Looking for the best PC games you can play in 2021? We’ve got you covered.
While console fans can bicker between themselves as to which system is the best (you’re all great!), PC gamers can go about their business knowing that their machines are capable of the most eye-wateringly beautiful graphics and offering the widest variety of games available. Sure, you’ve got the likes of the PS5 – boasting some of the fanciest graphics around on the best PS5 games – and the new Xbox consoles with the incredible line-up on Xbox Game Pass, but what’s that really worth when compared to the sheer, unadulterated power of PC gaming?
Granted, you may have to sell a kidney or a family member or a family member’s kidney to get the very best rig, not to mention a decent gaming keyboard and mouse, but if you can afford it, it’s a great investment. And what’s more is that you can also add as much (or as little) to the game as you want, thanks to modding. The world, technically, is your oyster when playing games on PC.
Now, this article isn’t claiming to be the definitive list of best or most influential PC games ever made – we’d be here forever listing those! This list is simply a handful of some of the best PC games you can download right now from your store of choice, with a little something for everyone.
Without further delay, here are some of the best PC games you can play right now.
Although The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt came out in 2015 (*turns to dust*), it remains arguably the textbook on how to create the ultimate action RPG. With a sprawling and beautiful open world, characters you’d sell your nan to protect, and slicing monsters to bits with massive swords, it’s a tough game to not fall in love with. Ask many players around the world, and they’ll agree in a heartbeat: this is one of the best PC games out there, RPG or otherwise.
Missions ranging from helping villagers with personal squabbles to multi-part epics hunting beasts and solving murders ensure variety that puts its peers to shame. And that’s before we’ve even got onto gaming’s most famous love triangle (Yennefer FTW).
Add in the Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine expansions being longer and better quality than most standalone games, and there’s enough content to keep you entertained until we might actually hear about the next installment.
A “visually and technically enhanced” version of the game is coming to PC at some point in 2021 via a free update which will apparently add new content inspired by Netflix’s The Witcher series. The game that just keeps giving.
Now a console darling, Hades has been available to play on PC since 2018, albeit in early access for much of that time. A roguelite in which you fight your way out of the Greek underworld using various otherworldly weapons and powers, Hades is the culmination of developer Supergiant’s previous efforts rolled up into one perfect package.
Although roguelites aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, Hades’ immensely satisfying combat and spritely run loop (each run takes roughly 20-30 minutes) means that death isn’t nearly as frustrating as it could have been.
In fact, you’re actually rewarded for dying. The more you end up in the River Styx, the more abilities, weapons and story beats you unlock, including reams of excellent dialogue across numerous superbly written characters from Greek mythology.
Can you get a bit further through next time? Few games will have you itching for just one more go as much as Hades.
There were definitely more than a few eyebrows raised when the first official Half-Life game in well over a decade was announced as VR only. However, any fears were immediately allayed when people actually got their hands on this masterpiece.
A prequel that takes place before Half-Life 2, this is not one of those throwaway VR experiences. This is a fully-realised entry into the series with excellent level design, shooting that feels punchy and responsive, and an emotional narrative that fits nicely alongside the other Half-Life games.
And then there’s the VR itself. Quite simply, Half Life: Alyx is one of the best VR games ever made – let alone best PC games. The way you can interact with the world around you is nothing short of staggering in a way most other VR games don’t get close to. If you’re still not convinced about VR gaming then Half-Life: Alyx could well be the game that converts you.
It may not have a recognisable and marketable mascot but Sid Meier’s Civilisation series is without a doubt one of PC’s flagship series. A turn-based strategy game first released in the early 90s, Civilisation is based on the premise of taking your group of prehistoric tribes folk right the way through history to the near future, cooperating or competing with those around to adapt and survive.
The sixth and latest installment builds on that premise, adding climate change mechanics to the game, bringing an all too relatable environmental twist to your playthrough, as well as a handful of other gameplay tweaks that make it the most complete version yet. If you thought previous iterations of this game were amongst the best PC games, just wait until you play this one.
Plus, it’s narrated by professional northerner Sean Bean, in case you needed any more reason to play it.
An RPG about a detective down on his luck with a bout of amnesia might sound like the ultimate cliche, but that’s about as ordinary as Disco Elysium gets. You’ll combine D&D style dice roles with a system that sees you battling against the various parts of your own psyche to upgrade your skills, and even that barely describes the game adequately.
As you battle your inner demons – sometimes as literally as figuratively – you’ll investigate a murder that’s really little more than a MacGuffin. The real star of the show is the astonishingly impressive character work and dialogue that must run into the hundreds of hours worth of lines. With a huge number of dialogue choices, each as sparklingly written as the last, you’ll be floored by just how many ways there are to approach the story.
Already a near-masterpiece when it was first released, the Final Cut version adds full English voice acting, new quests, characters and locations, controller support, and more. All in all, one of the most unique and fascinating RPG experiences available today – and an essential addition to our best PC games list.
Games like Outer Wilds don’t come along every day, which is kind of ironic given the game’s central time loop mechanic.
As you explore the solar system for clues to its conception, previous inhabitants, and ultimate destruction, planets will move, change shape and break apart in front of your eyes. Each 22-minute time loop then results in its sun going supernova and plonking you right back at the start to do it all again.
While this could easily have been frustrating, the knowledge you gain from each loop helps you piece together the universe’s various secrets and edge towards a genuinely moving conclusion that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
A game that’s as hopeful and inspiring as it is somber, as one of the best PC games out there, Outer Wilds just hits differently to most other games you can play right now.
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