It’s the same every console cycle – the new consoles come out and, for a time, there’s a glory period where they at least seem more powerful than the average games PC or Mac. The marketing blather between the big companies ramps up to a degree that you believe that these machines can resurrect the dead and simulate walking on water to an unparalleled degree.

Then it all calms down and within a year a new PC is more powerful than them again. A case in point is that none of the current flagship consoles can handle 4K, or even 2K; the Xbox One can’t even manage 1080p half the time.

But there are some game franchises which, irrespective of the console’s accessibility and the PC’s grunt power, are just better on PC. They have more content, they have better controls, they have mods, they have user-generated content, hell, they even have hats.

And we’ve listed the top PC offerings here, for your perusing pleasure…

Also on: Xbox One, PS4

Pop The Witcher 3 disc into ye olde faithful Xbox One, and you may be completely lost as to why anyone would ever consider this one of the most graphically impressive games of the generation. Launch it from your Steam library, however, and you’ll see what we meant when we said consoles held The Witcher 3 back from achieving its full potential.

With the first two games having been developed for PC and then ported over to consoles, the third title in the series took a detour, with developer and publisher CD Projekt Red releasing Wild Hunt on all three platforms simultaneously. The developer even admitted to the visual burden the console versions of the game put on their PC counterpart, asserting that the only reason they were created at all was to secure a sufficient enough budget.

While the mod scene may be sparse compared to some of the more whimsical content contrived from the Skyrim and GTA V communities, there are still a number of things there to enhance the experience. From a mod that transforms every instance of combat into a card game to one that replaces the bleak tint of the game’s graphics with a more gaudy arrangement of hues, the mod selection certainly outweighs that of the Xbox One and PS4, who have none.

Also on: Xbox 360, PS3

Whilst we wait for the inevitable Skyrim HD on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the PC version of the game is the only place that it looks decent. Remember, after all, that the Xbox 360 has 512MB of memory dynamically shared between RAM and the video card – which is way less than any modern mobile phone, let alone a modern PC. Hence both Skyrim and Oblivion on Xbox 360 are amazing technical achievements, but the definitive version is on PC. If you love open world fantasy games, PC is your home.

And we’ve not even mentioned the thriving mod scene for the Elder Scrolls games on PC. The Steam version has integrated mod support, meaning you can just pick a mod from a huge curated database, including free stuff made by Valve and other professional developers.

Steam currently has a 100MB file limit on mods, though it’s disappearing soon, alongside rumours of paid-for mods, but if you head over to Skyrim Nexus, then huge total conversions like Falskarr and Nehrim are available, which are basically like free expansions or new games, and there’s even a new character scripted by the much-missed Terry Pratchett.

Also on: Xbox, Arcade

Valve’s flagship multiplayer game has been the most played game in the world at several points of its history, but only on PC. There have been some dreadful console versions of Counter-Strike over the years – notably the Xbox port – but then, the PC also had the poor Counter-Strike: Condition Zero. The only other significant version is Namco’s bizarre Japanese Counter-Strike arcade game.

Despite that, Counter-Strike has almost always been better on PC, from the original mod, through the first release, to the Half-Life 2-powered Counter-Strike: Source. The latest standard version of Counter-Strike, the terrifyingly popular Global Offensive, is only on PC, which is a pretty big bonus. Aiming is easier with a mouse, the frame-rate stays high on good hardware, and finding matches is much easier with Steam’s matchmaking engine.

Nexon Corp has taken on the development duties for new games in recent years, with Counter-Strike Online 1&2 and Counter-Strike Nexon: Zombies, again only for PC.

Welcome to TechRadar’s PC Gaming Week 2019. We’re celebrating the most powerful gaming platform on Earth with in-depth articles, exclusive interviews and essential buying guides that showcase everything PC gaming has to offer. Visit our PC Gaming Week 2019 page to see all our coverage in one place.

Also on: Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4

Dragon Age is Bioware’s flagship fantasy series and, whilst its flagship science fantasy series Mass Effect is inarguably better with a gamepad, the first iteration of this Baldur’s Gate wannabe was certainly superior with a mouse and keyboard, due to extremely clunky controls on gamepad, and a pseudo-Infinity Engine interface. It also looked much better on the high resolution monitor of a PC compared to the 1080p limits of an HDTV (which with the previous-gen consoles was always heavily upscaled.)

The second game felt like more of an action-oriented Mass Effect sequel than the first game, and the third game felt more like it wanted to be a single-player MMO like Kingdoms of Amalur, with a confusing tactical planner that only made sense with a mouse. But they both benefitted from the PC’s improved graphics punch and superior control schemes. It’s just a pity that neither of them is on Steam!

Also on: Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4

It’s hard to remember now but the PC was always the traditional home of the FPS – until Halo came along, the argument was that you just couldn’t do an FPS on console. So Battlefield was born on PC in 2002, with Battlefield 1942, Vietnam, Road to Rome, and Secret Weapons of WWII arriving before Battlefield 2 came out on Xbox 360 just after the console’s launch. And again, given the weaknesses of the system, it wasn’t exactly a PC killer.

The control system was equally important, given that the game involves tanks, helicopters and planes. And it has to be said that playing on PC is much easier, given the access to all forms of control – sniping is more accurate with a mouse and flying is steadier with a joystick. And there are even more players on the servers on Battlefield 4 PC!

Also on: Xbox 360, PS3

The Orange Box was probably the best value in gaming when it came out, with three amazing games for £30 (around $45, AU$57) – Portal, Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2. Team Fortress’ history on PC is ancient, going back to a free mod for Quake that came out in 1996. The games revolves around two teams of specialised classes competing to kill each other and/or claim objectives.

Team Fortress 2 was a rebuild of 1999’s Team Fortress Classic mod for Half-Life but introduced cartoon graphics, comedy achievements galore, entire new game modes and something that might one day prove to be the downfall of gaming – hats.

Essentially, there were all sorts of unlockable weapons, costumes and hats (even piles of hats) which made the game not just tremendously fun in and of itself, but also compelling to keep playing, to get those random drops which gave you goodies – none of which were on console. It was a perfect Skinner box.

The hats tied in with the game going free (which didn’t happen on the consoles), which meant every PC gamer worth their salt has played it. It also inspired both the extreme DLC drive we’ve seen recently, the F2P games market in general on all platforms, and kept gamers playing TF right up to the present day.

Also on: Xbox 360, PS3

Another Orange Box survivor, Portal was the core of the orangey package, but Valve was so uncertain about its reception that they kept it short and bundled two existing games along with it. I guess it shows that everybody suffers from imposter syndrome.

Portal 2, meanwhile, has a mammoth amount of user-generated content through Steam Workshop, all rated and curated by the community. I suspect there’s enough stuff here that you would literally never have to play another game again.

Also on: Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, iOS, Android

Like all the best indie efforts, Notch’s survival, crafting and exploration game started on PC and it’s also where the fullest version is. Sure, the console ports are much more polished, easy-to-run, and have stuff like same-screen co-op included.

But the myriad skins and mods are just on PC, along with all the more mature stuff for Minecraft. A working computer built from redstone that simulates another computer? That’s on PC. A full-size USS Enterprise? On PC.

The entirety of Westeros, the Game of Thrones world, recreated in the kind of pernickety detail that only PC gamers seem to bother with? Well, it’s PC, of course. There’s nothing quite like walking up all those bloody steps to the Eyrie to make it worth seeing where Tyrion was nearly defenestrated.

Also on: Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4

Being on PC can’t do anything for GTA’s misanthropic, misogynist characters, but it sure makes them look better as they roam its unique, huge world. The GTA series started on PC, back in the days of DMA Design, but when Rockstar took over, the firm brought GTA III out on PlayStation 2 (though it followed on PC around half a year later).

Essentially, the reason the PC version is superior is that it always comes out with all the expansions, bug fixes, and then has a keen modding community who ensure that it takes advantage of the latest hardware (similar to the awful Dark Souls PC port, which had a day one fix from modders to make it run at vaguely reasonable resolutions.)

GTA V is coming to PC soon, a bare two years after the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. Rockstar normally takes its sweet time to ‘convert’ each game – even though every game was built in Windows first! (We suspect the real reason for the delay has always been to maximise console sales, and minimise the inevitable PC piracy).

Even better than being hugely more beautiful on PC, all the bugs will be fixed (which they weren’t with GTA IV), and it won’t look as terrible as GTA IV did before the PC community’s seemingly-endless supply of highly talented mod-engineers set about it with the pretty hammer.

Also on: iPad, iPhone, Android tablet

Blizzard’s card-hoarding game (at least that’s how I play it) has been a smash hit, with live streams of the game proving hugely popular on

Blizzard has responded by aggressively balancing the game, endlessly tweaking controversial cards (I pretty much stopped playing after they completely nerfed Starving Buzzard) and by releasing a lot of new content. The Naxxramas dungeon was a huge paid expansion, adding a ton of tough single-player battles and a lot of new Deathrattle cards. The next paid update is Blackrock Mountain, which looks to be focused on dragons.

As Lily’s article and video showed, there are problems with the internet connectivity on older iPads. I’ve won games because my iPad 2 connection problems have disconnected opponents – which obviously creates the potential for cheating – and I’ve lost games because I’ve played cards I didn’t meant to, because of the unreliable lag. And, even with a retina screen, the PC version trumps it on frame rate, and the ease of chat.

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