The Best PC Games of 2019 (So Far)

We're halfway through the year and already there are some solid GOTY contenders on our list.
Recent Updates: 1 month ago
To nobody's surprise, Control has managed to sneak its way into our rankings for the best PC games of 2019.

What are the best games on PC in 2019?

We’ve finally hit release season – that period from late August through to December – where big-name publishers and indie devs battle for the dollars and attention of PC gamers. Here’s our regularly updated list of the best PC games released in 2019.

12. Mordhau

First-person is often seen as the domain of guns, while melee-focused games tend to be presented in third-person perspective. Mordhau defies this logic, allowing for third-person hack-and-slashery but, ultimately, wanting you to swing, block and kick at bludgeoning foes from the bloody and intimate first-person view.

Seen as a successor to the wildly popular medieval blood-brawler Chivalry, Mordhau increases combat depth without allowing for the kind of exploits that eventually tarnished Chivalry’s appeal. You can learn the ropes of Mordhau amid the bloody and severed limbs of the online foray, but you’re better off sharpening your blades in solo or co-op modes first. The next logical step is to hone your one-on-one duelling confidence in Duel servers.

There’s even a medieval-themed battle royale mode for those who like to dull skill with a dice-roll chance of finding better loot than a better-playing opponent. Really, though, the shining star is the sheer bloody mayhem of the large-scale battles where infantry and cavalry collide in the kind of gory battles that’d make Mel Gibson blush.

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Mind-bending madness.

11. Control

This has got to be cheating, right? Control was just added to our list of best Xbox One games, and now it’s on the PC list, too. While Control is a great game to play on console, it’s positively stunning on PC.

And you can upgrade ‘stunning’ to ‘exquisite’ if you have invested in an Nvidia 20-series graphics card. While Sony and Microsoft tease ‘ray tracing’ as a next-gen tech, that future is already here with a 20-series video card. And that tech is at its absolute best in Control.

This is more than mere eye candy, too. During our play-through, the newfangled lighting and real-time reflective surfaces didn’t just cause ocular diabetes from all of the sweet, sweet eye candy, it actually helped in gameplay. Enemies can be seen around corners, and finding people or items of interest in this mysterious ever-shifting house is even easier when you can scan a room via reflective surfaces.

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Medieval-themed severance packages.

10. Total War: Three Kingdoms

The Total War series built its name on accurate historical battles grounded in reality before veering off to the fantastical, dragon-riding realms of the Warhammer universe in recent years. Total War: Three Kingdoms sits somewhere between those two extremes, basing its narrative on the often-adapted Chinese classic, Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

As a result, battles resemble historical skirmishes, with swords clashing and archers causing havoc from afar, but hero characters play a larger-than-life role befitting of the 14th century fantasy epic. All the grand army-level strategy you’d expect is there, it’s just overshadowed somewhat by the epic duels your heroes get caught up in during the middle of a battle.

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Painting miniatures.

9. Civilization VI: Gathering Storm

An expansion to the already bursting Civilization VI, Gathering Storm adds the requisite new world leaders, units, technologies and civics. The most significant addition, however, is mother nature herself: from howling sandstorms to city-swallowing floodwaters.

As you expand your empire, you’ll now need to consider the environmental impact of your resource-pillaging and smog-spewing industries if you want to avoid catastrophic climate change. Fortunately, it’s less bleak than reality: the new future era opens up fictional carbon-capture technology to help right the balance.

Not only is Gathering Storm an excellent strategy game, being one of the first major Triple-A titles to gamify climate change, it’s an important one.

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David Attenborough. Risk. Avoiding the end of the world.

8. Rage 2

The three people in the world desperate for a sequel to 2010’s promising-but-flawed Rage somehow got their wish. We’re not sure why either but we’re glad it happened.

Unlike the original, which was infamously hampered by its use of “MegaTextures” – a rendering technique designed to break everything – Rage 2 is a fully functioning open-world. The landscape is a little on the bleak side and the populace a little on the shooty side, but otherwise it’s a pleasant enough post-apocalypse to blast your way through.

Wisely, id Software passed development duties on to Avalanche Studios (of Just Cause fame), a team that knows how to cram an open-world with fast vehicles and explosions. It’s not the smartest shooter on the market, but it feels fantastic.

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Fast vehicles and explosions. The original Rage (hello?).

7. Outer Wilds

To say too much about Outer Wilds would spoil it because there’s simply nothing else like it. At its most basic level, it lets you explore an entire solar system in a beat-up VW Bug of a spaceship. You can land on whatever planetoid you want and explore to your heart’s content. The catch – and it’s a doozy – is that the sun will explode in 22 minutes of real time, creating a supernova, destroying everything in your little corner of space.

But instead of the infinite void of death, the explosion creates a time loop, sending you back to where you begun. On the next run through you’ll have the knowledge acquired on your last run, allowing you to progress a little further, a little faster. Think a cross between the movie Groundhog Day and Super Mario Galaxy and you’ll be in the ballpark… but still way off.

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Mind-bending indie games. Time paradoxes.

6. Apex Legends

Though Respawn Entertainment still has a long way to go if it wants Apex Legends to be a genre-leading live service with ever-flowing new content, there’s no denying the underlying fundamentals are best-in-class. No other battle royale on the market feels this good to pull the trigger in, this good to run around, this good to crawl your way into the final circle of ever-encroaching doom.

Set in the Titanfall universe (just without the Titans falling – go figure?), Apex Legends adds a hero-shooter element to the battle royale formula. This means you’re not entirely reliant on scrounging decent weapons and can, in a pinch, survive with clever use of your hero’s signature abilities. Best of all, it’s completely free.

Most noticeably, the bullet-sponge enemies of the original have been given a huge health nerf. No longer will a garbage man in a t-shirt and jeans be able to walk away from a full clip to the face, a merciful concession to players that like a semblance of reality with their firefights.

The loot management has been drastically improved, and the endgame Dark Zone now normalises weapon damage so you won’t end up in unwinnable shootouts with overpowered players. If you’ve got a small but dedicated crew looking for some co-op shooting, you can’t go wrong.

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Titanfall. Not paying for stuff.

5. The Division 2

Ubisoft Massive has improved upon the original The Division in practically every way imaginable. Shifting the loot-scavenging, looter-ravaging mayhem from New York to Washington DC has changed more than aesthetic: among the decaying ruins of the US capitol’s monuments and government buildings, you’ll find some of the best online co-op multiplayer on PC.

Most noticeably, the bullet-sponge enemies of the original have been given a huge health nerf. No longer will a garbage man in a t-shirt and jeans be able to walk away from a full clip to the face, a merciful concession to players that like a semblance of reality with their firefights.

The loot management has been drastically improved, and the endgame Dark Zone now normalises weapon damage so you won’t end up in unwinnable shootouts with overpowered players. If you’ve got a small but dedicated crew looking for some co-op shooting, you can’t go wrong.

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Loot grinds like Destiny. Backpacks and beanies.

4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

If Sekiro is going to be classified as a “Soulsborne” game it needs a huge asterisk next to it. While it’s lathered in FromSoftware’s signature unforgiving difficulty – arguably to a greater degree than ever – the combat and traversal systems are completely overhauled.

As Wolf, a one-armed Shinobi on a vengeance quest through Sengoku-era Japan, you’re far more nimble and acrobatic than the nameless heroes of the genre’s past. Your grappling hook is used to zip around rooftops, and can even be thrown mid-jump, lending proceedings a tinge of Spider-Man-y goodness. Sword-fighting, meanwhile, is heavily rhythm based; you’ll start reading foes’ attack patterns like a Guitar Hero runway, waiting for the perfect moment to deliver the killing blow.

Sekiro doesn’t quite reach the heights of PS4-exclusive Bloodborne, but it’s still a masterwork from one of the industry’s finest developers. If you’re looking for 2019’s best offline solo PC game, look no further.

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Utter misery. Dark Souls.

3. Metro Exodus

Where the first two Metro games toyed with claustrophobia, confining action to the depths of the Moscow subway system (just with added irradiated monsters for good measure), Exodus hits the surface. Structured as road-trip story, a crew of nuclear apocalypse survivors commandeer a train and set off across the country in search of salvation.

Somewhat ironically, the locomotive means the game loses a dash of the signature on-rails diorama vibe: instead of narrow corridors containing vignettes you just so happen upon at the right time, each stop on the journey is set-up as a mini-open world hub, with side quests and more freedom to explore than ever.

Shooting is still the weakest element, with questionable hit detection and deliberately underpowered-feeling weapons to match the “world gone to scrap” theme, but it’s worth tolerating for the compelling tale and gorgeous visuals. Controversially, it won’t hit Steam until next year, making it 2019’s best Epic Games Store exclusive so far.

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Russian speculative post-apocalyptic fiction (RSPAF for short). Trains.

2. Mortal Kombat 11

A brutally refined third-draft of the formula established with 2011’s Mortal Kombat reboot and tweaked with 2015’s Mortal Kombat X. Where NetherRealm once got distracted with kart-racing minigames, 3D arenas and make-your-own fatality nonsense, here the developer is razor-focused on what matters: the competitively balanced, combo-heavy, mix-up-focussed 2D fighting system. As a result, Mortal Kombat 11 is the best entry in the series’ 27-year history.

The roster is nostalgia-heavy, with returning favourites like Noob Saibot, Baraka, Jade, and Kano making their first playable appearances of this era. To top it off, the story mode is unashamed B-movie pulpy goodness. It’s all time travel, undead wraiths, and a seriously pissed off thunder god. With absurdly impressive production values, it has no real competition in the genre.

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Competitive fighting games. Spleens.

1. Resident Evil 2

The first half of Resident Evil 2, confined almost entirely to a single location, the Raccoon City Police Station, is a master class in level design and building tension through limitation. You’re always on the brink of running out of ammo; always a missing key from the salvation waiting beyond a locked door; always a few blows from gory death at the swarming hands of the undead. It’s unbearable but brilliant.

Capcom’s ode to its own glorious past is one of the finest examples of a remaster in recent times. Controls have been updated to suit modern sensibilities (see ya, tank controls!), the map has been given just enough of a tweak so that returning players can puzzle it all out again, and the visuals have been redone in the RE Engine built for 2017’s Resident Evil 7. This is how it should be done.

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Resident Evil 2 (the original one). Nostalgia.