A lot of us have found ourselves in the sad situation where we want to play some of the latest games on PC, but the only hardware available to us is a modest low-end laptop. And while you might not be able to play the latest triple-A titles, there are plenty of fantastic indie games out there that won’t melt your machine and are just as worthy of playing as the big-budget releases.
So fret not, laptop owner, for this list of the best games to play on a low-end laptop as of 2019 is here to help you.
1. Sid Meier’s Civilization V
Still arguably the best Civilization game, the fifth iteration of the history-spanning 4X series is nearly a decade old now, meaning that it runs nice and smoothly even on lower-end machines. While some will say that its successor is a bit more polished, many still see this entry as more grounded, with its single-tile cities and interesting interpretation of systems-like Religion being a bit more elegant.
The complete edition, with the Gods & Kings and Brave New World DLCs, is a must, but it comes cheap these days, so that shouldn’t be a problem for thrifty gamers. Also, the Vox Populi community project for Civ V, which overhauls many mechanics and reintroduces systems from older Civ games, is quite possibly the best version of Civ out there and well worth installing.
2. Pillars of Eternity 2
There’s been a veritable revival of old-school cRPGs in the last five years, from enhanced editions of classics like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment, to new games inspired by that AD&D style. Pillars of Eternity 2 is probably the best of these, made by RPG veterans Obsidian.
It clarifies and simplifies many of the obtuse UIs and mechanics associated with this genre, while telling a fantastic story of buccaneering and adventure as you assemble a party of heroes and travel the world of Eora.
It’s a game of lengthy, well-written dialogue, impactful moral choices, and rich tactical combat, and quite possibly the best modern-day RPG that will work on a low-end laptop.
3. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
A laptop with pretty much any specs should be able to handle this faecal, belchy twin-stick shooter from the makers of Super Meat Boy. The comically grotesque roguelike game casts you as a baby that fires tears at a wide array of nasties and bosses across an array of procedurally-generated dungeons.
The gameplay itself couldn’t be simpler, but each run feels different thanks to an unthinkable arsenal of power-ups and power-downs that will make you a vastly different build on each run. You may end up as a blood-screaming demon on one run, and a giant baby with a homunculus sticking out of your head on another.
It’s a poo-smeared gem you can keep playing for years.
We wanted to have some representation of the FPS genre in this list, and there are plenty of great games going back through the years that are still worth playing today – Half-life 2, Bioshock, even the original Doom. But with the retro-styled FPS revival of the past couple of years, we decided to go with something more contemporary.
Dusk is a brutal fast-paced shooter in the vein of Quake 2, Blood, and other splattery shooters of the late 90s. It has an intentionally crunchy low-poly visual style that evokes that era, but with blistering frame-rates and modern mechanics that make it feel decidedly ‘2019.’
It’s the best of a great bunch of retro-styled shooters that include Amid Evil, Ion Fury, Devil Daggers, and more!
5. Hollow Knight
The Metroidvania genre is all the rage in recent years, and Hollow Knight stands at its pinnacle, swinging his little sword around his head to fend off all pretenders. You explore a vast but crumbling underground kingdom as the titular knight, picking up abilities to delve into its deepest, darkest recesses while trying to uncover the source of the disease that’s spread through the land.
Hollow Knight is a game of beautiful haunting visuals and lovely little details, such as when you look at your map, you actually see Hollow Knight looking at his map in-game, which slows down his movement. It’s deceptively huge, too, and will take you a good 40 hours to complete, not taking into account the free extra content that’s been added since launch.
These are our top picks for games you can play on your laptop without burning it out. Do you have anything you’d like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments!