RavingLuhn Recommends: Steam Summer Sale 2017

Summer is only four days old and we’re already being bombarded with deals from Steam. This annual event exists for seemingly no other reason than to ensure your backlog of games grows ever larger.

It’s June 26th, 2017. Summer is only four days old and we’re already being bombarded with deals from Steam. This annual event exists for seemingly no other reason than to ensure your backlog of games grows ever larger. Nearly every game in their digital store is discounted, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options. With another ten days left in the sale I humbly offer a few tips to help your wallet and your gaming library:

  1. Set a budget and stick to it. You can get a lot of gaming goodness for not much money, so figure out what you want to spend and work within that limit. It will help you prioritize what you really want versus what you’re attracted to just because of the discount.
  2. Check the price history. Sometimes sale prices are something special, sometimes they’re not much of a deal. Use tools like SteamPrices and IsThereAnyDeal to check the price history of the games you’re interested in.
  3. Remember that the games you want will go on sale againJust because something is on sale now doesn’t mean you have to buy it right this moment.  Be patient and stick to your budget. You and your wallet will be much happier if you can control yourself.
  4. Buy something you wouldn’t otherwise. Good prices mean it’s prime time to try something different. Take a risk; you never know what kind of gems you’ll find.

All set? My recommendations for 2016’s summer sale still stand, so check those out if you have a moment. Here’s what I suggest for this year:

DOOM – $14.99
This is the only title from last year’s list that gets a repeat appearance. It was a steal at $60. It was a steal at $36. It’s worth every bit of $15. In the past year id Software have added bots for multiplayer, a fully-fledged arcade mode, and greatly expanded the options available in SnapMap. If you love shooting and over-the-top violence, this is the game to buy.

Wolfenstein: The New Order – $9.99
If DOOM is the best-playing shooter available today, The New Order gets my vote for the #2 spot. Spectacular, gut-wrenching, surprisingly heartfelt, bloody, incredible fun. Shoot Nazis in an alternate historical 1960. Shoot Nazis in the sky, on the ground, on the moon. Use silencers, shotguns, throwing knives, and lasers. It’s a blast. Buy this to get caught up for the sequel coming out in fall 2017.

Far Cry – $3.39
Before the Far Cry series became too self-aware, it was just about running around a bunch of tropical islands blowing stuff up. No pretense, just explosions.

Cities: Skylines – $7.49
The modern city-builder for the modern gamer. While it’s still not as deep or challenging as the Sim City games of old, it definitely offers a similar experience. You can spend as much or as little time as you want detailing the traffic, zoning, tax rates, or community restrictions of your custom cities.

RollerCoaster Tycoon II – $3.39
RollerCoaster Tycoon played via OpenRCT2 is, in my opinion, still the best theme park sim out there. Period. I’ll expand on this a bit more in the next month or two.

Black Mesa – $7.99
Remade or remastered games always have the potential to be a disaster, especially when they’re made by fans. Black Mesa is a project that does everything right. If you’ve seen the original build of Half Life recently, it’s quite obvious the game hasn’t aged well. Black Mesa subverts the effects of aging and presents Half Life to you as you remember it. It’ll get better later this year when the long-awaited Xen levels are released!

Enter the Gungeon – $7.49
I haven’t played this. I don’t know if I’ll like it. But I followed my own advice when buying it, specifically tip #4 from above. It’s a “bullet hell dungeon crawler” top-down shooter, and people I know really love it. We’ll see. Consider my recommendation of it to you an act of gaming spontaneity.

Steam link – $14.99
Bring the gaming goodness of Steam to your living room TV! It works exceptionally well, but you’ll probably need a wired Ethernet connection to avoid lag. It’s great for games that work well with controllers.

Homeworld: Emergence – $9.99
No, it’s not available on Steam. And it’s not on sale. But come on, this is a game that nobody expected to see available in digital distribution. This weekend Gearbox and GOG.com shocked people everywhere with the surprise announcement of the game’s availability. It’s a mix of real-time strategy, space combat, and horror story elements that comes together in an incredibly atmospheric package. It’s Homeworld. Buy it. Now!

So there you have it. I recommend these games because I myself like them. That’s not a guarantee you’ll feel the same way. But if you don’t like them, well… then I’m afraid there’s something wrong with you. Because I’m normal. Totally.

Backlog of Resolutions

Playing it safe doesn’t capture what I consider is the essence of what it is to be a gamer; which is to discover compelling narratives and exciting experiences firsthand. It’s certainly not in the spirit of RavingLuhn, where one of my goals is to, “sift through the games of PC past and present to pull out which ones are worth experiencing today”. Therefore I present to you the only resolution I’ve made for the year 2017…

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Dustforce. Age of Wonders. Insurgency. Kholat. Teslagrad. Those are five games present in my growing gaming library that I can’t tell you anything about. I can’t even tell you how I came to own them! But there they are. Part of my collection, buried in the ever-growing backlog.

In gaming circles, “backlog” is a term given to the pile of unplayed games anyone possesses. Some people, myself included, even tend to feel a little guilty buying new games when we already own so many unplayed games. But backlog doesn’t necessarily have to be a dirty word. Much like other hobbies, it’s the opportunistic accumulation of goods to be enjoyed at a later date. It’s simply a byproduct of the hobby. To help put all of this in perspective: At the end of 2016, my gaming library contained about 307 different titles. Just for fun I went through and counted every game I had completed on PC since the year 2000. Of those 307 games I’ve completed a total of 70, or about 23% of my library. Going strictly off of basic arithmetic, that means I don’t finish more than 5 games per year. I know my own gaming habits and the time I spend on games, and I should be completing way more than five games per year. What this tells me is that for some reason, I keep going back to the same titles over and over. Again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Familiar games can have a huge nostalgia factor and are quite comfortable to play. It’s no different than watching reruns of a favorite sitcom. Why spend my hard earned free time on a new game I may not enjoy when I can maximize enjoyment of my leisure time and stick to something I know is fun?

It’s safe and efficient, but there’s also no telling how much I’m missing out on by taking that approach. Playing it safe doesn’t capture what I consider is the essence of gaming; which is to discover new compelling narratives and exciting experiences firsthand. Sticking to what I know certainly is not in the spirit of RavingLuhn, where one of my goals is to, “sift through the games of PC past and present to pull out which ones are worth experiencing today”.

Therefore I present to you the only resolution I’ve made for the year 2017, which contains three parts:

  1. I will not purchase any new PC games until July 1st, 2017 or the end of the Steam Summer Sale, whichever comes first. This forces me to focus on what I have.
  2. I will play twelve games I’ve never played before; at a rate of at least one per month for the entire year. This, hopefully, will drive the discovery of new, fun experiences.
  3. I will write an article about each of these twelve new games as part of RavingLuhn’s content drop in 2017. This allows you, dear reader, to take the journey with me.

Focus on what I have. Enjoy it for what it is. Discover some fun stuff in the process. It should be a good year.