While console fans waste their time bickering over whether Destiny is better on Xbox One or PS4, PC owners game in style on the superior platform. Not only does the PC let you play AAA console hits like Dark Souls 2 or Far Cry 4, it is the only platform offering such games as Starcraft 2 and League of Legends. If you have a little patience, almost anything not involving Master Chief or Mario eventually makes it to your desktop or laptop.
PC games receive some of the heaviest discounts (I’m looking at you, Steam Sale), ensuring you get the most for your money. With digital libraries that stretch back decades, PC owners also enjoy a range of titles unmatched by any other platform. Let’s not even talk about graphics; that would be too embarrassing for the console peasantry, as they are saddled with 900p resolutions and 30 fps gameplay on some of the biggest franchises.
If you’re ready to game in style, check out this selection of the best titles the PC has to offer.
After yearly rehashes of Call of Duty and Battlefield, Overwatch feels like a breath of fresh air. The game’s cast ranges from a super-intelligent, genetically engineered gorilla to an enlightened robot monk. And like Team Fortress 2 did back in 2007, Overwatch delivers strategic, team-based play; game-changing ults; and nail-biting finishes across 12 maps and four game modes. Overwatch is already one of our front-runners for Game of the Year, and more than 10 million people are already playing the game less than a month after its release. On PC, you can purchase the game for $40 — $20 less than on consoles — just as long as you don’t mind skipping a handful of cosmetic items and digital goodies.
Best Indie Game
Rocket League can be summed up in just two words: car soccer. But though it sounds simple, Rocket League hides a ton of depth, and was possibly the game that provided the most pure fun in 2015. You have a huge variety of vehicles and visual customizations to choose from, and because each car is equipped with a pair of rockets, you can take the show to the sky with flips, barrel rolls and aerial acrobatics that would make the Blue Angels jealous. Also, at $20, Rocket League has a bargain-bin price without ever sacrificing on quality. The game even comes with the ability for cross-platform play between PS4 and PCs, and with the upcoming Xbox One version, soon there will be one more way to play the best game on four wheels since Mario Kart.
Divinity: Original Sin
Classic Role-Playing Game
This has been a great year for classic RPGs, but Divinity: Original Sin stands above the rest. This Kickstarter-funded release took gamers by surprise and offered deep, tactical, turn-based combat, combined with witty writing and branching storylines. Players can recruit new members while customizing equipment and spells over the course of a more than 30-hour story. If your body is ready to receive the bliss of a finely tuned role-playing experience, set up a shrine to RNGesus and give Divinity a roll.
Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void
The final expansion to Starcraft II looks to wrap up the trilogy as focus shifts away from the buglike Zerg to the ancient, advanced Protoss. Players can even start with a free three-mission prologue, entitled Whisper of Oblivion, this July before jumping into the full expansion later in the fall. As usual, Blizzard has added new units to each of the three races for multiplayer battles, so look for an entirely new style of play to emerge in the world’s most popular real-time-strategy franchise.
League of Legends
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena
Free from Riot Games
With over 25 million active players in League of Legends every day, you owe it to yourself to see what the hype is all about. Season 5 has brought some massive changes to the game’s online battlefield, known as Summoner’s Rift, such as a completely reworked map, new items and an overhauled mastery system. With more than 120 unique champions, each with multiple roles, there is sure to be a champion and a play style to suit your taste. Best of all, League of Legends is free to play, so there’s no cost to get started.
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2013’s SimCity left such a bad taste in people’s mouths that it eventually led to the shutdown of Maxis Emeryville, the studio responsible for some of the most beloved simulation games of the past 12 years. Thankfully, Cities: Skylines has arrived to redress SimCity’s wrongs, with a deep city builder complete with expansive maps, higher population counts and comprehensive systems to control traffic, waste management and more. Developer Colossal Order has even added often-requested features missing from SimCity, such as offline play, open mod support and district creation. Cities: Skylines is the city simulator people hoped for two years ago, and at just $30, it might offer the best time-for-your-money value of any game this year, too.
Minecraft: Story Mode
Best Adventure Game
Minecraft is one of the best games on the market for creating your own fun, but the blocky building sim is a little light on narrative. Telltale Games set out to change that with Minecraft: Story Mode, a point-and-click adventure game that combines the distinctive Minecraft world with a riveting story and a charming cast of characters. You’ll take control of Jesse (voiced by either comedian Patton Oswalt or voice actress Cat Taber, depending on the gender you choose) and team up with master builders, loyal friends and headstrong pigs in your quest. What starts as a simple competition ends up with the fate of the entire Minecraft world at stake. Fantastic graphics and stellar voice acting make the game into a must-play for both fans and newcomers.
Turn-based Strategy Game
Unlike its predecessor, which saw release on a multitude of platforms, including consoles, tablets and even phones, XCOM2 is exclusive to PCs. With all its energy directed toward a single platform, developer Firaxis says it can design the UI to work even better with mouse and keyboard, deliver high-quality graphics, and implement all-new procedurally generated maps. Players pick up XCOM2 after learning that the previous attempt to defend Earth from extraterrestrials failed. Now it’s your job to lead the survivors of that attack through turn-based battles, because the fate of the planet rests in the hands of these battle-hardened fighters.
Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls
After the haphazard release of Diablo 3 in 2012, the Reaper of Souls expansion pack finally delivers the gameplay users had been craving since Lord of Destruction in 2001. Reaper of Souls adds a fifth act in which players combat Malthael, the Angel of Death, who has stolen the Black Soulstone in an attempt to purify the world by cleansing it of the human race. Reaper of Souls also raises the level cap to 65, while adding the new Crusader Class (think Paladin from Diablo 2), along with new skills for existing classes. Finally, with an overhaul to the loot system, you’ll find more legendary weapons and armor than you can shake a scroll of identification at.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Online Card Game
Free from Blizzard
If you’re wondering why every developer is working on an online trading-card game, here’s your answer. Hearthstone is a strategic, turn-based card game inspired by the lore of the Warcraft universe, and with matches lasting from 5 to 10 minutes, it’s the perfect game for relaxing between classes or when riding the bus (there’s also an iPad version, with Android soon to come). The recently released Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion pack added more than 120 new cards to the Hearthstone world, so new and old players alike have a reason to check out Blizzard’s addictive trading-card game.
World of Warcraft Warlords of Draenor
Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing
Ten years after it was first launched, World of Warcraft lumbers on with its fifth expansion pack, Warlords of Draenor. Adventurers travel through the Dark Portal to arrive at an alternate timeline in which the demon lord Mannoroth never corrupted the orcs. Players explore the lands of Draenor (the unravaged version of the Outlands) and collaborate with Warcraft legends such as Khadgar and Durotan on the way to level 100. Every class will receive empowered versions of old abilities, such as Frost Bolt or Mortal Strike, and a new choice of talents at level 100. With revamped graphics and character models, questing in Azeroth — and beyond — has never looked better.
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