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Best PC games 2020: great games to download right now

Updated regularly

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Below you’ll find the list of the best PC games we recommend you play right now. These are games that are new, that are being freshly updated, or that are stone cold classics of their respective genres. This is a living list, which means we’ll be updating it throughout 2020 as we fall in love with new games.

If you’re looking for a longer selection of classic games, check out our list of the greatest games of all time. It has 74 games hand-picked from the past 30 years of PC games. What this list offers is a more regularly updated document of what we’d recommend right now, and a handier guide to what new game you should play right now.

Best PC games 2020

Hit the links to hop directly to a game, or read on for the full thing.

Valorant

Valorant’s announcement with some small amount of exhaustion. It’s a hero shooter from the makers of League Of Legends, and it looked like it was going to be their take on Overwatch. As it turned out, it’s much better than that: it’s their take on Counter-Strike.

The comparisons aren’t subtle. In Valorant, which is in closed beta at the time of writing, two teams of five fight to either plant a bomb or defend and defuse one, with your actions in one round earning you money to spend on equipment at the start of the next. There are direct equivalents to the Deagle, the AWP, the AK-47, which are similar enough that your muscle memory might carry across.

It is a hero shooter though, and your named characters each have their own unique abilities. These can likewise be bought at the start of each round, and they work to give you extra-sensory information, to heal yourself and teammates, and to control space by blocking lines of sight or placing temporary walls. In some senses even these feel similar to Counter-Strike’s flashbangs and smoke grenades, but they’re a good deal more versatile and important if you want to be truly good at the game.

It’s easy to heap scorn on a game that’s taking such obvious influence from some of its extremely popular peers, but Valorant’s combination does add up to something that has its own flavour. Plus, it’s not 2005 anymore – it’s been a long time since many games tried to take on Counter-Strike, and a little competition is a good thing.

Gears Tactics

Gears Tactics - Best PC games 2020

I hope you like hordes of things.

The world was not calling out for a turn-based tactics game set in the Gears universe. The third-person action series’ broard-shouldered soldiers don’t tend to put you in a thinking mood. Yet here we are: Gears Tactics exists, and it’s excellent.

The formula will be familiar if you’ve played a turn-based tactics game before, as you command your men to hide behind low walls, place them into overwatch mode, and level them up through combat experience. What makes the game sing is the way in which it incorporates the pace and feel of Gears Of War. This is a tactics game where you’ll have to think your way across the battlefield, sure, but the culmination of every thought is a rush of ultra-violence.

Character abilities and execution moves compel you to play aggressively, leaping over cover to send soldiers into harms way, to strike a killing blow that’ll gift an action point to all your other soldiers, letting you keep your turn going. It’s the most propulsive turn-based game around.

It’s also aided by the things the game jettisons from the standard XCOM formula. There’s no equivalent to the Geoscape here, no strategic meta-layer in which you build a shoulderpad factory. There’s killing and there’s menus, and it’s a better game for it.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 - Best PC Games 2020

Red Dead Online has had a slow start on PC.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a true epic: a world as big as they come, enough quests to keep you occupied for upwards of 80 hours, and obsessive amounts of detail in everything from the stunning American landscapes to its horse bollocks. It’s become clear that the amount of crunch its developers suffered through was similarly epic, but if you’re able to set that aside, there’s few things more impressive to do with your PC than boot up RDR2 and go exploring.

The game is set in 1899 – a prequel to the previous game, which was denied a home on PC – and stars Arthur Morgan as a down-on-his-luck cowboy. You’re living in exile alongside other member of Dutch van der Linde’s gang, after a job gone badly wrong, and set about riding your horsies to different parts of the world to shoot the stetsons off the baddies you find there.

If you’ve ever played a game from developers Rockstar before, including any of the Grand Theft Autos, you can guess the rest. There are rote missions filled with endless goons to headshot interspersed by dramatic set-pieces, motion captured character conversations, and a lot of time spent travelling between points on the map.

While these things might be familiar, they’re also better than they’ve ever been. Headshotting goons feels satisfying each time, because you can slip into slow-motion and paint targets for Arthur to hit when time resumes. Getting to know your gang mates is mostly enjoyable, and there are none of the awkward performances or outright hateful humans that blemished previous games. And the travelling! Getting from A to B has never been better than with a world this beautiful, a cinematic camera to frame it for you, and a lovely horse to carry you.

Monster Hunter: World

Monster Hunter World - Best PC Games 2020

Monster Hunter World’s Iceborne expansion just landed on PC.

Monster Hunter has always been about discovering and tracking glorious creatures in an alluring fantasy world, and then in typical fashion, basting those creatures about the head with various types of weapon. This much is obvious from a screenshot.

What might be less obvious is that the game is great also for the preparation for those monster fights. It’s the time you spend in the hub beforehand sorting your items out, and shopping for new armour. It’s the time you spend eating stat-boosting soup at a restaurant, or cooking it yourself. It’s the three friends you do all of this with you, who are likewise sharpening their own tools and bodies. And it’s your Palico, your little cat pal, who you dress up and who helps you out in battles and gives you cuddles after.

Monster Hunter is like a fishing trip with mates, basically, only instead of catching fish you’re fighting big dragony, lizardy, monsters, who pick up trees and throw them at you. To defeat them, you have to master not just a measly fishing rod, but some of PC gaming’s most interesting weapons. These include the Insect Glaive, a double-bladed staff that allows you to launch into the air at will, alongside guns, bows, big swords and more. There are different weapons for all preferred playstyles, and they make fights into a whole different game depending on which you choose.

If you’ve already played Monster Hunter: World for hours and hours, of course, then now is still a good time to go back to it. The Iceborne expansion has just arrived on PC, with a new island to explore, new monsters to fight, and new frosty temperatures to contend with.

Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium - Best PC Games 2020

We called Disco Elysium a flawed masterpiece in our review.

The past five years have seen a slew of RPGs attempt to revive the genre’s Infinity engine heyday – games like Pillars Of Eternity, Wasteland 2, Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Torment: Tides Of Numenera. Disco Elysium bests the lot of them.

It does this because it offers something genuinely new. In its opening scene, you wake up in your underwear on the floor of a grubby apartment, after the all-time worst bender. You don’t remember who you are, where you are, or even what you look like. But your first conversation is with your own ‘Ancient Reptilian Brain’. This is a hint of things to come: Disco Elysium is a game in which you can talk to the different parts of yourself, and these parts are your character skills.

Slowly you begin to learn who you are. You’re a cop. There’s been a murder. As you talk to people about the case, your skills will pipe up with dialogue of their own. At its most basic, your Perception skill will tell you about something you’ve spotted nearby that you can then bring up in conversation with other characters. But there’s also stats like Inland Empire, which will goad you into attempting to sing karaoke at the mere sight of a microphone on a stage. Ask it what you should sing and it’ll tell you, “No-no, don’t sing the happy song, it’s stupid. Sing the sad song, it’s profound.”

This would be novel and funny even if it went no further, but the game gives the different aspects of yourself voices so it can explore deeper questions. What does it mean to be a person? What does it mean to be good, or to want to do better? Disco Elysium resists easy answers and binary moral choices, and creates a game that’s a true spiritual successor to the likes of Planescape: Torment.

Outer Wilds

Outer Wilds - Best PC Games 2020

Outer Wilds makes you an interstellar detective.

Every 22 minutes, the sun goes supernova and swallows everything in the solar system – you included. When you start over, all you have from your last run is the information you gained, but that’s enough. You get back in your ship and head out to find more answers.

Outer Wilds is a science fiction detective game in which you’re trying to puzzle out what exactly happened to trap everything in this destructive time loop. Doing this requires you to pilot your spaceship between half a dozen planets, each one of which is a hand-crafted and ingenious science fiction concept. To name one example: two binary planets in which gravity is gradually drawing all the sand from one planet to another, like a cosmic hourglass.

There are umpteen mysteries to unravel before you’ll fully understand how this solar system works, a couple of which will likely re-write your assumptions entirely. In this way, despite being about piloting spaceships and chatting with aliens, it’s one of the best detective games ever made.

Apex Legends

Apex Legends - Best PC Games 2020

Apex Legends is the best battle royale game around.

The initial pitch didn’t sound particularly enticing: a first-person shooter set in the Titanfall universe, but minus that series’ defining mechs and in their place a free-to-play game chasing the battle royale bandwagon. To our surprise and delight, it used grappling hooks to board that bandwagon and wrest control of it. A year on from release, Apex Legends is still the best battle royale game in town.

It’s the last game standing for us for the smart ways in polishes up the genre’s core tenets. You can designate a leader to control the descent of everyone in your party during the initial drop, ensuring you stick together. The ping system is a masterclass in easy contextual communication with teammates. Survivors can bring their fallen teammates back to life if they’re bold or sneaky enough. Also, yes, there’s a robot with a grappling hook that’s more fun to play than almost any other character in any other character-based online shooter.

Matt wrote in his review that Apelegs was “the best battle royale game we’re going to see for a long, long time,” and after a year of new characters, maps and modes, that’s still true.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice - Best PC Games 2020

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice is a smooth welcome to FromSoft games.

From Software make third-person action games, but no one calls them that: they are simply FromSoft games. Or maybe Soulslikes. Or Soulsbornes. Maybe no Sekisoulsborne? In any case, Sekiro features the precise and demanding combat, the carefully paced and neat world design, and the visually fantastic enemies that have made each of their modern games so distinct.

It also twists plenty on that formula, however. For starters, you’re a samurai and your sword is your primary weapon, and the primary weapon of many of your enemies. Combat is about perfectly timing blocks, and diminishing the stamina of your opponent till you’re able to defeat them with a single killing blow.

Second, the game was published by Activision. They initially seemed an odd fit, but FromSoft said they made the choice because Activision are masters of player analytics. They wanted someone to help them make Sekiro more polished and welcoming to new players than any of their previous games – and the relationship paid off. Sekiro is in some ways more demanding of players than Dark Souls or Bloodborne (still sadly not on PC), but it does a much better job of gradually teaching itself to players than those games. It’s as difficult and rewarding as ever to master, but easier than ever to start. So start.

Age Of Empires 2 Definitive Edition

Age Of Empires 2: Definitive Edition - Best PC Games 2020

Age Of Empires 2’s Definitive Edition is more RTS than you could play in a lifetime.

There isn’t much around these days by way of new real-time strategy games, so here you go. Age Of Empires 2 is one of the best strategy games ever made, and the Definitive Edition is an absurdly bulky modern release.

If you never played it, Age Of Empires 2 is a historical real-time strategy game in which you control factions from across four eras of history – Dark Age, Feudal Age, High Middle and the Imperial Age. You build up your base of buildings in order to gather food, wood, gold and stone, and start pumping out units with which to go and politely kebab your enemies. Best of all, this is an RTS from the ’90s. While you can master your multiplayer opponents via careful micro and frighteningly high clicks-per-minute, you can also select the AI from the original games and defeat them by building a larger swarm of horsey men than they do.

If you like the sound of that, then consider that there are 136 singleplayer missions of it to play, and 35 civilizations and 24 different campaigns to choose from. On top of that, there are timed challenges, multiplayer and skirmish modes, and a dizzying array of other game modes and map types. And as of this Definitive Edition release, it’s all in 4K, with bigger maps than ever, better AI, and modern everything.

This is like if someone took your battered old childhood teddy Mr Bangles and made him somehow, magically, new again. Tiny men doing big wars as soft and fluffy as the day you first cuddled them.

Horizon’s Gate

Horizon's Gate - Best PC games 2020

Horizon’s Gate is a vast and rich seafaring RPG about putting together an armada and becoming famous in the process. You start out with a single ship and a small crew, but as you raise money through acts of trade and piracy, you hire more people and purchase more ships from the port towns you visit.

If all goes well on your adventures, word of your deeds will travel, opening new options and new potential crew to hire. If it goes poorly, however, you’ll be at sea with a starving crew, hoping you can win this next battle against some sea monsters simply so you can eat their grotesque meat.

Aside from all the time spent on your boat, you’ll also travel on land, and there’s a real feeling of exploration to discovering new areas of the world. That’s partly because of the game’s unusual fantasy creatures, partly because of the variety in its retro pixel art tilesets, and partly because you can monetise your discoveries by selling information to cartographers at each port. Either way, there’s a compelling loop at Horizon’s core, as you push onward, expanding in power, getting to know your crew, and finding stranger beasts to slay.

Phoenix Point

Phoenix Point - Best PC Games 2020

Phoenix Point is an alternate universe XCOM.

Julian Gollop created X-COM, aka UFO: Enemy Unknown, the turn-based tactics series which would be revived by Firaxis so successfully in XCOM and XCOM 2. Phoenix Point is his personal return to the formula, and the result mixes the old design, streamlining borrowed from the reboot, and new ideas all its own.

The basics are the same: you’re defending earth from an invading force, in this case angry crab men, with a squad of humans you’ll grow to cherish, who each has a fetish for hiding behind low walls and a habit of dying forever.

The twists it introduces change things fundamentally. Your soldier’s turns aren’t split into distinct moving and shooting actions, for one, but instead every shot and saunter draws from that soldier’s pool of action points. You can also take direct control of the shooting, aiming your soldier’s weapons to the enemy body part you want to hit as per a third-person action game. More and more complexity is layered on top, through character stats, wounding systems, all the way up to the strategic layer or recruitment, base building and its Geoscape-style world simulation.

All the changes and twists and re-inventions make this feel a little like an alternate world XCOM, in other words. If you’re new the genre, you’re better off starting with Firaxis’s take, but if you’ve tired of those games and you’re looking for something new, Phoenix Point will scratch the same itches in a new way.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Best PC Games 2020

The Witcher 3 can be recommended forever.

Not just a ‘recommend right now’ game, but a ‘recommend for all time’ game. The Witcher 3 is a sprawling RPG about a monster hunter, Geralt, who uses supernatural abilities to track and kill folkloric abominations for townsfolk who fear and despise him. Your time is spent either stabbing horrible things in the woods, bearing witness to various interpersonal tragedies in your role as ultimate outsider, or, uh, playing the in-world card game Gwent in various taverns.

It’s Skyrim with more direction and less jank; it’s the game you might have once imagined BioWare one day making; it’s sword-and-sorcery fantasy with Slavic rather than Middle Earth inspirations; it’s that Netflix TV show you might have heard about, except Geralt is older and has more scars. He still takes baths.

On top of all of that, there’s also a real warmth to the game and its characters. The Witcher 3’s characters are fond of each other in ways we rarely get to see expressed by videogame protagonists – and we’re not referring to the nudey bits, here. Despite how he looks, Geralt is pleasant company, and it’s this that makes people fall in love with the games, the original books, and anything else that comes along.

Slay The Spire

Slay The Spire - Best PC Games 2020.

Slay The Spire continues to be updated by its developers and dedicated modders.

Pick a class, and take on the spire: a tower filled with progressively tougher enemies as you ascend its many floors. Your tools in the fight are your cards, with which you can concoct a fabulous damage-dealing machine. Every choice matters because every card can have value if used in the right way – and because death sends you right back to the start.

While the roguelike element might sound frustrating, it’s what saves Slay The Spire from the progression systems and marketplace (real money or not) of other CCGs. Here, you build your deck through play, but all the cards from a class are available to find on any life, and dying throws them all away again anyway.

The other thing being roguelike affords the game is ridiculously powerful cards. Cards which do damage to every enemy on screen, cards which do damage umpteen times, cards which stack into fabulous maths explosions. These sorts of cards would imbalance another game; here, it makes the run on which you find it an exciting delight, and then it’s gone. The silver lining? You’ll find a different and equally powerful and exciting set of cards during every life.

Also there’s a mod that adds googly eyes to everything.

Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4 - Best PC Games 2020

Forza Horizon 4 is one of the most fun racing games in years.

The best racing game in years. Forza Horizon 4 plops you into a bucolic montage of British countryside and towns during a nation-consuming racing festival. You careen up hills, past wind turbines, and smash through stone walls while driving between hundreds of events, including road and off-road races, drifting challenges, stunt challenges, and one-off cinematic races in which you compete against a hovercraft or a train or a jet. Horizon 4 is vast, varied and not afraid to be silly.

New in this fourth entry in the series are seasons. The events available to you at any given moment are determined by the in-game weather, which advances simultaneously for all players worldwide. In winter, the roads will be icy and the fields snowy, encouraging you to try different cars in your garage than in the heat of summer. That’s a good thing, given that there are hundreds of classic cars to stuff inside your garage.

It also – and this might sound like strange praise – has one of the best opening 15 minutes of any game. While so many of its rivals frontload a cumbersome tutorial, Horizon 4 throws you instantly into a race and then, via a series of match cuts, seamlessly shifts you through different events in different seasons with different vehicles. It’s a taster menu of everything great to come, and it’ll leave you breathless and desperate for more.

Eliza

Eliza - Best PC Games 2020

Eliza, a visual novel about a virtual counsellor.

This visual novel is about Eliza, a digital counselling service. Clients come to talk to it about their problems, while the machine monitors their heart rate, stress levels and monitors keywords, before generating advice in response. The protagonist is Evelyn, and it’s her job to read the script it creates. That’s it.

From there, the story touches upon every quandary you might hope would arise from a digital counsellor, including the ethics, privacy concerns, and labor issues around its creation. It also engages deeply with the ideas of therapy, the issue of isolation in modern society, and the hard path of recovery.

You’ll discover in time that Evelyn’s involvement stretches beyond reading out the script: she’s one of the developers responsible for creating Eliza. Through continuing to play, you’ll talk to the other people who worked on it, those working on it now, and the men who are profiting from it. There are decisions to make along the way, but they’re more about how you feel about any given situation than they are radically altering the direction of the story. But this is a game with enough going on its themes and story that you’ll be puzzling over those choices months after you’ve finished playing.

That’s our list of the best PC games to play as of… right now. But we’re going to be updating it throughout 2020, so check back regularly to find out what new games have been added – and what we’ve removed.

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