Provided you have the right hardware, the best PC games operate at another level. Buy or build a system with an Nvidia RTX GeForce 4090 GPU and combine that with a top-tier gaming CPU, and you’re dealing with levels or power not even the heavily rumored PS5 Pro will be able to touch.
Below, we’ve tried to include as many genres as possible; meaning our list spans open-world wonders, the best beat ‘em up around and incredible first-person shooters. And if you’re in any doubt about just how good PC gaming can be, know that Henry “former Superman” Cavill has gone on record multiple times saying it’s his favorite platform. And c’mon, do you really want to argue with Krypton’s Favorite Son?
The best PC games
Probably the best strategy game to hit PC in the past five years. While Crusader Kings III's continent-conquering action may seem overwhelming at first, it’s wildly compelling when you get your head wrapped around it. Set in the Middle Ages, the game gives you the chance to build a dynasty that can span Europe and portions of Asia and Africa… mainly by screwing over your relatives and other potential threats to your throne. The RTS battles may be great, but the real genius of CK3 is that it somehow manages to pack in more hilarious backstabbing than eight seasons' worth of Game of Thrones. A devious, delightful RTS.
It may not be an all-time great PC port, but there’s zero question that Elden Ring is an all-time great game. If you can look past some stuttering, this open-world wonder takes FromSoftware’s now legendary Dark Souls formula and spreads it out over a colossal canvas. The Lands Between prove to be an incredible sandbox space to lose yourself in . Be it battling dragons on horseback or trying to figure out how to topple a stone turtle the size of the Statue of Liberty, Elden Ring seamlessly intertwines captivating combat with intriguing exploration. This brutal Soulslike never once holds your hand, and it’s all the better for it.
Based on Dungeons and Dragons (the 5th Edition rules to be precise), Baldur's Gate 3 is a deeply immersive role-playing game where your choices matter and you're given the freedom to carve out your own path through its dozens upon dozens of quests. In fact, our computing editor has found the turn-based combat and eccentric characters so engrossing that he's had to resist calling in sick just to play it some more — that's the hallmark of a game worthy of a spot on this list. It may have been baking in the oven for more than six years, but this party-based role-player is genuinely one of the best PC games ever made.
The brawler to beat. Street Fighter 6 effortlessly regains its crown as the king of fighters in stylish fashion. When it comes to precision pummeling, it doesn’t get any better than the pain Ryu and co. are capable of dishing out. Whether scrapping online or offline there’s just no beating Capcom in this genre, so kudos to the legendary developer for resisting the urge to play it safe with its latest entry. Enter World Tour mode: Essentially the byproduct of the Yakuza series and Street Fighter having a baby. This thoroughly weird yet compelling story mode wraps up a beat ‘em up package that's too tough for the competition.
If Doom Eternal was an animal, it would definitely be a bull… a bull that constantly smashes through all the china shops. Rather than smashing crockery though, the Doomslayer is purely concerned with ripping Hell’s nastiest beasties limb from limb. A thrillingly propulsive first-person shooter, the breathless battles never let up. As a studio, id Software is obviously legendary, so it’s no surprise that this amazing shooter sequel is one of the best optimized games on PC. As brutal as it is beautiful, the breakneck combat Doom Eternal revels in makes it one of the finest FPS games ever.
It suffered a bumpy launch, but thanks to patches and the addition of its awesome Phantom Liberty DLC, Cyberpunk 2077 has completed the ultimate redemption arc since it was released in late 2020. CD Projekt Red’s action-RPG was developed with PC as the lead platform, which means it offers up some of the most cutting edge graphical effects anywhere. Nvidia DLSS 3 support and full path tracing are amazing additions in a game that gets so many things right. The Witcher team nails both driving and shooting, and this spectacular title deserves to be played on one of the best gaming PCs.
It’s a coin toss between Rockstar’s incredible cowboy prequel and GTA V over what the greatest open-world of all time is. This majestic, melancholic Wild West tale is a love letter to the movies of Western director Sergio Leone. Though it shares GTA’s love for sarcasm, this is a far more sincere game than Michael, Franklin and Trevor’s Los Santos caper. In Arthur Morgan, Red Dead Redemption 2 is treated to one of the great video game leads and the Old West map he explores is peerless when it comes to small details. That this trigger-happy sandbox also received a great PC port is the cowpoke cherry on top.
A sensational remake of one of the best, most influential survival horror games ever. Not that we should be surprised. After all, Capcom smashed it with 2019’s Resident Evil 2 remake and the Resi 3 reboot is underrated. Resident Evil 4 really is something else, though. As much as a breathless action game as it is a true shooter, if you’re lucky enough to own one of the best gaming PCs, playing Leon’s remake at 4K/120 fps is utterly thrilling. Pacing-wise, few games can compete with the Resi 4 remake and the frenetic battles against undead Spanish villagers in this redux feel kickass and claustrophobic at the same time.
One of the best, most darkly sardonic detective games ever made, Disco Elysium is a modern day PC great… just don’t try to play it with a controller. The genius of this isometric RPG hybrid is that the nameless gumshoe you play is an utter wreck. Turns out, Sherlocking murder mysteries is quite the challenge when you’re constantly waking up from boozy benders. With its distinct art style and terrific script, this Director’s Cut improves upon the already brilliant original by adding full voice acting. Disco Elysium gives you the freedom to screw up every case you undertake, which is a really superb twist. What. A. Game.
The brightest and breeziest sandbox racer around. Playground Games’ fabulous open-world driving series has previously visited condensed versions of Australia in Forza Horizon 3 and a beautifully blustery take on Britain in Forza Horizon 4, yet Forza Horizon 5’s take on Mexico shifts things to a whole new level. Arguably the best-looking racing game that’s ever been made, exploring the vast deserts and dense forests of "El Águila Real" is an eye-arousing pleasure on PC. The developer’s engine is incredibly well-optimized too, meaning this is one of the best games you can play on Valve’s Steam Deck.
Turns out, making one of the best PC games of the last decade really is rocket science. Combining both sandbox and sim elements, it’s a gloriously cheery noodle-scratcher where you have to successfully construct rockets, then launch a series of little green astronauts into space without anything going kaboom. Thanks to some excellent tutorials, you don’t have to be an astrophysicist to have some serious fun with Kerbal Space Program. Adorable and ingenious in equal measure, this science-focused sandbox is a true PC masterpiece. Just know that cracking space exploration takes a whole lot of work.
There’s an argument to be made that GTA V is the best video game of all time. Hell, it’s certainly one of the most successful. The ever evolving GTA Online mode has remarkably kept itself relevant since 2013 thanks to a conveyor belt of meaningful updates, including a fully working casino. Yet it’s that perfectly paced campaign that truly makes GTA V an all-timer. A kind of slapstick take on Heat, the incredible sandbox story mode revolves around three thieves who get repeatedly drawn into increasingly absurd (and awesome) heists. We may have been forced to wait a year for the PC port, but boy was it worth it.
Apex Legends skillfully threads the line between being a battle royale game and a form of hero shooter. Based in the same world as the excellent Titanfall games, Apex Legends pits you and up to two others in a game that sees a mix of teams fight to the death on a large map that slowly condenses with a deadly forcefield closing in. This might sound like another version of PUBG, yet the suite of skills each character has, from tracking abilities to teleports and shields, and a great selection of semi-sci-fi weapons, combined with fantastic movement, elevates Apex Legends above the majority of other battle royale games.
Arguably the best horror game there's ever been, and certainly one of the best licensed titles to hit PC. The real genius of Alien: Isolation is that it uses Ridley Scott’s masterful film as its inspiration, rather than James Cameron’s action-packed sequel. A legitimately terrifying first-person experience that plays out as one giant 15-hour game of cat and mouse as Ripley’s daughter desperately tries not to be eaten by the titular Xenomorph, it’s an absolutely nerve-shredding experience. It runs terrifically well on even half decent gaming PCs, while you can even play it at 90 fps on Steam Deck OLED with tweaks.
A sandbox stealth classic, and probably the best Metal Gear Solid game. Hido Kojima’s Snake swansong plays out as a bold, endlessly inventive open-world, which spans both a colossal Afghan and African map. Did I save “inventive”? I meant “ingenious”. Kojima-san gives you so many tools to help you complete Snake’s objectives, it’s head-spinning. Make your horse poop on command, then let said feces cause a car crash! Airlift in, then drop a box of supplies on a boss’ head to cheat your way out of a tense sniper duel! Kidnap and indoctrinate enemies via a hot air balloon system! Simply the GOAT of stealth games.
Classic PC games to play today
Given the scope of PC gaming, there's a vast amount of classic games to play. Some may feel a bit ropey or dated to play today, but here's a quick list of games you should play if you want to go a little retro with your PC gaming.
- Half-Life Source and Half-Life 2
- Deus Ex
- Rome: Total War
- Diablo 2
- Baldur's Gate 2
- Dragon Age Origins
- Age of Empires 2
- WarCraft 3
- Team Fortress 2
- Company of Heroes
How to choose the best PC games
A good starting point for picking the best PC games out is to go by genre. While these are by no means strict criteria for what is and isn't included in certain games, it'll help you get a general idea of what each game is about.
For more detailed research, look up some reviews to see what the critics and fans make of a certain game. If you're lucky, there will be an option to try out a free demo version of a game, so you can experience a limited amount of content and then make your mind up.
You should also consider how much time you want to invest in playing a game. Story-driven games tend to be much shorter than the average RPG for example, and games featuring multiplayer allow for potentially infinite value if you're prepared to invest the time in mastering them. Consider these few pointers when making a purchase, and you'll always pick something you'll really enjoy.
Get the BEST of Tom’s Guide daily right in your inbox: Sign up now!
Upgrade your life with the Tom’s Guide newsletter. Subscribe now for a daily dose of the biggest tech news, lifestyle hacks and hottest deals. Elevate your everyday with our curated analysis and be the first to know about cutting-edge gadgets.
Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.
- Rory MellonEntertainment Editor (UK)
This is why I come here for real reviews. Not one Blizzard or activision game on the list. They don't make games anymore, just cashgrabs. Diablo 4 was garbage, overwatch 2 released end of 2022 and honestly the bad steam reviews are way better than the game. It's become a sea of Myst all over. I worked in a Software Etc when that came out and people flocked in because of paid false ads. I can say I stopped more than 500 people from buying it, and almost every copy I did sell was returned with a Yup you were right. So glad Toms reviews aren't for sale.Reply