You’ve just unwrapped your shiny new laptop, desktop, or MacBook. Now, what are you going to play on it? Whether you’ve got a gaming powerhouse that can render the true face of God or just an all-purpose computer, there’s a lot to choose from. (If you’ve got a VR headset, there are even more options, which we’re breaking down separately.)
HERE ARE A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE PICKS
We’ve rounded up our favorite and most-used apps and utilities for the technology we use every day. Check out our other picks for iPhones, Android phones, PCs, and Macs. We’ve also listed our favorite games for iOS and Android from this year.
Stardew Valley is a farming role-playing game in the tradition of Harvest Moon, but with extra polish, careful tuning, and a fresh flirtation with magical realism. It captures Harvest Moon’s satisfying fantasy of simple, honest work without simply bowing to nostalgia, making it the perfect way to escape the last days of 2016.
Available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux on Steam and GOG
Superhot is a rare thing: a truly original first-person shooter that plays more like a puzzle game. Unlike most shooters, it’s not a game about twitch reflexes or perfect aim. The premise is that time only moves when your character does, so you have to position yourself just right in order to dodge bullets and grab weapons. The stark, low-poly art style turns architecture, weapons, and characters into stylized glass and ceramic figures, giving it a distinctive look. If you’ve got an Oculus Rift, there’s also a VR adaptation that’s excellent in its own right.
Available for Windows on Steam and through the official site.
Firewatch puts you in the shoes of everyman Henry, a fire lookout who’s drawn into a mystery alongside his coworker Delilah. Set in the Wyoming wilderness, it’s a short, narrative-focused exploration game about ordinary people dealing with loss and bad decisions — some of which might be made by players themselves.
The latest installment of the long-running Hitman stealth series blows the games’ best elements up to a massive scale. Originally released episodically, its huge levels are veritable assassination Rube Goldberg machines, full of elaborate ways to kill people without anyone being the wiser. Each one of the six locations, which range from a Paris art museum to a Japanese medical facility, is good for hours of exploration… and, depending on how you play, a lot of violence.
Available for Windows on Steam and Amazon.
Quadrilateral Cowboy is the latest project from Blendo Games, the studio behind strategy game Atom Zombie Smasher and the quirky, artistic Thirty Flights of Loving. It’s a retro-futuristic hacking game made in Blendo Games founder Brendon Chung’s distinctive blocky style, a series of heists accomplished with a series of computer commands and a crack team of assistants.
Available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux on Steam and through the official site.
Overwatch took the gaming world by storm this year, with a smart, polished take on the team-based shooter formula that’s bursting with character. Each character offers different abilities and weapons that allow for a varied and unique range of gameplay, whether you prefer to play as a deadly sniper, a a hammer-wielding knight, or a rollerblading healer. Just remember to play the objective, group up on the payload, and that no one needs a Hanzo on Attack, no matter how many gold Elimination medals you have.
Available for Windows on Battle.net or on Amazon.
Death stalks you constantly in Sunless Sea, an otherworldly point-and-click game that combines sailing simulation, role-playing elements, roguelike exploration, and an eerie narrative set in the same world as its much-loved predecessor, Fallen London. As a sea captain (or “zee captain,” in Sunless Sea’s nomenclature), you must explore a constantly changing world to earn money and resolve quests, but travel leaves you at risk of running out of fuel or food — and if your captain dies, you’ll have to start all over with a new one. This is not a bad thing.
Available for Windows and Mac OS X on Steam and GOG.
WATCH DOGS 2
The original Watch Dogs launched with an amazing premise: a Grand Theft Auto-style open world game where you could hack almost everything around you. Unfortunately, it was a mostly drab and heartless slog, but the sequel manages to fix most of the original’s problems. Watch Dogs 2 features inventive new toys to play with, cleverly-designed missions to tackle, and a gorgeous new city to explore. It also finally has a lead character with an actual personality.