If you’re getting a new gaming PC as a gift this holiday season, you’re going to want some games to play. So to help you out, we’ve collected a list of free and paid PC games that you should definitely check out. Some of these titles are graphically intensive (i.e. you need a powerful PC to run them well), so make sure your drivers are up to date and that you fulfill the recommended specs.
There’s a game here for every type of new (or seasoned) PC gamer: first-person shooters, simulation, strategy, party, MOBA (multiplayer online battle area), driving, and indie. Many of these games are used in our benchmark testing for gaming PCs, so besides serving a productive purpose, they’re also some of my favorites. Take note that some of these PC games are only available from their publishers directly (e.g. Origin, Ubisoft), while others are also available on Steam. Keep this in mind when considering how many gaming store apps you want to download onto your machine (and subsequently create online accounts for).
A bit of advice: Now that you have a list of potential PC games to call your own, you should also learn how to stream, just in case. After all, it never hurts to try to become the next Twitch star.
We here at The Verge have rounded up our favorite and most-used apps, games, and utilities. Look for our app picks for iPhones, Android phones, PCs, and Mac; our favorite games for iOS and Android, and our top choices for the PS4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch.
LEAGUE OF LEGENDS
League of Legends is a massive, complex MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game with an equally intriguing fan base and lore. When you start playing, you’ll notice LoL’s ranked gameplay operates in seasons, with the culmination being Worlds, a multimillion dollar e-sports final. Expect to spend a lot of hours practicing on this one.
TOM CLANCY’S RAINBOW SIX: SIEGE
This might be one of the most challenging tactical FPS games you can play. RS6’s multiplayer has a high learning curve and operates on a seasonal basis, releasing two new Operators to play every season, which keeps the meta ever-changing and interesting. The $39.99 Standard Edition on Steam is a better value compared to the Starter Edition for $14.99, which makes it more difficult to unlock new Operators in the game.
CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS 4
By far the most polished battle royale game, the Blackout mode within Black Ops 4 is worth buying it alone. Just remember: there’s no single-player. Other than that, Black Ops 4’s zombies, multiplayer, and battle royale modes are a blast.
The theater of battle here is World War 2, but DICE has done a great job with pacing. And if you want a challenge, play in hardcore mode. EA / DICE has done a lot to bring some fresh gameplay elements to the Battlefield franchise with this game (such as limited health and ammo) and it ties together nicely.
Incidentally, you can either subscribe to Origin Access for $14.99 per month ($99 for the year) or buy the game outright for $59. I’d say: buy the game outright.
TOTAL WAR: WARHAMMER II
Warhammer II is going to be some of the most fun you’ve had (if ever) playing an RTS (real-time strategy) game. If you ever wanted to control an army of warlocks with dragons as support… well, here’s your game.
SHADOW OF THE TOMB RAIDER
This fun single-player story features the one and only Ms. Croft. This is a completely different adventure (and adventurer) than the previous two games. SotR is also really GPU-heavy, so be prepared to benchmark your PC with this one. If you’re not sure if your system can handle it, play the demo and see how well you can run the game.
Overwatch is a great team-based first-person shooter for younger gamers, but is still playable for hardcore FPS fans. While some might argue the game has too many characters, it also means you’re bound to find a hero you like. And if you’re really into Overwatch, you can be ranked and potentially join the pro league.
Fortnite is simple enough: you build defenses and you shoot enemy players in battle royale style. The game is free, but you’ll definitely want to buy skins. Recently, Epic Games added planes and snowballs to Fortnite, so it’s never been more exciting.
FORZA HORIZON 4
The new Forza is a well-optimized driving game for the PC and Xbox One, with dynamic seasons and supercars. If you’re more of a simulation racer, you can link up a racing wheel and completely turn off the driver assists for a challenging, beautiful driving experience.
If you want simulator-worthy dogfighting physics, plus tanks and boats added into the mix, here’s your game. I’ve spent way too many hours leveling up my Spitfire and overusing my cannons. You can also purchase specific planes and equipment, if you want to speed up progress.
ARMA III: APEX
This is the game for you if you take FPS, tactics, mods, and gunfight realism seriously. Very seriously. Arma 3: Apex features DirectX 12 compatibility and some of the largest game maps I’ve ever seen. You can also create, share, and orchestrate your own multiplayer campaigns in the Zeus multiplayer mode.
A fun party game featuring sluggish, blob-like characters. If you want, you can just pass the time throwing, grappling, and generally causing mischief playing against the CPU. However, Gang Beasts is best when goofing off with friends during a party. It might take some getting used to the intentionally sluggish controls, but it’s also the point of the game!
I’ve spent countless hours playing Notch’s blocky adventure / creation game Minecraft. Currently operated by Microsoft, Minecraft is now cross-platform — and best played on a PC. There’s a massive selection of mods, skins, maps, and adventure saves that can take you on adventures you never even thought of.