Best PC Exclusives In Steam Summer Sale 2020
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For PC gamers, the launch of Steam's Summer Sale is one of the biggest weeks of the summer, offering an opportunity to snag some of the platform's best games for their cheapest price yet. While multi-platform games have the chance to be featured in multiple sales, like Nintendo's or PlayStation's, PC-exclusive games like Total War: Three Kingdoms, Gears Tactics, and Half-Life: Alyx only get a chance to shine in the Steam Summer Sale. Because some of these games are fairly new, it's a great chance to save on them and see what all the fuss is about.
From turn-based strategy and digital board games to fighting games, action RPGs, and more, here are some of the best PC exclusives in Steam Summer Sale 2020. If you're looking for more deals, check out our overall list of the best Steam Summer Sale 2020 game deals and the best cheap Steam games under $10. The sale ends tomorrow, July 9, at 10 PM PT / 1 PM ET / 6 PM BST, so be sure to take advantage of any Steam Summer Sale discounts before then.
Total War: Three Kingdoms
$45 / £33.74 / $67.49 AUD (25% off)
Total War: Three Kingdoms still hews closely to the series' expansive strategy sim framework but makes a few key changes that, along with the ancient Chinese period setting, make it stand out within the series. The increased emphasis on individual commanders and generals gives each playthrough with a different army a new flair, and whip-smart enemy leaders make it difficult to steamroll the map on your way to victory, making this an intense new entry with a lot of depth.
$40.19 / £33.49 / $66.96 AUD (33% off)
Gears Tactics takes a more bombastic approach to the XCOM school of turn-based strategy and melds it with the pulpy, war-fueled world of Sera. Each of the Gears franchises' iconic weapons like the Lancer, Gnasher, and Longshot translate seamlessly to a strategy game, and their abilities serve to differentiate each of your squad members in combat. You're also closing up emergence holes with grenades and mowing down Wretches with machine-gun fire--just like in the third-person shooter franchise Gears Tactics takes its name from.
$45 / £34.86 / $63.71 AUD (25% off)
There are quite a few great games you can play on VR headsets, but Half-Life: Alyx is one that really makes the case for games designed exclusively with VR in mind. Grabbing and throwing objects with the new Gravity Gloves feels fantastic, and trying to stay quiet so a blind, unstoppable monster doesn't hear you makes you hesitate to even close a cupboard door. Exploring City 17 feels incredible through a headset, from the moment you see a Strider towering above the city's rooftops in the first few minutes of the game to the moment you begin a mind-bending trek near the end I won't spoil here. Alyx quickly becomes an essential part of the Half-Life universe, even if you think you know how it all ends.
$10 / £7.74 / $11.97 AUD (50% off)
If you're a fan of any Grasshopper or Suda Goichi game (No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned, Let It Die), you owe it to yourself to experience Killer7. It's undoubtedly his most surreal, trippy game, and this remaster of the original Gamecube and PS2 classic updates it for PC, complete with higher resolution options and mouse-and-keyboard aiming, making it the best way to experience this strange masterpiece in 2020.
XCOM: Chimera Squad
$15 / £12.74 / $22.46 AUD (25% off)
XCOM: Chimera Squad is a smaller entry in the series that focuses on a single squad of fleshed-out characters rather than a platoon of random soldiers and offers a few twists on the intense XCOM firefights we're familiar with, like a back-and-forth turn order, breaches that give you a chance to whittle down enemy squads from the jump, and special abilities that give each member of your squad a special role in fights.
$30 / £26.24 / $42.71 AUD (25% off)
Disco Elysium eschews the fantasy trappings, combat-oriented encounters, and easy morality that underpin a lot of RPGs and instead lets you tell a story that truly feels your own. As an alcoholic detective hitting rock-bottom just as he's assigned a major murder case, you explore a city block in the middle of a conflicted territory recovering from a political revolution. The conversations you have with various denizens around Revachol have you re-litigating the city's tumultuous past, putting together a dance club in the middle of a church, and delivering heartbreaking news to unsuspecting families as you come to terms with who you were before your last bender. It's a long journey with twists that flip from pensive to laugh-out-loud funny to solemn on a dime while somehow telling a consistent, powerful story along the way--something I can't say about many other games. Disco Elysium is planned to release on consoles later this year, but for now, you can only enjoy this incredible narrative experience on PC.
$9 / £7.49 / $14.47 AUD (50% off)
The coronavirus pandemic has forced many people to spend much more time indoors and distance themselves from friends and family, so finding ways to stay connected while apart has become crucial. One of my favorite ways to hang out with friends virtually has been Tabletop Simulator, an indie game that lets you play digital versions of board games in a player-driven physics sandbox. The game comes with classics like chess, poker, and dominoes included, but the real draw is the massive collection of free player-created board games and card games available in the Tabletop Simulator workshop. Here, people have recreated some of the best board games around, including Pandemic Legacy, Gloomhaven, and Root.
Obviously, some of these creations are more polished than others, but the larger games tend to work really well; in fact, I was really shocked how well complex games like Root worked within Tabletop Simulator. Some publishers have also published official DLC for Tabletop Simulator, so there's no shortage of content available to try out. If you're a board game fan like me and can't always get friends together in person to play, Tabletop Simulator is worth every penny.
$24 / £25.14 / $34.36 AUD (20% off)
Mordhau is a fun medieval multiplayer game that features some of the most involved first-person sword-fighting out there. It's not exactly a sim, though--there are lots of hectic, one-off multiplayer moments that will probably remind you of games like Battlefield, but the strong emphasis on teamwork and sieging castles set it apart.
$13 / £9.74 / $18.81 AUD (35% off)
This remake of the original Half-Life has been over a decade in the making, but it's finally complete and definitely worth the wait. It features revamped graphics and overhauls the previously-maligned Xen section of the original but manages to keep the soul of Half-Life intact, making this the best way to see Gordon Freeman's first encounter with the G-Man and alien life if you're looking to catch up on the series before playing Half-Life: Alyx.
Jackbox Party Pack 3
$16.24 / £12.34 / $23.36 AUD (35% off)
It's hard to find a series that's more immediately accessible than the Jackbox games. These party games, which you can play with others online or in-person through your PC or phone, have you responding to all kinds of outlandish prompts, drawing your own (often lewd) pictures to show off and working together to accomplish a common goal. The entire series is on sale for cheap, but Jackbox Party Pack 3 is the one to play, since it's the best collection of games overall. Quiplash 2 lets you answer a bunch of weird questions with even weirder answers and then pick the funniest ones. Meanwhile, Tee K.O. has you separately drawing pictures and coming up with taglines, then putting together a shirt based on the pictures and tags you randomly get from the group.
Them's Fightin' Herds
$10.04 / £7.63 / $14.40 AUD (33% off)
Originally developed as a My Little Pony fan game, Them's Fightin' Herds has blossomed into a unique fighting game all its own, complete with new equestrian designs from MLP producer Lauren Faust. The roster is small compared to its higher-budget competition, but there are a lot of creative concepts packed into each of these manes, and tutorial and single-player options are more diverse than you might expect from a fighting game made by a smaller team.
Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
$15 / £11.24 / $17.21 AUD (25% off)
For some history buffs, the empire-building sim genre that slowly evolved into the 4X genre began and ended with the Age of Empires series. The iconic second entry is finally available for modern computers, complete with 4K visuals, a remade soundtrack, and a new "The Last Khans" expansion that includes more campaigns and civilizations to round out this strategy classic.
If Found is a deeply emotional and resonant visual novel that follows Kasio, a woman struggling at a crossroads between ending her education and looking for a career with meaning. The gorgeous illustrations give the game a vibrant style, and its focus on smaller moments and more relatable topics make it a fantastic palette cleanser between other games on this list.
$22.49 / £17.54 / $32.35 AUD (20% off)
Deck-building roguelikes are pretty popular nowadays, but Monster has a few tricks up its sleeve that have proved popular with a growing fanbase. The deck-building mechanics are top-notch, and the presence of factions, which act as a way of theming your deck, make building effective combos easy and natural.