It’s been an interesting year for just about everyone on Planet Earth (to put it mildly). But the world of gaming, in particular, has been rocked by several major events. There have been generational hardware launches, hugely-anticipated blockbusters, and a few sleeper hits that have come out of nowhere and blown our collective socks off.
But we’re not going to review the year here. Instead, we’re going to answer a more pertinent question: what games can I play right this moment? Some of them offer features that’ll put even a high-end PC through its paces; others are lightweight, but still masterpieces of art and design. They’re all great fun, and can be played right this second!
The ‘roguelite’ formula was starting to get a little bit stale until Hades came along. With fast-paced isometric action, random loot, and glorious characters, it’s a game that’s endlessly rewarding – even once you’ve got through your first successful run. What’s more, it’s the kind of experience that you can dip into, even if you only have an hour or so available. You’ll need to strategise and adapt to the boons the gods grant you, meaning that the action never gets stale. After all, there’s always time to wipe that smirk off Theseus’s face.
When we said that the best experience of Cyberpunk 2077 was going to be had on the PC, we didn’t quite realise how true it would be. The Cyberpunk experience you get on a high-end games machine is remarkably different (that’s to say, a lot better) than the one provided by the legacy editions currently running on Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X (we won’t say anything about the Playstation 4 or Xbox One versions).
With many updates now almost a year later the game is in a good place with recent steam reviews being labelled as ‘Very Good’. So, if you are one of those people who put the game down due to performance issues, maybe it’s time to give it another try?
As many of us know, this is still among the more heavyweight titles around; if you’re going to crank the settings, you’ll need a Cyberpunk-ready PC to keep up.
The surprise hit of last year and still going strong in 2021, Among Us is a low-frills social game in which the crew of a doomed spaceship must fix the various bits and bobs that are going wrong with their vessel – while at the same time determining which crewmember is actually a murderous imposter. This one has an advantage in that it can be run on very modest hardware – it’s the gameplay that’ll keep you coming back for more.
The big 3 is back and Halo could have the edge this year. With the public opinions of the new Battlefield and COD coming in a lot lower this year poses the question; is it time to jump on the Halo Infinite hype train? I for one think so… Being that Halo infinite’s multiplayer is free to play, having multiple fun and competitive game modes alike all while having superb graphics. Halo is looking like the game to play in your free time this year for sure!
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest, Will of the Wisps builds on what was already a phenomenal formula, with another beautiful story masterfully told through a huge and varied world. If you liked the first one, basically, then you can be fairly sure that you’ll love the second.
Another surprise indie smash here. Spiritfarer, much like Hades, concerns itself with the afterlife (both games even feature cameos from Stygian ferryman, Charon). But this one is more about two-dimensional exploration, resource gathering and wholesome fun. The aesthetic is decidedly Ghibli-esque, and it’s perfect for long, relaxing sessions on a Sunday afternoon. Play it on a decent display and marvel at the colours!
Disco Elysium is an RPG with a difference: you take the role of an amnesiac detective in a strange city. The art style is watercolour, and the storyline is masterful. If you’re a fan of isometric RPGs like Planescape Torment, it’s sure to be right up your street. The so-called ‘Final Cut’ (presumably named in homage to the Ridley Scott’s last version of Blade Runner) is to be released early next year, complete with a full voice acting, new quests, and a range of other bells and whistles.
Anyone familiar with shooting games will know all about Doom. It’s the franchise where you run around with a shotgun and blast demons in the face. Resurrected in 2016 after a long break, it came back again this year in the form of Doom: Eternal. It’s packed with outrageous weaponry and enemies, and a decent FPS PC will be able to push it well into triple-figure framerates.
Until Cyberpunk 2077 came along, this was the game that set the standard for ray-tracing. With mind-boggling visual effects and insanely fun destruction, it’s now in its Ultimate Edition, which includes both of the expansions.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Several things distinguish the latest version of Flight Simulator from its predecessors. For one thing, it’s connected to Google maps data, meaning that the entire world has been accurately stuck together. For another, it’s also connected to real-world flight data, meaning that you’ll actually be able to track your friends and family as they come home from their holiday abroad (when holidays abroad become a thing again). Enjoy it on the best PC you can find.
Crusader Kings III
Conquering Europe is something that you’ve been able to do in more games than we care to count. But, Crusader Kings III actually manages to build on what’s come before, by making the role-playing elements more prominent. It’s insanely deep and intense, with political machinations being put into action all over the place. For the best experience, naturally, we’d recommend a hefty CPU.
This incredibly popular franchise has shown no sign of slowing in 2020, having received the full RTX treatment. You can now enjoy the stylised world with full raytracing and DLSS – provided that you have the appropriate GPU. Fortunately, we’ve got plenty of gaming PCs that’ll play Fornite available, meaning that you’ll get the premium experience right out of the box.