The PC gaming landscape has shifted in recent years, both in terms of technological advancements in graphics cards and gaming monitors and in the makeup of IGN’s PC gaming staff and contributors. As a result, outside of some real stalwarts, our list of the best modern PC games is substantially different compared to years past.
Those are our picks for the best modern PC games! Obviously there are dozens of incredible games we couldn’t include, but that’s what happens when you only have 25 spots. Let us know in the comments what’s on your list that didn’t make ours, and be sure to check out our other best games lists — we update them whenever new, great games are made.
1. Portal 2
Portal 2 claims the top spot because, in the past decade, nothing else has struck so many chords so perfectly. No game accomplishes so much so well. Its impeccable level design, charming personality, and exceptional and varied puzzle systems make us feel smarter just for getting through it. Plus, its co-op campaign requires a different sort of smarts that remains one of the best multiplayer experiences with pals around.
Valve is a developer that, presumably because of the time it takes to make its incredible games, creates a feeling of timelessness in its design. Portal 2 – which iterated on and added to the brilliant puzzle design and world-building of its predecessor – feels just as clever and unique as it did in 2011. Simply put, if you’ve never played Portal 2, your top gaming priority right now should be to do just that.
2. 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.
The “visually and technically enhanced” version of The Witcher 3 will now be released during Q4 2022. CD Projekt Red’s epic RPG has sold an astounding 40 million copies to date, and the studio has confirmed it’s now working on a new Witcher game using Unreal Engine 5.
3. Half-Life: Alyx
Valve’s first Half-Life game in 13 years reminded us of the innovation that’s made this series so special and why its return was so anticipated. Just as the first Half-Life proved you could tell a story in a first-person game without taking control of the camera away, and Half-Life 2 pioneered physics-based puzzles and combat, Half-Life: Alyx has set a new standard for polish in virtual reality shooters and is a truly unique experience for VR headset owners.
Its full-length campaign pulls out all the stops for an amazing and horrifying battle against alien soldiers, zombies, headcrabs, and three-dimensional puzzles, and it even turns the simple act of reloading your weapon into a desperate life-or-death struggle. It caps it all off with a fantastic ending that made the wait almost feel worth it.
4. Slay the Spire
In a roguelike, variety is king: Slay The Spire’s constantly changing decks of ability cards, powerful relics, and the three drastically different playable characters keeps these turn-based battles fresh and engaging for far longer than they have any right to. Watching your character’s attacks, defenses, skills, and powers evolve across its three chapters is a journey, and throwing your hand in at the end of a run knowing you may never see its like again can be like saying goodbye to a friend you were only just getting to know.
Of course, the possibility of getting an even better combination the next time through makes it tough to resist hitting the New Game button, and the randomized Daily Climb runs give even veterans a new and interesting way to play every day.
5. Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition
Divinity: Original Sin 2’s Definitive Edition has cemented it as one of the greatest RPGs of all time. It masterfully mixes pieces of classic cRPGs with more modern mechanics and designs, feeling old and new at the same time. The sequel has improved upon its predecessor’s already incredible combat by deepening its systems while simultaneously simplifying and smoothing out its clunkier bits – not to mention it introduced some brutally smart new AI.
There’s also an overwhelming amount of game here to play. With six different origin characters, custom tags to make your own, and over 74,000 lines of fully voiced dialogue, this massive RPG has more than enough to keep you coming back to it.