NMS. Obviously Alec didn’t vote for it, and those who did couldn’t care less whether he was involved. They picked it because they loved it. And that you did not has not a pubic hair of relevance to our including it.

      • Umama says:

        I completely agree that NMS should be on this list, and I certainly do not think it was included as promotion because Alec worked on it. I do find it quite tiring when dumb allegations are made that RPS is being paid for reviews, etc.

        That being said, I believe most if not all of your previous articles on NMS have included the usual disclosure that Alec worked on the game. Is there a reason this disclosure is not included with the NMS entry on the list?

    • Sin Vega says:

      “Best of the games one of us worked on so we have to promote it.”

      Everything John said above, but also: if those were the criteria, the sensible thing would have been to pick Sir You Are Being Hunted instead, as it was far more closely tied to one of the RPS founders, and vastly less controversial than the free-swarms-of-screeching-g4m3rzz-with-every-mention No Man’s Sky.

      So, y’know. Maybe dial back your froth and remind yourself that conclusions are supposed to be where you end up, not where you set out from.

    • hungrycookpot says:

      I’m not saying it’s on there because RPS was involved with it, but I do agree that NMS was not the best of anything. I mean if we’re doing a “best of all time”, I would absolutely rank Spore above NMS in every single category that NMS even vaguely stands out as, except walking simulator and even then a little bit. I think this article is in reality more of a “Favorite Games In Recent Memory of Some Of Our Writers of All Time”

  46. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    I love seeing hardcore indies like Bernband and Strangethink make the list, and also great to see an indie like Oxenfree that RPS came late to the party on end up in the Best Ever company.

    Things I expected to see that didn’t make the cut:
    TIE Fighter, any Dark Forces/Jedi Knight, Privateer, Ultima Underworld, Ultima Online, Gone Home, Firewatch, Dear Esther, System Shock 1/2, any Far Cry, any Monkey Island, Psychonauts, any Mass Effect, Mountain, Wolfenstein TNO, Undertale, Frog Fractions, Her Story, Tex Murphy, Shadow Tactics, Overwatch, Torchlight, Walking Dead 1 and probably countless others.

    I also wish any of the Sherlock Holmes and/or Telltale Sam and Max games made the list just to read John’s dissent. Instead I’ll settle for his responses to some of the worst comments.

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Of your list, I was *so* close to putting a Far Cry game on mine. But then I couldn’t decide between 2, 3 and 4, and I dislike parts of all of them so much, that I decided against it in the end.

    • GiGinge420 says:

      I literally just signed up (Hi RPS LOOOONG time reader) to second (loudly) subdog’s nomination for inclusion of Wing Commander Privateer, at least I guess that’s the game you mean since I cant think of any others called Privateer! (plus your list of games missing from the RPS list matches mine quite closely). Goes back to nostalgia, I guess, considering how many hours I spent on it as a kid on my grandpa’s PC. It took me to a massive universe full of potential in a way no other game had. I still play it to this day, and think the (for its time) groundbreaking graphics and sense of being a small cog in a larger universe stands up to modern versions of the same thing such as Elite Dangerous (and yes, controversially, I would consider Privateer to be a better game than the original Elite). Also, discovering the most profitable drug smuggling route was immensely satisfying, especially when you realise that fully upgraded engines mean you can just afterburn away from any Confed patrols you can’t handle. I love me some smuggling (I’ll smuggle the hardest, most dangerous and most profitable drugs, but for some reason people smuggling and slave trading was a step too far and I never did it on principle. Go figure). There’s also an 8 system run through Kilrathi space that is hard as nails but fun to try.

      *disclaimer* I am a total mark for Chris Roberts games lol

      As for the main list itself, considering it’s so subjective I found myself totally agreeing with about 90% of it (which is no mean feat) and really enjoyed the read, was gratifying to see my favourite recent games like Edith Finch in there with classics like Half-Life 1 etc. Edith Finch is a game that will stay with me in so many ways.

      Also, I now want to go and replay about 20 games again, so thanks RPS for clogging my diminishing spare time with old games when I have so many great new ones to play!!

      • Premium User Badge

        subdog says:

        Right on, man. I even use the Privateer protagonist as my GOG avatar.

        Can we agree that Privateer 2 was a massive disappointment?

  47. michelangelo says:

    Been said, but gonna add to that, a list full of games I didn’t play, but I’d love to once. And from those I did, Witcher 3 is the only one, which would make it to the TOP only, if that TOP would be dedicated strictly to landscape visuals. And man, 3th Witcher’s landscapes, and monster designs are pure pleasure.

    But in this lists company, it’s just the game that made me fell into sleep while playing. Way the story and characters were executed is a huge step back from books, and predecessor games as well. Lines in their mouths are peoples lines, that’s great, but their motivations, “war context” and plot was just terribly underplayed. I did like stuff I thought of as “could be” instead of what I was actually playing. Who was not crippled, was actually Geralt and some of my sympathy went toward cynical Avalach. Ciri was the other pole, the dumbest incarnation of this character, which I wouldn’t even say is possible to create based on her roots in literature history. Yet it happened. It made me game sick for quite a while as a result ))

    If Witcher, then 1st, or 2nd one. 1st for the decent story, 2nd for doing pretty much everything else better.

  48. Premium User Badge

    zapatapon says:

    I like the list, certainly thought-provoking.

    I regret that there are no more puzzle games though. Sure, Hexcells (and Portal 2). For all the appreciation I have for John’s opinions, I often regret that his love of puzzle games seems quite focused on very specific types of puzzles. So many others have left a deep and long-lasting impression on me: Braid, The Witness, The DROD series, Steven’s sausage roll, Tetrobot, and let’s include the Talos principle for good measure.

    Each individual one of these titles has opened an entirely new world to me, in which narratives, thoughts about the world, and mind twists are communicated through puzzles more efficiently than through words. Each of these games have guided me through a path of self-discovery, brought me memorable moments, and left me in awe for the designer’s craftsmanship and creativity.

  49. Jason Moyer says:

    I would happily trade a good chunk of that list for more Looking Glass, Black Isle, and Obsidian games and *anything* from Arkane.

  50. Nauallis says:

    Fun list!

    If nothing else, this list is an exemplification of how wildly different each gamer’s experience can be. I’ve never even heard of about 1/5 of the titles on this list… and it’s difficult to think of bests/favorites without forgetting that many of my personal favorites would be considered “console exclusives” (Horizon Zero Dawn, Final Fantasy Tactics, Halo: Reach).

    That said, I feel obligated to shout out to:

    Starcraft 1 & 2 campaigns
    Dawn of War 2
    Heroes of Might & Magic 2, 3
    Diablo 2
    The Marathon Trilogy (over any doom game, any day, ever)
    Civilization V (c’mon, it’s better than IV)
    Dead Space
    Far Cry: Primal