Gaming can be an expensive habit - but if you’re looking for quality there’s no need to break the bank on new releases.
Price drops on classics mean that just a tenner will net you some of the best games ever made. Here’s the pick of the bargain bunch.
The grandfather of modern shooters can still mix it with the kids.
Half Life 2 is a near-perfect FPS: relentless pacing, an ever-evolving narrative, and beefy weapons. Hurling rusty razor blades at zombies with the gravity gun never gets old. If you haven’t played it yet, drop everything now and buy it.
Available through Steam (£6.99)
The best level design ever?
Dishonored’s assassination missions are deadly playgrounds with a thousand moving parts. It’s your job to scout, plot, and execute however you wish – and every route is satisfyingly gruesome. Play it ahead of the sequel’s release in November.
Buy it on Steam for £7.99
Perhaps more than any other RPG, Mass Effect makes you feel like a hero.
It forces you to make tough choices that will decide the future of the galaxy: it’s an epic story, driven by characters you genuinely grow to care for. The second and third may be more polished, but the first has the most heart.
Portal is a one-trick pony – but who cares when the trick is this good?
Armed with nothing but a Portal gun (zap a blue hole on one wall, an orange one on anther, jump through for endless fun) you zoom through tricky, varied puzzles, all the while being heckled by GLaDOS, one of the best villains in gaming. A joke-a-minute romp that doesn’t outstay its welcome.
XCOMX: Enemy Unknown
XCOM will make you cry. Seriously.
It’s a hard-as-nails strategy game filled with alien nasties that will ensure your best-made plans – and your favourite soldiers – crumble before your eyes. The meat of the game is about responding to those setbacks, and the string of battle tales that generates. A clean UI and deep customisation round it off. If you're a proper masochist, you can play the equally brutal sequel afterwards.
Buy it from Amazon for £6.49
Deus Ex feels like a piece of history: the combat is clunky, the visuals are dated, and the audio is like something out of a B-roll horror film.
That said, it’s still one of the best RPGs around. It has so many complex systems that – when it all comes together – it’s endlessly rewarding. Try it for next to nothing, then pace your room restlessly waiting for the latest title, arriving in a matter of days.
Buy it on Steam for £4.99
One minute you’re creeping around a cave slitting bandits’ throats and stealing their mead, and the next you’re standing on top of a mountain, battling a dragon in the swirling snow.
Skyrim is a fantasy-lover’s dream. It’s massive, detailed, and boasts distractions at every point of the compass. Be warned, you'll probably not see the light of day once it gets its claws into you.
But it on Amazon (on PC) for £9.99
Halo: Combat Evolved (/Master Chief Collection)
The first Halo was way ahead of its time, with punchy audio, solid level design, and challenging AI. It remains an excellent sci-fi shooter to this day, with each short section spilling effortlessly into the next, giving you no reason to put your controller down.
The Master Chief Collection introduces you to this seminal game and its three sequels. Seriously, this is the gaming bargain of the decade.
Buy it for the Xbox One on CDKeys for just £5.99
Kill scary monster. Find shiny sword. Kill bigger monster. Find shinier sword. Kill huge monster… you get the point.
Diablo II perfects the feedback loop that the series is so famous for: it’s an endlessly replayable dungeon crawler, and still has a strong fan base today.
Buy it for £6.99 on Battle.net
Atmosphere. That’s the one word we'd pin on the FPS marvel Bioshock.
Its eerie world – a drowned shell of a former art-deco utopia – is one of gaming’s best settings. Add a subtle, philosophical story and this is a game you cannot afford to miss. Or you could wait for the shiny remastered trilogy, arriving 13 September.
Buy it on Amazon for £6.94