Let’s be honest, PC gaming is the best, but knowing where to start if you’re relatively new to the world of overclocked towers and hyper-cooled CPUs can be a little daunting. Even knowing how to navigate the vast annals of Steam – Valve’s consistently popular delivery platform for digital games – can be a little overwhelming at first.
Thankfully, here at TechRadar we’ve played a lot of games (we know, it’s a hard life) so sit back, check your bank balance and start filling up your virtual library with these new and classic slices of gaming wonderment.
When it comes to in-vogue games, few titles continue to capture the zeitgeist (and fill it full of bullet holes) like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. It may have one of the worst names ever, but that hasn’t stopped PUBG from putting the ‘battle royale’ subgenre on the map and making itself into a phenomenon. Sure, there’s a lot of hype still surrounding it, but the game behind all the coverage and Twitch fascination is still one of the most addictive on Steam.
That simple premise – parachute into a map with no gear, scavenge for weapons and armour, then fight for survival with a single life in a map that continually shrinks – is still gripping, even if it has a few too many bugs. Whether you’re teaming up with friends or braving its maps alone, PUBG remains one of the most fun shooters on the market right now.
One of the most recent releases on this list, Kingdom Come: Deliverance offers an experience that’s both warmly familiar and deeply alien. Set in a fictional Medieval Europe, it’s a first-person RPG where dialogue choices shape your world as much as your ability to problem solve and your skills in melee combat. It’s a game of incredible freedom, enabling you to carve a path through its Dark Ages setting however you see fit.
You might get off your face on schnapps and get in a fight with the town drunk; you might start filling your pockets with the gold of unsuspecting townsfolk, Thief-style or stain your blade with blood in the battlefield. Part Elder Scrolls, part Dark Souls, part something else entirely, it’s an action-RPG that punishes as much as it empowers. It also runs best on PC (with the right specs, naturally) so get it on the download pronto.
Who knew, way back in 2015, that a Tom Clancy game would become one of the industry’s biggest success stories. But here we are, in 2018, with a game that boasts over 25 million registered players and its third year of consecutive content updates and premium bells and whistles. It’s one of those success stories that keeps on succeeding, and for one very important reason: it’s fun as hell to play.
Dialling back the Rainbow Six formula to its roots – two teams fight in the same map, one protecting an objective while the other attack and fights their way in – no two matches in Siege are ever the same. Barricading doors, breaching through walls, blasting through ceilings and building an operator that’s attuned to your playstyle. It might not be groundbreaking, but add in the limited time Outbreak mode (think Siege plus zombies) and you’ve got one of Steam’s most complete packages.
Coming from the indie team at gave us TowerFall and TowerFall Ascension comes one of the most rewarding pixel platformers in years. As you climb the titular mountain, flame-haired heroine Madeline will battle her innermost demons as much as the harsh and dangerous conditions around her. In its simplest form, Celeste is a tight, 2D, twitch-style platformer, but in reality it’s one of the memorable games we’ve played in many years.
As poignant in narrative as it is unforgiving in mechanics, Celeste comes with over 700 ‘scenes’ to traverse, countless secrets to uncover and a story that will grip you as much as the muscle-memory building formula of its platforming. For a game built around the simple mechanics of jump, air-dash and climb, there’s an incredible amount of depth to be found as you claw your way to the summit in more ways that one.
When Divinity: Original Sin 2 arrived in 2017, it had quite the task ahead of it: living up to the legacy of its predecessor, which just so happened to be one of the most accomplished RPGs of all time. Then what does developer Larian Studios do? It only goes and follows it up with one of the most essential additions to the genre in years. Am enchanting fantasy world, a deep and complicated combat model and one of the most gripping stories you’ll experience outside of a 1,000 page tome.
The big selling point, and the main ingredient of Divinity: Original Sin 2’s secret sauce, is the complexity of its combat. You control a party of characters alongside your own custom avatar, and you can utilise each one individually in battle. With countless skills and attributes to mix and match, the breadth of tactics available makes this an imposing yet deeply rewarding way to test your RPG abilities.
The grand and operatic strategy genre has produced some true classics on PC, experiences consoles have consistently struggled and failed to emulate. From Crusader Kings to Europa Universalis, these are games with tactics and guile expected in bucket loads from the off.
Well, it just so happens the developer of those very games has taken that deeply immersive concept and transported it to the dark ocean of space. Enter Stellaris, an evolution of the genre that takes the space exploration of EVE Online and Mass Effect and hits the hyperdrive button.
You’ll travel through myriad procedural galaxies, filled with thousands of planets and countless alien species, each one possessing unique traits, economies and social strata. Whether it’s the power (and consistent balancing act) of interstellar diplomacy or the deep customisation of starship designs, there’s a wealth of sci-fi lore and mechanics to delve into with Stellaris.
By far one of the oldest games on the list – well, that is if you consider 2013 old – Valve’s MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) is still one of the most addictive titles on Steam. It’s also the only game on this list that’s free-to-play, so you don’t even need to have a healthy bank balance to enjoy its moreish battles. Valve has been consistently updating and overhauling the game since launch, making it one of the most evolved MOBAs on the market.
If you’ve never played it before, it’s a simple yet intoxicating setup: two teams of five players face off in a large map. Each one is defending a base with an ‘Ancient; inside that must be protected at all costs. Find your opponent’s base and raze it to the ground to win. What plays are are brilliant hero v hero showdowns, brutal ambushes, tactical plays and nonstop action.
Run and gun platformers have carved a niche out for themselves on mobile, but they’re a rarity on PC. Thankfully, this one was built to be a Microsoft exclusive with Xbox One in mind and the result is one of the most unique gaming experiences you’ll ever have. Designed to capture the look and atmosphere of 1930s cartoons, Cuphead places you in the shoes of the titular hero and tasks you with battling across three distinct words and bosses that will capture your imagination with their ingenuity that crush your resolve with their difficulty.
Recommending a notoriously tough game might sound counter-intuitive, but the steep difficulty curve is part of its charm. With a unique soundtrack and those standout visuals at your side you’ll earn every stage clearance like piece of territory in a war, each victory feeling that bit more rewarding. Brutal and beautiful in equal measure, Cuphead is a must have Steam title.
Another relatively fresh release on this list, Subnautica is already making waves (pardon the pun) despite having only dropped in January of this year. A survival game set in the depths of an ocean on an alien world, it’s unique twist on the classic template makes for a game that’s both captivating to watch and challenging in its many interconnected mechanics. You’ll explore shallow reefs, dangerous trenches on the seabed and everything in between, all the while managing your precious oxygen supply.
Oh, and there’s an entire ecosystem of alien marine life to contend with. Plenty of these fishy and mammalian critters want to add you to their menu, so you’ll need to outsmart and avoid them while searching for resources to build new equipment and tools. Like all the best survival games, the very best materials lie in the most dangerous of places. Dare you swim deep enough to find them?
With so many multiplayer shooters getting a focus in this feature, it seemed high time to pay homage to one of the best single-player FPS games ever. MachineGames gave Wolfenstein a bloody, alt-history revival in the form of 2014’s The New Order, so it had its work cut out for it when it came to bettering all that visceral Nazi slaying. Then along comes 2017’s The New Colossus, dialling up the violence and the depth of storytelling it would make most Call Of Duty titles look at the floor with embarrassment.
What makes The New Colossus so essential is how it doesn’t deviate from its formula, but excels on it in almost every way. Bigger and more challenging bosses; intense set-pieces; myriad weapons that spit glorious death; a story that asks far more questions and presents some bold answers. It’s also rock hard, and consistently unforgiving, so lock and load at your peril…