The best games to play on your work laptop or PC

Your knackered old work laptop can run some amazing games.

by Daryl Baxter

Working from home has been enforced, with lockdown in effect and people having to reserve a part of their home to work in.

But when it comes to break-time, or times when you just need to step away to make sure your brain doesn’t become fried from accomplishing the day’s tasks, games are the way to help.

With Steam having thousands upon thousands of games from the early 1990s to now, there can be a fair few where you can just dip in and out. Here are some top choices…

Football Manager 2020

An absolute classic for the ‘wasting time on your laptop’ gaming subgenre, the Football Manager franchise is still going strong.

And since all the sport in the world is currently cancelled, there’s never been a better time to guide Woking to Champions League glory from the comfort of your WFH station.

Sorry to break the bad news to you, though – until this week, there had been a ‘free to play‘ deal running that could’ve got you into the manager’s chair without having to spend a penny. It’s over now, though… soz.

Unreal Tournament

A classic in multiplayer first-person-shooters, and for a game released in 1999, it still holds up incredibly well.

It’s still a favourite to many, with some even racking up 1500 hours of playtime through Steam.

It’s a game that has avoided the trap of looking dated, with custom levels and sounds that are still being released today by the community.

With modes such as Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, alongside ‘mutators’ where matches can have effects such as low gravity, or a super-charged shock rifle for everyone, you will easily feel as though that one-hour lunch break was only five minutes (in a good way).


We’re assuming your work laptop isn’t as snazzy as this beaut from Razer.

Sonic Mania

A favourite entry of this writer, and one that has definitely been partaken at several lunch-times.

Sonic Mania revisits and improves upon heaps of classic levels from the Sonic franchise, and it has multiplayer modes as well as fast-paced solo offerings.

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Sonic Mania was also featured on this site a couple of weeks ago, as we praised the number of mods that people have been coming up with for the game.

It runs on the most low-end of computers, so having it on a laptop will not be a problem here.

It’s probably not as good as this HP either, right?

Final Fantasy XIV

An MMORPG where you can enter the world of Final Fantasy, but online.

Similar to World of Warcraft and even Star Wars: Galaxies, you can create a character, perform limit breaks to try and mimic Cloud from FF7 Remake, and even build your own house in style.

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So you can invite your clan round and discuss the nuisance neighbour and his Chocobo roaming the land without a licence.

It’s also advertising a free trial for new accounts so you can try out the game to see if it’s your thing for your lunch breaks.

The ‘starter edition’ on Steam is also great value at £10, so even if it’s not for you, you can experience the game for an affordable price, and take advantage of everything that the MMORPG offers.

Sorry, we’ll stop rubbing it in with the pictures of gaming laptops.

Team Fortress 2

A great shooter that has changed significantly since its release in 2007, but makes it a fantastic way to play with friends at lunchtime.

It became free-to-play in 2011. You’ll be able to customise your characters with weapons and mech, both offensive and defensive, to get you ready for the many matches you will be playing.

There are nine characters to choose from, including as the Spy, the Medic, Sniper, Demoman, and more. It has heaps of replayability and it’s quick, which is ideal for those break times which become a half-hour on busy WFH days.

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The game has risen significantly in recent years to be played at several esports tournaments, and can usually be seen as one of the most-streamed on Twitch.

Very fun to play, plenty of depth, and can run on most laptops out there, even ones with the integrated GPU from yesteryear, such as the Intel HD 4000 on medium settings, which still has the game look splendid in a 1440×900 resolution.

Portal puzzles are brilliant mind-benders.

Portal 2 Co-Op

Portal 2 Multiplayer is very similar to opening a tube of Pringles; once you start a game with someone, you can’t stop.

Just a month ago this writer was playing it in co-op, and it turned from a one hour game to a ‘just one more’ kind of evening.

It’s a fantastic successor to the original game released in 2007, but with this co-op mode, it elevates it to another level.

Not just the portal gun that makes it a fun experience, but its the world around you in the test centre where it really shines.

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There are different colours of paint that can make you run as fast as Sonic, or jump as high as Mario in order to complete the puzzles with a partner.

There are around forty-eight courses that can be completed, and that’s not even counting the custom levels that players have made over the years.

You can easily overrun your lunch-break with this mode, so make sure that you’ve set a timer so you won’t be picked up on your potential lateness.


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There you have it; a way of playing some classic games but not making it a strain on the work laptop.

Of course, there are plenty of games to choose from that may be more your cup of tea, but for a quick half-hour to an hour at lunchtime, you can’t go wrong with a ‘Capture the Flag’ match of Unreal Tournament.

Daryl Baxter