The PC’s dominance with indie gaming is waning in recent years, to the benefit of everyone. While many PC games are multi-platform, the PC is often used as the first launch for many indie games, especially those in Early Access active development, such as Baldur’s Gate 3. In other words, if you want to be the first to play the newest indie games, PC gaming is the way to go.

PC games can be a tricky purchase, as many are entirely digital, whether on Steam or the Epic Games Store. Internal upgrades like graphics cards can be daunting without very specific instructions from the recipient.

External upgrades and accessories are a better gift idea, such as keyboards, mice, and headsets. Look for quality brands like HyperX, Logitech, Corsair, and Razer. None of that matters without great games to play, however, and we have a list of the best PC games of the year below.

Younger Kids (Under 10)

Streets of Rage 4

For fans of: Retro games, Beat ’em up, Sick beats

A modern sequel to a 90’s side-scrolling Beat ‘Em Up series may not seem like a winning formula for a kids game. Streets of Rage 4 features simple yet engaging controls as you punch and kick your way through a variety of brightly colored enemies. The action-packed, character-drive story resembles a Saturday Morning Cartoon, and the head-bopping soundtrack is one of the best you’ll hear all year. What makes Streets of Rage 4 a great family game for kids is the local co-op, proving that an old-school genre still has much to give us.

Also available on: Switch, PlayStation, Xbox

Ooblets

For fans of: Pokémon, Stardew Valley, Cuteness overload

Ooblets is an adorable mash-up of Pokémon’s creature collecting with Stardew Valley (or any farm sim) crafting, farming, and town interaction. In addition to gathering resources and harvesting crops, the world is filled with little helpers called Ooblets. Instead of battling, these creatures compete in dance-off competitions via a card game, making Ooblets a big win for those who love the cuter things in life.

Note: Ooblets is currently in Early Access active development.

Also available on: Xbox

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

For fans of: Beautiful animation, Challenging 2D gameplay

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the sequel to 2015’s Ori and the Blind Forest, and continues the challenging but excellent platforming with the enchanting world and stirring orchestral music. The tenacious forest spirit Ori sets out on another grand adventure through a realm of monsters, and manages to tug on your heart-strings despite very little dialogue.

Also available on: Xbox

Minecraft Dungeons

For fans of: Minecraft, Hack and slash, dungeon crawls

Minecraft Dungeons is a dungeon crawling spin-off of the most popular game on the planet (sorry, Fortnite). Whereas Minecraft is all about building and crafting your world, Minecraft Dungeons is about adventuring through a linear campaign, battling enemies and earning loot. Dungeons are procedurally generated, and up to four players locally and online can adventure together.

Also available on: Switch, PlayStation, Xbox

Unrailed

For fans of: Trains, Overcooked, local co-op

If you’ve enjoyed previous local co-op games like Overcooked, you owe it to you and your co-op partner(s) to check out Unrailed. In Unrailed you’re tasked with keeping your mostly unstoppable train from derailing by harvesting nearby trees and stone, converting them to tracks, and laying tracks through the randomly generated land. It’s a simple yet joyful cooperative experience that gets progressively more challenging the longer you can keep your train going.

Also available on: Switch, PlayStation, Xbox

Older Kids & Teens (10-16)

Grounded

For fans of: Survival-crafting, A Bug’s Life, Honey I Shrunk the Kids

Grounded puts a fun twist on the survival-crafting genre: you’re the size of an ant, and must survive the harsh world of a backyard filled with insects. Up to four players can join forces to craft weapons, expand shelters, hunt for supplies, and avoid becoming the bottom of the food chain.

Note: Grounded is currently in Early Access active development.

Also available on: Xbox

Hades

For fans of: Roguelikes, Supergiant games, Greek mythology

Supergiant Games (Pyre) remains one of the most prestigious indie developers around, so it’s saying something when we declare Hades as their best game yet. The roguelike dungeon crawler blends superb voice acting and gorgeous artwork with fast-paced gameplay. The prince of the Underworld can choose from multiple weapons, gaining boons from the gods as he travels to escape his father’s realm. Dying or even winning isn’t the end however, as the character-driven story smartly expands with each return trip to the House of Hades.

Also available on: Switch

Immortals Fenyx Rising

For fans of: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Greek Mythology

Once known as Gods & Monsters, Immortals Fenyx Rising (releasing Dec. 3) is Ubsioft’s answer to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Copying amazing games is rarely a bad move, and unlike Link, Fenyx is fully customizable, including gender. The open world of the Golden Isles is based on Greek Mythology as Fenyx battles minotaurs and cyclopses and gains weapons and powers of the gods, like the wings of Daedalus and the spears of Ares.

Also available on: Stadia, PlayStation, Xbox

Journey to the Savage Planet

For fans of: The Outer Worlds, First-person exploration, Metroid

Don’t let the aggressive name and quiet launch fool you, Journey to the Savage Planet is one of the hidden gems of 2020. The first-person game is technically a shooter, but it’s more about exploring an alien planet, scanning creatures and plants, finding upgrades, and unlocking new tools. It’s a modern Metroid Prime with a much cheerier world wrapped in corporate satire that should delight fans of Fallout and The Outer Worlds. Best of all – it supports two player online co-op.

Also available on: Switch, PlayStation, Xbox

Star Wars: Squadrons

For Fans of: Star Wars, Flight simulators, Team vs team multiplayer

Star Wars Squadrons does one thing, but does it very well: space combat. Climb into the cockpit of an X-Wing, TIE Fighter, and other iconic spaceships from the Star Wars universe. Squadrons is designed for 5v5 multiplayer matches, but also features a single-player campaign that alternates between the Empire and the Rebellion, bridging the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

Also available on: PlayStation, Xbox

XCOM: Chimera Squad

For fans of: XCOM, Tactical strategy, Aliens

Firaxis Games surprised everyone with this smaller spin-off of the beloved XCOM tactical strategy series. Instead of saving the world from the alien invaders, Chimera Squad takes place during the aftermath, as humans and aliens try to forge a tenuous peace in a diverse city. Chimera Squad trades randomized soldiers for specific characters with unique abilities and traits, and more close-quarters urban warfare that maintains the series’ satisfying tactical combat.

Also available on: N/A

Older Teens & Adults (17+)

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

For fans of: Huge open worlds, Vikings, Medieval history

The Assassins’ Creed series has spanned multiple gaming generations, and it’s never been better. Valhalla continues the expanded RPG gameplay from Origins and Odyssey, shunting us forward into ninth century England. Viking raider Eivor (who can be male or female) must lead their people to a better future across a brutal war, while navigating the secretive conflict between the Assassins and the Templar.

Also available on: Stadia, PlayStation, Xbox

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

For fans of: Shooters, Reaganomics

Call of Duty is a consistently solid shooter series, with Cold War putting players in the 1980s. Competitive multiplayer and cooperative zombies mode are still excellent, but it’s the epic single-player globe-trotting (and mind-warping) campaign that highlights Cold War as a memorable entry.

Also available on: PlayStation, Xbox

Cyberpunk 2077

For fans of: Cyberpunk, Deus Ex, Grand Theft Auto

One of the biggest releases of the year has been delayed so many times it’s become a joke among gamers (release date: Dec. 10). What’s not a joke is the pedigree: CD Projekt Red (The Witcher 3) are experts at crafting gigantic yet story-driven RPGs. With Cyberpunk 2077 we’re trading in our horse and swords for sportscars and blade implants as our customizable hacker-mercenary explores the mean streets of Night City, based on the original Cyberpunk tabletop RPG.

Also available on: Stadia, PlayStation, Xbox

Desperados 3

For fans of: Westerns, Stealth, Tactical Strategy

There aren’t many western games, and most tend to be first-person shooters. The Desperados series is all about stealth and tactics, however, as you guide a small party of outlaws through a series of challenging heists and missions. The third game acts as a prequel, so no prior series knowledge is needed, just a love of stealthy takedowns and underhanded tactics – using loud guns only as a last resort.

Also available on: PlayStation, Xbox

Watch Dogs: Legion

For fans of: Urban adventure, Hacking, Human resources

The third game in the near future hacker series Watch Dogs eliminates any pretense of a central protagonist. Instead, players can recruit from a roster that includes literally anyone they meet in London, from tech-savvy drone experts to sneaky grandmas. You’ll need a wide variety of skill sets to help DedSec fight criminals, oppressive government forces, and a rival hacker group.

Also available on: Stadia, PlayStation, Xbox

Eric Watson

Eric Watson

Eric has been writing for over five years with bylines in Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer and Tabletop Gaming magazine, covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on YouTube. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.