Classic PC games are the best! While games have evolved a lot over the years, it took a lot to make a game great before graphics developed enough to compensate for lack of features and gameplay.
These days, we have upcoming games like Anthem and Fallout 76 as well as favorite games from recent years like Borderlands 2, Fallout 4, Fortnite, Overwatch, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and more. But remember a simpler time? Perhaps you don't -- but while PC games have grown over time, it was not until relatively recently that outstanding games were released on consoles at all. The best video games traditionally found their homes on the PC. Today we'll be exploring the top 11 best classic PC games ever.
Top 11 Classic PC Games
Day of the Tentacle
Day of the Tentacle is one of the many classic PC games that recently got remastered. It finally got released on Playstation 4, iPhone, and PC. DotT is the sequel to the popular NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) game Maniac Mansion. The story follows Bernard (a returning character from the original game), Laverne, and Hoagie through a time-traveling adventure as they assist the original game's primary antagonist Doctor Fred Edison in saving humanity from the evil and insane Purple Tentacle (also returning), who has taken over the world.
Players navigate the past, present, and future and collect useful items they use to solve puzzles in this hilarious point-and-click adventure. In this game, you will alter the United States Constitution, dress a mummy up for a beauty contest, deep-freeze, and find out that a left-handed hammer is a thing -- all in the pursuit of saving the world from a toxic sludge-infused tentacular maniac. The original Maniac Mansion is still available in its entirety via an arcade game machine, which is pretty cool. You can play the entire original version of this game in your web browser for free on My Abandonware.
You've probably played Skyrim. You've probably played or at least heard of Morrowind and Oblivion. But the Elder Scrolls series has even earlier incarnations probably forgotten long ago. Arena, the first Elder Scrolls game, was popular, but Daggerfall blew Arena out of the water when it released.
Daggerfall features the largest map ever released in a video game. Sure, the towns and landscapes were repetitive, but it was huge. While the game had many bugs (like all games by Bethesda), the gameplay was intense and addictive. Also, character, spell, and enchantment creation was perhaps more diverse than we have seen in an Elder Scrolls game since Daggerfall. It was also the last Elder Scrolls game that allowed you to bash down doors and rob everything in sight at night then sell the items back to the shopkeeper the next day. Ahhh, memories.
If you want to try it for yourself, Bethesda made Daggerfall free to everyone in 2009. Have fun!
Ultima is a game series that has existed in one form or another since the Atari and the days of coin-operated arcade games. While we haven't seen a recent installment, the Ultima series has inspired many features we take for granted in today's games. If you have ever gushed at a game's open-world setting, you should know that Ultima has always considered that sort of environment to be standard.
Ultima also brought us morality systems that allowed players to face the consequences of their actions and indeed be "good" or "evil," and always featured cutting-edge graphics. Ultima Underworld, for example, was one of the first games in existence to feature true three-dimensional movement. You could also make friends or enemies through your actions -- or through a mistranslation when speaking to lizardmen, whose language you needed to learn if you wanted to get very far with them (Don't, for instance, assume that "sorr" means "sorry").
You can think of Ultima Underworld to a very early yet unrelated predecessor to the Elder Scrolls series -- which makes it very well worth playing if you enjoy exploring classic PC games. If you want to try it, you can download Ultima Underworld for free from My Abandonware.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you're well aware of what Diablo 2 is. Diablo 2 over time has become the classic action roleplaying game. Whether you play the Barbarian, Amazon, Paladin, Sorceress, Necromancer, or Druid, you'll find yourself hacking, slashing, and blasting through hordes of enemies as you seek to destroy the Lord of Terror once and for all.
This game is so good that it has managed to maintain a devoted fan base even in 2018 despite the existence of Diablo 3 -- a game many players view as a severe letdown. Diablo 2, on the other hand, is one of the most addictive classic PC games in existence and is still worth your attention to this day.
Ultima Online is one of the first Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs). Initially released in 1997, Ultima Online came out as the genre was just emerging. It quickly became the first of the genre to reach 100,000 subscribers. It's also the longest-running MMORPG in existence. Also, it was the first MMORPG to explore the idea of player housing. This game had (and has) so much going for it that people are still playing it in 2018. In fact, the game has managed to survive on a subscription model for 20 years despite the existence of World of Warcraft and other newer MMORPGs.
Ultima Online capitalized on and expanded upon the success the series was enjoying at the time of its release. Electronic Arts estimated that UO would sell 30,000 copies when it released. It Ultima-tely sold more than one million and took the world by storm. When player housing was released, castles and keeps -- two of the better housing options.
Ultima Online became well-known for its housing, its player versus player system, and the freedom you had while within the game itself. Numerous studios have, for better or worse, managed the game since its release. But players still find themselves addicted.
You may find the game's systems confusing at times. Ultima Online regularly shows its age. But that it maintains a player base at all more than 20 years after its release is a miracle when one considers the finicky and fickle nature of today's gamers. If you want to try Ultima Online, head to the website, where you can do so for free right now.
Duke Nukem 3d
When someone thinks of classic PC games, Duke Nukem 3D is one of the first things that pops into their heads. Fans remember this foul-mouthed hero as one of the best first-person shooters (FPS) of all time. Duke Nukem 3D is set on earth "sometime in the early 21st century."
Duke returns to earth in a spaceship after the events of Duke Nukem II. Aliens are now attacking Los Angeles and have mutated the LAPD into -- well, aliens. From that moment on, you're running around, picking up weapons, stopping to mingle with strippers, and blasting your way through hordes of baddies in this hilarious, pop culture-infused shooter.
Duke Nukem is known for his catchphrases, which derive from popular movies like Aliens, Jaws, Dirty Harry, and others. Jon St. John brings the character to life with iconic phrases like "Hail to the king baby!" and "It’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum...and I’m all outta gum."
Duke Nukem 3D was recently remastered for its 20th anniversary by Gearbox, the makers of the hugely popular Borderlands series. It features high-fidelity re-recordings of Duke's lines (and new lines), new levels, new music, and a new weapon. As Duke would say, "Come get some!"
You've probably heard of World of Warcraft. It's one of the only MMORPGs to transcend gaming and make its way into pop culture. But its roots lie in an entirely different genre: real-time strategy. Warcraft II was released in 1995 and was easily one of the most popular games of its time.
In Warcraft II, you build bases, recruit troops and workers, harvest materials, and destroy your enemy. You can play as either the Alliance or the Horde. Each side has its unique units and buildings and feels entirely different. While the single-player campaign is far too short, multiplayer was (and is) a lot of fun. The game also has a map editor that allows you to create your own custom scenarios and keep the good times rolling.
If you were to play Warcraft II for the first time today, you would find many familiar characters and settings from World of Warcraft. If you're one of the millions who play World of Warcraft, you're in for a heavy dose of familiarity. Thankfully, it's available on My Abandonware so you can try it right now.
Command and Conquer: Red Alert
Command and Conquer: Red Alert is another RTS game that takes place in an alternate timeline. Albert Einstein travels back in time and kills Hitler in an attempt to stop World War II. But this creates a power vacuum and allows Joseph Stalin to invade Europe unchallenged in 1946. In other words, World War II happens anyway.
Like Warcraft II, you build bases, gather resources, and recruiting units. But there are nuclear weapons, lasers, weather control devices, and mind control towers. You can participate as either the Soviets or the Allied Forces as you attempt to dominate the world or to prevent world domination. The evil genius Yuri breaks off from the Soviets, introduces mind control weaponry and other horrifying weapons to the world. Everything after that becomes muddled.
If you're a fan of the idea of camouflaging tanks, teleporting soldiers, and other high-tech weaponry, you'll love Red Alert. You can get it for free, like many of these other games, from My Abandonware.
You've probably seen the newer version of Doom, but nothing can match the joy felt by players of the original. As far as classic PC games go, Doom was so popular that it spawned multiple sequels and a terrible movie starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
In Doom, you take on the role of an unarmed space marine. But you don't stay unarmed for long, which is good. You spend the game fighting back an invading army from Hell using only your wits (and a crazy assortment of guns). An estimated 15-20 million people within two years of its release played the original Doom.
If you had programming knowledge, you could even customize the game to your liking and distribute your creations to others so they could enjoy them. This game had everything: hidden levels, satanic imagery, controversy-inducing graphic violence, and the iconic B.F.G (Big F****** Gun) 9000. It also had cheat codes, which enabled players to have a carefree playing experience if they just wanted to sit back and enjoy the carnage.
Doom has been available for quite some time, and you can get it from My Abandonware.
You've probably seen Fallout 4, Fallout: New Vegas, and the other more recent games in the series. But while the premise is the same, the first Fallout game was very, very different from those that followed.
The Fallout games occur in an alternative future. You can think of them as being set in a nuclear apocalypse as imagined by people living in the 1950's and 60's.
Fallout is a roleplaying game, but not your typical one. It is unique in that quests were not cut-and-dry. You often can complete them in numerous ways, including ones that were technical failures while still being rewarded. Combat is turn-based and features recruitable allies. Character stats are governed by the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck) system, which has returned in every Fallout game since the first. These stats boost the 18 different skills in the game. You can also use traits, which were beneficial effects coupled with detrimental effects. You also earn "perks" as you level up, which are beneficial effects like faster healing or additional actions per turn.
Fallout also features a morality system and "reputations," which affect how non-player characters interact with you, quests rewards, and what you can and can't do in the game. It is easily one of the most innovative classic PC games and well worth playing. You can try it out on Classic Reload.
Before The Sims, SimCity kept people glued to their computers. In this game, you do exactly what the title suggests. You build a city to your liking. Also, you fend off (or cause) disaster.
SimCity has no real win condition. Your goal is to maximize profit and grow the population. You decide your goals and strive to attain them. This game has spawned multiple sequels and spinoffs. It's a bit dated. But it's also a piece of video game history and well worth a look. You can play it on Abandonware DOS.
Classic PC Games - Honorable Mentions
Some games didn't quite make our list but deserve recognition anyway. After all, when we're considering classic PC games, numerous great games exist. These are some other great classic PC games worth discussing.
The 4th Coming
The 4th Coming, like Ultima Online, is one of the first MMORPG games ever made. Like Ultima Online, servers are still running, and players are still enjoying the game. Unfortunately, because of the popularity of the Ultima series, Ultima overshadowed it. It has always attracted a large population of players over time despite the stiff competition at the time of its release.
T4C, as it's known, features a wide assortment of spells and weapons, a good story, and a particularly hilarious Matric easter egg when you encounter a character known as the Oracle. Quests are text-driven and using the right commands can be frustrating at times, but T4C's Diablo 1-esque gameplay never fails to disappoint. Additionally, the musical score is almost as addictive as the game itself.
What's interesting about this game is its history. Its original developer largely abandoned it and chose to license servers rather than host a centralized game. Your experience with one company could be different from others because of different rulesets in place. Ultimately, the game was sold to Dialsoft, who continues to add regular updates and expansions. Player population is sparse on most of the remaining servers, but you'll find an enthusiastic crowd waiting for you.
Crusader: No Remorse
In Crusader: No Remorse, you take control of a red-suited supersoldier who defects from a tyrannical world government and joins the Resistance. The game's controls are clunky. However, once you begin playing you will find it difficult to stop.
You will navigate through levels fighting bad guys, collecting weapons, and solving puzzles as you complete your mission objectives. This game was expected to sell 100,000 copies but was far more popular than anticipated with half-a-million copies purchased. You can download it from My Abandonware and try it for yourself.
You can think of Worms 2 as a cross between Lemmings and Artillery Duel. But instead of preventing your cute little critters from falling off of cliffs, you're decimating the enemy with bazookas, grenades, airstrikes, exploding sheep, and falling donkey statues.
The timed game is turn-based. Players select their weapon and attack before it switches sides so the other players can get in on the fun. If you like a touch of cuteness with your carnage, Worms is the game for you. It's one of the funniest and most entertaining classic PC games around. You can get it from My Abandonware.
Full Throttle is a game in the vein of Day of the Tentacle. You control Ben, a biker who's out for revenge against some bad dudes who ambushed him. After his gang is framed for murder, you strive to clear their name. Your actions also will save the U.S. motorcycle industry.
This game is creative and darkly funny and was recently remastered so a modern audience can enjoy it. You can download the original from My Abandonware. You can buy the Remastered version for the Playstation or iPhone, or on the PC via Steam.
Come Get Some
Classic PC games are what made today's games great through their innovation and use of limited technology to create something great. Do yourself a favor and give some or all of these a try. You won't regret it.