45 Best PC Games of All Time
Since the early ‘80s, video games have become an indispensable part of our daily life. Once simplistic with isometric pixel graphics, games have evolved into immersive real-time 3D environments accessing parallel universes. Recent research by Statista estimates the video games market will total over $20 billion by 2020 with the number of gamers increasing to 2.73 billion by 2021. People adore spending time playing their favorite games solo or with a group of friends. The range of game genres is immense, enough to meet everyone’s needs and desires. Even professional gaming activity, called eSports, have emerged, gathering millions of fans worldwide watching championship live streams.
In this review we are going to rate the top PC games of all time based on their groundbreaking setting, gameplay, storyline, revenues or all of these put together. Here is a list of the best PC games classified by genre for your convenience. We intentionally do not include entire series of popular games as many sequels fall flat on the game market. Instead, you are offered only the paragons that changed gamers’ mindset in each category.
Shooter games, or simply put shooters, used to be an offshoot of action games, that evolved into an independent video game genre after Wolfenstein 3D came out in 1992. Shooters fall into several subcategories, like third-person shooter, FPS, shoot ‘em up and others. The main character is usually equipped with a long-range gun and pitted against various types of enemies within a linear environment. The common goal of every shooter is to defeat all opponents in mission-by-mission game progression. These games require fast reflexes and great hand-eye coordination.
Top Shooter PC Games:
- Doom* / Id Software
- Team Fortress 2 / Valve Software
- Half-Life 2 / Valve Software
- Overwatch / Blizzard Entertainment
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive / Valve Software
Doom, released as shareware in 1993, refined Wolfenstein 3D’s template by adding improved textures, variations in height (e.g., stairs the player’s character could climb) and effects such as flickering lights and patches of total darkness, creating a more believable 3D environment than Wolfenstein 3D’s more monotonous and simplistic levels. Doom allowed competitive matches between multiple players, termed deathmatches, and the game was responsible for the word’s subsequent entry into the video gaming lexicon.According to creator John Romero, the game’s deathmatch concept was inspired by the competitive multiplayer of fighting games. Doom became so popular that its multiplayer features began to cause problems for companies whose networks were used to play the game. Doom has been considered the most important first-person shooter ever made. It was highly influential not only on subsequent shooter games but on video gaming in general, and has been available on almost every video gaming system since. Multiplayer gaming, which is now integral to the first-person shooter genre, was first achieved successfully on a large scale with Doom. While its combination of gory violence, dark humor and hellish imagery garnered acclaim from critics, these attributes also generated criticism from religious groups, with other commentators labelling the game a murder simulator.
Action is a generic term encapsulating a couple of subgenres in which good reactions are a priority. Players must overcome physical challenges to prevail in a competition of any kind. Early platform games are the most vivid examples of the genre. Today action games run a close second to shooters due to the huge popularity of MOBA games with real-time strategy elements among amateur players and professional eSports communities.
Top Action PC Games:
- Crysis / Crytek
- Portal / Valve Corporation
- Max Payne / Remedy Entertainment
- Dark Souls 2 / FromSoftware
- Bioshock / 2K Games
RPG, which stands for a role-playing game, is one of the earliest video game genres and it has stayed attractive for many years. RPGs presuppose a lore-focused plot with non-linear gameplay set in an open-world environment. The storyline delves into a fictional universe full of fantastic creatures and magic. In some cases, it can be a quasi-medieval backdrop with a main character possessing some supernatural powers. The indispensable constituents of any role-playing game are, of course, a tree of hero’s skills with their further development, and a narrative game approach with multiple choice options and replayability.
Top RPG PC Games:
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic / BioWare
- Divinity: Original Sin / Larian Studios
- Gothic 2 / Piranha Bytes
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim / Bethesda Game Studios
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt* / CD Projekt Red Studio
*The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Edition received “B-” from the popular digital magazine 1UP.com.
As the name implies, sport games are all about simulating a certain sport on a computer. Your opponents can be either your teammates or smart AI-driven foes. Sport games include various challenges that require dexterity, speed and prowess in driving a vehicle or wielding some sports equipment. The competitive factor is key, accounting for the enduring appeal of the genre all around the globe.
Top Sport PC Games:
- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 / Neversoft
- FIFA 08 / EA Canada
- NHL 2004 / EA Black Box
- NBA Live 2004 / EA Canada
- Football Manager 2010 / Sports Interactive
Adventure is a no-brainer genre that has been bringing lots of interactive fun to its wide-spread gaming community for ages. Adventure games are usually designed for singleplayer mode only and involve an immersive plot driven by territory exploration and quests completion. As a rule, a main character gathers useful collectables and interacts with NPCs to solve various puzzles. Unlike RPG tasks, these do not require a player to have extraordinary skills and top-level gear to get things done. Thanks to entertaining and casual gameplay, adventure games are gaining strong traction among mobile device users.
Top Adventure PC Games:
- The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition / LucasArts
- Myst / Cyan, Inc.
- Grim Fandango / LucasArts
- Syberia / Microïds
- Firewatch / Campo Santo
Fighting games are usually geared for two players pitted against each other on a small-sized area in a close hand-to-hand combat tournament. Gamers can choose between a range of characters backed by different martial arts styles and fighting techniques. The fighting genre allows for much more realism and brutality compared to sports games. Game controls can be overly demanding at times and need some efforts for newcomers to master lots of blocks and combos.
Top Fighting PC Games:
- Street Fighter IV / Capcom
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- / Arc System Works
- Injustice: Gods Among Us / NetherRealm Studios
- Tekken 7 / Bandai Namco Studios
- Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition / NetherRealm Studios
This genre features a plethora of subcategories, like RTS, RTT, MOBA, TBS, TBT and others. To present the most playable titles, we needed to cut out many decent games, however the umbrella genre comprises the following.
Top PC Strategy Games:
- Homeworld / Relic Entertainment
- Age of Empires / Ensemble Studios
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown / Firaxis Games
- StarCraft / Blizzard Entertainment
- Civilization V / Firaxis Games
This genre is all about generating a feeling of competition and drive to challenge opponents to stand out or fall. Strategies infer planned tactics and balanced warfare methodologies to deploy actionable campaigns that can overcome your opponents.
Top PC Simulation Games:
- Dirt Rally / Codemasters
- American Truck Simulator / CSC Software
- The Sims 2 /Maxis
- Kerbal Space Program / Feliphe Falanghe
- FlightGear / FlightGear developers and contributors
These games are gaining way more traction than most other titles. Multiplayer mode invites players to delve into survival operations, facing off against a lot of online opponents. Only your wit, skills and expertise can lead to victory.
Top PC MMO Games:
- RF Online / CCR Incl
- Ultima Online / Electronic Arts
- World of Warcraft / Blizzard Entertainment
- Neverwinter / Cryptic Studios
- Lineage II / NCSoft
Although this listicle is far from the complete picture of the top PC games of all time, the titles above are really worth checking out to see how the video game industry has evolved.