The past decade of PC gaming has been truly spectacular. It's seen both the reign of World of Warcraft as the unstoppable juggernaut of online gaming, the birth of indie sensations like Minecraft, and the rise of an entirely new and wildly popular genre in MOBAs like League of Legends and Dota 2. And those are just the exclusives - the PC is also the definitive way to experience cross-platform games, with higher graphical quality and with user-made content. This list is a celebration of the 25 PC games that've stood out to us as both important at the time they were released, and remain fantastic experiences today. Every game here is representative of the very best of what modern PC gaming has to offer.
Please note: This is not a best PC games of all-time list! If you’re wondering about the omission of X-COM: UFO Defense, Deus Ex, and Baldur’s Gate II, they're missing because we’ve shifted the years of eligibility to more closely line up with the current generation of consoles. That means we're talking about the past decade's worth of games – anything released from 2003 up through this article’s publish date was eligible for this list.
This Top 25 was compiled by Dan Stapleton, Mitch Dyer, Justin Davis, and Vince Ingenito.
Updated on September 24, 2013.
The Total War series combines the best that strategy games have to offer, and Shogun 2 is easily the most refined and enjoyable of the bunch. First, it offers the high-level strategic play of running entire empires in feudal Japan – directing civic development and scientific research, finessing economic policy and diplomatic relationships, and basically building a faction that can dominate its neighbors and unite the country under one rule. That's paired with some of the most intense and engaging real-time tactical gameplay anywhere, in which we command ranks of samurai, monks, and archers in full-3D battles. With the epic scope and amazing Japanese atmosphere of its campaign, Shogun 2 distinguishes itself as one of the best strategy experiences ever. - Steve Butts
Nothing in the past decade scratches the old-school Diablo-style action RPG itch quite like Torchlight II. It has everything we want in a loot game: four unique classes that each plays differently, fantastic environments both on the surface and underground, dozens of distinctive enemy types, great-looking and powerful gear that drops at a rewarding pace, and helpful pet sidekicks – which can be anything from cats and dogs to pandas and hawks – that radiate tons of personality. Its randomly generated dungeons, interesting character-development decisions, and modablity make it replayable to a nearly endless extent. All of that combined with its great co-op features and the fact that it runs on nearly anything make it an amazing game for a LAN party. - Dan Stapleton
Guild Wars 2 won us over by completely defying the MMO conventions that have defined the genre since EverQuest ruled the world. You won't find the slow-paced combat, endless grinding, or restrictive breadcrumb trails of questgivers here. Every design decision was made to free us from the chains of MMO tradition, and encourage us to go forth and have adventures in a gorgeously realized world. Simply roaming the vast expanses of Tyria is a reward unto itself, with snow-capped mountains and verdant forests all brimming over with exotic flora and fauna. The combat represents its biggest departure from MMO convention though, rewarding us for timing, precision, and mobility. Where a novice player might only be able to engage one or two enemies at a time, a grizzled vet can take on entire groups at once with the proper approach, and that path to mastery is a fun one to walk. - Vince Ingenito
Talk about abusing your poor high-end videocard. Crysis is such a graphical heavyweight that no existing commercial graphics card was capable of running it at its highest settings when it was released in 2007. Developer Crytek purposefully “future-proofed” the CryEngine-powered shooter so that it would still look amazing years later...and that decision has paid off today. From its stylish opening cinematic that lovingly traces the contours of playable Delta Force soldier Nomad’s sleekly high-tech nanosuit, Crysis rewards your eyeballs and senses with lush tropical environments, North Korean military installations, and an excavated mountain stronghold. Your nanosuit makes you feel powerful - granting you extra strength, speed, shielding, and cloaking - but not invincible in your mission to uncover alien technology behind enemy lines in North Korea. While its gameplay is linear, Crysis’s open level design early in the campaign gives you the freedom to tackle enemy encounters in multiple ways, encouraging innovation in how you exploit the nanosuit’s various abilities. When considering the sheer power of the PC as a platform, Crysis is deservedly held up as one of its finest achievements. - Chuck Osborn
Baldur’s Gate proved BioWare’s excellence in sword-and-sorcery storytelling, and the studio came out swinging when it introduced its own original, new world in Dragon Age: Origins. A sweeping, impressive epic about the rise of a fallen evil and the desperate, thinning order that can protect the world from it, Origins’ numerous prologues establish the various conflicts throughout the world – religious civil war, slavery and oppression, and political betrayals, to name a few. Those spiral out of control as we build a party of memorable characters, each with unique rapports with one another, who aid the us in making devastating decisions to that sometimes painfully resolve ethical dilemmas. The tactical combat (and spiffier visuals, naturally) gave the PC version an unstoppable edge over its console counterparts, and contributed a strong strategic element to its brutal, satisfying combat. Origins brought all the greatest elements we expect from an RPG, and its stands the test of time now as one of BioWare’s most remarkable achievements in terms of story and characters. - Mitch Dyer
Source : ign[dot]com