The PC gaming landscape has shifted in recent years, both in terms of technological advancements in graphics cards and gaming monitors and in the makeup of IGN’s PC gaming staff and contributors. As a result, outside of some real stalwarts, our list of the best modern PC games is substantially different compared to years past.
To be clear, this list does not attempt to pick out the “best” or “most influential” PC games ever made. It’s also not a list of the most popular games out there, or a list that seeks to represent the top games of every genre. No, this is a list of 25 games that we, the IGN editors and contributors, collectively recommend the most, based on our tastes, and all from within the past 10 years.
Most recent game updates were made on July 6, 2022.
You Might Also Like:
The Best PC Games
25. Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020)
Microsoft Flight Simulator is the closest thing we’ve had to a near-perfect recreation of the real world in the virtual space, and new updates keep inching it even closer. Using real-time Bing data to allow you to fly to and from any place on the entire planet has raised the bar for simulations to heights never seen before.
Accessible to anyone, or as realistic as you want, this is open-world at its most literal. Free-flying around the globe, participating in landing challenges at some of the world’s most famously difficult airports, or just sightseeing, Microsoft Flight Simulator is an unparalleled achievement. Don’t forget to grab one of the best PC joysticks to make this flight-sim experience that more immersive.
Microsoft Flight Simulator players can now fly the Antonov An-225 Mriya, the newest addition to the Famous Flyers series. The add-on for the An-225 can be purchased from the in-game marketplace for $19.99, and proceeds will go towards the Antonov Corporation to support their efforts in rebuilding the real-life aircraft that was destroyed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
24. Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
You can’t go too far wrong with any of the main games from Sid Meier’s seminal Civilization series, but after updates and expansions, Civilization VI has taken a seat as one of the finest. Like all five iterations before it, Civ VI lets you pave your people’s way from nomadic tribes to sprawling near-future empire in competition or cooperation with neighbors, this time guided by narration from the undying Sean Bean himself.
But here, a distinctive approach to city building in which major structures like specialized districts and Wonders are placed on their own tiles gives it a fresh flavor, and the climate change mechanics add new long-term environmental considerations throughout and hazards that manifest in the late game. It’s also come as close as any game in the series to giving its AI leaders definitive and interesting personalities (which is not to say they’re perfect!).
Firaxis confirmed that Civilization 7 is in the works. This announcement comes after former head of studio Steve Martin and Marvel’s Midnight Suns and XCOM director Jake Solomon departed the studio, leaving former COO Heather Hazen to lead the company.
23. Dota 2
MOBAs have earned a reputation for being dense and difficult to learn, but immensely strategic for those who put in the time. Spend some quality time with Dota 2 and you’ll understand why. Though all matches take place on one map, and there’s only one objective, its 100+ characters and thousands of item combinations make each round feel unique.
Because every second matters, matches are always exciting even when they seem slow. Are you farming gold? Are you scouting the enemy? Or crossing the map to help out a teammate? Or heading back to base to heal? Its complexity can scare players off, but those who stick through it will be rewarded with some of the most strategic gameplay around.
22. Prey (2017)
Few games will make you fear for your life upon encountering the most mundane of inanimate objects the way Prey does – and fewer still will then give you the power to become those objects yourself. It may look like a standard first-person shooter/RPG set aboard a post-disaster space station on the surface, but this immersive sim is one of the strangest of the lot.
To combat the ever-present threat of enemies that can look like anything until it’s too late, Prey fills your toolbox with a wide range of weird, unique, and often exciting tools and then lets you figure out which ones you most want to use. All of that combined with a story that channels the best of both its clear BioShock and Dishonored inspirations makes Prey is a gem of a single-player PC game that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Developer Arkane Austin’s next game is the co-op vampire shooter Redfall, due out on May 2.
21. Red Dead Redemption 2
Arthur Morgan’s sprawling tale of loyalty, conviction, and the price of infamy is only the beginning of Red Dead Redemption 2. The marvelous PC port overhauled and further enhanced the gorgeous wild western atmosphere of Rockstar’s most recent open-world adventure and added even more activities, unlockables, and impossibly fine details to its expansive map. It’s possibly one of the biggest and best single-player PC games ever and it has an extensive multiplayer mode too.
The potential for hijinks within its enormous sandbox of towns, outlaws, and wildlife was already nearly limitless, but the PC version factors in new missions, treasures, gear, and more layered on top of the already 60+ hours of story content in the base game. That’s not even counting all the multiplayer bells and whistles included in Red Dead Online, to say nothing of the ability to expand and customize with mods. RDR2 on PC is handily a must-play for anyone with a rig beefy enough to run it.
Red Dead 2 cracked the top five on our updated list of the best open-world games. In just four years, it’s also earned a spot on the list of best-selling video games of all time.
Control, in many ways, feels like the culmination of Remedy’s design ideas from its past several games distilled down to their best versions and melded together for one trippy, enthralling adventure. Jesse Faden’s story of infiltrating the Federal Bureau of Control’s offices comes complete with a stellar set of abilities befitting any good telepath, a propulsive, strange story with a memorable cast and unexpected twists, and a fascinating location that feels rooted in a sense of history.
Remedy has filled Control’s world with little details that make its stranger ideas really land, giving unexpected life to every corner of its office building veneer. Just like its main location, the Oldest House, much more lies beneath the surface of Control, and its mysteries are worth fully exploring. Also, the PC is currently the only place to play with ray tracing enabled, giving the world a more realistic and yet more otherworldly appearance. Maybe that’s why this fantastic single-player PC game won our 2019 Game of the Year award?
Remedy is officially working on Control 2 for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. The studio is also developing a Control multiplayer game, the long-awaited Alan Wake 2, a free-to-play co-op shooter codenamed Vanguard, and remakes of Max Payne 1 and 2.
19. Stardew Valley
Since Stardew Valley launched in 2016, it’s become a mainstay in PC gaming and is perhaps single handedly responsible for reinvigorating the farming sim genre altogether. In that time, no other game has successfully managed to replicate its masterful combination of RPG mechanics, a satisfying gameplay loop, beautifully mellow music, and an ever-growing list of things to do as you while away your time in pastoral paradise.
The latest major update is the game’s biggest yet, adding a completely new area to explore, with new people to meet, tasks to do, and tons more content to experience. It’s basically a full-blown expansion, if not for being a free update to the game. Whether you’re a new player or returning to your 100+ hour farm, Stardew Valley remains one of the best games you can play on PC.
The creator of Stardew Valley is now working on a brand new sim called Haunted Chocolatier.
18. Genshin Impact
With 48 playable characters (and counting), three massive main areas to explore, and significant events and activities for mid- to late-game players monthly, Genshin Impact is one of the most impressive free-to-play games out there – both in terms of activities and general quality. In addition to its story-based campaign, there are plenty of great side quests, companion character events, and side stories that offer a nice chance to better get to know characters, solve puzzles, hunt down collectibles, and participate in limited-time events.
Even when you’ve reached the end of what’s available of the ever-growing story, there are boss battles and world activities you can play online with friends, stats and weapon optimizations for leveling your acquired playable characters, and plenty more. Though the late-game does tend to be more of a grind due to some of the randomness high-level character builds require and there are other sporadic balance issues, Genshin Impact is generally a joy throughout.
Thankfully, the gatcha (or system by which you randomly draw rewards with premium currency in hopes of getting a better weapon or character) system isn’t too invasive and it’s not difficult to earn premium currency without paying. Sure, it can take a while to save enough to get a guaranteed 5-star character, but it’s absolutely possible to do and you’ll likely earn other characters along the way.
“Windblume’s Breath,” the 3.5 update for Genshin Impact, is now available.
17. Grand Theft Auto 5 / GTA Online
Grand Theft Auto V’s sprawling, yet meticulously detailed map is still the high bar to which most open-world games aspire. Not only is it huge, it’s incredibly dense with excellent content – not just the driving and shooting and three-protagonist story that make up its campaign, and not limited to the numerous side activities, but all the sights, sounds, and bustling activity you’d expect to find in a city teeming with humans, seedy underbelly included. With so much to do, explore, and play with, both as a single-player PC game and Grand Theft Auto Online, plus great creative tools and mods, it’s truly amazing on multiple levels.
With so much to do, explore, and play with, both as a single-player PC game and Grand Theft Auto Online, plus great creative tools and mods, it’s truly amazing on multiple levels. Plus with the new Cayo Perico update adding a new solo heist and island to the map, not the mention the game coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X, there’s no sign of GTA V going to pasture anytime soon.
Rockstar has officially confirmed GTA 6 is in development. It will reportedly feature a return to Vice City and star the series’ first female playable character in a Bonnie & Clyde-inspired adventure — details that were seemingly corroborated by a massive GTA 6 leak.
16. Forza Horizon 5
Driving games are a long-running, important, and respected force in the story of video games, but it takes a special one to completely seize the imaginations of both the car-obsessed and the automotively illiterate so successfully. By that measure, Forza Horizon 5 is truly special. A slick and speedy smorgasbord of total driving freedom built on the back of what’s already been the open-world racing series to beat for nearly a decade, Forza Horizon 5 broke through in a way not even its excellent predecessors managed.
This massive, MMO-inspired racer is the prettiest, most varied, most feature-filled, and most customisable Forza Horizon game ever, and it’s one that’s suitable for so many different types of players. Whether you want to agonise over car builds and carve away milliseconds from your race times, or just want to cruise around and crash into a cactus or two (hundred), it has you covered.
Forza Horizon 5’s Rally Adventure expansion, which comes with a new rally career mode, comes out on March 29. Also during the first-ever Xbox Developer Direct, Turn 10 Studios revealed the next game franchise is Forza Motorsport and it will feature more than 500 cars and 800 unique upgrades.
15. FTL: Faster Than Light
No game simulates the feeling of being in command of a starship flying by the seat of your pants like FTL: Faster Than Light. It’s a game you shouldn’t expect to survive – more likely, you’ll be blasted out of the sky by a vastly superior enemy ship or boarded by a death squad of giant killer insects who massacre your crew. Maybe your life-support system will be hacked and everyone will suffocate.
But FTL’s not about winning – it’s a story generator, where you get to talk about the time you got a killer beam-weapon combo that cuts enemy ships to ribbons while your ship remains cloaked, or vented a boarding party into space while your crew laughed behind reinforced bulkhead doors. Its tactical combat never gets old, tons of loot and random events keep every game feeling unpredictable, and unlockable ships force you to change up your strategies on subsequent runs. And every so often, you might even win.
We also named FTL one of the best roguelike games.
14. Slay the Spire
In a roguelike, variety is king: Slay The Spire‘s constantly changing decks of ability cards, powerful relics, and the three drastically different playable characters keeps these turn-based battles fresh and engaging for far longer than they have any right to. Watching your character’s attacks, defenses, skills, and powers evolve across its three chapters is a journey, and throwing your hand in at the end of a run knowing you may never see its like again can be like saying goodbye to a friend you were only just getting to know.
Of course, the possibility of getting an even better combination the next time through makes it tough to resist hitting the New Game button, and the randomized Daily Climb runs give even veterans a new and interesting way to play every day.
13. Apex: Legends
Apex Legends surprise launched in February 2019 and it’s been raising the bar for battle royales ever since. Inspired by the gunplay and movement from Respawn’s acclaimed Titanfall 2, Apex also implemented Overwatch-style character abilities, which made it feel completely distinct from the other major players in the genre. While Apex is out on PlayStation, Xbox, and now Switch and mobile, on PC Apex feels the most fluid and natural as it gives us the freedom to fully capitalize on the range of movement it offers.
It also has Apex Arenas as a permanent mode that emulates round-based matches like those in Valorant, where you can buy your abilities and weapons before each round and features 3v3 matchups. So even if battle royales aren’t your speed, there’s a way for you to get in and enjoy the action. And with its consistent pace of updates every three to four months, Apex Legends stands out as one of the best free-to-play PC games, year after year.
Apex Legends Season 16: Revelry is now available. You can get your hands on the Nemesis Burst AR, compete in Team Deathmode, and experience a new class system.
12. God of War
God of War made a huge impact when it launched as a PlayStation exclusive in 2018, even taking home IGN’s Game of the Year award. But its greatness didn’t hinge on its platform, and its arrival on Steam in early 2022 opened it up to a whole new audience – one that should absolutely take the opportunity to play it if they haven’t before.
This reinvention of the classic series is truly fantastic, all the way from its excellent and challenging combat to the incredibly touching story that weaves it together. It’s gorgeously presented and thorough in its detail, taking advantage of its roots while innovating on them in a way that feels fresh again. It’s a true standout from the last decade, and it absolutely deserves to be counted amongst other PC greats now that it’s here.
The highly anticipated sequel, God of War: Ragnarok, is now available on PS5 and PS4. IGN awarded it a 10/10 review score and named it the Best Action-Adventure Game of 2022.
11. Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition
Divinity: Original Sin 2 has cemented it as one of the greatest RPGs of all time. It masterfully mixes pieces of classic cRPGs with more modern mechanics and designs, feeling old and new at the same time. The sequel has improved upon its predecessor’s already incredible combat by deepening its systems while simultaneously simplifying and smoothing out its clunkier bits – not to mention it introduced some brutally smart new AI.
There’s also an overwhelming amount of game here to play. With six different origin characters, custom tags to make your own, and over 74,000 lines of fully voiced dialogue, this massive RPG has more than enough to keep you coming back to it.
10. Final Fantasy XIV Online
In short, Final Fantasy XIV is not just the best MMO you can play right now, it’s a fantastic Final Fantasy game in its own right. Through its relaunch and subsequent four expansions, FFXIV has slowly morphed from a relatively generic good-versus-evil plot into a sprawling, political, and fantastical thriller. The latest expansion, Endwalker, brings a satisfying conclusion to the game’s now 8+ year storyline, returning some familiar faces, settling old scores, and of course saving the world from the greatest calamity yet.
Don’t be scared away by the fact that it’s online. Despite being an MMO, Square-Enix has streamlined things so much that, if you don’t want to, you really don’t have to play with other people. Story missions are intended to be tackled solo, and even instanced dungeons now have an option for you to enter with computer-controlled party members instead of forcing you into a group with strangers. Of course, it’s also a fully-fleshed MMO with end-game raiding that ranges from totally accessible to maddeningly punishing.
FF14 was named the Best Ongoing Game of 2022 by both IGN and The Game Awards.
Hades is the current gold standard of the roguelite genre, and it isn’t even close. From its exhilarating combat, to its incredible soundtrack, to its clever and well written narrative with characters that seemingly never run out of meaningful things to say, all the way to its deep and innovative post game that keeps you wanting to come back for more even after beating the last boss.
Hades is incredibly difficult, but it never feels punishing in defeat. Dying is part of the game, and actually comes with its own rewards in the form of new conversations with its fascinating cast of characters, new opportunities to purchase game changing upgrades, and an opportunity for a brand new run with a completely new set of godly boons that dramatically alter how you approach combat. Hades is a masterclass of roguelite design, and just another example of how Supergiant Games just doesn’t miss.
A sequel, Hades 2, was announced at The Game Awards.
8. Outer Wilds
Every 22 minutes, everything ends – and restarts again. The sands that had passed between twin planets go back to their original place, a planet that had fallen apart becomes whole, and you awaken to see a mysterious object in space break apart once again. In Outer Wilds, you live through those same 22 minutes until you can successfully solve the puzzle of why you’re stuck in the time loop, among other mysteries, by exploring ruins left by a long-dead civilization across multiple planets.
This gorgeous, heartfelt space adventure is one of the best examples of video game exploration and discovery. Outer Wilds encourages you to hop into your spaceship and go wherever you want – or just stay on your home planet and see what’s happening there. Should you feel lost or need a hint on what to do next, all of your activities and progress are saved to your ship’s log, which helpfully tells you when there’s still more to discover in an area.
The only thing limiting your curiosity is time, but even that can sometimes be your ally. The short expansion’s puzzles are just as enjoyable as what you’ll find in the rest of Outer Wilds, but the pervasive, menacing tension in Echoes of the Eye makes each step forward in the overall mystery feel even more rewarding.
7. Hollow Knight
Hollow Knight is one of the best modern Metroidvania’s around. It’s beautiful, expansive, and full of delightful secrets to discover that will keep you playing for dozens of hours. The kingdom of Hallownest is a brutal one, and Hollow Knight doesn’t ease you into it, causing a lot of people to bounce off of it initially – but when it finally gets its hooks in you it’s irresistibly hard to put down.
Its sprawling caves open up and offer multiple paths to you at any given time, but no matter which way you go there are exciting bosses to fight and significant power-ups to make you stronger. And even though it was already a massive game, Hollow Knight has only gotten bigger since its launch in early 2017. Developer Team Cherry released multiple free updates with new areas and bosses, each harder than the last. But whether you just want to get to the credits, find the true ending, or push even farther than that, Hallownest is a world worth exploring.
A sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong, will seemingly be released sometime before June 2023.
6. Crusader Kings 3
While historical strategy games are perhaps most known for their maddeningly complex systems so dense they’re near impenetrable, they’re also about the human stories that emerge when great figures collide. Crusader Kings 3 gives you many ways to tell those stories, be it overwhelming military might, the diplomacy of a well-placed betrothal, or ending your enemies with a cloak-and-dagger plot.
CK3 also manages to make these dense systems as accessible as they’ve ever been, with a robust nested tooltip system that helps allow even strategy newcomers enjoy the game’s complexity. The latest expansion, Royal Court, adds a zoomed-in physical space where your ruler can look their subjects in the eye, passing down individual judgements in addition to making realm-wide decrees. The expansion also weaves an intricate overhauled culture system throughout the game, giving you more opportunities to make your empire feel unique, with all the benefits and penalties that entails.
We also named Crusader Kings 3 one of the best PC Game Pass games.
5. Elden Ring
In just the few short months since its release, Elden Ring’s reputation has only grown, which is insane to even think about considering that its reputation right when it came out was one of the highest reviewed games of all time. It’s all deserved praise, because Elden Ring truly is a monumental achievement in the open world genre.
Its world is a wonder to explore, with memorable experiences, valuable rewards, and imposing boss fights covering nearly every square inch of its absolutely enormous map. The only thing that holds it back on this list is the fact that it still struggles a bit performance-wise on the PC. But that doesn’t stop it from being an easy pick for our top five best PC games of all time.
Elden Ring is one of the best-reviewed games in modern history. It was crowned Game of the Year by IGN and The Game Awards.
4. Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium took age-old CRPG mechanics and created something entirely modern with them. As well as transplanting the dice-rolls and deep dialogue options from Dungeons and Dragons into a lesser-seen noir-detective setting, it offers entirely original ways to play, such as such as debating against 24 different sections of your own brain, each representative of a different skill or trait.
Your down-and-out detective is thrust into circumstances where you must solve a murder, but with all great stories its not the conclusion that is solely gratifying, but the journey you took to get there as its ludicrously detailed world and cast of characters drive it along, supported by some of the best writing seen in a game. Playing Disco Elysium feels entirely fresh and pretty much unlike anything else you’ll have experienced on PC in any era, let alone this one.
Key members of the Disco Elysium development team are no longer with ZA/UM, making a Disco Elysium sequel unlikely. The fallout between those developers and ZA/UM has gotten quite messy.
3. XCOM 2
XCOM 2 builds on the brilliant, high-stakes tactical combat of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and its War of the Chosen expansion made it even better. It has the same tension of going from a technologically inferior underdog to powerful war machine, with the constant threat of the permanent death of your customized soldiers looming over every decision.
However, it turns the formula of defending Earth from alien invaders on its head by boldly recasting XCOM as a guerrilla force attempting to liberate the planet from alien occupation, making the situation feel even more desperate than ever. This bigger, deeper sequel adds not just complexity in the form of new and more powerful soldier classes, equipment, and aliens, but also a huge focus on replayability. Procedurally generated maps keep you from falling into a repeatable pattern in tactical missions, frequent random events on the strategic map shake up your build and research orders, and of course mods galore.
2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Deep, lengthy RPGs are a staple of PC gaming, and very few have put a larger chunk of sophisticated content forward than The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has. Its massive sandbox open-world areas impress, both in terms of scope and density; they’re generously dotted with great monsters to slay, tantalizing mysteries to solve, and personal stories to unfurl.
It’s also one of the most impressive overall productions in gaming history, with reams of excellently written dialogue performed by a stellar voice cast, an incredible original soundtrack, and graphics that qualify as both a technical and artistic achievement.
CD Projekt Red is working on a new Witcher trilogy, as well as an Unreal Engine 5 remake of The Witcher 1. The next-gen Witcher 3 upgrade, meanwhile, is now available — check out our Witcher 3 next-gen performance review for more.
1. Half-Life: Alyx
Valve’s first Half-Life game in 13 years reminded us of the signature innovation that’s made this series so special, and why its return was so anticipated. Just as the first Half-Life proved you could tell a compelling story in a first-person game without taking control of the camera away, and Half-Life 2 pioneered physics-based puzzles and combat, Half-Life: Alyx set a new standard for polish in virtual reality shooters and is a truly unique experience. It’s so impressive, in fact, that we believe fully justifies investing in a VR headset for your PC if you haven’t already (especially now that a Meta Quest 2 can be had for $300 and connects to your PC wirelessly via Air Link).
Alyx’s full-length campaign pulls out all the stops for an amazing and horrifying battle against aliens and zombies where the simple act of reloading your weapon becomes a desperate life-or-death struggle as headcrabs leap toward your actual face. Other VR games have great shooting, but even more than a year later nothing has yet matched Valve’s level of detail. Clever three-dimensional puzzles and excellent and often funny performances from its cast break up the action, and it’s all capped off with a fantastic ending that made the decade-plus we had to wait for the third coming of Half-Life almost feel worth it.
Upcoming PC Games
Coming up in the first half of March 2023, Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania, an all-new DLC featuring a new quest set in the Castlevania universe, releases March 6. Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, the fourth game in the Fatal Frame series that was originally released exclusively in Japan on the Wii in 2008, will be out March 9.
WWE 2K23, the 23rd installment of the WWE 2K series, will release on March 17 with John Cena gracing the cover.
Those are our picks for the 25 best modern PC games! Obviously there are dozens of incredible games we couldn’t include, but that’s what happens when you only have 25 spots. Let us know in the comments what’s on your list that didn’t make ours, and be sure to check out our other best games lists — we update them whenever new, great games are made:
With contributions from Cristina Alexander.
Leave a Reply