The Witcher 3

Best PC Games Windows Central 2019

In many regards, PC gamers have it better than their console counterparts. One reason why is the sheer breadth of titles available, but this can make it difficult to keep up with the best titles on the platform. We're here to help you out with a shortlist of PC games you need to play — both new and old. Even though it's a few years old (and frankly an obvious choice), The Witcher 3 remains our top pick.

Best Overall: The Witcher 3

The Witcher 3

This choice may appear a little too obvious, but The Witcher 3 really is one of the best RPGs released on PC. The story is engaging, each sidequest is interesting, and the world CD Projekt RED managed to bring to life feels authentic. It's mind-boggling the first time you fire up Geralt's adventure.

The Witcher 3 is a medieval-inspired experience, following the adventures of Geralt of Rivia as he attempts to track down his protege, Ciri. Along the way, Geralt gets caught up in all sorts of political intrigue, trading his supernatural hunting services for coin and information.

Even the mini-game, Gwent, was such a hit that the developer managed to release a standalone game. It's the whole package, so long as you can overlook the so-so combat system.

Pros:

  • Stunning visuals
  • Engaging story
  • Interesting characters
  • Story decisions
  • Unique world

Cons:

  • Combat is only OK

Best Overall

The Witcher 3

The winds be howling

The Witcher 3 is one of (if not the) best RPGs released on PC. You need to play it. Buy direct from GOG to support the developer and access a DRM-free copy.

Best Battle Royale: Apex Legends

Apex Legends

EA decided it would be a good idea to cash in on the Battle Royale fad and Apex Legends is what subsidiary Respawn Entertainment came up with. Many consider it a free-to-play Battle Royale version of Titanfall, but it's much more than that.

If you're familiar with PUBG, the aim of this game is to dropdown with teammates and be the last team standing. You don't control mechs; instead it's more of a traditional run-and-gun shooter, but each character available has unique special abilities that keep each round feeling fresh.

It's a fun game, especially with friends, and the amount of customization options available and addictive gameplay make the grind an enjoyable experience.

Pros:

  • Addictive gameplay
  • Unique Battle Royale game
  • Free
  • Great design
  • Fluid movements

Cons:

  • Battle Pass costs money
  • Other microtransactions

Battle Royale

Apex Legends

One of the best Battel Royale games

Apex Legends is addictive, enjoyable and well-polished. It's a unique take on the Battle Royale formula without alienating genre fans.

Best RPG: The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim

Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of those games that refuses to die. It was released on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC (twice), PlayStation 3 and 4, Switch, and more. It's a game nearly everyone has played, but if you somehow haven't yet traveled to the Nordic lands, you really should.

It's an RPG that lets you take control of a character, immerse yourself in an atmospheric world, and do what you want. You could follow the main questline, carry out sidequests, explore the world and uncover secrets, or you can do everything. It's entirely up to you.

What makes the Special Edition great on PC is the 64-bit architecture, which allows for many more mods to be installed with less of an impact on performance. There are some killer mods out there for Skyrim that add new lands, quests, items, weapons, perks, and some even overhaul mechanics altogether.

Pros:

  • Immense open world
  • Immersive atmosphere
  • Great gameplay
  • A lot of story
  • Mods

Cons:

  • Mediocre performance

Best RPG

The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim

Massive world

Skyrim is one of the most-loved RPGs released of all time. Just add mods and you're good to go for hours upon hours.

Best Racing: Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon is a series many follow for its addictive racing gameplay and online features to foster a virtual petrol head community. The latest instalment in the series is a cracking entry, sporting a huge open world based in Scotland. It's everything Forza Horizon 3 was and more.

You'll be able to race around in your favorite vehicles, destroy most of the environment and enjoy the experience of driving in multiple seasons — all in glorious 4K.

Pros:

  • Incredible graphics
  • Excellent gameplay
  • Online features
  • Big open world
  • Soooo many cars

Cons:

  • Loading...
  • Mediocure matchmaking

Best Racing

Forza Horizon 4

The biggest racer in Scotland

Forza Horizon is a great racing series from Microsoft that focuses on online play and the fourth instalment is the best the series has been yet.

Best Action: Grand Theft Auto V

Chances are you've already played Grand Theft Auto V, but if you haven't, you should. It's the largest entry in the GTA series, following the story of three broken individuals. Aside from the engaging storyline, you can go around and cause havoc across the city, just like in other GTA titles.

While the single-player action is addictive, the real gem is GTA Online, which is a completely separate game provided in the same package. Rockstar updates it with new content on a weekly basis, so there's always something fresh to get stuck on. Play it with friends and you'll have so much fun.

Pros:

  • Three protagonists
  • Large open world
  • Graphics
  • Free online play
  • Regular updates

Cons:

  • Loading...
  • Cheaters

Best Action

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand theft madness

Grand Theft Auto V switches up the usual story structure by adding a further two protagonists to create a unique story-telling experience.

Best Competitive Shooter: Rainbow Six Siege

Rainbow Six Siege

Ubisoft continues to release updates for Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege tactical shooter, providing players with yet more content to dive through. Popular game mode Terrorist Hunt tasks two squads of players to either attack or defend a specific location and there's simply no other multiplayer title that matches the tense, skill-driven action.

You'll need to master the art of destruction and gadgetry in this game. Experience a new era of fierce firefights and expert strategy born from the rich legacy of past Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six games. We're big fans of this instalment and if you're looking for a new multiplayer experience, this is it. Our only issues are that it lacks the replayability of other titles.

Pros:

  • Flawless atmosphere
  • Responsive weapons
  • Delivers a familiar experience
  • Addictive gameplay

Cons:

  • Frequent connectivity issues
  • Lack of replayability

Best Competitive Shooter

Rainbow Six Siege

Tactical shooting

Rainbow Six Siege is an aggressive strategic shooter from Ubisoft with environmental destruction, tons of tactical gadgets, and an emphasis on team play.

Best Strategy: Total War: Warhammer II

Total War: Warhammer II

Total War: Warhammer II is one of those strategy games that are a good fit for both newcomers and genre veterans. Included fantasy races provide a healthy diversity of units, and you'll be thrown into heated battles on a grand scale. The campaign is also rock solid, as too are other game modes.

There's plenty to like about the Total War series, though most releases have come with countless bugs, but Warhammer II hasn't been too bad in that respect. If you enjoy strategy games that task you with empire management, diplomacy, warfare, and more, Total War: Warhammer II has you covered.

Pros:

  • Stunning visuals
  • Addictive strategies
  • Plenty of content
  • Unique races
  • Not too buggy

Cons:

  • Some stability issues

Best Strategy

Total War: Warhammer II

Amazing strategy

Total War games are huge in scale and Warhammer II is no different. It takes everything that made the first Warhammer Total War game so good and expands on it.

Best Survival: Frostpunk

Frostpunk

Strategy and simulation can often go hand in hand, which is exactly what Frostpunk offers, but so much more. There's not only familiar strategic mechanics, but also a compelling narrative and survival elements that make this one addictive title that can fall under a few categories.

We could have chosen from a few other titles like They Are Billions and possibly even Surviving Mars, but Frostpunk is just more polished with interesting features like the dynamic narrative and setting.

Indie developer 11bit Studios has also supported Frostpunk with plenty of free post-launch content. It's a solid, tight survival experience.

Pros:

  • Stunning visuals
  • Soothing music
  • Narrative
  • Unique experience

Cons:

  • Similar structures

Best Survival

Frostpunk

Survive the cold

Frostpunk is a wonderful engaging city-builder come survival strategy game that will challenge you with tough tasks and even tougher choices.

Best 4X Strategy: Stellaris

Stellaris

Stellaris is one of the best 4X strategy and sci-fi games out there. You start off with your own civilization in vast space and need to develop your empire. The early game is much-loved by fans for making you truly feel as though you're exploring space for the very first time.

Multiple expansions have been released adding tons of new content and free patches to refresh the game for all Stellaris owners. The game itself is easy to get into but difficult to master, requiring you to manage planets, populations, relations with other civilizations and ensuring you have enough resources to maintain a fleet.

Pros:

  • Solid UI and graphics
  • Addictive gameplay
  • Plenty of depth
  • Replayability

Cons:

  • AI is a little dumb
  • Steep learning curve

Best 4X Strategy

Stellaris

See what's out there

Stellaris is a 4X strategy game where you'll find yourself exploring space, making friends (and enemies) and fending off against unknown threats.

Best ARPG: Dark Souls III

Dark Souls has a reputation of being difficult and Dark Souls III lives up to that reputation. You'll be traversing through a moody setting with a stunning atmosphere, taking down punishing bosses. Before picking up this game, we must warn you about incoming headaches, rages, broken keyboards, and possibly monitors, too. There's a reason why game difficulty is often compared to Dark Souls.

After selecting your character, you're essentially tasked with embracing the darkness, making full use of light and bonfires. The overall story is considered to be fairly open to interpretation, so you go be that stealthy bandit or raging warrior as you tackle anything that stands in your way.

Pros:

  • Weighty combat
  • Brutal difficulty
  • Gorgeous atmosphere
  • Creative enemies

Cons:

  • May be too hard
  • Story can be confusing

Best ARPG

Dark Souls III

Die again and again and again

Dark Souls III is a brutal game. It's an action-RPG that requires you to die and "git gud" as the community would put it. If you fail at killing a boss, try again.

Best Adventure: Terraria

Terraria is nearly a decade old, but it's a darling. It's now a classic adventure PC game that continues to attract countless thousands of players each day. The cute 2D pixel graphics matched by addictive and deep gameplay make this one of the best adventure games you can buy on PC.

There are so many items it's unreal. You start off with a character in a strange new world, where you'll have to mine down, build a home, recruit helpful NPCs, take down bosses, and hunt down powerful items. There's so much to do, whether you prefer fishing, mining, combat, boss tackling or random events. It's a huge game.

Once you're done with everything that's on offer — which will take ages — there are plenty of mods and even an expert mode to really put your skills to the test. Bring some friends for yet more entertainment. Think of Terraria like a 2D side-scrolling Minecraft with so, so, so, so much more content.

Pros:

  • So many items
  • Addictive gameplay
  • Plenty of content
  • Gorgeous graphics
  • Multiplayer

Cons:

  • You'll lose countless hours

Best Adventure

Terraria

Explore and build anything

Terraria is an adventure game that lets your imagination run wild with plenty to do, mine, build and explore. Bring so friends for some good times.

Best Simulation: Euro Truck Simulator 2

Euro Truck Simulator 2

Euro Truck Simulator 2 is a huge, popular game and remains to be one of my all-time favorites. Sure, it's a simulator about truck driving and you're probably wondering "why would I want to endure hours of driving?" That's what I thought when I was recommended it, but developer SCS has done an excellent job at recreating the experience of driving an actual truck across the UK and mainland Europe.

The map has been scaled down and places aren't anywhere near real sizes, but overall it's a super-fun game to lose hours in. Coupled with actual truck driving are business management (you can hire new drivers, buy new trucks, build and develop bases), in-depth customization and the freedom to go anywhere you want, however you want. When you're ready to take a job, pick up a trailer and get cracking. It doesn't take a powerful PC to play ETS2 too.

Pros:

  • Amazing gameplay
  • Licensed trucks
  • Plenty to do
  • Multiplayer mod

Cons:

  • Cities are so small

Best Simulation

Euro Truck Simulator 2

Making all the deliveries

Euro Truck Simulator 2 is a game you'd think you won't enjoy, but once you hit the open road in your new cab it becomes an absolute joy to play.

Best Creative: Minecraft

Minecraft

Minecraft is a blocky world where everything is a block, including your own character. You can mine these blocks, build with them, make strange contraptions, defeat bosses, explore mysterious locations, download and install mods, and join your friends to create worlds together.

It's a game that has been around for years, sees a steady, but slow stream of updates with new content (bees!), and has millions upon millions of people playing worldwide. If you fancy building something, designing your own home or recreating the Death Star to scale, this is the game you need.

Pros:

  • So much to do
  • Best played with friends
  • So many mods
  • Works on most devices

Cons:

  • Updates are slow

Best Creative

Minecraft

Unleash your creativity

Build anything you can think of in the wonderful world of Minecraft. This has become the best-selling game of all-time, topping Tetris, for a good reason.

Best Indie: Cuphead

Cuphead

Cuphead is quite literally a true work of art, sporting 1930-themed hand-painted backdrops, frame-by-frame hand-drawn sprites, with some of the most imaginative, whimsical, and wacky boss battles ever seen in gaming. It's a side-scrolling shooter which pays homage to several classic design principles, across both art and gaming.

You've got directional shooting, bullet-hell levels, and vaudevillian art fused together to create a game that assaults your eyes and your brain, with its sheer beauty and diabolical difficulty. As a game, Cuphead certainly won't appeal to everyone, being mainly focused as a boss-killer, but it's a shining beacon of creativity.

Like Dark Souls III, some people may find the challenges in Cuphead a little too difficult to overcome.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous art style
  • Amazing animations
  • Creative bosses
  • Addictive gameplay
  • Fun multiplayer

Cons:

  • May be too difficult

Best Indie

Cuphead

Settle your debt with the Devil

Cuphead is a cute, yet challenging platformer that focuses on taking down difficult bosses as a tea cup to settle your debt with the devil.

Bottom line

So many great PC games have been released over the years, but there's one that always stands out: The Witcher 3. It's now used as a banchmark of what new RPGs should be in terms of quality and that's great for all PC gamers. It's an encapsulating story, gorgeous world, and packed full of interesting characters. You'll sink a whole lot of hours into this game, and that's not taking into account GWENT, the side card game that's been spun off into its own title.

If you're not a fan of RPGs there are plenty of other games available, whether you like adventure games or even just racing games. Check them out, or try all of them.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.

Richard Devine is a Reviews Editor at Windows Central. You'll usually find him deep in hardware, gaming, both or drinking root beer for which he openly has a mild addiction.

Jez Corden is a full-time writer for Windows Central, focusing on Xbox, Surface, and Windows PC. He spends the vast majority of his time gaming, or writing about gaming, with a mission to provide gamers in the Microsoft ecosystem the best and most up-to-date info possible.

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