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The RPS 100: Reader Edition (2022): your favourite PC games of all time

You voted for them, so you only have yourselves to blame now

Welcome to the very first RPS 100: Reader Edition. You've already read our RPS 100 list of our favourite PC games of all time (and if you haven't, do go and read Part One and Part Two when you've got a mo), but now it's your turn. You've cast your votes, I've counted them all up, and here we are. These are your top 100 favourite video games of all time.

The RPS 100: Reader Edition

A massive thank you to everyone who participated in this year's RPS 100: Reader Edition. We had hundreds of responses and it's been such a pleasure going through all your favourites, reading what you love about them most, and cramming it all into this giant, highly comprehensive reader ranking. You'll find plenty of old favourites here as well as some modern classics, and I'm dead keen to see what you make of it all. Just some forewarning: we will be debating your picks in the comments with you, because honestly, how could you not include our #101 most favouritest Bestest Best game, you heathens?

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All joking aside, I'd also like to say a big thank you to everyone who contributed some words about their number one game - you'll find them all nestled next to their respective game entry below. Naturally, because we only asked you to write about your first pick in your top ten lists, there are a handful of games here that no one chose specifically as their number one, but still garnered enough votes from elsewhere in your personal rankings to make the cut. We'll think of a better way to tackle this when we do this all again next year, but that's why some entries here don't have any comments next to them.

Without further ado, then, here is the inaugural RPS 100: Reader Edition (and if you don't like it, you've only got yourselves to blame). Enjoy!

Warriors fight a large ogre in a cave filled with skeleton piles in Pillars Of Eternity
Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment

100. Pillars Of Eternity

Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release: 2015
Where can I buy it? Steam, GOG, Humble, Game Pass
A man and his dog in a Fallout 4 screenshot.

99. Fallout 4

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release: 2015
Where can I buy it? Steam, Humble, Game Pass

98. EVE Online

A mining fleet fly through space in EVE Online

alasseo: EVE Online is simply a unique game, and no other game can compare to it. It is a persistent, globally shared world rendered in full 3D, set in space, and has been running for almost 20 years. Its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness: it depends almost entirely on other humans to make the world come alive. The setting and lore are remarkably deep, but the thing that makes it my number one game is that EVE is the only modern game that is truly a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, and that makes it remarkable.

VeNT666: It's like space crack, you can never really give it up. It's been going for decades and has never stopped dying. Best of all, the only way to win is not to play.

madmaximus#5568: EVE Online does sandbox MMO like no other MMO has or possibly can. The stories created by the players form a rich tapestry that envelops the community in a shared history now spanning nearly 2 decades. To be a part of it is something truly unique and special. Named battles form heated memories akin to historians looking back on battles in wars past in reality.

Majima in a Yakuza 0 screenshot.

97. Yakuza 0

Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Publisher: Sega
Release: 2018
Where can I buy it? Steam, Humble, Game Pass

A red-haired woman stares intensely at a blond man in The Secret Of Monkey Island
Image credit: Lucasfilm Games

96. The Secret of Monkey Island

Developer: Lucasfilm Games
Publisher: Lucasfilm Games
Release: 1990
Where can I buy it? Steam, GOG as part of The Secret Of Monkey Island: Special Edition.

95. Dota 2

Tiny, Windrunner, Juggernaut, Storm Spirit, and Winter Wyvern in Dota 2 artwork.

TychoCelchuuu: Unparalleled depth, virtues that are only possible for a PC game, just as good as a spectator sport, entirely free, started as a mod.

Throwback#4272: 100% free with infinite depth, constantly updated and immaculate balancing. Ever-changing, always captivating perfection.

Squip: I hate it.

94. Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2's heavy machine gun

RadioactiveMan: Hats! Also a great, long-lasting community, and a developer continuing to support the game for more than a decade.

93. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

A hooded man stands inside a dark archway in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Gandalf the grey: I originally played this on the Xbox 360 at launch then PC later. It is one of those games where it was the first RPG I played so it really stuck as my favourite. I love the colour palette, the spell crafting, the world itself is beautiful and it felt varied and huge and full of stuff to do. It was the first game where I would have those moments with friends where we would say, "Have you done this yet, have you seen this weapon?" It was full of anecdotes and tales of stuff going wrong. Games should give you that feeling.

92. Dwarf Fortress

A ship in Dwarf Fortress

BlueGreenMetallicBug: The settlement building game that I've been playing on and off for the past decade. The sheer complexity and detail of its world is something to inspire. It feels more intimate to build the settlement tile by tile. Give out the orders and watch the dwarfs scurry about to carve out their ant farm. In addition, each citizen has their own moods and thoughts. Have to be careful else Urist McDwarf starts smashing chairs because he got caught in the rain one too many times. The only thing that holds me back from playing this game more is the current UI.

Torn: Dwarf Fortress offers a nigh-endlessly replayable experience with unparalleled depth. Not only is it the largest, most complicated, and most feature-rich colony simulator ever made, it also works as an RPG in the same worlds, allowing you to adventure in endless amounts of generated cities and villages, do quests, slay creatures of legend, and lose time and again in a myriad of ways.

A male Viera sits back in front of a colourful peacock monument in Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker.

91. Final Fantasy XIV

Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Release: 2014
Where can I buy it? Steam, Humble

A very large gun in pointed at an industrial container in Unreal Tournament

90. Unreal Tournament

Developer: Epic Games, Digital Extremes
Publisher: GT Interactive
Release: 1999
Where can I buy it? The original is long gone, but there's a modern version of the "early Unreal Tournament experience" available for free on the Epic Games Store

Chatting in a Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut screenshot.
Image credit: Eidos Interactive

89. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Release: 2013
Where can I buy it? Steam, GOG, Humble

88. Control

In Control, protagonist Jesse uses telekinesis against some possessed soldiers.

ForestNomad: Control was great for its great storyline and novel gameplay. The Oldest House and the secrets hidden within kept me captivated throughout the entire game. While not the first to do it, hurling bits of office furniture at your enemies works so much more fluidly than other games. Add floating around to traverse levels and it makes you think of the Brutalist spaces of the Oldest House in a completely different way. And of course the Ashtray Maze is one of the most badass moments in gaming and Control is worth playing just for that.

Orcs travel across a waterfall scene in Warcraft III

87. Warcraft III: Reigns Of Chaos

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Release: 2002
Where can I buy it? Sadly nowhere, but the Reforged remaster is available on Battle.Net

A figure stands at the end of a dark corridor in Thief: The Dark Project

86. Thief: The Dark Project

Developer: Looking Glass Studios
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Release: 1998
Where can I buy it? Steam, GOG, Humble as part of the Thief: Gold collection.

85. Homeworld

Homeworld Remastered Header

Plato_Karamazov: Homeworld is a gorgeous RTS that has an excellent story, fantastic mechanics, and, best of all, maintains a sense of loneliness and wonder throughout. The moment when the Hiigarans meet the Bentusi for the first time is etched into my brain: From the terror of not knowing if I was going to have to fight another enemy after losing all of my ships in the Garden, to the exhilaration of being gifted ion particle beam technology for free! Such a beautiful, tragic game. It is the epitome of what differentiates PC gaming from console gaming.

MrCarrot: A game that still remains broadly unparalleled in crossing over the emotional line in a strategy title (excluding console games like FF Tactics). From getting the camera and control system right in a space environment that games today still struggle with, through to having an eclectic mix of mememorable missions (vital in an RTS) relic nailed it even more than I think they realise to this day. A genuinely mentally compelling experience. The closest thing gaming has come to high art, whilst still being fun to play (and that's not even getting onto multiplayer which was amazing...). Oh, and it had an end credit song by f***ing Yes of all people. *Agnes Dei set to Barber's Adagop intensifies*

84. Fez

A small white blob man climbs a rustic looking tower in a town in Fez.

surreal_pistachio: I just love the sense of adventure and atmosphere with the incredible soundtrack and pixel art. The joy of exploration and uncovering mysteries. There is nothing superfluous or combat to interrupt the journey. This is what I wished Zelda was.

83. Half-Life: Alyx

The player holds their hands up as Combine aim guns at them in Half-Life: Alyx
Image credit: Valve

Ray: Innovative. Immersive. And bloody fun. As simple as that. (Bonus points: beautiful). I know you could literally say that about most games, but like, it does it more so! At least considering most recent.

82. Baldur's Gate

Warriors get zapped by lightning on a mountaintop ritual in Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition
Image credit: Black Isle Studios, Interplay Entetainment, Beamdog

Jarno Virtanen: My love for the original Baldur's Gate might be part nostalgic, but the story and gameplay still sweep me away even when I replay it today. The complex and rewarding second edition ruleset makes killing the first lowly gibberling feel as fantastic as killing a huge giant. The replayability and attention to detail keep me coming back and making different characters. The companions and their legendary voicelines and personalities keep me entertained and smiling after all these years. It might not really be the best game I ever played, but it will forever be my number one.

81. Diablo II

Warriors stand in an ornate hallway in Diablo II

Spludge237: Diablo II has a fantastic loot progression. Often with ARPGs, you can feel like there's the game, and then the meaningful loot grind is all endgame content, divorced from the main quest. With Diablo II, the loot is all just there, on the way to the final boss of the highest difficulty. (Also, I pray I'm never told how many hours I've spent playing this game. It may destroy my soul).

80. Starcraft II: Wings Of Liberty

A Terran base in a StarCraft 2 screenshot.

Tobias Reynolds: In StarCraft 2, it just feels SO GOOD to move all your little spacemen about. Every few months I try to pick up another RTS and just cannot adjust to the clunky unit movement. Though I will admit the story is completely naff, you still have the most varied mission designs among RTSs and some of the finest, most cutthroat multiplayer around.

Norterrible: The most satisfying game to play.

79. Horizon Zero Dawn

Aloy strikes a pose in Horizon Zero Dawn.

Kiwilolo: Incredible visual design, with stunning vistas and thoughtfully designed architecture and fashion for each of the fictional tribes. The machine enemies are visually and aurally distinct, each having its own personality. The sound design is so good that machine attacks can be dodged without seeing them. This supports a stealth-based hunting gameplay that allows for several styles but always favours thought and preparedness. Layered on top are two simultaneous and excellently told stories, one about the end of the old world and the threat to the new world, along with the personal growth of the main character from outsider to heroine. Combined, these factors describe the best video game ever made, Horizon: Zero Dawn.

78. BioShock

Developer: 2K Boston, 2K Australia
Publisher: 2K Games
Release: 2007
Where can I buy it? Steam, GOG, Humble

An image from Borderlands 2 which shows Salvador firing at enemies caught in an explosion.

77. Borderlands 2

Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K
Release: 2012
Where can I buy it? Steam, Humble, Epic Games Store

A hand touches Edith Finch's journal in a What Remains of Edith Finch screenshot.
Image credit: Annapurna Interactive

76. What Remains Of Edith Finch

Developer: Giant Sparrow
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Release: 2017
Where can I buy it? Steam, GOG, Humble Store, Epic Games Store

75. The Binding Of Isaac

A three-eyed Isaac fights a giant blob with flies coming out of its mouth in The Binding Of Isaac

Kirk S: No other game offers the endless replayability, gruesome losses, overpowered wins, batshit crazy combos, the Sisyphean grind to complete all achievements, and the insanely psycho bosses that are seemingly unbeatable. But you try, try again, try a hundred times, and when you win, you earn that win. I’ve loved and hated this game, played the daily run every day for years, and finally had to lay it to rest, deleting the game, because if I didn’t, it would’ve taken more of my life.

Trevor: To me, this is the ultimate "just one more" game, and has been for over a decade.

74. Psychonauts

Raz from the original Psychonauts sliding down a bannister
Image credit: Double Fine Productions

Florentin: Revolutionary in terms of storytelling through the level design, immensely fun and bold, and a breakthrough in telling stories about mental illness. Story, level design, characterization and music all work in perfect harmony, making the game one of the most daring and creative ever made, and also my personal favorite. Psychonauts 2 was also an incredible game, but I was less emotionally attached than the first one.

73. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Kaz in a screenshot from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Jonathan Yeap: This game is the best of its kind, and uniquely demonstrates what it looks like to perfect a game genre. Unmatched stealth mechanics, a tightly designed but truly freeing open world, and so much potential for nail-biting moments caught between guns, ghosts and helicopters. Its few points of clunkiness or friction become endearing before long. All its eccentric pieces, from its slick interrogation system to the endlessly entertaining Fulton Recovery balloons, mesh together in empowering, heroic gameplay that keeps you on your toes. Konami chose 2015 to make a game that would never need replacing. Fun, fresh, stylish, number one!

Lloyd Oehme: The best action stealth system ever made, let down only by Konami-shaped publishing problems.

72. Stellaris

A map of interplanetary territories in Stellaris

fmcc: This game is one of the most epic in the 4X genre with extra depth delivered by the various story elements integrated into game events. Not only that but it has been getting better with every DLC added. Throw in some of the many community-made mods and you've got something really special. It's the game that keeps me coming back for another play through with a different empire setup to see how I will fare this time.

Travis: As a kid, I lost untold hours to Master of Orion 2 and I spent years chasing the next great space empire game. There were many fun ones, but they all came up lacking until I tried Stellaris. Stellaris ticked all of the standard 4X boxes, but its narrative events made each playthrough feel like a unique story. Paradox keeps adding content and reinventing mechanics which in turn keeps bringing me back for more playthroughs. Just a delight of a game.

Sam and BB smile at the camera on their motorbike in Death Stranding

71. Death Stranding

Developer: Kojima Productions
Publisher: 505 Games
Release: 2020
Where can I buy it? Steam, Humble, Epic Games Store, Game Pass

70. Life Is Strange

Life Is Strange protagonist Max Caulfield faces her polaroid photo wall, which is softly illuminated by a string of hanging lights.
Image credit: Square Enix

Leo: This was one of the first games I ever played. It captures the feeling of being a teenager perfectly. The awkwardness, the intense feelings, the questioning of who you are and what you want from life. It was one of the games that helped me through some rough times. Plus, the option to romance Chloe as a queer teen was awesome, even though I understand why many people dislike the ending. But something about this game just makes me want to embrace life, even now. Playing this game feels like coming home.

69. Crusader Kings II

Developer: Paradox Development Studio
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release: 2012
Where can I buy it? Steam

68. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Developer: FromSoftware
Publisher: Activision
Release: 2019
Where can I buy it? Steam

67. Heroes Of Might And Magic III

A top down view of a grassy field scene in Heroes Of Might And Magic 3
Image credit: The 3DO Company

iconicorange: I'd ride over mountains, through rivers, across the sea and into hell for my brother, and he'd do the same in return... while we munched a kilo bag of raisins on a foldout bed, praying for rain so we didn't have to go outside. I guess in many ways it said the things we couldn't. Such memories are interweaved with mechanically extracted dopamine - the numbers are cooked just right but deliciously hidden behind the expansive fantasy world and the brutal tactical combat. I've played with language barriers, age gaps, losing has made my wife cry, to this day if I eat a raisin I'm transported to one of the most magical places that will ever be.

A settlement in Age Of Empires 2 Definitive Edition

66. Age of Empires II: The Age Of Kings

Developer: Ensemble Studios
Publisher: Microsoft
Release: 1999
Where can I buy it? Steam, Humble, Game Pass as part of the Definitive Edition.

A colourful mountain scene in Celeste

65. Celeste

Developer: Extremely OK Games
Publisher: Extremely OK Games
Release: 2018
Where can I buy it: Steam, Humble

64. Total War: Warhammer II

An Aztec temple towers over a forest in Total War: Warhammer II

Kane: Over time and with all the DLC content, TW:W2 became my favorite sandbox total war of all time. Every new run can go different with so many different playstyles available.

Aiming at a Muton in an XCOM: Enemy Unknown screenshot.

63. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K
Release: 2012
Where can I buy it? Steam, GOG

A girl, rhino and a woman stand in a library in Undertale
Image credit: tobyfox

62. Undertale

Developer: Tobyfox
Publisher: Tobyfox
Release: 2015
Where can I buy it? Steam, GOG, Humble

61. Thief II: The Metal Age

A guard from Thief 2: The Metal Age
Image credit: Eidos Interactive

grve #0786: Looking Glass were masters of creating worlds and keeping you in them. The voice acting in Thief II was impeccable (not to mention sound design in general), and every single side conversation pulled me in. The story was superb, the characters were interesting, and the stealth gameplay was iconic. The sheer variety of ways to interact with the world and progress through missions, particularly in conjunction with the difficulty levels, created massive replay value. It was the first time I'd ever had to crouch in a sliver of shadow and anxiously wait for a guard to pass, and that emotional response was revolutionary.

Waltorious: The Thief games have the most amazing atmosphere of any games I've ever played. The incredibly stylish story scenes, which know when to leave things unexplained -- including what protagonist Garrett even looks like -- are perfect for establishing the mysterious world of the City and letting players loose in it. I pick the second game because it was more confident in its focus on stealth rather than fighting off zombies and other monsters, it has my favorite story of the bunch, and it's the only immersive sim I've ever played where the scale felt large enough to make me believe I was really in this word. Ironic, because Thief II pulls that off by NOT being an open world, but instead using fixed, brilliantly designed levels that offer just enough hint of what's beyond. Add in great writing and acting, superb level design, and rewarding stealth gameplay and this is my favorite game ever.

Faxmachinen: Best stealth game of all time. Game wot made me. Its graphics may have aged, but its sound design, world building and game mechanics are still second to none. This is not nostalgia. More than twenty years after it was first released, people are still creating their own missions for it, and I'm still enjoying them. Headphones on, lights off, late into the night.

60. Star Wars: TIE Fighter

Star Wars Tie Fighter gameplay screenshot

juan_h: TIE Fighter nearly perfectly captures the ace space-dogfighter fantasy. It's got a simple but solid flight model, an engaging single-player campaign with an expertly tuned difficulty curve, and all the classic audio and visual cues that a Star Wars fan could ever possibly want. While someone might make a prettier Star Wars game or a prettier space pilot simulator, I don't think anyone could make a better one. Certainly no one has.

Scoreman: Great dynamic music score. Playing for the baddies, yet still being a good guy. Great (for their time) graphics. Challenging missions- even when you failed you got right back into it. First time I felt I was in a Star Wars movie.

UNCgolf: It's a perfect space sim; modern games still don't do it as well as TIE Fighter. The missions were fun and varied, and even the storyline was well done. It's both the best space sim and best Star Wars game ever made.

59. Mass Effect

Mass Effect's "I move faster on my own" Nihlus, right before Saren shoots him.

Xythe: The Citadel, the greatest area in all of videogaming. ME2 may have mostly been hot garbage, and ME3 may have stuffed the main story into a Mako and driven it off a cliff, but I'll always have my original trip around the Citadel. The sense of discovery as you bump into all the various races which make up galactic society has never been topped by anything.

Clarin: I played it at just the right time in my life to leave a lasting effect (heh). Characters were wonderful and my FemShep and I of course fell in love with Liara. But the best parts were the world, atmosphere, music and the overall look and feel of the galaxy. It really looked and felt (and still does, pretty much) like a perfect sci-fi world to me. I can't really explain how it all just feels right. Sequels of course got rid of everything I loved >:(

58. Europa Universalis IV

A map screen of Italy from Europa Universalis IV
Image credit: Paradox Interactive

Dan Greenwood: 5,550 hours played; It's deep, it's well designed; and it evolves getting better over time.

57. Grim Fandango

Manny The Grim Reaper from Grim Fandango
Image credit: Double Fine Productions

Kiiiiim: The story, puzzles, characters and music are unbeaten by any other game. The setting is also highly original.

Calavera: Everything.

56. Mount & Blade: Warband

fruitocin0: It is safe to say that Mount & Blade: Warband was my introduction to indie games. I discovered this game at the perfect time: I had just registered on Steam and was looking for games to run on my four-year old MacBook with a Windows partition. This game was not that graphically impressive even for its release in 2010, but the engine and its gameplay mechanics were rock solid and perfect foundation for many different mods. I immediately fell in love with the multiplayer and its community where I am still active, as we are all waiting for Bannerlord to become a worthy successor.

55. Spelunky

A screenshot of Spelunky Classic, showing the first Mines world, with Spelunky guy jumping in the direction of a "damsel".

Elderman: Spelunky is endlessly fascinating. It asks me to think and to follow my intuition. It challenges my reactions and requires patience. It's difficult enough to keep my attention over many years, and at the same time accessible enough that I keep growing from my first game to my most recent one, while respecting my attention by limiting itself to discrete playthroughs. I can engage with it as a player, a spectator, and a programmer, alone and with friends. There's even a free version available. It isn't the game I've spent the most time with nor the one I've engaged with most deeply, but it has captured my attention, engaged me at multiple levels, and given my countless hours of distraction and enjoyment. Spelunky is my favourite game.

Ceri: The closest a game has come to perfection; the controls are spot on, its visuals are clean and completely readable. The challenge is tuned exactly right and not only is every death almost always fair they are also almost always laugh-out-loud funny.

sillythings: Spelunky HD and Spelunky 2 are the only games that my wife and I have managed to consistently play together. I introduced her to them, and she more than surpassed me in hours played (and skill level, at this point). We started playing when we still were dating, and I ended up making custom skins of us as a surprise for her. Our first time beating the game in co-op happened on her birthday. It's for these fond memories I picked Spelunky HD over Spelunky 2.

54. Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic showing five characters fighting. The human in the middle is swinging their lightsaber towards an alien's spear.

eversity504: I absolutely loved Star Wars as a kid, and playing an RPG in that universe blew my mind as an 11-year-old. My brother and I spent countless hours trying different character/class builds and playing through all the quests. It seemed to be endlessly replayable. Dark side vs Light side storylines, Saber-basher vs Force user, and a crew of fascinating companions provided a wealth of wonders to explore on every playthrough. It fueled my imagination in my pre-teen and teenage years, and will forever hold a special place in my personal list of Bestest Bests.

Rettirblah: An epic story in the Star Wars universe with an incredible story, memorable characters, and a surprise revelation that changes the tone of the game. It’s an all-time great.

Scroggage: Few games have ever caused me sufficient emotional shock that I needed to take a break from my PC in order to recover. I gasped when Deus Ex let me kill Anna Navarre rather than execute a prisoner. I was stunned when Kreia taught me how I'd caused suffering by giving credits to a beggar in KotOR 2. But all else fades in my gaming memory compared to the moment when the original KotOR pulled its twist. Twelve-year-old me went off and had a little cry for my character. I spent ages umm-ing and ah-ing over my top three, but it's that moment that makes KotOR unassailable in its top spot of my Bestest Bests.

53. Starcraft

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Release: 1998
Where can I buy it? Battle.Net

52. Kerbal Space Program

A screenshot of Kerbal Space Program showing a screaming, green Kerbal in a space suit, in the foreground, floating in space upside down.

Tim Raveling: Infinite potential - a truly deep science and physics sandbox.

51. Terraria

A tree with pink blossoms and a pretty pink house in art for Terraria's Labor Of Love update.

Sean: There's so much to do solo or multiplayer, and then just when you think you've done it all the developers add more. I've been playing it non-stop since it launched and have had some of the best gaming memories with my friends.

50. Doom

The player shotguns a pinkie in Doom (1993)
Image credit: id Software

archimandrite: Doom is a simple game that does what it does extremely well. I play it every year or two, and am constantly impressed by it. Its influence is huge, even today. It spawned first-person shooters, which then spawned first-person everything. Careers and entire studios spawned from its mod community. And though it's been ported to everything under the sun, it is and always will be a PC game, and a sign of what could be done away from the fenced gardens of console gaming.

Jack Walsh: Doom is a near perfect game and is basically timeless. The speed and fluidity of combat is unmatched.

49. Hitman 3

Agent 47 from Hitman disguised as a waiter, in a blue shirt and golden waistcoat

Peter Hopkins / unitled: I've always loved the Hitman series, but the World of Assassination was the first time it really seemed the technology lived up to the premise. And how! What more can you want from a game: it looks gorgeous, rewards exploration and experimentation, is deadpan hilarious, accessible with difficulty levels down to basic walkthroughs, rewards repeat play with story nuggets... It's a different game to everyone who plays it, and lets you enjoy it however you want: adventure, stealth, puzzle (it's almost a point and click adventure?!), or even... action?! It's a game that very clearly loves its players.

Karachoknilch: Endless possibilities enable plans as brilliant and silly as it gets. An enormous, beautiful, fantastic sandbox of murder, mayhem and ridiculous mishaps.

48. Kentucky Route Zero

An angular petrol station at sunset in Kentucky Route Zero

cannedpeaches: Kentucky Route Zero is what you should hold up when people ask "Can games be art?" It tackles heavy, complicated themes like, "What do we owe to other people?" and, "Can community and relationships survive in the coming world?" with complete control of its metaphors and tone and characters. The interludes are Lynchian brain-furnaces. There's beauty and sublimity in every frame.

Mattmattmatty: I played the episodes as they were released, it was almost a companion through the 6-7 years of my life, and every time I launched a new episode it was like returning to a much beloved familiar destination. Can’t think of any game that has given me that sort of experience.

Jonathan: Kentucky Route Zero is a wonderful mash-up of video games, magical surrealism, and theater. It's a towering work of art that has interactivity baked into its core. The interludes are every bit as good as the mainline games - even better in some cases - while experimenting even more wildly with form, whether on the computer, in VR, or on a dial-up phone. Love it.

RobinOttens: It good!

47. Factorio

Bustling industry in a Factorio screenshot.

PowderedGoats: No other game can capture my attention, so thoroughly, that I completely forget who I am or what I have going on in my life. It's like digital crack, once you're on it, it's hard to stop playing. I sometimes see the belts moving behind my eyes even when I'm trying to sleep. What a genius idea, and then even better, they made it super modable. There are now thousands of ways to enjoy factorio, it's the game that keeps on giving!

46. Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

A top down view of a landmass in Alpha Centauri
Image credit: EA

Cinnamon: Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri was the reason why I bought a gaming PC in the first place. I enjoyed Civ and Colonization on the Amiga and loved the science fiction theme. The game just had so much character and flavour. It was, and still is, just plain enjoyable to play with its flabby unboardgamelike sprawl and AI which really couldn't keep up. Which is why I still rank it above more recent titles.

E_FD: Alpha Centauri is a game I've periodically returned to for decades, and there are still nuances in the design I'm discovering. The terraforming system is extraordinarily versatile, including nutty combat applications like sinking your opponents' cities into the ocean. The freeform unit creation lets you come up with inspired out-of-the-box ideas like needlejet colony pods to zoom over enemy territory and set up a base near significant resources. The mindworms' psychic combat keeps the Civ barbarian equivalents dangerous and relevant even into the late game, and provides players falling behind in the tech race an avenue to keep holding their ground against more advanced armies. On top of that the writing is remarkably in-depth hard sci-fi futurism, toeing the line between providing a compelling narrative without restricting the open-ended gameplay.

DEspresso: A combination of terraforming, social conflict and story that has never been reproduced at this level of perfection.

Paullo: It feels like such a believable world with some very high concept sci-fi ideals yet is a tight and complex sandbox civilization sim. Some of the most memorable emergent bits of gameplay for me have been from Alpha Centauri.

45. Fallout 2

A farm scene in Fallout 2
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

TapioS: Openness, NPC characters, vast intriguing world, choices, characters development, writing. It's still the best CRPG, although W3 and Disco Elysium come close.

Lessph: Atmosphere, combat, roleplaying!

44. X-COM: UFO Defense

A spaceship full of units in X-COM: UFO Defence

Sprue Rubbles: This is the "play until you realise it's light outside" game. It did tactical and strategic perfectly. I was attached to the soldiers such as who goes in first and who gets what equipment. There was nothing like turning a corner of a building and facing an alien with just enough points (or not) to fire at it. Or entering a building and getting blasted by aliens and all the shots missing!

Haryadi: It was so great. I was overwhelmed by the whole concept.

43. World Of Warcraft

A group photo in World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Classic.

Chris P: So good they made it twice. The MMORPG that set the tone for the future of an entire genre is still going strong in Classic form. Whatever you think of the toxic working culture and environment at Blizzard/Activision, they made some first class content. For the Horde!

RulingWalnut: World of Warcraft was the game I played for my teens. I fell off when I went to college but every couple of years after I would dive back and become ensnared. Even expansions considered weaker consumed me. One of my "hottest video game takes" is that World of Warcraft as a whole is a Top 5 single-player RPG - i.e.: if you never went online it would still be worth a playthrough.

Keln: Lived and breathed WoW for five years straight and then some.

justsomeguy: It's like a big comfortable blanket you can just relax into and while away a few hours. Can be played solo and on silent while watching TV, or socially in a guild raid while chatting on a headset. If the criteria for gaming is to distract and unwind after a day of work this ticks the box for me every time.

42. Sid Meier's Civilization V

A tiled map in Civilization V
Image credit: 2K

Jim: Excellent gameplay that keeps me returning for just "one more turn" mixed in with the nostalgia of past times.

41. Crusader Kings III

The map screen showing the Realm of Gigaknight in Crusader Kings 3
Image credit: Paradox Interactive

Jenny H: The strategic depth combined with RPG elements allows for a seemingly unlimited number of ways to play the game make CK3 my favorite of all time. No two games of CK3 are the same, even when you play as the same character/dynasty.

cm: Crusader Kings 3 let's you play a grand strategy game as an RPG without losing any of grand strategy's depth. An RPG-ish playthrough is just as valid and enjoyable as a cheesy "I'm creating x state" playthrough. And it does all of that while teaching about how personal politics of the Middle Ages are. And I love Paradox to bits for shipping it with mechanics and a scope that took CK2 years of DLC to reach. It's a game I am just happy to play for hundreds of hours.

40. Fallout

A Vault dweller fights monsters in a cave in the original Fallout
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

Calyk: An open world where you progress largely by following leads or stumbling into (un)lucky situations. A misleading main quest with an unknown enemy advancing as in-game time passes (at least before patch 1.1). A roleplaying game with deep character development options that’s still under 20 hours. Yeah, Fallout is pretty much my perfect game. From the first agrarian settlement up north to increasingly gritty, unsettling cities down south, Fallout is one long descent from sterile safety to hell on earth from a bird's eye perspective on a protagonist you understand purely through choice and inference. Detached, but somehow still personal.

Jeremy: On my first contact with Fallout in '97 I put in around 36 hours playtime in a single sitting. The setting, humour, characters, towns, ambience and play style choices sucked me in like no other media had before or since. I replayed that game obsessively until F2 was released and have revisited it many times since. The simple repetitive music of the various settings still loops around in my mind.

39. Dragon Age: Origins

The Grey Warden in Dragon Age: Origins fighting a giant demon
Image credit: EA

asoggywotsit: Welcome to Thedas, a world steeped in history, containing characters positively overflowing with mirth, charm, and humanity. My very own dog to follow me about. It was a revelation to me as a teenager that was hooked almost exclusively on Call of Duty, FIFA, and Grand Theft Auto. It taught me that video games could and should be about more than shooting bad guys in the head. What feels like an eternity later, as a wizened elder, this is the only game from those years that I go back to regularly. Is there some nostalgia at play here? Yeah, probably. That said, I will never stop loving this game.

38. Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines

A woman holds a sword in a samurai pose while a solider floats in a magic chokehold behind her in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines
Image credit: Activision

plugav: I'd learned to love RPGs even before Bloodlines came out, but there had never been a game quite like it. And really, there hasn't been one like it since. I love the setting (being a long-time World of Darkness fan), the darkly humorous tone, the performances, the music, even the jank. That’s not to say the game is perfect in my eyes, but no cult classic ever is. What Bloodlines manages to be, however, is a game that knows its audience (gothy millennial geeks) and delivers precisely what they want: lots of twisted, intelligent, snarky writing dressed up in naughty, grungy aesthetics and tied together with mechanics that are… workable enough.

Darth Gangrel: VtMB is so good at so many things. It's got great writing, great voice acting, lots of options regarding playstyles and roleplaying along with many other things. Atop one of the best voice acting performances in a game ever, it's got a great soundtrack that instantly creates an intriguing atmosphere. It's very much an immersive sim in how you can interact with the world, solve the quests, make your own way and that makes each playthrough enjoyable. The multiple clans and great mods only make it more replayable. It's got characters that are funny, creepy, over-the-top, ones you love and ones you love to hate. The game (blood)sucks you in to a World (of Darkness) that is mysterious, deep and a great take on the vampire mythos. It made me read the books the game is based on and I loved them as well.

37. System Shock 2

The player holds out their hand in a sci-fi corridor in System Shock 2

MomoiPower: The atmosphere, the sound design, and the villain SHODAN are next level. It's a truly scary game, but also a smart one in its construction and story telling. It didn't get everything right, but what it did inspired countless games after it.

Jockie Atmosphere, writing, voice-acting. System Shock 2's sound design made me hide in cupboards – I don't even usually notice sound design. OK, considering it came out the same year as Half-Life, it looked like bum, but it built its world masterfully. The early tension of crawling around with a wrench hiding from cameras, hunted menacing worm-controlled monstrosities whose human hosts could only beg us to kill them. It was properly scary. Shodan remains PC gaming's all-time great villain, her manipulation and megalomania, tied in beautifully with the fact she was actually the reason you get more powerful in the game. Rewarding and chiding, lying and soothing us as we crawled through the UNN Rickenbacker uncovering the chilling story of its downfall and the fates of its crew. Fucking masterpiece!

Deadbob: Adored the first SShock and the sequel was worth the wait. Hooked me right in from the start, loved the character creation by picking tours of duty, the horror and suspense on my first playthrough, the way everything felt like a real place, the running story of each of the ill-fated crew, Game Pig(!), the monkeys! I still replay it often to this day.

Old_Man_Gaming: This game is exceptional. Most people know this game but what makes it so good? Choices, story, atmosphere and game mechanics. It captures the stultifying sense of doom aboard the vessel, the sound scape is tremendous and Eric Brosius' frantic music mirrors the player's emotions. Mechanically the game gives you important choices around which weapons and skills to major in and the choices you make change the way the game plays. The story leads you by the nose but you have a lot of freedom around the order you do things and how you approach each objective. The levels are vast and you can go back to the previous decks whenever you like. This small game design choice makes the ship feel real. The enemies are scary and demand differing tactics.You run a lot in this game. The pieces fit together into a brilliant whole. You need to play it you haven't. Join us.

Rob Leal: Atmosphere. Shodan. RPG. Midwife. TriOptimum. Xerxes. Mechanics. Security. Soundscape. The Many. Terrifying. Survival Horror. Tense. Level Design. Looking Glass.

36. Sid Meier's Civilization VI

Shonuf: This series defined an entire genre. I've played every one and many of the variants (Master of Orion, Master of Magic, Alpha Centauri). Sid Meier was a genius.

35. Into the Breach

Isaac Jones fails to save the world from bugs once more because he is a worrisome man.

Blankedy#3476: Bite-sized turn-based tactics that one can keep coming back to: it never loses its punch. Almost full knowledge means that mistakes are always the player's fault; none of that random rubbish from other games, all the fat has been trimmed off. The methods available to the player are enough that there are lots of options, but tight enough that it doesn't take forever to think through, or getting stuck with analysis paralysis. Resolving the difficult turns feels fantastic.

34. The Witness

Image credit: Thelka Inc

Saliken #4511: The Witness turns puzzling into an exploration, both of the beautiful island setting and the nature of learning and knowledge. The joy of mastering a new puzzle sequence is unmatched in any other game in the genre. This is not merely a game to “solve” but an experience, a journey of understanding.

Sara: No game has made me feel more like a genius or the most stupid person ever. Game design is fantastic.

33. Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters

A man stands in front of a spaceship window in Star Control
Image credit: Accolade

MikoSquiz: It's an open world RPG space shooter with resource collection, fleet-building, and ship customization. And a tech research tree, although I guess it's more of a tech research stick. I think it was the first time I came across good writing in a game that wasn't just jokes. And all this in 1992!

Cor: The first game I remember that has an open world where you can do thing the way you wanted to do them.

Udat: It has everything I want in a game. Outstanding writing, fantastic exploration and combat mechanics, perfectly pitched humour, and an infinitely replayable multiplayer element.

ShadyMeadows: One of the first games to throw you into an open world, where you experience the deep history of the setting as you explore it. The inspiration for Mass Effect, Stellaris, and No Man's Sky, let alone its influence on Tim Cain for Fallout. Equal parts hilarious, dark, and strange. Re-released as open source, making it one of the best free games ever released, in addition to one of the best space games, if not the best game, period.

MadMac_5: Star Control II uses a near-perfect mix of galactic exploration, engaging and deep combat, music that burns deep into your brain, and brilliant writing to tell an epic space opera where your choices shape the galaxy on your way to a climactic final showdown. If that sounds like Mass Effect, you're right; the difference is it did all that in 1992 and ran on an 80386.

Ryan Herrington: The granddaddy of all space adventure games.

32. Red Dead Redemption 2

A 4k screenshot of Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption 2

field_studies: Not as tight or immaculate as my runner up, Return of the Obra Dinn, but RD2 was magical to play - the best, in my experience, of the sprawling genre of open-world narrative action games. I can remember the game world in remarkable spatial detail, in a way that recalls the best of the Gothic series, and similar to that series RD2 also felt alive. Not sure I'll ever get around to replaying it, but even if I don't I'll count those ~75 hours as some of my most treasured in PC gaming.

dmtnexus: It's pretty much the closest video game to being perfectly perfect on a scale that is so staggering in it's breadth that it seems to have been made by millions of talented people with extreme OCD and yet somehow a completely unified vision.

31. Dishonored 2

Arca: I can't just uninstall this game, I replay it at least once a year. I love it all, the game mechanics, the atmosphere, the sound design, the complete freedom. With or without stealth, with or without killing, with or without powers, it's all good fun. I love the whole franchise, but this game just remains number one in my heart.

30. Stardew Valley

Evening in a Stardew Valley screenshot.
Image credit: ConcernedApe

coleislazy: Stardew Valley is a testament to what a single passionate person can accomplish. Fun gameplay and a surprising amount of emotion make this my favorite game of all time.

Yasutsuna: With tons of gameplay variety, gorgeous pixel art, soothing music, intriguing characters and worldbuilding, and addictive gameplay, It's something I can come back to and enjoy time and time again without fail.

whimsicalrogue: My cows. They need me.

29. FTL: Faster Than Light

An overhead view of a spaceship in FTL: Faster Than Light

JonnyCigarettes: The most charm and complexity for the least bluster I've ever seen in a game. I've found it infinitely enjoyable.

phuzz: I guess because it's a Rogue-alike it's hard to get bored of, and I never fail to enjoy it.

28. Sid Meier's Civilization IV

A futuristic city in Civilization IV
Image credit: 2K

Zinzan: Hundreds of hours of gaming, the variety of history it creates and strategies you can experiment with. Winning is secondary to the enjoyment you get from the game.

Scottcmu: Just one more turn...

27. Prey

Prey's protagonist Morgan Yu inspects his eye
Image credit: Bethesda

NacMacFeegle: For me, Prey is one of those games that just really clicked. The combination of cool setting, interesting story and unsettling atmosphere just completely hooked me. I constantly found myself wondering what was going to happen next! Add to that the fun gameplay and fantastic soundtrack makes it my favourite game I've played in recent times. Its expansion Mooncrash is also super fun to play, and for me is far better than Arkane's later title Deathloop. The mimics can sometimes be wee buggers though!

particlese: Prey is my favorite immersive sim, lending itself to four drastically different approaches to abilities (TreeA, TreeB, any, none), and allowing loads of play variation within and outside those constraints. It's a fantastic Metroid-like, with a coherent pseudo-monolithic map whose access is story-constrained yet surprisingly open to whim; atmosphere as thick as they come; even a rad space lady with neat weapons, tools, and a scanning visor. It has the best sci-fi story and world I've seen in a game, unless second to Mass Effect's. And it's without doubt the most gleefully terrifying game I know, making me properly dread doing certain things and spawning a recurring miniboss wholesale, GUI included, into half a dozen of my dreams.

Godwhacker: Prey is the best immersive sim going and therefore the best PC game. Arkane always do places well, but I think Talos 1 is their best- space stations in games are usually pretty samey and Talos 1 manages to be unlike any of them. It's also got Benedict Wong in it.

TheApologist: Prey brings together amazing design of environments, level, systems - both of the physical world of the game and of character upgrade - with a plot that is good moment to moment and fun alternative history science fiction. What emerges from such complexity is an experience that is coherent, singular and yet brimming with possibility to play a different way, take a different path. The achievement of this game boggles the mind, just as the absorbing fun of it sticks in the memory. A genuine, and under-appreciated, great.

26. Hades

Zagreus poses before the hydra in Hades artwork,

Dennis J: Hades is a heavy-hitter on all fronts: It features stellar character writing, stunning character designs and art direction, a bad-ass soundtrack, and to top it off perhaps the most satisfying gameplay loop I have ever come across. What makes it special to me, however, is how it came out of left field. I had never played a roguelite before, having been intimidated by their notorious difficulty for a long time, but Hades introduced me to a whole new genre I now feel comfortable exploring. Moreover, it was the very first game that made me feel like an expert. After spending over 300 hours in the Underworld, I have come to know every single 'boon' and their myriad combinations by heart, and I became the person my friends turned to whenever they wanted to increase their chance of clearing a run.

25. Half-Life

Gordon Freeman riding the tram in Half-Life's intro.

Recurve: Not just a great game but a landmark in gaming history. Others arguably may have improved on it since but none have moved the genre forward by the same magnitude this game did. It took years for the industry to match it's enemy AI, let alone surpass it for example.

oueddy: Foundational in creating the modern FPS and in support of a vibrant modding scene that I enjoyed and contributed to for a good decade, few games are as influential.

John: Not only for the fantastic immersive single-player experience, but that mod scene was the best that online gaming ever was; the idyllic teenage summer, but for nerds for whom the biggest fear was someone picking up the house phone mid-match. That musical sting with the Valve logo still sends a shiver down the back of my neck. Half-Life 3 when?!

Lumière: It was different from everything else, I was so immersed the first time I've played I couldn't think about anything else for weeks. It changed the way PC games were made forever.

24. Rimworld

A bloody battle in a RimWorld screenshot.
Image credit: Ludeon Studios

brucethemoose: Loaded to the brim with mods, Rimworld is a unparalleled story generator. It's like my childhood imagination was ripped out of my head and formed into a game. By itself, without the modding community, it probably wouldn't be top 10... but that goes for many of the games on this list.

purpleaardark: What's not to say about Rimworld? It's the ultimate story builder, with a modding community that's beyond healthy. It keeps getting stronger every time I go back to it.

Michal Sz: The ultimate gaming experience. A work of love with almost unlimited potential from a dedicated team that improved it over many years. True masterpiece also from the design philosophy perspective.

dglenny: If I had to pick one game to play for the rest of my life, it would be Rimworld.

23. Dishonored

A key art short of Corvo from Dishonored, in his clockwork-skull mask with hood up, and his arms forming an x shape in front of his chest. One hand holds his knife, and the other has the mark of the Outsider glowing on it
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

Alex Moffatt: It's such a beautiful and atmospheric place to play in. The powers are great fun, the gameplay satisfying, and the player has no shortage of choices both big and small.

Rowlus: Most of my list is old games I put in here because they just represent great memories. First entries into series. But the game that truly stands out for me is Dishonored. This game completely changed the way I saw game worlds, cities, the people in it. suddenly you didn't just blast your way through an animated street, but you listened to people walking by, you checked if critters were moving away from an alley to know if there were enemies, you checked which of multiple routes was best for the playstyle you were going for. You could still go guns blazing, but often the better option was to sneak, or jump across a fence, wait for enemies to leave. Every playthrough was different, while still remaining a quite straightforward storyline. Absolute game changer!

Luis Wiedenmann: The way it builds up an engrossing world I care about and makes me care about it. I make my own choices, free of judgement at first. Then I see them play out down the line and make my own judgement, whether the way they hurt others made them worth it. And it gets me to make these choices within its core mechanics, which makes everything feel that much tighter. Masterpiece.

22. Minecraft

A vast Minecraft landscape of forests, hills, and rocky plains, with a coastal mountain range in the distance.

HKEY_LOVECRAFT: Making my own fun. Constant surprises afforded by procedural generation. Perpetual (and free) updates. Co-op with friends. Aesthetics. Thunderstorms. Non-punishing survival elements. Sunsets. Swimming with dolphins. The music. And the only crafting system I've ever encountered that I did not hate.

Florent Leguern: Been building the same world almost since beta, with my wife, but mostly me. I can dig and mine while watching videos, I can build while listening to music, I can run after mobs if I feel violent. Peace of mind. Perfect game.

James Alexander Jack: It literally never gets old. You can keep coming back to this one after ages and it'll feel like a totally new experience.

Cable: I can't see anything rivalling my experience in diving in to Minecraft in alpha. The world was vast and unknowable, terrifying and dangerous but also full of surprises and miracles. The game was regularly updated and the mysteries would grow and develop - you never knew what you would find over the horizon or down a vast cave mouth. Truly the greatest video game world to explore of all time.

and its man: I haven't played Minecraft since the mid 2010s, but it was irrefutably the game-changer. No other game had ever pushed so far this peculiar idea of taking up residence in a video game.

Mike T: A game so transformative that it created an entire new category of games.

21. Subnautica

Undersea exploration in a Subnautica screenshot.
Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Ben King: Subnautica is a childhood fantasy come to life- a sci-fi adventure in a cool underwater paradise full of monsters and high stakes drama. There are splendid ships to pilot, bases to build, wildlife to observe and mysteries to uncover. The story is solid with a couple great twists that make you think long and hard about the stakes of the game, and HOPEFULLY give the player something to think about once they resurface in reality.

Brogett: It's the perfect blend of survival, exploration and crafting, with an engrossing story. It has a very hands off way of nudging you in the right direction without ever leading you by the nose or railroading you down a specific path. Plus a banging tune at the end :)

nitric22: What was the one missing ingredient for taking an entire genre -survival games- that I didn't care for in the least, and creating a game so magical and special that it would become my favorite of all time? Water. Just add water. Subnautica took all the tropes, snuck in a surprisingly great story to prod players deeper below the surface, and just covered the whole thing in a big old ocean. And it worked. What a special game.

ruraljuror5: I wish I could go back and experience this game for the first time all over again. No other game I've played has quite matched the feeling of discovering the beauty and mysteries of plant 4546B and the terror of encountering a Leviathan.

Evey: It's amazing. The aliens, the wildlife, the base building. Great atmosphere.

20. Divinity: Original Sin II

RamblingMoose: There are RPGs with good combat, RPGs with fun character building, and RPGs with clever stories. But rarely does an RPG do every single thing absolutely right. DOS2 not only has all of these things, every discrete element is better than any other RPG around.

19. Portal

decimae: Portal was not just my first game on Steam, it was the game that really got me into PC gaming. I downloaded tons of custom maps for it and I played through it hundreds of times. I have over 250 hours in it on Steam, but the reason I really love it (even over Portal 2) is because of its elegance (besides of course nostalgia). Valve decided to make a shorter puzzle game and managed to provide a sweet experience that does not get old, is really funny (even if some lines have been memed to death), and has very interesting mechanics. A perfect classic.

Amy: Changed what I thought was possible for puzzle and first person games. Was also very sinister and funny.

Jim Gardner: Exactly the right level of difficulty: puzzles that are easy enough to solve with a bit of work, but hard enough to make you feel clever for succeeding. Also, of course, the humour.

skeletortoise: Consider any given person in your life who doesn't play video games. Now imagine the game you'd have them play to try and convince them games are worthwhile and good. There's a right answer to this question, and it's Portal. Almost anyone could play and beat and really enjoy Portal in a single afternoon. It's a boring choice for a reason and that's because it's so obviously the best.

18. Slay the Spire

Adam In Kent: It's the best game I've ever played.

17. Elden Ring

Elden Ring screenshot showing a player holding a lightning-imbued sword and striking a Tree Sentinel with a lightning bolt

Rapturous: Elden Ring has moved game development forward in a way few games in history have ever hoped to. FromSoftware broke from their highly successful formula taking a huge risk in order to create an innovative open-world Souls game, and it is a spectacular success. The enigmatic story, ominous vibes, and crisp game design are a complete package, second-to-none.

Ben: Recency bias blah blah blah. Nothing has ever given me the same giddy mix of wonder and horror as arriving at a new vantage point in Elden Ring and gazing down on the myriad things that I know will do their best to make me suffer. Also the final boss music might be Fromsoft’s best.

Justin Brent Anderson: I dreamt once that Dark Souls was a sprawling world full of secrets and mystery around every corner, a hundred times larger than the lands of Lordran... my dream came true.

Sergio Vargas: A massive, epic, challenging, mysterious, beautiful nightmare.

OUTFOXXED007: Ah. Praise the ring! Elden Ring was amazing. From boss and world design to all the customisability, Fromsoft did it again. This probably will be on most people’s list, but hey. It’s Elden Ring. GOTY for sure. Maybe even the best of the 20s but I mean we’re just starting and Hades is harsh competition.

spamtwo: I hated Elden Ring so much, but at the same time I couldn’t stop playing it and when I finally beat the game I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Since finishing it earlier this year no game has come close to it in terms of experience.

16. Hollow Knight

Image credit: Team Cherry

SeekerX: Hollow Knight is a masterpiece of world design and gameplay. There are signposts and clues to keep the player from feeling aimlessly lost, but there are also hidden pathways and secrets and a freedom to explore that is pretty much unparalleled in the genre (after a more tightly controlled intro area or two, anyway). The challenge level is uncompromising, but the world is open enough that it's generally possible to turn away from anything that seems too tricky and come back to it later with more powers and tools, letting the player do a lot to set their own difficulty curve. I love this game.

Mean_Monsoon: The perfect Metroidvania. Beautiful interesting map to explore. Fun mostly fair boss fights. Incredible ambiance. Cannot wait for Silksong!

kate: The atmosphere is incredible, it might be the only game I can hear just by looking at a screenshot. In this unfamiliar & hostile world, thank goodness we have such tight, precise controls to cling on to, as sturdy & reliable as the most comfortable bench. Every new secret discovered is a treat. And just look at those cute little bugs!

15. Return of the Obra Dinn

Staring at a skeleton in a Return of the Obra Dinn screenshot.
Image credit: 3909

Guy Montag: A perfect mix of exploration and puzzle solving, with an intriguing story that you discover through the gameplay so brilliantly. There's so much obvious time and care put into its development. Above almost any other piece of media, it's something I wish I could experience for the first time again.

cranberryaddict: Nothing else like, really great cerebal puzzles.

14. XCOM 2

A Muton in an XCOM 2 screenshot.
Image credit: 2K

Dave: The only game on my list to have multiple playthroughs. I've seen complaints about the lack of complexity but I think they nailed the modernisation and there's more than enough mods to make it harder if you want. There's nothing more tragic than watching a soldier renamed as one of your mates miss his 99% shot...

Jonathon Parker: You know that feeling you get when you lose someone close to you? The feeling that comes when you grow so close to a person that you basically become two parts of the same beautiful soul, just for the cruel, uncaring chaos of the universe to snatch them from you, leaving you completely alone in the world. It's like that but fun!

Sorbicol: It’s the perfect blend of strategy and tactics that, despite "That’s XCOM baby!" moments is never unfair. Also home to some of the best mods ever made.

13. Dark Souls

Solaire, the odd sun-worshipping knight in Dark Souls, stands facing towards the object of his affection on the edge of a stony paved area open to the sky
Image credit: Bandai Namco/FromSoftware

DavyC: Still reigns supreme today, despite others having had over a decade to imitate and iterate: even From's subsequent offerings haven't managed to lay a glove on their masterpiece. An intricate, involved world that is bursting with possibilities and the knowledge that something amazing is only a moment of inspiration away. A delight in exploration, experimentation and discovery. A design philosophy that, given the choice between risking patronising me and baffling me, will choose to baffle me every single time. I really couldn't recommend this enough, and if you're avoiding it because you're worried it's too hard, don't. It's exacting, punishing even, in places, but it gives you the tools and the lessons you need to learn. "Git gud has become an obnoxious cliche for a reason: patience and practice are the keys to success more than lightning swift reactions or a super-smart build."

Tuhosilppuri: World/Lore, level design, combat, atmosphere. Taught me many things about myself.

James: The mystery, challenge, world building and design.

StrafeMcgee: Playing Dark Souls for the first time was an unforgettable experience. Tough, dark, beautiful, surprising and rewarding, I long for another game to surprise and impress me the way this one did the first time I played through it. A masterpiece.

ArmitageV: Ah, yes. Dark Souls. The "hard game". Believe it or not, Dark Souls was the first 3D video game I ever played. And also the first one I played using a controller. I played it without being aware of its overblown reputation of being unfair and brutally hard and downright sadistic. Which is why, to me, Dark Souls always just felt like a hardened teacher. Strict, demanding, punishing, but fair. Always fair. Every time you don't respect the game world enough, the game kills you. But why I love this game so much is because it never mocks you for your mistakes. It looks you straight in the eye and just blankly says, "You failed, huh? That was bound to happen. You were getting arrogant. You were meant to fall because you weren't trying your best. But you know what went wrong. So now... get back up."

TheRaptorFence: If true art "resists rationalization," as Heidegger put it, then Dark Souls is the premier example of art as a video game. Lewis Carroll by way of gothic architecture and grotesque monsters: even at its most challenging Lordran beckons you to uncover every secret, backtracking levels, reading obscure lore bits on weapons you'll never use, and spending hours psyching yourself up for Blighttown. Equal parts entertainment, mystery, and horror, the twists and turns of its level design and story mean every playthrough is both familiar yet foreign. Few games continue to have an impact as monumental as the Souls series.

Jared M: Nothing new can be said about the original Dark Souls. A masterclass in level design and atmosphere, deep systems and exacting game play. The games many secrets have become common knowledge, but download the randomizer mod and be ready to experience fresh runs that put your knowledge to the test.

Harrison: Its the Dark Souls of PC gaming.

Paul Hamilton: Dark Souls instills a wonderful feeling of self-satisfaction as one becomes an expert at navigating its world and abstruse mechanics. And once you master this finely-tuned machine, you can then manipulate it to create your own novel ways of playing. Other games are better if you will only play them once. Dark Souls is best enjoyed by taking a highly-structured, notoriously difficult, experience and making your own game within it by creating increasingly ridiculous challenge runs. It is my desert island game that I can play over and over in an unending cycle of finding new ways to reignite the first flame only for it to fade again.

12. Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn

Warriors fight a large green dragon in Baldur's Gate 2: Enhanced Edition
Image credit: Beamdog

Vincente Fox: Baldur's Gate was an incredible Game, but II topped it in scope and scale; it holds up more than 20 years later as an achievement in character, narrative, and customizability, providing a grand open-world canvas without losing a strong sense of story.

Lee: I loved the story and characters from the outset, but I especially love the way its fans have kept a 20-year-old game alive, modding it to make it even bigger and deeper. It's not just that the game is good, it's that it's the kind of good that made me realize what an RPG could do, narratively speaking. A decade after I first played it, and I'm still chasing the way it made me feel.

Christoph Freudenreich: Great out of the box, even better with the expansion, incredible replayability with mods. It's even awesome in multiplayer, if you can find someone crazy enough to play together for hours at a time.

Fritha: Added a year to my PhD (along with Alpha Centauri). Have a version on most gaming setups. Do a run through at least once a year. Just scratches an itch that no other RPG has ever managed. Best RPG ever.

Ryan D: I have nothing but positive memories about BG2. It has become my comfort food when I'm stressed or sad, and it is something I replay at least once a year. The music, the story, the voice acting, the characters are all just so memorable and timeless. There hasn't been a modern game that has come close to capturing that. Irenicus is still the best antagonist in any video game. Playing always brings back good memories of my childhood sitting with my brothers as we take turns playing and watching each others characters.

11. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Fruits: Morrowind is uniquely weird fantasy world of mushrooms and giant insects. The characters and undercurrents run deep, from archmage Divayth Fyr and his daughters (clones?!) and the horrifying secret in their basement, to the handler Caius, a debauched spy who has gone native. The player is instructed by the colonial empire to do anthropological field work, learning the customs and internal politics of a new and fractious country. The end goal is to become a false prophet but perhaps the player really is the Nerevarine? I love this game because it encourages me to come up with my own interpretation and for hiding details and secrets that I'm still discovering to this day.

RDG72: A fun world to get lost in. An old friend that can be made new with mods or enjoyed raw. A single player offline game, no login or market to trip it up.

GoodTeaNiceHouse: Morrowind is the last Elder Scrolls to have the courage to let the player break it beyond recovery. The level of obsession I reached with that game is probably the closest I'll ever get to experiencing actual "virtual reality." Thank goodness that it's never been duplicated.

WhatifRedoranbughousescouldmove?: The greatest fantasy world ever created for a PC game, with fantastic visual design that transcends the technical limitations of the time. Complex lore written and constructed in a style which imitates how real history and mythology is actually written, a superb antagonist who may well actually be justified in their actions, or not even the real villian at all. Huge freedom of choice and action and a game which fundimentally altered what I thought games could do. I wish Bethesda could do this again, with the combat, stealth systems and AI of the games that followed. The good points far outweigh the bad with Morrowind, however. The perfect game doesn't exist. I played this solely for about 18 months. Loved it.

unclellama: Outlander. Most RPGs try to make you feel immediately welcome, special, part of the team. Morrowind... does not. The world is alien, foggy, and initially hard to navigate. Take this letter to an agent in Balmora - good luck. If your character is inept at using a sword, don't go swinging it at a mudcrab like an idiot. Even as you progress in the (fairly typical hero-journey) main quest, it offers no Truth, but instead multiple inconsistent, self-serving versions of its backstory. Vvardenfell feels like a real place - perhaps because it is not too eager to please.

VCepesh: Immersive and exotic lore you can get lost in; deep, engrossing lore that you can still discover new things about more than twenty years later. Even if, by this point, a large part of it is nostalgia.

Matt H: I feel like I miss Balmora with the same part of my brain that misses places from real life.

10. Mass Effect 2

Garrus and Shepard stood next to each other during Garrus's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2.

Zootz: Mass Effect's sequel managed to not only survive the dreaded "sequel/sophomore slump" that epic first albums and games seem to struggle with, and does it by not only merely surviving the release of a follow-up to their instantly classic piece of creative genius: BioWare, in Mass Effect 2, surpassed its progenitor in every manner. Add in the loyalty missions for exquisitely written & deeply flawed companion characters, and the greatness was overwhelming despite the hype and skepticism of even matching the original Mass Effect.

Magus42: An almost perfectly paced heist-caper as video game with an all-time memorable cast.

Aaron R: No other game world feels as lived-in and plausible to me as the world of Mass Effect, and no other set of characters feels as complete and alive. The series's core themes - the expansive conception of personhood, the centrality of choice - have their best expression in the second game, which at its core is about how our relationships with other people transform our world. I love those guys.

Tonic: I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favourite game of all time. Fantastic character development and an entertaining suite of side characters. Good game play for the time with a wide range of combat options and meaningful, story impacting choices.

BingoBangoBongo#1956: The emotional connection with your partners, how much your choices matter, the depth of the universe, the number of side missions to explore, the amazingly crafted ambiance, the fun gameplay, and the memories of a story that feels richer than most sci-fi novels.

9. Fallout: New Vegas

Golfmurder in a Fallout: New Vegas screenshot.

ignotas: I cried over a spherical robot who could only communicate in beeps and television soundbites. I conducted an anarchist coup out of spite. I huddled in an abandoned office hoping I had enough water to wait out stimulant withdrawals. I helped a schizophrenic mutant grandmother maintain her sense of self because it felt like the right thing to do. I shot a lottery winner in the back because it felt like the right thing to do. I've never been so sure a game said something about me, and so unsure what it said.

Thrillias: With its freedom of choice, well-written characters and satisfying gameplay, this is the game I remember most fondly. Despite the shortcomings of its engine it's a masterclass in RPG design.

poliovaccine: As a kid I loved games, but took a decade-long break, late adolescence through college. When I returned, Fallout New Vegas was one of the primary reasons - apparently, games had become what I used to but dream they could be. It looked like great sci-fi, but it was so much more. NV was great sci-fi, great RPG, a living world, believable characters, eh, passable action that's maybe not polished but it's fun, and above all: variety. By the time I've seen everything the game has to offer, I'll have forgotten enough stuff that something else'll be new again. And that's before even counting the infinite polyverse of mods. #1 Desert Island Exile Game For All Seasons.

Sacharon: FO:NV is the most alive game I ever met. The layer of living enhanced by all the microstories, the desolate atmosphere with a perfect fitting soundtrack, and thousands of small stories and fragments hidden everywhere. Add to this the DLCs, which are so enormously diverse, that each is a world of its own! Dead money creeped me out, Honest Hearts was a beautiful walk, Old World Blues full of technobabble, and Lonesome Road… made me cry at the end, because all decisions were equally wrong and futile.

Oso_Feo: Combination of great story and writing with immersive game play (and tons of mods!) made the perfect game for me.

8. Planescape: Torment

Warriors stand in front of a large statue in Planescape Torment
Image credit: Beamdog

Bloodyhell: Planescape: Torment showed up in the same era as Baldur's Gate II and Icewind Dale, yet the game turned a lot of conventions upside down. From the colorful party members, that ranged from a talking skull, to a wizard who was perpetually on fire, to an unbelievable range of dialogue choices and crazy environments to explore. If reading isn't your thing, this game probably wouldn't resonate with you, but it is one game that left indelible memories with me and a main character that I wish someone would resurrect for another game. The Nameless One was truly an ass kicking protagonist that resided squarely in the gray, and had a crew of unforgettable misfits that followed him.

DaFrenz: More than 20 years after release, PT is still a game world of unsurpassed creativity. An exotic place full of unique characters and novel ideas, both of which are strangely rare in fantasy games. Add a weird personal yourney of self discovery and plenty of philosophical conundrums for one of the most memorable gaming experiences ever.

Alex Altman: The quality of writing brought this band of strange characters to life in a way no other game really has. Full of charm and surprises at every turn, what I loved most was the scope: finally a fantasy RPG about personal struggle, grief, and dread instead of a world threatening conflict.

Roger Totor: Because even games need good stories. And Torment's writing is among best ever, with great characters and a weird and fantastic setting.

Llansam: The writing. Just, wow.

7. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Stone steps leading upward to a ruined barrow made of collapsed arches on a mountainside in Skyrim.
Image credit: Microsoft

Dracorogue: Skyrim is kinda like therapy for me at times. It is a place I can escape to when everything else is going to hell. It is a world I can believe and experience. It has helped get me through some really rough times. I can explore for hours doing nothing but enjoying the journey.

Kereth: It's endlessly replayable, has a ton of Elder Scrolls lore behind it and develops the lore even further, has a healthy, active modding scene, even without mods allows for a ton of playstyles and character types, open world is filled with stuff to do and experience, game is not on rails in any way, fantastic score, and dragons.

DragonOfTime: Essentially, it's comfort food. Every so often, I feel the urge to slip into a fantasy world and be some sort of adventurer. I pootle around a bit, kill some dragons, join some guilds, before some other game distracts me. But I always come back. Putting Skyrim here feels a bit like cheating, because of course it's not just Skyrim, it's modded Skyrim, so coming out of that tutorial cave and seeing Bleak Falls Barrow on a distant mountaintop looks just as good now as it did in my memory of 2011 (which is of course a lot better than it actually looked back then). For all the criticism of boring story and shallow NPCs, Bethesda knew how to make a beautiful, stylish, and immersive world, that remains a pleasure to explore.

6. Half-Life 2

A horrible zombie running at Alyx in Half-Life 2

Luke S: A lot of hay is made about environmental storytelling, especially in the last ten-odd years, but Half-Life 2 is still at the top of the heap because it chooses to be silent. You’re not listening to constant tiresome audio logs or reading computer terminals. Instead you stumble upon melancholy tableaux of lives upended by the end of society, the long-gone remains of people caught off guard and annihilated by a cataclysm beyond their power to fight or even really understand.

Rhubarb Bomb: Half Life 2 is such a dull choice of number 1. The rest of my top ten are more fun and I'll go back and play them more often. But... having revisited recently on the Steam Deck it still blows me away how much we owe to it, how much began here. It's wonderful.

Fenix: It redefined storytelling, and the importance of strong narration in a game.

5. Portal 2

A screenshot of Portal 2 showing blue paint following out of the ceiling and several blue-smeared turrets bouncing around.

Sam: Portal 2 is a near-flawless physics-based puzzler with great puzzles, an excellent co-op campaign, and some of the best writing, voice acting, and most vivid storytelling the medium has ever seen. Thanks to having a superb community and the Steam workshop supporting community-made test chambers created within the Puzzle Creator, replayability is near endless. No other game better represents the DIY ethic of PC gaming than Portal 2.

Paul: Brevity, Humor, and Impeccable Puzzle Design.

Gilmir: It's simply perfect. Funny, intelligent, witty, great for solo, great for coop. Great for a kid, as well. My 13-year-old son has played it through at least three times, having started while being eight or so.

Luk 333: Brilliant writing, characters, atmosphere, voice acting, puzzles, humor and graphics.

4. Outer Wilds

The angler fish from Dark Bramble in Outer Wilds

Vandervecken: An incredible adventure where you can do anything, and everything is worth doing. A mind-bending voyage of discovery that you can only ever take once in your life. Never have I wished for amnesia in my life except when I finished this game, and wept for I could never experience the joy of discovering the intricate clockwork of its world again. I have evangelized this game to everyone I know. Lightning captured in a bottle.

tgb: Exploration in a world that actually changes. Great contrast to scripted set-piece games where you know that the building collapsed right then because I just walked past the magic line that triggers the animation. And the expansion was just as great - lightning struck twice, somehow!

Scott M: So good.

ggscv123: Moments of pure emotion that are crystallized in your memory days, weeks, months and years after finishing the game. Perfect marriage of design, gameplay, story and music. Also one of the best endings in all of gaming, which is why it edges out Disco Elysium for the top spot.

Garrison Fox: Most intellectually rewarding game I've ever played. Makes you feels like a detective more than any other game.

Morphisor: One of the best exploration games ever made. Game design that respects the player's intelligence without becoming needlessly complicated, progression that is non-linear and yet carefully tailored. Each new progression milestone feels like a wonderful personal discovery, the importance of which is judged only by the insight you gain yourself. After all several decades of gaming, some of the concepts in this game actually still managed to blow my mind, which is the biggest praise I can give.

Firenz: Why's it great? Perhaps the way it carefully pulls you in the direction you need to go without ever railroading you? Or the way it introduces new mechanics and concepts without cramming them down your throat? Space angler fish? Session length? It's a very tight, very thoughtful, fun game to play.

Geoff: Everything about this game is a joy: the delightfully inventive setting, the curiosity-driven gameplay, the puzzle-piece precision of the detective work, the transcendent soundtrack, and the deeply moving ending. One of the few games to meaningfully change my outlook on life.

Mingus: The story and delivery of said story through gameplay is astounding and the raw intrigue of the games world is really interesting.

It's a perfect game that left me awed, terrified, and wistful throughout. A highwater mark of the medium.

Azraelng: Outer Wilds' open world and environmental narrative filled me with wonder, joy and beautiful sadness in ways that bespoke narratives never could. Somehow this game wrapped up profound existential reflection in a fun physics simulation playground. I desperately want more games like it but how could anything ever truly be like it?

Erik: Outer Wilds evokes the sublime and it does so while also being a peerless puzzlebox set inside a galaxy simulation. It's a perfect game that left me awed, terrified, and wistful throughout. A highwater mark of the medium.

evilloh: Outer Wilds can surprise you without you even knowing. If you let yourself enjoy this wonderful universe you'll feel like a kid wandering in an amusement park, filled with wonder where everything seems so magical and new.

upselo: A journey through space with emotional stakes, only guided by your curiosity and empowered by the knowledge collected along the way.

Riebeck from Outer Wilds playing his banjo by the fire
Image credit: Annapurna Interactive

lollololo: There's no other game that I played only once and yet can't stop thinking about, even years later. Like the greatest works of art I've experienced, Outer Wilds is now inextricably part of how I view the world and my place in it. Outer Wilds made me feel the profound value in pursuing knowledge to the end of the universe, but with kindness towards others and ourselves. You can't save the galaxy in a day, sometimes you can't save it at all. And that's fine.

Koeru: I don't think anything comes close to matching the feeling I had when first playing this game. The way the story unfolds, the world building, the clockwork design of the entire loop... It's all just magical.

BaronVonRuthless: A sublime experience from the first moment; I can't remember such feelings of awe and wonder as an adult, it completely blew me away. And what a score! For the first and only time; when I finished the game I immediately emailed the developers to thank them.

Urthman: Outer Wilds is not just a game with a good science fiction story or a game that uses cool science-fiction locations or gadgets. It actually uses the medium of games to create a work of science fiction. Instead of telling you about the consequences of some wild science-fiction ideas, or just showing you what it looks like, you grasp the ideas by playing the game. Learning the rules, how to do things and go places, how the various planets and technologies fit together.

GameOverMan: The wonder of discovery, the hand-crafted locations, the feeling of sadness with a spark of hope: the Universe (and the game) is ending but somehow everything's going to be all right since the important aspect was the journey and the people you met, alive (the few inhabitants of the solar system) and long time dead (through the translated ancient texts).

3. Deus Ex

JC Denton looks skyward in a cropped vintage Deus Ex wallpaper.
Image credit: Eidos Interactive

Dan_igrok: The game that, still to this day, feels better than it should be. It might be ugly graphics, dull gunfights, or linear story telling. It is on the other hand, a game that keeps surprising you each time you play it. When someone speaks about Deus Ex, someone is going to reinstall it later on.

Grand Fromage: What is there to say that hasn't been said? Deus Ex felt like you could do anything. I was still finding new options after a dozen playthroughs. The conspiracy mashup was fantastic, back before people who think the plot of Deus Ex is real became the ruling class. It's smart and perfectly constructed.

Shazbut: It is the king of immersive sims, the greatest gaming genre there is. Virtual reality exists to realise the goal of the immersive sim: an immersive first person experience with infinite player agency. It's what the dream of video games was always about. Without Deus Ex, we're blasting demons in the face forever and never leaving adolescence. With Deus Ex, the sky is the limit. Games can shoot for the moon, they can tell incredible stories that are shaped by the player, they can replicate reality. It is, obv, the best PC game ever and still plays great today.

Rao Dao Zao: Great plot that works on many levels - works on the surface as a dumb conspiracy action-thriller, works on a deeper level as a more intelligent examination of... loadsa stuff. Great gameplay, still mostly unsurpassed. Open structure, but not so open as to lose focus. Possibly the best soundtrack ever composed. Mmmm. I've been playing Deus Ex over and over for the last 20 years, and despite knowing it like the back of my hand I still discover at least one new thing every time. That's real quality.

Dastardly conspirators stand beneath a statue of a hand clutching the globe in a Deus Ex screenshot.
Screenshot of a female JC Denton in Deus Ex with the Lady D Denton mod.
Image credit: Eidos Interactive

ElSparko: It's a game out of another time. A time before conspiracy theories and terrorism got "too real" after 9/11. It's the cyberpunk immersive sim of the early internet days. In a sense retro future of the 90s, if something like that would exist.

Lucius_Apollo: I love Deus Ex because it presents a vivid and compelling sci-fi world and empowers the player to approach mission objectives however they see fit. It was ahead of its time for how it prioritized player agency within real-world settings, and remains highly relevant today due to its social and economic themes. Deus Ex is the ultimate immersive sim, and a gaming experience that hasn't been matched in the 22 years since its release.

Aerothorn: Deus Ex expanded my conceptions of what a video game could be. Centering player choice and expression in every facet of its design, Deus Ex managed to simultaneously be an ambitious, cerebral expanse of possibility space, a serious work of dystopic fiction, and an intentionally goofy celebration of the absurdities of video game power fantasies.

When it released it was thoroughly mindboggling in scale, ambition, and execution. It takes many playthroughs to exhaust the possibilities.

Wraggle: Represented what was different about PC games in early 2000s. Ambitious, sprawling, and highly interactive from the smallest level objects to the overall game play, all backed by a ridiculously thumping soundtrack. It used up half the keys on the keyboard and mixed RPG elements, FPS, and stealth. Yes, it wasn't a looker and had clunky animations but its story beats drove the intrigue and the maps allowed planned and reactive play. It ran on the Unreal engine and immersed players in a paranoid world suffering from a global pandemic... wait a minute.

Platytross: When it released it was thoroughly mindboggling in scale, ambition, and execution. It takes many playthroughs to exhaust the possibilities, and even after that it's fun to go through using builds you've used before. The characters are varied and interesting, the locales are memorable and well designed, the weaponry and tools available to you are fun and satisfying to use. The narrative and exposition are based on such a hodgepodge of conspiracy theories and ideas, but they've been pulled together in such a way that you could almost believe they're real. Twenty two years on and even somebody playing it for the first time is virtually guaranteed to join those of us who reinstall it every few years for another go.

onthax: Amazing experience with so much content and pathways to explore the world. For eight years replayed it every year and always found new content. Was very timely and completely changed how games were played.

Ex Lion Tamer: I tried Deus Ex for the first time at least a decade after release. It lived up to every word of praise for me, even with the obvious flaws like enemy AI. I would love to encounter that feeling of possibility again.

alertrelic: It's all about the openness of the world, from the individual levels to the longer-term impact of your decisions, and the way that plays into the narrative. Newer games have better action and mechanics, but nothing comes close to the immersion and atmosphere of the GOAT. It's also scarily prescient in some ways.

Dima: The Freedom.

2. Disco Elysium

A screenshot of Disco Elysium: The Final Cut.

Frederik: Disco Elysium shouldn't exist. When I first played it, it had no voice-over, so it was a very personal, slow affair. No other game made me glued to the screen like Disco did. How the story and its systems interlock with the presentation, the music. It pulls you into a fully realized world, ruined by familiar forces, a place of rare beauty. When you read up on the circumstances of its development you realize just how unlikely it was to catch lightning in the bottle like that. A CRPG with no combat, made by people who never worked on a videogame before. And it’s glorious. An actual cryptid among its peers.

Ezgi Dede: The writing of this game is absolutely brilliant. One line makes you ashamed, another makes you happy. So, in the end, you swing from one emotion to another. Crying with desperation and happiness. That game is an awesome experience.

sterlins#11912: Some of the most evocative writing I've experienced in a game. I played this game during a very specific part of my life where the existential dread found throughout the writing really hit home. It really nailed not knowing who you are and who you want to be. How to find your place in a world that doesn't care and is hostile to life. No matter what bizarre conversation you'd find yourself in I remember being so engrossed in each one. Really hopeful that this is a major direction that games go in in the future.

Kalyx Velys: A game which makes failure fun, forces you to think carefully about what you do and don't say and posits that wearing a tie can make you less physically imposing.

Willem: A game so good I couldn't stand the thought of playing it again. On paper, it sounded like a somewhat cynical, nihilistic romp, but it turned out to be a work of deep compassion about trying to Get Better when both you and the world around you are deeply damaged. I felt so vulnerable while playing and so satisfied and moved by the path my character took that I long resisted playing through another time, even though I knew how much of the game I hadn't seen. Then they released The Final Cut, and I caved. But I still felt reluctant to stray from the path I took the first time because of how personal it was to me, how it felt so connected to who I was at that time.

A screenshot of Disco Elysium using the new dyslexia-friendly font.
Image credit: ZA/UM

Manuel: I have never been as mesmerized, absorbed, touched and bewildered by a game. After the credits rolled, I felt out of touch with the world around me, and reality felt almost surreal - which weirdly enough (or intentionally?) is exactly how the protagonist feels within the game. An absolute masterpiece.

Amelie Wikström: I was in deep as soon as I heard of the premise of what they then called No Truce with the Furies: a bad cop who's also bad at being a cop, investigating, interrogating and wrestling with his own demons, his thoughts, skills and memories. And then the game was that and a whole lot more, strange, sad, mysterious, real and full of miracles and the beauty of ruins and lost love and angry, bitter hope. Twenty four different, mostly equally valid ways of looking at the world, and you can never forget even one.

Jam Warrior: I have never before had such a strong feeling of uniqueness while playing a game. Game mechanics, world, themes, nothing quite like it has ever come before and I doubt it will ever come after. I can't bring myself to replay it without it feeling like any different branches picked would be a betrayal of 'my' Harry and his story. Definitely a top candidate to Eternal Sunshine myself in order to experience for the first time again.

Devin: Disco Elysium is one of the most thoughtful games in existence. It pulls off an impressive feat of exploring politics and philosophy deeply, without being didactic or boring. It's beautiful, funny, tragic, hopeful, and brilliant.

Disco Elysium is a game about us. About the rot that is living at the end of history, made out of futures robbed and murdered without mercy.

LuxVeritatis: The depth of emotion, the detail of the lore, the skill system, the characters, the art, the fact that failure can be better than success.

vand: Disco Elysium has shown the potential for video games to use the medium's unique qualities in it's interrogation of it's themes. When we speak in seriously of bespoke plots and good writing in video games, Disco Elysium has raised the bar - simultaneously showing that video games are not only capable of contributing to philosophical discourse, but have hitherto untapped perspectives to bring to the table. It also revealed that the games we have thought of as "well written", in retrospect, have been beholden to a low standard - thus showing that there is much insight left to gain through video games.

slick_named_pimpback: Disco Elysium shows that failure can be fun. Begone savescumming, because it's perfectly fine to fail a roll, see your character do some silly stuff, then try again when you level up a skill and succeed. That fits the narrative perfectly - you're playing as a miserable man trying to set things straight, and it's your choice what kind of person they'll become. And that's what i love about Disco Elysium.

cpt_freakout: Disco Elysium is a game about us. About the rot that is living at the end of history, made out of futures robbed and murdered without mercy. It is about how getting back those futures will not save us, because it would mean carrying a corpse at our backs; before the locus of the end of the world what we do is dance, what we do is make communities of noise – that concept of what lies beyond the present – not to save it but to simultaneously reflect and deflect its transformations. To seamlessly become an other, that hidden utopian aim of RPGs, and be able to actually live, instead of ever-so-slowly die. That is why I believe DE is important, and my #1 game.

Tauan Tinti: It's one of the very few games (along with others on this list) whose writing does not embarass me in the least - actually, now that I think about it, the game can be quite embarassing, but in the right look-at-the-world's-and-also-at-your-own-shortcomings way, which is astonishing in a world where The Wicher 3 and Assassin's Creeds and David Cage's abominations can be considered good writing. Also, Disco Elysium is very mechanically clever (the skill system etc.), frequently funny, deep and, most surprisingly, politically meaningful. I really wish more games like DE existed.

Daniel: This has some of the best writing, characters and world-building I've ever seen. The absurd inner monologues of the protagonist, the crazy people you encounter, the beautiful art style and excellent voice acting all work together to create one of the most enjoyable and original gameplay experiences of all time, all neatly tied up in a murder-mystery, noir, detective story.

Tanneseph: Truly a ROLE-playing experience, with wild, personal options, making it an excellent use of the medium. "Gesamptkunstwerk," a term used in the artworld, is German for "total work of art". Wagner wanted operas with top-notch writing, acting, music, and visuals, as opposed to good music and cheesy everything else. Disco Elysium is a gesamptkunstwerk - the writing, the world, the depths of meaning it plays with in the arenas of politics and of self, the gorgeous artstyle, and the amazing soundtrack by British indie group Sea Power, all create a fantastic expression of what it should mean to utilize everything video game.

GrouchoMarxist: Disco Elysium is no. 1 for me because it challenges traditional notions of what a video game can be by making failure a narrative branching point rather than a fail state you must reload from; it drips with style with its unique look, setting, and characters; it’s unapologetically political in a way that’s refreshing rather than cringeworthy like in Outer Worlds; the writing and story manage to be both darkly funny and cynical yet also profoundly humanistic and uplifting by the end; and even in repeat playthroughs, it continues to be the most emotionally affecting experience of any video game I’ve ever played.

It's a game about the past, about the pain we carry, how we run from it and how (if) we process it. It utterly broke me.

allsaintsbarandgrill: I played this in Spring of 2020 when things seemed unendingly bleak both personally and politically, and it revitalized me. The world as it existed and myself as I existed felt recognized in a way I have rarely experienced, and never before in a video game. It's a very good game, wonderfully designed, and the world it takes place in is fascinating, but more significantly is how it rekindled in me a little spark of hope and determination. It made me care about the future again. What could be better than that?

Mal: DE's skill system hits that perfect sweet spot of an idea so conceptually brilliant and simple that I want at least half of everyone to steal it, and so well-executed and well-integrated into its world that I want it to stay distinct forever. And it is a big part of why DE is probably the only game I've ever played that is consistently beautifully written at every level, right down to the individual sentences - not just good by "whatever your standards are for video games," but really able to go toe-to-toe with... well, whatever your hypothetical listener happens to respect.

spider jerusalem: I was filled with a profound sense of despair after finishing Disco Elysium. I was, and still am, worried that I will never play a game as clear and smart and caring. It's a game about the past, about the pain we carry, how we run from it and how (if) we process it. It utterly broke me.

Bastian: Atmosphere (art, music), great writing and a rather open approach to it's puzzles and solutions.

Magisaurus: Disco Elysium is an absolutely unique experience. From the gorgeous art, to the whip smart writing, to the fantastically bleak humor of the the whole thing. I could go on, but really you should just play this game!

1. The Witcher 3

Geralt and Ciri pose back-to-back in The Witcher 3 artwork.
Image credit: CD Projekt Red

Stanton Ballard: The Witcher 3 is still unbeaten in terms of writing quality. Perhaps the quest design is simplistic, but damn if I don't care about every single person that I come across during a given playthrough. Do not get me started on the expansions, which I hold as two of the best pieces of downloadable content ever released and set the bar for games to come.

Knights of the Old Republic: Witcher 3 has the best writing so that even side quests are very interesting. It also had some of the best graphics for its generation.

Gavin Hart: The Witcher 3 doesn’t settle for filling its enormous world with filler nonsense. Every quest has purpose and logic. Characters are memorable, and even a monster-hunting commission can twist into a heart-wrenching question of your own morality and cause. The combat is simple or as complex as you want it to be, it can vary from simple dodging and sword swiping to a multi-faceted combination of drinking the correct potions, using the correct magical Signs, and parrying and dodging sword play. Geralt is a complicated character, but driven by your choices he can be the kind of Witcher you want him to be, with decisions that leave a genuine lasting impact on the world and your endings. Even the mini-game in The Witcher 3 is expertly thought-out — Gwent is so addictive and enjoyable that it created not one but two separate spin-off games of its own.

Alex Lorenz: It's proof that a huge sprawling open world doesn't have to contain filler. Every single side quest is handled with more attention and care than most AAA main quests. Plus, some of the storylines are amazing, like Hearts of Stone or the Red Baron quest. It has never been equaled.

Jeroen Vister: The full scope of the landscape, beautiful graphics, side quests feel interwoven, no redundancy, meaningful characters, beautiful story arc. You could really live in this world

Chris C: The ultimate RPG? Brilliant characters, engrossing story, excellent gameplay. Looks beautiful and feels like a real, lived-in world. Sex, drugs, folk music. Wine tours of Toussaint. Gwent, gwent and more gwent.

Mdrg: Witcher 3 was the culmination of a great three-games run, and was better than its predecessors in every regard. A huge adventure to lose yourself in, high quality writing and voice-acting all around, great characters in a fascinating setting, and quite a few emotionally loaded moments.

"After all those years, I still haven’t found a game that transported me as convincingly to another world as the Witcher did."

Alfy: After all those years, I still haven’t found a game that transported me as convincingly to another world as the Witcher did. Novigrad is a city I believe I have actually lived in.

Ben: Over 7 years since its release date and i'm yet to experience a world so immersive, so engrossing, so visceral. Memorable characters, a vicious story and well Gwent was just great. Still to this day, the best game ever made.

Capeutaine: It has everything you can look for in a game. It made me laugh, cry, rage, think, gaze, take my time. Every story is engaging (almost), from the main with is beautifully fleshed-out characters to the small interactions. One could say it is perfect, but honestly, let's take out the love-glasses, it is not. But ah! The music, the scenery! And Roach gets to talk!

Nic: Wonderful storytelling with an incredible sense of place. Two of the greatest pieces of DLC ever made. A soundtrack that still whisks me away to a thousand fights or the simple joy of riding through the bleak countryside. Truly a transcendent piece of work from all involved.

Martin Jordin: An almost perfectly balanced open-world RPG. Interesting characters you can really identify with and feel for. An engaging and reasonably complex plot. An abundance of side quests which aren't fetch quests or icon collecting. Believable NPCs who behave like real people. Huge scale with gorgeous graphics. Ethical choices that affect the subsequent gameplay. Fun combat even if it's not too taxing.

Sophie: Just a masterpiece of storytelling. Absolutely most immersive game I have ever witched in.

That's all, folks! We hope you enjoyed taking part in this year's very first RPS 100: Reader Edition list. We're also dead keen to hear what you think of it all. Let us know in the comments below, and be warned... we WILL be in the comments debating your picks. Let the battle commence.

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