Hold on to your butts, gerbils. It's time once again for the Steam Summer Sale. As usual, we've scoured the site's inventory for the best deals and came up with a veritable cornucopia of gaming goodness. First, though, let's talk about this year's Summer Sale entertainment gimmick.
The trick this time around is a sticker book you'll be filling in. You earn stickers by completing "quests" every day. You can check your daily quests by clicking the banner at the top of the Steam homepage. As usual, the rewards for completing pages in your sticker book are content for your Steam account, like profile backgrounds, emoticons, and trading cards. Most of this stuff is unique to and only available during the 2017 Summer Sale, so get it while it's hot if you're into that.
Now, onto the games. Last years saw number of excellent game releases, but most of those titles aren't especially discounted. The real value this year seems to be in slightly older games . Rise of the Tomb Raider improves on its excellent predecessor quite a lot, and it's 60% off at $24. Last year's gloriously gory Doom is only $15, as is Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. If you haven't picked it up yet, Fallout 4 is only $15, or you can pick it up with all its forebears for $60. Just Cause 3 is an awful lot of explosions for $13.
If you missed it when we highlighted it in the GOG summer sale, the action-RPG Grim Dawn is $12.49. Its conceptual cousin Torchlight II is just $5. Fans of that kind of game who want something new can pick up early access title Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem for $15 and enjoy unprecedented-in-its-genre character customization and gorgeous graphics. If you don't care about customization, Path of Exile is still free and about to get a major content update.
If you prefer a different tack and do care about character customization, action-MMORPG Black Desert Online just hit Steam. It's only $8 to start and doesn't require a subscription, although I'd personally recommend you pick up the Explorer's Package for $30 (down from $50) to get a head start on the game. Folks who want a more relaxed experience have a wealth of excellent classic-style RPGs to choose from: Torment: Tides of Numenera and Tyranny are both $23. Similarly, the fantastic Divinity: Original Sin is just $16 for the Enhanced Edition.
Strategy fans have plenty to choose from, too. Civilization VI is down to $36, although resident code-monkey Bruno Ferreira and shortbread baker Colton Westrate both recommend its precedecessor for just $7.50 instead. XCOM 2 has a new expansion on the way, so pick it up for $20 to be ready. If you haven't played its predecessor, the entirety of XCOM: Enemy Unknown is just $10. There's also a bundle with XCOM 2 and Civilization VI for $42. If either of those franchises are too mainstream for you, all three of the Shadowrun strategy-RPG titles are bundled up for $11.
By the way, if you like fantasy games and somehow don't have Dark Souls, you're out of luck because it's not on sale. The second and third games are, though, and given the mostly-plot-free nature of the titles you won't be missing much. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin compiles the game and its DLC, and it's just $12. Dark Souls III is $24, although I'd recommend the Deluxe version that includes the season pass for $43. Fans of Dark Souls should also check out Necropolis ($10), Salt & Sanctuary ($11), and Hollow Knight ($10), all great indie takes on the formula.
If fantasy games are too nerdy for you, then how about some more games where you shoot people? The Call of Duty games are all either $10, $20, or $30, even Infinite Warfare. Meanwhile, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is marked down to $40, and the rest of the series is 66% off. Moving back in time a bit, Black Mesa is as discounted as it's ever been at $8. Painkiller Hell & Damnation is just $5. The amazing-for-its-time Turok is $5, too. System Shock: Enhanced Edition is a revamped version of another game that was ahead of its time, and it's just $1.49. Games like Bioshock (all three for $15) and Dishonored ($2.49) owe a lot to System Shock.
You (can) do a lot of sneaking around in Dishonored, and if that's your thing, you should give the most recent Hitman game a shot. The first episode is free to play now, and you can pick up the whole season of episodic releases for $24—or 66% off the regular price. Fellow long-running third-person shooter series Resident Evil is also all bundled up; pick up RE 4, 5, 6, and Revelations, plus all their DLC, for $48. Third-person action title God Eater 2: Rage Burst includes the original God Eater: Resurrection, and it's down 66% to just $17.
Since we're talking about Japanese games, we have to mention that the entire Final Fantasy series is also on sale. Every single game is half-off with the exception of the brand-new Stormblood expansion for Final Fantasy XIV. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen has that JRPG style with action gameplay, and it's $12. On the other hand, if you're looking for a game with a JRPG bent on gameplay but a decidedly western style, look no further than South Park: The Stick of Truth. Its sequel is on the way later this year, so it's a good time for fans of the raunchy TV show to pick up the original for $7.49.
Finally, we have a whole mess of indie titles to recommend for you. Adorable farming simulator Stardew Valley is a favorite of TR contributor Colton Westrate, and it's just $9. Hyper Light Drifter looks amazing and feels like a faster, modernized Zelda title; it's half-off at $10. Enter the Gungeon is a hilarious "Rogue-lite" dual-stick shooter, also half-off at $7.50. If you somehow still haven't played it, please pay $5 for brutally-difficult platform adventure title La Mulana.
You can also get the remastered version of killer Xbox Live Arcade hit Shadow Complex for $5. Fortune Summoners is a similarly-difficult side-scrolling action title with a cute premise and a cuter art style, again for just five bucks. Last but certainly not least, the "Metroidvania" Greenlight darling Valdis Story: Abyssal City is down to $3.75.
Let us know if we missed any of your favorites in the comments below. The Summer Sale runs until July 5, so you've got two weeks to pick up these titles and anything else that goes on sale.