When someone asks you what you think the best PC game is on shelves today, what comes to mind? Is it the adrenaline rush you feel after a hard-fought victory on the fields of Stalingrad in Company of Heroes 2? Or maybe the feeling of soaring through the air like a bird through the densely populated world of The Heart of Thorns? Check out our in-depth guides if you want to build the best gaming PC ever.
Well, because there are so many different types of experiences to be had from one magical vault of gaming, we’ve decided to split up our best PC games review into the titles that we felt represented their genre at its absolute crest, the cream of the crop and king of the hill.
That in mind, make sure you have a machine that support these games. You can’t go wrong with one of our top best gaming PC picks or top gaming laptop, which is sure to have enough horsepower to allow any one of these games to run smoothly.
Here’s our picks for the top PC games of 2018 and 2019.
Best RTS: Company of Heroes 2
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Fast paced action mixed perfectly with tactical gameplay.
What, no Starcraft?
I’ve amassed more gaming pc reviews than I care to remember. I’ve also racked up playtime in the hundreds of hours in RTS’ (real time strategy). So, I can say with confidence that while Stacraft definitely has its place among the top-ranking games on PC today, when it comes down to it Company of Heroes 2 just does things better and with more grace than the competition at Blizzard. Read our best gaming setup guide if you want to get your gaming rig just right.
Company of Heroes 2 takes the RTS formula and adds all new layers to the way the map and its various obstacles factor into every battle. Just as important as it is to create units, commanders have to pay attention to where their army is. Furthering that is a nuanced cover system that will have players jockeying for position on the surrounding map.
A garrisoned two-story hideout is much more difficult to get through than a few spare soldiers huddled in an open barn. And using the landscape as a part of your strategy will often mean the difference between a sweeping victory or total defeat. Stay in the game with our best gaming computer processor.
Add in a booming soundtrack alongside a deep appreciation for the classic mechanics that keep RTS players coming back for more, and you have one of the most well-refined strategy experiences in 2015.
Best MMORPG: Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Gorgeous visuals create an MMORPG experience unlike any other.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. While World of Warcraft spent upwards of a (well-deserved) decade at the top of the MMORPG pile, as of late the “game that could do no wrong” seems hellbent on getting pretty much everything wrong. As a result of Blizzard ignoring its community, the game has been hemorrhaging players for years now, dropping from 13 million subscribers in 2008, to barely 7 million today. Picking up the slack on this rope has been ArenaNet, whose Guild Wars 2 really puts the “massive” back in “massively-multiplayer”.
The first expansion for Guild Wars 2, “Heart of Thorns”, adds a whole new level of verticality and freedom to its game world. Taking place in a neck-achingly tall, lush jungle, players can fly from one area to the next, sailing along on series of playful updrafts. Having actually taken their feedback to heart, the team at ArenaNet has worked tirelessly to improve on many of the complaints that were handed down when GW2 originally dropped.
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With the “Masteries” system, level-80 characters now have a whole new line of quests that simultaneously remove the more “grindy” post-80 content we saw in WoW, while still opening up paths of progression that keep the late-game interesting and varied enough to hold our attention. Plus, the game is still as graphically impressive as ever, and the action-oriented battle system is just as refined and polished as it was in the original.
Best Strategy Game: Hearthstone
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Deceptively simple gameplay, yet ridiculously addictive.
But, just because Blizzard isn’t the leader in MMORPGs anymore doesn’t mean they still haven’t figured out a way to get us to willingly empty our wallets directly into their bank account.
The highly-addictive, quirky card game Hearthstone came out of nowhere and took the PC gaming world by storm, combining age-old tabletop card game mechanics with refreshed ideas and a whole new way to think about the word “random.”
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Because Hearthstone plays only on computers, many of the effects of its cards can be randomized with any number, leading to a whole lot of praying to “RNGesus” (random number generator) the next time Ragnaros the Firelord hits the battlefield and you’ve got a 33.3% chance of either winning or losing the game depending on who he chooses as his next victim. This is definitely one of the best free PC games out there.
This means that no two games ever play out exactly alike (a known problem in the world of card games), increasing the replayability of every hand to almost criminal levels. Throw in a highly-competitive laddering system, wacky off-the-wall slap fights strewn with a random set of rules each week, along with an enticing number of single-player adventures and pack expansions, and you have the recipe for a runaway success. To keep your gaming speed as high as possible, take a look at one of the best computer cases too.
Best Action RPG: The Witcher III
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: One of the best looking, best performing RPGs to date.
Also available on Xbox One, the Witcher III: Wild Hunt is a sprawling, jaw-droppingly gorgeous masterpiece of a game, a title that lays out a challenge to any and all RPGs that might try to come after it. Its huge world, varied quests, and treasure trove of side quests littered to the top with easter eggs and distractions immerses you in a way like no other RPG before it has, stacked alongside a combat system that constantly has you changing the way you approach the next battle.
Through careful management of potions, oils, alchemical brews and ability points, the way you approach each and every fight throughout the game never has to stay the same or get stale. Beyond the spectacular backdrops of Velen’s highlands or in the stink of Novigrad’s beggar-ridden sewers, the varied mission structure ensures you never grow tired of your time spent in the world of The Witcher.
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This game isn’t just an achievement for the developers at CD Projekt Red, The Witcher III packs in more content alongside one the deepest and most complex storylines I’ve seen in any game released to date, PC or otherwise. Woven together you have what can only be called “a bar raised” for the gaming medium as a whole, and we predict it could be a long while before anyone succeeds in knocking the crown off The Witcher’s crest with any semblance of success.
Best MOBA: League of Legends/Dota 2
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: League of Legends leads the MOBA genre in polish and flair.
Last up, we come to the current ruler of all things PC gaming in today’s landscape: MOBAs. Short for “multiplayer online battle arena”, these are isometric games that give players control of one hero on a team of 5v5.
Each team vies for position on the map while trying to kill one another, using waves of minions to slowly push into one another’s home base. Once a team successfully makes their way into the base and kills their “castle”, the game is over.
First minted as a mod for Warcraft III over ten years ago, these days MOBAs have come to completely dominate the PC gaming marketplace, sporting nearly 140 million concurrent monthly players between them. The fast paced action of each “teamfight” combined with the highly intricate chess-like strategy required at the upper levels of competition make for a lethal dose of gaming goodness that’s about as addictive as it comes.
Of course, you’ve probably noticed that we haven’t picked either League of Legends or Dota as the top title, simply because while they share many of the same core mechanics, their differences are what make them independently great.
While League of Legends maintains a lower skill cap for its players, Dota 2’s complicated itemization system and mob-denial system can prove to be too much for the casual gamer to get into. Both games serve their own purpose, and they do it well for a genre that’s becoming increasingly crowded by the minute.
For every game you can play on PC (I suggest a desktop computer to maximize the experience), what makes it the “best” is going to have a dozen different opinions from a dozen different types of gamers. While some may prefer to kick back with a little Witcher III, others might be more inclined to fight to the death on the fields of Summoner’s Rift. But with so many stellar games to choose from, it’s obvious that 2015 is just the start of what’s shaping up to be the Golden Age of PC gaming.