Much like a good book or great movie, a good video game can send you through a whirlwind of emotions that leaves you feeling more invested and involved in the lives of the main characters than you ever thought you’d be. The vast majority of video games tell an elaborate story, though instead of flipping through pages, you become the ultimate decision-making, battle-fighting overseer.
Exquisite game scape graphics met with an unforgettable storyline will turn into lifelong PC companions sitting on your desktop. From Portal to Modern Warfare 2, timeless PC classics are just a load screen away from a one-way trip to your favorite digital dreamworld. These 13 must-have PC games look and play as well as they did when they first launched. Having withstood the test of time, these gold-standard games have set the bar at the top for modern gaming.
13. Grand Theft Auto V
Release date: September 2013
Developer: Rockstar North
The storyline: Set in Los Santos, a sun-soaked city filled with struggling stars, drug dealers, and self-help gurus, three very different criminals, Franklin, Michael, and Trevor, are brought together by fate. Escaping their dark histories and plotting a more auspicious future, the trio navigates their way through gang wars, carjackings, robberies, and other criminal heists in hopes of securing enough dough to be set for life.
Why it’s timeless: Grand Theft Auto V may get more attention on PlayStation or Xbox platforms, but the PC interface doesn’t get as much recognition as it deserves. Multiplayer mode allows you and a few friends to take on VIP/CEO challenges, races, and a number of exciting heists. The high-quality graphics double when Ultra settings are enabled.
Above all else, the mod community behind GTA V allows users to transform the ordinary game into an even zestier experience. From unique character skins to bringing Pokémon Poke Balls to the battlefield, the mod options are truly endless.
12. Assassin’s Creed
Release date: November 2007
Genre: Action-adventure stealth
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
The storyline: When Desmond Miles, a modern man of meager means, is kidnapped by agents of the world’s largest pharmaceutical conglomerate, his life is more than turned upside down. Having become an involuntary lab rat to the corporation, Miles becomes subject to a machine capable of translating the genetic memories of his ancestors into a simulated reality.
Ordered to relive the years of a senior member of the Assassin Brotherhood, Miles is transported from 2012 to the time of the Third Crusade. To complete his mission as Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, Miles must go through a series of pickpocketing, eavesdropping, interrogation, and strategic assassination assignments.
Why it’s timeless: The story that started it all has now branched into 14 different storylines, time frames, and adventures. Assassin’s Creed’s overarching story is among the most captivating in video game history. Matched with larger-than-life open-world graphics, it’s simple to understand how one game spawned 13 others, keeping a strong, loyal fanbase all the way through.
Release date: May 2016
Genre: Multiplayer first-person shooter (MFPS)
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
The storyline: Set 60 years in the future and 30 years after the “Omnic Crisis,” Overwatch takes place amidst the fall of Earth’s golden age of technological intelligence and prosperity. Humans walk among artificial intelligent robots, and big corporations have taken over, leaving only chaos and crime in modernity’s wake. In an effort to fight the imminent downfall of justice, the Overwatch team is bound together under tank hero Winston’s command.
Why it’s timeless: The beauty of Overwatch
lies within the many character options and competitive components that transform an otherwise ordinary MFPS game into an endlessly exciting battlefield. Boasting 15 maps and 5 game types, gameplay never feels tired or monotonous.
As a team-based multiplayer game, the eSport potential for Overwatch
has already bloomed and shows no signs of stopping. The best of the best are inducted into the Overwatch
League and become professional eSport gamers
. Plenty of practice could lead to a salaried career, and that alone is impressive enough to earn a spot on our list.
10. Forza Horizon 4
Release date: October 2018
Developer: Playground Games
The racing and driving genre are generally chock full of plotless racing games that simply function as virtual driving competitions where the fastest, most-skilled driver becomes the victor. Though Forza Horizon 4
is no exception to the genre characteristics, it is the first of its kind to blend in open world elements
Why it’s timeless: From the high-class vehicle selection to the sprawling lifelike graphics that put you right behind the wheel, Forza Horizon 4 is a true force to be reckoned with. Travel the green countrysides and cobblestoned city streets of the United Kingdom in the car of your dreams. Breathtaking graphics cross dynamic seasons and cover hours and hours of beautiful scenery. Tapping into that arcade-style feel, this game is incredibly user-friendly.
9. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Release date: November 2009
Genre: First-person shooter (FPS)
Developer: Infinity Ward
The storyline: Five years after the events that unfolded in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, ultra-nationalists led by hitman leader Vladimir Makarov have been terrorizing the West. The cries of war have wailed again and as Private Allen, Private Ramirez, and Gary “Roach” Sanderson, it's your job to survive and fight toward victory.
Why it’s timeless:
Fans of Call of Duty
had their heightened excitement prayers answered when Modern Warfare 2 dropped
. Customized killstreaks, revamped maps, Easter eggs, jaw-dropping weaponry, and engaging storytelling all perfectly blended together made for an instant hit in 2009, and a timeless genre classic today.
8. The Witcher III
Release date: May 2015
Genre: Action role-playing game
Developer: CD Projekt
The storyline: Medieval monster bounty hunter Geralt of Rivia is a man on a special mission. Journeying through a war-ravaged world, Geralt sails the open seas, treks through the city of luxury and corruption, and battles some of the most gruesome foes along the way. Dependent on careful decision making, the fate of Geralt and his fellow companion lies in your hands.
Why it’s timeless: Gamers after impressive and immersive animations, backdrops, mechanics, character developments, and game scape graphics are bound to fall in love with The Witcher III over and over again. Characters like Yennefer, Ciri, Keira, and Triss bring meaningful and thoughtful dialogue and storyline development that evokes true human emotion. The Witcher III will have you laughing, smiling, and biting your nails from hour 1 to hour 80.
7. Fortnite Battle Royale
Release date: 2017
Genre: Battle royale
Developer: Epic Games
The premise: Ever wonder how you would fare if you were dropped into a last-man-standing situation? Those apocalyptic thoughts become a reality in Fortnite Battle Royale. Without dialogue or a plotline to follow, Fortnite is entirely centered on strategy. 100 players from all around the world are dropped onto an island, scavenge for survival and defense gear, and battle it out to be the last man standing.
Why it’s timeless:
As the world’s most popular game today, Fortnite
has become a sort of gaming phenomenon. Free and easy to play, Fortnite
is the perfect game for untrained novices or seasoned gaming vets . A match will generally last about 20 minutes, which means quick refreshing into another game to test your skills again is near instantaneous. Constantly updated skins, emotes, and tiered gaming levels keep intrigue high and fans loyal to this must-have PC game.
Release date: November 2011
The premise: Sandbox games give users a virtual land where they have creative control over the world and experience creation. Described as a game with no rules, Minecraft has many modes (survival, creative, adventure, spectator, and multiplayer) that become the building blocks for a gaming experience unique to your own imagination.
Why it’s timeless: The sheer versatility of Minecraft and lawless nature of the gameplay is the very reason Minecraft has become the second best-selling video game of all time . Between elaborate spaceship recreation and monster-laden adventures, the limitlessness of Minecraft is what keeps this game on PC desktops for years and years.
Release date: October 2007
Developer: Valve Corporation
The storyline: Taking place in a mysterious research facility called Aperture Science, the Portal story unfolds. Protagonist Chell wakes up from a stasis bed and is commanded to navigate her way through puzzle-filled test chambers in hopes of receiving cake and grief counseling upon completion.
With an artificial intelligence named GLaDOS as her only guidance, Chell’s tasks become increasingly harder and more sinister with every level passed.
Why it’s timeless: Portal was an interesting change of pace in the video gaming world when it first launched in 2007. Ripping away deep character development and wildly elaborate story, Portal keeps it simple with two characters and a series of challenging puzzles.
Regarded as one of the most original games of 2007, Portal has maintained its one-of-a-kind status today. Belonging to the Half-Life universe, Portal fans looking for more immersive gameplay don’t have to leave the sci-fi world for a similar gaming experience.
4. World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth
Release date: August 2018
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
The storyline: Having paid a terribly hefty price to end the apocalyptic march of the Legion’s crusade, Azeroth’s wounds are still splintered open. The violent calls to war have never been louder as age-old conflicts reignite between the Alliance and the Horde. Six playable Allied Races embark on a challenging quest toward victory through a web of battles and betrayals.
Why it’s timeless: Tapping into the heart of the World of Warcraft series, WoW fans have fawned over the Horde vs. Alliance battle. Large-scale assaults and a more involved narrative plotline have set Battle for Azeroth apart from the rest of the series. Long-time and returning players alike will be quickly reminded of why they were so drawn to the series from the moment they dive into the world.
3. Sims 4
Release date: September 2014
Developer: Electronic Arts
The premise: Building families, creating careers, and constructing buildings are all commonplace activities in Simville. Functioning as a sandbox game where complete control is handed over to the user, Sims 4 builds off the previous version, only bettering the vibrancy of the worlds and the creative capacity for Sim and town creation.
Playing as your unique Sims, you can foster relationships, travel to neighborhoods, and prescribe life aspirations all in one simple, yet impressive, game.
Why it’s timeless: The Sims series has been among the most popular games across the globe since its 2000 launch. In its fourth installment, the Sims have never looked so good or played so well. There’s something about life simulation and playing God to your own creations that never gets old. The customization options are endless and well supported by an immense custom content community. The sky is hardly the limit in the Sims 4.
Release date: 1993
Genre: First-person shooter
Developer: id Software
The storyline: Assuming the role of Doomguy, users traverse through a series of challenges set in military bases on the moons of Mars and Hell. Divided into three distinct episodes, Doom forgoes a conventional plotline in favor of an instruction manual and quick text segues that propel the journey forward.
Fighting demons, Martians, and a slew of malevolent enemies, Doomguy’s quest to protect against an apocalyptic earthly invasion lies in your hands.
Why it’s timeless: Regarded as a gaming masterpiece, Doom is one of the video gaming world’s most revered PC must-haves. From the high-speed FPS action to the wildly gory kill-shots, Doom set the bar for all of today’s FPS games. Though a 2016 second edition of the game combined modern high-quality graphics with the demon-dusting Doom loyals love, the original 1993 version still comes up to scratch today.
1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Release date: November 2011
Genre: Role-playing game (RPG)
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
The storyline: Civil war has ravaged the country of Skyrim, leaving the future of the land hanging in the balance as the Empire of Tamriel and the rebel army of Stormcloaks make moves to seize the fallen throne. The gods have awakened Alduin, the eldest dragon with the power to devour the living and raise deceased dragons from their graves.
Prophesied to quell apocalyptic battle cries, only the Dragonborn can safeguard Skyrim from immediate demise.
Why it’s timeless: Rather than confine users to a singular character, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim gives you the freedom to take on the persona of whomever you please. Join the Dark Brotherhood and strategize stealthy killer quests. Join the Mage’s Guild to home in on your wizarding abilities. Or follow the main quest to save Skyrim from fiery destruction.
The limitless feel of Skyrim keeps users coming back to it each and every year. Paired with gorgeous lifelike graphics, there’s no passing up this must-have PC game.
About the Author: Tulie Finley-Moise is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Tulie is a digital content creation specialist based in San Diego, California with a passion for the latest tech and digital media news.
Popular HP Gaming PCs