The Steam Summer Sales event is up. As mentioned previously, I plan to go through my bucket list and make some recommendations. This list below represents the top games in my list and my thoughts on purchasing them. As with any sale, I will be focusing on the value of the game at the price they are listed and not simply the merits of the game or the discount prices alone.
It no longer seems to make sense to buy games at full price especially when the publishers put them on sales within 6 months after their release. Moreover, graphics and compute power doesn’t change that much year to year so a three to five year old game can still appear brand new. If you can hold off a year or two you can usually get games at a great bargain, which is something I factor into my decisions. You need to be aware of DLC’s for each game as this can dramatically inflate the price beyond the actual sales amount and also impact multiplayer capabilities of purchasing the base game alone.
Hearts of Iron IV – ($10 Base Game, $40 with DLC’s)
Hearts of iron IV came out in 2016. It uses the same engine as other similar Paradox games like Europa Universalis and Crusader Kings. It focuses on the events from World War II and has a set of invisible guardrails that inevitably lead the world towards this climactic event. If you like World War II grand strategy simulators, this is probably as good as it gets. However, if your desire was to find a peaceful resolution that avoided war, this is not going to be the game for you.
At $10, the base game is worth the price. However, if you are into modding, or want something more in line with the teaser videos, you’ll need the DLC’s which add up to around $40. That’s effectively a full priced game, which means if you are a casual player there are probably better ways to spend this. It’s also worth noting that the Paradox team has at cycle of titles they move towards and we are coming up on that deadline, so fewer future updates.
Conclusion: Not Recommended if buying with DLC’s
City Skylines – ($8 Base Game, ~$100 with DLC’s)
City Skylines is a steal as a base game. It’s highly acclaimed for its realistic simulation of city building. You act as the mayor of a newly minted city being founded at the termination of a highway network. Once you get things going, it’s highly addictive and before you know it hours or days will have passed in real life and you never noticed. The game also has a lively modding community and many tips and tricks available that keep things flowing.
The problem comes into play if you are buying it for the first time. The base game has aged very well, but purchasing all of the DLC’s will cost you over $100, and that isn’t even counting the ones that aren’t on sale. I still recommend purchasing City Skylines for it’s addictiveness and replayability which means you will get your money’s worth, but I strongly suggest being choosy with your DLC purchases. I doubt you’d use them all before the next time they are on sale anyway, so you could stagger your purchases accordingly and save some money.
Conclusion: Recommended, but don’t buy all the DLC’s
Tropico 6 – ($30 Base Game, $42 with DLC’s)
This one is was a surprise addition to my list this year. Like Sim City, this is a city builder where you are the dictator of a small island nation. It’s unique take to city building sets it apart from others but the reason it was requested is due to multiplayer compatibility. Imagine playing City Skylines but with multiple players vying for control of the same areas.
Tropico is 44% off which means in the near future you may save a few bucks by waiting a year for it to drop to 50%. However, it’s relatively few DLC’s to-date put this in the same price range as Hearts of Iron IV. Between the two, this is likely to be a bit more interesting to anyone who isn’t a die-hard World War II fan. On the other hand, if you are buying this as a multiplayer alternative to City Skylines, purchasing two copies of this game will equate to the same amount as City Skylines with a handful of DLC’s making them equal in price. I would recommend this game only if the price of the City Skylines DLC’s is too steep or multiplayer is interesting to you.
Conclusion: Recommended, but only for multiplayer
Transport Fever 2 ($30 Base Game)
Transport games will always be at a disadvantage in my book, as long as OTTD is free. Still, it was hard to miss the quiet release of this game back in December 2019. Much like its predecessor, you are attempting to build a transportation empire across a sprawling map. It’s focus on 3D graphics is likely to draw in players as well as it’s modding capabilities. Where it fails though is in multiplayer where Chris Sawyer’s classic still reigns supreme in my view.
This game is too new to receive a significant discount. Still, at $30 it’s worth a look. There aren’t any DLC’s yet and I think the decision to add them will depend on how active the modding community gets with this game. 3D modelling is a lot harder than drawing 2D sprites though, so there are significant limits here. I think this game needs a year to mature before I can give it a solid recommendation. But I will admit it was very tempting.
Conclusion: Not Recommended yet as it needs to mature
Stardew Valley ($9 Base Game)
Stardew Valley is a sandbox game that is a favorite of those who played mobile apps. It’s highly addictive and has received critical acclaim for just about every published article as well as every real person I know and trust with reviews. The fact that it is a game that is not centered around violence and gore is just an added bonus to the success of this game.
It’s hard to believe that I do not have this in my library yet. I’m a big fan of retro games like these as they are making older games stylish to pull back up and play again. Last time, I chose to go with Undertale instead of Stardew Valley as it was a specific request made by my family. This time around, I definitely plan to put this game into my gaming collection.
Conclusion: Recommended if you don’t have it already
Ultimate General ($11 Base Game)
This game is one of the better Civil War simulators out there. It’s anachronistic map style, 2D animations, and attention to detail turn this into a fairly accurate reproduction of the American Civil War. It’s predecessor, Gettysburg, is nearly identical in tactics and gameplay but for a whopping $2. That is a steal at that price. If you’ve got the extra cash to spare, and you are a fan of history, this is a game to check out.
Admittedly, this game has been in my bucket list since I discovered it two years ago. Unfortunately, I still haven’t bought it. If I were smart, I’d buy Gettysburg and call it a day but I have a hard time convincing myself to take that route as the opportunity to recreate history is too enticing. At $11, I always end up deferring this game to the bottom of my list as games slightly less priced end up taking slots up my queue.
Conclusion: Recommended as Alternative to similar priced games
Alyx ($45 Base Game)
Alyx supplanted Moss as my VR game of the Steam Sale due to it’s wide critical acclaim as the first true VR game. It is set in the world of Half Life where you play out the story of Alyx, one of Gordon’s companions in the other games. You will recognize many of the iconic villains while at the same time admire the full VR immersion of the world around you.
Alyx was in a list along with Skyrim, Fallout, and Moss. Admittedly, Moss was winning that as the other two games have multiple negative reviews due to their incomplete VR transformation. Moss is a more family friendly VR game, and at $18 is a decent alternative. However, Alyx wins hands down over the Skyrim and Fallout VR ports due to its completeness. Still, at $45 its not really on sale yet so there is some reason to wait.
Conclusion: Not recommended unless you can afford the price
Pathfinder: Kingmaker ($12 Base Game, $32 with DLC’s)
With the announcement that Baldur’s Gate III will be coming out later this year, there is renewed interest in games using the D&D ruleset. Pathfinder 1E, which is based on D&D 3.5 ruleset, is set in the world of Golarion and follows many of the same mechanics tabletop players will remember. Players familiar with Pathfinder 1E have given mixed reviews on this game which has led me to see what all the fuss is about. Also, Pathfinder 2E is an updated take on the 1E ruleset meant to mirror the D&D 5E rules, just in case that was a concern when making a decision on this game.
This game should be purchased with DLC’s for a full experience. Paizo’s publishing methodology is to build and expand on existing rulesets and the DLC’s are usually a way to keep things up to date with the rulesets you will use outside of this game. It lacks multiplayer, which is the main reason you play Pathfinder, so that makes recommending this a challenge. Still if you play tabletop Pathfinder and want a solo option to play during downtime, this is the game that is recommended.
Conclusion: Not recommended unless you liked playing Icewind Dale solo.