We’re a third of the way through the year. In terms of gaming, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag: We’ve had a few good titles, while some notable others have come up dead-on-arrival. But let’s not dwell too much on the negatives. Let’s have a look at some of the best available PC titles from this year. Chances are the more hardcore among you will already know some of the more obvious names on the list, but as well as the standard bevy of triple-A titles, we have also included a few of the more plucky indie releases available. It should go without saying that anything you don’t recognize is more than worth the effort of tracking down.
10. Crysis 3
Despite this series’ tendency to cause even the most powerful gaming PCs to shudder in fear, CryTech’s latest release lives up to the developer’s standard-setting heights of presentation. A visually stunning and well-designed game, but if you want to see it at its best, you’ll have to be playing on some serious hardware.
9. FTL: Faster than Light
Although this one was actually released late last year, it’s definitely one of the most compelling and addictive indie games in years. An extremely exacting 2D space-simulator, the game is designed with losing in mind. It has a simple but hugely enjoyable set of core mechanics, and is simple enough to be run on laptops – you won’t need a specialist gaming PC. Get it now on Steam, and get ready to die. A lot.
8. Tomb Raider
In the trend of revamping a nostalgic property with a more contemporary twist, this one attempts to provide everyone’s favourite antiquity-thieving superheroine Lara Croft with a backstory. An extremely enjoyable title, which adds some open world elements and RPG-like sensibilities to the predictable rigmarole of action-based set pieces endemic to modern gaming. Definitely worth a look.
7. Dead Space 3
EA’s worldbeating IP has overtaken the entire triple-A industry, and this latest installment maintains the quality of previous iterations. The focus seems to have moved from claustrophobic, isolated survival horror to a more consistently action-oriented play style (particularly with the introduction of co-op play). In spite of this, the gameplay and story are still top-notch stuff, and the game is well worth the investment.
6. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Continuing Hideo Kojima’s penchant for unusual titles (and, indeed, unusual games), this is probably one of thee more interesting game on the list. What it isn’t, however, is a traditional Metal Gear game, abandoning the stealthy focus for a hack-and-slash, action and combat oriented gameplay basis. However, if stealth isn’t your bag, this may be able to revive your interest in Kojima’s unique series of conspiracy-laden epics.
5. The Last of Us
Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic opus takes Uncharted-style feel and gameplay and mixes it in with a little extra grit and blood. A compelling story set in a beautifully designed world (which is both eye catching and eerily deserted, giving the whole thing a rather unsettling feel), combined with easily one of the most interesting female protagonists of recent years, makes this recently-released game a definite one to watch.
4. Shattered Haven
A bit of an oddball indie release, but one of this writer’s current favourites. Yet another bloody zombie game, it’s a 2D puzzle-em-up, platformery… thing. And it is utterly, utterly unique. Immensely enjoyable and with some amazing original ideas that make it a joy to play. It’s a little short, but comes prepacked with its own level editor, so if you’re really into it, you could always make more yourself.
3. Age of Empires 2 HD
A nostalgic re-release of a game that will probably have eaten many, many hours of your life already if you grew up in the 1990s, so what harm is a few more? Currently available from Steam, this one is still a joy to play even after all the years, and holds up as an extremely fun and addictive real-time strategy game even after years of advancements in the genre. Get it, play it, rejoice.
2. StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm
Blizzard’s StarCraft series’s popularity has eclipsed major religions in some parts of the world, and Heart of the Swarm promises to deliver more great content, with an excellent multiplayer campaign and a surprisingly involving story mode. Focusing on the Zerg swarm, it’s consistently interesting to keep players coming back for more, and the gameplay is, as always with this IP, of the very highest quality.
1. BioShock Infinite
BioShock was always billed as a spiritual successor to System Shock, and it continues to live up to that lofty acclaim. This latest release has easily the most compelling narrative of any game you’re likely to play in the next twelve months, and the plot twists and turns in truly novel and interesting ways. It looks brilliant, has great gameplay, and keeps a highly consistent atmosphere, too, but seriously, get this one just for the story. If you’re not amazed, you’re probably not human.
And just because we love you so much, here’s a bonus indie release. Don’t look it up. Just play it. It’s a puzzle game. That’s all we’ll say. Go play it. Be amazed.