Best PC games of all time

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best-pc-games-ever

There are more wonderful games being released on PC each month than ever before. In such a time of plenty, it’s important that you spend your time as wisely as possible. Thankfully, we’re here to help. What follows are our picks for the best PC games ever made.

You can navigate this article using the arrows under the header image on each page, or using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

When we say, “our picks,” that’s exactly what we mean. We’re not interested in building a canonical list or paying heed to ‘important’ games in the history of the PC. All we care about are which games we love. The resulting list is personal and eclectic, includes some traditional classics and excludes many more, and is listed in chronological order. That means there’s no ranking system, so you won’t find one game sitting above all the others on a big throne. They all get a throne.

Don’t see a game you love on the list? Let us know in the comments why you love it, why you still play it, why it’s important to you.

There’s also a good chance your favourite game is on one of our previously published genre-specific lists. Those are linked below, so you can open them for reading after you’re done with this new feature.

Best Strategy Games
Best FPS Games
Best RPGs
Best Horror Games
Best Stealth Games
Best Adventure Games
Best VR Games
Best Puzzle Games
Best Free Games
Best Co-op Games

The article you’re reading right now is concerned with the best of the best, however. Let’s celebrate PC games in all their breadth and glory. Press the arrows underneath the header image, or the right arrow on your keyboard, to begin.

168 Comments

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 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.
  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.)
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    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. cpt_freakout says:

    I love these kinds of lists. Surprisingly I’ve played most of the games here, but there are a few I’ve now added to my wishlist (never played The Last Express and it seems absolutely wonderful), so thanks for that!

    I quite liked the presence of indie games like Bernband, at this point in time there’s no denying they’ve changed the place games have in culture at large, or at least the conversations around them.

    Anyway my favorite game in life is Mount & Blade: Warband. I came to it quite late – I saw my brother playing it once and scoffed at the outdated graphics and clunky-looking animations. I was, indeed, an idiot who tended to associate AAA with quality. Years after that, I don’t really remember what drove me to give it a try, and I finally understood not only why my brother liked the game so much but why he bought games outside the huge corporation spectrum: wonder. M&B is not just a piece of entertainment, it’s a world that extends beyond its relatively barebones vanilla existence and includes hundreds and hundreds of passionate makers of the most brilliant, sometimes even mad and non-sensical stuff (High School of the Dead mod, anyone?). As I played enhanced versions of the base game, Warhammer and Game of Thrones conversions, Renaissance-like diplomatic intrigues, Wild West standoffs, low-fantasy tales, Celtic tribal struggles, and became enthralled by custom soundtracks with neo-medieval bands or grand historical music selections, spending hours upon hours upon hours on battles and sieges and Fedex quests, I took a step back, amazed, and I finally got it. It’s the kind of game that’s just about sheer play, about letting your imagination loose with Romance (you’re not the main character, but with enough dedication, someday you might be). It’s wonderful, in every damn sense of the word, and I wish everyone would play it.

  2. idlewizard says:

    I love that you included S.T.A.L.K.E.R. It’s weird how nothing similar was attempted consequentially by some major studio.
    I’d like to add Elite 2-Frontier and Baldur’s Gate to the list. Both were earth-shattering titles for me. Also, Amnesia just because it managed to instill deep fear into me when I was sure I got too desensitized to video game violence and horror.

  3. dare says:

    It’s a lovely list, personable and well thought out. The only omission for me is Pathologic. There is nothing else like it, and even the wonky tech and the crazy tortured translation only serve the themes.

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    zigguratvertigo says:

    I’m assuming that if you choose one game from a series, then you can’t have other games from that series. That makes sense, in that it probably makes for a more varied list than would otherwise be the case. Still, it also results in RPS saying they think that that Google flash cricket thingy is a better game than Skyrim, which doesn’t really stand up to much scrutiny.

  5. AlphaW0lph says:

    Good list. Quite right you mentioned Fallout New Vegas. Still my favourite game of all time.

    My list would also contain Total War Shogun 2 and Total War Warhammer 2, Diablo 2 and 3, XCOM 2, Graviteam Tactics: Mius Front and COD 4.

  6. Vasily R says:

    I find myself wanting to rail on about games not included, and particularly about games that were included (especially No Man’s Sky). But then I remember that this is actually just a list of the RPS writers’ favorite games, rather than a list of the “Best PC Games of All Time.” So other than a confusing title for the list, I very much enjoyed reading it. Learned a lot about some games I’ve never played, so thanks!

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    Drib says:

    I can’t get past entry 64 on my work computer because RPS has so many damned ads that it locks the browser.

    Why are there still ads if I’m a paying supporter? Why can’t I see the content on your site because of all the half-penny advertisements taking half an hour to load?

    That said, I do like the list up to that point. Things like this are always great for a trip down memory lane.

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      Drib says:

      I want to soften this sentiment. While the ads are annoying, I managed to get past them with this and that trick.

      But this list of games and write-ups are pretty great in a lot of ways. Mostly, to me, it’s people waxing nostalgic about what each game meant to them at that point in their life. It’s pretty great how something like a game can affect a person so much, isn’t it?

      For me, Daggerfall is in that bunch. So much of its own world, even if going back now shows the creaky engine and limitations.

      But back then? What an escape!

  8. Camilitus says:

    Saw some flight sims on the list, so someone liked ’em. But no IL2:Sturmovik? 300+ (yes not a typo) aircraft. Local language for the radio, (made me learn some Russian) and cockpit markings. Happiness at Angels 10.

  9. GiGinge420 says:

    Agree with most of the list, only game I’m really sad there was no space for on there was To The Moon, in mine and my gf’s humble opinion the best combination of intelligent writing and thought provoking themes with a beautiful soundtrack and (maybe slightly manipulative, but that’s ok) some heartbreaking moments.

    Yeah, it’s not a ‘game’ blah blah and it’s as linear as a ruler, but for me, it’s still unique and groundbreaking enough as a piece of art to be included on my list.

    Oh and Grim Fandango > DOTT *let the arguments commence* lol

  10. Teut says:

    I feel honored the game I designed is on this list, Panzer Elite. Thank you so much! The game has a long shelf life, 10 years+, and is still selling despite its age. Remember we developed that title when 3D hardware was experimental, so it ran on a Software Renderer at first.

  11. flyinghotpocket says:

    Aparently made by somebody who never play games. where the fuck is freespace 1 and 2?

    guess it doesnt matter that it won just about every game of the year.

    bf1942? really?
    world in conflict?
    the myriad of games made by interplay.

  12. spectare3 says:

    please half life 2 episode 3 that is what I would like and I would die in peace knowing that I will play it please valve valve valve, I beg of you.

  13. Jylik says:

    I think it was a gross violation, not to recall the good, logical game “100nya”, which is also available on the trading platform of Steam.

  14. Sentinel says:

    Great list, and I love the explicit acknowledgement that these list are either:
    a) a random selection of the most critically-acclaimed games (boring, you’ve seen it before, you can find it anywhere),
    b) a collection of games that the writers enjoyed most (more unusual, means the writers can say something interesting about the games that offers a personal perspective, much more fun to read).

    I absolutely disagree with several entries here, but that doesn’t matter, I enjoyed reading what the writers had to say about them anyway.

    There are many here that would also be on my list, but a few that changes that I’d like to mention:

    Sid Meier’s Pirates! is simply one of the all-time great PC games. I love everything about it, including the fact that you never kill anyone in dozens of hours of gameplay.

    Personally, I thought that Civilization V was much stronger than any of its predecessors. I know that’s heresy around these parts, but I tried many earlier iterations of Civ and they never quite clicked for me. Civ V was the one that hooked me for 1000 hours.

    I remember clearly that when the original Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed came out, at a similar time, it seemed to me that it was a glorious new frontier in gaming. Both seemed to offer such great visions and extraordinary potential, and I loved them both. Neither quite lived up to its potential (although both games’ second outings were a big improvement), but they had a huge impact on me as a gamer.

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    Gnarl says:

    “I gave up about halfway through the third book: I wasn’t insane”

    If you’ve not read to the end of God Emperor of Dune, you’ve not the read the end, the bit explains the rest. Also, you’ve not read the best one. Although it does require a high tolerance for long conversations in a cave with an irritating giant worm-person.

    Oh, and the game is brilliant at communicating it’s atmosphere through every part of it.

  16. cannedpeaches says:

    Wait, hang on a tic? After all the fuss you guys have produced over Kentucky Route Zero and Oxenfree makes it on instead? Look, don’t get me wrong, Oxenfree’s lovely. So lovely. Such a wonderful story, such great characters and voices and some deeply eerie moments.

    But guys, your words about Kentucky Route Zero are overflowing with admiration. You’ve written thinkpieces about it. Surely it must have ended up on somebody’s list?

  17. Madderjoker says:

    Is anyone else disturbed by the fact that No Man’s Sky is here and not Tetris?

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