Far too many games these days are built to be played in small
bursts: brief encounters, designed for a world with too few hours
in the day and too many digital distractions. And that's fine!
Blasting through a few rounds of Valorant or Rocket
League matches is a wonderful way to spend some time.
But sometimes, you want something more—something
meatier. Whether you're looking for an entertaining way to
blow a long stint at home or simply want to wrap your head around a
satisfyingly complex experience, these 20 deep, intricate, and just
plain great PC games will hold you for hours and hours and
hours on end. They're the best long PC games that you can play, and
better yet in a time where it's hard to get your hands on a new graphics card,
many of them can be streamed via GeForce Now or Xbox Game Pass's cloud streaming as well—no GPU
The best long PC games
All these years later, Age of Empires II remains a gold
standard in the real-time strategy genre, and it's only getting
stronger with the extra attention devoted to the recent Definite Edition release—b
ut that's not the only way to scratch that AoE itch.
Age of Empires IV stays true (almost
too true, at times) to the classic formula, offering four
campaigns (each with branching civ-specific landmark choices that
change your empire's direction in different ways) and eight
different empires to play in skirmish battles or multiplayer
clashes. Each civilization brings its own quirks and advantages to
the table, and as always, you can win the game in several different
ways, from scoring a religious victory to building and holding a
It's not quite as deep as AoE 2 is yet—that game has
been out and being tweaked for over 20 years—but Age of Empires
IV is nevertheless fun and deep. Better yet, it's a strong
foundation for updates yet to come, and you can play it for free as
part of a monthly Xbox Games Pass subscription, the best deal in PC gaming.
Forza Horizon remains the best pure arcade racer
around, and Forza Horizon 5 perfects the series' bombastic
open-world action. Chasing down vehicles hidden in barns throughout
Mexico never gets boring, especially when new races or goodies hide
around seemingly every bend. Simply changing car classes can change
the feel of almost every race (before you even wade into tuning
your vehicles) and you can even create your own racing challenges,
or play challenges crafted by others. If you're a completionist who
wants to cross off every box and collect all 500-plus cars, you'll
be blasting down streets for a long, long, long time—and enjoying
every over-the-top second of it.
Like Age of Empires IV, you can snag Forza Horizon 5 on Steam, but it's
also available as part of a $10 per month Xbox Games Pass for PC
C'mon. It's Mass Effect—and no, not just the
first one, but all three games in the iconic sci-fi space epic,
along with all of the DLC and expansions for each. That's
well over 100 hours worth of gameplay. If you've never
played the trilogy, you owe it to yourself to finally do so (it
truly is legendary). And even if you've already battled the reapers
and wooed your crewmates as Captain Shepard, it's worth diving back
in after all these years thanks to the Legendary Edition's
graphical upgrades, increased technical polish, and rejiggered
mechanics for ME1.
Former PlayStation exclusive Days Gone made the leap
over to PC in early 2021, following in the footsteps of Horizon
Zero Dawn. This game doesn't get as much love as HZD,
but a big part of that is due to its slow burn of an opening—it
takes Days Gone many hours to really kick it into high
gear, and some people burn out in the opening act. But if you stick
with it, you'll find a lot to like in this gritty post-apocalypse
open-world zombie game, including a sick motorcycle and some truly
terrifying hordes that come at you like an ocean of death. (It's
currently sitting pretty with a Very Positive rating on Steam after thousands
of reviews.) If you breeze through the main story you'll wrap this
up in around 50 hours, but How Long To Beat says the game can last up to
about 100 hours if you're wandering at your leisure and tracking
down all the extras. Days Gone, indeed.
We don't normally consider Early Access games for lists like
this—you know, since they're not finished—but Valheim deserves an exception. Not only is
the game incredibly polished and feature-filled for its state, but
it's also a genuine sensation, selling over 6 million
copies in its first month on the streets. Hot damn.
If you haven't heard of Valheim, it's a cooperative
survival RPG where you and up to 10 other players control Vikings
in a procedurally generated purgatory, battling against nature and
monsters while trying to establish a foothold in the world via
impressive base-building mechanics. (You can play it solo, too.)
Slowly gaining skills and materials to be able to start exploring
more of the massive open world never fails to satisfy. After you
pick off the boss in each biome, various events ensue as a
consequence—killing the frost dragon will send mountain drakes into
a rage and provoke them into attacking your encampments, for
There's still plenty of room for improvements, but
Valheim already delivers a deep, meaty adventure with
astonishing bang-for-buck considering its humble $20 price tag.
It's a social experience like no other. And hey, you can go
The series sat dormant for years, but Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 was
worth the wait. The scale and scope of the game—you can explore the entire world!—stuns, and
it's made even more impressive by the use of real-time weather
provided by Microsoft's Azure service. Shortly after the game
launched, a hurricane struck the United States, and you could fly
into the middle of it in Flight Simulator while the storm
battered the coastline. That makes revisiting previously toured
locales rewarding over and over again, especially since the
available planes each handle very differently. Dust off that flight
stick and prepare to be enthralled for a long, long time.
The final chapter of Agent 47's modern adventures, Hitman 3 isn't long in the traditional
sense. Each of the six levels can be beaten in an hour or so if you
know what you're doing, and new players will probably blow through
the campaign in about a dozen hours.
You don't buy Hitman to mainline the campaign
Like the Hitman and Hitman 2 games that precede it (which I highly
recommend playing first), Hitman 3's levels are massive,
intricate, and distinctive cause-and-effect murder sandboxes, with
seemingly endless ways to neutralize your targets. A big part of
the fun is replaying levels not once, not twice, but
dozens of times—finding new areas, trying out fresh
disguises, and discovering delightfully offbeat ways to stealthily
kill people—in the quest for new high scores and, hopefully, an
elusive Silent Assassin rating. IO Interactive's modern
Hitman trilogy has been one of the most spectacular gaming
successes in recent memory, a pitch-perfect blend of old-school and
new-school, seriousness and silliness. If you give yourself fully
to it, you'll find hours and hours of hilariously macabre fun. You
can play the tutorial level for free if you want to
get a feel for the mechanics.
It's been a long time coming but the Yakuza games are
finally on PC, including the newer Yakuza 6 and zany—yet touching—spinoff
Like A Dragon.
It's a journey worth taking. Yakuza
vacillates between silliness and soap opera with more grace than
any other series, making you laugh right before it punches you in
the gut. It's a fascinating dichotomy, and only becomes more
interesting over time as you get to know Kazuma Kiryu, Majima, and
the rest of Yakuza‘s sprawling cast. The city is a
character in itself as well, with Kiryu's small slice of Tokyo
evolving over the course of multiple decades. New buildings appear,
old ones disappear, and occasionally Kiryu's actions leave scars
the city never quite recovers from. It's an incredible saga.
A sequel to the beloved Elite from the Amiga-era days,
Elite: Dangerous is massive.
This mammoth game drops you into the middle of a ginormous universe
with more than 400 billion—yes, billion—i
ndividual star systems, each with their own planets, space
stations, asteroids, players, and more. And new things are being
added all the time, aided by the game's connectivity requirement.
Simply traveling from our reviewer's starting point to Earth's home
system took roughly 30 hours.
Elite: Dangerous would be well served by better
introductory tutorials. But for sheer size and scope, virtually no
game beats this living, breathing universe, which receives ongoing
updates, adding in things like gameplay enhancements, more story,
and even full-fledged alien invasions. The game even just added
foot-based combat with the Odyssey expansion after years of
focusing on vehicular gameplay. Eat your heart out, Star
Wasteland 2 was our favorite game of 2014, heralding a glorious
return to form for CRPGs. Wasteland 3 is better in every way, with
wonderfully defined worldbuilding, much more streamlined gameplay,
and a story that keeps you hooked. The turn-based tactical gameplay
never starts to feel stale, unlike the end of Wasteland 2,
and the game is brilliant at responding to your choices. Crucially,
it's much more polished as well.
Is Wasteland 3 innovative? Not really. But it's
terrifically executed. This is the true Fallout successor
that Bethesda never delivered. Don't miss out on this silly, yet
serious post-apocalyptic thrill ride.
It's not easy running a country, but Crusader Kings III is
significantly easier on newcomers than its beloved—but
dense—predecessor. The deep tutorial is a much-needed improvement,
but Paradox also added a heavy coat of polish that makes the game
feel much more friendly. Of course, that friendliness disappears
the second your nephew initiates a plot with a coven of witches to
try to assume your throne, but Crusader Kings III easily
stands out as the best grand strategy game yet, with incredible
levels of complexity, flexibility, and insane political
Crusader Kings II became a cult classic. Crusader
Kings III seized the crown outright. You can sink hundreds of
hours into this and still barely scratch the surface.
As CD Projekt Red's first triple-A game after the legendary
Witcher 3, Cyberpunk 2077 wound up becoming hyped to
impossible levels, then saw its reputation dragged through the mud
when the game launched in a dire state on last-gen consoles. Don't
let that scare you off it on PC, though. Sure, there are bugs, but
Cyberpunk 2077's Night City feels alive like no other virtual
metropolis, with dense streets and an unprecedented verticality
that opens up all manner of paths. You'll find secrets tucked
everywhere too. CD Projekt's writing remains
best-in-class, the deep character builds allow immense flexibility
in play styles, missions often have more than one available
outcome, and a robust photo mode provides hours of extra
entertainment if you're into that sort of thing.
Cyberpunk 2077's story can be completed in a couple
dozen hours if you stick to the main quests, but the real depth
lies in the abundant side missions and gigs, and just exploring
every nook and cranny of Night City. Take your time and enjoy—t
hough since the character builds are so varied, and the quests
offer so many outcomes, you can hop right back in with a totally
different playthrough as soon as you're done.
This is less a specific game, more a blanket recommendation.
After having Playerunknown's Battlegrounds on this list
for years, perhaps it's time we finally give the rest of the battle
royale genre a shot. Fortnite, Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone, they all involve
dropping onto an island with 100 other people and competing to be
the last one standing. But which one should you choose?
Really, the answer's probably as simple as Whatever your friends
play. That said, PUBG is the granddaddy, the one that
popularized the genre. It's slow and complicated and has mostly
been surpassed by everything that came after. Fortnite is
on the other end of the spectrum, cartoony and frantic, with a
unique crafting mechanic and ambitious one-off events.
And in the middle you'll find Warzone and Apex
Legends. Both are faster than PUBG but more grounded
than Fortnite, with Warzone based on Call of
Duty and Apex based on Titanfall. You can't
go wrong with either, and I generally find these two to be the
sweet spot—great shooting, streamlined loot systems, active
communities. Might as well try them for yourself, since everything
but PUBG is free.
Rockstar's critically acclaimed and utterly massive
open-world western finally landed on PCs a long year after its
console debut, but the wait was worthwhile. Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC is the definitive way to play, with
options galore and luscious graphics that can even bring a fearsome GeForce RTX 2080 Ti to its
knees if you crank up all the eye candy.
It's one of the longer games in recent memory too, fleshed out
even more by all the diversions. We've been even more enthralled by
simply wandering the massive landscape, hunting animals, buying
pomade for Arthur Morgan's mustache, and caring for our horse than
the actual story. Rockstar truly made a living world here, and
you'll want to get lost in it for a while—especially if the superb
Photo Mode sinks its hooks into you.
Pokemon, for all its popularity, has never really had a
great PC equivalent—until now. Temtem is a loving homage, by which I mean
it's as close to Pokemon as you could get without being
sued. It's the knock-off Oreos of video games.
Still, I'm not complaining. Sure, it's a bit disorienting
visiting Professor Konstantinos and picking from three starter
Temtems and capturing your first definitely-not-Pidgey in a card
instead of a ball. You get used to it though, and Temtem
even improves on the source material in some ways, upping the
difficulty and depth with two-on-two battles. I wish it was less of
a grind, but hey, it's in Early Access and it's as close to a
competent Pokemon clone as we've ever received on PC.
Disco Elysium is like Planescape
Torment, if Planescape plopped you in the shoes of an
amnesiac drug-addicted cop recovering from one hell of a bender in
the middle of a murder investigation. And, uh, your party consisted
of the warring voices and emotions shouting in your head instead of
other people. And there was no combat.
It's the most transformative RPG we've played in a long
time, and the best PC game of 2019. Better yet, it
transforms around you, heavily adapting to the skills you choose,
the voices in your head you decide to listen to, and whether or not
you decide to play things straight or indulge the wild impulses
suggested by those whispers. It's wild stuff—much more than we can
get into here. Check out our review for more details. And it's more
than you can likely bite off too, as the developers say the game
last 60 to 90 hours, and it just screams for repeated
If you prefer your deep roleplaying experiences with a more
Fallout-y vibe than Disco Elysium's strict CRPG
roots, check out Obsidian's The Outer Worlds, a.k.a.
the Fallout: New Vegas spiritual successor you always
pined for. It's great.
Planet Zoo is dangerous. While writing
this, I thought I guess I'll pop into the Steam Workshop and see
what people have been working on. Then almost an hour disappeared,
as I dug into donation bin covers and custom flower arrangements
and different fences and reptile houses and—wow, apparently someone
made a McDonald's?
There's an incredible construction set at the heart of
Frontier's builders, both Planet Coaster and now Planet
Zoo. If you want to design every last detail of an exhibit,
every plant and rock and water feature, then there's nothing better
than Planet Zoo. And if you just want to watch the
simulation play out, watch animals go about their lives? Yeah, it's
pretty great for that too.
It's one of those games I'm always sad to stop playing—and after
tonight's trip through Steam Workshop, it looks like it's about
time to start again.
Dark Souls is over, but From Software isn't done yet.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is From's
first game in the post-Souls era, and it's…well, in a lot
of ways it's very similar. Sekiro is still about pattern
memorization, about painstaking combat finesse, about breezing
through a few dozen small enemies only to get crushed by the boss
again. Flavor text for items is still mostly nonsense, and there's
a bonfire stand-in. Souls fans will recognize the shared
But Sekiro differs in key ways. It's a more vertical
(and more mobile) game, allowing you to jump and even use a
grappling hook to get around. And on that note, Sekiro
also encourages stealth when possible, leaping down from above or
stabbing from the bushes to quietly thin out encounters. Failing
that, you'd better get good at parrying. Dark Souls was a
game of rolling and dodging, but doing so in Sekiro is a
losing gambit. Stand your ground, match sword with sword, and hope
you come out on top.
I can't believe we got here. Lest we forget: Final Fantasy
XIV was so bad upon initial release, Square Enix killed it
dead. Buried it. Then they rebuilt basically the entire
game from scratch and released Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.
But from ignominious beginnings arose perhaps the best MMO of
the modern era. Maybe even more than that. According to our own Leif Johnson, There's no
longer any question that Final Fantasy XIV warrants
inclusion in discussions of the best Final Fantasy games
of all time. The catch? You'll need to put in upwards of 100 hours
in order to experience its best bits, working your way through six
years of story and the accompanying grind. Then again, that's
perfect for this article, so what are you waiting for? Better
create your very own cat-lady and give it a go.
Anno is a series about supply chains, and that hasn't changed for Anno 1800. The
only difference, really? Now you're doing it in the Victorian Era
and building up a transatlantic empire in the process. That adds
all sorts of complications, sloooowly shipping steel to your
colonies, using it to construct a distillery, then sloooowly
shipping rum back to Britain and hoping it's enough to keep your
I'm making it sound easier than it is, as Anno 1800 has dozens of different
products you'll need to supply in both the New and Old World. A few
farms, a factory—before you know it you have a metropolis numbering
in the thousands, twelve fisheries, a dozen breweries, and somehow
you're short on cigars again. Time to construct another tobacco
farm or five. Oh, also it's 3 a.m. and you were supposed to be
asleep hours ago. There's probably time to lay out one more
road though, right?
The firstDivinity: Original Sin was one of the best PC games of 2014 thanks to its deep
systematic combat, which felt like what isometric CRPGs could have
been if they had thrived over the years instead of temporarily
dying in the early 2000s. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is better in
every way, and sits beside The Witcher 3 as one of the
best role-playing games released this decade.
Original Sin 2 doubles down on the XCOM-like
mechanics of the original, but the real improvement came in the
story. To say narrative was an afterthought in the original would
be an understatement. Divinity: Original Sin 2 steps it
up, weaving compelling dialogue together with Larian's hallmark
mechanics-first approach. Every quest, dialogue, and interaction is
modified by your character's unique traits, such as race and
upbringing—doubly so if you play as one of five preset Origin
This game clocks in at a meaty 80-plus hours. The ability to
roll your own characters, shift around the characters of your
party, or even play the whole thing in four-player co-op gives the
game near endless replayability. Play this!
No Man's Sky might never be the game
people wanted it to be pre-release, but it's gotten damn close over
the past few years after a slew of serious (free) upgrades.
Multiplayer! Better crafting! Base building!
As I said when we re-evaluated the game, If you're still
somehow hoping for that ‘Wow' moment, exploring this ‘limitless'
universe, I don't think you'll find it. No Man's Sky is
still the greatest example of procedural generation's failings, as
you keep seeing the same plants and rock formations and et
cetera across the entire universe, watching the ingredients
combined and recombined into new combinations like a video game
version of the Taco Bell menu.
That said, actually playing No Man's Sky has improved a
lot since release. If you're looking for a light space sim, an
Elite Dangerous or a Star Citizen where you can
lean your chair back and explore in peace, it's worth a second look—
especially if you bought it in 2016 and it's still kicking around
in your Steam library. I'm sure that applies to some of you reading
Skyrim and the other Elder Scrolls entries
aren't on this list because most gamers have played—or at least
heard of—Bethesda's buggy masterpieces by now. But if you're a fan
of open-world western-style RPGs, don't miss out on Kingdom Come Deliverance. This game is
basically a realistic Skyrim set in the Holy Roman
Empire, and it leans into accuracy hard. You're the
son of a blacksmith. Moving up in the class-obsessed circa-1400
society takes real time, and real hard work. You'll spend a day
lugging a spoiled nobleman's armor into the woods to hunt rabbits.
Earning your first sword comes hours and hours into the story.
Merely reading requires leveling up the skill.
It's deep, and like Bethesda's games, it's kind of janky. But to
Kingdom Come Deliverance's credit, its incredible ambition
and unique aesthetic made the game's rough edges never feel
that rough. For now, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is
decidedly niche, and all the better for it.
The final chapter of witcher Geralt of Rivia's trilogy mixes the
grim, realistic atmosphere the series is famous for with an open
world reminiscent of Skyrim—but oh so different.
Rather than ruining the experience, I'll just say that Witcher 3: Wild Hunt earned a rare five-star review, easily won PCWorld's 2015 game of the year award, and is
my personal favorite game of all time. If you're rushing, you'll
wrap it up in 60 to 80 hours. Feeling more explorative? Expect to
spend as much as 200 hours-plus wandering the world, slaying
monsters, and that's before you dip into the fantastic
XCOM 2 ratchets the tension even
higher than the original reboot by putting you on the
offense, as XCOM becomes a guerrilla force in a world conquered by
aliens. You command a force of soldiers putting their lives on the
line to conquer the threat. That's no joke: If one of the commandos
under your watch dies, he stays dead, taking his hard-won
experience with him. Too many wrong moves could leave your squad
stacked with rookies rather than grizzled vets, possibly forcing
you into restarting the game.
XCOM 2‘s tactical, turn-based combat is tough, with
both maps and enemies randomized for every battle, but the game
gives you plenty of time to think through your moves. During the
strategic phase between missions, you deal with organizational
tasks—managing finances, expanding XCOM's influence, researching
newly uncovered alien tech, et cetera. You have to balance
between striking the aliens where it hurts while avoiding their
counterattacks, juggling scarce resources all the while. It's
The game offers near endless replayability, but if you get sick
of the basic scheme, two additional modes turn XCOM 2 into
whole new games, essentially. War of the Chosen is an official
expansion by Firaxis that adds a ton of new factions, enemies,
storylines, weapons, and more, while the sublime Long War 2 total conversion mod greatly extends the
duration of the game and ramps up the importance of the strategic
map and resource planning. They're both excellent, full stop.