Best PC games of all time: Our top picks you should play in 2024

Best PC shooters

First-person shooters (FPS) have been a PC staple for decades and many argue vehemently that you get far better control playing these games with keyboard and mouse than you do with controller. Some of the best PC shooters are multiplayer games while others are plot-focused single-players that tend to have a sci-fi bent. 

Get ready for a whole lot of Valve highlights as we talk about the most influential and compelling FPS PC games of all time. It's really thanks to these classics that FPS games are what they are today. 

Half-Life / Black Mesa

Few FPS games can claim to be as influential as Valve's Half-Life series. The original Half-Life game released back in 1998 and was one of the very first FPS games to include a hefty narrative. It's no wonder it inspired a series of games that are still revered on PC today. 

Players take control of Gordon Freeman (though he never talks and is never referred to by that name in the game) a scientist at the Black Mesa Research Facility. An experiment gone wrong opens up a portal that allows hostile aliens to come through. Now it's up to Freeman to close the portal and kill all alien threats.

The game is so well-loved that a developer group known as Crowbar Collective was able to remake the original game and even flesh out some parts. In what is a unique situation within the gaming world, Valve even sanctioned it and hosts the reimagined remake on the Steam store. Both the original Half-Life and the Black Mesa remake are worth checking out.

Black Mesa | $20 at Steam

Black Mesa | $20 at Steam

This Valve-sanctioned remake took 14 years to create and was made by fans of Half-Life. It manages to retell the original story faithfully while also adding new missions and fleshing out the ending in a way all Half-Life fans can appreciate. 

Half-Life | $10 at Steam

Half-Life | $10 at Steam

If you want to play the original Half-Life, it's also on Steam. An anti-mass spectrometer explodes in the Black Mesa Research Facility and opens a portal. Now vicious aliens are coming to Earth and it's up to Gordon Freeman to fight them off and shut the portal down. 

Half-Life 2

Initially released in 2004, this sequel was built upon the foundations of the original sci-fi thriller. At the time it also displayed cutting-edge graphics and some of the smoothest game mechanics ever employed up to that point. 

The story follows Gordon Freeman who is awoken out of stasis 20 years after the first game. The portal that Black Mesa scientists uncovered in the first game allowed invading aliens known as the Combine to quickly conquer Earth. Now Freeman joins a resistance group of former Black Mesa workers and must use any weapon at his disposal (including his trusty crowbar) to fend off aliens who have taken over the planet. 

Half-Life 2 | $10 at Steam

Half-Life 2 | $10 at Steam

Aliens known as the Combine have conquered Earth for two decades and it's up to Gordan Freeman to do something about it. He joins a resistance group filled with scientists and must use any weapon at his disposal to save mankind. 


We're not done with Valve yet as there are two more highly influential FPS games from the Half-Life universe still to go — the first of which is Portal. This well-known game first released in 2007 and takes place in Aperture Laboratories. Here the sadistic and hilariously sarcastic GLaDOS AI computer system runs tests within a run-down compound where she previously killed all of the scientists who worked here. 

Players control a silent woman named Chell who is tasked with completing GLaDOS' stated tasks like a lab rat. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the AI actually wants to kill you and will make fun of you at every given opportunity. Instead of being annoying, GLaDOS is absolutely hilarious. To complete each level, players must use the portal gun in order to maneuver through an area or alter the location of objects within that space according to GLaDOS' demands. What ensues is an innovative puzzle game that pushes the boundaries of what gaming was known for while providing a million laughs. 

Although it could be argued that this is more of a puzzle-platformer game than an FPS, the main game mechanic involves shooting a portal gun in first-person and in all other ways very much belongs in the Half-Life universe.

Portal | $10 at Steam

Portal | $10 at Steam

Run through GLaDOS's levels and see if you can escape from this sadistic AI computer system. The portal gun is at your disposal and you can use it to obtain items or reach locations in ways you normally couldn't. 

Portal 2

Portal 2 took the award-winning puzzle adventure mechanics found in the first game and said, what if we add multiplayer to this? GLaDOS is back and eager to force more unwilling portal gun participants into her puzzles and mind games. However, the protagonist changes depending on if you play solo or with a friend. Single-player sees the return of Chell while two-player introduces two robots: Atlas and P-Body. 

The dialogue continues to be just as witty and hysterical as that found in the original title. Meanwhile, the puzzles are just as engaging and equally enjoyable when played solo or with another person. 

Portal 2 | $10 at Steam

Portal 2 | $10 at Steam

Run through GLaDOS's test levels on your own or with another player while engaging with mind-bending portal puzzles. It's just as comedic as it is challenging and will be a game you will want to replay. 

Bioshock Remastered

Bioshock inspired a series thanks to its fascinating story, combat mechanics, and decision-making. It was initially released for PC and Xbox 360 in 2007 and has since found itself on many consoles. The remastered edition simply offers better graphics, concept art, and director's commentary, but it tends to run better on modern computers too. 

In this sci-fi FPS, players take on the role of a man named Jack whose plane crashes in the ocean during the 1960s. After making his way to a distant lighthouse, he discovers that it has a secret terminal that takes him to the underwater city of Rapture — a place that was designed as a utopia by a man named Andrew Ryan. 

However, the city fell into shambles with dangerous inhabitants after a superpower-giving substance called ADAM was discovered. A man called Atlas communicates with Jack via radio and asks him to stop Ryan. To do that, you'll need to take on the city's murderous inhabitants, decide whether or not to harm the Little Sisters, and unravel the mysteries of Rapture itself. 

Bioshock Remastered | $20 at Steam

Bioshock Remastered | $20 at Steam

You're in for an intriguing story that you just might need to play again after you complete it the first time. Work to stop the dangerous inhabitants of the underwater dystopia, Rapture, and learn more about this strange city. 

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered

Deciding which of the Call of Duty (CoD) games is best can be a heated subject with some fans. Purely based on legacy, the original Modern Warfare game from 2007 made a huge impact with its realism, powerful cutscenes, smooth gameplay, and satisfying mechanics. However, these days it's not as enjoyable to play the original version due to the limited servers that still support it. That's why we are highlighting the Remastered version. Though somewhat controversial, it is better for modern computers and online play. 

In the main campaign, players take on the role of various soldiers and dive into battlegrounds around the world in various story-driven missions. These aren't just fluff missions, but scenarios that play out in very interesting ways with plenty of turns. Anyone can play, but it takes a sharp eye, fast reflexes, and deadly accuracy to dominate against the computer and of course against other players online. 

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered | $40 at Steam

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered | $40 at Steam

Play against others online or jump into one of the many critically-acclaimed missions and see where the story takes you. The combat is smooth and visuals have been updated to play better than the original game. 

Buy from: Microsoft | Steam

Rebecca Spear
Editor and Reviewer

Self-professed gaming geek, Rebecca Spear, is one of Windows Central's editors and reviewers with a focus on gaming handhelds, PC gaming, and laptops. When she isn't checking out the latest games on Xbox Game Pass, PC, ROG Ally, or Steam Deck; she can be found digital drawing with a Wacom tablet. She's written thousands of articles with everything from editorials, reviews, previews, features, previews, and hardware reviews over the last few years. If you need information about anything gaming-related, her articles can help you out. She also loves testing game accessories and any new tech on the market. You can follow her @rrspear on X (formerly Twitter).