Best single-player PC games

Video Games

After extensive real-world testing, experts agree that many of the best games of the last few years run just fine on hardware that’s 4-5 years old.

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Which single-player PC games are best?

Online multiplayer games get a lot of press, but Windows PCs offer some of the most satisfying and immersive single-player gaming you can imagine. While there are plenty of recent single-player games worth buying, there are quite a few games from a few or several years ago that still look great and deliver fun and engaging gameplay today. These slightly older releases can be excellent choices because they run smoothly and offer great graphics, even on mid-range and entry-level systems.

Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon: Zero Dawn

To explain just a little too much about this game would lead to major spoilers. Let’s just say there are robots, nomadic archers, mechanically minded monks, and of course, at least one nefarious plot to end life as the characters know it. There’s a reason this former PlayStation exclusive won a bunch of awards. Even the most seasoned gamers may find themselves in awe of this odyssey’s incredible storyline, addictive gameplay, stunning graphics and immersive soundtrack. It’s hard to overstate just how powerful of a single-player experience “Horizon: Zero Dawn” really is. 

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Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag

Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag

Quite a few dedicated fans of the “Assassin’s Creed” franchise feel that this is the best game in the series, and some even consider it the most fantastic pirate video game ever made. It stands apart thanks to excellent storytelling, endearing characters, high-quality voice-overs and graphics that hold up well, even seven years after its release. All of that is on top of the vast open-world setting and refined stealth mechanics that make “Assassin’s Creed” games so lasting and memorable. 

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Bioshock: Infinite

Bioshock: Infinite

The original “Bioshock” and its sequel “Bioshock 2” used the sci-fi horror genre for inspiration and, in their own right, were excellent and highly well-loved games. “Bioshock: Infinite” is the third installment and takes players to Columbia, a massive floating city drenched with the ideologies of early 20th-century extremists. You play as former private investigator Booker DeWitt, who arrives in the floating metropolis to uncover massive plots of cult-like control over supernatural technology as well as vast conspiracies to undermine a rioting working class. Its fast-paced gameplay lets you combat various human and mechanical enemies bent on recapturing an innocent hostage on the run and maintaining order in the dystopian city. 

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Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

The immense and lasting popularity of the original Mass Effect trilogy led to a thorough 2021 remaster that sees high-resolution textures, streamlined navigation and other mechanics plus increased performance and significantly decreased bugs. Each piece of the three-part series has a new level of polish to it without missing any of the charms that made the originals so great. The friendships, romances and other social interactions that the series did so well served as inspiration for countless other RPGs to create more vivid and immersive worlds. 

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Doom: Eternal

Doom: Eternal

The latest title to evolve from the groundbreaking classic shooter is inarguably the most intense and nerve-wracking yet. You should probably start with its immediate prequel, “Doom 2016,” to make sure you can wrap your head around its relatively rich story, something most previous installments in the Doom series lacked. Whichever one you start with, know that you’re in for heart-pounding action as you blast your way through hordes of dangerous monstrosities and unrepentant demons on your way to save the world, and even the entire plane of existence, from being dominated by beings from the underworld. 

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Dishonored

Dishonored

Set in a pseudo-Victorian era and locale where technology and magic combine for a heavy steampunk feel with a dash of fantasy horror, this series lets you choose between surgical-grade stealth and brute-force bashing to navigate mystical blights, high treason and mysterious supernatural beings. The first two titles, in particular, have closely linked narratives and while they’re not very recent, they look great and perform well even on systems that don’t have a ton of processing power.

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Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

The latest spiritual successor to the groundbreaking “Baldur’s Gate” series, this top-down adventure RPG borrows elements of Dungeons and Dragons and the broader high fantasy genre to deliver a vast world with nearly endless quests to run, items to hoard and NPCs with which to interact. You’ll find yourself roaming the landscape with novel and exciting characters in search of magical weapons, no-good bandits and arch-mages with scores to settle. 

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Portal 2

Portal 2

Not every good game has to be violent. The sequel to the highly acclaimed 2007 release “Portal,” “Portal 2” expands upon and improves just about every aspect of the original for a quality experience solving immersive 3D puzzles. Even though it’s several years old, its efficient use of the Source game engine means that it holds up well in 2021 and doesn’t require a top-dollar CPU and GPU for smooth frame rates and a high resolution. 

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Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut

The original “Deus Ex” was an industry-defining turning point that blended fast-paced gunplay, suspenseful stealth infiltration and plenty of nuanced, moral-testing decisions. Released over a decade after the original, “Human Revolution” tells the story of a world where high-tech implants blur the lines between human and machine. Varying factions pave the way for rampant corruption, high-octane gunfights and pulse-pounding stealth gameplay. Its direct sequel, “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided,” has a revamped engine and a very different overall feel but is still a perfect stealth-shooter action RPG in its own right. 

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Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5

Both “Far Cry 3” and “Far Cry 4” drop you in the middle of exotic, tropical locales where you chase and are chased by fanatical psychopaths on their quest to upend your life and harm those dearest to you. You should strongly consider playing both of those from start to finish, as they’re both excellent titles. The fifth main release in the series instead pits you against a murderous and torturous cult based right here in the United States of America. You’ll use a wide range of weapons from silenced pistols to military-grade rocket launchers in your path toward ending the extremists’ reign of slavery and dangerous fundamentalism. Once you’ve finished “Far Cry 5,” consider picking up the mini-sequel “Far Cry: New Dawn” to find out if your hard work managed to avert the nuclear holocaust or not. 

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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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