2021 is almost over so here is the article that most of you have been waiting for. As we’ve already said, 2021 has been a… weird year. And, to be honest, this list is nowhere close to what we imagined at the beginning of this year. After all, some of the most anticipated PC releases, like Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5 and Days Gone, are not here.
As we’ve said numerous times, in our humble opinion, a game that is optimized for the PC is one that can look great and run smoothly on a wide range of PC configurations. An optimized PC game should also scale back on older graphics cards and CPUs. We also take into account other “small details“, like overall stability, mouse movement, whether there are frame pacing issues, etc.
So, without further ado, here are our Top 10 Most Optimized PC Games of 2021.
We were pleasantly surprised by Hitman 3. Contrary to its predecessor, Hitman 3 scaled wonderfully on multiple CPU cores/threads. Not only that, but the game looked and performed better than Hitman 2. Due to its heavy use of physics in some levels and scenes, the game does require powerful CPUs. However, and most of the time, it runs smoothly on a wide range of PC configurations.
The reason Kingdom Hearts 3 is not higher in the list is because it’s a somewhat old game. However, the game runs incredibly well on PC. At 4K, we were witnessing over 100fps on Max Details. The game also plays great with Keyboard & Mouse, and we had not experienced any stability issues. The only bad news is that the game does not offer a lot of graphics settings. Nevertheless, even an AMD Radeon RX580 can push framerates higher than 70fps at 1080p/Max Settings.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time surprised us pleasantly when it came out on PC in March 2021. Powered by Unreal Engine 4, the game runs silky smooth on a wide range of PC configurations. Not only that, but it looks great. This was a top solid PC release, and most PC gamers will have a great experience with it.
Hot Wheels Unleashed performs incredibly well on PC. The game does not require a high-end PC system and can run smoothly on a huge range of PC configurations. It also looks great, so kudos to Milestone for not dropping the ball. Although it doesn’t support any RT effects, it uses traditional rasterization techniques in order to provide a great overall image. The only downside here is some minor stutters that can occur when a race begins. Other than that, though, this is a pretty solid PC product.
Tales of Arise is another game that runs silky smooth on a huge range of PC configurations. The game uses Unreal Engine 4 and, surprisingly enough, does not suffer from any stuttering issues. Tales of Arise plays wonderfully with Keyboard & Mouse, does not require high-end CPUs or GPUs, and looks great mainly due to its art style. This is a game that all JRPG fans will enjoy.
Aliens Fireteam Elite looks and runs great on PC. While it’s not THE best-looking PC game to date, it certainly runs great on a wide range of PC systems. The game does not require a high-end CPU, and runs smoothly on mid-range GPUs. We also did not experience any crashes or instability issues.
Bright Memory Infinite is another game that pleasantly surprised us. This is a game from a really small team, so we weren’t expecting it to run this good on PC. However, its non-ray-traced version runs silky smooth on a huge range of PC configurations. Additionally, the game looks great. It’s not, graphically, as good as the next game. Furthermore, its Ray Tracing effects are not THAT impressive. Still, Bright Memory Infinite can challenge most other triple-A titles.
Contrary to Battlefield 2042, Call of Duty: Vanguard performed well on the PC right out of the gate, and did not have any major glitches or bugs. This is one of the most beautiful FPS games of 2021, and runs incredibly well on PC. Not only that, but the game supports both FSR and DLSS, so that PC gamers can further increase their in-game performance. The game does suffer from your usual “COD-issues” (like dumb AI, spawning enemies and pretty average storyline) but on a technical level, Vanguard was great.
Resident Evil Village runs currently smoothly on a variety of GPUs and CPUs. The game originally had some major optimization issues that Capcom has addressed. In its latest version, both the stuttering and framerate issues when facing Dimitrescu’s daughters have been fixed. And while there isn’t any FOV slider, PC gamers can use a mod in order to improve it. In its current state, Resident Evil Village looks great and performs well on PC.
We honestly cannot praise enough Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition. In 2021, this is the best example of what Ray Tracing can achieve in PC games. While LEGO Builder’s Journey also looked great, it doesn’t have the scope of Metro Exodus. Although other games used Ray Tracing in order to slightly improve their visuals, Metro Exodus takes full advantage of the tech. While we’re not looking at a full path tracer model, like in Minecraft RTX or Quake 2 RTX, we can wholeheartedly say that this is the best hybrid rasterization/ray tracing solution we’ve seen to date. Furthermore, and thanks to DLSS, it’s also possible to run the game at 1440p/Max Ray Tracing and maintain framerates above 60fps. The fact that most other triple-A games didn’t use RT or used RT for only one effect (that also tanked their performance) speaks volumes about what 4A Games has been able to create.
John is the founder and Editor in Chief at DSOGaming. He is a PC gaming fan and highly supports the modding and indie communities. Before creating DSOGaming, John worked on numerous gaming websites. While he is a die-hard PC gamer, his gaming roots can be found on consoles. John loved – and still does – the 16-bit consoles, and considers SNES to be one of the best consoles. Still, the PC platform won him over consoles. That was mainly due to 3DFX and its iconic dedicated 3D accelerator graphics card, Voodoo 2. John has also written a higher degree thesis on the “The Evolution of PC graphics cards.”