When you think of gaming, you don’t think of Linux as a viable operating system. The majority of PC users usually go for Windows, which is why it gets more support for its GPU drivers. But that doesn’t mean that gaming on Linux is a no-go. Gaming on this open-source OS is finally starting to hit its stride, and it all began when Steam released a bunch of native Linux games. Thank Buddha, Linux users no longer have to be left out of the fun.
In this list, we’re going to see how far Linux has come in the world of gaming. We’re going to explore the best available games for this snowflake of an OS, with consideration for budget and graphic capabilities. Let’s get started!
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
The first part of this fantastic game by Obsidian is the long-awaited successor to their other popular title, Baldur’s Gate. Many fans were eager to get their hands on this release and suffice it to say; they were not disappointed.
In Deadfire, you’ll find yourself surviving in the high seas, docking in island ports, and salvaging shipwrecks. There is not much to complain about its compelling central story, which picks up where the first one left off. The art in this game is stellar, with its setpiece moments that will surely leave your mouth agape.
This game is excellent as an RPG, but a lot of people would argue that its predecessor still blows it out of the water.
DotA 2 is a beloved MOBA game that has inspired many other games in the genre. If you like strategy games with a robust multiplayer element, there’s no reason for you not to have this game installed on your PC right now. With so many heroes to choose from, you’re sure to lose hours of your life to this game.
The DotA community is stronger than ever, mainly since it has contributed a lot to the eSports arena. Hell, you might want to look into that if you think gaming could be a career for you. Other people have certainly made it lucrative.
Don’t be fooled by Celeste’s seemingly simple look. Like a lot of other games on Steam, it’s a look back on the 80s 8-bit era not just with its aesthetic, but with its gameplay as well. Navigating in Celeste’s world presents a bit of a learning curve, but it’s a tight platformer like Super Meat Boy, which, by the way, is also available on Linux.
For beasts who breeze through the natural terrain, there are secret levels to tackle that are even more challenging — props to the developer for coming up with such a gripping story. Celeste is a gentle game despite its difficulty. It always reassures you that you can push on and finish the game.
Originally released back in 2006, this game might feel dated for some. However, we think that it still has a place on this list because it’s worth playing. It’s a funny side-scrolling turn-based game that’s a lot like another popular title, Worms.
Hedgewards allows for multiplayer, supporting up to eight players simultaneously. As for the maps, there’s no way you’d get bored for lack of variety. You can even make your own for other players to download.
For a knock-off, it succeeds as a multiplayer game, and we’re still not sick of playing it more than a decade later.
Team Fortress 2
If shooter games are your thing, Team Fortress 2 should be right up your alley. This game was released back in 2007, but it still has an active player community to this day. It ranks within the top 10 most popular Steam games.
Despite its release date, which is so far off now, the game still gets updates. By now, there are so many mods available that you tweak your character however way you want. This game also doesn’t put paying players above everyone else. The available items are purely for aesthetics, but you’ll pretty much get the same stats as everyone else.
Total War Saga: Thrones of Brittania
For several years, the universe of Warhammer took a detour. While fans of the Total War series positively received that detour, it’s refreshing to see it return to its original feel in Total War Saga: Thrones of Brittania. With most of the busywork taken out of the game, you’re left to focus on history.
In this game, Viking settlers, Anglo-Saxons, and Gaelic Tribes go head to head in a battle for dominion over the British Isles. Like most games in this genre, you can immerse yourself in real-time strategy with riveting turn-based campaigns. Thrones of Brittania is challenging, but that’s what its fans love about it.
Were you a fan of the Command & Conquer: Red Alert RTS series? OpenRA is essentially that, but it’s an open-source game. You’ll notice familiar elements lifted out of games like Dune 2000. Despite it being derivative, it does improve upon the original games.
For starters, this game is streamable, and it supports features like replays and the fog of war. The industry giant EA holds the rights to the C&C series, and they have expressed their intention of reviving it. However, OpenRA is a standalone game, and it won’t be affected should that ever happen.
This game is the first MMORPG pick on this list, and it’s one for the anime nuts out there. The game is grid-based, which makes it stand out right away. It’s free to play and can be quite funny at times, so it’s the right choice if you want to do some light gaming.
You start by choosing a character from 18 different classes. We recommend that you spend a lot of time picking your player because a lot of your gameplay will rely on specialized skills. The game has a political system, and you get to join one of the four nations ruled by a Governor. Overall, the graphics are clean, and there is no shortage of player-driven resources.
Sid Meier’s Civilization series has a loyal following for a good reason. The games are just so darn addictive. Civ 6 brings new stuff to the table in the form of new city districts and active research. Building your city and strategizing for your chosen nation’s future is now more realistic than ever.
The previous games needed a lot of updates and DLCs to buff them up. However, Civ 6 feels like it can stand alone right from its original release. You can always rely on the Civilization series to ruin your body clock, as it’ll keep you playing on and on.
What do you know, this game was created exclusively for Linux as an open-source alternative to – you guessed it, Super Mario Kart.
Once you start playing the game, you’ll realize that it’s not just a knock off of its way more popular inspiration. You can race through different game modes, including a soccer mode and a story mode. In the story mode, you can unlock more characters as you progress.
A lot of people expressed their interest in this game so much that it became available on Windows, Mac, and Android as well. Overall, this is a fun option for those who enjoy racing games.
As far as WWII sim games go, War Thunder is up there as a decent contender. In the game, you get to control armored vehicles, naval, and aviation craft from WWII and the Cold War. It’s a cross-platform MMO game that has a focus on combat, and of course, your favorite historical subject. It may be one of the simpler MMOs out there, but it looks incredible. You can tell that a lot of work went into the details of every vehicle. For example, if you genuinely want to feel like you’re in a cockpit, this is just about as close as you can get.
Hitman Game of the Year Edition
Hitman became available for Linux back in 2017. The game of the Year edition returns to its Blood Money roots, where you can perform sandbox-style hits. You can choose from stealthier kills to long hand-to-hand combats, all wrapped up with the oddly funny scenarios that we’ve come to know in the original Hitman game.
Hitman Game of the Year Edition is extremely replayable because of its large, complex environments, and custom assignments that will have you assassinating folks in a myriad of ways. Fans waited for its release for almost ten years, and we’re happy to say that it was worth the wait.
Do you like action-packed mech games? You can probably tell from the name that, in this game, you can customize robots and then pit them against other players online.
The building is entirely block-based and is very easy to grasp. You have a plethora of weapon options to deck out your robot. You’re also allowed to test out your creations against an AI enemy before sending it off to battle.
It’s fun to build an army of robots, all with different capabilities. Sticking to only one will make the game a bit repetitive. Otherwise, this game is a hoot for mech builders out there.
If you’re looking for a calming game to unwind to, look no further. This game might not be for everyone, but it’s unique in that it’s a first-person fishing simulator. This game has a multiplayer option so that you could go virtual fishing with some online buddies. Boy, times have changed.
You won’t have to shell out for the base game, which is nice, but there are available DLCs should you want to spruce it up. Overall, it’s a simple fishing sim game with impressive graphics. It’s a pleasant breather amidst all the games where everything has to blow up.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown made a splash when it was released. That game is also available on Linux if you want to start there. In XCOM 2, you take command of an airship that carries your team of rag-tag resistance fighters all over the world to overthrow Advent (the aliens). The sequel is a definite upgrade to its predecessor, with more a focus on stealth. When you finish the game, there is the war of the chosen expansion to keep you engrossed for much longer.
As an alternative, you could download the Long War 2 mod that adds a ton of new stuff from weapons to soldier classes. Boy, this game is stressful, but it sure is fun at the same time.
This game is the first space sim on this list. It’s an MMO that allows players to go head to head against each other or engage in enemy battles.
Your character is an elite combat pilot, and your goal is simple: survive and eliminate your enemies. You can develop your skills over time, but there is the option to pay real money to speed things along. It’s not precisely a pay-to-win deal, but it’ll save you some hours of intense grinding.
There is a decent selection of airships you could pilot, and you can upgrade their parts as you progress.
This management game from Hyper Hippo that satirizes the world of finance. In the game, you can monopolize industries by buying out businesses. The more money you earn, the more companies you can buy. The principle is simple, and it’s highly addictive.
There is a storyline where you start as a small lemonade stand. By the end of the game, you could be running an intergalactic empire.
This funny little game captured the attention of bigtime publications like Time and Washinton Post. Its charming design and smooth gameplay make for an excellent clicker game. Best of all, you can play it for free.
Slay the Spire
Are you a fan of Magic: The Gathering? Then Slay the Spire, a card-building adventure game, is worth your attention. This game combines dungeon crawling and card battling as you go up against monsters. It’s strange how there are hardly any games like this when this combination works so well.
During gameplay, you can see what enemies are about to do so that you can plan your moves accordingly. Random events are triggered as you go along, offering some variety. Mods are also available if you want new decks.
Slay the Spire bring the fun of card games onto PC and improves upon it with impressive sounds and visuals.
No More Room in Hell
Zombie games are a dime a dozen, but there aren’t very many that are available on Linus. Luckily, No More Room in Hell, a first-person zombie shooter with co-op options, is playable on your OS. Playing with other people is always fun, especially in horror games like this one. You can’t play Left 4 Dead on Linux, so No More Room in Hell is the next best thing. The game is free, and you kill pretty much anything (or anyone) on sight.
Items are scarce, though, so it can be a bit of a bloodbath during multiplayer mode. And because there’s an inventory weight limited, there’s only a certain amount of items that you can carry around.
BRAIN / OUT
Looking for a 2D shooter a la Contra? BRAIN / OUT is the game that you want to play. Set in a post-Soviet dystopia, you can play in three game modes: deathmatch, domination, and normal. There’s not much to this game except surviving and raising your kill count. However, if that’s the sort of thing that you need to unwind, this game is an excellent homage to older games that we used to play in the old days.
Its key features include weapon customization and an even playing field for all players. The latter makes sure that even if you’re new to the game, you can still stand up to higher-level players based on your shooting skills alone.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III
The Dawn of War series is set in the Warhammer universe and plays where you play real-time strategy campaigns. This new addition to the series incorporates elements from beloved MOBA games like DotA 2 and LoL.
As an action RPG, it’s not the best out there. But there’s a lot of fun to be had in Warhammer 40K, especially if you’re a die-hard fan of the series. You should also go for this game if you’re a fan of miniature tabletop wargames because it mostly plays the same way. It’s not so much of a niche hobby anymore, which is why we thought it best to include this game on this list.
Wild West Saga: Idle Tycoon
Wild West Saga: Idle Tycoon is set in the Wild West, where you try to become a wealthy pioneer. You can accomplish this by starting a couple of businesses and then expanding them as more opportunities present themselves.
As you collect patent cards, you’re then able to start businesses in new towns and purchase upgrades. This game is a standard management sim. Its colorful game design keeps everything lighthearted. If you want to click idly away, this game is worth a try.
SteamWorld Dig 2
If you got the chance to play Motherload, SteamWorld Dig is a lot like it. The premise is simple. You’re a miner, and you make your way deeper into the earth, collecting stuff. The one complaint that fans had about the first game is that it was too short.
Thankfully, the sequel takes about half a day of non-stop gaming to complete. You get to wield a pickaxe and dig away. Not only that, you can use select items like bombs and jetpacks to help you along on your journey. It’s a challenging game that won’t allow for mindless clicking.
2D games are pretty unusual in the MOBA genre. But Awesomenauts breaks the mold by incorporating fighting games from older platformers and making it fun and relevant again.
Aside from its unique design, it’s also quirky, with some outstanding voice-over work to boot. Even though it looks simplistic, the character attributes in the game are comparable to more complex games in the genre.
In the game, you’ll be playing in teams of three. Instead of destroying enemy bases, the goal is to destroy their solar collectors. At the same time, of course, you’ll have to defend yours.
At the beginning of the game, you get to choose from nine airmechs with customizable parts. As you progress in the game, you can upgrade their weapons and level up their pilots.
ARK: Survival Evolved
If you get a kick out of grinding and crafting, this game has a lot to offer in those respects. You will have to work hard to survive in boss fights, and surviving alone can present many challenges.
In a nutshell, this is a dinosaur survival simulation. At first, you don’t stand a chance against these giants. You start humbly, building a fire and shelter. If you’ve seen that show, Naked and Afraid, this game is a lot like that, only with prehistoric creatures roaming around.
You’re going to die a lot. The good news is, your stuff will be there where you left it. This game is tough, but players who love a challenge will inevitably get sucked into it.
Dead Maze is a 2D zombie game that has crafting elements woven into it. It’s by no means an ordinary shooter. You will have to keep an eye on your health and grind to survive. You can do so by collecting food and other resources (as you would in a zombie apocalypse).
The best thing about this game is that it’s multiplayer. You can team up with other people and build a community where your main goal is not to get your brains eaten. Fun. Co-op play is rare in this type of game, and Dead Maze delivers it very well.
SOMA, an incredibly dark and atmospheric sci-fi FPS, is very reminiscent of Bioshock. The storyline that you follow is exceptionally compelling, and the characters are all very likable, so you can’t help but be invested in it. There are lots of twists and turns that you won’t see coming, which is highly appreciated in games these days because most of them can be predictable.
There is very minimal guidance, so you’re left to fend for yourself. You’ll be playing a submerged research station, not knowing how you got there in the first place. A lot of the environment is interactive, allowing you to check out drawers and operate switches. The game is about 10 hours long, which makes for a very satisfying gaming experience. Those are hours well spent.
The King’s Request: Physiology and Anatomy Revision Game
If you think your knowledge of the human body only has practical applications, it sure has a place here in this beautiful game that combines biology and medicine.
Throughout the game, you will have to answer health questions, and every question you answer correctly will save your kingdom. Don’t worry, getting it wrong won’t set you back.
Who says you can’t learn and game at the same time? The design of this game looks very quaint, and it’s the perfect choice for science nerds out who like RPGs.
Rocket League combines soccer and high-powered vehicles in a good-natured multiplayer game. The game’s developer, Psyonix, still hasn’t stopped updating the game, bringing tons of new content to refresh the game.
If you’re looking for a game with an arcade feel and team-based strategy, you will love Rocket League. The player community is relatively nontoxic, welcoming beginners of any skill level. The very best players make real-world money for being so good at the game. Rocket League is also as enjoyable for casual players, having hundreds of cosmetic items to decorate your cars. You can trade the stuff that you have with other players too.
Faeria is another card game developed by indie developers from Belgium. It’s been a while since its release, but it still hasn’t gained the popularity that it deserves. Despite being on the hush-hush, players who’ve tried it have given it positive reviews.
When you buy the game, you get a deck of 300 cards. You have standard PvP and AI battles to try out your fight with your hand of cards. The game looks clean and beautiful. Plus, it’s always being updated, so there are tons of new cards to play to try out.
Deux Ex: Mankind Divided
Deux Ex is set in futuristic Prague. You can go through the entire game without killing. All you would have to do is talk, sneak, or hack your way through the situations that the game throws at you. Mankind Divided starts with a 12-minute walkthrough so you can follow the story so far. But even after a couple of playthroughs, you still might know what has gone on.
Overall, it’s an incredibly immersive game set in detailed environments that ensure hours of gameplay with its complex labyrinth of a plot.
A lot of people would say that Observer is a horror game, but we think that’s oversimplifying it. The game does have a lot of disturbing imagery but’s it’s more akin to the overtones of Blade Runner. Hell, the main character is even voiced by Rutger Hauer, a star of the film itself.
You’ll be playing as Daniel Lazarski in the desolate streets of Krakow. With strong cyberpunk influences and deeply engaging investigative gameplay, the game can make you uncomfortable sometimes. After finishing the game, you’ll still feel its haunting effect. It’s worth your time, even if it is a niche genre.
2D platforming and tight combat are what Hollow Knight got right. This game is incredibly charming, with memorable characters, moving music, and meticulously hand-drawn art.
It’ll take a while to get through the whole adventure (about 30 hours), but it’s worth it. Because of its many updates, the game has only gotten better. Despite being a platforming game, it’s far from simplistic, and it’s a game you’ll want to keep playing because of its comforting qualities.
Slime Rancher is a first-person game. The goal is simple: use your vacuum gun to suck up adorable slimes on an alien planet. You deposit them in a cage, collect their droppings, and buy better weapons. You’ll have to get the to the dropping right away because the slime critters eat them. This game undoubtedly one of the cutest and quirkiest farming sims out there.
Stellaris is a strategy sandbox game in space. It’s up to you to create empires and cause tragedies across the galaxies. Its developer, Paradox, is known for its complex strategy games, and its effort in making Stellaris will not go unnoticed. The game has a huge learning curve, and you will have to do a lot of reading. But once you get the hang of it, it’s guaranteed to take up a lot of your time.
Mad Max’s Linux release took a while, and we all waited eagerly for it. Something good did come out of this delay. It’s not as expensive anymore.
It turns out it’s a lot like Arkham Knight. With an expansive open-world setup, there are infinite areas to explore and different enemies to face. There’s something primal about the gameplay of Mad Max, and you’ll find a lot of the combat cathartic.
Using Linux can sometimes present some problems. The good news is that you have a community always working and sharing to make it better. One of the disadvantages of using Linux was the utter lack of games available for it. But that disadvantage is slowly disappearing. Judging by this list alone, you can see that there is no shortage of games you can play on this operating system. Linux users no longer have to feel excluded from player communities, and they can keep up with the games that are popular on Windows and consoles.