Valve did a sneaky, small-but-significant thing recently: it expanded its "Top Sellers" list on Steam to include one hundred games. The sales leaderboard doesn't tell us exactly how many copies a game sold, but it gives us a vague idea of how well certain games are doing on Steam in a given moment.
It's an inherently misleading metric—take that as a disclaimer. Still, as we sit in the shadow of some of 2012's biggest releases, I'd like to take a crack at gleaning what we can from this moment in time.
2K's having a great end of the year. The $50 pre-sale of XCOM is outselling everything but Borderlands 2 on Steam. We might be able to chalk that up to fairly generous pre-purchase incentives (which could include a free copy of Civ 5 if enough people pre-buy it). It might be mild evidence that demos still work, too. Borderlands 2's high concurrent user count over the past few days (reaching 123,758 last weekend) is also evidence that 2K will win the weeks connecting September and October on Steam.
Digital pre-orders are a thing. XCOM isn't the only thing-you-can-buy-but-can't-play-yet doing well. Joining the unreleased are Dishonored at #7, War of the Roses at #12, Football Manager 2013 at #17, Company of Heroes 2 at #29, and Hitman Absolution at #51. Even though there's no chance of a game going out of stock, Steam users don't seem to mind putting money down in advance, especially if they're rewarded with bonus content or a small discount for doing so.
Where are the MMOs? Oh, right. Zero MMOs appear in today's top 100. I might consider that unsurprising—we wouldn't expect too many people to be picking up competitors while Guild Wars 2 and Pandaria are drawing the attention, and neither are available on Steam. Still, it's a little surprising not to see RIFT ($10) or EVE Online: Inferno ($20) popping up anywhere.
Call of Duty remains a PC fixture. The sense that Call of Duty remains a fixture for PC gamers is supported by SteamGraph data. Some form of Call of Duty make up 10 whole entries of the Steam's top 100. Many of those are map packs, but the performance of Call of Duty: Black Ops - Mac Edition (#41) is interesting to me. It released yesterday, September 27, and it's outperforming stuff like Civ V: GOTY and Natural Selection 2. Modern Warfare 3 is 50% off until October 1, and it's sitting comfortably at #5.
DayZ continues to have a long tail. I don't think Arma 2: Combined Operations (what you need to play DayZ) has left the top ten of Steam's Top Sellers since it caught on in May and June. It seems to be outperforming other games that released in May and June like Sins: Rebellion (#56), Max Payne 3 (#76), Civ 5: Gods & Kings (#20), and Spec Ops: The Line (unlisted).
Below: the data, captured at 6:05 PM PDT. Ctrl + Fing encouraged.
Top Ten Borderlands 2 XCOM: Enemy Unknown Total War Master Collection Torchlight II Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Carrier Command: Gaea Mission Dishonored Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Arma 2: Combined Operations Empire: Total War
#11-25 Castle Crashers War of the Roses Borderlands 2 Season Pass FTL: Faster Than Light Cortex Command The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Football Manager 2013 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard Garry's Mod Sid Meier's Civilization V - Gods 'n Kings Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition The Binding of Isaac Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy Left 4 Dead 2 Hell Year! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
#26-50 F1 2012 Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour Rome: Total War - Gold Company of Heroes 2 Total War Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai Sid Meier's Civilization V Counter-Strike: Source Borderlands: Game of the Year Worms Revolution Total War Mega Pack Terraria The Walking Dead Rocksmith Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 3: Chaos Pack Call of Duty: Black Ops - Mac Edition Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb Portal 2 McPixel Sid Meier's Civilization V: Game of the Year Total War: SHOGUN 2 The Sims 3 Counter-Strike Complete Hearts of Iron 3 Collection The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition
#51-100 Hitman: Absolution Borderlands Train Simulator 2013 The Testament of Sherlock Holmes Medieval II Gold Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion Orcs Must Die! 2 - Family Ties Booster Pack Call of Duty: Black Ops II The Amazing Spider-Man Orcs Must Die! 2 Saints Row: The Third Dead Island: GOTY Natural Selection 2 Orcs Must Die! 2 - Complete Pack Half-Life 2 Amnesia: The Dark Descent Rome: Total War - Complete The Orange Box Borderlands 2 + Official Brady Guide Batman: Arkham City GOTY Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead Grand Theft Auto IV Endless Space Killing Floor Call of Duty: World at War Max Payne 3 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 SPORE I Am Alive Fallout 3: GOTY Fallen Enchantress Valve Complete Pack Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition Mount & Blade: Warband New Star Soccer 5 Portal Bundle Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 2 Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 Expansion Counter-Strike Call of Duty: Modern Warfare® 3 Collection 1 Arma 2 Might & Magic Heroes VI - Danse Macabre Adventure Pack Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 Call of Duty: Black Ops Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD STAR WARS: Knights of the Old Republic II Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Planets Under Attack Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Age of Empires III: Complete Collection
Reiterating: We don't know what formula or data drives Steam's Top Sellers rankings. It's probably safest to consider them a representation of what games are selling well in one moment of time on Steam.
Evan returns from the depths of space to join Tyler, Omri, and T.J. in discussing all things Project Eternity. Also kind of a lot of things are coming out right now, and we go over the big ones including Torchlight II, Borderlands 2, FTL, Black Mesa, and Mists of Pandaria. You'll also not just hear, but experience, updates on what's going on with BioWare and Bohemia, a new special segment in which T.J. administers shotgun blasts to the face to all of his coworkers, and extended FTL and XCOM discussion in Playlists.
All for the low, low price of absolutely nothing on this content-tastic episode, PC Gamer US Podcast 330: RPGs and Aliens!
Support the Bohemia guys currently incarcerated in Greece: www.helpivanmartin.org
Have a question, comment, complaint, or observation? Leave a voicemail: 1-877-404-1337 ext 724 or email the mp3 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s some Venn overlap between the fabulous FTL and upcoming XCOM: Enemy Unknown: in both, you can name your dudes. Names carry incredible meaning in these permadeathy games: they’re opportunities to imbue identity into the tiny digital people you’re pointing into certain doom.
Still, when we're asked what to call something, it's not uncommon for our minds to lock up. You sit there, hands hovering in front of an empty prompt, Ctrl + Fing your brain for the perfect nombre d’game that suits the character’s aptitudes or role. You crawl your mind for former classmates, footballers, and celebrities, trying to summon the perfect name. This is Naming Paralysis, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. I have it too.
To alleviate this condition, we’ve created The PC Gamer Character Name Repository, a shared Google Doc that we’d encourage you to throw XCOM and FTL-friendly names into. I’ve begun by contributing “Carl Winslow.”
FTL: Faster Than Light is a realtime roguelike spaceship-sim that launched on Steam yesterday. Head over to the FTL Steam page to pick it up or read about our previous close-encounters with the game.
For some weeks now I’ve been the captain of a small spaceship, managing both crew and systems as it jumps from star to star in a randomised galaxy. Each arrival is a random encounter: an enemy, a ship in trouble, a wreck, or something stranger. As you hop around, you can use the scrap metal you find to upgrade your ship or buy new weapons, equipment and crew.
We’ve written dotingly about FTL before, but the new version I’ve been playing is massively expanded. Now both your crew and your enemies can be from any number of weird alien races, from vicious mantis-things to psychic slugs. You can get wrapped up in long story quests and unlock new ships to fly. And there’s now an end to the game – but I won’t spoil that here. Instead, this is the battle report of one extraordinarily tough fight, and how I got into it.
My problem in previous adventures was that I’d got good enough at not getting hit by lasers that getting hit by missiles was almost always my downfall. And there was only one good way to avoid getting hit by missiles: defence drones.
This time, I vowed, I would get defence drones. New game!
Almost immediately, I find a defence drone. This is excellent news, for reasons I hope I have thoroughly explained. But it’s no use on its own: I need to install a drone bay to launch it. You can only get those at shops, and not every sector has a shop on your route to the exit, and not every shop has a drone bay for sale.
Almost immediately, I find a shop with a drone bay for sale. This is not as excellent news as it might sound, because I’ve encountered this rare deal so early that I can’t actually afford it. Worse, I can almost afford it. This is worse because it could easily lead me to do something stupid, like sell my only missile launcher to get it.
I have sold my only missile launcher to get a drone bay. The good news is that I can now launch defence drones that make me almost completely safe from missiles. The bad news is that now, all my enemies are similarly safe from me. My main laser is decent, but if any enemy has lots of shields, I’m almost entirely impotent against it.
At the next shop, I buy a halberd beam: a devastatingly powerful laser. This is not as fortuitous as it might sound, because the halberd requires three spare bars of power to your weapon systems, and I only have one – the perfect amount for an efficient, shield-penetrating weapon like that really useful missile launcher I sold.
Pretty soon, I meet a double-shielded enemy. It’s an unmanned craft guarding a weapons cache. I already have more weapons than I can power, so I definitely shouldn’t engage it just to get that.
Long story short, I engage it, and it is difficult. My laser fires a triple burst, so if every shot hits, I can take down both his shield layers and do one point of damage to one system – pathetic. Most of the time, at least one shot misses and I do no damage at all. The only thing keeping me alive is the fact that he’s just as feeble: his nastiest weapon is a missile launcher, but I don’t know what kind because my defence drone has shot down every missile he’s fired.
Through sheer persistence I manage to whittle him down. The weapon cache he was guarding contains a pike beam – just as power hungry as the halberd and even less useful against shields. The only way this would be useful is if I find a shop to sell it at.
I don’t find a shop to sell it at. It’s getting bad. Double-shielded enemies are the norm now, and triple-shielded ones are starting to pop up. All I can do is try to survive long enough for my jumpdrive to charge and let me escape.
Eventually, all my scraping-by pays off: I’ve earned enough to upgrade my power systems to bring the halberd beam online at the same time as my burst laser.
I bring the halberd beam online.
An Engi distress call! The Engi are friendly aliens who fly weird boxy ships and are usually generous with their rewards. I jump to their location to find a weird boxy ship, bristling with guns, and full of space-mantises.
It opens fire.
It’s triple-shielded. It’s got two heavy lasers, and two heavy ion cannons. It has no missiles, so my main defence is irrelevant. OK, halberd beam, time to earn your obscene expense and power usage.
My burst laser takes 11 seconds to charge, my halberd 17. And there’s no point in firing one without the other: the best the burst laser could do is drain all three layers of their shields, dealing no damage to the ship itself. So it’s going to be a long wait.
But not for them: in scarily short order, I hear the boop of an ion blast.
I pause. A thought has just occurred. If an ion blast hits your shields, it disables the shield. Bad news if your enemy is currently charging two heavy lasers. In fact, it’s worse to lose your shields than almost any other system. But I bet the AI doesn’t know this. I bet the AI is aiming for something much less important, like our life support. So I could actually take my shields offline and let this shot go through.
To the imaginary shock and bafflement of my crew, I order them to take our shields offline. A second later, the ion blast hits... our engines. Attention all hands: lol! Also, put the shields back up now please.
Their heavy lasers hit, and my shields soak up both shots. I am doing excellent captaining. My burst laser is charged now, but like an excellent captain, I hold fire while the halberd charges. Wait for it...
Two mantises teleport into the cockpit. This is not at all what we were waiting for.
I send everyone I can spare to the large room outside the cockpit, and have my pilot Jill flee to lure the mantises there. They don’t bite. Or rather they keep biting, the cockpit.
While I’m distracted, an ion blast hits our shields, disabling them. Immediately, heavy lasers hit the medbay and the shield generator, breaking both. This is going badly. There’s a very real chance I may need to run, and that’s going to be hard with space-mantises in the cockpit. I send my weapons expert Maxim in with Jill to fight the insect problem.
I check my halberd charge: so close. Engi Matt is using his superior repair skill to get the shields back up, but we still don’t have enough for one layer. And that’s when an ion blast hits my weapons systems.
An ion blast temporarily reduces power to the system it hits, which in this case takes the power-hungry halberd beam offline.
This is a disaster. It took 17 agonising seconds to charge the halberd, and now it’s back offline without ever firing. The burst laser is still ready to fire, but there’s no point. I have to wait for the ion blast to wear off, then charge up the halberd from scratch, all while being slammed with heavy lasers and ion blasts and praying nothing else hits my weapons systems and oh by the way my shields are down.
I am boned.
The mantises are twice as powerful as any human: they’ve almost killed Maxim and Jill. I send them out to the medbay, which they might as well fix while they’re there. I tag-team Aisha and Aki to tackle the foe, both with a fresh bar of health.
In the shield room, Matt is almost killed by the hammering the shields are taking as he works. My life support systems are destroyed, my engine is disabled again, and the shield generator catches fire in two different places as Matt – badly injured – tries to repair it. I can’t win, and I can’t run. Even once I get my engines back, I still haven’t taken my cockpit back from the mantises.
Miraculously, my weapons are never hit, and the halberd finally charges. I take a long, hard look at the enemy ship, figuring out where to hit.
Their shields and weapons systems are nowhere near each other, so I can’t hit both with one beam. But the real problem is how totally dead I am. Their fire is so ferocious, and when everything’s getting ionned, I just can’t keep my head above water. I can’t take any more. I have to take down their weapons.
All three burst lasers hit, taking down their shields 1-2-3. The instant the third goes down, the instant before the first comes back up, I fire the halberd. It’s precision angled to hit their weapons instantaneously, then cut through an empty room to finish on their engines.
It’s a great hit: major damage to their weapons and engines, plus about five points off their hull. It’s going to be a while before I can hit again, but I’ve taken the sting out of their tail: everything but their ions is taken offline, so as much as they can screw with me, they can’t deal real damage until they repair.
At this point, the mantises kill Aisha. Fuck.
I pull Aki out of the fight just in time, and run her to the medbay. The mantises are on their last legs, but the medbay’s only just come back online, so I have no healthy crewmembers. They chew through my helm controls, then scuttle into the drone room and start ripping that system apart too. Much of the rest of the ship is on fire. My hull is critical. Everyone’s holed up in the aft, trying to get their strength back, while the mantises gnaw freely through the front half of the ship.
My burst laser is charged, but again, I’m patient. I’m not firing until the halberd’s ready to follow through. Again, I could go for shields, but again, I just can’t risk their weapons getting in another good hit. I punch down their shields and cut the same line through the same systems, doing serious damage and keeping them weak.
It’s time: the mantises flood the shield room, where the injured Matt has just got them back online. They go for him, but he just walks out. In through the same door storm Jill, Maxim, Aki and Nathan, all at full health, and pound the shit out of them. There’s nothing left but bits.
Jill takes the helm, Matt heals up in the medbay, and Maxim gets back to his post in the weapons room.
The second he gets to the controls, my charge bars show the benefit of his expertise, and in seconds all weapons are ready to go. Finally, I go for their shields. My burst laser takes them down, then the halberd gets a direct hit on the generator, then cuts through two more rooms.
I don’t even wait for the halberd: the second my burst laser’s hot again, I target their weapons and fire. Three direct hits, all weapons offline.
The halberd is up. This is it. Maxim: go for their life support.
The beam destroys their cockpit. The beam kills their pilot. The beam takes out their oxygen. And then the beam destroys their ship.
That scene in sci-fi, where the crew all whoop and even the normally reserved captain cracks a smile – this was not like that scene. This was the scene where a captain chair-dances in his bedroom alone.
This week's best deals ► FTL, Max Payne 3, and more FTL: Faster Than Light released at 10% off on both Steam and GOG, GameStop opened its trunk in the parking lot to reveal deals on Max Payne 3, Killing Floor, and Amnesia, and Guild Wars 2 is 25% off at Get Games for European customers. That's just the beginning of our weekly savings spelunking expedition, so come along with me for more unnecessary analogies. And weekend deals.
25% off Guild Wars 2 at Get Games - $41.24 (Europe only) 50% off Max Payne 3 at GameStop - $29.99 50% off Killing Floor - $9.99 at GameStop 15% off Battlefield 3 at Amazon - $33.81 10% off FTL: Faster Than Light at GOG - $8.99 (Also on Steam) 30% off Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD on Steam - $6.99 25% off PC downloads at Green Man Gaming with the voucher code GMG25-1BW0K-K1A3G
Steam ► Sam & Max, Oddworld, and more Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD released today at a 30% discount, and Steam has also put together an Oddboxx bundle with all of the Oddworld games for 10.49. Also, Train Simulator 2013.
30% off Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD - $6.99 75% off Deus Ex: Human Revolution - $7.49 70% off Sam and Max Complete Pack - $14.99 10% off FTL: Faster Than Light - $8.99 33% off Vessel - $9.99 10% off Train Simulator 2013 - $26.99! More Steam deals
Green Man Gaming ► 25% off everything
Use the voucher code GMG25-1BW0K-K1A3G to receive 25% off a digital download by Monday September 17th at 4 a.m. PDT. Plus, tons of Saints Row: The Third DLC is on sale! Fun fact: if you mush all the DLC together, you get Saints Row: The Fourth, the illegitimate, possibly inbred son of Saints Row: The Third. He eats K-Y Jelly.
Get Games ► Guild Wars 2 You can still get Sleeping Dogs for 25% off and Borderlands for 50% off. New this week, Guild Wars 2 25% off codes are back in stock. There's also the usual selection of pre-order and other discounts.
25% off Guild Wars 2 - $41.24 (Europe only) 25% off Guild Wars 2: Digital Deluxe Edition - $56.24 25% off Sleeping Dogs - $37.49 50% off Borderlands - $9.99 More deals from Get Games
GameStop ► Max Payne 3, Killing Floor, Amnesia GameStop continues to cross off every price it can, but digging through its pages of sales this week revealed some pretty darn good stuff. Here are some of my favorites:
75% off Age of Empires III: Complete Collection - $9.99 50% off Max Payne 3 - $29.99 50% off Killing Floor - $9.99 75% off Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad - $4.99 75% off Mirror's Edge - $4.99 50% off Amnesia: The Dark Descent - $9.99 67% off Hard Reset - $9.99 More GameStop deals
GOG ► Diamonds of D&D Aside from 10% off FTL: Faster Than Light, GOG has its usual themed sale. This weekend, it's all D&D deals...wait, what's this?! *Spit take.* Something new for GOG: the discounts scale with the number of games you buy. At one game, you'll get 30% off, buy two and get 33% off each, and so on up to all nine games for 65% off each. *Cleans up spit.*
Links to the individual games are below, but if you want the scaling deal, you have to go to the hub.
30% - 65% off Baldur's Gate: The Original Saga - $6.99 - $3.49 30% - 65% off Baldur's Gate 2 Complete - $6.99 - $3.49 30% - 65% off Neverwinter Nights: Diamond Edition - $6.99 - $3.49 30% - 65% off Icewind Dale 2 Complete - $6.99 - $3.49 30% - 65% off Icewind Dale Complete - $6.99 - $3.49 30% - 65% off The Temple of Elemental Evil - $4.19 - $3.49 30% - 65% off Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard - $6.99 - $3.49 30% - 65% off Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone - $6.99 - $3.49 30% - 65% off Planescape: Torment - $6.99 - $3.49
Amazon ► The Over-The-Top TopWare Bundle Regular Amazon is way less fun than Labor Day Amazon -- it's pretty much back to the same 'ol, with games like Modern Warfare 2 and Civilization V on sale again. There is a new bundle sale, at least: the Over-The-Top TopWare Bundle includes 13 games. You probably don't want all 13.
85% off The Over-The-Top TopWare Bundle - $14.99 50% off Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - $9.99 15% off Battlefield 3 - $33.81 50% off Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X 2 - $9.99 21% off Sid Meier's Civilization V - $23.82 51% off Deus Ex: Human Revolution - $14.68 60% off Mount & Blade - $6.03 More Amazon PC game downloads
GamersGate ► A horde of romance
It's the same deal as last week: a giant, colorful patchwork of box art and red discount stickers. Only a few deals stick out at me. 50% off BioShock? Sure. 20% off To The Moon (Friday only)? Not bad. Miss Chic Romantic for only $7.48? Sounds goo- hey, wait a minute.
GameFly ► L.A. Noire L.A. Noire is the highlight of GameFly's sparse list this weekend.
75% off L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition - $7.49 75% off L.A. Noire - $4.99 More GameFly deals
Let us know in the comments if you find any more great deals, and if you feel like sharing: what are you playing this weekend? It's all FTL: Faster Than Light for me. Well, not all, but lots of it.
FTL: Faster Than Light is a real-time rogue-like spaceship-sim. It's brilliant, horribly brutal and never the same twice. It'll also be on sale via Steam in a matter of hours. Whoop!
We've been enjoying FTL since getting hold of an early build last year. You roam the galaxy, fighting random enemies while improving and repairing your ship. Although, more often than not, it's your failure to do these things that makes for the game's excruciatingly tense, wonderfully dramatic calamities. You will die, that's for certain. But will you be set on fire by flying too close to the sun? Will you asphyxiate your crew when you re-route life support to the shields? Will you be cut in half by an angry space-mantis? All these deaths and many, many more await.
If you're not convinced, you could slug back Graham's first FTL hands-on and chase it up with Tom Francis' FTL preview. Finally, you could do worse than to swot up on tips with PCG freelancer Tom Hatfield's FTL tips guide.