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PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Grim Fandango remaster will feature live orchestra soundtrack, original art assets">Grim Fandango Remastered

Tim Schafer and Double Fine blew the doors off of E3 this summer with the announcement that Grim Fandango would be being remastered and re-released. After a horrifying few hours where it was rumored that the release would be exclusive to the PS4, we now know that Grim Fandango will be returning home to the PC. At a special panel at PAX Prime 2014, artists who worked on the original talked about their efforts to overhaul the classic.

This is about making Grim Fandango, the original, the way it was intended to be seen, Tim Schafer said. Making the game run the way it was supposed to. We built it on 386s and a week after we released it, 486s came out and broke a bunch of the puzzles. So it became very hard for people to keep playing it within a few years. One developer likened the process to getting a Blu Ray edition of Casablanca you want to make everything about it superficially better, but you wouldn t dare change a line of dialog or a bar of music.

The team also showed off touch controls working with the point-and-click interface, which would make the game playable on tablets. For PC, the game will be working at 1080p and will feature per-pixel lighting effects. Even better, the original art assets will be available, a nostalgic touch seen in previously remastered games like Curse of Monkey Island.

The original concept artist, Peter Chan, is back to work at the new project. The character of Grim was designed on San Juan island in Seattle, Chan said, because he had quit LucasArts and gone freelance. Every Thursday he would ship his drawings down to Schafer in California so they could use them in the Friday pitch meetings.

The music is also being redone by Peter McConnell, the composer of the original soundtrack. Though Grim Fandango featured a lot of live swing music, but the game s less-famous orchestral score was synthesized. For the remaster, that will be changing: We never really conceived of the possibility that the orchestral tracks might be done by a live orchestra, McConnell said. But I m happy to say that we re going to be able to do a lot of those tracks with a live orchestra. The Melbourne Symphony, which recorded the Broken Age soundtrack for Double Fine, will come back to do the orchestral pieces in Grim Fandango.

In response to an audience question, Schafer wasn t able to confirm that the game would include developer commentary, but he did give a little hint and a wink. We want to have a lot of special features, and we do love to talk. So those are two facts that exist.

The original game was built at a different time in software development, and in many ways it s miraculous that it came out as well as it did. Chan told a story that because of the intense deadline pressure, his concept art for every room in the game was his first draft he didn t have time for revisions. When we made that game we put everything we had into it, Schafer agreed. The day we signed off on that game and said it was ready to ship, we sent it out the door and I went home and took three months off. I didn t want to see anyone or talk to anyone.

The original Grim Fandango was released by LucasArts in 1998, but we don t know when the remastered version will be launching on PC. For all of our team s coverage of PAX Prime, check out this page.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Intel shows off 4K gaming laptops at its PAX Prime 2014 booth">intel

Evan stopped by the Intel booth at PAX to talk about the 3K and 4K laptops on display, and what kind of gamer might want one. He also picked up an ASUS ROG GL551 laptop, which we're getting signed by everyone we interview at PAX (Chris Roberts and Tim Schafer among them so far) we'll be giving it away to a reader next week!

Absorb all of our stories from PAX Prime.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Tim Schafer: “There is a large machine that makes a lot of the entertainment you experience”">timschafer

Evan stopped by Double Fine's PAX Prime 2014 booth today to chat with Tim Schafer about the studio's new publishing efforts, social gaming and the invention of couches, and what it means to be independent in games today outside of the big publisher "machine."

Absorb all of our stories from PAX Prime. Next week we'll be giving away a ASUS ROG GL551 laptop signed by everyone we interviewed at the show.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to League of Legends devs talk depth and player engagement at PAX Prime">PAX Prime 2014

Members of Riot, the dev team behind the popular MOBA League of Legends, gathered at PAX Prime 2014 to talk about their design philosophy and how they carefully balance the game s dozens of playable characters. With over 27 million players logging into LoL per day, they cite player feedback as one of their key guides.

Player feedback is really important to our design changes, lead designer Greg Street said. We gather a lot of data from players, about champions being played and wins and losses. If we hear from a lot of players that a champion is problematic, that will cause a discussion in the office. Do we need to step in and change something, or will players invent a strategy that will compensate for this, or is it time to admit that there s a balance problem?

Attacks being slightly overpowered or a champion walking a bit too fast are just the beginning. According to Street, the team works on three discrete levels: mechanical, tactical, and strategic. The mechanical level is about where champions stand and how they aim their attacks. Tactical depth is about their coordination with other champions fighting nearby, and the strategic level looks at the team s approach to winning the match as a whole.

We define depth as, having lots of interesting decisions to make, Street says. He relates it to tic tac toe, where your move is dictated by your opponent s move or Monopoly where your decisions matter less than your luck. Those games have very little depth. LoL champions, on the other hand, are balanced in part by being different. Some champions, like Kog Maw, have limited mechanical depth but serve as a locus for team strategy. Other champions are more mechanically diverse, requiring players to maneuver effectively and take accurate skill shots.

After a short talk, the team spent most of their hour fielding questions from fans, many of whom claim to have played thousands of games of LoL. These hardcore fans grilled the team on how they make balance decisions, and several were concerned about the long-term fate of their favorite champions.

Every champion should feel overpowered--sometimes, developer Jordan Anton said. You should have a moment where you play the champion and think, I feel like a god.

For more from the team at PAX Prime this weekend, head to this page.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to First-person mystery story Firewatch revealed by Campo Santo at PAX">Firewatch

Firewatch was announced by Campo Santo earlier this year, but the details were left unknown until we got our first look during PAX 2014. During today s panel in Seattle, the development team talked about their goals for the game and played it live for the first time. Firewatch, it turns out, is a mystery story set in the 1980s Wyoming wilderness.

Firewatch s main character is a chubby man named Henry. His life hits a rough patch, so Henry decides to get away from everything and everyone by taking a job as a lookout in a fire tower. Completely alone except for a walkie talkie connection to his supervisor, Delilah, Henry is surrounded by a hundred miles of forest to watch, some books to read, and a typewriter.

On his first day of work, Henry responds to a routine call: some drunk idiots are shooting off fireworks in the middle of the summer-scorched forest. During the live gameplay demo, we got a look at the game s storytelling mechanics, which have a lot in common with Telltale s The Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us series: a few dialog options vary in terms of humor, harshness, and earnestness, and letting the timer run out and the radio fall silent is always an option. Henry hikes out to confront the drunk campers at the urging of Delilah. Henry finds empty beer cans and bottle rockets, and the player chooses whether and how to talk about these things with Delilah.

On returning to the watchtower, Henry discovers that his new home has been broken into and all of his things have been ransacked, which kicks off the mystery: How alone is Henry, really? Who else might be out here? Are there more dangerous things in the woods than bears and forest fires?

Even though Firewatch is set in an open forest that can be explored in any direction, Campo Santo was clear that it will not be a traditional open-world setting. This is not an open-world game in the vein of Skyrim, developer Chris Remo said during the Q&A session. This is a narrative game, and we want players to experience this narrative in a certain way, but with a degree of freedom. You can go wherever you want and you won t find invisible walls, in other words, but you will find empty forest until its time for the mystery to unfold naturally. Co-founder of Campo Santo, Jake Rodkin, elaborated: I think Sean framing it as a mystery is a good way to do it. At a certain point you re not going to be able to advance in the story until you ve found a key piece of information, but we want to give you the freedom to be wrong, to make mistakes, he said.

A huge part of the story will be your interaction with Delila: how you respond, when you respond, pausing before responding, talking too much, and talking about nothing will all change the way she views you and interacts with you, especially as tensions start to mount.

Henry will be an unarmed protagonist exploring a wilderness mystery, a synopsis more at home to modern literature than modern gaming. A firewatcher s safety, of course, comes from their tower, not from guns. When that sanctuary is violated, Henry realizes that he is completely unarmed and alone, and someone nearby doesn t have his best interests at heart. It looks like it could shake out to be a tense, dark mystery told in an exciting new way.

Campo Santo is aiming for a 2015 release for Firewatch. Look to the team s development blog for more details. You can check out all of our PAX 2014 coverage here.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to The PC Gamer Top 100">PC Gamer top 100

These are the games we love. The international PC Gamer team has spent hundreds of hours sweating over this list across timezones meticulously drawn from the PC s decades of history, these are the games we ve decided you absolutely need to play today. It s as simple as that. If you ve played most of these before, well done you have dedicated your life to a worthy cause and deserve a small ceremonial jig. If some of these games are new to you, that s great too. This list has been democratically compiled by us, reflecting the diverse tastes of our writers and contributors. The PC Gamer Top 100 sums up the amazing legacy of PC gaming s past, and the great games available today. Enjoy.

How the list was constructed

One does not simply pluck the top 100 out of thin air. No, there is a method to the madness, and the method is this: each contributor submits an ordered list of their 15 favourite PC games the games they love the most that are still perfectly playable and brilliant today. Each vote then contributes a point score to the chosen game. The number 1 pick receives 15 points, the number 2 14 and so on. The totals are totted up and games with a higher score naturally achieve a higher place in the list. After a bit of debate to shuffle equal-scoring games into place, the whole thing is finalised and we start writing.

The judges

Samuel Roberts has yet to meet the game he couldn t defeat in one-sided hand-tohand combat.

Tim Clark would do almost anything for a Hearthstone booster pack but he won t do that.

Evan Lahti is constantly trying to trick everyone else on staff into playing Arma. Fool us once, Evan...

Tyler Wilde teamkilled you, sure, but you were the one standing in the middle of his artillery strike.

Chris Thursten probably likes your game if it s got a wizard in it. Or possibly a spaceship. He s not fussy.

Tom Senior possesses an unslakable thirst for middling action-adventure games from three years ago.

Cory Banks thinks his perfect RPG would put him in a party with corgi wizards. One day, Cory, one day.

Phil Savage was born to conquer the world by gradually clicking on hexagons. All the hexagons.

Andy Kelly became king of the novelty games after a freak Kickstarter accident in 2012.

Wes Fenlon will be available for a bargain 75% off in the next Steam Sale. This offer won t last.

Tony Ellis wishes they d make some new games so he didn t have to keep writing about Deus Ex every year.

Ben Griffin approaches you and whispers: I could show you the world in 4K. Don t touch his hair.

Emanuel Maiberg is still in early alpha and may change significantly over the course of development.

Philippa Warr wasn t allowed to include puzzle classic Avocado Pusher in the PC Gamer Top 100.

Richard Cobbett knows more about point and click adventures than anyone alive. Only the undead know more.

Ian Birnbaum is a niche sub-genre that is growing increasingly unpopular. Perhaps going F2P would help.

John Strike treats military shooters like an artform. You know, one of those artforms involving lots of guns.

Craig Pearson has defended more flags than you ve had hot dinners. You could say his interest is flagging.

Onward to the top 100.


Release year: 1998

Last position: New entry

Andy The radical change in art style particularly the lanky new Guybrush didn t appeal to everyone, but this lavish, handdrawn Monkey will always be my favourite. It had the colourful sparkle of a Disney animated film, but better jokes, and ditching the wall of verbs for a Full Throttle all-in-one menu made the adventurin itself much more streamlined. Emanuel The crest of the LucasArts adventure game golden age. It was beautifully drawn, and had just as many great jokes in the logic of its puzzle design as it did in dialogue.


Release year 2013

Last position New entry

Tom The torrid campaigns of WWII s Eastern Front are a great fit for Company of Heroes brutal RTS formula. The deformable snow and sudden cold snaps reflect the bitter Russian winter, but the chance to harness the rumbling might of USSR heavy armour proves even more exciting. The sequel slightly overcomplicates the original s nearperfect blend of micromanagement and broad strategy, but it s still breathless, loud and superbly tense.


Release year 2005

Last position New entry

Craig The first properly emergent neck-snapper, and the co-op is basically Mission Impossible. I keep coming back because it humanised the man in the shadows: he s glib and silly in the face of nuclear weapons, kidnaps guards and talks about monkeys and Terry Gilliam s Brazil.


Release year 1999

Last position New entry

John The foulest language and fattest arms ever to grace the PC, and what a great combo. Within the first couple of minutes you re beating a man to death with a lead pipe so you can steal his crowbar (instead of paying a dollar for it), bribing a bum with whisky and trading stolen goods for pistol accessories. A huge hit for rap fans, Kingpin s soundtrack was created by Cypress Hill and the game even had cameo character voiceovers from the big man B-Real.


Release year 1999

Last position 68

Richard The sad thing is that while it deserves its title as best space sim of the last ten years, that s partly because there hasn t been much competition. But the fans updating it and keeping space stocked with missions ensure it s still well worth checking out, even now that both Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous are finally making space awesome again.


Release year 2013

Last position New entry

Tyler It s mildly crazy that an incomplete Steam Early Access game is on this list, but being complete is relative. If you define complete as big, fun, and exceptionally well-crafted then Starbound is far more complete than plenty of other games. 2D block building and crafting is primarily a Minecraft offshoot-genre and Starbound isn t the first or only game to do it well, but I think it s the best designed and most fun. Craig There is a mod that adds beekeeping. It s pretty sweet.


Release year 2000

Last position New entry

Philippa The original was the best. My favourite part was the minigame where you had to prevent your child being removed by social services. Harder than Dark Souls, that.

Samuel I d never played anything like it at the time. Nothing else brought out my sociopathic tendencies in quite the same way.


Release year 2012

Last position 35

Andy On your own PlanetSide 2 is lonely, confusing, and not much fun. Band together with friends and it becomes one of the most thrilling large-scale online shooters on PC. Watching rows of tanks fire at each other across a vast, icy canyon as infantry clash below and aircraft streak overhead is about as exciting as multiplayer gets.

Chris It s an incredible spectacle an increasingly rare example of a game that feels like it s using all of your PC s horsepower. I agree that it can be a bit of an empty experience playing by yourself, but it still transmits that feeling of playing the best action-game cutscene you ve ever seen. Where Call of Duty relies on scripts to crash its helicopters just so, PlanetSide 2 supplies you with all the dynamic space helicopter crashes you ll ever need.

Tyler Get two friends and a Liberator; you will know fun.


Release year 2013

Last position New entry

Tom Your crew cheers when you return to your ship, sing sea shanties as you sail and watch tentatively as you hop onto an island for the odd assassination. Assassin s Creed at its most joyful and adventurous.

Chris It s a great fantasy executed brilliantly, which is what helps it overcome the series customary sci-fi waffle and all that unnecessary Ubisoft cladding. UPlay deleted my saves, but I forgot about that when I got out onto the open sea again.


Release year 2001

Last position New entry

John Starting with the PC Gamer demo disk, then onto the full version a couple of months later, this was the game I launched a clan for, which is still chugging along in Battlefield today. The enormity of its islands and range of vehicles were what made it special at the time, but its mapping and modding abilities have been its true legacy, in the form of a thriving community that still exists in the Armed Assault series today.


Release 2013

Last position New entry

Phil The simple satisfaction of constructing a rocket ship, and the helpless horror of watching it crash and burn. Kerbal Space Program s appeal lies in both these things. It s a test of engineering and a lesson in abject failure, all set against the majesty of space.

Wes For the first three hours of my Kerbal aerospace career, I strapped together as many rockets as I could and laughed as they exploded mid-takeoff. The next three hours I spent learning the ropes of ship design and experimenting with aerodynamics. And then I actually tried to achieve a stable orbit. And then I shot for the mun. And suddenly, oops, I had played 30 hours of Kerbal Space Program. At least I was a little smarter.

Ian So much of gaming is serious and gritty but KSP is built with almost child-like awe.


Release year 2006

Last position 98

Tony Frantically clawing my way out of the decaying Gilman Hotel, the murderous Innsmouth-folk hacking down doors to get at me... that remains one of my all-time great gaming experiences. Perfectly set up by the ominous, slow-paced investigation that precedes it, perfectly balanced by the manhunt through the dark and windy streets that follows. DCotE has its faults, but its standout moments beat those of any other horror game out there.


Release year 1999

Last position 44

Evan Speed. Marksmanship. Purity. No FPS matches the height of Quake III s skill ceiling. Fast player movement, easy-to-learn, hard-tomaster weapons, and stripped-down action make Quake the most sportlike FPS ever created. The athleticism on display in high-level Quake is matched only by Tribes; when you re in the zone, every +1 to your K column is a result of juggling fluctuating math for gravity, distance, sight lines, rocket trajectories, or the quad-damage refresh time.


Release year 2010

Last position 88

Tony I have a bit of a thing for renaissance Italy, and this is the game that lets me have adventures there, and climb all over its wonderful architecture. It s a world full of history and colour, more vibrant than any number of fantasy settings. E Venezia? bellissima.

Samuel I hated the original Assassin s Creed, but Ezio proved to be far superior company to Altair. And yes, its interpretation of Venice is still the series most impressive locale. Also: beating up the evil pope.


Release year 2004

Last position 89

Philippa Pick your way through vampire politics, pursue curious questlines and, if you re playing now, revel in the community s bug-crushing efforts. Bloodlines is a masterpiece of immersive storytelling a flawed but rare gem.

Chris It s a shame that its launch issues held it back from wider appreciation. It s a beautifully structured immersive sim with a phenomenal sense of place. I still secretly like the Lacuna Coil song from the credits.


Release year 2010

Last position New entry

Phil Why did Battlefield s multiplayer stop being so destructive? Sure, Battlefield 4 does a decent job of depicting mapchanging catastrophe, but Bad Company 2 s demolitions feel more targeted and immediate. The most intense moments come while crouched in a house, defending the team s M-COM station. At any moment the walls can erupt in a shower of concrete and attackers pour in through the newly created entrance. It s better than watching a skyscraper fall over. Again.


Release year 1996

Last position New entry

Andy Broken Sword tied history, mythology and modern crime together brilliantly and years before Dan Brown even lifted a pen. This adventure game was wellwritten, atmospheric and beautifully drawn. Later sequels inexplicably turned George Stobbart into a stubbly action hero, but here he s the goofy but shrewd patent lawyer who finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy involving secret societies, the Knights Templar, and an illtempered goat.


Release year 1994

Last position New entry

Richard The remake was cool, but nothing else has ever quite hit the level of making you feel like you could take on an alien invasion, nor as glad that you ll never have to. It s a game where success and failure balance on a knife-edge from the first incursion, before turning into a righteous snowball effect as you turn the enemy s weapons against them. And the enemy was still actually unknown. Not like the new one. They re Sectoids, silly.


Release year 1992

Last position 90

Richard If you ve been impressed by an RPG in the last 20 years, be sure that on some level it owes a tip of the hat to this one. Epic, political, and the last game to be able to get away with ye olde English. It s Lord British s masterpiece.

Tony It s livelier and more interactive than those later RPGs ever managed, too. It s like lifting the lid off a fantasy ant farm: all those little NPCs scurrying around, going to work, tutting about the weather. An amazing backdrop for an all-time great adventure.


Release year 2013

Last position New entry

Tony It s all about the battles. The epic sieges that start out all clockwork precision and superior numbers, and collapse before your eyes into a desperate last-minute struggle for possession. The vast, empire-changing conflicts that end up balanced on one wavering unit of legionnaires, while all you can do is gnaw your mouse cable and watch.


Release year 2007

Last position 23

Tom Imagine if the SupCom lineage had continued. Imagine the scale and beauty of giant robot warfare powered by modern graphics cards. An inspiring thought experiment, but unneeded. Supreme Commander s huge battles were way ahead of their time, and Forged Alliance added some of the game s most memorable units, like the satellite that zaps bases from orbit. Master the deliciously nerdy base management and you re rewarded with kilometre-wide battles that span land, air and sea.


Release year 2002

Last position 60

Chris Is immersive sim the right way to describe a game where a man says I ll drive, you shoot while pointing at a child s tricycle? Is secretly better than Deus Ex something you immediately associate with throwing lipstick grenades at matinee adventure goons in purple jumpsuits? I don t know, but it probably should be, because No One Lives Forever 2 is my favourite immersive sim and it is secretly better than Deus Ex.

You play Cate Archer, super spy, in a sharply written 60s-set action comedy that never drops a beat. Fantastic stealth, gadgets and level design belie the lighter tone, and its random guard conversations are the best ever written. Also, you get to kill a lot of mimes. It s Deus Ex by way of Archer starring one of the PC s great female leads. You should play it.


Release year 2008

Last position New entry

Ben Once the maudlin missions ran their course, endless fun was found shoving Liberty City wise guys down massive concrete stairs and marvelling as they tried and failed to find their footing. While other games brainless ragdolls continue to flop and flail, Rockstar cut the strings and blessed their NPC puppets with Pinocchio brains.

Andy Some missions were a drag, but Rockstar s parody of New York was incredibly atmospheric, and who doesn t love the Euphoria physics.


Release year 2013

Last position New entry

Tim I mothballed my save around the 375-day mark, having survived cruel winters, dog ravagings, and at least three deerclops attacks. The only reason I stopped is because this is a game about discovery. About waking up in a hand-drawn world as brutal as it is gorgeous. Few games I ve played have elicited the same thrill of ooh, that s what this does! Couple that with the relentless pressure of just trying to keep yourself warm and fed, and you have a game with an almost unique flavour. Sudden death flavour.


Release year 1995

Last position New entry

John I poured my childhood into Dune 2. C&C took broad strides on from that, introducing those brilliant commando missions, grenade throwing troops, tight Tiberium budgets that made every penny count and the unforgettable cutscenes. Everyone remembers when Kane put a bullet through Seth s head in the middle of one of those briefings. What a moment.


Release year 2011

Last position New entry

Ian The soundtrack is amazing, but I had more fun with the reactive narrator. Having a storybook voice narrate your every move was an irresistible hook that drew me into a wonderful story.

Chris Bastion is special because it s a tremendous action game all about mixing and matching weapons and powerups to suit the situation that exists in harmony with a subtle and affecting message. And, yes, the soundtrack is amazing.


Release year 2004

Last position New entry

Emanuel I loved the universe, but from the sidelines, because I didn t have the patience to play it with dice and rulers. Dawn of War gave me the brutal RTS I always imagined, and it kicked the genre in the ass by luring players out of their turtled bases with capture points.

Tom The Sisters of Battle strap an organ to a truck and call it a tank. When it s played, missiles fire out of the pipes and kill the enemy. This should be number one, frankly.

73 DOOM 3

Release year 2004

Last position New entry

John Yes, it was about 90% metal pipes, but I still love it. Its decidedly heavy, metallic feeling is reminiscent of the first two Quakes and typical of id, who ve always been ambassadors of the best-feeling shotguns in gaming. It was also one of the first games to use real-time shadows. Coupled with a host of creepy, scratchy sounds it struck the right balance between terrifying and brutal, from which the FEAR games would later draw much inspiration.


Release year 2006

Last position 73

Philippa Of the hours I poured into Oblivion those spent on the Dark Brotherhood questline were the best. They peaked with Whodunit, a creative killing spree at Summitmist Manor where you convince the other guests you re entirely innocent.

Chris I played Oblivion for 90 hours, spent 120 hours modding it, and then never played it again.

71 FAR CRY 3

Release year 2012

Last position New entry

Tim I ve forgotten the bros-go-on-a-bad-holiday plot, but what has stayed with me is that feeling of freedom while crouching on a tropical knoll, looking down at a camp full of goons, and considering all my glorious, murderous options.

Chris It s a far better shooter than its predecessor, but I did miss Far Cry 2 s more inspired ideas the buddy system, the factions, and so on. Then again, this game has deadly systemic tiger violence.


Release year 2007

Last position New entry

Craig Games generally don t scare me, for I am Scottish and therefore the manliest of all men, but Stalker s ink-black night and Russian indifference to player survival is more effective than a hundred carefully choreographed scares from other survival horror games. I ve returned to it many times, because I love being alone in the dark with a broken gun, drinking vodka. Which is also because I am Scottish.


Release year 2005

Last position 62

John Arguably scarier than Doom 3 the year before, FEAR used light, shadow, sound and overlay effects to convey disorientation and confusion. The combat and shooting was some of the best I d played on PC up to that time. Bad guys guns would still blast away after they hit the floor and Max Payne-style bullet-time meant you could savour every gruesome moment of the combat.


Release year 2011

Last position New entry

Samuel Playing through City s 25 hours of Asylum-beating story content (minus the Scarecrow bits) was just the start, for me. The challenge rooms, particularly the combat maps, encouraged me to dig really deep with the many combos you can build out of Batman s armoury. Arkham s melee fighting is about opportunity and experimentation. And the environment proves the idea that handcrafted detail, not size, makes the most effective open worlds.


Release year 2009

Last position 69

Tom After an inauspicious launch, Empire: Total War has evolved into one of Creative Assembly s best. I ve always valued the scale of Total War s grand strategy, and Empire s depiction of multiple theatres of war strung together by dozens of trade routes results in one of the series most complex and rewarding maps. The cartoon livery of the time sits uncomfortably with the violent boom of a gun-line opening fire. Bravado turns to despair with every round of rank fire, and it s brilliant.


Release year 2009

Last position 34

Wes League of Legends takes the intimidating, rewarding, maddening complexity of Dota and simplified it just enough to appeal to millions of players, becoming the most-played game in the world in the process. A smart free-to-play economy keeps players coming back. LoL is the lanepusher of the common man: deep enough to be a competitive sport, approachable enough to suck up the free time of teenagers everywhere. Tip to avoid immense teenage wrath: always ward Baron.


Release year 2013

Last position 12

Andy A complex, uncompromising space sandbox light years ahead of any other multiplayer game. Everything that happens in EVE, from giant space battles to buying and selling resources, is driven by the players. CCP only step in under very strict, and rare, circumstances. It s a game notorious for its unchecked scamming and piracy, but that kind of player freedom is what defines it. It s a ruthless online universe that trades instant accessibility for rich, rewarding, and bottomlessly deep systems. Many will stumble at the first hurdle as they re presented with a baffling UI and seemingly endless tutorials, but get past that and you ll find the most unique massively multiplayer game in the world. You ll never forget your first fleet operation or the first time you tentatively fly into the lawless, terrifying nullsec.


Release year 2009

Last position New entry

Ben There are six uniquely puzzling worlds in Braid, and they re all masterful. Time and Decision introduces a shadow of your character who replays your last action. Time and Place binds time to movement go left to advance and right to regress. The word genius is overused, but using it in Braid s case seems completely justified.

Tony I certainly felt like a genius for completing the thing. Braid forced me to think in whole new ways, not just once, but again and again with each new world the buzz you get off of that is indescribable.

63 FIFA 13

Release year 2012

Last position 42

Ben FIFA 14 s boggy midfield battles and overlong animations left me pining for the snappy pace of its predecessor, a more arcadey game, perhaps, but then you always feel in control. There are few games I consider myself expert at, but after 500 hours, I like to think FIFA 13 is one of them.


Release year 1991

Last position 67

Wes Insult swordfighting. Inventory metahumour. The definitive SCUMM interface. Not only is Monkey Island one of the smartest, silliest adventures ever made, it established the tone, technology and style of every LucasArts game that came after.

Ian It s the game equivalent of my favourite adolescent comedy. Endlessly quotable and equal parts silly and profound, there are ideas here about plot, self-awareness and cleverness that resonate through all of modern gaming.


Release year 2000

Last position New entry

John Red Alert 2 was the shiny, jolly younger brother of Westwood s high-budget and much more serious-feeling Tiberian Sun, which came a couple of years before it. The budget costume department and absurd acting are what made the narrative so brilliant, particular respect going to Yuri s flimsy false moustache and the mystery of how it never fell off.

Wes Command & Conquer s FMV cutscenes were the first groundbreaking dramatic storytelling for an RTS. With Red Alert, they got campy, and that was the best decision Westwood ever made. RA 2 imbues each althistory unit with exaggerated personality, from Tanya to the Chrono Legionnaire to the grinning Kirov. The music, missions and characters are still the most bubbly and memorable of the series.


Release year 2004

Last position 59

Wes Remember when first-person shooters shipped with 100 maps? And ten game modes? And were really, really fast? Unreal Tournament 2004 is the crescendo of that era of shooter design, and nothing has topped it since. Tyler After-work instagib is a PC Gamer tradition, and I never want it to end. Evan Yeah, instagib is what holds up most. It s pure marksmanship with a level playing field played at high speed. Other than Quake III, nothing challenges your reflexes so directly and relentlessly.


Release year 2010

Last position New entry

Ian By taking the series back to the West, New Vegas became the updated version of Fallout and Fallout 2 that I always wanted. The bleak loneliness of the desert has never been more fun to explore. Craig It s the PC s greatest postmodern Western: I play as a wandering gun, bringing order to the dusty plains, living the life of a Stephen King character, while wearing a stylish hat and sharp suit.


Release year 1998

Last position New entry

Andy A grand, sweeping RPG that mixes surreal humour, genuine heart, and fun tactical turn-based combat. The materia magic system is still a pleasure to experiment with, Nobuo Uematsu s emotive score is absolutely heartbreaking, and that moment still plays my heart strings like a cheap fiddle. Excuse me, I have something in my eye.

Samuel Scrap those stupid MIDIs and I m in. FFVII has aged better than any other entry in the series.


Release year 2013

Last position New entry

Richard I loathed Saints Row. Horrible, mean-spirited rip-off. Skip forward a few years, and to my shock, Saints Row IV was easily my game of 2013. The silliness speaks for itself. It s one of the funniest games around. But it s also one of the warmest, the Saints ending their story as a family who have each others backs to the end of the world and beyond. To be part of that, just for a while, is an honour and a joy.


Release year 2001

Last position 49

John My favourite first-person singleplayer campaign by far. With lashings of inspiration from films such as Where Eagles Dare and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return to Castle Wolfenstein explores the Nazis dabblings with the occult and fearsome technology. The game is brimming with hidden Easter eggs, booby traps and a German soldier desperately trying to deliver a consignment of posh cheese.


Release year 1991

Last position New entry

Richard While it s not the laugh-riot people sometimes claim, Monkey Island 2 is a blistering reminder that adventure games were once the trendsetters and pioneers of PC gaming. Created by legendary designers at the top of their game, its atmosphere, characters and humour remain the benchmark that designers across the industry still aspire to reach, and the love and care in every pixel show off why. When a simple library-card catalogue can make you laugh harder than many supposed comedies, you know you re playing something special. It s also still the game I point to as a demonstration of many comedy writing rules. And in terms of details? It literally took years before I spotted what LeChuck s hat on the box actually was. A game that can still surprise years later is a game that more than earns its place here.


Release year 2011

Last position New entry

Wes Put this on the Super Nintendo and it would only be the second best open-ended 2D adventure on the system, behind Super Metroid. But on PC, Cave Story+ is king: a remastered indie landmark, set in a brilliantly interconnected world dense with secrets and power-ups. The shooting, jumping, levels and pixels all feel like they were handtuned to perfection for years and years. Because, in fact, they were.


Release year 2012

Last position 95

Samuel My most replayed game on this list by far. While my interest in the fluff story has faded, my obsession with nailing the combo windows has not. The soundtrack is probably responsible for about 50% of its continued appeal. Ben It makes you feel at once delicate and dangerous, like that scrawny druggy who comes up to you on the street begging for cash. From the pulsing soundtrack to the acid-grime visuals, the aesthetic intoxicates while the savagery disgusts.

52 LEFT 4 DEAD 2

Release year 2009

Last position 9

Wes The real star of Left 4 Dead 2 is Ellis s buddy Keith. Remember that time Keith drove his car off a cliff and broke both his legs? Classic. Evan I keep saying it every year, but if you haven t modded it with your friends you re missing out on one of the most bottomless treasure troves of free content in PC gaming.

Tom L4D2 s zombies flow over obstacles with the screaming fervour of a mob of Justin Bieber fans. Blasting the undead back with an auto-shotgun is endlessly satisfying.


Release year 2006

Last position 19

Tom A beautiful marriage of realtime strategy and late 90s WWII movies, Company of Heroes is still an essential PC game. The transition from fraught infantry scuffles to tank battles is perfectly paced, the dynamic cover system that forces you to adapt to changing terrain has only been attempted since in Company of Heroes 2. Relic carved out a new direction for real-time strategy games back in 2006, and nobody s beaten it since.


Release year 2013

Last position New entry

John Launch day was a disaster, the first few weeks a write-off and the months that followed a painful reminder that people will leave if something doesn t work. Almost a year later, the few in my clan who still play are enjoying BF4 in its golden years. Though netcode is still a problem, I ve racked up 400 hours enjoying those wacky shooting-a-jet-with-a-tank Battlefield moments that you never forget. Visually, the game and all of its DLC packs have been incredible, matched only by the game s pace and action.


Release year 1999

Last position New entry

Richard For the five people who could actually play it at launch, Outcast was an eye-opening glimpse into the kind of game we now take for granted, years before anyone else could even think about pulling it off. Its sprawling organic 3D worlds made it look like a tech demo, but every bit as much care was given to the action-RPG within. Populated by AI considered revolutionary at the time, this was a real place with a real sense of life; goofy in the classic tradition of French games, but absolutely serious about giving us a Legend of Zelda game to be proud of. And it pulled it off splendidly.

48 ARMA 2

Release year 2009

Last position New entry

Evan Arma s simulation of what it s like to shoot a gun, fly a Harrier, or jog endlessly through the Czech Republic isn t so much about its authenticity, but the way it stimulates unforgettable co-op antics with my friends. I ve never been so happy to be in a helicopter when it s hit by an anti-air missile, if only because I get to yell Eject, eject! very dramatically.


Release year 1993

Last position New entry

Craig The only reason my words are here is because of Frontier. It made me want to tell people about my adventures in the stars, as I worked from a merchant to a lethal military assassin, and finally struck out to see what the billions of star systems were hiding. I still can t quite believe it existed in 1993.


Release year 1996

Last position New entry

John More than just rude Doom with jetpacks, this was a product of the action-movie industry, referencing the Alien, Terminator and Die Hard films while the Duke himself was equipped with the lines of Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. Brave, vulgar, violent and never forgettable.

Emanuel Duke s juvenile jokes are a distraction from what made it great: its creative, multi-tiered levels and awesome weapons. Design-wise it could teach today s corridor shooters a thing or two.


Release year 1993

Last position 32

Richard Adventures come in many forms, and DotT is the height of the puzzle box type an intricate collection of gears that connect so well, you don t even see it happening.

Ian This was the first time I realised that games could be funny. The absurdity and whimsy on display as Purple Tentacle works to outsmart a bunch of teenage misfits is still entertaining two decades later.


Release year 2014

Last position New entry

Tim The whiners will say it s too simple, or too pay-to-win. Both wrong. I m too ashamed to admit how much money I ve dropped on card packs, but suffice to say more Legendaries is no guaranteed path to Hearthstone success. The only sure route is the relentless practice required to understand how cards synergise with each other, which plays are optimal, and how to counter the brutally strong copy/ pasted decks that dominate Ranked play. Short version: it s eaten my life.

Samuel It has a decaying effect on my wellbeing but I somehow still love it. One of the most generous free-to-play games out there.


Release year 2009

Last position 33

Wes Some gamers can play Spelunky exclusively for months, the way others play Counter-Strike or Dota. But Spelunky isn t a competitive game its enemies, environments and items just work together so well, you can play for hundreds of hours and still discover new things.

Evan I love that it lets me be as agile and risky or clever and careful as I please. Imagine what gaming would be like if a generation had grown up playing this instead of Mario?


Release year 2011

Last position 30

Wes Where the first Witcher was rough but promising, Witcher 2 is polished to a beautiful shine, packed with interesting quests, morally corrupt characters and a fascinating mystery that ties deep into its lore. It s greatest strength is the uncompromising darkness of its world: there s rarely a right or wrong choice, just a hard one.

Richard Gave it an 89% at launch. Stand by that, quite a bit was a mess. But its updates since would easily push it into the 90s. Please let Witcher 3 be great at launch.

41 ARMA 3

Release year 2013

Last position New entry

Evan You haven t shot a gun in a videogame until you ve used math, binoculars, map-reading, and a pile of intuition to knock someone down at 1400 meters with a scope. What s more PC than an open-world sandbox that honours your ideas?

Ian It s greatest strength is the freedom it gives you. Altis feels like a real place, and the community constantly surprises me with new things to do.


Release year 2003

Last position 74

Samuel Remedy s most confident game, and a type of shooter that s unnecessarily out of fashion now.

Emanuel Max Payne was defined by a cool gimmick, but this revealed Remedy s real speciality: grounding over-the-top action with believable characters and environments.

Andy The twisted journey through the Address Unknown theme park is Max s greatest moment. A dark, pulpy comic book tale with brilliantly kinetic gunplay.


Release year

Last position New entry

Phil For all of the social promise offered by MMOs, it s amazing how many fall apart when you try to play with friends. That Guild Wars 2 doesn t is why I ve spent nearly 500 hours playing it hanging out with pals while also maybe killing a dragon. The lack of a subscription means it doesn t feel like an obligation; the level downscaling makes it easy to group with anyone; and, even if playing alone, the multitude of events ensures there s always someone to maybe kill a dragon with.

Chris When Guild Wars 2 was released, I was convinced that it marked the end of the World of Warcraft formula from quests to subscriptions. That wasn t quite right, as it turned out, but this is still the best game in its genre. Combat is fast, clear, and skill-based, and players have freedom to chart their own course through the world.


Release year 1997

Last position New entry

Ian I invite you to marvel at the care poured into Fallout s iconic setting. The retro-future art style, where 1950s vacuum-tube tech evolved into plasma rifles without ever inventing the microprocessor, is deep, charming, and inviting. Just getting the chance to explore that world made it a childhood favourite of mine. I m more than a little relieved that it s still fun today.


Release year 2012

Last position 51

Ian If you took chess and zoomed in way in until you could play politics with every knight s wife and every Bishop s ward you d have something close to the depth in Crusader Kings 2 s medieval Europe. When you add mods that bring the political machinations of Westeros, Tamriel and Middle-Earth, you ve got a feudal kingdom simulator unlike anything else in gaming.


Release year 2011

Last position New entry

Ben I spent 3,000 on a PC in 2012 because I thought the world was ending. When it didn t I wasn t even disappointed, because I had BF3. Sixty-four players packed into Metro station, rendered at 4K resolution and moving at 120 fps, is a revelation. I ll never forget my teammates cries of thanks as I racked up medic points by continually reviving them against their wishes. I think it was thanks.

Emanuel The perfect balance of simulation and goofiness. It makes war a big sandbox where anything can happen, like shooting a rocket at jet fighter while parachuting.


Release year 1999

Last position 22

Cory The story of an immortal s redemption in spite of so much emotional wreckage was told so well I hardly remembered to stop and hit monsters. And I didn t have to.

Tony For me it was the setting as much as the story. Sigil is the dusty, exotic refuse heap at the centre of the multiverse, populated by the sweepings of every heaven, hell and neutral plane ever described in an AD&D monster manual.

Richard Could be shorter though. What can change the nature of a man? Booze. Done.


Release year 2005

Last position 15

Richard While it s creaking at the seams now, WoW is still the MMO closest to my heart. So many adventures, so much loot. And so much more fun in Hearthstone/ Heroes of the Storm.

Cory Thank God WoW changed what it means to make a modern MMO I don t know if I could have keep making EverQuest-style corpse runs for this long.


Release year 2009

Last position New entry

Ben Hi, I m Ben, and I love all the things that you hate. Did you hate the combat in Mirror s Edge? I loved it! Did you hate the stop/start parkour? Loved it! The story? OK, that was rubbish, but the rest of the game? Loved it!

Samuel Forget the story Faith is a silent protagonist to me, as I skip the animated cutscenes and just focus on free-running and showing off with wall kick combos. DICE was always a Battlefield factory to me, but Mirror s Edge taught me that this studio is full of innovative artists.


Release year 2012

Last position 40

Chris I played Dishonored until I understood all of its levels backwards, and it kept impressing me the whole way. Its implementation of first-person stealth is the best since Thief II, and dozens of complementary systems provide huge room for player expression. It s also an ace action game, and that s not a trick many pull off.

Andy The closest a modern game has come to Deus Ex. I played the entire thing without killing or alerting any guards, and it s probably the most fun I ve ever had with a stealth game. Dunwall was a joy to blink around, with its rich, stylised art and sense of culture and history. If we never return to that world, it ll be a damn shame.

Phil For me, it s about the movement. Corvo s power lies in how slippery he feels, whether clambering over Victorian architecture or effortlessly tormenting guards.


Release year 2000

Last position New entry

Cory I love Garrett s fragility. Trying to stand toe-to-toe in a fight was suicide, and a well-timed blackjack was hard to pull off. Also, I wish every game had water arrows.

Craig Not enough games allow you to move at your own pace. Thief II lets you skulk, sneak, and listen to pick your moment, but in vast mansions where you were never quite sure you couldn t be spotted.


Release year 2013

Last position 66

Tyler A multiplayer shooter where I can press a unique key to bolt my rifle is something special. It s not a sim, but the fidelity makes it fun even when I miss a 100-metre Springfield shot and eat artillery.

Evan The best case ever made for asymmetry. No one does weapon handling better than Tripwire.


Release year 2013

Last position New entry

Philippa This dystopian document thriller is not so much fun as it is challenging , unnerving and bleak . As a border guard for a communist state your job starts simple but events soon lead to tighter entry requirements. Some visitors stories lead you to bend the rules but every one you take pity on means less money for your starving family.


Release year 2008

Last position 63

Samuel The Capital Wasteland is bleak and wonderful it s Bethesda s most evocative environment to date. I love the way it naturally draws the player toward new landmarks. Crossing this decaying, postapocalyptic Washington DC while John Henry Eden reels off pro-Enclave propaganda from my Pip Boy is Fallout 3, to me even though I m aware New Vegas was tonally more in line with what fans of Fallout 1 and 2 were hoping for.


Release year 1998

Last position 43

Cory It s the Barons of Hell that made me love Doom. E1M9, when the floors around me shook and sank, unleashing two horrible demons that wanted to swallow my soul. I dodged, weaved, and eventually made them eat some rockets. It was the best.

Richard How many pioneering games are still this much fun 20 years later? Wolf 3D? Quake? Please. Doom still holds up, from its iconic monsters to the sly cleverness of its maps and the splatter of that rocket launcher.

John Beyond it simply being years ahead of its time when released, Doom somehow achieved fantastic level design too despite the restriction of not being able to overlap rooms. Keying in IDDQD, IDFA and running loops round the monsters until they killed each other is one of those cherished childhood memories.


Release year 2012

Last position 96

Tom Diablo is about the purity of endless monster killing and fast character-building. The series was created for fans of RPG combat who don t want to sit through reams of quest text, who d rather kill hundreds of monsters and be crowned a hero at the end. Action-RPGs are about combat systems, not stories, and Diablo III has the best of the lot. I ve lost hundreds of hours experimenting with its vast collection of skill combinations.


Release year 2010

Last position 20

Phil Civ V s one-more-turn addictiveness is technically a cheat born of overlapping busywork. But over the course of a campaign, its strategic versatility results in some compelling 4X decision-making.

Samuel I could play Civ forever, and V was my favourite since II. The add-ons combat the repetition that eventually sets-in, too.

Tyler Steam Workshop has also been great for Civ V, with mods that add everything from new civs to better unit graphics. I play as Canada.


Release year 2000

Last position 27

Andy The first proper RPG I ever played, and it consumed my life.

Cory I should have been playing real D&D in 2000, as is the right of all college freshmen. Instead I explored Amn, and I don t really regret any butt-kicking for goodness.

Phil After the first game s slow progression towards its titular metropolis, Baldur s Gate II is (almost) instantly generous in its design. Amn is huge, vibrant, seedy and packed with things to do. It s the yardstick by which I ve measured all subsequent RPG cities.


Release year 1999

Last position 38

Tom Mind worms, futuristic units and evocative faction leaders make Alpha Centauri s campaigns more memorable than historical Civ. It presents a moody vision of our future, in which humanity responds to hardship by shattering into extremist fragments. It s fascinating to watch those factions clash, ideologically and on the battlefield.

Richard And nothing is more satisfying than destroying Sister Miriam. Again and again and...


Release year 1999

Last position 39

Cory Shodan is my favourite villain of all time, and that s largely because she spends so much of my time on the Von Braun as my ally. She s not only evil, but arrogant, and every stab she makes at my humanity makes me want to reboot her that much faster.

Richard Shodan vs GLaDOS. Make it happen, someone.


Release year 1998

Last position 28

Philippa A charming love story, great characters and the best noirmeets- Day-of-the-Dead art direction I ve ever seen in a game.

Tom The controls were horrible and the fire swamp was ass, but Grim is so warm, funny and smart its flaws just melt away into gooey nostalgia.

Andy Inspired art, brilliant voice acting, and one of the best soundtracks in PC gaming history.


Release year 2012

Last position 82

Ben After playing I wondered: why did I feel more for the cast of a pointand- click than any other virtual characters in recent memory? Oh right: because they re well-written.

Phil The standard complaint is that your choices don t affect the bigger plot. My counter is that those choices affected me.

Richard It s sad that simply having heart and humanity can make a game stand out so much from the crowd. But here we are, I guess.

Ian I know you re supposed to replay these games, but I refuse to go back. What happened, happened.


Release year 2011

Last position 48

Andy Exploring the history of Aperture, seeing the visual style shift as you move through different eras, that was great visual storytelling.

Wes It s a master s thesis on game design. It takes one idea, and studies it as deeply as it can, and every feature it adds serves to underline and improve its core.

Samuel Stephen Merchant s performance is a rare example of voice acting being fundamental to the success of a game. A West Country English accent in a popular videogame? How quaint!

Ian Merchant is great as Wheatley, but my love will always go to JK Simmons s spitting, furious portrayal of Cave Johnson.


Release year 2011

Last position 8

Tyler We didn t know we wanted it until we had it. And then we spent lifetimes punching trees.

Philippa Minecraft rarely sustains my interest for more than a few hours. What I love is seeing what other people have built I m far happier as a Minecraft tourist!

Craig My girlfriend and I moved in together in a server before we moved in together in real life. It was a good primer, as our flat is full of spiders.

Ben Minecraft really is what you make it. During my first brush with the game it was a lifestyle simulator, myself and a mate blissfully tending a farm by day and sleeping under the stars by night. As I pushed further into skeleton-infested caves in pursuit of riches it became a dungeon-looter, and once I d crafted the weapons to fight back, a rollicking actioner.


Release year 2011

Last position 11

Samuel Jumping off rooftops and performing an Icarus Landing into black-and-gold streets Revolution contemporised Deus Ex while only slightly condensing its systems. My favourite game of the last few years.

Andy A faithful sequel, but also one that wasn t afraid to break away from its predecessors. Some of the best art direction on PC.

Tom You can spike two men at the same time with a retractable arm chisel. Best game ever.

16 DOTA 2

Release year 2011 (beta)

Last position 21

Chris Dota 2 s developers are the stewards of something bigger than themselves: a game so absurdly complex and competitively exciting that it could have only come from a modding community. It is the prodigal child of PC gaming.

Philippa I have spent more time playing Dota than I have on the rest of this Top 100 combined. Wizardly showboating and dickbaggery combine in endless permutations. In every match I learn something new.


Release year 2009

Last position 24

Samuel It s the most complete BioWare game in terms of narrative scope and player expression.

Chris It s well structured despite its long length, which I suspect is why so many people remember it fondly it really feels like a journey.

Cory As fun as your companions are, I love Origins combat more than the story. Pausing and setting orders before my party destroys a wave of darkspawn never gets old.


Release year 2012

Last position 37

Evan Few FPSes have a matchmaking system today, and fewer have the pedigree for balance and tight map design that GO inherited. Playing GO five-on-five is as close to a team sport as you can get on PC.

Chris Matchmaking is the key. It opens up the experience of playing LAN CS to an online audience, and that s what got me back into the game after a ten-year absence.


Release year 2013

Last position 16

Tony Putting the action literally on rails was at once a great metatextual pun, stupid good fun, and the most original thing to happen to FPS combat in years. And Infinite is full of innovations like that.

Samuel So the story doesn t survive logical scrutiny: I kinda don t care. I think Columbia is a triumphant creation. The pacing of the setpieces and story beats shows what rare talent resided at the incomparable Irrational.


Release year 2013

Last position New entry

Evan By simply trusting players to find their own fun in a high-fidelity milsim playground, DayZ stimulated a whole culture of gangs, doctors, hitmen, and survival roleplaying.

Andy The most fun I ve ever had in an online game, and the most powerful anecdote generator on PC.

Philippa The only game where I ve started a book club and traded trinkets with anonymous strangers for the release of a kidnapped friend.


Release year 2012

Last position 18

Samuel The Advanced Edition has renewed interest, and rightly so there are more outcomes than ever in this spaceship strategy sim.

Tom Micromanaging the internal processes of a beleaguered spaceship cleverly centralises the drama around your crew members. Weep as they die horribly again, and again.

Cory The constant surprises are my second favourite part. Suffocating Mantis invaders is first.


Release 2012

Last position 46

Wes Where most games bend over backwards to give us what we want, Dark Souls makes us earn every victory. This attitude pervades every aspect, but especially combat: mastering the speed and reach of a weapon is a large part of why we play Dark Souls over and over.

Ben I m a sucker for a good virtual world, and Lordran is a place of unimaginable, unforgettable beauty. When a seemingly random door reveals itself as a link between two areas, you have to stand back and applaud the artistry and execution.

Tom Moreish despair is the core emotion I experienced playing Dark Souls. You walk into a world that s slipping into entropic darkness, and all that s left are mindless husks, and the remnants of a magnificent civilisation you ll never see. I m getting sad just thinking about it.

Cory Too often, I ll try to rush through a fight or an area, and I m punished every time. I take a breath, calm my nerves, and try again. It s a very Zen-like experience for me.


Release 2007

Last position 14

Cory Look past the meme-worthy songs and the geek-culture-defining in-jokes, and there s a pretty brilliant puzzle game here. I loved wrapping my head around how to use blue and orange portals to break the laws of physics, especially the momentumbased puzzles. That this was a sideproject is just astounding.

Tony If they d just given us a game where we could solve puzzles by opening holes in reality, that would have been enough. A lot of developers would have played it safe like that. Portal takes that concept and hits it side-on at 150mph with the freight-train of wonderful that is GLaDOS, and when you pick yourself up from the wreckage you find you ve been smashed right into another, bigger game.

Ben That s it. The best bit, for me, was disobeying the charmingly demented AI GLaDOS and going on the run through Aperture s back rooms. I loved its fourth-wallbreaking effect, as if Valve never meant for this. They did, of course, and that s why they re lovely people.


Release year 2012

Last position New entry

Evan Number eight? C mon, guys. Don t do this to me.

Chris I loved it heart and soul because it had both of those things. As someone who was tremendously, novel-readingly invested in the series, I don t think I ve ever felt this rewarded by a game. And yes, that includes the original ending. Lower your pitchforks.

Samuel The sense of finality was really something. I almost tear up just thinking about Liara resting her head on Shepard s shoulders. It s not weird. You re weird.

Tony It s got the drama and the characterisation that made the previous games so memorable, but an urgency, and a poignant sense of things coming to an end, that s all its own. It also has Citadel.

Richard Citadel is my favourite DLC ever.


Release year 2007

Last position 4

Tyler I take competitive shooters seriously most of the time. In Team Fortress 2, I m allowed to be an idiot, and I ve always had fun running around with a Huntsman bow telling everyone I m Robin Hood. No one gets mad. Everyone has fun.

Evan It s become a bit cluttered with content and features at this point, so I m surprised to see it this high. That said, TF2 is a textbook on how to integrate whimsy and personality into a multiplayer game without undermining much of its competitive focus. Every class in TF2 s zodiac has a meaningful relationship mechanically and thematically to the others.

Craig I had to go cold turkey a few years ago, but the recent Conga Line taunt has brought me back to TF2. That says it all.


Release year 2012

Last position No change

Tyler I get that X-COM loyalists take issue with it, but this is XCOM, no dash. It s great for different reasons.

Evan I love what fragile dioramas the levels are. You can relish the outcome of your choices like cracking open a gas station with a rocket to give your sniper an angle.

Tom RIP Sergeant Yolo Swaggins. Impaled by a Chryssalid, zombified, and shot dead again by his own men. XCOM generates the best heroes.

Phil XCOM: EU encourages you to be cautious, to protect the soldiers you ve worked to advance. I love that XCOM: EW makes you risk lives to get its cool mechs.

Cory I had a distinct emotional attachment to every one of my team s squaddies. When ace sniper Tyler Mad- Eye Wilde was cut down by a plasma rifle blast, I cried. Just a little.


Release year 2007

Last position 7

Chris I m a bit red-faced about how meaningful I thought BioShock was at the time. Looking back, it s not the most subtle implementation of political metaphor you ll ever encounter, but it is tremendously effective and atmospheric and it proved that games could set their sights high and achieve critical and commercial success. The FPS genre is now getting to the point where it needs its next BioShock, its next creative leap forward. That s a testament to the extent of Irrational s original achievement.

Wes BioShock s combat could be as simple as walking around bashing splicers in the head with a supercharged wrench, but it could be so much more than that. Combining traps, plasmids and specialised ammo to booby trap a corner of Rapture before leading a Big Daddy to its unwitting doom was just as satisfying as ferreting out an item cache or following BioShock s brilliant story.

Evan Ryan is the centrepiece for me, not Rapture. Irrational created a villain that you fear, respect, and come to understand despite being invisible to you for 99% of the game. It s a wonder we don t see more Shodanised antagonists.

Samuel For a generation of people who d never played System Shock 2 and for whom this was their first Irrational title, BioShock was something else. It was the idea of interactive environmental storytelling without cutscenes that impressed me so much. I also thought Ryan was terrific but BioShock is about Atlas for me.


Release year 2000

Last position 5

Andy The first game I played that gave me a real feeling of freedom. Deus Ex rewards exploration and experimentation, with huge, detailed levels that are rich with things to do, AI to exploit, secrets to find and vents to crawl through.

Phil There is a guy acting suspiciously near Jock s helicopter. I have noticed that he is acting suspiciously, but I don t do anything about it. I figure there ll be a clearly marked moment in which to register that I have noticed him acting suspiciously. There isn t. In Deus Ex, unlike in other games, action speaks louder than cutscenes.

Tony Human Revolution has the looks, but Deus Ex is the better game. It s more freeform, it s more untidy and open-plan. The sheer scale of its environments enables a level of freedom modern games just don t seem able to repeat.


Release year 2004

Last position No change

Chris Nobody has paced a singleplayer shooter this well since. That s the key to Half-Life 2 s genius: that you are always moving, always being given new guns and gadgets, always being shown something new. At launch, that was combined with environmental detail and physics tech that you d never seen before. Now, it s a paean to level design.

Evan I ll be the odd man out: I don t think it holds up this well. The clumsy physics puzzles, the loading screens, the vehicle sequences that don t belong in an engine that hates vehicles, the mundane enemy design. More of its modern appeal is owed to Valve s terrific sound design and grounded sci-fi aesthetic.

Tony I ll defend the vehicle sections: attaching wheels to Gordon Freeman was an inspired idea. The speed increase made the game faster and more fun, the freedom of movement opened up the world and made it a bigger, more believable place. Simply getting to the next setpiece became a pleasure in itself. Especially with Alyx Vance sitting in the passenger seat beside you. Half-Life 2: part world-saving adventure, part scavenger hunt with a scientist s hot daughter.

Phil And I ll defend the clumsy physics puzzles, because the flipside is enjoyable physics combat. Take Ravenholm. Played straight, it s a tense and eerie survival vignette. Played with the gravity gun, it s a playground of flying buzzsaw blades and radiators. Both are valid, but it s that variety and Half-Life 2 is a game filled with variety that makes it worth replaying time after time.

Andy The peak of Valve s environmental storytelling. You slowly learn about the Combine, and what they ve done to the Earth, through clues in the world, dialogue, and other details. But the dialogue is always natural, and you don t have to sit and wait as characters reel off endless exposition.

Samuel I didn t like the driving sections at the time either, but I can forgive a game of otherwise such unparalleled variety and ambition. Half-Life 2 is still a masterpiece.


Release year 2012

Last position 1

Ben Skyrim has the best mods. There are epic mods that add new armour, new followers, new monsters and entirely new lands. There are tweaks that clean up the UI and remove loading doors from cities. My favourite is Fus Roh Dance, which makes anyone you shout at spontaneously boogie. It's the game that keeps on giving.

Tom I always have a modded-up copy of Skyrim on my hard drive because I sometimes still get sudden, overwhelming urge to go back there again. Loaded up with script-extenders and advanced shaders, it looks gorgeous, but still retains a sense of mystery. One day I ll have raided every dungeon and had every conversation, but that day is still years away.

Andy A game I still come back to, despite having played it for close to 300 hours. Pick a direction and walk and you re bound to come across something interesting in this colossal, detailed world. After the fairly generic fantasy of green, pleasant Cyrodiil, the frozen north of Skyrim was a welcome change, where pseudo-Norse mythology created a place that felt ancient and storied.

Ian I almost always avoid playing as a wizard in fantasy games, but the Mage s College storyline in Skyrim sucked me right in. Unlike the sometimes-janky melee combat, wielding the elements always feels smooth and powerful. It s my favourite evil-sorcerer experience.


Release year 2010

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Ben Give me a sci-fi suit of armour, an assortment of alien pals, total command of my own spaceship, an arsenal of futuristic weapons, the face of a Dutch super model, and free rein to go wherever I want in the galaxy, and I m happy. Honestly, it doesn t take much.

Wes Mass Effect 2 dropped the deeply customisable weapon system I loved in Mass Effect. I also missed Mass Effect s optimistic tone and wide-open, explorable galaxy. It s a testament to Mass Effect 2 s loyalty missions that I think it s the best game in the series. By making characters the focus of the game, BioWare spent most of its time developing the Normandy s crew into an amazing cast of characters I m deeply attached to years later.

Evan This is BioWare character design at its best, but it s hard to imagine ME2 without its captivating score. Jack Wall s pounding synth (and ponderous electronica, out of combat) defines the aesthetic of the game for me as much as any character, chapter, or art asset.

Cory The loyalty missions gave me not only a stronger sense of each teammate s strengths, but a window into their motivations. I want an entire game of Jack side-missions.

Chris I was almost heartbroken by this I loved Mass Effect, and at first glance I worried that its sequel had removed too much, become too slick. The repetitive structure of the companion missions; the last-minute sweeping changes made obvious not only by the game s unused files but the abrupt shifts in focus imposed by the Illusive Man. But I also appreciate how important ME2 was to the overall series. BioWare stepped up the environmental design, the combat, and the performance of each character. The game hosts some of the best writing in the series despite being thematically limited (it s a space adventure that is entirely about daddy issues) and lacking its predecessor s sense of escalation and discovery. It s probably the best game out of the three, but overall I think it s the least interesting. The Lair of the Shadow Broker was very good, mind.

Samuel Fuck you, Chris! This is a leaner, refined sequel that offered the most interesting narrative choices of the trilogy, with a fantastic, shocking intro. I didn t mind the original s cast but I never truly had an affinity for them Thane, Miranda and Grunt were a different deal for me. The DLC was like an anthology of sci-fi stories featuring these characters, each with a killer ending, especially Overlord and Kasumi Stolen Memory.

Andy This was the Captain Picard simulator I ve always dreamed of. I ll never forget that feeling of being on the CIC of the Normandy, my own spaceship, with a galaxy full of possibilities spinning in front of me. BioWare created a cast of characters with genuine personality, making the suicide mission at the end one of the most intense experiences I ve ever had in a game. If someone died, that was it, and it made every decision weigh on you as much as they did Shepard.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is like playing Mario inside FTL">Screen4

I love that same-screen games continue to find appeal on PC. It s hard to say how many PC gamers own USB gamepads, and yet Towerfall, Spelunky, Gang Beasts, Nidhogg, and others have come to represent a tiny renaissance for local multiplayer on our platform. It s a trend that coincides with Valve s still-developing push into the living room, too.

A handful of new or recent same-screen games are on display at the Indie Megabooth at PAX Prime this weekend. The booth is consistently one of the best consistently attractions of the show, if only because the rows of game tables feel as intimate as a community bake sale, with no distance between chef, product, and customer.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime was one of the games I've enjoyed most at the Megabooth. It s essentially a miniature, cooperative platformer inside of a shmup. Two players (or one, with a loyal space pet AI) guide a ship through a hypercolored, hostile outer space, flying around asteroids and fending off enemy fighters that emerge from the edge of the screen. But to do that, you have to move your thimble-sized avatars in real time between different ship stations, up and down ladders and through small corridors.

There will the multiple ships at release, but the pink globe my partner and I were put in had a north/south/east/west gun configuration, with individual stations for each position. The helm was at the center of the ship, and a shield station and special weapon (with a long cooldown) sat at opposite corners of the ship. When these stations are unoccupied, of course, they re inactive. The exception is the shield, an arc that covers about 20 percent of the ships circumference and only deactivates when you re changing its position.

Lovers cute theme (our goal was to rescue space bunnies from planet surfaces by shooting their cages) disguised its difficulty. A few minutes in, my partner and I were perpetually swatting robots, swapping stations, and yelling at each other respectfully to get us out of danger. Worst were the times when we got so overwhelmed that we had to abandon the helm, jumping our tiny avatars to another station, leaving us a stationary target for even more ships to gather around us.

The urgency of it feels like a episode of Star Trek where most of the bridge crew have died and everyone else has to pick up the slack, but that plate-spinning is essential to the communication that the game stimulates. If you want to pilot the ship to the left but your teammate doesn t adjust the shield to cover the enemies that are tailing you on the right, you might expose yourself to a bunch of damage. We were most effective when the player at the helm was doing the thinking and talking, and the second player was reacting to orders. At one point we retrieved a power gem that we could dump into any of our stations, boosting its effectiveness.

We died after less than 10 minutes, but the roguelike-like difficulty was welcome. Another pair of players I saw made it to a boss enemy, an elongated, shmup-style space eel with individually damageable segments. It swirled around the ship, making shield repositioning a constant need.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a welcome addition to our platform s ever-growing pile of local co-op games. A release or Early Access date isn t set yet, and the main thing I d like to see the game s Canadian team Asteroid Base work on before release is getting as much enemy and ship variety and unpredictability into Lovers as possible.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to The Best Free Games of the Week">free main

Spotted in the free games safari this week: a game about listening and bartending and CYBERPUNKS and liquid ratios, the new game from them what made A Dark Room (be excited), cat puns and an interactive space toilet. Today I watched a jettisoned pixel poo pirouette into the infinite, and so can you. Enjoy.

Gridland by Doublespeak Games Play it online here

You've all played A Dark Room, yes? Whaaaaaat. Then go and play A Dark Room. Now. I'll wait.

*17 hours pass*

...It's good, huh? Doublespeak games are masters at making engaging, low-octane games you can play in your browser while doing other stuff, and Gridland cements that. It's a match-3, but it's really a game of building and survival: by day you match bricks or wood or stones or paper, to gather materials needed to construct a little village at the top of the screen. Neat little elements of this phase include the need to match corn to feed your heroic worker, and the way he or she will lug blocks and hammer nails when milestones are met. It's a lightly animated game, but these cute actions are a lovely reward for matching three or more things together.

When night comes, the colours invert and rats, zombies, skeletons and the like emerge as you connect their relevant icons on the game board. In this phase you're merely trying to survive, by matching swords (to attack), shields (for defence), and using the occasional found potion to supply yourself with an item or to clear the screen of baddies. Either these bits are too easy, or the difficulty gradient is too shallow, but my main concern here was getting back to the building phase in order to finish construction of my outstanding hamlet. Gridland doesn't appear to have quite as many surprises as A Dark Room and, crucially, it's not a game that will play itself while you check Twitter but it's an unassumingly lovely and charming hybrid that will eat a good chunk of your weekend regardless. Soz!

On the edge of Earth: 5000 by Roope Tamminen Play it online here

Don't play On the edge of Earth: 5000 because you can sit on a toilet and make a poo float out onto the eternal canvas of space, by which I mean, don't play On the edge of Earth: 5000 just because you can sit on a toilet and make a poo float out onto the eternal canvas of space there's other stuff going on in here too. You're a dude on a spaceship with a task to perform, that task being to terraform a nearby planet. This involves a lot of slow-walkin' between terminals, a bit of figuring things out, and quite a lot of entertainingly animated interactions along the way. Like space sitting. Or space shitting. Or opening the airlock seeing the gravity change before your eyes. A cute game of fiddling with things set in a big tin can in outer space.

Meowgical Tower by Neon Deity Games Play it online here

I missed this from the GameBoy Jam the other week, and I'm not sure how because look at that pun. As you may have guessed, Meowgical Tower has you playing as a cat, a cat that meows. I'm not kidding: there's a dedicated meow button, which gives you something fun to press while you wait for your next temporary weapon. This is a lot like a top-down Zelda game, with blocks to push and enemies to bash and a well-designed boss fight later on, but with weapons tools, really that are regularly taken away from you. Your first is a key, which gets stuck in a lock; your second is a snapped-off lever, which quickly finds its rightful home. It's a small mechanic, really, but it's always surprising to find something that messes with the formula in a game modelled after the Zeldas of yore. Meowgical Tower is lovely to look at and lovely to play, aside from some sticky collision detection on doors and blocks.

VA-11 HALL-A by Sukeban Games Download it here

'VA-11 HALL-A' is a collection of letters and numbers that here means 'Valhalla', which is a lot less irritating to type. Valhalla is a visual novel bartending game, which makes perfect sense now that I've thought about it a little bit. Your second customer a cybernetic assassin says as much, stating that bartenders are the best when it comes to gathering information, even if they don't tend to do anything with it. It's a game of hearing people moan, mixed in with sections where you have to make cocktails, with a branching storyline that depends on which drinks you made and how adept you were at making them. I find this much more interesting than selecting options from a menu, even if I'm terrible at the actual bartending bit. A smartly told, character-driven story set in an interesting cyberpunk world, VA-11 HALL-A is currently being fleshed out into a fullerer and longerer game, which you can find the details of here. There's a prologue available while you wait, but the main game should be out this December.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor trailer introduces your orc chum Ratbag">Middle-Earth Ratbag

I like the orcs from the Lord of the Rings films, because they're cockneys, and they're called things like Gorbag or Shagrat or Plopbog. It makes a nice contrast from all the floaty elves named Elendermenderil or Alenduil or Katefromlost. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor contains an Uruk orc named Ratbag, which is obviously great. Ratbag "plays a critical role in the story", apparently, and he can act as your personal, rather smelly informant if you choose to let him live. But how does Ratbag look, sound, and get on with our troubled ranger hero Talion? These are things we can glean from the following trailer.

Say hello to Ratbag, everybody. Probably best not to ask how he came by such a name.

Ratbag, of the New England Ratbags, differs from most of the Uruks you'll encounter in that he's a set character the others will be "dynamically generated through the Nemesis System and unique to each player", according to Monolith/Warner Bros. I'm looking forward to seeing how all this Nemesis stuff plays out in the game, even if I've seen nothing that's really sold me on the idea yet.

Shadow of Mordor is out on October 3rd, and here's a link to another video if you want to spoil the whole thing before you play it. That one doesn't feature Ratbag, however, instead focusing on the sad story of how Talion came to be all wraithy like.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Dragon Age Keep detailed at PAX; Inquisition’s tactical UI shown off too">Dragon Age Inquisition tactical UI thumb

I'm perhaps a little too excited about Dragon Age Keep, BioWare's browser-based decision thingy that will let you prep your character in Inquisition, without having to play the entire series again. After chat-battling my way through Origins, Awakening, and part of 2 once, I don't quite have the fortitude to tackle the previous games again in time for the third, so being able to choose what happened (or, shhhh, to sneakily change a few things along the way) is pretty exciting in a cheaty, time-saving way. BioWare blew the lid off the Keep's closed beta at PAX this weekend; you'll find a big video outlining how it works below. As a special bonus, Dragon Age executive producer Mark Darrah has revealed a screen of the PC version's tactical interface, which is back after a spell of absence from DA2.

As you can see, the Keep which is free, requires an Origin account, and will run on tablets, smartphones etc starts by scanning your Origin/BioWare account for information such as your past Wardens and Hawkes, achievements, trinkets and so on, but you'll be able to pick from a bunch of pre-made heroes with differing origin stories and life choices if the scanning process can't dig anything up. In the past, BioWare have spoken about the option to alter the Warden or Hawke's appearance to your liking, but that sadly wasn't shown in the above video. You don't appear to be able to import save games either, which is perhaps why BioWare have put so much effort into the Keep: it's pretty much mandatory if you want your past actions to carry across to Inquisition.

Once your data has been collected, or inputted, you can watch an animated and narrated Flash-style video going over the story of previous entries. You can interrupt this video when one of Dragon Age's branching moments is happening, in order to alter the choice currently being made. Once you've done that, the video will then continue down a different path. BioWare say there are over 300 choices to be made not all represented in the video so it might take a while to go through everything, either in that animation or on the lovely interactive tapestry that houses all of your decisions.

Dragon Age Keep will be out around a month before Inquisition releases on November 18th/21st, and its tactical view looks like this:


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