Despite many folks seemingly thinking that Steam is the be all and end all of all things when it comes to PC gaming, there are actually a whole heap of *really* good PC games that aren’t available on Steam. So with that in mind, we’ve put together this guide which chronicles the best PC games and the best free PC games not on Steam.
Arguably the biggest gaming juggernaut of the last five years and likely for many years to come, Fortnite is nowhere to be found on Valve’s storefront and yet is easily one of the best free PC games not on Steam.
Constantly updated with oodles of content and boasting some truly incredible crossover characters and campaigns including the likes of Marvel’s X-Men, Tomb Raider, Ripley from the Aliens franchise and many, many more, Fortnite is a beautifully presented and effortlessly playable third-person shooter that everyone can enjoy.
Speaking of free to play juggernauts, Genshin Impact also does an ample job of reinforcing why it’s one of the best free PC games not on Steam, too. A generously content stuffed action RPG with a vibrant and colourful anime presentation from which style oozes out of every digital pore, Genshin Impact has only gained in popularity since its release back in September 2020. This is in no small part due to an avalanche of constant updates and the introduction of celebrity crossovers that has kicked off in earnest with Aloy, the flame-haired protagonist from PlayStation Studios’ Horizon Zero Dawn. Expect many more celebrity crossovers further down the line.
One of the biggest surprises of 2020, Immortals Fenyx Rising is a third-person action adventure which took the shopworn open-world formula that the Assassin’s Creed franchise has long embraced and crafted a compelling experience, namely one that has players taking on the gods and monsters of ancient Greek mythology.
Immortals Fenyx Rising not only boasts a wealth of puzzles and secrets to keep things interesting, but also a Zelda: Breath of the Wild influenced visual style, which coupled with a grin-inducing sense of humour ensures that Immortals Fenyx Rising is the most refreshing open-world effort to come from Ubisoft in quite some time – not to mention one of the best PC games not on Steam.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits
One of the best PC games not on Steam, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is quite the tantalising curio indeed. A third-person action platformer that has players liberating trapped forest spirits as they attempt to seek out a mystical shrine, Kena: Bridge of Spirits combines easy to play, 2000s style action platforming and animation studio quality visuals to create one of the most impressive looking folklore adventures you’ll ever play.
Kingdom Hearts Series
From the very first Kingdom Hearts title which saw Sora embark on an odyssey to free his friends from a dark power, to the climatic final entry in the series, Kingdom Hearts III, the entirety of the Kingdom Hearts franchise isn’t on Steam – and that’s something of a crying shame. Even though the labyrinthine narrative can sometimes disappear up its own backside, there’s little doubting the appeal of a third-person action RPG series with sky-high production values that beautifully intertwines an original story with a range of characters and storylines from the world of Walt Disney.
Whether you’re riding a magic carpet high above the streets of Agrabah with Aladdin, punching through legions of bad dudes alongside Hercules or teaming up with Elsa, Christoph and Olaf from Frozen, it’s easy to see why the Kingdom Hearts series represent some of the best PC games not on Steam.
Another Ubisoft game that has side-stepped Steam entirely, Riders Republic transplants Ubisoft’s penchant for open-world shenanigans into the realm of extreme sports and what do you know, it works – it really works.
From skiing to biking to snowboarding and even swooping through craggy valleys in a wingsuit, Riders Republic is a decidedly high octane effort which creates a veritable kaleidoscope of extreme sports disciplines. More than that though, Riders Republic wraps it all up in a compelling framework of single-player and multiplayer activities, races and more for players to get stuck into.
Football meets racing to create an absolute top-tier online multiplayer experience – who’d have thought it? Well, developer Psynoix thought of it and in doing so have brought us Rocket League, a dizzying fusion of the Beautiful Game and high octane racing that has entranced millions the world over across multiple platforms.
Fulfilling that old maxim of being easy to play, yet difficult to master, Rocket League is an effortlessly fun genre hybrid that stands tall as one of the best free PC games not on Steam.
A loving ode to the idols of the golden era of Hong Kong kung-fu cinema, Sifu is the latest title from Sloclap, the standout Parisian developer which brought us the superb (but overlooked) third-person brawler Absolver in 2017. Building upon the resoundingly robust foundations set down by its previous game, Sifu puts players in the dusty sandals of a martial artist who must avenge the murder of his family by smashing through a legion of similarly talented goons in a bid to gain a measure of justice.
With an emphasis on timing, combos and situational awareness, Sifu isn’t just a precisely calibrated brawler, but also a smart one with a special trick up its sleeve too. Each time you die you are given the option to resurrect yourself, albeit much older and capable of doing much more damage, but also not able to take so much damage in return. One of the best PC games not on Steam? Yep, we think so.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
One of the biggest icons of the 32-bit console era (and certainly the one most responsible for getting non-musical folks of that time into punk and rock choons), Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a textbook example of how to remaster a classic from yesteryear without compromising its enduring essence.
Lavishly decked out in highly detailed visuals and a super smooth framerate, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is one of the best PC games not on Steam because it manages to pretty much single-handedly resurrect skateboarding games for a modern audience and does so in such a way that fans both new and old can thoroughly enjoy it.