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The Best Steam Games You Should Be Playing in 2021 | Digital Trends

Despite competing platforms like the Epic Games Store and Origin, Steam remains the place to play on PC. Our list of the best Steam games shows why. Steam boasts the largest library of titles on PC, with everything from indie visual novels to blockbuster action games.

No matter if you just a built a PC or if you’re looking to pad your library, we have a list of the top games that you can play on Steam right now.

Further reading

Monster Hunter World

Monter Hunter World is the first Monster Hunter game on PC, and it happens to be one of the best. With a refined approach that emphasizes accessibility, Monster Hunter World serves as an excellent entry point in Capcom’s iconic series. The Scoutflies help newcomers know where to go, all without messing with the combat that the Monster Hunter franchise is known for. You can easily dump hundreds of hours into Monster Hunter World, and with the excellent Iceborne expansion, hundreds more.

Read our Monster Hunter World review

Final Fantasy XIV

A character in Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers.

Final Fantasy XIV is quickly becoming the go-to MMO. It has grown from a buggy, empty mess at launch to one of the richest MMO experience available, teeming with players and content to keep your busy. It still requires a monthly subscription, unlike The Elder Scrolls Online and some other MMOs, but you can take play the game for dozens of hours with the free trial. In addition to the base game, the trial includes all the content from the first expansion, free of charge.

Read our Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers review

Red Dead Redemption 2

Three players walking in Red Dead Online.
Rockstar Games

Red Dead Redemption 2 lets you live on the American frontier. You play as John Marsh, a thief looking to get out of the business, as he travels across the Great Plains encountering friends, foes, and gold. Although Red Dead Redemption 2 features a story for the ages, simply living in the beautiful world Rockstar created is worth the price of admission. You can play it as a cinematic blockbuster or a full-fledged cowboy simulator, and both experiences are excellent.

Read our Red Dead Redemption 2 review

Apex Legends

Octane posing in Apex Legends.

Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends is a rockstar of a battle royale. Rising to the top of the best battle royale games within days of launching, Apex Legends has continued to prove that it has the staying power to keep fans hooked. Like similar games, you drop into a battle zone with nothing to your name, and you’ll need to loot, shoot, and sprint to make it to the winner’s circle. Respawn enhances the experience with fast movement mechanics that allow you to make it across the massive map with ease, and the developer continues to add new modes to give players something else to chew on.

Read our Apex Legends review

Destiny 2

Players fighting a boss in Destiny 2.

Destiny 2 has consistently been one of the most popular games on Steam since it arrived on the platform a few years ago, and it’s easy to see why. With fluid gunplay, vast maps to explore, and an endless stream of content, Destiny 2 is a game that can grab you and hold you for months or even years. If you’re into first-person shooters, you’ll find something in Destiny 2. Crucible offers a traditional competitive experience, Gambit changes up PvP gameplay, and strikes allow you to team up with your friends. That’s not to mention all the story and seasonal content, which is updated multiple times each year.

Read our Destiny 2 review

Dota 2

A battlefield in Dota 2.

Dota 2 remains one of the most hotly competitive MOBA games around. Going toe-to-toe with League of Legends, it delivers similarly strategic gameplay that’s dominated by some of the most competitive esports players on the planet. Unlike League, however, you have access to all of the characters in Dota 2, even as a free player. That allows you to compete on a level playing field regardless of how much money you have to spend, which is likely why Dota 2 is frequently the most played game on Steam.

Divinity: Original Sin II

Players in an enchanted forest in Divinity Original Sin 2.

Divinity: Original Sin II captures what Steam is all about. It’s a dense RPG with plenty of achievements and Steam trading cards, and it has a packed Steam community, with guides for everything from outfitting your character to choosing the proper weapon. Outside of deeply ingraining with Steam’s social features, Divinity: Original Sin II is just a great game. It’s a sprawling CRPG with a thoroughly engrossing story and deep, tactical combat. Even better, the Steam version supports cross-save with Nintendo Switch, so you can take your adventure on the go without losing any progress.

Civilization VI

A map in Civilization 6.

Civilization VI — and all of the Civ games, for that matter — are deeply complex, 4X strategy games, but you’d never know that as a newcomer. Although there are plenty of tips and tricks to learnCivilization VI is still accessible to someone new to the genre. That’s all the more impressive, considering the game doesn’t sacrifice any of the depth that strategy fans love. If you’re new, make sure to check out our leaders and cultures guide. That’ll give a good overview of how to play whatever leader you want.

Read our Civilization VI review

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

A sniper aiming in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

It’s hard to choose a better Steam game than one made by the developers who made Steam. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive remains one of the most relevant competitive shooters, despite being nearly a decade old. CS:GO’s simplistic yet ruthlessly competitive multiplayer traps players in for hours on end. It’s a game where you want to play for just one more round. Valve recently moved CS:GO to a free-to-play model, too, so you can jump in on the action without spending any money.

Disco Elysium

Characters standing by a tree in Disco Elysium.

Disco Elysium is a game about choice. The game starts when you, playing as a detective, wake up in a grungy motel without any indication of how you got there. Worse, you can’t even remember your own name. Things start to clear up when you meet your supposed partner in the motel lobby, who informs you that the two of you are there investigating a body hanging from a tree in the back. From there, it’s up to you to role-play how you want, building or destroying your character in any way you see fit.

Grand Theft Auto V

Trevor holding a gun in Grand Theft Auto 5.

Rockstar’s latest crime-causing social satire sold more than 100 million copies for a reason: Grand Theft Auto V is a magnificent, open-world action game with enough content to keep players busy for years. Many have willingly done so, enjoying its single-player content as well as the always-evolving Grand Theft Auto Online. The Steam version wasn’t available when the game first launched, but user-created content and mods have helped to make it the definitive version of the game.

Read our full Grand Theft Auto V review

Hitman 2

Agent 47 sneaking in Hitman 2.

The Hitman series has always been at its best when it allows players to just experiment and see the craziest things they can do in its sandbox levels, and IO Interactive has never understood that more than in Hitman 2. The game only contains a few different locations, but all of them are endlessly replayable with different ways you can assassinate your target.

Want to throw someone into a pit of cement or have defense robots shoot your target so you don’t get your hands dirty? You can, or you could just shoot them or throw them off a roof like a “normal” assassin. The only limits here are in your imagination, and new “Elusive Targets” give you a reason to keep coming back.

Read our full Hitman 2 review

Portal 2

A Companion Cube blocking a laser in Portal 2.

It has been available for nearly a decade, but Valve’s Portal 2 remains one of the most engaging, hilarious, and creative video games ever made. Building on the portal-traveling premise of the original but with more complex puzzles, an even funnier storyline, and a charming new companion character, Portal 2 managed to smash the lofty expectations fans had, and it remains just as playable now as when it first released. User-created levels let you play others’ puzzles, and a separate cooperative mode makes it perfect to enjoy with a friend.

Read our full Portal 2 review

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

A character entering a village in Skyrim.

Sure, you can play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on just about any device imaginable at this point, but none of them can hold a candle to the PC version. With mod support, higher resolution, better textures, and even fan-made story content, it’s the definitive platform for Bethesda’s masterpiece. The Steam community is still active, too, with a laundry list of guides on how to make your copy look its best.

The role-playing adventure is set in one of the most gorgeous and fully-realized worlds ever made, filled with secrets to uncover and monsters to slay, and you can always make your own fun by causing chaos if you don’t want to do quests.

Read our full The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim review

The Witcher III: Wild Hunt

Geralt casting a spell in The Witcher 3.

Very few developers can create a world as lifelike and “lived in” as CD Projekt Red, but the Polish studio’s role-playing game isn’t just a virtual sandbox – it also has one of the best-written stories in the medium, whether you’re enjoying the main quest or one of the game’s countless side missions. No two missions in The Witcher III are the same, and seeing everything the game has to offer can take hundreds of hours. It’s a testament to the game’s quality that many players are willing to spend that time.

Read our full The Witcher III: Wild Hunt review

Undertale

A boss battle in Undertale.

Toby Fox’s Undertale looks like a simple retro-inspired role-playing game at first glance, but that is merely a curtain, behind which a truly brilliant adventure hides. Subverting traditional role-playing conventions, Undertale manages to be a commentary on video games themselves, poking fun at character tropes, user interfaces, and combat mechanics while telling a hilarious story. It’s certainly not going to push the power of your PC – or Mac, as it runs on both – but it’s the type of game you won’t find anywhere else.

Planet Coaster

Park guests riding a roller coaster in Planet Coaster.

The RollerCoaster Tycoon series has been in total free-fall over the last several years, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a great theme park simulation to play on Steam. Created by simulation masters Frontier Developments, Planet Coaster is everything you could want from a modern RollerCoaster Tycoon game, including detailed coaster creation and customization options, as well as the ability to micromanage every aspect of your park. We all know that means you’re going to try to kill your guests, but don’t just say that.

Stardew Valley

A farmer harvesting crops in Stardew Valley.

What do you do when you can’t wait any longer to play a full-fledged Harvest Moon sequel? If you’re designer Eric Barone, you just make your own game, instead. Stardew Valley may have aimed to continue the Harvest Moon legacy, but Barone’s game surpasses its inspiration with a colorful cast of characters, deep customization and crop options, gorgeous pixel artwork, and the charm and love that only a truly passionate creator could give a project. With multiplayer and consistent updates, Stardew Valley has only gotten better with age, too.

Celeste

Madeline climbing in Celeste.

Story isn’t the main concern of most 2D platforming games, but Celeste isn’t a typical 2D platforming game. Protagonist Madeline has a seemingly straightforward goal of summiting the titular mountain, but her journey is complicated by a surprising number of supernatural elements. Every stage in the game utilizes a simple air-dash ability, which transforms them into mini-puzzles. The ingenious design makes Celeste one of the most entertaining games available on Steam.

Read our full Celeste review

Editors’ Recommendations




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