Some claim that summer doesn't start until the 21st, but Valve says it's time for the Steam Summer Sale and we haven't heard anything from the solstice lobby—so, happy first day of summer! As always, it's celebrated with a ridiculous store-wide Steam sale renowned for its low prices and intoxicating effect on the PC gaming community. Everything looks great when it's 80% off, but before you start filling up your library, here are our favorite picks of day one.
Reminder: if a game isn't a daily deal or a flash sale, it could pop up later in the sale for an even lower price. If you want to be safe, wait until June 30 to pick up a sale-long deal.
5 - Trine Complete
85% off: $3.74 / £2.69 - Steam store page
What Trine lacks in challenge—it's not very difficult as platformers go – it more than makes up for in magical fairy tale charm. The sequel, Trine 2, improves upon the formula just about every way, particularly through the addition of cooperative multiplayer action. And with the original game about to undergo a dramatic (and free!) overhaul thanks to the coming Trine Enchanted Edition , this bundle at this price is a must-have by any measure.
4 - Hotline Miami
85% off: $1.49 / £1.04 Steam store page | Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
No game revels in ultraviolence like Hotline Miami, which turns pixelated murder sprees into an art form. It's brutal, stylish, and challenging in that perfect way: once you make a perfect run through a level without stopping, mowing down a dozen thugs with a knife and then a pipe and then a shotgun, you'll feel like the god of sleazy Miami murders. You'll want some practice now, since Hotline Miami 2 includes a level editor that will let you craft your own murder rooms. Get it fast—the flash sale on Hotline Miami won't last long.
3 - Far Cry 3
75% off: $7.49 / £3.74 - Steam store page
Attacking outposts is our favorite part of Far Cry 3. The sandbox shooter's story is a strange and meandering mixture of Alice in Wonderland and the spring break trip you made in college, but dismantling the dozens of bases that populate Far Cry 3's islands however you want is scrappy, open-ended FPS combat at its best. Now's a good time to jump in before Far Cry 4 releases later this year.
2 - The Witcher 2
80% off: $3.99 / £2.99 - Steam store page
You've got until early 2015 before The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt releases, and it's looking fantastic. That's plenty of time to catch up on one of our favorite modern RPG series —not only is The Witcher 2 on sale, the first game is only $1.99 / £1.39. Bonus value: The Witcher 2's fantastic story splits into two completely separate arcs in its second act, so if you want to experience both paths, you've got two playthroughs ahead of you.
1 - XCOM: Complete
67% off: $16.49 / £8.24 - Steam store page
Our favorite strategy game of 2012 , conveniently collected into bundle form with the equally-great Enemy Within expansion, has one of the best campaigns in gaming. Hand-building your alien defense force replicates the feeling of running imaginary missions with action figures in your living room. Except this time, G.I. Joe can die for reals . Thoughtful strategy, a tense metagame, and detailed maps that explode into pieces make XCOM the second-best digital board game available (Civilization V would be the first).
Other great deals today: