Steam Charts: surviving eternity

Hallo! John’s away so I’m taking over for our latest weekly rundown of the biggest-selling games on Steam over the previous seven days. Familiar faces are here, of course, but the charts also include more survival games than I’ve seen in yonks. The slightest peek of sun outside and you lot start acting as if it’s the end of the world, eh?

10. Far Cry 5

Ubisoft’s open-world shooty sandbox is slowly slipping down the charts and should soon be bumped out, but that’s no surprise – ‘s just how new releases go, yeah? Not that Far Cry 5 is strictly a one-‘n’-done, as the B movie DLCs should start rolling soon, and they’ll bring new stuff to the Far Cry 5 Arcade editor too. Gang, if you’ve poking around the Arcade recently, how’s it shaping up as players master the tools?

9. Pillars Of Eternity II: Deadfire

Ninth seems quite low for the debut of a new olde RPGe from Obsidian Entertainment, even if our John’s coming off quite lukewarm in his Pillars Of Eternity II: Deadfire review:

“Exploring the nautical map, finding all the undiscovered islands, taking on pirates, or indulging in some piracy, looting shipwrecks, it all sounds like it should be so much more fun. But in execution it’s mostly an elaborate menu. Find a battle on an island and you’ll be in a single location, and when the fight’s over, there’s nowhere to explore, no hidden treats, no dungeons to deep dive. There’s really nothing to be gained, beyond easily bought resources, from exploration, which is such a miss.

“I think that describes a lot of what I’ve seen so far: swings and misses. The naval battles are beautifully delivered, but almost immediately redundant, and don’t meaningfully impact a boarding raid. The story is enormous and intricate, but doesn’t feel weighty or important. The combat is astonishingly detailed, but played at the standard setting rarely requires you to use its many mechanisms.”

Still, ninth, that’s not terrible, is it?

8. A Total War Saga: Thrones Of Britannia

It’s a new Total War game doing Total War things, I’ll incredibly crudely crunch Nic Rueben’s A Total War Saga: Thrones Of Britannia review down to, and that’s just peachy to a large number of people. The developers have recently laid out some of their post-launch update plans, including making it a little more difficult and trying to add new depths to parts including the culture and faction systems. Not all of the changes in this first game of the new Saga subseries have gone down super-well with long-time players, see.

7. Stardew Valley

The singleplayer farm-o-adventure-a-living RPG was already lovely for a quiet getaway, and now that multiplayer is in public testing it’s turning out to be lovely for a quiet life with your pals too.

“Multiplayer Stardew Valley truly brings out the feeling of community that the single player tries to evoke and it led to a totally different farm life than the one I would have created alone,” Jay Castello told us. A few bugs, as you’d expect in beta, but largely a lovely farmhang. And that’s probably why it’s back in the charts lately.

6. The Forest

Finally out of early access, the sandbox survival game is still crafting a success. I’m not much one for survival games but The Forest does interest me more than most, except for the fact that its mutants are so horrible that I’m too much of a baby to stick it out. Congrats to developers Endnight Games for successfully making things too awful to be near. You know the ones I mean.

5. Frostpunk

More survival! This time from a broad management perspective, rather than the usual first-person tree-punching one. Can you keep a furnace stoked and a colony alive and merry in the apocalyptic frozen wasteland we know as England? The RPS Verdict and Alec’s diary would suggest no, probably not.

4. Pillars Of Eternity II: Deadfire

Ohhh! Psych! Hooked! Fished in! Yes, Deadfire is way up the charts too. A quirk of how Valve calculate their charts means that Deadfire appears twice, see, so I’d guess the one at #9 is pre-orders. Congrats, Obsidian.

3. Conan Exiles

And yet more survival! Funcom’s fantasy barbarian sandbox launched properly last week, after 15 months in early access, and it’s been a big launch. Playercounts are an order of magnitude higher than they were two months ago (almost back up to numbers when it first entered early access), Funcom had to bring extra servers online, and here it is at #3 on the charts. Between this and The Forest, it’s a good time for sandbox survival. The genre may have spawned battle royale shooters but the parent is certainly still alive.

2. Grand Theft Auto V

Last week was one of those rare times when GTA V didn’t appear in the top ten, but it’s bounced right back. That might have been helped by Rockstar giving away so much GTA Online money, or it could just be that hey, it’s GTA.

I had thought I’d never return to GTA Online after my account was temp-banned and wiped for (I think?) a mishap when looking at diorama mods but the free cash brought me back. With double payouts of loads of events this week too, I’ve earned more than I had before and explored a lot of modes I hadn’t tried. I don’t race much so I was especially surprised by the TrackMania-ish Hotring mode with thirty cars whooshing over zoompads and smashing each other up. Good crimetimes.

1. Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds

I would like to report back that I fully explored the battle royale shooter’s new island of Sanhok over the weekend’s public testing, but in truth I was engrossed in GTA Online and didn’t get much further than dicking about lobbing apples around Sanhok’s lobby. I did enjoy throwing the fruit, mind.

The Steam Charts come via Steam’s internal charts of the highest grossing games on Steam over the previous week, as compiled and released by Valve.


  1. LarsBR says:

    Ugh, what’s the deal with all these fake screen shots.

    • njursten says:

      The liven up an otherwise rather boring list?

    • Bullfrog says:

      They look real enough to me.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      The Conan ones are marketing shots and perhaps a bit shiny. We haven’t looked at the game ourselves recently so we don’t have any non-ancient screenshots.

      Starwdew screenshot is from a dev blog post but I believe is just a screenshot?

      The Forest is a marketing shot but seems about right, I think?

      The rest are from our own reviews and posts, I believe taken ourselves. Took the GTA snap and Plunkbat GIF myself.

    • LarsBR says:

      Sorry, attempt at comedy, since the shots are usually mostly fake, and these all looked real to me. I blame Brendan.

  2. Oasx says:

    Happy to see Deadfire do good, I will be very surprised if it doesn’t end up being the best game of the year.

  3. Phantom_Renegade says:

    I kickstarted the first one, still haven’t played it, so that’s why I haven’t picked up Deadfire. Just recently started Automata, about 4 hours in. Honestly? I don’t get the hype. The story might be interesting but the combat is meh, the interface is rubbish, the constant shifts between 2 and 3d movement is very annoying, and the lack of quick travel means I’m just not going to ever bother with sidequests that require me to run across the entire map. If the sidequests were anything other then a barrage of fetch quests I might have, but so far they aren’t.

    I like the ideas and the story and the characters well enough. I just don’t like playing it. I’ve since turned on all auto combat plug-ins, which has improved the gameplay for me somewhat, but it’s still a slog.

    • latedave says:

      I also agree with your heretical statements…

    • sub-program 32 says:

      Yeah funny thing about the lack of quick travel….there totally is a system like that, you just need to progress the main quest first.

      • Phantom_Renegade says:

        The moment assorted icons start appearing on my map which require me to traverse areas of the map I’ve already been? That’s the moment fast travel should be there.

        It’s astonishing how much the game disrespects my time. No save points during the first 30-40 minutes? I mean who does that? Unclear directions on where to go? And I thought Xenoblade’s arrow was bad.

        I’m powering through because I think the story has tons of potential but it currently sucks at the actual game parts of it.

        • ludde says:

          You sound young. 20 hours or so into Breath of the Wild and the SO is asking slightly annoyed if it’s still the tutorial when the game’s giving directions.

          • Phantom_Renegade says:

            I’m 29, you tell me if that’s young:P I wouldn’t know about BotW though. I’ve played a number of Zelda games for about an hour and never found anything I enjoyed. I tried Ocarina back when I had a 64, tried Twilight Princess on my Wii, and I tried the DS one, Phantom Hourglass I think? They’re not for me.

    • matt198992 says:

      The first playthrough of Nier is a little “meh” admittedly. But you REALLY have to play through it 2+ times for it to get really off-the-walls interesting. Trust me. It sounds like a slog, but it’s really not. The story picks up in a big way and the combat changes up pretty drastically after the first playthrough.

      Just…bear with it until you’ve at LEAST beaten the game 2, or more preferably 3 times. You’ll know what I mean once you start your second playthrough.

      • juan_h says:

        Is this one of those “it gets good after the first 30 hours” things?

        • ludde says:

          Yeah, fucking hell. “The game starts at level 60, really.”

          • Phantom_Renegade says:

            That was with FFXIII too. “No really, after the first 30 hours the game becomes incredible!” Me: “Just put in a button to let me skip those first 30 then.”

      • Phantom_Renegade says:

        Thing is, with the amount of games in my backlog or coming out every frickin’ day? Telling me to put in 10+ hours before it gets good is really not an endorsement. If anything it’s an indictment.

        The story seems like it has a lot of potential to maybe blow my mind, but as a game? It’s pretty bad so far. Maybe he should just make a TV – series? I dunno.

        Stupid thing is, I was loving the combining of story and gameplay stuff. Adjusting stuff in the menu actually lets 2B see? Mind was blown. Give me more of that and less ‘collect x doodads across a large map like you’re playing Dragon Age Inq’. God how I hated DA: I. That game was the fucking worst.

    • Faxanadu says:

      The combat IS meh. The moment I saw what the gameplay was, I activated faceroll mode in everything and just rushed through the story. But even enjoyed like that, I’d say it’s worth the hype. I mean it’s basically a really pretty 3d visual novel with a good story. Oh and the audio, drools.

      • Phantom_Renegade says:

        The music is soooo fucking good. I just want that soundtrack to follow me around.

    • ShDragon says:

      I don’t know why, but I’m enjoying the combat a lot, and the shifts between game types are interesting. But, yeah, as someone said, you do unlock fast travel some hours in, and if I hadn’t been enjoying the movement and combat along the way, the sheer amount of game between the start and getting fast travel would have been probably too much, and I’d have probably quit.

      The way I described it to a friend is that it’s an ‘art house film’. There’s a fair bit of things it does “wrong” (or at least “weird”), but all in the service of telling the story. At the point where I’ve now unlocked fast travel, I.. almost don’t like how easily I can zip around the world now. Running everywhere was boring, but it gave the story space to breathe, and gave me time to ponder all the little sad ways the world works. I dunno. It’s certainly more of a thinky game than I initially thought and maybe that’s making me give it more credit than it deserves, but then maybe that was also the point? And I don’t know what to think other than I’m really enjoying it so far.

      • Phantom_Renegade says:

        I think art house is definitely a good way to describe it. It really wants you to make an effort to play through it on it’s terms. No auto-saves being another good example of that. Means I can’t just pick it up, play it a bit and then go do something else.

        My main issue with it is, I’m a pretty big believer in ‘don’t waste my time’. It’s why I modded Xcom/xcom 2. It’s why I dropped DA: I because every single quest became a collect x fetch quest. Right now in Nier I feel like I’m just running between points. The world building is really neat and this melancholy sense is beautiful. But I don’t think my time is being respected. Take the stamp collection. All the little robots have a line, and like half of those would have gotten the point across. And then the last one is impossible to find without a guide. I ran through that theatre a dozen times before I read online that there was an elevator. That you have to stand in front of in a very specific way before the button prompt appears.

        And there is sooo much of that. Upgrading my weapon now requires me to run to a specific part of the map and grind certain enemies by reloading that area. The guide warns me the drop rate is quite low. Man, fuck this.

        I’m willing to meet most games halfway if they have something going for it. With Nier, it’s the art direction, the music, and maybe the story. I can’t judge that yet. But Nier isn’t meeting me halfway. I’m 5 hours in now, and I’m pretty close to just letting go. People say that it gets better, but apparently that’s not until route c or something? And the next playthrough, route B is even worse?

        I’d be okay with having to sit down and take my time, if I thought my time was being respected. But the side quests, which I’m hearing are the heart of the game, so far are all go there and collect x. That’s mmo filler, but dressed up with a bit of vaguely relevant story. That’s not enough.

        Meet me halfway is all I’m saying. Or I’m giving up which means I’m not getting the next one. Just like I’m not getting the next Dragon Age.

  4. geldonyetich says:

    I’ve picked up Conan Exiles during launch week, and am overjoyed to see it doing very well. It’s turned out to be a wonderful mash up of the best of the survival genre with a bit of Dark Souls thrown in. And, of course, it’s Conan themed as only a company that was running a Conan-themed MMORPG for 10 years can. The longer I play, the more I appreciate it (although it’s not without bugs).

    Not sure if the RPS staffers have the time to give it a proper Wot I Think, but I sort of feel like the game ought to snowball in popularity a bit, fickle audiences permitting, so having some more coverage might be in your best interests.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Deadfire sadly seems to be bombing – it’s peaked at 24k players in a 24-hour weekend period, and given that the game had 33k backers…those are probably mostly backers.

    The break-even for Fig investors, like me, was 543,000 copies sold. It doesn’t look like it’s even hit a tenth of that. If sales don’t pick up this may be an existential threat for Obsidian.

    To be clear: it’s a lovely, distinct game that deserves success, and I think the game market is just really weird for most single-player games right now (it’s hard for them to make money outside of a few breakaway hits like Stardew Valley).

    • Imperialist says:

      Keep in mind, POE2 is available on other platforms. Steam may be the largest, but other places like GOG have a hefty sales contribution.

    • kagechikara says:

      Eh, it got meh reviews from RPS and PC Gamer and even reading through the positive Steam review highlight a lot of the problems I had with the first one, so I suspect this is just people are hesitant to spend $50 on a game without being certain it’s what they want.

      Which is unfortunate, because I would /love/ more games like this, but I’m not sure I can justify spending $50 just to signal to publishers that they have a market.

      • Premium User Badge

        Aerothorn says:

        PC Gamer wrote: “Pillars of Eternity II is another fine RPG from Obsidian, brilliantly showcasing the studio’s knack for strong world-building, intelligent, expressive writing, and varied quest design. It’s a big, deep, wordy CRPG in the classic mould, but with enough new ideas to feel like more than just a throwback.” Definitely not a ‘meh’ review. Other reviews are even more positive – RPS is the outlier here.

        It’s true that it’s $50, and maybe they made a pricing error, but I feel like most full-length RPGs with sizeable budgets are 50 over, so they aren’t out of line with the market.

        I think part of my confusion is that, to me, Pillars 1 was everything it promised and more, so Deadfire was just a no-brainer; it turns out I’m in a fairly small boat and it’s actually significantly underselling the first one.

        • kagechikara says:

          Oops, you’re totally right about PC Gamer. I misremembered that.

        • khamul says:

          Hmmm. On my second playthrough of PoE 1 now, having abandoned my first some time ago, when I got fed up, and starting to feel the same.

          There’s a lot I like about it. But there’s a lot that annoys me, too. The world is original, inventive, and with points of brilliance. The story is interesting enough that I’m willing to forgive the cliched aspects. I think the NPCs are very well designed and written.

          But I find the combat tedious, repetitive and boring, the writing overall patchy, and the quest structuring frequently poor. Far too often, there isn’t a dialog option remotely close to what I want to say, and fairly obvious approaches aren’t allowed for.

          As for the combat: the system is the problem. It’s woolly. The probability range is so big you can get away with poor choices half the time – and good choices give you intermittent to negligible rewards. So it all becomes a slog. Plus I’m now level-capped with a third of the game still to go, which is just a slap in the face for paying attention.

          So… I don’t regret getting it? But neither the expansions nor the sequel are high on my buy list.

      • csbear says:

        It currently has a Metacritic score of 90, which is pretty high for this kind of game. RPS is an outlier.

        And yes, I’m loving the game, so it’s sad to see it not doing as well.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Metacritic (for what that’s worth) has it rated at 90 critic score and 8.5 user score, which should count as a successful release for most studios. If sales aren’t so hot, it’s just an indication of a niche market. Divinity OS 2 is a fantastic game in a similar genre, and I’ll bet it didn’t hit big sales numbers either.

        Anyway, I played PoE 1 through to the finish, mainly on the strength of the game mechanics. I was underwhelmed by the worldbuilding and party NPC’s, and from what I’ve read (even in the good reviews), that may not have improved. So yeah, I’ll probably wait for a sale on this new one.

        • kagechikara says:

          Yeah, many of the positive reviews seem to mention a middle section that drags, NPCs that are underwritten and over the top purple prose, which were all problems of the first one. I’ll get the game eventually, but those are the kind of long-term issues that I saw in the first one and make me hesitant. And I’m sure by the time I buy it any launch issues and bugs will be straightened out as well.

        • Premium User Badge

          Aerothorn says:

          Original Sin 2 DID hit big sales – very, very big. Hence the confusion – if it was also small, we could say, yeah, niche genre. But *two months* after release it had sold a million copies; at this rate, that will me 10x more copies than Deadfire sold in the same period. The gap is confusing.

    • napoleonic says:

      The first one was rubbish, so I don’t have any interest in the sequel. Probably many other people had the same experience.

    • Disgruntled Goat says:

      According to Steam DB, here are the concurrent all-time peak numbers:

      Pillars 1: 41,906
      Pillars 2: 22,724

      Numbers dropping by half from game to game is not good.

    • Horg says:

      Peak player numbers are a bloody awful way to measure the health of a single player RPG. I bought it, I fully intend to play it to completion, but i’m happy to wait for a couple of patches first. The developers have promised a balance pass aimed at making the Veteran / Path of the Damned settings more challenging, and there is an abundance of bugs to squash. Obsidian already got my money, I doubt they are going to sweat too hard if I don’t play while they sort the post launch issues out.

      • Premium User Badge

        Aerothorn says:

        I think the counter-argument here is that most people who decide to wait will decide to *not buy it* until then (because what’s the point of buying it if you’re not ready to play it?). So I’m assuming most waiters haven’t yet purchased.

        Of course, I hope I’m wrong. I get my first divident payment in November – we’ll discover then if this sold anywhere close to the targets. But I’m guessing no.

  6. Imperialist says:

    Even with its bugs, i believe Conan Exiles to be the best of the sandbox survival games. It has grown exponentially since Early Access launch, and it seems Funcom are eager to continue growing it.
    And while the combat, building, and crafting are all good…the real place it shines is in world design. The Exiled Lands are legitimately beautiful, and theres a crapload of secrets, loot, thrall camps etc. Of course, one of the most venerable low-fantasy IP’s helps give it some extra potency.

    • Phyzzi says:

      I may have to pick up Conan. It seems like it might win the sleeper title of the decade… when I saw it at PAX East over a year ago, it looked like a poor hacked up ESO clone. Now people are calling it the best game in the genre.

      • Imperialist says:

        Strange comparison…as ESO literally looks/plays/feels nothing like CE. At all. Zero common ground aside from “theres people, and swords, and stuff”

  7. Sarfrin says:

    Wait, CS:GO isn’t in the charts and John missed it.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I had to check an extra time just to be sure, lol. That really is extraordinary. Going Ctrl+F on the articles in the “steam charts” tag, you sometimes don’t see GTA in the tags, but I’ve never witnessed the absense of CS:GO before. The summer is quite early in Sweden as well, so I bet something is afoot.

  8. icarussc says:

    I know, right??? Such a missed opportunity for all of us.