Welcome to the official and definitive PC Gamer Top 100 list for 2020. This reflects the tastes and experiences of our entire team, from the big boss man all the way down to the lowliest word-grunt. We’re not claiming these are the best games of all time, mind – that’s a different list entirely. These are our recommendations for the best games to play right now, from modern smash hits to indie gems you might have missed, to retro classics that still hold up in 2020. Enjoy!
100 TEAM FORTRESS 2
RELEASED 2007 | LAST POSITION New
Phil: It’s true: Team Fortress 2 is still good. Sure, it’s 13 years old. And yes, it’s gone through many changes – from hats to matchmaking. But for all the many hero shooters released in its wake, no other multiplayer FPS offers the same pick-up-and-play hilarity of a good TF2 server. As an experimental sounding board of games-as-a-service ideas, the current TF2 is weird and baggy. As a game about nine idiot characters competing over patches of gravel, it remains a triumph.
RELEASED 2014 | LAST POSITION 90
Tim: Your view on the current state of Hearthstone depends on how you feel about three things. 1) The release of the new class: Demon Hunter. 2) How much you like super high variance cards like Dragonqueen Alexstraza. 3) Whether you play the Battlegrounds mode. I think Demon Hunter has been a success and helped refresh Standard. I’m less fond of those swing cards. And Battlegrounds is great, providing a welcome distraction when the Standard ladder looks grim.
98 SAYONARA WILD HEARTS
RELEASED 2019 | LAST POSITION New
Jacob: This artful adventure straddles a line between techno-pop album and rhythm-action videogame. A belter of a soundtrack acts as a heartbeat to the game’s meandering levels, and helps to direct you between the many obstacles in your way as you traverse psychedelic forests and high-speed city pursuits – oftentimes following a group of neon-clad bikers or theatre thugs that speak only through the medium of dance.
But beyond its 23 action-packed levels, there’s a sense of progression that’s far more personal. The game’s protagonist starts out her journey by tumbling into an interdimensional highway following a traumatic life event. But it’s not long before your masked alter ego is confident, collected and ready to reshape her world. Sayonara Wild Hearts is just as much a message of self-love as it is a musical journey. It takes roughly only an hour and a half for a single playthrough, yet like any good album you’ll be wanting to come back again and again. If not for the achievement of reaching gold rank in every level, just to breath in the audio-visual experience. There are few videogames that are so wonderfully engrossing as Sayonara Wild Hearts with as little screen time – set aside an evening and lose yourself in it.
97 METRO EXODUS
RELEASED 2019 | LAST POSITION New
Andy K: It’s an amazing, and strange, feeling leaving the claustrophobic gloom of Moscow behind and exploring the wider world in a Metro game. Exodus is a post-apocalyptic road trip that massively broadens the scope of the normally tunnel-based series. It’s still the same game deep down, mixing scrappy, violent first-person combat with exploration and survival elements. But dramatic changes of scenery and bigger, more open maps, including a vast desert region, give the series a new lease of life. It also has a lot of heart; particularly aboard the Aurora, the train that’s ferrying you and your friends across the wasteland. Here things get slower and quieter, letting you get to know your companions, and yourself, as you search for a better life in a shattered world.
96 SUPER HOT VR
RELEASED 2017 | LAST POSITION New
Graeme: This time-sensitive action puzzler is proof high-resolution textures and intricate animation aren’t necessary for maximum immersion. For a bunch of shapes in a white void, the sense of presence as your dodge enemies is incredible – it’s easy to forget the vague architecture around you isn’t real. More than I’d like to admit, I’ve curled into a ball on the floor to avoid attacks, then tried picking myself up by leaning on objects that aren’t actually real. Any game that leaves you crumpled in a heap on the floor is either very bad… or very good!
Time moving with your body movements is a top ‘you are the controller’ experience, too, showing good VR games aren’t just the games you know but with a thing strapped to your head.
95 SLUDGE LIFE
RELEASED 2020 | LAST POSITION New
James: It’s Pokemon Snap by way of Marc Ecko’s Getting Up (now there’s a franchise that really took off…). It’s a first-person parkour sim full of dejected, piss-poor bottom feeders like me. Every frame is a photo ripped from a zine, every line of dialogue a potent zinger worthy of its own comic panel. Eat banana slugs and trip hard, float into the sky or under the sludge for a peek at reality. Spit into a CEO’s food. Trigger a nuke. Walking sims certainly have come a long way, baby.
RELEASED 2020 | LAST POSITION New
Tyler: In our Top 100 meeting, Emma said that Valorant only made her want to play CS:GO. It’s the opposite for me. Whenever I’ve tried to play CS:GO, it’s felt like wandering into someone else’s decade-old game of make-believe – and no one will explain the unwritten rules to me. However, after just a few games of Valorant, I finally understood what my CS:GO friends had been talking about. It might be a watered-down CS:GO to veterans like Emma, but for me, the quality of life features and special abilities, which let me at least feel useful while I got used to the weird shooting, were the on-boarding I needed. Now I can finally enjoy a type of FPS that always scared me away, and it rules.
93 THE JACKBOX PARTY PACK 4
RELEASED 2017 | LAST POSITION 88
Robin: The Jackbox series is pure social lubricant. The right game deployed at the right time can make any party or gathering sing – whether you’re with friends, relatives, or even people you don’t know too well yet. And the simple mobile phone interface – with no app download required – means that anyone and everyone can get involved.
James: I didn’t really know my mum until we played some Jackbox together. A preacher’s daughter with a pretty clean no-cussing and no-vulgarity record, through the medium of Jackbox I’ve seen her draw dicks, make jokes about my death, and use words my dad swears he didn’t teach her. It’s a holiday tradition now, watching the person that raised me transform like this. Thank you, Jackbox.
92 FINAL FANTASY XII: THE ZODIAC AGE
RELEASED 2018 | LAST POSITION 64
Wes: FFXII has the best English voice cast in the history of JRPGs. Square rounded up a group of British theatre actors and their performances still crackle with Shakespearean grandeur.
Andy K: There are so many beautiful, exotic locations in FFXII, I’m constantly finding new favourites as I traverse its world. There’s a lot to love about the game, but the gambit system is an easy highlight. And you can fast forward through battles in the PC version – a massive time saver.
91 DEUS EX
RELEASED 2000 | LAST POSITION 72
Phil: The Top 100 is a celebration of what’s worth playing today, which is why many older favourites struggle to make the cut. It’s not enough for a game to be influential if it’s no longer much fun to play. The difference with Deus Ex, though, is that so much of what makes it great is tied to its age and antiquated, alienating systems. It’s a game that I don’t think could be made today, because the rules for FPS design are too formalised and streamlined. The original Deus Ex feels experimental and wild, the consequence of a development team that had to figure out how to let a player do what they want. Within that folly lies a magic that is yet to be replicated.
Andy K: Yeah, Deus Ex is still great. I’ve played it at least once a year for as long as I can remember, and every time I do, I’m stunned by how fun it still is. A lot of that comes from being familiar with the game, knowing how far I can push its systems. But that’s really the beauty of it. It’s as wide as it is deep, with big, intricate sandbox levels that are ripe for experimentation. Even now I’m finding new ways to play through it. This year it was the discovery that I could defuse the hostage situation in Battery Park, non-violently and without being detected, with a couple of flares and nothing else. I think that Deus Ex is PC gaming at its best.
90 C&C REMASTERED COLLECTION
RELEASED 2020 | LAST POSITION New
Andy K: Collecting the first Command & Conquer and its beloved sequel, Red Alert, this generously priced package is stuffed with some of the finest real-time strategy on PC. The remaster is great, with crisp new visuals and the option to instantly swap back to the old ones at the push of a button. But the real reason to play is the campaigns. Every mission is a satisfying puzzle to solve, rewarding creative use of the game’s varied selection of units. And the FMV cutscenes are as fun as ever.
89 LEGEND OF GRIMROCK 2
RELEASED 2014 | LAST POSITION New
James: It’s not surprising that the most Dark Souls-y game I’ve played in a while is basically its origin story. First-person dungeon crawlers like FromSoftware’s King’s Field don’t get much play these days because, well, they’re a dated pain in the ass to manoeuvre. Grimrock 2 is a perfect modernisation of the genre, a frictionless, massive sprawl of puzzles and demons and dungeons that practically demand a graph paper notebook. But you don’t need one because the notebook is baked in.
88 DOOM II
RELEASED 1994 | LAST POSITION 78
Chris: This isn’t just nostalgia talking – yes, Doom II is an influential classic, but it’s still amazingly challenging and intense to play today, and not just as a history lesson. Though you will get to see the early origins of FPSes too. Plus, new Doom II mods are turning up on a weekly basis 25 years later. It’s the one game you should never uninstall.
87 FALLOUT NEW VEGAS
RELEASED 2010 | LAST POSITION New
Robin: Sure, in the harsh light of 2020, New Vegas doesn’t look or play all that great. It kind of didn’t in 2010 either. But even now it’s absolutely unparalleled when it comes to pure RPG freedom. The sheer amount of choice in who you can be and what you can do is intoxicating. It’s a kind of depth and complexity that Bethesda’s Fallouts just can’t match.
86 SHADOW TACTICS: BLADES OF THE SHOGUN
RELEASED 2016 | LAST POSITION 84
Fraser: Shadow Tactics is Mimimi’s best stealth tactics game and a high point for sneaky, murderous romps. It takes the classic Commandos formula, conjures up even more elegant puzzles, refines everything, and gives you an adorable tanuki to help with your assassinations.
85 HOMEWORLD REMASTERED COLLECTION
RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION 83
Fraser: No other RTS – heck, few other games – come close to matching Homeworld’s incredible style. The art, the soundtrack, the tragic sci-fi yarn – it’s so lavish. Even the way the ships move is stirring. It’s like watching a cosmic ballet. It’s all so impressive that it threatens to overshadow the fact that Homeworld’s also a brilliant strategy game with a tricky, persistent campaign and the best space battles around.
84 LEGENDS OF RUNETERRA
RELEASED 2020 | LAST POSITION New
Robin: I love how much of a step forward for online CCGs this feels. That applies to the mechanics – where the best bits of Hearthstone and MTG are combined into a tight, strategic back-and-forth – but also to its business model, which does away with randomized packs and, brilliantly, just lets you build the decks you want to build.
Steven: Agreed. Runeterra is a welcome reprieve from booster pack bullshit. I never thought one of my favourite games of 2020 would be a card game.
83 ELITE DANGEROUS
RELEASED 2014 | LAST POSITION 82
Andy K: This recently became my most played game on Steam, overtaking the likes of The Witcher 3 and even my beloved Euro Truck Simulator 2, which should give you some idea of the impact it can have on a person’s free time. I don’t so much play Elite Dangerous as exist entirely within it, living a whole other life in space. It’s a worryingly immersive game, whether you’re hunting bounties, trading, or just freely exploring its scale replica of the Milky Way. Sure, it’s grindy, and it’s slow-paced, but the feeling of being there, of clawing a living out of a vast galaxy alongside thousands of other players, is a sci-fi dream come true. It plays totally fine with a gamepad, but for the truly dedicated starship captain, a flight stick really takes the game to another level.
82 SUNLESS SKIES
RELEASED 2019 | LAST POSITION 45
Fraser: A very British game about travelling through space on a little locomotive might have been horribly twee in another studio’s hands, but not Failbetter’s. It’s a mad and magical version of Victorian Britain transposed to the cosmos, where Queen Victoria has weird time powers and people live on floating chunks of rock – surprisingly picturesque ones – or massive space plants or steampunk metal behemoths. It makes space properly alien again, filling it with demons who were once bees, plenty of gothic horror, and, appropriately, a clockwork sun, all of which could drive your crew insane at any moment – and all these oddities are elevated by some of the best writing in games ever.
Robin: Sunless Skies is a game that operates entirely by its own logic – making progress feels like learning a language, a very particular way of talking about objectives and circumstances. It can be awkward to get to grips with, but it facilitates a world where loot is as likely to be a life-changing experience as a shiny treasure, and dreams can be earned and traded like currency. From its writing to its art, to its mechanics, to its sometimes-punishing cruelty, it’s a game that 100% knows what it is and refuses to water that down, and I respect the hell out of that.
81 CRUSADER KINGS II
RELEASED 2012 | LAST POSITION 41
Fraser: There’s still nothing else quite like Crusader Kings II. Over the years Paradox has fleshed out its already gargantuan strategy RPG through dozens of expansions with changes both bold and granular. You can even dabble in witchcraft now. Its scope is ridiculous. And since all of those expansions came with even larger free updates, the base game hasn’t stopped growing. It’s also now entirely free. It may soon be supplanted, though, as its sequel is on the horizon.
80 80 DAYS
RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION 77
Andy K: In terms of writing, 80 Days is one of the finest pieces of interactive fiction on PC, because it roots its superb storytelling in a compelling management loop. You’re being told a fun, colourful story about a voyage around the world in a steampunk alternate history, but you’re also juggling your budget and keeping your stoic master Phileas Fogg happy. Completing the journey in 80 days is difficult, but if you fail, it doesn’t matter. You can try again, and the story will be totally different.
RELEASED 2018 | LAST POSITION New
Jacob: Hades manages to squeeze the fight, rinse, repeat roguelike structure into its narrative, and do so in a way that’s genuinely entertaining. Each return trip back to Hades’ Underworld is a chance to try out a new weapon or upgrade, and that’s kept me coming back for more. Especially as the story changes as you go through different runs.
78 SEA OF THIEVES
RELEASED 2018 | LAST POSITION 67
Wes: Chris put my fish on the stove and left it cooking so long it set our ship on fire. On the Sea of Thieves, we make our own fun, despite it completely hampering our progress for a good while.
Chris: Well, there was also one time that Wes swung his sword at Tyler who was carrying an explosive barrel, and it killed our entire crew. Still fun!
RELEASED 2019 | LAST POSITION New
Robin: The thing that Control absolutely nails is atmosphere. Its weird world of supernatural bureaucracy is so wonderfully realised – both visually, with creative, brutalist surrealism, and in its world-building, fleshed out through dialogue and text logs that are equal parts hilarious and sinister. Even its vending machines are memorable.
RELEASED 2008 | LAST POSITION 37
Emma: A simple, yet challenging roguelike adventure that punishes you for the tiniest mistakes. It’s unique in that it offers a different experience depending on how far you’re willing to explore. You’re free to simply play through, make your way to Olmec’s Lair, and finish the game. While this is perfectly satisfying, there are so many hidden areas and special items to discover that can enrich your journey along the way. It also features the cutest pug in any video game, ever.
RELEASED 2016 | LAST POSITION 74
Chris: Survival and crafting games can quickly become a slog of repetitive tasks, but Factorio’s hook involves automating those jobs before you get sick of them. And it’s something of a thrill to build the machines to do those tasks… and even more thrilling to realise you can build machines to build those machines. Once you’ve got a few assembly lines running smoothly it’s easy to lose yourself in the glorious (and sometimes very messy) expansion of your busy little factories.
74 WARHAMMER: VERMINTIDE II
RELEASED 2018 | LAST POSITION 73
Robin: This year’s lockdown has really solidified for me how good this game is. Trapped inside, I’ve had way more time for co-op gaming, and I think Vermintide II really is the best of the bunch – a worthy successor to Left 4 Dead. Plus it absolutely nails the Warhammer setting, always riding that line between humour and grim darkness perfectly.
Jody: I’ve been enjoying Deep Rock Galactic and I still think Left 4 Dead 2 is fun, but what Vermintide II has over other four-player co-op chaos games is its excellent first-person melee combat. It’s the perfect quick ‘woosh’ and slow ‘thunk’ as big lumps of Renaissance metal bite into fur and skin. You get stuck in and the blood seeps in at the edges of the screen while you block and shove and swing till there’s breathing room, then look around to make sure everyone else is standing. Then you do it again 12 more times and it’s still fun.
Alan: Vermintide II is harsh, but in the best possible way. It challenges you and then rewards your determination with a better understanding of the mechanics. You get slightly further with each run, gear upgrades embolden you, communication with your buddies becomes more nuanced, and before you know it you’re facing down the Skittergate like the team of wisecracking baddasses that you are.
73 WHAT THE GOLF?
RELEASED 2019 | LAST POSITION New
Chris: A great way to make people laugh is to surprise them, and What the Golf? is almost constantly surprising. Golf is almost never just golf: it becomes soccer, driving, bowling, first-person shooting, archery, and more. And just when you think you’ve got a handle on things it’ll switch it upon you, so instead of your bow shooting an arrow, it’ll shoot 100 arrows. Or it’ll launch you through the air instead. Just a great, hilarious barrage of gags.
Harry: Unlike real-life golf, Triband’s experimental curio is wonderfully accessible. Every person I invited to play were immediately entranced – the drag-and-click controls are simple and satisfying enough to draw anyone in.
72 INVISIBLE INC
RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION 71
Jody: Normally I’m a stickler for first-person stealth. You should be leaning around a corner, holding down Q or E while shifting slightly in your chair for no reason to see if there’s a guard lurking there. Invisible Inc. makes you look down from above, pressing the peek icon instead, but it’s still every bit as tense. Turn-based isometric stealth just as thrilling as the regular kind. Invisible Inc. understands cyberpunk as well, piling a miracle on top of another miracle.
Robin: There’s something wonderfully swaggering about developer Klei reinventing stealth so perfectly with Mark of the Ninja… and then coming back to do it again in a totally different genre, completely nailing it twice in a row. That’s true confidence.
71 EVE ONLINE
RELEASED 2003 | LAST POSITION 70
Steven: It’s frequently joked about as the best game to read about but never play, but that kind of outlook dismisses just what a unique and special game EVE Online is. Sure, it’s a very cerebral experience that often boils down to staring at spreadsheets, but that’s because it’s so good at creating a virtual life that it successfully recreates even the most boring bits of living. Just don’t play it alone – this is one MMO where multiplayer is practically mandatory.
70 WORLD OF WARCRAFT
RELEASED 2004 | LAST POSITION 43
Steven: World of Warcraft’s been in a rough spot the last few years, which is why it’s slid down a bit on our list. Despite the latest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, having a lot of issues that get in the way of what WoW does best, this is still a worthwhile and entertaining MMO full of adventure.
Fraser: I’ve quit yet again. After just coming back, too. But I know it’s only going to be temporary because nothing has ever scratched that MMO itch quite like World of Warcraft has done for me.
69 DESTINY 2
RELEASED 2017 | LAST POSITION 14
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