You must know by now that Linux is vastly improved as a gaming platform, thanks in no small part to SteamOS and the Steam client. The state of play now is that you can choose from around 50 top-end videogames from the past three years from a library of almost 4000 (which includes DLC and expansions).
In short, if you’ve been holding onto Windows simply to play your favorite games, there’s a strong choice that you can start to let go. Installing SteamOS is now a viable option (or if you prefer, Ubuntu or another distro with the Steam client installed), and the following collection of titles – ostensibly a list of 10, with plenty of bonuses – should illustrate just what the situation is in 2016.
Simply labelled XCOM 2, the follow-up to the cross platform alien invasion strategy game takes place 20 years later, on an alien-controlled Earth. Like the original, this is a turn-based strategy, and places you back in control of an XCOM team, this time rising from the shadows not to defend Earth, but to reclaim it.
This has been a hugely popular release since its early 2016 launch, and its availability on SteamOS and Linux is a major development in the steady march of PC gaming to the world of open source operating systems. Want to support Linux gaming? Buy this, and play it on Linux.
If you’re not yet ready for XCOM 2, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is also available on Linux.
Set for an early 2016 release, the latest installment in the RCT franchise brings the art of building a brand new theme park to the next level. Stunning first-person graphics provide a more realistic way to manage your theme park, although a third person option is also available for trying out the rides you have built or customized.
Various expansion packs are expected, and while at the time of writing the game has not yet been released (it can be preordered), it will bring the magic of Roller Coaster Tycoon to the Linux world for the first time (although I’m told Theme Park World will run with PlayOnLinux).
Over a year old now, this astonishing first-person puzzle (released simultaneously on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux) comes from the creators of Serious Sam, Croteam, and is in the tradition of philosophical science fiction, its name taken from the Talos of Greek mythology (a giant mechanical man).
Over 150 life-like puzzles challenge your human-like robot, mixing greenery and stone ruins with futuristic technology, and completing each conundrum (the obstacles within including drones, turrets and detonating drones) rewards you with a sigil.
Although you may not have heard of The Talos Principle game, it has a good reputation and was warmly received upon release. And, of course, it is available for Linux!
Yes, we’re cheating with this one, but it’s true – almost any Valve produced game is available on Linux. This includes the full series of Half-Life games, Portal 1 and 2, the Counter-Strike series (you can even run a Counter-Strike server on Linux) and many more.
Left for Dead, Team Fortress 1 and 2; they’re all in there, and if you’re wondering about just how much a collection of 24 games will set you back, you can head over to Steam right now and purchase the Valve Complete Pack for just $99.99.
Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut is a graphically enhanced version of 2014’s Wasteland 2, and was released on Linux in 2015. A sequel to 1988’s Wasteland, this is a post-apocalyptic role playing game, crowdfunded via Kickstarter.
Employing turn-based, party-based gameplay with tactical combat and a semi-overhead view, the game takes place 15 years after the original, and to succeed throughout the 80 hours of gameplay you need to equip your Ranger squad with the best weapons and bring Old West style justice to the post-apocalyptic landscape.
Also ships with a free copy of Wasteland 1 – The Original Classic, 1988’s “Adventure Game of the Year”.
This highly-rated science fiction survival horror was unleashed upon Linux and SteamOS on in September 2015, and is set below the Atlantic Ocean, in the Underwater facility PATHOS-II. With no radio, scant food and machines that are developing personalities, it’s your job to uncover the truth, and overcome the twisted machines and corrupt humans.
But here’s the deal: there’s no fighting back. There is no combat. Instead, progress is via exploration, stealth, and puzzle solving. For instance, notes and audio tapes appear as clues, furthering the plot and enhancing the already atmospheric scenario.
Don’t miss SOMA, possibly the greatest video game of the decade.
Another game with a good reputation, this is an RPG released in March 2015, considered a spiritual successor to the critically acclaimed Baldur’s Gate series. Taking place in the fantasy world of Eora, in the nation of Dyrwood, the game presents an overall problem to solve: why are the new children born without souls?
With strong writing and an immersive world, the game mechanics echo Dungeons & Dragons, and the game opens with a character creation screen, which will determine how your character develops, and how he or she performs during the popular strategic combat phases.
Pillars of Eternity is a huge game and one of the best RPGs for a long time — and it’s available on Linux.
The latest addition to perhaps the greatest strategy game series ever, 2014’s Civilization: Beyond Earth continues the story of the Earth-based civilizations of the earlier game, pitting them against a brand new territory, an alien planet.
Here, new factions emerge, as with the earlier extra-terrestrial-themed spin-off, Alpha Centauri, along with a whole host of new technologies and citizen management methods. Reaching a point of planet wide domination is tricky, and everything you’ve already learned in Civilization V will need to be relearned for Beyond Earth. As well as the parent game, various expansion packs are available.
In addition, Civilization V and its various expansions/DLC is also available on Steam for Linux users.
An unusual title, Kerbal Space Program puts you in charge of your own space or aircraft development program, and includes a simulation feature enabling you to fly the finished craft into space.
All of this is made possible by the green humanoid, Minion-esque Kerbals, who have arrived on Earth with a spaceport, and who busily build the craft you design. Various game modes are on offer (sandbox, science, and career), and the game does a good job of reflecting genuine physics in its simulation. While not perfect simulation, it’s close enough in game terms, and adds a strong degree of realism to the slightly bizarre inclusion of the Kerbals.
All in all, a great game that comes highly recommended. NASA and Elon Musk are among its fans. Various mods are also available.
Set within the J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, this 2014 release is considered the best of all video games set within the legendarium (the term given to Tolkien’s work) and puts you in the role of a ranger, Talion, who has been killed by the Black hand of Sauron and his spirit merged with the wraith of an Elf Lord.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor offers an open world, but while it has many of the qualities of an RPG, it is in fact an action-adventure video game, and takes place in the 60-year gap between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Many familiar elements from The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie series are evident in the game, most notably Gollum, and strategic combat focuses on defeating Uruks to weaken armies. While this is a revenge-driven game, the overall experience is engaging, with striking visuals and a wealth of downloadable content to keep you going.
Get the Best Price
As these titles can only be installed on Linux via Steam or on SteamOS, you may find that the Steam pricing system limits your choice. The best thing you can do here is game the system, and take advantage of the various tools at your disposal to ensure you get the games you want at the best price, as explained by MakeUseOf’s Joel Lee.
Rewind 10 years. Did you ever imagine such a selection of videogames would be available for Linux? The development is astonishing, and we can thank Valve for this, and their efforts building SteamOS and porting Steam to Linux. The Steam Machines are coming, and soon things will never be the same again in the PC gaming world.
Which of these games will you be playing? Tell us about it in the comments!