The 25 best PC games to play in 2021

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Elia Tabuenca GarcĂ­a
@eliatabuencagarcĂ­a

Given the long and extensive history of PC gaming, it would be a challenge to make a list of the best PC games of all time. However, whether you're just starting to play PC games or looking for new games to play, we've created a list of the best PC games to play in 2021. These games span a wide range of genres and include Valorant's newest hits. and Valheim, as well as tried-and-true classics that remain relevant to this day, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Minecraft. PC games are quite different from consoles, as your mileage with each game on this list varies based on your gear. That said, many of the games on this list don't require the latest and greatest graphics cards, they just help these fantastic games look even better.



Apex Legends

Respawn Entertainment has taken its strong FPS foundation (i.e. Titanfall) and created a competitive shooter that refines all the basics needed for a good Battle Royale. Its character roster adds a strategic layer and playstyle diversity, weapon usage is crisp and engaging, and quality of life features like the ping system and inventory management keep you focused on running in combat.

Over the many seasons of content for Apex Legends, we've had multiple maps and game modes cycle through the experience. It has surprisingly deep knowledge that makes you also invested in the world of Apex Legends. And since it's free to play, you have nothing to lose by trying.



Civilization VI

First released in the 90s, Sid Meier's Civilization series is still going strong in 2021, thanks to ongoing support for its most recent release, Civilization VI. As in previous games, Civilization VI puts you in the role of a historical leader, like Cleopatra of Egypt or Gandhi of India, and tasks you with building your civilization from the ground up, including growing your military, developing new facilities research and diplomatic engagement with other world leaders. Of course, Civilization VI has been expanded and improved over previous games in the series, with additions like the inclusion of districts that allow cities to expand into multiple blocks, but it also continued to receive new content in the form of two main expansions: Ascension and Fall and Gathering Storm, which added new leaders, civilizations, and features to the game.

Controller Ultimate Edition

Control's mix of action, mystique and surreal is something not to be missed, and while it's available on PS5 and Xbox Series X, you won't find any version better than the PC version. The pairing of DLSS and ray-tracing makes Control a visual powerhouse, reflecting its stunning effects on the Oldest House's immaculate waxed floor surface and enveloping its mysterious hallways in the uncertainty of shadow. And all of this is accentuated by supernatural struggles that can erupt at any time in any of these enigmatic rooms as the world shifts and morphs around you. What makes Control truly special is exploring unknown secrets and discovering secrets the world shouldn't know. The Ultimate Edition gives you two DLC's, AWE and The Foundation.



Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

The iconic competitive FPS is still going strong today with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Although CSGO has undergone significant changes over its lifetime, it is still the core Counter-Strike experience that revolutionized the multiplayer FPS genre in the 2000s. The default game mode is a five-on-five demolition style match on carefully crafted maps. that emphasize specific positioning, sight lines, and team strategies. But beyond that, there are other game modes and tons of custom content from years of hard work by their player base.

One of the most exciting things about CSGO is the high-intensity competitive matches, where the smallest mistakes can spell doom for your team, or plays can dramatically change the momentum of a match. Counter-Strike has historically been played with a level of precision in both its FPS combat and its tactics, which makes for a somewhat steep learning curve for newbies. However, this classic game can be extremely rewarding, which you can see in its massively competitive landscape. Recently, Valorant has embraced the Counter-Strike formula to great effect, but CSGO's high-stakes tactical combat is still in a league of its own.

Destiny 2

Despite being released over three years ago, Destiny 2 remains one of the most popular live service multiplayer games out there. While the sequel started off on a strong note, it only got better thanks to consistent updates and expansions that delivered a steady stream of captivating first-person shooter content. And it's not even close to being too late to migrate to Destiny 2, as multiple expansions are still coming over the next couple of years. Destiny 2's abundance of content would be nothing without strong mechanics and overarching systems that keep you scrambling for new gear. Bungie has created one of the best first-person shooters we've played in years, so they're a constant source of fun whether you're making your way through story missions, tackling challenging raids with friends, or battling in the Crucible. It's a wonderful game that sinks its teeth into you the more you play it, and it's easily one of the best co-op PC games available today.



Elysium disk

When it comes to writing, Disco Elysium is perhaps unparalleled. Developed and published by ZA/UM in 2019, Disco Elysium puts you in the role of a detective suffering from amnesia and a serious bout of alcoholism. His quest to unravel a baffling murder and the details of his life he's forgotten takes you on an absolutely stunning adventure that thrives on its choice-based gameplay and exquisite dialogue. Disco Elysium balances humor and serious life dilemmas with surprising grace, and the freedom it gives to shape the narrative and your interactions with the many characters you encounter allows you to make your own detective story. His wonderful world is bursting with life, and seeing it through the eyes of an unnamed cop with memory problems makes it even more engaging.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition

Building on the already brilliant formula of its predecessor, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is an all-time great RPG, giving you a wide range of freedom in how to build your party, handle a combat scenario, and approach a given situation. It's a game best played on PC, thanks to its sharper visuals, mouse precision and faster loading times, which encourage you to experiment with its wide range of possibilities. While it's a really great game overall, much of the fun in Divinity comes from seeing what you can get away with, whether it's stealing items or avoiding a long combat encounter by setting up an elaborate trap. No experience with previous games in the series is required to enjoy Original Sin 2, and as the best entry to date, this is the ideal place to start, just be prepared to waste dozens of hours on it.

Dota 2

Dota 2 is not only one of the hardest PC games to learn and master, but also one of the most rewarding to play when you know what you're doing. Two teams of five players each attack each other while trying to destroy the opposing team's Ancient. It sounds simple, but the strategic depth is vast and there's a lot to learn if you want to keep up. It requires learning the map, becoming familiar with the wide range of characters, and mastering its mechanics to succeed. Of course, if this wasn't an exciting process, it wouldn't be as popular as it is, and if you haven't seen a match played at The International, you're missing out.

Final Fantasy XIV Online

The Final Fantasy series is known for having a strong focus on storytelling with characters going into over-the-top battles, and the MMO Final Fantasy XIV manages to stay true to what the series is all about. While you might assume that familiar Final Fantasy principles of storytelling and strong character moments would be absent in an online game, FFXIV is one of the most story-driven MMOs today. Final Fantasy XIV is the franchise's second chance at an MMO, and features an extensive story about rebellion, equality and friendship that manages to reach the same high points as the franchise's best single-player games. While MMOs have a reputation for being inaccessible and time consuming, Final Fantasy XIV offers an excellent gateway for new non-existent MMO players, and is also a fantastic Final Fantasy game in its own right.

Grand Theft Auto 5

It might be surprising that a 2013 game is still so widespread eight years later, but when that game is Grand Theft Auto 5, it makes a lot more sense. With a story of deceit and betrayal, GTA 5 follows the exploits of three men as they fight their way through the criminal underworld of Los Santos and team up for heists that rival those of Michael Mann's classic Heat. It's backed by an immensely popular multiplayer mode, GTA Online, where you can team up with friends and orchestrate your own rise through the ranks of crime. The PC version has a number of settings that allow you to fine-tune the smallest details, and the incredible GTA 5 mod community has come up with creations that absolutely cannot be missed.

Hades

As far as roguelikes go, Hades is among the best. It's the goal of jumping into the underworld and fighting your way out of Hell, providing players with an arsenal of weapons and powers unique to a god (and borrowed from many of the gods and goddesses of Olympus). However, it's the slower moments when you visit protagonist Zagreus' friends and family between races that trap him and keep him fighting for the truth. In most roguelikes, you only care about going beyond the last run, but Hades does more: it combines action and story, striking a delicate balance of blasting your way into the overworld and developing your relationships.

League of Legends

League of Legends is one of the most popular competitive games for a reason. From its strategic combat and mechanical depth to its colorful characters, it's hard not to get sucked into game after game of this MOBA. While there's a lot to learn, it's not as mechanically dense or difficult to master as Dota 2, providing a more welcoming experience for those looking to jump into the MOBA world.

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Microsoft Flight Simulator

If flying high and flying around the world is your dream, there's no better game than Microsoft Flight Simulator. You can fly from almost any airport in the world, including smaller airports in quieter cities, and go literally anywhere on Earth, although landing can be difficult in places like the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest. Microsoft used satellite imagery to recreate the in-game world and is improving the game and map all the time. The game is available through Xbox Game Pass for PC.

Minecraft

Minecraft is a global phenomenon for a reason. Its craftsmanship, basic construction and survival mechanics are unparalleled, providing an immersive and accessible experience for people of all ages and walks of life. Building massive castles, cozy houses or monuments for your favorite video game character is a joyous moment, while venturing out into the Nether is a tense experience you're not sure you'll return. Whether you're building a massive tower or exploring the depths of dangerous mines, Minecraft remains an exciting time that can be enjoyed with friends or alone.

Overwatch

Overwatch has quickly become a household name in the realm of competitive shooters. With Blizzard's expert design philosophies and a familiar base of names like Team Fortress 2, Overwatch offers a deep and intense team-based multiplayer experience. Across multiple game modes, Overwatch emphasizes teamwork and composition with its broad roster of 30+ charismatic heroes that can be effective in their own ways. The nuances of its abilities lead to tactical considerations that deepen the experience beyond simply being an FPS.

Overwatch's presentation will lure you in with detailed maps and heroes that you'll come to love just by playing them. Like any ongoing multiplayer game, the balance is always shifting, but Overwatch always seems to hit it extremely well while promoting a sharp focus on the team. It has a rich history of seasonal content and special events that keep it fresh, and even after five years, it's going strong.

Portal 2

Portal 2 remains one of the funniest and most creative puzzles in gaming. It successfully built on the mind-bending multidimensional ideas of the first game and somehow elevated its storytelling and characterization to become incredibly fun and memorable. These things alone would make Portal 2 worthy of your attention, but there is additional content that comes with the game on PC. Not only is there online and local co-op that extends the game beyond its single-player offering, but there is a wealth of user-created content that includes entire story campaigns. Portal 2 is a lot of fun no matter where you play it, but with puzzles built by other players, you get a superior PC experience.

Rainbow Six Siege

Source: Steam

Rainbow Six Siege is an apt blend of first-person shooter, strategic planning, and tactical teamwork. Two teams of five vie for control of a building, where the objective is to capture an objective, defuse a bomb, or secure a hostage. Siege's brilliance comes in learning these buildings in and out and knowing how to work with your teammates to get in and out more effectively. Map knowledge can overcome twitch shots in the most dire of situations, rewarding your players for smart thinking and careful play. Siege is available on consoles, but the ultimate way to play it is on PC with a keyboard and mouse.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a phenomenal and immersive video game that is easily one of Rockstar's best releases to date. A prequel to the original game, the story offers some eye-opening revelations about the wider Red Dead universe. Gameplay and world building are amazing, with plenty of freedom available for players to do as they please as they head out to the frontier as Arthur Morgan. The game is also beautiful, especially on PC for those with a capable enough equipment. Mountain visits and bubbling rivers sparkle on PC, making Red Dead Redemption 2 one of the best games we can recommend.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

A match, though not a full match, of its previous games, From Software's Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice takes the simple act of blocking an attack and turns it into an exciting game mechanic. Boss battles aren't simply marathons to reduce your health, but an exercise in perfection as you time your own attacks, deflect those of your enemies, and then deliver a final killing blow. On PC, you can modify the game to speed up the pace or play as goofy characters that definitely don't belong in your dark and violent universe. Without a dedicated easy mode in the settings, which in itself is a matter of debate, the PC version's modding potential also lets you lower the difficulty.

Stardew Valley

It all starts with an old destroyed farm and a handful of seeds. You clear the weeds and rocks until you're tired and then do it again. You get into the rhythm of daily life, visiting friends, watering crops, taking care of animals. Before you know it, it's been 75 hours and you're mostly managing your complex irrigation system and planning next season's harvest. Stardew Valley is a friendly and relaxing experience that also manages to be infinitely addictive. Fans know how it feels to be sure they'll play just one more day before bed. And while it has appeared on almost every platform, PC usually gets its first chance to test out all the little quality-of-life tweaks and new features that come with patches. Recently, the massive 1.5 update appeared on PC almost two months before consoles. In addition, there is a huge library of mods that allow you to tweak various gameplay elements, give the game a new aesthetic, and even add extensive new content and characters. Keeping up with Stardew Valley on PC is the best way to ensure your farm life never gets stale.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

It's true that since its release in 2012, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been ported to almost every platform that can play it, including Amazon Alexa speakers and smart refrigerators. But the king of all versions of Skyrim is the one on PC, and it doesn't even come close. That's because the PC version gives you access to years of mods created by the Skyrim community. From adding serious RPG story content to providing ridiculous possibilities, the PC version of Skyrim adds near-endless options to an already massive and expansive game. You absolutely should play Skyrim on PC if you haven't already, and you should mod it to see how much more the game has become than it was when it first came out. Skyrim is also available on Xbox Game Pass for PC.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

One of the best RPGs of all time, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt wraps up the incredible story of Geralt of Rivia. The Witcher 3 sets Geralt on a quest to find Ciri, a witch-in-training who is like a daughter to him. He reconnects with old flames, friends and foes as he searches far and wide for her. Of course, there are plenty of side quests and characters to meet along the way, which will no doubt keep you busy for hours. Many of these quests require you to kill monsters, a wizard's primary craft, and you'll have to prepare accordingly to defeat them with sword, wizard magic, and potions. All of this makes The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt an essential PC game.

Valheim

Source: Xbox

Valheim took Steam by surprise, selling over 5 million copies and earning an overwhelmingly positive rating of 160.000 comments within its first few months of access. This may seem unbelievable, but when you step into the world of Valheim and explore its mysterious forests, mountains and hills, it becomes intimately clear just how special it is. Valheim is full of secrets, which you will discover as you kill monsters, gather resources and build a Viking village. Slowly removing the fog from this world is tremendously satisfying as you encounter new lands, enemies, and resources that help bolster your crafting menu and arsenal, the latter of which you'll need to master and utilize to fend off the deadly beasts that call Valheim home. But you won't have to go it alone, as you can invite up to nine friends to join you on your server for Viking adventures and good times.

Valuing

The initial response to Valorant was that it's basically a mashup where Overwatch meets Counter-Strike and yes, that's pretty accurate. That's also a good thing, because Valorant uses many of these games' strengths to make something unique. It focuses on round-based demolition-style gameplay with two teams of five (attackers and defenders) on balanced maps with specific lanes and lines of sight and an extremely fast time to kill. However, each agent (or character) has their own unique abilities that add another strategic layer to the combat. Team composition plays an important role, and each agent affects what the team is capable of in each high-risk situation. It is intense and demanding, but very rewarding.

XCOM 2

Finding the right balance in a strategy game is extremely difficult, as the best ones are challenging enough to require smart play without being too punishing. XCOM 2 almost falls into the “too punitive” camp, but its mix of turn-based combat tactics and overarching management gameplay rarely feels unfair. Past the first game, when the aliens have almost completely conquered Earth, XCOM 2 certainly considers you an underdog, but it offers the tools you need to take on the invaders with careful planning. Ambushing a squad and delivering a mix of long-range shots and explosive damage is immensely satisfying, and even more so if you've fought on the same map for an hour or more. The game can certainly be played on consoles, but it's at home on PC, just like the other games from developer Firaxis. Moving your units and getting a view of the entire battlefield is seamless with a keyboard and mouse.

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