Deep in the heart of the Mega Dads compound, Adam is slowly working through his PlayStation pitch for a studio acquisition, while John toils away as a loyal X-bot, struggling to make sense of the Xbox Series X and why it exists. Locked further below in the basement sits Jonny Casino, who has been in the corner crying for the entirety of 2020 as Nintendo continues to ignore his pleas for new, or even mildly exciting games on the Nintendo Switch. Fear thee not, for not all is dire and bleak. There is a fourth, and might I add, a vastly superior way to play some of the best games ever released. Every one of them is entirely backwards compatible (take note, Sony) and playable on virtually any PC built in the last 15 years. Please sit back, and let me, SGTBones, walk you through my personal list of Must-Play PC Games in No Particular Order.
If you’re one of the million gamers who are eagerly anticipating CD Projekt Red’s juggernaut RPG, Cyberpunk 2077, allow me to introduce you to one of the first games to do cyberpunk on a grand scale. Penned by Warren Spector (writer and producer for Ultima, Epic Mickey, and System Shock), Deus Ex was released to PC gamers in June of 2000 and changed what it meant to play an Action RPG in the first person with some of the best stealth gameplay available at the time.
Deus Ex takes place during 2052, while the world is facing a crisis caused by a mysterious nano-virus called the Gray Death. In the midst of the crisis, JC Denton, a nano-augmented rookie agent for the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO), is sent to eliminate terrorist cells but ends up drawn into the various schemes of rival factions and secret societies, who are responsible for the epidemic. Like the most recent games in the series, the original Deus Ex gave players the choice to play how they wanted, be it from the shadows or with guns blazing, and it broke entirely new grounds with one of the best stories I have had the pleasure of experiencing to date.
The Witcher 3
The Witcher series is one that I have grown to absolutely adore over time as the series has matured. Starting with the original game back in 2007, The Witcher series stars monster hunter extraordinaire, Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher by trade. The games are narrative masterpieces, requiring players to pay close attention to interweaving story lines that often involve regicide, betrayal, supernatural spooks and surprises, dangerous love triangles, and general misfortune for inhabitants of The Continent (the giant piece of land taking up approximately 90% of the planets total landmass). The first game is a difficult game to return to in 2020 as the controls are archaic at best and frustrating at their worst, but the 2nd and 3rd games improved upon each other in nearly every aspect. The story of these games is so captivating that they prompted me to go out and purchase and binge read all eight novels in rapid succession. If you need an adult fantasy world to explore, please give The Witcher 3 a chance. At 50+ hours of gameplay in the main story, plus DLC that is so good it rivals the scope of some competing franchise’s mainline entries, you won’t be disappointed.
Dragon Age: Origins
Tactile RPGs are few and far between, and few have done it better than the 2009 mega-hit, Dragon Age: Origins. The initial entry into this trilogy (so far) is by FAR my favorite of the three as, much like the original Mass Effect, it’s the most RPG-like of the bunch. DA 2 and 3 became more and more action-oriented, and while fun to play, the tactile combat and the ability for “pause and play” strategy made this entry a wholly unique one for me.
Customizing your Grey Warden and seeing how choices like your race or gender can impact the NPCs around you, and the overall story of the impending Darkspawn invasion of Ferelden is one I won’t soon forget. Like many games on this list, story is king, and Dragon Age: Origins crafts one of the best.
Warcraft 3 and its eventual expansion pack The Frozen Throne are to RTS games as Diablo 2 was to Action RPGs. Warcraft 3 introduced me to an RTS where even a person with slow reaction times could succeed and have a good time in one of the most extraordinary lore-filled worlds ever crafted. Warcraft 3 opened the doors for me wanting to explore a game’s universe beyond the screen. After playing through the campaign, I was hooked and,to date, have read every book released that takes place in the Warcraft universe. Warcraft 3 follows the maddening descent of a once holy paladin Arthas Menethil as he strikes a deal with a demon to save his people at all costs, and it’s genuinely one of my favorite character arcs.
The recent “remaster” known as Warcraft 3: Reforged left a sour taste in the mouths of fans as Blizzard promised much more than they delivered, and even took out some elements from on-line play, but if you’ve never played the game before and want to see where the ideas behind the best World of Warcraft expansion came from, Warcraft 3 deserves a spot on your bucket list.
Ok, first of all, let me admit something that I am ashamed of; it wasn’t until THIS year that I sat down and played through this masterpiece from PC gaming history. Also, to be fair and transparent, I played the “official” fan-remake known as Black Mesa, a total recreation of the original game made and released with Valve’s permission. If you’ve never played this game before, I suggest playing Black Mesa, though there is nothing wrong with playing it natively, so long as you understand this game does NOT look pretty by any metrics in 2020.
Half-Life DEFINED what it meant to be an FPS in 1998, and like every other game on this list, tells one of the most incredible stories in the genre. Following a day in the life of Gordon Freeman, Half-Life takes players through a journey full of hectic combat situations, environmental puzzle-solving, and unique boss battles as Gordon tries to save the world from an alien invasion. Words can’t do this game any justice, so I’ll stop here. If you own a PC, buy this game. ‘Nuff said.
Where do I even start with this one? Diablo 2 is/was the quintessential Action RPG on PCs back in the early 2000s. Few games in history have had the mind share and staying power of this juggernaut by Blizzard Entertainment, and I don’t think I could possibly quantify the amount of time I’ve spent slaying thousands and thousands of evil minions from the depths of Hell. So much of this game world and its characters will forever be ingrained in my memory from the wise sage Deckard Cain, the poor crippled boy Wirt (and his leg), the evil Andariel, and the horrifying Baal that slew and laughed at my rotting corpse. Putting into words why Diablo 2 is such an amazing game is hard to do, but this top 5 game of all time is just that, a top 5 PC game that absolutely must be experienced to understand. It may not look as flashy as its 2015 sequel, but I know few people who would argue against D2 being the superior game in the series. Currently rumored for a remaster, if this game got a fresh coat of paint, support for 4K resolution, and fancy RTX-enabled ray tracing, it would instantly become my most anticipated game of whatever year it released. Blizzard, please make this happen!
Team Fortress 2
Do you like Overwatch? How about Paladins? Ever play a game of Valorant with a smile on your face? Do you dominate in Apex Legends? Well, you better fucking say “Thank You” for the existence of Team Fortress 2, the grandfather of all of the above. Hitting PCs in 2007, TF2 became the quintessential “class-based” shooter that hooked millions of gamers for nearly a decade. It wasn’tuntil perhaps 2018 that I stopped playing, which was primarily due to time and other interests. If you want to experience one of the greatest multiplayer shooters with one of the highest skill gaps, I strongly urge you to try this game; it’s such a classic!
Hey, look, another game by Valve! I know it seems like I’m riding Gabe Newell’s jockstrap here, but for several years, Valve was a powerhouse for PC gaming, and not just for their Steam digital storefront. Portal 2 is one of the most recent (2011) Valve classics and remains one of my favorite 2-player cop-op games of all time. The single-player campaign is one of the best written and hilarious FPS (first-person puzzler?) games I’ve ever played, but where the game truly shines is in its co-op campaign. These mind-bending puzzles can and will stress even the strongest family bonds, as my cousin and I can attest. Few times have I raged and laughed as I have while playing through this game.
World of Warcraft
I’m not at all exaggerating when I tell you that the release of World of Warcraft in 2004 changed my life and not all for the better. Never before and never since has a game pulled me in so wholly as Blizzard’s behemoth MMO king that reigned (and is still going) as the top game in the genre for well over a decade. I can’t speak to what WoW brought to the table compared to other MMOs of that era, but my time with WoW was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I have met some of my best friends to date, and even an ex-wife (hey, no one is perfect) through my time running around Azeroth. Raiding in top tier guilds, reveling in server-first boss kills, and that feeling of hitting max level for the first time are moments in my gaming memory that I will never forget and will never be replicated. World of Warcraft will remain my favorite game of all time, and even after 15 years, I still find myself logging in from time to time to see how the world has changed.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
10-year-old me jumped out his skin the first time I saw the trailer and gameplay footage of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Warner Brothers Interactive and Rocksteady Studios were promising to make a fully realized, AAA polished Batman game, voiced by the same individuals who defined those characters for an entire generation. If I think of Batman, I think of Kevin Conroy, when I think of The Joker, I think of Mark Hamill, and when I think of Harley, I think of my oldest daughter… I mean, Arleen Sorkin. Arkham Asylum remains the quintessential Batman experience for me in video game form. While Arkham City may have opened up the world and expanded upon certain gameplay elements, but the story and boss fights (especially Mr. Freeze) in the original are some of my favorite moments while wearing the cowl. The combat in this franchise is still mimicked today, but few games get the feeling of bludgeoning a thug with a closed fist quite right. There aren’t enough good things to say about this game, other than the fact that I really would like to see Rocksteady tackle another version of the Bat with a Batman Beyond game. I’mready, Rocksteady. Bring me into the future!
Well, there you have it. My personal list of games that every PC gamer needs to experience at least once. Did I leave out some major titles, of course, but this was a list of 10 and games like Fortnite don’t even crack the top 200 for me, while other universally loved games like StarCraft and Quake remain dark spots in my gaming history.
Are there any games on this list that you hate? Some that you agree with? Let me know in the comments below or rip me a new one on Twitter @SGTBones_. See ya soon!