PC gaming is a vast, diverse, and fascinating hobby, but that also means it can be a little bit intimidating if you’re a newcomer who wants to begin the gaming adventure.

We’re here to tell you, that it’s not quite so bad, actually, and we can guide you through the first stages of getting ready to play. It’s not an IKEA assembly guide, however, and where your equipment and preferences come into play we can only help a little bit.

Without further delay, let us help you!

How to Start Gaming on PC in a few easy steps

0. A note to console gamers

First off: hello, and welcome to team PC.

You are probably already aware of almost everything we cover here, from choosing the games to play, to platform registration. Something you do need to worry about now, however, are system specifications, covered in point #4. Otherwise, you’re good to go!

1. Get a PC

his is the obvious first step, if you want to get into PC gaming, and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you already have that covered.

You don’t need to buy a gaming computer specifically, unless you want to be able to play everything. Sometimes a regular reliable machine will do, and there are many, many games which don’t require a PC equivalent of a sports car, a mid-range graphics card can still give you enough power to play many games, even if it requires a lowering the graphics settings a bit. If you prefer laptops, make sure it has both an integrated and a dedicated graphics card!

If you have a PC, you also probably have all the peripherals you’ll need to begin: the mouse and keyboard. Some games work better with other accessories, but you’ll be fine for now.

2. Decide what kind of games you’re interested in

For this step you might want to rely on Google or visit one of many gaming-related spaces on the Internet (such as video game subreddits), but the idea boils down to you figuring out what kind of thing you’d love to do in a game, and then start narrowing things down if necessary.

There simulators modelling various real-life activities, games strongly inspired by fiction genres and famous stories, adaptations of board games, and much, much more. There is a very good chance that you’ll be able to find a game matching your criteria, whether through your own Googling or asking the internet hivemind.

To give you a smoother start, we’ll add a few suggestions further down.

3. Register on a relevant distribution platform

This point is possibly the most important one so far. Once you find out what game you’re going to start with, you have to figure out the platform it’s available on. There’s a high probability that it’s going to be Steam, but other options for PC gaming include GOG, Origin, and Epic Game Store. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from using multiple platforms, and in some cases you might need to, because the catalogs don’t overlap perfectly.

Registration itself rarely requires more than basic information like a username, e-mail address etc. but purchases tend to go through the usual verifications and forms you find elsewhere in online shopping. You will need an account on these platforms.

4. You’re ready to buy a game. What now?

Before you close the deal, there are several things you should be aware of.

System requirements

First of all, check its system requirements. While many games will run fine on modern PCs, better safe than sorry. System requirements are located usually towards the end of a game’s description and depending on the store might have their own tab or link taking you straight to them. When you find them, pay attention to Minimal Settings and compare them to your PC’s hardware.

If you’re not sure what your hardware specifications are and use a Windows OS, you can type “System Information” in Windows Start menu and check “Summary” and “Components -> Display” for processor, RAM, and graphics card info.

If you want more concrete info, check if the game has a demo version: a dramatically cut down slice of a game meant to give you a good idea what it’s like and if it works well on your hardware.

Reviews and content

The second thing to be aware of are ratings and classifications. In one sense, review rating can give you a good sense of the general reception of a game, based on different criteria depending on the website you check. In another sense, ratings issues by agencies such as ESRB can inform you on things featuring in the game, such as degree and kind of violence.

Once you get deeper into the hobby, you’ll gain a more instinctual understanding of what to expect, but early on you might want to check PEGI and ESRB websites or look for critic and user reviews.

Do take into consideration, however, that ratings don’t, and can’t, include online interactions. If you want to jump into multiplayer with people you don’t know, your experience might vary wildly.

5. Congratulations, you got your game!

You’re found the game you want to play, confirmed that it’s not only good, but also can run on your PC just fine. You’re good to go, so we’ll just add a few words of encouragements, just in case.

Asking for help is perfectly fine

Video games are complicated and abstract, it’s fine to not know how to do something, especially if you’re new in the hobby. Many games have communities, forums, and subreddits and you can visit them to ask for help. It’s also possible, that somebody has struggled with the same thing you might and that there’s already a thread with useful advice. Often, it’s better to google and ask than to get frustrated.

Few games are truly unique, check a couple out before giving up

While games themselves tend to be unique, many gameplay elements are not. If you thought you’d love first-person shooting in Arma 3, but it turned out it’s too slow and complex for your enjoyment, perhaps try Medal of Honor, or even Call of Duty. Or maybe you love turn-based combat, but don’t feel strongly about XCOM 2’s cyberpunk setting, give Divinity: Original Sin 2 a shot.

The point is: in many cases you can find something that’s “like this game, but it’s…”. And every game you play helps you narrow down your gaming preferences!

It’s okay to start slow

Many games will have a low entry threshold for newcomers, but also a very high skill ceiling for genre veterans. Don’t be discouraged by that gap, but instead try to take inspiration from it, or even just ignore it and play your way, especially in single-player games. When you play solo, nothing should matter, except your fun.

The best PC games for beginners

Below you’ll find our suggestions from a handful of genres and styles. It’s by no mean an exhaustive list.

Titanfall 2 First-person shooters high mobility, science fiction weapons, and a mech
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 First-person shooters fast-paced military action game series
Half-Life 2 First-person shooters a classic FPS, old, but gold
Batman: Arkham Asylum GOTY Action/Adventure a Batman simulator
Darksiders Warmastered Edition Action/Adventure post-apocalyptic adventure with combat and exploration
Psychonauts 2 Action/Adventure a fun and sincere adventure in the minds of other people
Company of Heroes 2 Real-time strategies World War II strategy
Age of Empires II: Definitive Editioe Real-time strategies and old-school cult classic
XCOM: Chimera Squad Turn-based tactics cyberpunk game about a join human-alien response squad
Into the Breach Turn-based tactics condensed tactics under the guise of mecha vs kaiju
Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate - Daemonhunters Turn-based tactics power-armored Space Marines vs demons
The Wolf Among Us Story-driven choice-heavy, based on the Fables graphic novel
Firewatch Story-driven a story of a fire watcher in a lovely forest
Life is Strange Remastered Collection Story-driven teen drama, time manipulation, tragedy
Portal 2 Puzzles Puzzles
Opus Magnum Puzzles optimization, programming, logic
The Talos Principle Puzzles exploration, logic puzzles, philosophical undertones
PowerWash Simulator Simulator (self-explanatory title)
Euro Truck Simulator Edition Simulator (self-explanatory title)
House Flipper Simulator (self-explanatory title)

Welcome to the hobby!

You’re all set now, so there’s nothing left for us to do except wish you a great time, a ton of fun, and satisfying process of discovering what this amazing hobby has in store!

Should you find the game that perfectly scratches your itch, we can help you find more titles like it.