PC gaming has always been about pushing technological boundaries. It's the foundation video games were built on, and it has played host to dozens of genres that are still popular today, some of which are barely usable without a mouse and keyboard.
The identity of a PC game has been muddyed as console gaming has caught up with PC games' technical advances. This has helped make more kinds of games available to more players, which is a net benefit. However, it also has raised a burning question: what will be a PC game in 2022?
The Polygon staff has compiled a list of the games that will define the enjoyable, amorphous experience of playing games on PC in 2022. Some of these are available on other platforms, and others are equally as good with a controller as a mouse and keyboard.
Without further ado, here are the top 13 PC games you can download on your PC today.
[Ed. note: This list was last updated on September 22. It will be updated as new and noteworthy games come to PC.]
Destiny 2 is one of the best MMOs on the market because it combines a typical loot-based shooter with Bungie's best-in-class gunplay.
Bungie has made several changes to the Destiny franchise, which it subsequently received mixed reviews at its first launch. Today, it is one of the most popular live-service games in the world.
Destiny 2 gets a new season or expansion every few months, introducing new missions, activities, and endgame content such as raids. Each of these different activities then provides its own unique rewards, creating an endless loop of grinding new weapons, which you can then use to grind the next seasons content for thousands of hours.
Destiny 2 is only getting better. In 2022, the series had a fantastic expansion, as well as new weapons, many of which players have never seen. In a world of hobby games that you can play for years without stopping especially on PC, Destiny 2 is worth all the effort you will invest.
Destiny 2 is now available on Steam and the Epic Games Store for Windows PC users.
If youre ever in the mood to play god, you can do a lot worse than playing Dwarf Fortress.
This is a simulation/management game about constructing, optimizing, overseeing, and, accidentally or not, destroying a fortress full of dwarves. Youll also have to take the characteristics of each of your seven starting dwarves into account, their physical attributes, and mental dispositions.
Dwarf Fortress is so complex and complex that a colony of cats have been known to die en masse because they had walked through the puke of drunken dwarves, proceeded to lick their paws clean, and promptly died. The points made in this video are all examples of how deep, ridiculous, and wonderful Dwarf Fortress can be during any given playthrough.
Dwarf Fortress is now available on Windows, Mac, and Linux via the Bay 12 Games website, with a new version coming soon to Steam.
Elite Dangerous may be old, but she's got it where it's needed, kid.
The first-person shooting in the spacefaring MMO has all you could possibly want in a game of its genre, its just that some of the elements are okay. Elite earns its place on this list for the thrill of exploration, discovery, and danger that comes with every flight.
That's because this circa-2014 game recreates all 400 billion star systems in our galaxy in first person, each one with dozens of bodies you can see, and even walk on, as part of your living room. It's one of the greatest reasons to buy a VR headset or build a functioning cockpit inside your home office. Charlie Hall
Elite Dangerous is available on Steam and the Epic Games Store.
For Fortnite, it's the ultimate video game playground. Is it a battle royale? Is it a friendship game where you can create custom maps and games for friends? Is it still the strange zombie game that it was originally marketed as? Inexplicably, the answer to all of these questions is yes.
For Fortnite, you can play with an official Spider-Man web slinger while dressed as Goku, then blowing away Commander Zavala from Destiny with a shotgun, cutting down a tree with the Staff of Ra from Indiana Jones, and then being sniped by Darth Vader as he rides by on a wolf. It's a chaotic video game nonsense, and there's nothing else like it.
Fortnite is the it game of the last five years, partly because it is the only game out there that allows you to play Kratos as Kratos, but also because it's a great shooter that's a lot of fun to play with pals. It takes the old fun for the whole family moniker and really follows through with it there's truly something for everyone.
Fortnite is now available on the Epic Games Store.
League of Legends
League of Legends is one of the most popular video games of the past decade, and it has set an example for what a continuous game should be like. It's a complex strategy game that never plays out the same way twice. It's one of the world's largest esports, and it's been there for 13 years.
Ten players join forces to play a game together, and they are split into two teams. Each player on each team is given a role, and they can choose from over 160 different characters to support their allies. During the match, the goal is to reach the other side of the arena and destroy the enemy's base. This results in a tense push and pull between both teams, collecting gold and empowerment.
It's almost like learning a new language, but the complexity is what keeps the game interesting and fun. After thousands of matches, there's still nothing quite like spending an entire Saturday playing League of Legends and getting a new experience almost every time.
The client of Riots is able to obtain League of Legends.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator is truly a modern marvel. It blends more than two petabytes of Microsoft Bing map data into a high-quality VR-compatible flight simulation. Then it feathers in real-world air traffic and weather conditions just because it can.
Once you have access to the in-game third-party storefront, you'll find float planes, ski planes, military jets, and even Halos Pelican, all there is to offer, along with more for avid gamers. MSFS is also compatible on Xbox consoles, but it shines on PC, opening up a whole new world of tinkering.
Just make sure your hardware has enough USB ports for the joystick, throttle, pedals, head-tracking devices, and multi-function displays. Oh, I could get a ButtKicker, a cup holder, and... Charlie Hall.
The Microsoft Flight Simulator is now available on Steam and the Microsoft Store.
Return of the Obra Dinn
Return of the Obra Dinnis is a rare game that I wish I could forget. Not because it's too heavy or too traumatic, but because I want to see it again with fresh eyes. Like Outer Wilds, its a game that heavily relies on exploration and the application of newfound knowledge.
The less known you are before playing Return of the Obra Dinn, the better, so take our word for it and play for yourself... Not convinced? Fine. Ill spoil the fact that you can play as an insurance investigator. If that doesnt get you to install, nothing will.
Return of the Obra Dinn puts you in the shoes of an insurance investigator (that part wasnt a joke) for the East India Company in 1807. It's your job to discover what happened to the great ship Obra Dinn, which was lost at sea five years earlier.
Each section onboard the ship will give you a brief vignette and some dialogue or music. You then use that information to complete your ledger and determine the fate and name of each person aboard.
I havent stopped thinking about it since its release in 2018. The music and visuals are incredible, and the game manages to surprise over and over again. Sadly, Ill never be able to play it again as a newcomer as I already know the fates of those aboard, but I can enrich your life by sharing it with you.
The Return of the Obra Dinn is now available on Steam.
Satisfactory is one of the greatest modern management and automation games.
You play a space executive who is dropped onto a hostile and unfamiliar planet. Your job is to utilize the planets resources to build up an incredible empire for your overlords, producing more and more technologically advanced items that youll eventually return to the mothership via a massive space elevator.
Satisfactory has a catch: it's all in first person, and you're only a small employee in what could be a massive factory. You'll have to gather resources from miles and miles away, and make difficult decisions. Do you want to send oil to your factory on a set schedule? What do you do if you accidentally blow a fuse, and all of your other machines are halted?
Each problem you encounter becomes more difficult to solve, yet these puzzles are also quite rewarding, ensuring that every section of your factory, the refineries, the power plants, etc., comes with its own joys and triumphs.
Satisfactory is available on Steam and the Epic Games Store.
Total War: Warhammer 3/Immortal Empires
Video games grow vertically, with so much systemic complexity that they eliminate any chance of balance or elegance. They grow horizontally, with bigger maps, more characters, or new magical spells, until they are too bulky to repair. Eventually, they collapse under the enormous load of their own creation.
Total War: Warhammer 3 is not one of those games.
What began as the first fantasy installment in a history-oriented franchise has turned into a trilogy-capping grand strategy game in which armored mammoths, sex-crazed demons, bipedal machine-gunner rats, dragon-mounted high elves, and four-headed hydras clash in massive battles.
Warhammer 3 is a mix of empire-building and real-time strategy. You expand your territory, strengthen your cities, and send your soldiers off to war. If an opponent attacks or encounters a strategic point (perhaps it is a strategic point? or it simply looks fucking cool?) the camera zooms in to real-time strategy battles on scales that arent comparable in any other game.
However, Warhammer 3 is an excessive scale game. It combines the campaign maps and every single faction from all three games in one massive mode called Immortal Empires, in which you're almost certain to see a world war between ogres, dwarves, vampires, and undead Egyptian pharaohs.
Total War: Warhammer 3 is available on Steam and the Epic Games Store, as well as on Game Pass from the Microsoft Store.
Valorantis Riot Games takes on tactical shooters. However, it draws on the same creators of League of Legends to infuse its harsh, hyper-accurate gunplay with unique heroes in a vibrant, colorful environment. The result is one of the finest and tightest shooters out there, with a lot more personality than its dreary militaristic peers.
Valorant involves a variety of maps as both offense and defense. The offense will need to launch a bomb at one of several key areas on the map, and the defense will need to defuse the bomb. If the bomb is defused or the offense is all killed, the defenders win.
Players may purchase weapons and abilities, the latter being unique to the Agent they selected at the start of the match. Some characters can place cameras to spy on opponents, while others can resurrect themselves after death. Some characters can shoot arrows, while others can create massive clouds of poison to block off areas.
The game's interface is straightforward and straightforward, unlike League. However, the skill ceiling is quite high in Riots other competitive games, and you can easily outmatch inferior players, making Valorant a challenge but also exciting. Losses are made by learning experiences, while victories are made by lightning.
Valuable is available to Riots clients.
What began in 2012 as a game of ninja combat in narrow spaceship corridors has transformed into one of the weirdest, funnyst, most stunning science fiction worlds in video games. It's also free.
Warframe is a game that involves collecting the titular cyborg space assassins and molestation of tens of thousands of enemies on planets, moons, and star bases throughout the solar system. It includes dozens of different crafting modes, customizable dojos and landing crafts, three open worlds, daily and weekly events, and a dedicated convention every year in London, Ontario.
The combat, which plays out as a mashup of third-person shooters and Musou melee encounters, is enough to last you the several hours till your next new character, weapon, or upgrade. Theres something new around every corner, and its laden with gratuitous sci-fi violence. Mike Mahardy is a world-class video game author.
Warframe is available on Steam and the Epic Games Store.
World of Warcraft
Final Fantasy 14 has only surpassed it in recent years, despite the fact that World of Warcraft is still a household MMO name. However, unlike Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft has remained exclusive to the PC with mouse-and-keyboard controls. It's also 18 years old and still going strong.
World of Warcraft hasnt always been one of the best PC games out there. Its had its moments of brilliance and eras of severe disappointment. Yet it has always offered an incredible world to explore in solitude or with a boisterous group of friends. Over the past 20 years, it has become a popular game for those who wish to upgrade a piece of gear.
With the upcoming Dragonflight expansion, World of Warcraft is expected to release its most recent dark period in 2022. I've played most of the gameplay on the beta, and it already seems to be a great reminder of why I and others have loved World of Warcraft for years. It's a return to pure fantasy and simple systems that reward your effort rather than demanding you to pay for minor fixes.
World of Warcraft is available on Battle.net.
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen is one of the greatest video game turnaround stories since Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. With the War of the Chosen expansion, what began as a buggy and sometimes frustrating follow-up to Firaxis' beloved XCOM reboot was rejuvenated, and is now one of the best strategy games in recent memory.
XCOM 2 is a turn-based tactical game, which requires you to move each of your characters individually before you finish your turn, causing the computer to move in response to your actions. You can turn the permadeath setting off, but I highly recommend keeping it on.
On the other hand, War of the Chosen added new enemy classes and allied factions, which eventually provided entirely new soldier types for you to control, which resolved the issue of vanilla XCOM 2's frustrating and breakneck pace. With the expansion, players have so many more challenges to overcome and avenues to explore.
It's a brutal game that lives up to the endless memes of high-percentage shots that inevitably miss at the worst possible times. But every encounter, be it a single firefight between two opposing soldiers or an entire mission, has a story. Not one written by Firaxis, but one created by you and your decisions.
With XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, you'll find a game you'll want to repeat over and over again.
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen is now available on Steam and the Epic Games Store.
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