If you're looking for a good PC game to play, you've come to the right place. There are a lot of video games in this round up that'll entertain you, and they're neatly organized by genre. Steam users (and if you're a PC gamer, how aren't you one?) should visit PCMag's Steam Curator page and Steam Discussion Group, too. Our reviews live there, as well as several themed lists featuring highly regarded titles.
Please recognize, however, that this is not a historical examination of the most groundbreaking PC games. Uh-uh. Sure, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain redefines stealth-based action and the Forza Horizon series is the definitive open-world racing franchise, but they didn't make it into this guide based purely on those metrics. Simply put, this an ever-expanding collection of entertaining titles you should buy if you own a gaming desktop or gaming laptop.
To clarify, games don't need to have been released within the calendar year to qualify for this roundup. Any game that's still available and still considered excellent when ranked against the best of today is eligible. We think that's the most useful approach to helping you decide which video games deserve space on your PC's hard drive, and which aren't worth consideration even when their prices are cut by 85 percent during a Steam sale.
In our newest update, we've added six games: Call of Duty: Warzone, Mortal Kombat 11, Samurai Shodown, Samurai Shodown Neo Geo Collection, Super Mega Baseball 3, and Trials of Mana.
How We Pick 'Em
Compiling this guide was no small undertaking. PCMag's in-house and freelance reviewers have played a ridiculous number of PC games over the years, so creating criteria for inclusion was essential. Here's what we came up with. To be included, a game must have been reviewed by PCMag, still be available for purchase, and received a rating of 3.5 stars or greater.
The first requirement is to ensure that we can give you more insight into a game. Yes, this guide goes into some depth on each game entry, but the ability to link to a full review benefits those looking for a deeper cut. The second point we've already covered. The third point required a bit of pondering. We didn't want to set the star rating so low that nearly all PC games qualified for the guide, yet we didn't want to set the star rating so high that we exclude quality B-tier games, such as Dead Island and Split/Second. For now, 3.5 stars is the happy medium, but, as we review more games, we may have to be choosier, to keep the list at a manageable size.
Explore Our Picks
There are currently more than 150 games in this PC gaming guide, so making navigation as simple as possible was an extremely high priority for our creative commandos. The games are grouped alphabetically by genre, and the titles in each category are listed in alphabetical order. Simply select a genre, say fighting games, and the page jumps to that section. Easy!
Sadly, two games have been removed from this roundup due to being delisted from digital game stores: Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 and The Walking Dead. It's a game preservation issue that developers need to address to ensure that titles stick around for future purchase.
In addition, you should make sure to secure your PC while gaming. We suggest checking out our roundup of the best VPNs for gaming, a roundup of PCMag-tested virtual private networks. Not only will a VPN prevent people with ill intent from snooping your network, but it may enable you to, say, spoof your IP address so that you access games in other countries. Explore our reviews to learn about the VPN services that add the least latency to your gaming sessions.
If you're a console gamer who thinks that we're biased toward PC gaming because we're PCMag—you're right! Still, our staff has assembled their top picks for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, 3DS, and Switch. Those roundups aren't quite as robust as this one, as the PC has a much deeper library and, well, this is PCMag.
We now present the best PC games. Enjoy!
Best Action PC Games
Adventures of Pip
Tic Toc Games' Adventures of Pip is a side-scrolling action-platformer that's based on an interesting premise: evolving and devolving a pixel-based hero between his 1-bit and 16-bit forms to fight through level after level of goons and bosses. The unique premise, rich environments, and fun gameplay combine to form a game with a lot of heart and charm, despite the limited scope of its weapons and power-ups.
Developer Tom Happ, who is known for his work on EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour and NFL Street franchises, has gone indie and crafted a delightful tribute to the exploratory action genre (aka Metroidvania). This 2D platformer combines the best aspects of classic side-scrollers like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Metroid to deliver a refined experience for newcomers of the genre and seasoned vets alike. Axiom Verge is a fun, engaging title, but plodding story elements and seemingly pointless weapons mar the experience a bit.
Batman Arkham City
"If you liked X, you'll love Y!" might be the cheapest of critical plaudits, but sometimes nothing else will do. So here goes: If you liked Batman: Arkham Asylum, you'll love Batman: Arkham City. Developer Rocksteady Studios borrows everything from Asylum that worked (thrilling fighting, excellent voice acting), though it delivers far less innovation. This makes Arkham City derivative, but the game's packed with enough goon-busting fun that it still stands as one of the PC's best action games.
The original Bayonetta is one of the best action games ever made, and it easily stands alongside such genre classics as God Hand, Devil May Cry 3, and Ninja Gaiden Black. It features explosive action, and it tests your combo prowess against every divine creature in the good book. Despite Bayonetta's poor PlayStation 3 performance, this PC port is excellent. It delivers the action at a rock-solid frame rate and a range of uncommon resolutions, which makes this version the definitive angel-slaying experience.
Simply put, the JoyMash-developed Blazing Chrome is one of the best run-and-gun shooters ever made. In its Terminator-like world, one wrecked by a robot apocalypse, you control characters toting high-powered weaponry designed to obliterate legions of mechanical enemies. Across the games' six stages you experience chunky explosions, wild multiplayer action, and hulking bosses. It doesn't do much to push the genre forward with fresh gameplay features, but Blazing Chrome's does nearly everything right.
Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle
The arcade scene saw an explosion of side-scrolling beat 'em ups in the wake of 1987's groundbreaking—and money-generating—Double Dragon. Developer Capcom played a major role in the genre's skyrocketing popularity, thanks to a string of memorable releases that gave players the opportunity to team up with a friend to pound enemy forces into pulp. Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle collects seven of those games, including the classic Final Fight, in a package that also includes online play. If you fancy thumb-numbing, button-mashing action in either solo or multiplayer sessions, Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle is a recommended package. That said, it lacks the deep production design documents and historical notes found in Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection or SNK 40th Anniversary Collection.
Cuphead is a charming run-and-gun/shoot-'em-up hybrid that channels Konami's iconic Contra series, while also taking heavy inspiration from the rubber-hose animation style that was prominent during 1920s- and 1930s-era cartoons. If you're familiar with the Contra series' fast-paced gameplay, then Cuphead should be right up your alley. The titular protagonist and his brother Mugman must best a wide variety of perilous stages and bosses to complete their quest. Cuphead lacks the expansive level design featured in Contra and other genre classics, but the hardcore action game gives you a beefy list of complex and satisfying boss fights to overcome, in the style of Treasure's beloved Alien Soldier.
Daemon X Machina
If, while playing Daemon X Machina, you recall Mobile Suit Gundam, Super Dimension Fortress Macross, or other classic mecha anime franchises, don't be surprised. The mecha-action game wears its inspirations on its metal-coated sleeve. The brainchild of former Armored Core developers, Daemon X Machina features blistering action and ridiculous amounts of weapons and upgrades. The nearly unintelligible narrative is groan-worthy at best, skip-worthy at worst, but the game's positives outweigh its faults. Genre fans should consider the title an essential purchase.
The Darksiders series, a creative reinterpretation of the Christian end-of-the-world scenario that follows the misadventures of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, returns with a twist. With Darkstalkers III, you take control of the irate and unpredictable Fury who's tasked with capturing the Seven Deadly Sins. Armed with a barbed whip and wicked agility, Fury explores the ruins of the modern world and exterminates menaces in an interconnected, Metroid-esque environment. The combat system has a few annoyances, such as an unreliable camera and frustrating mobs, that hinder the experience. Still, Darksiders III is an enjoyable action game that you should play if the theme appeals to you.
When Techland's Dead Island trailer debuted, it featured one of the most moving video game sequences ever produced: a small child and her family being slaughtered by zombies against the backdrop of a soft, haunting Giles Lamb musical score. Dead Island's gameplay doesn't quite match the trailer's promise, but the open-world action-RPG offers a very solid zombie-slaying good time as you craft weapons and try to stay alive in an island paradise gone wrong.
Dead Rising 2: Off The Record
Frank West returns to zombie-slaying action in Dead Rising 2: Off The Record. Capcom's reimagining Dead Rising 2 sees the gruff photojournalist facing off against a wider array of monsters, building new weapons, snapping photos, and best of all, mixing it up in a new open-world sandbox mode. Stomping the undead is fun—for a while—but bugs and repetitive gameplay keep Dead Rising 2 from achieving true greatness.
Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition
Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition takes everything that made Capcom's original 2008 release an impressive action game and expands on it. The game includes the Legendary Dark Knight enemy horde mode that was added to the original PC port, as well as three new playable characters, improved visuals, and subtle gameplay tweaks. Some of the weaker aspects of the original release, such as the repetitive story campaign, remain and slightly tarnish an otherwise brilliantly polished title. Overall, Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition is a rock-solid action game that is well worth picking up for fans of the series and action buffs alike.
Devil May Cry 5
Devil May Cry is a genre-defining action series that pits your demon-slaying protagonist against the hordes of hell, giving you a sword, guns, and a robust list of special attacks to string together in crazy and over-the-top combos. Devil May Cry 5 is the newest incarnation of the series. It takes elements from previous games, even including the fan-derided DmC: Devil May Cry reboot, and introduces all-new characters and gameplay systems for fans and newcomers to enjoy. All systems have been rebalanced and streamlined, making them easy to grasp yet challenging to apply in practice and to master. It's one of the best action games ever made.
The Disney Afternoon Collection
Disney Afternoon, the mega-popular 1990s animation block, spawned some of the best platformers on the Nintendo Entertainment System, thanks to developer Capcom. And, 20 years later, those games are back in the excellent Disney Afternoon Collection. The six games—Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers 2, Darkwing Duck, DuckTales, DuckTales 2, and TaleSpin—feature a crisp 1080p resolution, the ability to save your progress at any time, and a useful rewind feature that helps combat the infamous difficulties associated with old school Nintendo games.
Far Cry Primal
With Far Cry Primal, developer Ubisoft abandons all political pretenses and focuses on what made Far Cry stand out from its peers when the series debuted: the open-world sandbox. You play as a Stone Age hunter named Takkar, and your goal is to secure a safe haven for your people, the wandering Wenja tribe, in the prehistoric realm of Oros. Melee combat and beast companions set Primal apart from past Far Cry games and make exploration feel much more personal and engaging. But its story is simpler and more straightforward, so if you were hoping for eccentric villains and outlandish melodrama, Primal may leave you a tad disappointed.
For Honor is a medieval-themed combat game has two faces. One is a splendid multiplayer blend of large- and small-scale battles. The other is a forgettable single-player campaign that unfortunately requires an online connection. However, For Honor's strategic combat—a resplendent combination of positioning, pacing, awareness, and timely opponent reads—gracefully lifts the entire package from the mediocre AAA bog that might otherwise have slid into.
GalaxyTrail's Freedom Planet is a retro-platformer that looks and feels like a long-lost 16-bit mascot game. Freedom Planet's 14 levels are large, colorful, and varied. Almost all have Sonic the Hedgehog-style loops, ramps, and corkscrews. Each level also introduces its own unique elements, such as disappearing blocks, colored switches, and keys. These elements sound like basic platforming obstacles, but they're so well-crafted and diverse that they always feel fresh and don't overstay their welcome. The downside? Some cringe-worthy voice acting.
Jet Set Radio
In 2000, Sega gave us a look into the future of funk with Jet Set Radio, a cel-shaded action game that starred a cute band of rollerblading miscreants who tagged walls, battled rival delinquents, and avoided out-of-control cops. This updated PC version flexes high-definition graphics, developer interviews, and all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a Steam game. Dripping in manga-influenced hip-hop flavor and boasting one of the greatest soundtracks ever crafted for a video game, the grind-happy Jet Set Radio is a title that belongs in the library of anyone who digs fast-paced action games, incredibly catchy tunes, and street culture.
Katamari Damacy Reroll
PlayStation 2 gamers likely remember how difficult it was to avoid the hype surrounding Katamari Damacy. Publisher Namco Bandai's action-puzzle game tasked you with rebuilding a destroyed cosmos, and went on to become a sequel-spawning hit, thanks to its addictive gameplay, charming graphics, and amazing score. The delightful original game has now been given the remaster treatment with Katamari Damacy Reroll, a game featuring updated graphics and keyboard support. Katamari Damacy Reroll delivers the same whimsical enjoyment as the original did in 2004, but with the addition of a new coat of paint that makes this PC game one you should not miss.
Killer Is Dead: Nightmare Edition
Goichi Suda (aka Suda51) is the Robert Rodriguez of the video game industry. The Japanese developer crafts projects noted for their style, edginess, and violence, but once you peep beneath the cool veneer, the work is exposed as a somewhat empty, if fun, experience. Such is Suda51's Killer Is Dead: Nightmare Edition, a Steam game that stars a cybernetically enhanced assassin named Mondo Zappa who slays vampires, mystics, and other monstrosities for a government agency. Killer Is Dead is dripping with Suda51's trademark humor, character swag, and fast-paced action, but it lacks the killer level design and supporting elements that would elevate the game to the top of its genre.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
TT Games's Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham squeezes in a lot of DC Comics fan service and silliness, while maintaining a whimsical and simplistic approach to its action and story. Whether it's the subtle 1978 Superman theme that plays when the caped do-gooder is flying, or Nightwing reminiscing about his sidekick days while compulsively spewing "holy" exclamations, Lego Batman 3 is so filled with Easter eggs that it feels like a love letter to all of DC Comics. The gameplay doesn't deviate much from the familiar Lego formula, but the experience is solid, nonetheless.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes
Lego Marvel Super Heroes is a near-perfect blend of three wonderful childhood staples: comic books, video games, and, well, Lego. Steeped in Marvel Comics goodness, Lego Marvel Super Heroes puts players in the role of superheroes—including the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man—who are tasked with recovering all-powerful Cosmic Bricks before top-tier baddies such as Loki, Dr. Doom, and Magneto get their hands on them. The open-world game features fun brick-bashing action and light puzzle challenges.
Mega Man 11
Mega Man 11 is a continuation of Capcom's iconic side-scrolling platformer franchise, and it retains many of the series' classic elements. In terms of gameplay, Mega Man 11 introduces the impressive speed- and power-boosting Double Gear system, which offers new ways to avoid obstacles and dispatch enemies. There are a handful of hazards strewn throughout this action game that feel a touch unfair, and some stages drag on much too long. Still, Mega Man 11 delivers a wonderfully fun challenge that's splashed with a fresh coat of paint.
Mega Man Legacy Collection
Capcom, in collaboration with Digital Eclipse, revisits Mega Man's past with a package that does the original six NES Mega Man games justice. Besides featuring high-definition versions of the classic 8-bit games, the collection contains new trial challenges, leaderboards, video replays, and developer art. It's one of the best retro compilations around. Besides the recent Rare Replay, Mega Man Legacy Collection is the closest to a video game equivalent of the Criterion Collection the medium has seen. If you're a Mega Man fan, consider this a must-have collection.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Konami's Metal Gear Solid series is known for its stealth-based gameplay, but its spin-off, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, is a straight hack-and-slash action game starring stooge-turned-badass, Raiden. Developer Platinum Games bundles the game with numerous goodies not associated with the original console version, including graphical enhancements and three DLC packages that were separate console purchases—all at a reasonable price. In short, if you liked the console version of Revengeance, you'll dig this one, too, despite the occasional rough camera angle and frame rate drop.
Metal Slug 3
Run-and-gun video games have a long history of thrilling fans with high-octane, shoot-everything-that-moves action, but few do it better than SNK Playmore's Metal Slug 3. Originally released to the Neo Geo platform in 2000, the acclaimed Metal Slug 3 has appeared on nearly every console and handheld since then—and now it's available for PCs. In this title, you control adorable, armed-to-the teeth soldiers who defend Earth from an alien invasion using guns, rocket launchers, and the eponymous Metal Slug tanks. Metal Slug 3 is a genre masterpiece due to its charming (and hyper-violent) cartoony graphics, tough-as-nails challenges, creative weapons, and varied level design.
Okami HD is a high-definition port of the beloved PlayStation 2 action-adventure game in which you play as the wolf-goddess Amaterasu. In it, you guide the deity across Nippon to defeat the demonic presence that threatens nature and mankind. On a basic level, Okami has a similar gameplay structure to The Legend of Zelda series, in that players must explore expansive zones to unlock power ups and clues that lead to new areas to explore. Even better, the game's visuals are unashamedly Japanese, utilizing a watercolor-like graphical style to create a unique aesthetic. If you enjoyed romping through mythical Japan as William Adams in Nioh: Complete Edition, you might enjoy Okami's take on the subject, as well as its lighter tone and colorful visuals.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Xbox Game Studios is mostly known for realistic games starring space soldiers and fancy cars, but every so often the company rolls the dice on a family friendly platformer. 2015's Ori and the Blind Forest was the publisher's most successful attempt in years, and now its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, is even better. Featuring pinpoint platforming controls, lush visuals, and clever level designs, Ori and the Wills of the Wisps is a magical, instant classic that will be played for years to come.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a violent story about the death of the Old West. You take control of Arthur Morgan, a man who belongs to an outlaw group and is disillusioned by the criminal lifestyle. Still, Arthur can't see himself doing anything other than stealing and killing. This results in you undertaking many daring missions. Though not without some performance issues, Red Dead Redemption 2 amazes on PC. Its incredible story, beautiful graphics, multitude of optional quests, and ever-updated online mode may keep you hooked for years.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Fresh and wide-eyed from her exploits in Japan, the young and ambitious explorer Lara Croft is pitted against a cult of fanatical zealots in pursuit of immortality. Rise of the Tomb Raider features more of the spectacular set pieces, powerful combat, and tricky puzzles that made the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot so well received by critics and fans alike. Series fans may get a distinct feeling of déjà vu when running through the similarly styled gameplay scenarios and platforming sections, but Rise of the Tomb Raider is a solid action-adventure title.
River City Girls
Featuring 'tude, delightful animation, and numerous ways to sock everyone who gets in your way, River City Girls is a more-than-worthy entry in the long-running River City Ransom/Kunio-kun series. Developer WayForward's love for the series drips from every roundhouse punch and baseball bat swing, as two high school students—Kyoko and Misako—crack skulls as they try to rescue their kidnapped boyfriends. River City Girls has terrific beat 'em up action and the ability to purchase new moves, accessories, and power ups, but a few glaring negatives keep the brawler from being a genre great.
River City Melee Mach!!
Melee Mach isn't your traditional beat 'em up on which the River City franchise built its fame. Instead, the title takes the genre's fundamentals—punches, kicks, throws, and weapons—and adds power ups, special moves, and team-based, last-man-standing gameplay. This PC game carries the series' charming retro-style graphics, fast-paced action, and high school rivalries, but as with the other recent River City games, a few negatives prevent the game from achieving greatness.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a From Software action game that carries some of the DNA of its Dark Souls and Bloodborne predecessors. Thankfully, From Software injects enough new freshness into its formula to create an entirely unique experience. The game introduces fantastic movement elements, clever stealth systems, and parry-heavy swordplay as the ninja protagonist, Sekiro, battles gods and monsters. The controls can be a bit sticky at times, and there are a few obnoxious hitbox issues, but these are relatively minor complaints.
Shadow Complex Remastered
The original Shadow Complex is a 2.5D platform-adventure game that became an Xbox 360 cult classic thanks to its fast-paced, exploration-heavy gameplay. The title has since received the remaster treatment, which gives the beloved game updated graphics, hard-hitting new contextual melee attacks, and Master Challenges. The run-and-gun game's plot and voice acting don't quite match the rest of the stellar package, but if you can overlook those ills, you'll find an excellent title that's well worth the $14.99 price.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a haunting, cinematic look at Lara Croft as she transverses the steppes and underworlds of the modern home of ancient Mesoamerican culture. Developers Eidos-Montréal and Crystal Dynamics redefine Croft in the final installment of her origin series by tossing away her iconic dual-pistols, and transforming her from a hapless orphan into a hardened tomb-dwelling adventuress that who must stop the coming Mayan Apocalypse. Shadow of the Tomb Raider wraps up Lara's early days in satisfying fashion, but narrative and performance issues prevent the action-adventure game from reaching the same heights as the previous installments in the series.
Shenmue I & II
Sega's Shenmue I and Shenmue II remasters are odd games, just like the original Dreamcast and Xbox releases. They're loaded with a head-scratching amount of underutilized content, hilariously awkward writing, and some horrific pacing issues. But at the same time, they pack a startling amount of detail for games this old. Furthermore, the fighting mechanics are solid, the overarching story is engaging, and the game has an undeniable charm. Yes, many titles have since improved upon the systems featured in Shenmue (notably Grand Theft Auto and Yakuza), but you can't shake the appeal of these classics.
If you have the "I want to squash all threats to the republic" itch that's risen in recent days, do yourself a favor and play SNK's Shock Troopers. This run-and-gun action game tasks you with saving a biotech genius from The Bloody Scorpion terrorist organization by going into battle using a single soldier (Lonely Wolf mode) or a three-person squad (Team Battle mode). Cool weapons, fun vehicle-based levels, branching pathways, and co-op play make for a very entertaining, G.I. Joe-like experience.
Retro "8-bit" side-scrolling indie platformers have flooded the video game market, and it's easy to discount the entire genre as an easy-to-develop cash-in on nostalgia. Then there's Shovel Knight from Yacht Club Games, a studio created by former WayForward Technologies director Sean Velasco. You play as a shovel-toting knight who must rescue his partner, Shield Knight, from dastardly foes. It's an incredibly satisfying and expertly crafted platformer that recalls games like DuckTales and Mega Man, but also has some of the most authentic NES-style graphics to appear in the HD era.
Sonic Mania is, for all intents and purposes, the true Sonic the Hedgehog 4, discounting the intensely mediocre, polygonal game that appeared last console generation. Sonic Mania adheres to the classic Sonic gameplay of running really fast through loops and straightaways as you collect life-preserving gold rings, dispatch enemies, and free captured fuzzballs from hulking enemy machinery. On that level, Sonic Mania is very much like the sprite-based Sonic titles that came before it. That said, DRM issues and poorly designed bonus stages steal a bit of its shine.
Streets of Rage 4
Playing Streets of Rage 4 is like returning to the old 'hood and discovering that your childhood home still stands. Rarely does a media property receive a well-crafted followup years after its initial success, but this beat 'em up by developers LizardCube, Guard Crush Games, and Dotemu is Streets of Rage through and through. Featuring a diverse cast of new and returning martial artists looking to clean up a fictional city's mean streets from a criminal syndicate, Streets of Rage 4 offers the hard-hitting combat, dreary urban environments, and sheer fun that's defined the series since 1991. The few design issues don't prevent it from being hailed as one of the best contemporary beat-‘em-up titles.
Tembo The Badass Elephant
Tembo the Badass Elephant's story takes place in Shell City, a populous city that's plunged into a state of emergency by an evil force known as The Phantom. The National Army is unable to contain The Phantom's destruction, so it enlists the aid of an old war buddy, the Rambo-like elephant known as Tembo, to push back the enemy troops. The game's frequently compared to the 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog games, as it's published by Sega and features a relentlessly speedy main character who obliterates foes. However, developer Game Freak (of Pokemon fame) also implemented elements from classic franchises such as Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Country to create a well-rounded 2D action-adventure platformer that stands apart from the titles that inspire it.
Yakuza 0—the prequel story that shows how series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu rose through the ranks to become the big boss of a Japanese crime syndicate—is more than just knuckles, guns, illegal rackets, and vendettas. At the heart of the gangsterism is empathy and honor, be it between bro and bro, an orphan and his surrogate father, or well-dressed hoodlums and the desperate strangers they meet. It's also a tale involving a pelvis-thrusting man, referred to as both Walking Erection and Mr. Libido, wearing nothing but shoes and tighty-whities. Yakuza 0's ability to dance between the dramatic and the absurd, all of it punctuated with thrilling combat, makes this beat 'em up one of the best action games on the PC.
Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner Mars
It's a sad truth that there aren't many great action-focused mech games. Sure, there are numerous well-crafted strategy games featuring the hulking mechanical vehicles, but if you just want to pilot a cool, humanoid machine that blasts opponents into scrap metal in twitchy fashion, the pickings are slim. Enter: Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner Mars. It's an enhanced version of the cult classic PlayStation 2 game that satisfies that mech-action itch by letting you shoot, slash, and toss enemy machines in a variety of sci-fi environments. The 2nd Runner Mars is an engaging action game that delivers satisfying combat, but it suffers from annoying control issues—carryovers from the original release.
Best Adventure PC Games
Batman: The Telltale Series
The point-and-click adventure game genre has seen a resurgence in popularity since Telltale Games began combining its excellent storytelling chops with popular comic book properties. But it is Batman: The Telltale Series that really shows what the developer can do when it merges an action-focused license with its successful story-driven formula. The game delivers the fisticuffs, gadgetry, and detective work you'd expect from Bruce Wayne's masked persona, while once again giving you the option to shape the narrative in both large and subtle ways.
D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die
Film student turned video game designer Hidetaka "Swery" Suehiro wears his influences on his sleeve. Last generation, the video game auteur was the driving force behind the bizarre, Twin Peaks-inspired Deadly Premonition; now his special brand of storytelling insanity graces the PC in the form of another oddball, David Lynch-like murder mystery called D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die. It tells the story of a widower, detective David Young, who is obsessed with unearthing the events that led to the death of his wife, Little Peggy. The game—with its supernatural elements, quirky characters, and compelling investigative gameplay—is one that should not be missed.
David Cage's Heavy Rain unravels the dark, fictional story of a serial murderer, known as the Origami Killer. The interactive story succeeds in building a gritty aura fitting of the subject matter and in developing a set of believable characters within its world. However, the mechanics often feel tacked on and the game's presentation is underwhelming in some aspects, such as the voice acting and graphical fidelity. Despite those persistent flaws, Heavy Rain is worth the time and price, if only for its engrossing narrative.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is back! After disappearing from digital marketplaces when developer Telltale Games went under, the touching and harrowing The Walking Dead returns to life courtesy of publisher Skybound Games. The choice-based adventure game puts you in the role of Lee, a former professor and convicted criminal who tries to survive a zombie invasion while safeguarding a young girl named Clementine. Keep some tissues close for the ending.
Please note that PCMag didn't review this new five-part series collection, but we did review chapter one and chapter two back when they were available individually.
The Wolf Among Us
The Wolf Among Us, a game that's a canonical prequel to Bill Willingham's popular Fables comic book series, features a well-written story, light puzzle-solving challenges, and reflex-testing Quick Time Event (QTE) sequences. The visually striking title draws inspiration from film noir cinema, while keeping the heavy black outlines and bright colors associated with its source material. The murder-mystery isn't particularly challenging, but if you want to spend a few hours in an immersive world filled with interesting characters and top-notch voice acting, The Wolf Among Us should find a home in your PC gaming library.
Best Battle Royale PC Games
Call of Duty: Warzone
Call of Duty: Warzone has entered the competitive battle royale fray, with a few tricks up its sleeve to shake up the formula. Based on Modern Warfare's 2019 reboot, Warzone introduces unique battle royale elements, such as loadout kits and respawn matches, that separate it from the competition and greatly impact how the game plays. These additions are hit-or-miss, but the overall package is highly polished and has enough meat to attract traditional FPS fans.
Fortnite is yet another game capitalizing on the popularity of the battle royale genre, but that doesn't mean that the title is without merit. Fortnite has a lot going for it, including approachable gameplay modes, bright and zany graphics, and an excellent construction system. Iffy combat and the presence of microtransactions detract from the experience, but as Fortnite is a free-to-play game, fans of PUBG and other titles in the genre should still give it a shot.
Like many other games in the open-world survival or first-person shooter genres, the primary goal of PUBG is to be the last player alive. However, PUBG doesn't adhere to the genre norms. It takes some of the best aspects of open world games, combines it with the mechanics of a good first-person shooter, and accommodates a player base typical of MMOs. There's also a good balance of gameplay elements. For example, you get to choose where to parachute down on the map, everyone starts without a weapon, and there's a deadly and giant shimmering blue dome that reduces the playable area every so often. It's tense and fun, but bugs dull the experience a bit.
Best Fighting PC Games
Dead or Alive 6
Dead or Alive 6, much like its immediate predecessor, is one part fighting game, one part fashion show, and one part schlocky action movie. Individually, each of the game's widely differing elements might not stand up to scrutiny. After all, DOA 6 isn't the best fighter, doesn't offer the deepest character customization, and doesn't quite reach the Tekken series' level of story insanity. Yet, Dead or Alive 6 is an entertaining and surprisingly strategic PC game that offers enough freshness to warrant playing with its new Break Blow and Break Hold tools. Plus, the game's familiar Triangle System and Danger Zones are highly entertaining, too.
Iron Galaxy Studios' Divekick is the most hipster game ever created. It's the product of the indie scene, and it mercilessly parodies fighting games and their diehard community, yet demands that you be part of the underground circle to fully get all of the references and in-jokes. It's also a lot of fun if you open your mind to the insane concept of a one-on-one fighter based almost entirely on the idea of jumping and kicking.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Beside Fist of the Northstar and Jo Jo's Bizarre Adventure, there are few anime properties that are as intrinsically suited to the fighting-game treatment as the Dragon Ball series. Spanning multiple series, movies, and generations of characters, Akira Toriyama's manga-turned-anime-turned-game series is all about buff monkey men, humans, aliens, and androids trading blows in actual earth-shattering battles. Dragon Ball FighterZ ditches the Xenoverse games' arena-brawling model in favor of 3 vs. 3 tag-team fighting on a 2D plane. The gameplay shift is just one of the many reasons Dragon Ball FighterZ is being held aloft as one of 2018's notable titles. Its beautiful design, intense combat, and accessible control scheme add up to a game one that anyone can jump into for Super Saiyan thrills.
Garou: Mark of the Wolves
Upon its 1999 release, Garou: Mark of the Wolves—a surprisingly deep and visually stunning entry in the long-running Fatal Fury series—was hailed as SNK's wondrous response to Capcom's Street Fighter III. Nearly 20 years later, SNK has finally given the 1 vs. 1 fighting game the proper PC treatment by releasing it with numerous additional graphics options, leaderboards, and online versus play. The result is an excellent PC game that boasts beautiful animation, Just Defend parries, and the strategic T.O.P. system. Code Mystics gave Garou rollback netcode via a post-release patch, so online battles are buttery smooth.
Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign-
Guilty Gear is a niche series within a niche genre, one that's enjoyed a cult following since its first appearance in 1998. With Xrd -Sign-, developer Arc System Works ditches the series' 2D sprites in favor of 3D cel-shaded graphics in an attempt to expand its audience. Likewise, series creator Daisuke Ishiwatari sought a more approachable play style that maintained the depth and high skill ceiling that long-time Guilty Gear fans love. The result is a feature-packed fighting game that boasts incredible graphics and deep mechanics. Unfortunately, it arrived on PC after many Guilty Gear fans had moved on to the next game in the series: Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator-. So, like The Last Blade, Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- is a game that's worth buying if you don't mind local play and the lack of online competition.
When Killer Instinct debuted for Windows 10 in March 2016, it represented the latest chapter in the continued PC fighting game renaissance. With its arrival, Microsoft's combo-heavy, one-on-one game of fisticuffs joined the likes of Guilty Gear, The King of Fighters, Street Fighter, and other high-profile series that now grace the personal computer. Thankfully, Iron Galaxy—the development team that picked up the Killer Instinct reins after Double Helix, the original developer, was purchased by Amazon—has delivered a remarkably fun, season-based title that's more than worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as its competition.
The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match Final Edition
The King of Fighters '98 is widely regarded as one of the best fighting games ever made, so it's no surprise that developer SNK Playmore has returned to the title many times since the game's original release. In 2008, SNK Playmore celebrated the game's tenth anniversary by porting the team-based fighter to the PlayStation 2 as The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match, a game loaded with extra characters, stages, and gameplay modes. Now, a tweaked Ultimate Match is available for PCs as The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match Final Edition, a game that rebalances the massive 64-character roster and adds Steam trading cards and achievements. Final Edition's gameplay retains its predecessor's wonderfully deep and flexible fighting mechanics, but it's missing features that were present in the beloved PS2 version.
The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match
The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match, like The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match that came before it, is a celebration of one of the best fighting games ever released. Developer SNK revisited the game in 2009 and added gallery and color edit modes, as well as new menu artwork, polygonal stages, music, characters, and gameplay tweaks for a PlayStation 2 release. This Steam version is a slightly downgraded take on the PS2 game, but it features beautiful 2D stages and online play. Though this version lacks some of the PS2 title's features, KOF 2002 UM reigns as one of the best PC fighting games. It could use better netcode, though.
The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition
One of the most impressive sprite-based games ever created, The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition brings SNK Playmore's excellent 3-on-3 2D fighter to the PC via Valve's digital distribution platform. If you've rumbled with friends and foes in the version that appeared on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms, you'll feel right at home here: the intricate combat mechanics, gorgeous graphics, and up-tempo music are successfully ported over to this Steam game. Even better, The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition contains all of the console DLC, the King of Fighters XIII: Climax arcade features, and PC-centric graphics options.
The Last Blade
SNK put weapons-based 2D fighting on the map with 1993's delightful Samurai Shodown, but the developer went on to refine the idea of sword combat four years later in a somewhat lesser-known Neo Geo title: The Last Blade. Recently released to the Steam platform with several contemporary bells and whistles, The Last Blade boasts excellent swordplay, a dozen exquisitely designed characters, and a gorgeous anime- and manga-style presentation that make its 19th-century Japanese setting one of the most beautiful in fighting-game history. Genre fans shouldn't hesitate to pick up this excellent PC fighting game, but the barren online play means most matches will take place locally.
Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite
Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite has taken its fair share of flack since its reveal, and the venom is not at all unwarranted. The initial trailer for the tag-team fighting game featured dull, washed-out graphics, and Capcom highlighted the new novice-friendly, auto-combo options that are designed to help casuals bust out cool-looking moves in an otherwise hardcore genre. As a result, fight fans were highly skeptical of the game. Fortunately, sentiments toward Infinite changed dramatically upon the game's release. The Infinity Stone hook and the move to 2 vs. 2 action make Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite an incredibly fighting to play in both casual and hardcore sessions. Still, the roster, which features many intriguing characters locked behind DLC paywalls or ignored due to brand wars, needs some work.
Mortal Kombat XL
When NetherRealm Studios released Mortal Kombat X to consoles in 2015, the game continued to evolve via free and paid updates that added characters, balanced the roster, and improved online play. However, the High Voltage Studios-ported PC game received zero post-launch support, much to the dismay of hardcore Mortal Kombat fans. Thankfully, that changed with the Mortal Kombat XL update, a version of MKX that finally gives PC gamers all the extras that console-based fight fans have enjoyed for some time now. We dislike the idea of paying more money for PC content released long after the console version, but it's hard not to love the additions, which include even more fighters, stages, costumes, and gore.
Mortal Kombat 11
Mortal Kombat 11 is far more than the guts-and-gore titles on which the series built its fame. The fighting game continues the series tradition of Kung Fu Theater-style action and otherworldly mysticism to lay the foundation for military operatives, ninjas, gods, and monsters to punch each other squarely in the face. With its character customization, HDR10 support, smooth animations, and new offensive and defensive meters, MK11 is the best Mortal Kombat game to date.
Clashing swords, blood spurts, and tense, measured play define Samurai Shodown, SNK's beloved weapons-based fighting game series. This series refresh, the simply named Samurai Shodown, carries those elements to PC nearly a full year after the game first appeared on console. If you've waited this long in hopes that Samurai Shodown would add many PC-exclusive extras, you may be disappointed; this is largely the same game that appeared elsewhere. Still, Samurai Shodown's unique, defense-orientated gameplay make it a fighting game to check out for sword-swinging, blood-letting action. Prep for lengthy load times, though.
Samurai Shodown Neo Geo Collection
Samurai Shodown Neo Geo Collection, SNK and Digital Eclipse's follow up to the delightful SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, contains all the SamSho games that appeared on the original Neo Geo, plus production art, SNK staff interviews, and a true surprise—an unreleased title that only briefly saw a location test. Overall, Samurai Shodown Neo Geo Collection is a wonderful piece of playable history, with the only blight against the PC game being its mediocre online components.
Skullgirls 2nd Encore
Skullgirls 2nd Encore, the update to Reverge Labs' critically acclaimed original game, takes cues from many highly regarded fighting titles and blends it with the series' cartoony, art deco style. The indie fighter has a Capcom vs. SNK-style ratio system that lets you select up to three characters to battle up to three rival characters, as well as a Marvel vs. Capcom-style assist system. That said, Skullgirls 2nd Encore's graphics aren't all that separate it from the competition. The fighter also has a built-in system that automatically stops infinites, those annoying and abusive combos that never end.
The fighting game renaissance wouldn't be complete without a new SoulCalibur title. The weapons-based combat series has seen its ups and downs over the years, but with SoulCalibur VI, developer Bandai Namco has taken what's worked in the past—swift, strategic combat and robust character customization—and paired it with the new Reversal Edge and Soul Charge battle mechanics to create an engaging PC fighting game that'll shine in all sorts of battles, whether they're between buddies or on big esports stages like Evo. SoulCalibur VI lacks the stellar presentation found in recent, competing releases, such as Dragon Ball FighterZ, Injustice 2, and the developer's own Tekken 7, but it's a strong title that deserves a place in your PC game collection.