The 25 Best Steam Games
A rotating list of the best games on Steam may seem impossible on the surface, but against all odds, we've done it!
This list of the best Steam games was originally published on April 26, 2018, but we're now adding ten new entries to the list!
Steam obviously isn't a console like the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, or Xbox One, but it's a packed platform for PC, Mac, Linux, and other devices nonetheless. There is no online marketplace for games quite like Valve's Steam, a company known for creating the Half-Life series and many more widely adored franchises.
Best Steam Games
We decided to take up what may seem like an impossible task on the surface—listing the 25 best games on Steam right this very moment. After much internal debate, some hard cuts, we've finalized the 15 games we believe are essential to any computer-owning player with a Steam account. As with our other platform lists, we'll rotate games in and out as we see fit. In the meantime, enjoy our list of the 25 Best Steam Games!
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Even if you haven't played Amnesia: The Dark Descent, you've seen its flavor in other horror games. No weapons. Hiding from foes. Keeping an ear out at all times. Amnesia: The Dark Descent revolutionized the horror genre, and not just for indie games either. Amnesia: The Dark Descent was also a staple in another internet trend: Let's Plays and streaming, where players would record themselves playing the terrifying game and upload their horrified reactions for the whole world to see. Amnesia: The Dark Descent is one of those lightning in a bottle-type cultural moments for video games, and arguably defined a whole new subgenre of horror in the process. It's essential playing for any horror game fan. —Caty McCarthy
Buy from Steam
FASA's venerable tabletop series returns with this excellent mech tactics game. Developed by Harebrained Schemes, the same studio behind the acclaimed Shadowrun, it puts you in charge of a mercenary company that makes money by taking on missions around the galaxy. The tactics are generally very good, but the real fun is in purchasing and upgrading your numerous mechs. Featuring a surprisingly in-depth story with lots of interesting choices to be made, BattleTech is one of the sleeper favorites of 2018. —Kat Bailey
When SimCity failed at its triumphant return, PC players thought all was lost for the city builder. Instead, Paradox Interactive and developer Colossal Order stepped up to deliver Cities: Skylines. What we got was a premier city simulation, focused heavily around a commitment to player modding. If there's a building or landmark you want in your city, someone has made it and likely, they've made multiple versions to pick from.
But Colossal Order didn't stop there, they've continued to improve Cities: Skylines with further expansions. After Dark added a day/night cycle and new tourism option, Snowfall offered everything snow related, Natural Disasters added new ways to destroy everything you've built, Mass Transit improved the traffic system that was the base game's focus, and the upcoming Parklife lets you amuse and entertain your citizens with theme parks and nature preserves. Simply put, Cities: Skyline is the best city sim period. —Mike Williams
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
CS: GO is one of the most popular shooters in the world, even to this very day. Its team-based structure across the series has proven to be one of the most influential things for shooters in the past decade. CS: GO doesn't just evolve Counter-Strike either, it brings it to a new audience, blending classic Counter-Strike with new maps, characters, and weapons. CS: GO is free-to-start too, if you're not quite ready yet to face off against other players. —Caty McCarthy
Buy from Steam
Darkest Dungeon is on many different platforms now, but the PC original is still unquestionably the best way to play it. It has all of the DLC, it looks great, and it doesn't have the niggling UI problems of other versions. However you choose to play it, though, Darkest Dungeon is certainly worth a time. A party-based roguelike in which you send hapless explorers into the deep places under the earth, it boasts an excellent battle system and memorable graphics. Even better, recent updates have dramatically cut down the time needed to grind up a party necessary to tackle the eponymous final dungeon. Combined with deep strategy, outstanding boss fights, and a very spooky narrator, it's an essential for any RPG fan. —Kat Bailey
Dead Cells got its start on Steam Early Access, where it was left incomplete for a whole year before emerging into 1.0 status: with bosses, polish, and more. Even in its incomplete form though, there were arguments last year that it should be considered as one of the best games of the year—that alone, I feel, speaks to its strengths enough. While Dead Cells may be a roguelike, it's the rare roguelike where you feel like you're actually progressing. Each run is both a lesson and an opportunity to level up certain perks or abilities. Even after beating it, you'll be glued to the screen, wanting to improve upon yourself again and again. In its final form, it's better than ever. —Caty McCarthy
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Larian Studios knocked it out of the park with its first Kickstarted role-playing game, Divinity: Original Sin, but the studio didn't stop. Divinity: Original Sin 2 offers more character choices, some excellent writing, an improved set of spell and skill combos, leading to one of the deeper turn-based RPGs on the market. The new Tag system means NPCs meaningfully react to your character background and some of the solutions to problems around the world make the player feel truly novel. On top of a great RPG, Larian added cooperative play, a Game Master mode, and even a PVP arena. There are CRPGs that comes close to Divinity: Original Sin 2, but none with as much content as Larian has added here. —Mike Williams
Dragon Quest XI
Dragon Quest XI is arguably at its best on PC. It's available in 4K, and even better, fans have already released a mod that replaces the wretched soundtrack with an orchestral version that's much easier on the ears. The game itself is a love letter to the most classic of RPGs, featuring familiar moments from almost every game in the series. Compared to most JRPGs, it's fairly easy to get into thanks to its simple battle system, and it has a deep and often tragic story. Dragon Quest may be the series that brought RPGs to consoles for the first time, but it's right at home on the PC, and we can't recommend the latest game enough. —Kat Bailey
Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout 3 and 4 are better-known, but Obsidian's Fallout: New Vegas might be the best of the latter day Fallout games. Like the rest of the series, Fallout: New Vegas casts you as a wanderer in the post-nuclear wastes, this time in the Mojave Desert. It sets itself apart from other entries with its complex politics, which can result in dozens of different endings depending on who you choose to support, who you choose to let live, and who you choose to let die. You can support the flawed but well-meaning New California Republic, the savage Caesar's Legion, or the enigmatic Mr. House, or you can simply strike out and build an army of your own. Whichever route you take, you're in for some of the best storytelling in the series. Plus, there are a ton of fan mods out there; so if you've already finished Fallout: New Vegas, there are still many more ways to enjoy Obsidian's masterpiece. —Kat Bailey
Frostpunk is such a novel setting for a city-building survival game that it might be worth the recommendation alone just on that. But the great execution on the concept helps make Frostpunk one of the best strategy sims on PC. Frostpunk is basically Snowpiercer, except you're tasked with building a surviving civilization around a dying heater. Victory is almost impossible, and the climate change themes are prescient. If that doesn't intimidate you, then you're in for an amazing challenge. —Matt Kim
Buy from Amazon
Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy
Failure is a hard thing to get right in video games. Usually, you respawn relatively quickly and before you know it, you forget about that tumble from an hour or so earlier. In Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy though, failure is affecting. You play as a mysterious man who's attached to a cauldron, and your goal is to reach the peak of a junk-littered mountain. If you fail, as in you fall all the way back to where you started, it's incredibly disheartening. But then a chipper voiceover quips something back, like that failure is inevitable and you shouldn't get too upset about it, and it's back to propeling yourself upwards. Getting Over It, despite all the failure, is unexpectedly a very cathartic game. —Caty McCarthy
Buy from Steam
There are few games that radiate as much cool as Hotline Miami. Like Ryan Gosling in a bomber jacket, or a neon-hued soaked night club bumping synth pop, Hotline Miami is a game that knows what's cool, and beats it into players' skulls. It's a methodical top down game about getting through a level and effectively not dying in the process. It's gruesome because of this, despite its pixelated art style. But if you can stomach the blood, then Hotline Miami (and its sequel) is well-worth the challenge. —Caty McCarthy
Into the Breach
Into the Breach is brutal and unforgiving. It's also completely addictive. With Into the Breach, FTL's Subset Games once again finds the perfect balance of challenge and reward that made its previous hit game so popular. Only now it's all wrapped up in a fantastic sci-fi storyline featuring customizable mechs. Every decision in Into the Breach feels earned, and as a consequence every failure feels personal. The added layer of strategy that comes with customizing your favorite robots and building your mech team is accessible, but particularly addictive for those of us who grew up with giant robot anime. —Matt Kim
It's hard to think of an indie game that was more of an unexpected hit than Papers, Please. I mean that because of its heavy content matter—something that's arguably hard to connect with a wide audience. In Papers, Please, you play as a border crossing immigration officer for a fictional country. With your job, you have the ability to approve who can enter the country and who cannot as more drama unfolds around you. And the only way you can do this is through checking people's immigration papers, and ensuring that they are legit (among other more nefarious screening tasks). It's a harrowing game, putting the harsh reality of immigration directly into players' hands. Papers, Please is a can't miss experience because of it. —Caty McCarthy
Buy from Steam
Pillars of Eternity 2
Obsidian's cult favorite RPG picks up from where the last one left off, only this time you're on a boat! In all seriousness, Pillars of Eternity 2 is great if you're a hardcore RPG fan, featuring deep combat, lots of companions to recruit, and a twisting story that deals with gods, death, and reincarnation. But the best part is definitely that boat, which takes the place of the somewhat maligned fortress from the first game, giving you the freedom to roam the world with your gallant crew. With multiple DLC packs now available, Pillars of Eternity is a sizable RPG that just keeps getting bigger. —Kat Bailey
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG)
There are so many words that can be written about the phenomenon that began with PUBG. On the surface, it almost seems like any other military-like shooter: a bunch of players shoot each other, and one or a team comes out victorious. But PUBG positions 100 players at each other's throats, and that's where things get hellish. PUBG has only grown in scope since it launched in early 2017, with more maps, more guns, and even limited event modes at its disposal. If you're fishing for a video game to play with your buddies after work or on weekends, then look no further than PUBG. —Caty McCarthy
The first Portal is one of the best puzzle games of all-time with the ingenious portal mechanic near-bulletproof and applicable for all kinds of devilish puzzles. This meant that for Portal 2 Valve simply had to rely on the tried-and-true Portal mechanic and maybe throw in a few more mechanics like the reactive gels to craft an equally masterful puzzle game. But the other half of the Portal equation that made the game great was the ambient storytelling of Aperture Labs and its perfect creation Glados. For Portal 2, Valve wisely triple-downed on the storytelling, fleshing out Glados, Chell, and Aperture Labs to the point where story, not puzzles become the star. Though the puzzles are really good too. —Matt Kim
Buy from Steam
Return of the Obra Dinn
When Lucas Pope announced Return of the Obra Dinn in 2014, he surmised that it'd take him about a year until it was out. Four years later, Return of the Obra Dinn finally released, with a staggering level of detail in tow. Aboard the Obra Dinn, you're tasked as an insurance adjuster figuring out what went wrong aboard this ghost ship that washed ashore. What you discover is shocking at every turn, and will leave you scribbling your own notes in pursuit of the truth. —Caty McCarthy
RimWorld is a sci-fi colony sim that's so popular, that when it finally hit 1.0 this year after five and a half years in development it hardly caused a ripple, because it was already massive. What's made RimWorld so popular is the fact that no two runs are the same: its story is generated by AI, and you adapt to it at every turn. It also has a mighty lively modding community, the key to any PC game's success. —Caty McCarthy
Buy from Steam
Ring of Elysium
The battle royale genre boom started strictly on PC, thanks to mods for other games. It got even bigger with PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, which boiled the battle royale genre into something more accessible. On Steam, PUBG remained the top battle royale game for some time, since Fortnite has its own launcher through Epic Games. That doesn't mean it's without friendly competition though.
Ring of Elysium is Tencent's own gamble in the free-to-play battle royale space. It's basically PUBG, but in a snowy environment, a different goal in mind (escaping, rather than being last man standing), and unique perks that other battle royale games don't have. Similar to Call of Duty: Black Ops' specialists, Ring of Elysium lets you gear up with a snowboard, and any other sort of snow-related perks. It's a unique game in the battle royale sphere, and best of all, it's free-to-play, so what's stopping you? —Caty McCarthy
Download from Steam
Since the release of the first Minecraft, developers have been twisting and tweaking the formula to provide something different. One thing many Minecraft-likes lack is any sort of context for why you're exploring and building. Dragon Quest Builders offers a particularly excellent version on consoles, but on PC, the clear winner is Starbound. The games throws you into a harsh galaxy as a new cadet and asks you to survive. There are multiple planets to explore, with new creatures and civilizations for you to build upon. Starbound offers quests to undertake, bosses to fight, and more recipes than you can shake a pickaxe at. Add in an excellent multiplayer mode and you have a winner if you're looking to build something on PC. —Mike Williams
Buy from Steam
Stardew Valley is available on a baker's dozen of platforms, which is the way things should be, but it came to Steam first—and Steam is where I fell in love with this goofy farming sim by Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone. I suppose it was destiny: I've been a long-time Harvest Moon fan, though I fell away from Natsume's take on video-farming after Friends of Mineral Town.
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Maybe that's why Stardew Valley feels like Harvest Moon's final, most powerful form, regardless of the fact Natsume has nothing to do with it. There's no bad translation to contend with, and no rigid rulesets about when certain tasks must be performed. In fact, what you do in Stardew Valley is up to you. Yes, you can farm. Obviously. But you might also want to try raising animals for cash. Or you can mine. Or you can grow fruit. Or you can go on adventures that let you find and sell loot. Or, like me, you can fish, fish, fish.
You can also settle down with a damaged partner in Stardew Valley, which technically makes you a therapist in addition to a farmer, fighter, fisher, and the rest of it. But being able to find easy-ish solutions to problems that are difficult to solve in the real world is honestly part of Stardew Valley's charm. —Nadia Oxford
There are about a gazillion survival games on Steam, but none are quite as absorbing as Subnautica. Boasting well over 73,000 user reviews on Steam, all of them overwhelmingly possible, it's evident it's won over the legions of survival game fans too. In Subnautica, you play as a survivor on a crash on an alien ocean world, and are left to survive. In it, you build bases, you scavenge for supplies to craft things, but mostly you explore the depths of the ocean. And that's where it's at its best. —Caty McCarthy
Buy from Steam
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3 is the only game to appear across three out of four of our platform lists. Why? Because it's just that good. The Witcher 3 is an impressive RPG across all merits: its quest design, narrative, characters, and combat have inspired leagues of other games, even unexpected ones like Nier: Automata. The Witcher 3 is arguably one of, if not thebest game of our current generation of video games. For action RPG fans far and wide, it's essential for your Steam library. —Caty McCarthy
Absent a disappointing final mission, XCOM 2 is an outstanding update of the first game. It basically subverts the premise of the original, casting you as rebels against a terrifying alien-run government while retaining its familiar tactical gameplay. To this it adds a strategic layer in which you must race to stop the aliens before they can complete a mysterious "Avatar Project." It's an intense campaign, especially toward the end, and it only gets better with the massive XCOM 2: War of the Chosen expansion pack, which dramatically expands on the content in the base game. XCOM 2 is one of the absolute best tactics games around, and it's at its best on the PC. —Kat Bailey