Eletiofe13 Best PC Games You Can Play Forever (2023)

13 Best PC Games You Can Play Forever (2023)

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There’s always something new to play, but these are our favorites when you’re seeking something tried and true. 

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Featured in this article

World Builder

Minecraft

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One More Turn

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

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Playing God

The Sims 4

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Space Colony

Rimworld

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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 June 2023: We’ve added Cities: Skylines, Total War: Warhammer III, and Rocket League and updated prices.

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  • Courtesy of Mojang

    World Builder

    Minecraft

    Can you think of another game with the longevity of Minecraft? It’s surprisingly easy to get addicted to, so alive with creative possibilities that you can return daily for years and never exhaust them. Randomly generated worlds to explore combine beautifully with a survival challenge that drives you to build shelter, craft items, and defend yourself from monsters. The best Minecraft builds are awe-inspiring examples of what you might achieve, but there is a powerful social element, too, with the choice to play couch co-op or online multiplayer. 

    Some multiplayer servers boast their own lore and dramatic story arcs that unfold on YouTube to enormous audiences. More than a decade old now, Minecraft continues to evolve, and a big part of its enduring appeal is its ability to be whatever you want it to be.

  • Courtesy of Firaxis

    One More Turn

    Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

    Though I’m old enough to remember the original game, Civilization II was the first in the celebrated turn-based strategy series to get its claws into me. The “one more turn” mantra led to frequent all-night sessions that may or may not have impacted my college career. Oops. 

    The absorbing challenge of guiding a fledgling civilization through exploration, settlement, discovery, and war over centuries in a struggle to dominate the globe is endlessly engrossing. The game has grown tremendously over the years, and the latest Civilization VI is every bit as dangerously addictive as its predecessors. You can spend weeks nurturing your chosen nation, but a part of the charm is how quickly the sting of defeat fades into motivation. You’ll always want to try again with the conviction that you will do better this time.

  • Courtesy of EA

    Playing God

    The Sims 4

    Truly a game without end, The Sims series is unlike anything else. Engage in some digital DIY, mold characters in your image, and sit loftily like a Greek god on Olympus, occasionally poking and prodding at your subjects to see how they react. Whether you want to nurture them and build happy families with fulfilling careers in idyllic neighborhoods or provoke a little drama and indulge in some weirder fantasies, the power is in your hands. 

    The series has lost some charm, growing sanitized and commercialized with curbs on your darker impulses and endless expansion packs, but you can still get lost playing it for days on end. The modding scene adds to the considerable replay value, and it is refreshing and relaxing to play at your own pace. 

  • Ludeon Studios via Simon Hill

    Space Colony

    Rimworld

    Even after sinking 700 hours into Rimworld, I feel like I’m still learning. There is always more to discover and fresh strategies to test. Building a successful colony can be tough when you’re tending to a ragtag band of shipwrecked survivors on a hostile alien planet. Space pirates, giant insects, and wild weather test your endurance. Play as intended, with permadeath on, and your hard-won victories will feel all the sweeter for the people you sacrificed along the way. Simple 2D, top-down graphics don’t impede the complex stories that often pack a real emotional punch. The Royalty, Ideology, and Biotech downloadable content allows for new directions, and there is a lively modding scene, but you can play the vanilla game for years.

    Rimworld was partly inspired by Firefly and Dwarf Fortress ($30).

  • Courtesy of Creative Assembly

    Strategy Perfection

    Total War: Warhammer III

    The Total War series combines a turn-based map with real-time battles for the ultimate strategic challenge. Rome: Total War was the pinnacle of the historical series, giving you the chance to test your abilities as an armchair general fighting to unite ancient Rome. The historical games covered many periods and regions, most recently ancient China, with Three Kingdoms. But the fantasy Warhammer setting frees Total War from its historical shackles and allows for much greater variety in battles, thanks to factions and unit types with genuinely unique play styles.

    Knights, vampires, orcs, chaos warriors, elves, and many more factions fight for dominance in a trilogy that ended with the excellent Total War: Warhammer III. Owners of all three Warhammer titles can play on a mega map that combines the games for a truly epic campaign called Immortal Empires. But you might want to clear your calendar first.

  • Courtesy of Supergiant Games

    Myth and Mayhem

    Hades

    Playing as Zagreus, the sardonic son of Hades, you must escape a hellish labyrinth full of murderous demons for a sweet taste of the mortal realm. With a classic isometric view of the action, Hades is ostensibly a typical rogue-like dungeon crawler. But it’s unusually well-made, with gorgeous art, engaging writing, wonderful voice acting, and modern takes on familiar characters from Greek mythology. Death is inevitable, but it serves as an opportunity to learn, grow stronger, and unravel different story threads. Slick and satisfying combat, layered with different types of enemies and your choice of powers and weapons, keeps things feeling fresh. There’s always something new to find in Hades, even after you think you have beaten the game.

  • Courtesy of Valve

    Team Tactics

    Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

    There is a purity to Counter-Strike’s multiplayer gunplay that remains unmatched by other first-person shooters. Valve somehow distilled the essence of great FPS gameplay built upon team-based games and masterful level design. Teams of terrorists try to successfully bomb, assassinate, or seize hostages while counterterrorist groups strive to foil them. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is faithful to the original, and it regularly tops the Steam charts, for good reason. Slick, fast, and incredibly competitive, CS: GO can be downright painful for newcomers, and you need lightning-fast reactions to compete in the big leagues, but find a group on your level and the team games are extremely fun. 

  • Courtesy of ConcernedApe

    Charming Farming

    Stardew Valley

    You may have doubts about the appeal of a farming simulation, but Stardew Valley stirs in RPG elements with a bucketload of charm and proves to be unexpectedly captivating. The cute art style and gentle music make for a refreshingly relaxing experience. You have boundless choices beyond improving your farm, nurturing and harvesting crops, and tending to animals. There’s fishing, monsters to slay, quests to complete for the local townspeople, and even the possibility of a budding romance. A choice of online and split-screen multiplayer lets you play with friends, and annual updates have steadily expanded the game. 

    Stardew Valley is a nicer world than ours, a world that doesn’t judge you, and getting lost there for a while can be a great way to relieve stress and anxiety

  • Photograph: Paradox Interactive

    City Sandbox

    Cities: Skylines

    Will Wright’s wonderful SimCity was an open-ended city-building series that cast you as mayor of a small town and challenged you to develop it into a sprawling metropolis, but a disastrous reboot in 2013 ended its run. Cities: Skyline is the game that stepped into the breach and took up the city simulation mantle. It’s a meticulous city builder that requires careful planning and a nurturing hand as you develop districts and tinker with your transport system.

    While the original game dropped in 2015, expansion packs have kept it growing over the years (financial districts arrived in December 2022). You can also dig into a mountain of mods and maps created by fans. The sequel, Cities: Skylines II, is set to be released later this year.

  • Courtesy of Epic Games

    Pop Culture

    Fortnite

    When Fortnite emerged, it resembled Valve’s timeless Team Fortress 2, but developer Epic Games pulled in elements from other popular titles, citing Minecraft as an inspiration. Then PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds popularized the battle royale genre, where 100 players fight to the death on an island, and Epic quickly developed the mode that would catapult Fortnite into the zeitgeist

    Games usually have a particular audience, but Fortnite is adept at offering something for everyone, with creative and role-playing elements alongside frenetic third-person-shooter action. Epic also cleverly melded pop culture by including viral dances, musical events, and crossovers with movie and TV franchises like Star Wars and Stranger Things. Themed seasons keep things fresh and encourage players to keep coming back for more.

  • Courtesy of Bethesda

    Epic Fantasy

    The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

    Skyrim feels like a persistent world that goes on without you, and even completed areas are still alive and worth revisiting. Bethesda’s mesmerizing action RPG sets you loose in an enormous, rich, open world teeming with weird and wonderful characters and creatures, abundant loot, and story threads to follow. Each guild has a main storyline attached with a branching structure that includes moral dilemmas. There are side quests galore, lots of magical items to track down, and the option to build a home and get married. More than a decade has passed since director Todd Howard promised us we could play Skyrim forever, and with a steady stream of fresh content, new versions, and mods, many of us still are.

  • Photograph: Epic

    Soccer Cars

    Rocket League

    The unlikely combination of cars and soccer in Rocket League works surprisingly well. You can play solo or dive into chaotic multiplayer madness for matches with up to four versus four players. Mastering the game physics is essential to ensuring you collide with the ball or an opponent at just the right time and angle. Trying to knock the ball into the net sometimes feels more like pool, with your car as the cue, but there’s a healthy dose of demolition derby thrown in. Set in a series of brightly colored arenas, this is an accessible game, offering short bursts of fast-paced, fluid fun that always leave you craving another match. The developers have added several modes and other DLC in the years since its 2015 release.

  • Courtesy of Wube Software

    Build and Optimize

    Factorio

    Factorio is more of an obsession than a game. If you choose to delve into this factory building simulation, you can expect to see conveyor belts when you close your eyes at night and dream of optimizations to perfect your production and improve your base. Tower defense elements make the base building more challenging, and the game throws waves of alien bugs at you. The familiar backstory of crashing on a planet is incidental, because this is really about perfecting a complex automated machine. It is hard to convey just how satisfying that can be. Countless updates and a wide range of mods have expanded on a base game that is very good at consuming your every waking moment.

Simon Hill has been writing about tech for more than a decade. He is a regular contributor to WIRED, but you can also find his work at Business Insider, Reviewed, TechRadar, Android Authority, USA Today, Digital Trends, and many other places. Before writing, he worked in games development. He lives… Read more

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