The Steam Summer Sale 2020 is underway, and that means you can buy hundreds of fantastic games for a fraction of their usual prices. However, it also means that you can wind up with a bunch of cheap clunkers that you'll never actually get around to playing.
To make sure that you invest in just the good stuff, we've polled the Tom's Guide staff to see which games are worth their sale prices. These aren't just popular games with good Metacritic scores; these are actual recommendations based on games we've personally played and enjoyed.
From side-scrollers to racing games, and from RPGs to spy thrillers, here are some excellent games that don't cost that much money. Just be aware that once July 9 rolls around, they'll return to their usual prices.
The $20 retro-style platformer Celeste always felt like a steal, but the Steam Summer Sale chopped Celeste's price in half. Celeste is one of the most challenging and rewarding games I've played in a long time. In it, you step into the hiking boots of Madeline, who's on the run from something that you'll learn more about as the game progresses. She's also at the mercy of Celeste Mountain, a steep and complex summit.
Each time you get to another section of the mountain, you meet new and peculiar residents, who give you advice about how this part of the hill is different than the one before it. Like some of the best platformers, Celeste is broken up into sections where you're challenged by different dangers and changes in physics. All along the way, Madeline will also feel emotionally and spiritually challenged, making Celeste one of the best deals of Steam's Summer sale. - Henry T. Casey
DIRT Rally 2.0
Many regard DIRT Rally 2.0 as the finest rally game ever made. While that’s debatable for a variety of reasons — it launched with very little content, it has a poor excuse for a career mode and the multiplayer is a mess — I’d certainly consider it the finest rally simulation of all time.
Codemasters’ expertise in conveying the way cars behave on a variety of surface types, from sand to snow, absolutely shines in DIRT Rally 2.0. But the physics especially pay off in 2.0 because they’re tied to meticulously crafted real-world stages that replicate every bump, off-camber exit and water splash with exceptional detail. This is the ultimate rally challenge, precisely because it’s based on the very same treacherous roads on which real-life rally drivers risk life and limb every other weekend.
And so, while DIRT Rally 2.0 might drive you to unparalleled heights of frustration, it’ll also exhilarate you like no other game of its kind. Normally $40, you can get the base game for just $10 during the Steam Summer Sale, or opt for the complete edition with all the post-release content (including the Colin McRae DLC pack) for $19, down $66 from its usual $85. — Adam Ismail
Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience RMC
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain blends open-world action, immersive sim mechanics, and the oddball stories we’ve come to expect from Hideo Kojima into a brilliant game. Nearly five years after its release, the dusty Afghanistan desert still looks excellent and feels fresh to navigate. You’ll flit between rescuing POWs and infiltrating bases, as well as attaching balloons to sheep to transport them back to your HQ on an offshore oil rig. (Yes, really.)
You can sneak in and out of a mission area without leaving a trace, or you can silently take out guards with a series of nonlethal methods. If things go wrong, you can quickly switch up the action, blazing away at enemies with all manner of weaponry, including circling a base in a helicopter, firing a minigun, while Ah-Ha’s Take On Me blasts out from its speakers.
For a mere $7.67 (£6.34 in the UK), the Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience not only gives you access to The Phantom Pain, but also the Ground Zeroes standalone prequel, which gives you a prisoner camp mission that you can tackle in a whole load of different ways. - Roland Moore-Colyer
Buy METAL GEAR SOLID V: The Definitive Experience (opens in new tab)
Special promotion: Offer ends July 9
Mortal Kombat 11
Mortal Kombat 11 is a steal at full price, and an absolute must-have for any fighting game fan at just $20. Dripping with compelling content (pun intended), the latest Mortal Kombat game has an engrossing cinematic story mode, tons of unlockables and a variety of single-player challenges. And once you’re ready to take the fight online, you’ll enjoy some of the smoothest netcode in the genre, complete with unique seasons that each have their own rewards to uncover. With a ton of character customization options, fun solo and multiplayer modes, and the most gorgeously grotesque graphics in the series, Mortal Kombat 11 is an essential addition to any fighting fan’s Steam library. — Mike Andronico
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
I've mentioned this before, but I think it's weird that we don't have more good pirate games. If you yearn to sail the high seas in search of plunder and glory, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is just about as good as it gets. In this isometric RPG sequel, you create a character (or import one from the first game), then set out for the dangerous waters of the Deadfire Archipelago.
The game's ambitious story balances high fantasy and political intrigue. You'll chase a vengeful god across the islands, but you'll also find your place among the pirates, natives and colonizers who want to call the Deadfire their own. Gameplay-wise, the real-time-with-pause battles and class-based character-building are reminiscent of Baldur's Gate, but much more streamlined. Whether you want to explore colorful islands, bond with a cast of interesting characters or shape the fate of a whole archipelago, Pillars of Eternity II is a delight. You can get the base game for $20, but the Obsidian Edition, which includes all the DLC, costs just $3 more. - Marshall Honorof
Includes 5 items: Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Beast of Winter, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Explorer's Pack, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Seeker, Slayer, Survivor, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - The Forgotten Sanctum
Special promotion: Offer ends July 9