While we have a post dedicated to the best PC exclusives of 2018, both upcoming and already released, multiplatform games that are awesome and also happen to be available on PC aren’t something you’ll find there. While there will be some overlap, a bunch of fantastic games released this year have also made their way to PC, or are upcoming. The beauty of PC gaming is that with a bit of tweaking just about any game can run on most systems, and there is a huge burgeoning indie scene so every niche is represented - but regardless of your typical preferences, these are games that deserve to be on your radar. The best stories, most engaging gameplay and flashiest visuals to make your rig sweat are all here.
Over the past few years, video game crowdfunding has dipped significantly, and yet reading this list you might not think it’s true, as some properties, either due to huge nostalgia factors, or for having a successful predecessor, managed to pull through with crowdfunding and produce highly detailed and quality productions. 2018 also marks the arrival of a niche-but-cult franchise on the PC, albeit later than on other platforms. Most of these games were pretty heavily marketed, so anyone interested in the medium will likely know a bit about them, but some might be sleeper hits you’ll want to look up afterward.
2015’s Pillars of Eternity was a major crowdfunding success. When RPG legend Obsidian proposed to create a story-heavy game reminiscent of the golden age RPGs a-la Infinity Engine, everyone was ready to spend coin. Pillars of Eternity turned out to be an absolutely fantastic game and players wanted more. Though the game trailer two expansions, it took some time for news of a sequel to pop up.
Deadfire is a direct sequel to the previous game, with the protagonist making a return. Pillars’ optional multi-level dungeon, the Paths of Od Nua showed players a huge statue buried underground. In Deadfire, the god Eothas decides to possess that very statue and take a stroll (wrecking your stronghold in the process). Obviously you have to go stop him.
The sequel improves upon the already near-perfect base provided by Pillars of Eternity. It looks better, for starters, but all other improvements are too nuanced to get into here. Since the previous game was already so good there wasn’t really much left to improve, so Deadfire instead adds. You get a ship, a vast archipelago to explore and a god to kill.
Developer: Harebrained Schemes
The legendary BattleTech franchise is making its big return this year, not only with a faithful strategy game, but also with the first new mainline MechWarrior game in almost two decades. Jordan Weisman, the original creator of the IP, is on board for the development of this game, which is a really good sign. Harebrained is endeavoring to bring authentic and tactical turn-based mech combat with all the nuance of the tabletop version.
BattleTech will give you a dropship, a crew of pilots-for-hire, a hangar full of mechs and a bunch of bills to pay. As mercenaries, your crew will hire themselves out to the kind of folk who need something done that involves a huge, lumbering hunk of heavily armed metal. Battles will rather focus on smaller, more personal clashes between smaller groups of mechs rather than huge epic wars between armies. Players will need to keep a huge number of factors in mind. BattleTech’s systems are really detailed and in-depth, making this a perfect game for strategy fans who like tactical battles.
Monster Hunter World
The notoriously opaque and odd Monster Hunter franchise is making its debut on PC with the newest World installment. Already out on consoles, World is getting near unanimous praise from fans and critics alike in spite of still having plenty of that initially impenetrable Monster Hunter DNA. The last time I played a Monster Hunter game, it was on the PSP, and though fun, the control scheme was designed for the tentacles of Lovecraftian horrors, not human hands and it had some dizzyingly unintuitive design decisions. World is said to still have the latter, while somewhat improving the former.
In case the name didn’t make it obvious, in Monster Hunter: World, you are scouring the World for Monsters, of whom you are a Hunter. The game has a number of vast and visually varied environments, including a huge coral reef where you can breathe, for some reason. World also has a wide variety of weapon types, each of which play differently instead of just having different stats, and need time to get used to. You can also customize your anthropomorphic cat companion, which should be a huge plus in anyone’s book.
Iconoclasts is a pixel-art Metroidvania game that is the passion project of a sole developer, who has been working on this game for ten years. It’s one of the best looking examples of pixel-art games, it’s writing is absolutely masterful, the gameplay is fun, there is plenty of content, and it basically ticks every single box on a universal “good game” checklist. It’s also got that hard-to-define quality that some games have, games that were works of genuine enthusiasm and passion over games tailored to fit a business model and focus groups.
Iconoclasts drops players into a world where an oppressive theocracy is in power, and everything is powered by Ivory, of which there is a shortage. The rigid dictatorship assigns citizens their jobs, and mechanics authorized to fix Ivory powered machines are more akin to priests than to greasemonkeys. The game’s protagonist, Robin, an unlicensed mechanic, gets into a world of trouble after being discovered. The game’s storyline is unique, and benefits from a cast of well-developed characters. In terms of gameplay, focus is placed in exploration, puzzles and bosses, though this shouldn’t be too new to veterans of the genre.
Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves is an upcoming multiplayer action-adventure pirate game channeling survival game mechanics and transplanting them into a pirate-themed world dominated by ocean and islands. It recently went through a beta phase and people are all over the game. Pirate games have been few and far between in the past, with Monkey Island and Sid Meier’s Pirates being the only notable titles to speak of, however it seems that Assassin’s Creed’s piratey Black Flag installment kicked off a delayed pirate craze reaching a few years ahead with Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones, and Rare’s Sea of Thieves.
Sporting a huge game world, a bunch of locations to explore, sea battles, treasures to discover, and the ability to eat bananas without peeling them, Sea of Thieves isn’t exactly a member of an oversaturated niche. The gaming community lucked out with this one, as one of the first major AAA pirate-themed games also happens to be really good.
As the months roll by, more and more games will be added to this list with a bunch of promising releases upcoming. You’re also welcome to add your own nominees below in the comments!