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11 PC Games You Can Play Forever

11 PC Games You Can Play Forever

How often do you hunt through your PC game library for something different and end up playing an old favorite instead? New games can be a big commitment. It might take hours to decide that a game is not for you, and you have only so much free time. The thing is, it’s OK to play one game forever. PC games often have a bit more depth and staying power than their console counterparts, and you can usually add mods for a richer long-term experience. Our picks here have almost infinite replay value and can keep you entertained for hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of hours. 

More of a console gamer? Try our guides to the Best Xbox Series X/S Games, the Best PS5 Games, or the Best Nintendo Switch Games.

Updated April 2022: We’ve added Hades and Skyrim.

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The 7 Best Gaming Controller for Every Kind of Player

The 7 Best Gaming Controller for Every Kind of Player

Years ago, third-party gaming controllers were dirt cheap and notorious for poor craftsmanship—especially the eggshell-plastic MadCatz knockoffs. Every household had one. It was reserved for kid siblings and houseguests you maybe didn’t like that much. Those kinds of controllers gave third-party gamepads a bad name—one that persists to this day.

In recent years though, companies like Scuf and Astro have donned their armor and unfurled their banners on a quest to rebuild the reputation of “off-brand” gamepads, one controller at a time. We’ve tried a bunch of them in the past couple of years, and these are our favorites. Here are the best gaming controllers, official and unofficial, for the Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox (One and Series X/S), and PC.

Be sure to read our guides to the Best Gaming Headsets, Best Gaming Mouse, and Best Gaming Laptops for more recommendations.

Updated February 2022: We’ve adjusted pricing throughout this guide, added the Scuf Reflex and Scuf Instinct, and removed the Hori V. Kai arcade controller. 

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Valve’s Steam Deck Is a Glitchy but Promising Portable Gaming PC

Valve’s Steam Deck Is a Glitchy but Promising Portable Gaming PC

I’ve been playing PC games since I was a kid—I remember trying SkiFree on my mom’s desktop when I was too sick to go to school. Since then, I’ve amassed a vast library of games on Steam, the platform created by Valve; it’s how most people play games on their computers. (Valve is also the creator of hits like Half-Life and Portal.) I was intrigued when Valve announced the Steam Deck last year, a handheld portable gaming console that lets you play your PC games anywhere. It’s the potential kick I needed to get through my ever expanding Steam backlog. 

Well, I’ve been using the Steam Deck for several weeks, playing AAA and indie games on my couch, in bed, while sitting on an office chair, in my car, at a café, and on a plane. Some of my fears when I first heard about the gadget were validated—it’s bulky, and the layout of the controls isn’t very ergonomic, attributes you don’t really want in a handheld console.

It also feels like Valve could’ve used a few more weeks (months?) to polish the software experience. (The Deck was supposed to launch back in December, so it’s already been delayed once.) This console has been in development for four years, through a pandemic, so it’s not surprising to see last-minute issues to correct. But since I received it, Valve has pushed system updates every single day—meaning I’ve had to retest certain functions over and over again. Valve says it will continue pushing out frequent updates to squash bugs after launch. 

That’s both good and bad. It means the software needs more work, but it also shows how committed Valve is to the Steam Deck. I’m glad to see it, because this thing has a ton of potential.

Bulky Machine

Valve Steam Deck
Photograph: Valve

I received the top-end Steam Deck that retails for $649, which includes a 512-gigabyte solid-state drive. You can pay as little as $399 for the Deck, but you’ll only get a paltry 64 GB of storage. Considering that AAA games are 50 to 70 GB these days, if not more, you’ll probably want to pay up for the 256-GB version ($529) at the very least. 

That said, the MicroSD card slot is hands down my favorite feature. You can hot-swap in MicroSDs once they’re properly formatted to jump in and play a different game, essentially giving the Deck a whole lot more storage. I purchased a 1-terabyte SanDisk Ultra MicroSD card, and it holds all 41 games I wanted to download, including Mass Effect Legendary Edition (110 GB), ARK: Survival Evolved (101 GB), Destiny 2 (74 GB), Cyberpunk 2077 (67 GB), and Death Stranding (64 GB). 

The load speed difference between the internal SSD and the MicroSD is minimal—Death Stranding took about 19 seconds to load up on the SSD and 30 seconds on the MicroSD, though this does fluctuate. So far I haven’t noticed any major differences. I also tried this with 32-GB and 256-GB SanDisk Extreme MicroSD cards, and the results were no different. If you’re worried about Valve’s low storage options, MicroSD cards will have your back.

This Steam Deck is bulky, but not as heavy as I had imagined nor as uncomfortable to hold. It weighs 672 grams; for reference, the Nintendo Switch OLED is 436 grams, and the iPhone 13 is 174 grams. Much of this weight sits on each side of the console, which is curved at the back to fit more comfortably in your hands. It feels weird to hold such a wide handheld (12 inches compared to the 9-inch-long Switch), but you get used to it. Literally. The first time I played for an hour straight, my right hand went numb. I now mix in a few breaks and stretch my hands out regularly and it hasn’t happened since.

My biggest concern was the layout of the buttons, especially since you can’t detach the controllers like you can on the Switch. Unlike most controllers, where the buttons and thumb sticks sit on a diagonal—a design iterated on over decades of testing to reduce strain—the Deck’s D-pad and ABXY buttons sit horizontally next to their respective thumb stick. They’re quite high up to make room for two trackpads on each side of the console. There are also triggers on the console’s shoulders and paddles on the back, which feel great and remind me of the Xbox Elite controller.

The Best Accessories for Your New PlayStation 5

The Best Accessories for Your New PlayStation 5

Picking out accessories for a new PlayStation 5 is almost as tricky as buying one. That’s because of its new capabilities. The cybernetic clamshell tower of a console is packed to the gills with impressive hardware. It can run games in native 4K, hit frame rates in excess of 120 frames per second, and output video at 120 hertz for that ultra-silky-smooth look and feel. 

It’s the first game console that can really take advantage of a killer home theater setup. To that end, we’ve compiled our favorite PS5 accessories, which include a few luxury picks for those of you looking to really turn your living room into a cathedral for your new PS5.

Be sure to check out our full review of the PlayStation 5, along with a roundup of our favorite PlayStation games. We also have guides on the Best TVs and Best Soundbars, if you want more home theater buying advice.

Updated February 2022: We’ve added the Scuf Reflex controller, the YAS-209 soundbar, removed the Vizio 2.1 Soundbar, and adjusted prices. 

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Total War: Warhammer III Is an Epic Final Chapter

Total War: Warhammer III Is an Epic Final Chapter

A horde of grotesque beasts and slavering monsters led by an impossibly huge, flying horned demon wielding a flaming sword threatens to sweep my army away. Arrows, spears, and axes rain down upon impervious scales and gleaming armor. My terrified frontline is already giving ground as this monstrous force drives up the slope. Ammunition is dwindling. When the demon flies overhead, diving to attack from behind, my soldiers waver. They are ready to flee—until my ice queen charges into the melee atop a roaring war bear, unleashing spells that freeze our enemies. She turns the tide. We live to fight another day.

Total War: Warhammer III is the culmination of the finest strategy series ever made, and this is a hill I am willing to die on. This latest entry (available on PC and Xbox Game Pass) hosts the usual struggle for dominance between disparate factions—some familiar, some new—but for the first time, we must rally our troops and lead them into the Chaos Realm to face horrors that will challenge their very sanity.

The scale of this game is incredible, with a campaign map that dwarfs its predecessors, new playable factions with different styles, and a compelling narrative that weaves in your aged Advisor and his Tome of Fates. Veterans will feel right at home with this blend of real-time battle and turn-based strategy, but there is an excellent tutorial to refresh your memory and arm newcomers with the knowledge they need to march into battle.

The Evolution of Total War

Screenshot of Total War WARHAMMER III game featuring characters fighting
Courtesy of Creative Assembly

The Total War series captivated me at inception with Shogun: Total War back in 2000. I have fought for the glory of Rome, unified China, and led Napoleon to victory in Europe. I even watched Time Commanders, a strange TV show where historians (with little to no experience of video games) reenacted famous Roman battles in the game that became Rome: Total War. The chance to rewrite history was tantalizing, but the tactics and military units employed by different nations often came to feel very much the same.

The fantasy world of Warhammer freed Total War from the limitations of historical accuracy and Warhammer II was a game you could play forever. Stirring magic into the mix invigorated the series with elves, goblins, dwarves, undead hordes led by vampires, and abominations from the chaos realm, alongside human factions echoing chivalrous knights or Vikings. Playing as different factions meant adopting new tactics, understanding divergent underlying mechanics to grow civilizations, and satisfying disparate goals to achieve victory.

In Warhammer III, you can choose from seven factions (eight if you preordered). The human options are the familiar Kislev (clearly inspired by medieval Russia) and the Grand Cathay (based on imperial China); then there are the four Chaos Gods (Khorne, Tzeentch, Nurgle, and Slaanesh) and the Daemons of Chaos (allowing you to play as the winged and horned Daemon Prince I mentioned earlier). The first downloadable content (included for anyone who preordered) is the grotesque Ogre Kingdoms, which views all enemies as food for the Great Maw.

As always, you battle for dominance of a campaign map. But while you can win by destroying certain factions and maintaining control of 50 provinces, there is another path to victory.

The Chaos Realm

Screenshot of Total War WARHAMMER III game featuring large demon character in snow
Courtesy of Creative Assembly

The great Bear-God Urson is a prisoner to upstart Daemon Prince Be’lakor, and his periodic death throes open rifts in your world. Your faction leader can take an army through these portals to the bizarre domains of the four Chaos Gods. By completing the trials, you can face off against each of them and claim a Daemon Prince’s soul. Collect all four souls, and you can take on the big bad Be’lakor and seal Urson’s fate.

Each of the chaos realms has its own style. The main challenge is to defeat a series of armies to reach the showdown, but things are spiced up by temptations that may divert you from your path. Competing factions are also racing to claim those souls, so you must wrestle with a series of agonizing decisions.