Best PC games 2021: What we’re playing right now
Here are the best PC games, from high-fantasy action to first-person shThe best PC games come in all shapes and sizes, from massive open-world AAA titles, like The Witcher 3, to small but immersive indie games, like Disco Elysium. But, given the 500-plus games you’re likely to have between your Steam and Epic Games Store library, how do you know which to play first? That’s where we come in with a list of the best PC games we’re playing right now.
Laptop Mag kicked off its best PC games race a year ago now with our gaming reviews program, in which we test how games perform on PC. We’ve recently reviewed Twelve Minutes, Mass Effect Legendary Edition, and The Medium.
We just pumped out our I Expect You to Die 2 review. If you’re into pen and paper games, check out our best virtual tabletop software page. Also, check out our Halo Infinite vs. Halo 5 Guardians article and see how they compare.
We know that the best PC games out there rank in the thousands, including games like Divinity: Original Sin 2, Doom, and Minecraft, but we can’t list all of them. So, these are the best PC games we’re loving right now (this list isn’t ranked from best to worst).
What are the best PC games?
Despite everything that’s going on right now, 2020 was a strong year for PC gaming. The game of the year contender that jumps right to mind is Doom Eternal. Doom Eternal is everything that fans of first-person shooters could want, boasting a fantastic single-player campaign that soars far above its predecessor. With an incredible world, phenomenal original soundtrack, and necessary quality of life changes, Doom Eternal provided some of the most unadulterated fun we’ve had playing a video game in quite some time.
Third-person action-horror Resident Evil 3 just launched, and although it’s not as good as Resident Evil 2, it still has a solid foundation with thrilling boss fights, gripping environments, and a refined combat system. Looking for something that’s a little like Overwatch but different? After landing board-first into one of Bleeding Edge’s colorful maps and launching into the hack-and-slash brawler-Esque chaos of combat, we quickly realized that this could be one of the best PC games — that is, as long as Ninja Theory can deliver post-launch.
Outside of 2020, there are amazing PC games, like The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (fantasy adventure), Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (how to die simulator), Fortnite (battle royale), and Rocket League (competitive sports?). Just last year, Gears 5 (cover-based shooter), The Outer Worlds (first-person RPG), and Mortal Kombat 11 (fighting game) kicked so much ass that they made it on our 2019 games of the year list. Some of our personal favorites are Monster Hunter: World (action RPG) and Beat Saber (VR rhythm game).
The best PC games you can play today.
10 - Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn is a phenomenal game. If you missed Guerilla’s critically acclaimed RPG back in 2017 and have strong enough hardware to handle the poorly optimized mess that is this PC port, I would recommend picking it up on a very deep sale.
Horizon Zero Dawn drops the player in a large open world to scavenge materials, hunt beasts both robotic and organic, and craft an arsenal of elemental weapons and armor. The game’s already dangerous lands became even more threatening as I played on Ultra Hard, which often forced me to sneak through environments to avoid its lengthy catalog of fierce machines. Because many enemies had the potential to devastate me in a single hit and set me back by up to 10 minutes of progress, I found most encounters to be deeply horrifying.
This design philosophy emphasizes how unexpectedly gorgeous the end of the world can be. Stories revolving around a planet void of life are plenty compelling for sure, but Horizon Zero Dawn perfectly understands how to best illustrate what will actually happen once nature reclaims the Earth.
One of the best PS4 games finally made its way to PC this summer, Horizon Zero Dawn and its icy expansion The Frozen Wilds provide dozens of hours of action and exploration making it one of the best single-player PC games.
Boasting a satisfying crafting and RPG-inspired progression system, its massive post-post-apocalyptic world is full to bursting, with plenty of “ancient” secrets to uncover and monstrous machines to hunt or hone your combat skills against, all wrapped up in a compelling story that not only sets the stage for the upcoming sequel, Forbidden West but provides an intriguing new take on life after the collapse of modern society. While PC enthusiasts who demand nothing short of 4K/60FPS at all times may want to wait for another round of performance updates (you can read our full analysis of the PC port here), Horizon is an exceptional adventure that’s not to be missed.
The Horizon Forbidden West release date was recently announced on February 22, 2022. The sequel is coming to PS5 and PS4.
9 - Control
Control, in many ways, feels like the culmination of Remedy’s design ideas from its past several games distilled down to their best versions and melded together for one trippy, enthralling adventure. Jesse Faden’s story of infiltrating the Federal Bureau of Control’s offices comes complete with a stellar set of abilities befitting any good telepath, a propulsive, strange story with a memorable cast and unexpected twists, and a fascinating location that feels rooted in a sense of history.
Remedy has filled Control’s world with little details that make its stranger ideas really land, giving unexpected life to every corner of its office building veneer. Just like its main location, the Oldest House much more lies beneath the surface of Control, and its mysteries are worth fully exploring. Also, the PC is currently the only place to play with ray tracing enabled, giving the world a more realistic and yet more otherworldly appearance. Maybe that’s why this fantastic single-player PC game won our 2019 Game of the Year award?
Remedy has since released two expansions for Control, The Foundation, and AWE. The developer is also working on a Control multiplayer spinoff codenamed “Condor,” which will feature four-player PvE gameplay.
In other news from Remedy, the developer recently announced Alan Wake Remastered, featuring updated visuals, character models, and “some choice next-generation upgrades.” It’s out on October 5.
8 - Microsoft Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator is the closest thing we’ve had to a near-perfect recreation of the real world in the virtual space. Using real-time Bing data to allow you to fly to and from any place on the entire planet has raised the bar for simulations to heights never seen before. Accessible to anyone, or as realistic as you want, this is open-world at its most literal.
Free-flying around the globe, participating in landing challenges at some of the world’s most famously difficult airports, or just sightseeing, Microsoft Flight Simulator is an unparalleled achievement. Don’t forget to grab one of the best PC joysticks to make this flight-sim experience more immersive.
Flight Simulator for Xbox is now available as well. The Top Gun Maverick expansion, meanwhile, was recently delayed to align with the film’s new May 27, 2022, release date. Microsoft Flight Simulator — a visually striking, breathtaking virtual experience that launches you into Earth’s vast skies — will have you singing Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird.” You’ll be captivated by Bora Bora’s stunning paradise of aquamarine lagoons. You’ll be enthralled to spot the vegetation-covered, limestone cliffs of Thailand. You’ll be wowed by the colorful and bulbous cathedrals of Moscow.
“I don’t know where my soul is! I don’t know where my home is!”
As skydiver Felix Baumgartner once said, “Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you really are.” Planet Earth seems boundless in Microsoft Flight Simulator, from the deep coastal fjords of Norway to the majestic baobab trees of Madagascar. Despite Earth’s vast expanses, Microsoft has managed to stuff Bing’s massive satellite data of Earth — all two petabytes of it — inside this hypnotizing game, leaving simmers feeling awestruck by the sheer number of cities (over two million) that one can visit.
With what seems like an infinite number of locales to explore, you’ll never get tired of Microsoft Flight Simulator
7 - The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Deep, lengthy RPGs are a staple of PC gaming, and very few have put a larger chunk of sophisticated content forward than The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has. Its massive sandbox open-world areas impress, both in terms of scope and density; they’re generously dotted with great monsters to slay, tantalizing mysteries to solve, and personal stories to unfurl.
It’s also one of the most impressive overall productions in gaming history, with reams of excellently written dialogue performed by a stellar voice cast, an incredible original soundtrack, and graphics that qualify as both a technical and artistic achievement.
A “visually and technically enhanced” version of The Witcher 3 is coming to PC later this year and will include new content inspired by Netflix’s The Witcher series. A Witcher anime series, meanwhile, was recently released on Netflix. IGN’s The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf review said it “spends too much time building up the Netflix show and not enough telling its own story. “Coasting off the popularity of the Netflix show “The Witcher,” CD Projekt Red’s trilogy of Witcher games is enjoying a resurgence. And The Witcher III: Wild Hunt is not only by far the best in the series but it’s also one of the best PC games to date. The final chapter in Geralt of Rivia’s video game adventure offers all the sword-wielding and spell casting you’d expect, with plenty of dialogue and morality trees, along with a massive bestiary of mythical creatures to fight.
In the final entry, you’re on the trail of a grown-up Cirilla, on the run from the titular Wild Hunt. Along the way, you’ll meet series favorites, including Triss, Dandelion (Jaskier), and, of course, Yennefer of Vengerberg. So, toss your coin (and several hundred hours of your life) to your Witcher and play through a fun, engaging story.
6 - Resident Evil
When a new Resident Evil game rolls around, there are certain expectations the critically-acclaimed action-horror series meets, and while Resident Evil Village hits some of them, it breaks others.
From a gameplay perspective, Resident Evil Village is essentially the love child of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 7. Narratively, however, Capcom managed to flip the isolated plot of Resident Evil 7 and spin it into the fairy tale-esque story that we get from Resident Evil Village. It’s like watching a fantastical gothic horror film unfold.
The deeper the story goes, the more invested I became in the journey, and that’s sort of rare for a Resident Evil game, as most are cheesy and revolve around a convoluted plot, but Resident Evil Village is rather simple in its objective. And thus, it’s easy to connect with, and while the protagonist, Ethan Winters, can be as bland as a bag of bricks, he’s arguably one of the most relatable characters in the Resident Evil universe.
As a result, Resident Evil Village is easily one of the best PC games available right now.
5 - Gears 5
Changing enough to keep it fresh but keeping and refining most of what made the series so beloved, Gears 5 is the new highpoint for the Microsoft-exclusive third-person shooter franchise. Following on from the story in Gears of War 4, Kait Diaz takes the lead in this campaign. She, JD, and Del rejoin the COG Army to take on the Locust Horde once again and fight to protect what remains of the human race and its strongholds.
The story is only half the story though. Once you’re done with the campaign, which you can complete either alone or in a three-player co-op, you can try out your combat skills with your friends in Horde or Escape mode, or against them in traditional multiplayer modes, with the option to build your own maps for customizable fun.
Gears 5 is rich with lore and history, similarly to the games before it. The Gears storylines are well done in allowing any player to jump right in and generally understand the story that is transpiring, as well as some of the politics between the conflict actors.
Gears 5 is no different, and while understanding previous history or events that transpired in prior games helps, the story is fleshed out enough that any newcomer can follow the plot.
In addition to single-player gameplay, the game supports three-player local split-screen or online cooperative gameplay.
4 - Hades
Games have made it to the top in 2021 however Hades stands as one of the tops of the list making it supergiant and has great reception. The game is all about the underworld where the son Zagreus tries to escape all the time.
The game uses the isometric view like all the other games however, it is a story of Hades in the game.
Hades has many perks to serve as you can romance a few of the characters in the game for earning the extra bonus points. No, this losing the game doesn’t put you to the last on the scoreboard.
Once you die in the game doesn’t mean you are starting over it is just that you’re starting from the beginning. Earning the points gives you the up-gradation of the weapons and deaths.
3 - Death Stranding
2 - World Of Warcraft: Shadowlands
It is one of the best and fastest-selling games which has been since 16 years. The even new update or the installation doesn’t forget to make this game interesting and entertaining. The game remains fresh and lively even after the years of the game been existing.
The basic plot of the game is that it takes place in the land of the dead. The game is divided into five major zones and the central hub city is to be explored.
You are provided with two options either you play it with friends or you play it solo. There is always an addition of new content in the game. The characters are fully customized and have a playing backdrop.
You can visit your flight to all the beauty as well as the dangerous locations.
1 - Ghost runner
If you are a horror game lover you can always switch back to the Ghostrunner. It is one of the ultra-violent games that ever stands in the top 2 in the list. If you are a fan of ghosts and fasten your nerves all the time you play games Ghostrunner is all of it for you to play.
The game is set in Dharma Tower, and it is a kind of the last refuge for humanity. To make it to the top score on the leader board of the game all you got to do is hold your breath while playing the game and use all the unique abilities.