Who says a video game needs to be a finished product to be worth playing, or even become one of your favourites? Early access used to be a term reserved for titles whose developers were still working out the kinks, and while that’s still somewhat true, games that haven’t graduated to full release can still become phenomena — like Fortnite, which (in)famously left early access three years after it launched, well after it had embedded itself in the public consciousness.

PC gamers, in particular, know there are plenty of gems to choose from that haven’t yet made it to their “official” launch, spanning a wide range of styles and genres. Let’s take a look at some of the best early access PC games you can grab right now.

Five million Viking fans can’t be wrong. That’s how many people have already given Valheim a try, compelled by its exciting new take on survival and adventure set against the backdrop of Norse mythology. From challenging but rewarding combat to amazing boss battles to crafting and exploration, Iron Gate AB and Coffee Stain Publishing have packed a lot into an amazing package, one that has players journeying to procedurally generated versions of Valheim again and again. It’s hard to believe a five-person team is responsible for it, and makes you wonder what they still have in store for the full release.
Baldur's Gate 3
When you’re creating a sequel to one of the most beloved PC role-playing games of all time, based on the granddaddy of all pen and paper RPGs, it’s understandable that you’d want to take your time and get everything just right. That’s what Larian Studios is doing with Baldur’s Gate 3, which is set to stay in early access for at least a year. Despite the fact that only Act 1 is fully complete, people have been flocking to the game already, looking to see how it expands upon the Forgotten Realms while incorporating 5th-edition Dungeons & Dragons rules.
Who you gonna call? Before taking on this psychological horror-fest, you might want to call a friend or three for some online co-op. Phasmophobia isn’t for the faint of heart, as it serves up a visceral ghost-hunting experience that even allows you to talk to the dead using your voice if you’re so inclined. It also supports VR without making everyone playing don headsets. While the devs work on more equipment, maps and ghosts for the full release, streamers are already getting their scares on regularly with the game in its current state.
Being trapped at sea with few resources and little hope of survival has made for many a grim movie over the years, but who knew it also could be the core conceit of a fun video game? As the name implies, Raft starts you out with nothing but a small raft and plastic hook, floating on the open sea. Alone or playing co-op with friends, you’ve got to catch debris to add on to your raft, craft gear and more. Exploring the ocean is possible as well, except there’s a shark. There’s always a shark! The full version is set to expand the gameplay in scope and scale, as well as adding a Creative Mode, but Raft is already pretty darn fun as is.

In development for five years now, Satisfactory is an open-world factory building game at its core, but also a lot more than that. Set on an enormous alien world, you can tinker with your factory or set out to explore and see what other resources await  — and most likely both. Though the single-player experience is great, Satisfactory also supports co-op play (even cross-platform), and you can let your imagination run wild either way. Coffee Stain Studios has a hit in this stylish builder even before the full version is complete, most likely in 2022.

Sound off on Twitter and let us know your favourite games that are in Early Access - and don't forget to tag @ROCCAT!