In the ever-evolving landscape of PC gaming, the revival of classic titles through remasters and remakes has become a prominent trend. While some releases fall short of expectations, others shine as examples of how to breathe new life into beloved games. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of remastered games on PC, exploring the distinction between remasters and remakes. Join us as we highlight the 21 best game remasters and remakes to play on PC in 2024, showcasing titles that have successfully blended nostalgia with modern enhancements.
Defining Remasters and Remakes:
Before diving into the list, let’s clarify the often-confused terms of “remaster” and “remake.” In today’s gaming landscape, the lines between the two have blurred, leaving players and developers alike in a state of uncertainty.
Remastered PC Games:
Remasters typically focus on enhancing the audio-visual aspects of an existing game. These improvements may include heightened resolutions, detailed textures, and refined animations. While developers may not invest extensive effort, some hidden gems like Quake II RTX showcase the potential of remasters, leveraging technologies like ray tracing for a transformative experience.
PC Game Remakes:
In contrast, remakes are entirely new productions crafted from the ground up. They utilize the original story, characters, and locations but often feature new engines and minor gameplay mechanics adjustments to align with contemporary standards. The goal is to maintain the essence of the original while enriching the gaming experience, whether through map expansions or the introduction of cooperative modes.
The Best Remastered Games on PC:
Now, let’s shift our focus to the cream of the crop—the best remastered games on PC that have successfully merged nostalgia with modern gaming advancements.
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
- Original Release Date: November 10, 2009
- Renewed Release Date: November 4, 2016
Players fondly recall Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, especially for its atmospheric mission set in Chornobyl. The experience of stealthily navigating through the war-torn, enemy-controlled zones near the former nuclear reactor in Ukraine lingered in our memories long after we finished the game.
Originally slated to be included exclusively in the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Deluxe Edition, the remastered version took an unexpected turn due to player demand. Eventually, it was released as a standalone production. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered boasts enhanced features such as higher-resolution textures, new animations, improved lighting, shadows, and an upgraded audio track. Despite these enhancements, the core gameplay mechanics have remained unchanged.
2. Halo: Master Chief Collection
- Original Release Date: November 15, 2001
- Renewed Release Date: November 11, 2014
Five remasters of Halo games are available in the Halo: Master Chief Collection. PC users also get access to Halo: Reach, the series’ prequel, as a pleasant surprise. For most of the cult game series Master Chief, the main character fights alongside other space-dwelling races as part of the Alliance against humans.
Halo 4 is an exception, as it introduces a whole new plot. Complete game updates have been made to every game in Halo: Master Chief Collection, and players now have access to a robust multiplayer mode featuring maps from the original releases.
3. Command & Conquer Remastered
- Original Release Date: September 26, 1995
- Renewed Release Date: June 5, 2020
Command & Conquer stands as a legendary real-time strategy (RTS) game, paving the way for the future of the genre. It remains a benchmark, if not the pinnacle, of strategy gaming. The remastered version of this classic marvelously maintains its smooth operation, adheres to the original game’s mechanics, and presents a polished aesthetic that preserves its retro visual charm. This remastered edition offers an incredible opportunity for even the most discerning players to immerse themselves in this timeless classic.
The Command & Conquer Remastered Collection proves to be a genuine gift for old-school RTS enthusiasts seeking a nostalgic plunge. Alongside the remastered versions of Command & Conquer and Red Alert in stunning 4K, the collection includes all three DLCs, a rebuilt multiplayer mode, a modernized user interface (UI), a Map Editor for creative exploration, a bonus footage gallery, and an extensive remastered soundtrack spanning over 7 hours. It undoubtedly stands as a fantastic deal, providing a comprehensive and enhanced experience for both longtime fans and newcomers alike.
4. Mass Effect Legendary Edition
- Original Release Dates: November 16, 2007; January 26, 2010; March 6, 2012
- Renewed Release Date: May 14, 2021
For those yet to embark on the journey of the original Mass Effect trilogy (followed by Andromeda), this new version is an absolute must-have. Beyond being a golden opportunity to immerse oneself in an exceptional space-themed RPG, it offers a chance to relive the stellar universe crafted by Bioware—a realm brimming with well-crafted stories, memorable characters, and a multitude of planets waiting to be explored, each offering loot to be uncovered.
A notable highlight of this revamped edition lies in its ability to bestow the attention the first Mass Effect truly deserves. Originating from 2007, the initial title has aged significantly, and this remastered version allows players to rediscover its magic. While the subsequent installments have aged gracefully, the revival ensures they remain eminently playable and, more importantly, showcases them in a state of pristine elegance. Undoubtedly, one of the finest PC game remakes, deserving the undivided attention of gamers seeking an enriched and polished experience.
5. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Remastered
- Original Release Date: May 18, 2015
- Renewed Release Date: December 14, 2022
This RPG masterpiece hardly requires an introduction. Our recollections are steeped in the memory of exhilarating battles, a diverse array of formidable beasts, and captivating side-quests—our personal favorite being ‘A Frying Pan, Spick and Span.’ Not to mention the enchanting Slavic-themed soundtracks that have left an indelible mark. The desire to once again roam the lush forests, traverse the streets of Novigrad, and relive this unparalleled experience is not just wishful thinking—it’s entirely possible!
Capitalizing on the immense popularity of the Netflix series chronicling Geralt’s adventures, CD Projekt Red (CDPR) has unveiled the Next Gen update. This update is so impressive that it transforms the gaming experience into what can only be described as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Remastered. To attain this heightened level of visual refinement (pun intended), all that’s required is the acquisition of either the original base game or the Game of the Year (GOTY) Edition, the latter of which includes two exceptional DLCs. The opportunity to delve back into this rich and immersive world awaits those eager to experience a more polished and visually striking rendition of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition: A Must-Have Remake
Among the standout entries, Mass Effect Legendary Edition deserves special attention. Released on May 14, 2021, this remake of the original trilogy, followed by Andromeda, offers an opportunity to relive the outstanding RPG set in space. Bioware’s creation, with its captivating stories, diverse planets, and compelling characters, has been further enhanced for a modern audience.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Remastered – A Polished Classic
Another gem in the remastered lineup is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Remastered. Originally released on May 18, 2015, the game received a substantial boost with the Next Gen update, coinciding with the popularity surge from the Netflix series. With updated visuals and the option to purchase either the original base game or the GOTY Edition, The Witcher 3 continues to captivate both new and returning players.
The Best Game Remakes on PC:
Transitioning from remasters, let’s explore game remakes that required significant effort and have unquestionably paid off.
6. Black Mesa
- Original Release Date: November 19, 1998
- Renewed Release Date: March 5, 2020
The inception of the first part of Half-Life occurred in 1998, marking the debut project of the Valve Software team, which notably included the legendary Gabe Newell. Swiftly gaining recognition among players, the game’s appeal extended beyond its impressive mechanics and shooting dynamics. Half-Life also distinguished itself by weaving an exceptional plot—an uncommon feat in the realm of first-person shooter (FPS) games.
Fast forward to the present, and Black Mesa emerges as a full-fledged remake of Half-Life, making its debut on Steam two years ago. What makes this undertaking truly remarkable is that it originated as a fan project that spanned an astonishing 15 years in production. The dedicated modders of Crowbar Collective embarked on this ambitious endeavor entirely from scratch, with not a single line of the original Half-Life code utilized in the game files. The outcome is nothing short of incredible, warranting attention from both those familiar with the original game and newcomers alike. Whether or not you experienced the classic, Black Mesa stands as a testament to the passion and craftsmanship of its creators.
7. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
- Original Release Dates: September 9, 1996; October 31, 1997; October 31, 1998.
- Renewed Release Date: June 30, 2017
Appearances can be deceiving, and despite the cartoon graphics and the adorable visage of the main character, don’t be misled—Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is not a suitable choice for children. The elevated difficulty level can prove to be a source of frustration even for the most dedicated platformer enthusiasts.
However, if you’re ready for a genuine challenge, diving into this game is certainly worthwhile. Vicarious Visions has executed an impressive overhaul, going beyond mere graphic enhancements. They have essentially reconstructed the game from the ground up, introducing new animations and special effects that contribute to an entirely rejuvenated experience. So, for those seeking a true test of skill and perseverance, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy awaits, now revitalized and ready to deliver an even more engaging and challenging adventure.
Black Mesa: A Fan-Made Triumph
One standout remake is Black Mesa, a fan project that breathed new life into the classic Half-Life. Originally released on November 19, 1998, Black Mesa emerged on Steam on March 5, 2020. What makes this remake exceptional is that it was a labor of love by modders from Crowbar Collective, taking almost 15 years to complete. The result is a game that not only honors the original but surpasses it in many aspects.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy: A Nostalgic Challenge
For those seeking a nostalgic challenge, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy stands out. Released on June 30, 2017, this remake goes beyond a mere facelift. Vicarious Visions rebuilt the trilogy from scratch, introducing new animations and special effects. Despite its cute appearance, the game maintains its reputation for a high difficulty level, making it a thrilling experience for platformer enthusiasts.
In the dynamic world of PC gaming, the revival of classic titles through remasters and remakes offers a unique blend of nostalgia and contemporary gaming experiences. From the enhanced visuals of remasters to the ground-up recreations of remakes, developers continue to explore new ways to captivate audiences. As we navigate the gaming landscape of 2024, these 21 titles stand out as the best options for both revisiting cherished memories and creating new ones. Whether you’re a fan of intense shooters, strategic warfare, or epic RPGs, there’s a remaster or remake waiting to whisk you away on a nostalgic journey.
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