Nvidia and AMD have released top-tier graphics cards for the next generation of gaming, but you can’t get them anywhere. Trump’s tariffs have raised prices even further this year. And while NVIDIA just announced yet another card—the affordable RTX 3060—I wouldn’t expect to get one of those anytime soon either. So what’s a PC gamer with an itchy trigger finger supposed to do?
Chances are you’ve probably played most of the big, popular, well-reviewed games of the past decade. But it’s likely you missed out on some hidden gems that didn’t take off right away, or had rocky starts and got better over time. This isn’t a list of low-spec games for laptops running integrated graphics—some of them might, but that isn’t the goal. (There are already plenty of lists like that out there, especially if you like lower-fidelity indie titles.) Instead, these are solid games from the past decade that’ll run on your GTX 1060 or older just fine—you just don’t see them on typical best-of lists from that era.
Titanfall 2 is easily one of the best single-player first-person shooter campaigns I’ve played in years, and it was totally overshadowed by EA’s inane decision to release it at the same time as Battlefield 1, which was also released around the same time as Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. As a result, despite generally positive reviews, Titanfall 2 fell off the radar of too many people—which is sad. What isn’t sad is the resulting $6 price tag five years later, and its “recommended” spec of a GTX 1060—if you have a halfway decent gaming PC, you can and should play this game right now. (Multiplayer is good too, though I prefer the original Titanfall in terms of online play.)
Ask a bunch of people about underrated games from the decade, and I guarantee multiple will bring up Sleeping Dogs. I think it didn’t gain steam because it was seen by some as a Grand Theft Auto knockoff, but Sleeping Dogs has a great story with some cool undercover cop mechanics—and, according to Kotaku, can even run on some laptops with integrated graphics chips. If that isn’t a perfect game to keep you busy until GTA 6, I don’t know what is.
Released around the same time as Fury Road—and, annoyingly, Metal Gear Solid V—the Mad Max video game received decent-but-not-stellar reviews, and sort of faded into obscurity quickly. But it’s become a cult favorite since then, with folks praising the gameplay and white-knuckle-driving combat you’d come to expect from a game with the Mad Max moniker. Considering it only recommends a GTX 660 Ti, PC gamers starving for an upgrade should be able to play it without much trouble.
I was a Mario kid growing up, but I always loved playing the Sonic games when I’d go over to my Genesis-owning friends’ houses. Sonic had a rough ride in the 3D era, though, with some games working better than (cough) others. So you’d be forgiven for not paying much attention to Sonic Generations, but trust me, it’s one of the good ones, perfectly mixing old 2D sonic gameplay with newer 3D graphics, levels, and moves. I’d almost liken it to the Sonic equivalent of Super Mario 3D Land in that sense: a well-done nostalgia trip with modern twists, and perfect for those who enjoyed the originals but haven’t kept up with the franchise since. Oh, and you can play it on just about any graphics card from the past 10 years, so no upgrade required.
Warhammer 40K is one of those franchises you either know intimately, or make fun of as a result of the super nerdy tabletop game (that I personally played for years, so watch the sass). Both camps would probably be skeptical about a hack-and-slash-meets-shooter game based on the lore, but Space Marine actually turned out alright, with a host of devoted fans wishing for a sequel that will (probably) never come. If you like the idea of mowing down hordes of space orcs in a sci-fi dystopia, give it a shot—it only needs a GTX 260 or newer, and the physical edition (which activates with Steam) is quite cheap on Amazon.
Spec Ops: The Line may look like your run-of-the-mill military shooter at first glance, but it diverges in a lot of unexpected ways once you get through the beginning of the campaign. It doesn’t glorify war (quite the opposite), and adds a lot of emotional, morally-ambiguous decision making atop the cover-based shooting to craft a dark story that isn’t for the faint of heart. Despite being a commercial failure, gamers who know, know: Spec Ops: The Line is one of the decade’s overlooked treasures, and given its low system requirements, there’s no better time to try it out than now. (Oh, and the physical edition is half the price of Steam’s copy, even though it activates on the digital platform.)