100 Great PC Games You Should Play Before You Die

The must-plays every PC gamer should know

Credit: Neon Giant

20. Minecraft

Credit: Microsoft

Lego for the iPhone generation, Minecraft is the ultimate make-what-you-want-of-it game and that quality has only deepened over time through the maturing of the mod ecosystem around it. 

Like the name suggests, the fundamentals here - mining and crafting - haven’t changed too much over the years. Regardless, when the ends those means reach are as malleable as they are here, you’re left with a game that really does let you mix and match to create the experience you want. 

Minecraft is infinite in scope, endlessly replayable and customisable without limits.

19. Dishonored 2

Credit: Arkane Studios

Arkane’s sophomore effort in the immersive space is more than just a tidy and predictable follow-up to what came before. Instead, Dishonored 2 is a game with - and about - ambition. 

The introduction of Emily as a playable character allows for new ways to flavor your story and the level design here pushes up against the boundaries of the genre. Rare is it for any single immersive sim to have a level as iconic as the Clockwork Manor, let alone have multiple such stages. 

Discontent with providing new playgrounds for players or expanding the scope of its eerie whalepunk setting, Dishonored 2 critiques everything the first game introduced and asks you to do the same.

18. Mass Effect 2

Credit: EA

Boasting a more stylised look, darker tone and an increased focus on combat, Mass Effect 2 lets you be the wisecracking, rule-breaking space captain of your dreams. It’s cinematic when it needs to be with the lulls and silences between the action between easily filled by the space opera’s all-star cast of companions. 

Mass Effect as a series has never hesitated to steal from the best. With Mass Effect 2, the fullest riches of that bounty are laid bare.

17. Team Fortress 2

Credit: Valve

The best days of Valve’s class-based multiplayer shooter may be behind it but - like World of Warcraft - it’s hard to understate the impact that Valve’s shooter has had on modern live-service titles. 

Boasting a roster of nine different characters, dozens of maps and a lively community, Team Fortress 2 isn’t just the typical class-based shooter, it’s the genre at its peak. Originally launched as part of Valve’s Orange Box bundle, TF2 later shifted to a microtransaction-driven model akin to many contemporary shooters like Destiny and Overwatch.

16. Titanfall 2

Credit: Respawn

Pitched as a sci-fi flavoured challenger to the dominance of Call of Duty, the first Titanfall eschewed a traditional single-player experience for a purely multiplayer experience for both good and ill. 

The sequel looked to remedy this by adding a story-driven campaign back into the mix. Each level of Titanfall 2 pushes the boundaries for not just the series’ fast-paced gunplay but for the FPS genre writ large. It’s a jaw-dropping showcase for what the team of veterans who reinvented the modern shooter can do when given the right combination of freedom, time and resources.

15. Total War: Three Kingdoms

Credit: Creative Assembly

If Total War: Warhammer brought new life into the historical strategy series, Three Kingdoms may well have perfected the existing formula. It takes all the key learnings from Total War’s jaunt into Games Workshop's fantasy setting and uses them to bring the warmongering and politicking of its source material to life. 

Three Kingdoms is the closest the Total War series has ever come to getting it all right. Regardless of whether you play in the more authentic Romance mode or the more realistic Records mode, Three Kingdoms brings with it all the diplomacy, military strategy and larger-than-life characterisation you could want in a grand strategy game.

14. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Credit: Infinity Ward

Infinity Ward’s reinvention of the World War 2 shooter took action to the modern day and embraced post-2001 American jingoism to problematic but popular effect. 

Though perhaps dwarfed in scope by later instalments in the series, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the perfect storm of tactile and tactical gunplay, a superb sense of level design and an addictive multiplayer progression that set a high bar that many shooters today still strive to live up to.

If DOOM shaped the first generations of first person shooters, then it can be said that Call of Duty 4 is the progenitor for the genre’s latest incarnation.

13. Fallout: New Vegas

Credit: Obsidian

A spin-off to the main series, New Vegas is considered a more faithful successor to the themes and legacy of the original Fallout games. Though it was released in a very buggy state, the game has since been cleaned up and earned a reputation as a diamond in the rough of modern roleplaying games. Bethesda walked so that Obsidian could run.

Fallout: New Vegas rolls the dice by migrating the action to the Mojave desert but it pays off big-time.

12. Crusader Kings 2

Credit: Paradox Interactive

An almost-exhaustingly granular simulation of medieval Europe, Crusader Kings 2 pulls away from the emphasis on military tactics found in Total War and the technological arms race found in Civilization to instead focus on the systems of politics, lineage and power that characterises the game’s setting. 

Crusader Kings 2 unravels a tapestry of decisions before you and allows you to write your own narrative. Even if it all ends in tragedy, it’s hard to deny the allure.

11. Rainbow Six: Siege

Credit: Ubisoft

Arriving to a mixed reception in 2015, Ubisoft’s commitment to refining what works about Siege, stripping away the parts that didn’t and keeping things interesting with new characters, maps and mechanics in the years since has gradually produced one of the best tactical shooter experiences available on modern PCs.

Rainbow Six: Siege isn’t as a puritanical as something like Counter-Strike or as mechanically-consistent as something like Call of Duty but as a multiplayer sandbox, it delivers in ways that neither of its contemporaries can.

Next Page: #10-#1

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