As fun as gaming is, it’s not always possible to sit at the high-end of the market and play the latest titles. Whether you’re traveling with a lightweight system, using a secondary rig, or simply working from an old PC because you can’t afford an upgrade, we’ve put together a list of titles you can still enjoy, even from an older system.
One of the greatest strengths of PC gaming is its backward compatibility. Thanks to the steady advance of system performance, even at the integrated graphics level, even modest machines from several years ago can enjoy a huge range of games today. The titles on our list below range from relatively recent games that run well on even modest systems to old titles that still hold up today.
Keep in mind, however, that after decades of publishing, there aren’t just “20 great games you can play on laptops and low-end PCs.” There are hundreds, possibly thousands of titles that still run well on even low-end hardware. Travel back to the early days of the 3D era, and even Intel integrated GPUs have far more horsepower than the GPUs that powered games like Quake II or The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. GoG has a huge list of games released from 2004 or earlier that would run well on even an aging Atom netbook today, and Steam has many of these as well. We’ve tried to cover a range of franchises and titles, from indie games to AAA releases, and with multiple genres represented.
Without further ado, here’s the first part of our list:
When it comes to Valve titles, we’ve decided to break things out into a separate list. Once upon a time (the late 1990s to mid-2000s) Valve was famous as a game developer as opposed to for running a massive PC game distribution service. In most of the cases below we’ve chosen to focus on sequels because oftentimes, they represent the pinnacle of Valve’s game design for a given franchise. Still, in all the cases we highlight, there were previous titles — a Half-Life to Half-Life 2, a Team Fortress to TF2, etc. If you’re looking for an even gentler title (a cubicle wall could run HL2 these days), these could well suit:
So that’s our list. Feel free to chime in with your own. What older games or titles still have a cherished spot on your hard drive, and what games do you find yourself returning to, long after they’ve supposedly been surpassed by more recent releases?
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