We’re halfway through 2018 and we’ve already had some incredible games on the good ship PC. We’ve had everything from deep and richly rewarding role-playing titles and triple-A co-op brawlers to some of the best and brightest games from the independent scene. And we’ve still got a whole six months to go.
So, to ensure you’re up to date on all the latest movers and shakers in the PC gaming scene, we’ve gathered together ten of the best games that have made a lasting impression on the industry.
1. Yoku’s Island Express
One of the newest releases on our list, Yoku’s Island Express may be hot off the presses, but it’s already made a big splash among the PC gaming faithful. And for good reason, too.
Games with pinball mechanics aren’t often afforded much attention, but when you combine them with 2.5D platforming and a charming level design ethos you’ve got one of the best indie games we’ve played in quite some time.
It’s easy enough to welcome in platforming newbies, but deep enough in its secrets and collectables to keep seasoned players invested for hours on end.
2. Beat Saber
The only VR-focused title on this list, Beat Saber has become one of the most talked about games to enter the PC corner of the industry.
It’s become the most reviewed VR game on Steam, and has already sold 100,000 units in less than a month. So what’s made it so popular? It’s a simple combination of music rhythm movement, awesome electronic tunes and a couple of unofficial (but still very cool) lightsabers.
It’s an experience built from the ground up with virtual reality in mind and is one of those games that reminds you the music rhythm-action genre is alive and well in a vibrant new form.
3. The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset
The Elder Scrolls Online has been doing the rounds on PC since 2014, so why has it made it onto our list for 2018?
With the next and sixth instalment in the mainline series only just hinted at during this year's E3, developer ZeniMax Online has been hard at work offering an MMORPG that’s slowly been expanding in size and breadth.
Much like the Morrowind Expansion, the recently-released Summerset DLC opens up the map to the beautiful home of the High Elves, and serves as a standalone title in its own right. With new locations, new quests, new NPCs and all manner of new spells, weapons and recipes, Summerset makes TESO feel fresh and new once more.
4. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon
While the Castlevania series has taken many forms over the years, many have longed for those classic 8-bit and 16-bit days where the Belmonts used whips and all manner of weapons to hunt Dracula and his monstrous kin.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is a spiritual successor very much in that retro vein, and with Koji Igarashi overseeing its development (that’s the man behind the likes of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night), it’s already proved to be a faithful recreation of an open-ended platformer full of things to hunt (and beasts to hunt you).
5. Into the Breach
There are a fair few indie games on this mid-year roundup, and that’s for a good reason - some of the best concepts, mechanics and designs are coming out of studios with smaller teams and far fewer resources.
Into the Breach is one such example, offering up a grid-based tactical affair where you command a powerful mech.
Rather than simply looking to defeat enemies, the key gameplay twist that sets it apart requires you to protect buildings and structures as they keep your faithful mech powered-up. When you add in Ben Prunty’s vibrant and eclectic soundtrack and you’ve got a must-own PC title.
6. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
In the world of PC games, there are role-playing games then there are role-playing games, and developer Obsidian knows this better than most.
Mainly because its produced some of the best entries to ever grace the genre - and that just happens to include Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire.
Keeping the same isometric POV as the original, the sequel introduces a new slew of companions to populate your party, as well as shipfaring and ship combat and enough lore, quests and NPCs to keep you playing long into 2018 (and beyond). If you have even a passing interest in RPGs, this has to be in your collection.
Twitch-based platformers have had something of a revival as of late, and it’s not hard to see why with the likes of Celeste making a big impression both on PC and in the wilds of the console market.
Coming from a two-man development team consisting of Matt Thorson and Noel Berry (the former having already made the brilliant Towerfall: Ascension), Celeste combines wickedly challenging 2D platforming, an eye-catching pixel art style and an emotional story about overcoming mountains both figurative and literal.
It’s the kind of game that will make you learn every corner of its many screens like the back of your hand, but you’ll feel like you’ve earned every inch of it.
8. Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Games Workshop has been busy licensing out its many Warhammer brands to developers and publishers the world over, with varying levels of success, but few have nailed the blood, filth and all-out ultra-violence of the medieval Warhammer realm, which is the setting for Warhammer: Vermintide 2.
The first Vermintide offered a four-player co-op experience that turned melee-based PvE combat into an art form, and the sequel ups the ante with five characters, 15 careers and all manner of customisation options to hold back the Skaven horde and the new threat of Chaos armies.
There’s even a new Heroic Deeds System to keep you grinding for more rewards and loot amid all that blood and gore.
9. Dragon Ball FighterZ
A fighting game? On PC? Have we lost the plot? While the traditional fighter might be something you more closely associate with consoles and arcades, the PC market has still managed to bag plenty of red-hot additions to the genre - and the anime-faithful Dragon Ball FighterZ is easily one of the most popular in 2018.
And when we say ‘faithful’ we’re not overdosing on hyperbole either. It recreates some of the most iconic battles from the series’ extended lore, right down to the very same frames, enabling you to finally understand what it means to go full-on Super Saiyan.
We’ve seen plenty of survival games in recent years, but Frostpunk aims to evolve the genre with a unique tactical twist.
Rather than attempting to keep one character or a small group alive, you have to manage an entire society. The last remnants of mankind are resigned to one final city, and your choices are all that stands between life and succumbing to the dangers of a frozen and desolate world.
You’ll need to manage resources, send out parties to gather supplies, govern your citizens and use all manner of steam-based machines to keep those denizens warm. Just expect to have your moral compass severely spun by the end of it...
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