Compared to consoles, PCs have access to a huge marketplace for games spread across many different stores. Between Steam sales, Humble Bundle deals, and Epic Games store free games, PC gamers have many fantastic opportunities to try out many games. But as any PC gamer will tell you, your game library will have more unplayed games than playing games after a few years. If you’re like me, padding your game library with random games feels wasteful. To that end, here are 7 great games that have recently been released or will release on PC, which will help fill your life with hours of worthwhile and enjoyable gaming. These are not necessarily the best games of all time in an objective sense, but all seven of these games are excellent showcases of PC gaming. If you’re looking to power your PC gaming experience with a state of the art gaming PC, check out these custom-built gaming PCs.
Valorant took Twitch by storm with its novel approach to distributing beta access before the game was released. The only way to gain access to the closed beta was to watch streamers playing Valorant and get randomly selected to gain access. It was already anticipated by many fans of Riot Games and League of Legends, and many people were curious to see how this ability-based tactical shooter would compare to CS: GO and Overwatch, which this game takes inspiration from in terms of FPS focus and ability usage. By making the beta access dependent on watching streamers, a lot of streamers gained a larger audience of viewers, and the game itself got a lot more attention from the entire gaming community because of it.
Diving into the game itself, it should become an essential part of new PC gamers’ libraries. It’s free-to-play, which is the best price any game could be, so there is no reason that every gamer shouldn’t at least try this game. What makes this game so great, though, is its novel approach to the tactical shooter genre. The gunplay is very similar to CS: GO, but it simplifies the complexity of the weapons greatly and is much more forgiving to beginners. It places abilities as a priority to help gain an advantage over the other team, so raw skill and aim are not the end-all to the game, but the abilities don’t solely determine the outcome of the game either, nor are teams locked down to the same few agents like pro Overwatch. Additionally, there is no pay to win elements or distasteful loot box schemes either, which means that beginners and seasoned gamers are on the same level. They do offer a battle pass, but it only delivers cosmetics items for guns. For a more in-depth review, check out Gameranx for their thoughts.
Control is the game to play if you want to know what next-gen games with Ray Tracing and RTX features will look like. It has the best implementation currently, utilizing the NVidia RTX graphics cards for both Ray Traced Reflections and Indirect Lighting/Ambient Occlusion. This means that glass panes, mirrors, and tile floors will all have physically realistic reflections to all objects, as well as have physically realistic lighting in-game to illuminate around corners, lightly obscured areas, and through the foliage. Beyond the RTX features, this game has amazing physics simulation to destroy parts of the map and toss around desks and other game elements.
Gameplay-wise, it’s a very fun mystery action game with innovative and exciting sci-fi mechanics. It’s a 3rd person action-adventure where you play through an office of supernatural powers, with puzzles and fast action. It’s not necessarily an open-world game, but it allows for replayability and has secret areas in previous sections that are unlocked after you get through later sections of the game. If you’re looking for a fun story game with a novel approach to action, this is your game. Gameranx also has a great review of this game.
5. Half-Life: Alyx
For anyone with a VR headset, Half-Life: Alyx is a must-have. It is not the Half-Life 3 game that everyone wanted from Valve, but it is a spectacular example of what is possible with VR. Just like how the original Half-Life games had great physics engines, this game has an amazingly realistic physical world that feels almost too real. Cups and bowls will shatter as you expect, you can draw on almost anything with the in-game markers, and can actually juggle as if it is real life. The animations, environments, and has done such a good job that not many people get motion sick like a lot of other VR games.
Half-Life: Alyx is one of the few singleplayer VR games that are worth playing, sitting right above Vader Immortal and Boneworks. It offers an immersive world to explore and a very engaging story within the well regarded Half-Life universe. Its shooting mechanics are very refined, and the abilities are very interesting too. The puzzles are also an essential part of the game which engages your brain more. If you have a VR headset, it simple is a must-play, even if you’ve never played a Half-Life game before. If you’re interested in picking up an Oculus Rift S, then you definitely should like this game, and many other VR titles like Gorn and Beat Saber make for great party games. The experience is simply unbeatable. Here’s another Gameranx review.
4. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020
This is probably the most controversial pick for this list, but once you get a look at the graphics of this game and learn a bit more about how the game functions and what was put into it, you’ll agree that it is an amazing game that really showcases what PCs can do. At its core, it’s an intense flight simulation experience with very granular and accurate controls of many different planes with a custom-made game engine that really pushes what PCs can do. From the amazing cloud graphics to the satellite accurate terrain and cities, this is a curated art journey that you’ll want to explore. It has the entire Earth accurately modeled, including every major airport and city, with AI boosted models of houses, mountain ranges, and other environments that you can find around the world. It even features real-time accurate flight paths where other planes in-game will be mirrored to their location and speed in real life.
Though you don’t expect it at first, simulator games are some of the most popular games on Steam. Farming simulator, truck driving simulator, and Microsoft Flight simulator all allow you to experience the world in ways you never could before. The more you get into the experience, the more your setup starts to become fine-tuned for the game. You can buy plane yokes, pedals, and control boards that will plug and play with Microsoft flight simulator as well, enhancing your experience so much. They’re also committed to adding VR support as well as RTX and Ray Tracing to make this already beautiful game even more stunning. For a detailed look into the game, check out Digital Foundry’s hands-on with the game.
3. Horizon Zero Dawn
While this is not a new game, it is new to PC, and it marks a change in attitude for console-exclusive games. With the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X using AMD-designed, PC architecture at their cores, there are very few reasons for next-gen games to exist on both PC and console. This is super exciting for a lot of PC gamers who like playing console exclusive games but wish they could just crank the graphics to the max and see how beautiful games can get. What the PC also allows for is uncapped framerates, which is great for fast PCs that can push out more than 30 or 60 FPS. This also expands the market for many game studios to reach an even wider audience by porting their games to PC. Just look at how Xbox is handling their Xbox Game Pass and commitment to be cross-platform to see how amazing the future of gaming is going to be.
Regarding Horizon Zero Dawn itself, this is a gorgeous game that is set in a futuristic world where technological beasts have taken over the world, and mankind is driven back to a more tribalistic structure because man is no longer the dominant species. It’s a fantastic combination of survival, adventure, and a very refined open-world that draws many people in. Learning the mechanics, exploring the world, and stealing through combat is really the shining star of this game. If you haven’t already played this on PS4, or even if you have, you should really try this game. Gameranx has another great review for this game, though it is for the PS4 version and not the PC.
2. Red Dead Redemption 2
One of the most anticipated games of this decade, Red Dead Redemption 2 expands the amazing formula that Rockstar games created with the original Red Dead Redemption, while migrating many of the improvements that GTA 5 was developed with over to this open-world, western era game. From the very rugged world, the game is set into the absolute plethora of quests and activities to do, you’ll be hard-pressed to not find something that you enjoy or want to do in this world. The world is advanced, with very refined AI which makes you feel like you’re really in an old western world, almost like Westworld. The graphics of this game are also very intense, so expect to get a top-end PC in order to really get the best out of this game. For an optimized and tested set of settings to use on PC, check out Hardware Unboxed’s amazing optimization guide.
Compared to the first game, there are many social systems that you build up and relationships that you improve over the course of the game which really get you invested. The shooting is refined and snappy in both first and third-person points of view. Your outlaw nature allows you to rob and heist as you please, with the option to show kindness where you want, and also scare people into doing what you want without having to shoot anyone. The morality system keeps track like many games, but it’s not in your face like a lot of other games with morality systems. What you do matters in this game, so be careful as you spend hours enjoying this game and shaping your world. Check out this Gameranx review for more details.
1. Cyberpunk 2077
If Red Dead Redemption 2 was one of the most anticipated games, then Cyberpunk 2077 takes the crown for the most wished for and highly anticipated games of all time. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock and never heard of this game, check out this trailer to see what this game is all about. Warning though, CD Projekt Red holds almost nothing back in their games, so if you want the most immersive experience with no restrictions, this is your game. This is the studio that made the Witcher 3, which is regarded as one of the best games ever made, with a huge and detailed open world and multiple ground-breaking DLC expansions that made their game even better. This reputation is what makes everyone so confident that Cyberpunk 2077 will be the best game of 2020. They are fully committed to making the most lived-in open world that really feels like somewhere real people would live, with complex gang mechanics, infinitely many role-playing options to determine your story, and ‘innovative’ mechanics which make this game really warrant its M rating.
This futuristic game really will show off what PCs and consoles could be pushed to. The graphics quality is absolutely stunning, with a commitment to add RTX and Ray Tracing to the game to make it even more realistic and gorgeous. Between the neon nightscape, the insane futuristic effects and high-quality game assets, and the unique environment which expands past the city, this game will really shine on top-end PC hardware and next-gen consoles. The shift to first-person for this game also adds more weight to the immersion because Cyperpunk doesn’t use any of the cheats that many first-person games do, making the first-person model animate fully for reflections to be super accurate. If you want to get in-depth with the game’s graphics, check out Digital Foundry’s video.
Between all these games, you’ll experience PC gaming in all of its glory. Free-to-play E-sports games are what gather all the media attention and for good reason. Those games are fun to play but difficult to master, always challenging you to improve your individual skills as well as your ability to coordinate with random people. Then there are several showcase games that really show off what gaming PCs are capable of, and what we can expect from the future of gaming. These are my personal favorites as I always love realistically rendered games. Then we finish off with just some of the most enjoyable games that you can play on PC for hundreds of hours, without even having to restart and replay the game. Open-world games are the norm now, but what really separates the boys from the men here are how detailed and lived in the worlds feel, and how real everything seems as you play. PC gaming has truly advanced so far in the past decade, and I hope the next decade brings even more fun and exciting games to play.
About the Author
Dan is a computer nerd through and through. Between benchmarking systems, overclocking PCs, and helping out with tech support wherever possible, he works tirelessly to be on the cutting edge of technology, always ready to learn and adapt to whatever is coming next.