Thursday, November 19, 2015

Here are 14 must play PC games that should totally be on your to-play list

It’s 2016 and through the past years, we’ve seen a lot of games come and go. Some are part of a franchise, returning every other year or so, with a different storyline and setting; some don’t even see the light of day for fans to enjoy. There are tons of games out there and a lifetime isn’t enough to sort through each to know which ones are play-worthy.  To save you the trouble, we've created a list of our most recommended games that have been released from 2004-2014. Here’s a list of the 14 must-play PC games of the decade.

14. Crysis (2007)

Prior to its launch on November 2007, the game has acquired massive following for its very promising graphics and innovative gameplay. It lived up to the hype and expectations of gamers and was met with high praise from game critics. It received several awards from various gaming websites, praising its achievements in graphics, its action-packed storyline, and heart-racing ending.

The year is 2019. A team of US scientists discovered an unusual object in an island in the South China Sea. All contact with the team was lost when the North Korean government sealed off the area. The US deploys an elite recon team of Delta Force Operators to assess the situation and learn what’s really in the island.  As the two nations quarrel, a massive alien ship reveals itself in the middle of the island, generating an immense force sphere that froze almost the whole island and severely affected the global weather system. It’s now all up to U.S. Army Delta Force soldier Jake Dunn – codename Nomad – to unearth the reason behind the alien attack and stop it from destroying the entire planet.

It’s just fair to fight extraterrestrial beings with extraordinary weapons. What excites gamers is they get to wear a nanosuit which enhances battle capabilities including sight, strength, and speed – you literally play as superman. Armed with that kind of power, you can wreak havoc in the highly destructible environment laced with realistic gaming physics. Shower a tree with bullets and it tumbles down; shoot a leaf and see it punched through where the bullet hit it.

Its success brought in expansions and sequels, making this game the first in the franchise trilogy. This game showed the world how futuristic FPS games should be made and no less. It’s definitely a must-play PC game for FPS fans.

13. Assassin’s Creed II (2009)

The successor to the groundbreaking concept from the first installment, Assassin’s Creed II improved from what the first one didn’t achieve. It was a highly-anticipated game at that time which didn’t fail to meet expectations. It received awards for its overall game design and originality in the story and musical scores.

Following the story of Desmond Miles from the first installment, he now enters Animus 2.0 and relives the memories of his ancestor, Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Set in Renaissance Italy, Ezio lives a carefree life until a treacherous plot led to the death of his father and brothers. With his mother and sister the only living family he has, they fled from home branded as traitorous criminals. Fuelled by anger and desire for revenge, he eventually encountered a secret society of assassins who helped him hone his fighting skills, preparing him for what is to come. Set on the path of vengeance, he uncovers more of the scheme behind the death of his family and sees the bigger picture smeared with political and personal agendas.

The story of Ezio’s vengeance, the politically-motivated plot, the mystery of the Apple of Eden, the exposition of everything is well-balanced that it created a more solid and compelling story. The addition of more contraptions aside from the hidden blade, and appearance of historic figures like Leonardo da Vinci, also made the game more interesting and relevant.

Many fans and critics agree that this is the best in the franchise by far. If you like to see a character dressed with a hood doing mind-blowing stunts to assassinate targets while maintaining elegance and cool, then this is a must-play PC game for you. Ezio is probably one of the most iconic champions created in gaming history.

12. Portal (2007)

Bundled with Half-Life 2 in The Orange Box, this puzzle shooter took the gaming world by storm. It won several awards for its revolutionary gameplay and heralded as one of the best puzzle games ever created. It also landed in Time magazine’s greatest games of all time, so there should be no question how it landed on our list of must-play PC games.

You play the role of a young woman named Cheli, confined within the Aperture Science complex. After waking up from stasis in a chamber, you hear the voice of GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) giving instructions on the upcoming tests and promising you a reward upon completion. You’re also awarded a Handheld Portal Device (known as Portal gun) to use in the test chambers. As you complete each chamber, more of GLaDOS’s true motive is unearthed.

Portal was later followed with Portal 2, which garnered even higher ratings and increased the fan base due to its co-operative multiplayer option. Portal’s dark, straight-faced humor is still unmatched, further increasing the game’s value. If you’re looking for a different twist to shooters that will enhance your problem-solving capacity, this is the game for you.

11. Dark Souls II (2014)

If you’re looking for a dark, dark action-RPG with a hint of old-school feel, then Dark Souls II will deliver you the right punch. The sequel to the multi-platform hit Dark Souls franchise, its story is not necessarily related to the first game. The game has been praised by critics and gamers for its visual improvement from the previous installments.

You play as an Undead human, known as the “Bearer of the Curse”, afflicted by the degenerative plague that eventually turns an undead into a “hollow” state. The “hollow” state drains all that’s left of being human including the gift of free will. You then travel to Drangleic, rumored to have the answers for curing the plague, in search of ways to avoid the cruel fate of becoming “hollow”.

The plot is quite hard to discern as it’s not directly implied in the narrative, encouraging its discussion with a community of players. The combat is still challenging, even for veterans, which most fans love about the game. The deeper character customization and expanded multiplayer content were also positively welcomed by gamers. But what makes this hack and slash game a crowd favorite are the dark and horrific environ, the surreal monsters encountered at every corner, and the epic boss fights that keep you awake at night.

 If you’re prepared to die endlessly, then this is the right pick for you.

10. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)

Shooters dwelled much with the past world wars, making this installment in the COD franchise a real game changer. Set in a modern, urban setting, players are introduced to city warfare, fighting their way thru tight alleys, abandoned office spaces, and dilapidated civilian houses. The game received several awards for its dramatic and action-packed story, character, and gameplay and considered by many to be the best in the franchise. It sold millions of copies and was the top-selling video game on its release.

In the year 2011, a terrorist group led by Khaled Al-Asad, starts a coup by executing the president of a country in the Middle East. At the same time, a civil war in Russia between the government and Ultranationalists continues to escalate. You get to play different roles as a military respondent, deployed to various locations including the UK, Russia, and the Middle East to resolve the conflicts.

The visuals greatly improved from previous installments. Closed-quarter combat and high-octane pacing of the game keeps your heart racing all the time. Sure, there are other shooters featuring urban warfare, but this game was such a success, it laid the groundwork on how fresh and relative modern combat has to be.

9. Minecraft (2009)

This independent game, created by Swedish programmer Markus "Notch" Persson, surprised the gaming world by its innovation and sheer popularity. Selling roughly 20 million copies just for the PC and Mac version of the game, it lands a spot as the third best-selling video game of all time.

Now, you must be wondering how a dated-looking game with pixelated textures similar to Doom from the 90’s, made it the best-selling PC game of all time? Some experts say that it’s the reward system employed by the game itself. It’s a casual sandbox game with no clear goals – simply, a no-pressure game. You just explore the world, dig and gather resources, craft items and build a place you can call home. The mere joy of exploring an essentially boundless world and the freedom to do almost anything you like makes the game so much attractive to players.

8. Bioshock (2007)

Here’s the usual FPS formula: you do warfare in an urban or jungle setting, hunting terrorists or alien forces using conventional military weaponry to save innocent lives. If you’re tired of it and wanting to take on something unusual, try your hands on Bioshock. It was developed by 2K Boston (later Irrational Games), heavily borrowing concepts from System Shock and integrating ideas from known novelists like Ayn Rand and George Orwell. It was not given much attention at first due to its eccentricity, but gained critical acclaim after critics and gamers tried it out.

You play the character of Jack, as you guide him through the underwater utopian city of Rapture. After his airplane crashed near a lighthouse, he found a bathysphere terminus that leads him to the city of Rapture. He then tries to find a way to escape and return to the surface, fighting through zombie-like splicers and ironclad Big Daddies, while learning the city’s eventful rise to utopia to its ultimate descent to dystopia.

With FPS games swarmed by a military-based concept, Bioshock really brings a breath of fresh air to the genre. People from 2K perfectly depicted the dreamy idea of living in an underwater metropolis, like giving life to the legendary city of Atlantis. 2K also did exceptionally well in balancing the game atmosphere: there’s the nostalgic, retro feel of the 60’s (the game is set in the 1960s) and the futuristic advances to living submarine life are entwined to create one of the most distinctive environments in gaming history.

The greater credit for the game’s success goes to its much-praised storyline. Revolving around the objectivist ideals of Andrew Ryan, founder of Rapture, the plot challenges players’ views on morality and social structure. Implant this theme in a survival-horror, biopunk, FPS game, mix it with some RPG elements, and voila! You get Bioshock shocking gamers in amazement.

The franchise expanded further into Bioshock 2 and Bioshock Infinite, both garnering high ratings and awards from various gaming sites and critics. The way Bioshock plunges you right into the heart of events makes it deserving to have a spot in the list of must-play PC games of the decade.

7. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)

It’s just sad if you haven’t played this game. Much to the clamor prior to its release, it definitely lived up to its hype, receiving high ratings from critics and gamers alike. It also won several accolades, including the alluring Game of the Year award from almost every gaming website out there. It even eclipsed the sales of the previous installment, Oblivion, in only a matter of days.

Skyrim, a province in the continent of Tamriel, is torn between two factions – the rebel Stormcloaks led by Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak and the military arm of the empire, the Imperial Legion led by General Tullius – and is facing an all-out civil war. The story begins with your character, chained and being carried off to the Imperial execution site, charged of colluding with the rebel forces. A dragon suddenly appears, attacking everyone and destroying the town.

Surviving the attack, you’re tasked to travel to the nearest village and warn them of the incident. Upon arrival, the dragon attacked again but this time, with the help of city guards, you managed to kill it. Moreover, to everyone’s astonishment, you absorbed the soul of the slain dragon, which no one can do except for the one destined as the Dragonborn. With questions swarming your mind, you take the journey to find what it means to be a Dragonborn and the mystery surrounding the return of the long-dead dragons.

Its vast, open world style might be overwhelming because there’s so much you can do in the game that you can’t wait to experience them all. The game gives hundreds of hours of gameplay, especially when exploring the tons of sidequests available. One of the improvements fans loved on this installment is the free reign given on character class and skills selection. You can build your hero into a honed stealth specialist, an aggressive warrior, or a deadly spellcaster; it’s all up to your gaming style.

Winning the GOTY award, it shouldn’t be surprising to find it in lists of must-play PC games, not only of the decade, but of all time.

6. Dragon Age: Origins (2009)

Whoever gets tired of dragons? Possibly the most sought-after mythical creature, everyone see it as the epitome of grandeur. That’s why the use of the word ‘dragon’ in the title generated much expectation from gamers, deeming it will be epic. Bioware delivered and the game gained several awards as RPG of the year upon its release.

The kingdom of Ferelden, one of the countries in the continent of Thedas, is in a period of civil unrest. But there’s a much more threatening force everyone must face. Every few hundred years, demonic creatures called the darkspawn, invade the surface, ruining everything in their path.
All hope remains on the hands of the legendary order of warriors known as the Grey Wardens. As a warden, it’s your task to gather valiant members to join your party and travel across the continent to secure the allegiance of each and every race and kingdom against the darkspawn invasion called the Blight.

The game retains the classic, old-school RPG formula from Baldur’s Gate, just with much better graphics this time. The game gives player freedom in a lot of ways, like choosing preferred character class and gender. DA: Origins took character development and role-playing a step further by implementing a relationship system: you gain approval from pleased party members, increasing their morale and some attributes; losing approval might influence a party member to permanently leave your group.

Coming from a veteran RPG developer, Bioware presented fans another vast and compelling lore for the Dragon Age saga. Expansions and sequels including DA: Inquisition also received high regards on their release. Overall, it made old-time RPG fans reminisce the genre’s good days and also welcomed newcomers to a world full of interwoven adventures.

5. Mass Effect (2007)

Get a blender. Mix Star Trek, Star Wars, Starship Troopers, and every film and novel with ‘Star’ in its context and you get a game called Mass Effect. Drive your own starship – the Normandy – and travel hyperspace, land on uncharted regions and navigate them using Mako, meet and talk to alien species over some drinks, fire space artillery, and have biotic implants to get Jedi-like abilities – it’s really a dream come true for every sci-fi RPG fan.

Every 50,000 years, an ancient, sentient machine race – the Reapers – invades the galaxy, wiping out all advanced organic civilization, trapping everything in an endless cycle of extinction. They only leave behind scattered ruins of technology and destroys every evidence of their existence. Held only as a legend by most, a few still believe that they’re at the end of the cycle and the Reapers will soon come to eradicate everything in sight.

All hope remains on one shoulder – Commander Shepard of the SS Normandy – to unite every species and find ways to prevent total obliteration.

The whole story is divided into a trilogy and for a good reason: its universe has enormous potential that fans are left wanting for more even after finishing the whole franchise. It received tons of awards for its extraordinary story and gameplay, sound and visual achievements, and compelling characters. It’s an almost perfect RPG. True, the latter installments on the trilogy are better in some aspects, but it’s highly recommended to try the first one to get a good grip on its vastly rich universe.

4. Dota 2 (2013)

The popularity of the mod created originally for Warcraft 3 attracted the attention of Valve Corporation, hiring "IceFrog" – the mod developer that made it increasingly popular – to create a sequel, giving birth to Dota 2. It was warmly received by gamers and won awards as the best multiplayer game of 2013.

The game is played in a map between two teams, the Dire and the Radiant, each consisting five members. Each base consists of a structure called “Ancient” and the goal is to destroy it, similar to capture-the-flag mechanics. Each player chooses a “Hero” with unique abilities and attributes before the game starts.

The focus is to level up and acquire combat-enhancing items to increase your team’s chances of winning the game.

The game heavily relies on player mastery, tactics, and cooperation, making it a massively popular multiplayer game. Each gameplay is unique, making it prone to addiction from gamers. It’s now even enlisted for professional competition with prize pools reaching up to millions in USD.

3. World of Warcraft (2004)

With already millions of Warcraft fans awaiting further development in its lore, it’s no wonder how this MMORPG got high anticipation even before its launch. It received high ratings upon release with players and critics praising its cartoonish visuals, atmospheric sceneries, the overall sound effects, and interactive pacing of the game. It’s been dubbed by some as, by far, the best MMORPG created.

Settling the large and parched land of Durotar, Thrall, warchief of the Horde, invited the undead Forsaken, tauren, and trolls to join forces with them and expand their ranks. On the other part of the world, the combined forces of dwarves, gnomes, and the night elves further reinvigorates the Alliance under the banner of the human kingdom of Stormwind.

Suddenly, Stormwind’s king, Varian Wrynn, mysteriously disappeared and was replaced by Highlord Bolvar Fordragon who served as Regent. However, his leadership was misguided thru manipulation and mind control of the black dragon Onyxia, disguised as a human noblewoman. As the champions investigate on Onyxia, ancient foes resurfaced throughout the world, threatening both the Horde and the Alliance.

Its popularity was so high (and it’s still high) that servers were swarmed by players from around the world upon release. It’s also the second best-selling PC game of all time with over 10 million active subscribers by 2014. The world and lore of Warcraft is so colossal, five expansions have been released since its birth over a decade ago.

2. Diablo III (2012)

Those who have played Diablo II surely were frantic when the third installment was announced. It immediately received critical acclaim and positive nods from fans for its gorgeous graphics and visual effects, improvements in gameplay mechanics, and new character classes while still retaining the classic feel of the previous games.

The game being so highly anticipated, it set a new record for the fastest-selling PC game with over 3.5 million copies sold in just the first 24 hours. Hordes of gamers even tried to play at the same time upon its release, causing severe server loads.

Twenty years after the events of Diablo II, Deckard Cain and Leah are found in Tristram Cathedral investigating ancient texts about a menacing prophecy looming the world. Suddenly, a star fell from the sky, striking the Cathedral and creating an endlessly deep crater into which Deckard Cain disappears. You arrive at the town of New Tristram to investigate the incident and help Leah search for Cain.

On your way, you discover more about the mystery surrounding the recent events that happened.

Praised for its stunning graphics, looting and character creation are still the best suits of the game. These are the things that made this hack and slash RPG so addictive and infinitely replayable. The PvP mode also added more value to the game, allowing players to show what they’re made of.

Its expansion, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, also received high regards for increasing the level cap and the addition of a new hero class called Crusader.

Words aren’t enough to describe how fun this game is. You really just need just try it out, maybe for a day, and see for yourself what made it a must-play PC game.

1. Half-Life 2 (2004)
No doubt this should be included in any list of must-play PC games. Its predecessor, Half-Life, would have been included if not for its release date of 1998. The first in the series gained such stellar success that it cemented Valve’s reputation as developer of high-quality FPS games. It just follows for players to expect tons on its sequel which Valve effectively delivered. In fact, they further expanded the story with Episode One and Episode Two.

Following the events from HL1, Gordon is pulled out of sleep by G-Man and has been given an assignment to travel to City 17. Entering the city, he’s surprised to see the world overrun by creatures from a new inter-dimensional empire called Combine. He then joins Lambda resistance members and meets Alyx Vance, the daughter of his former colleague Dr. Eli Vance. Refitted with the HEV suit and armed with a crowbar, Gordon is tasked to work with what remains of the resistance and save the world from the tyranny of the Combine.

You play the role of Gordon Freeman, an ordinary scientist living an ordinary life doing an ordinary work. It’s this typical life cycle that made fans love him more, as he’s suddenly turned from nobody to last-hope-of-the-human-race kind of hero. You also get to use hi-tech weaponry to fight strange, deadly creatures, including the much-favored Gravity Gun. Aside from the spine-chilling suspense delivered by the game, the incorporation of puzzles made the game more distinctive.

The cinematic narrative, high-tension environment, and visual advancements made the franchise a classic. It’s simply worlds ahead of its competitors in its generation. With millions of fans fantasizing about the release of a third sequel, the decision remains in the hands of Gabe Newell – overlord of Valve Corporation – if they’ll proceed with a trilogy.

That's it folks!
There are tons of excellent games out there that selecting from them and making a list of must-play PC games – the cream of the crop – a tough decision. The games were selected using a number of criteria: critical reception, overall ratings, awards received, sales record, gameplay innovation, and originality of concept. If you haven’t tried some of them, then you must do so. You wouldn’t want to miss the PC games that made a mark in the history of gaming.

What games would you like to see in the list? Tell us your recommendations by posting in the comments section.


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