Linux is becoming a strong alternative to Windows as a PC gaming platform. We’ve seen more and more games released for Linux, and given compatibility with the operating system via Steam and Steam OS, it’s a natural fit. After years of open-source ports, things are looking up.
One of the biggest booms in PC gaming is the availability of strategy titles. Recently, more strategy games have been released on Linux. The relevance of this should not be overlooked — strategy games are time-intensive. Thus, more time spent playing a strategy title means more time spent using the corresponding gaming platform.
This list of 10 strategy games will show you just how seriously game developers are treating Linux. For convenience, these titles are all available on Steam.
1. XCOM 2 (2016)
The follow-up to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2 takes place 20 years later, and puts you in command of the XCOM team in a turn-based strategy set on an alien-occupied Earth.
Your task this time is to reclaim the planet from the occupying force, liberating mankind.
Released in early 2016, XCOM 2 is the sort of title you really need to buy to support big-name gaming releases on Linux. We want more like this, so don’t ignore — buy it and play! XCOM 2 is one of the biggest Windows gaming titles to come to Linux, but it’s not the only one.
2. Civilization VI (2016)
Probably the biggest strategy title around, the most recent installment in Sid Meier’s Civilization series was issued on Linux in early 2017, following a Windows release in late 2016. The ultimate 4X title (that’s eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate), Civilization VI once again puts you in charge of a fledgling tribe at the dawn of recorded history. Your challenge is to attain superiority in military, cultural, religious, technological, and diplomatic scores, while maintaining friendly relations with other civilizations.
You might, for instance, find yourself pitted against Saladin of Arabia, Montezuma of the Aztecs, or a less-celebrated leader, such as Pedro II of Brazil, or John Curtis of Australia. Each leader has his or her own agenda and preferred government type, while civilizations all have their own bonuses and specific unit types. Along the way, you’ll need to trade and research technologies while building cities, improvements, and units. Civilization VI is deep, easy to get into, hugely addictive, and demands a constantly evolving strategy to deal with the AI.
Here’s a bit of online play in Civilization VI from the MakeUseOf Facebook page:
Our tips on achieving victory in Civilization VI are a good primer for success if you’re new to the game.
3. RimWorld (2016)
This unusual strategy game is set on a colony, starting off with three survivors of a shipwreck on a distant planet. To win, you’ll need to manage your colonists’ moods, health, and needs, while helping them to build structures and manufacture materials.
Featuring an AI storyteller, RimWorld is inspired by the TV show Firefly, among others. According to the developers, it’s a story generator “designed to co-author tragic, twisted, and triumphant stories about imprisoned pirates, desperate colonists, starvation and survival.” The results are invariably memorable, and always different.
Think of it as a combination of Space Colony and The Sims, with the perils of Civilization and Sim City (barbarians, pirates, and B-Movie attack monsters) thrown in for good measure.
4. Imperium Galactica II (1999)
Originally released on Windows in 1999, Imperium Galactica II has been remastered and re-released in early 2017, with SteamOS/Linux compatibility. But why is this important?
The first installment, Imperium Galactica, kick-started the empire building space real-time strategy (RTS) genre, but Imperium Galactica II perfected it, offering a unique sci-fi universe with a range of alien species to play as. Colonization and conquest can be used to expand your empire, with the option to customize your units and launch them into battle on the ground… or in space.
Like the Civilization series, Imperium Galactica can be described as “genre-defining.” This alone is reason to give it a go. The addition of Linux support and upgraded high-resolution graphics make it a no-brainer.
5. Football Manager 2017 (2016)
Known as one of the most in-depth tactical strategy games ever developed, the Football Manager series has been available on Linux since 2014. Football Manager 2017 is the most recent version, though its lack of feature development since the previous version has caused consternation among fans. However, it includes the ability to edit tactics, buy and sell players, deal with the press, edit and manage training, deal with players directly, and move between clubs, leagues, and even countries.
In short, it’s a soccer manager’s career simulation. It’s also hugely addictive, responsible in the U.K. for the creation of “Football Manager Widows” and the cause of a few marriage breakups too, if we’re to believe the newspapers.
Our review of Football Manager 2014 will give you an idea of what’s in the most recent version of the game.
6. Master of Orion (2016)
The new Master of Orion (subtitled Conquer the Stars) features interstellar warfare and exploration in one of the most memorable space-based 4X experiences ever.
Choose from ten spacefaring races, research over 75 technological advances, and explore galaxies featuring over 100 star systems. Use conquest, diplomacy, and other tactics to gain victory. Setting all of this to an immense orchestrated score places Master of Orion above and beyond similar titles when it comes to creating an unforgettable game.
For retro fans, a collector’s edition is also available. This includes an additional race, as well as the original Master of Orion games. These are also available individually for Linux via Steam.
7. Worms WMD (2016)
Over 70 million copies of the Worms series have been sold, so it makes sense that developer Team 17 should finally bring its latest release, Worms WMD, to Linux. It’s way overdue.
Just in case you don’t know, Worms puts you in command of a team of four worms, armed to the teeth, who must engage in combat against other teams of worms. The results, and the weapons, are often hilarious, making this turn-based strategy one of the most memorable titles of all time, ever since its original Amiga and Mac release in 1995.
Happily, the crazy gameplay of the old Worms games (comedy writers are involved) is still present in Worms WMD. This time, however, there’s the option to employ tanks and helicopters, and even enter buildings. You’ll have more fun with multiplayer: an online option is available, but you shouldn’t overlook playing against the AI.
8. Total War Series (2000–2016)
Like Civilization, Total War is a long-running series of strategy games. Unlike Civ, Total War puts you in charge of classic military campaigns from history. While not all versions have been released on Linux, gamers can choose from the Total War: Medieval II games, Total War: Attila, Total War: Empire, and various expansion packs.
The focus in these games is reliving historical battles and seeing how the outcome could have been different. You can watch battles and campaigns play out without any input, but the real challenge comes in playing. How should you choose units and armies, position them, and use them to win? Warfare could be defending a siege or taking a town, or it might be a straightforward battle in a field.
Either way, this is the ultimate in combat-based strategy, and it’s available to play on Linux!
9. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun (2016)
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun takes a different approach to strategy gaming. Here, the emphasis is not on warfare, but assassination, and you complete sub-missions to work towards a larger goal.
Blades of the Shogun puts you in charge of a team of “deadly specialists” in a game of “hardcore tactical stealth.” Imagine dropping Syndicate and Ghost Recon into historical Japan, and you’ll have an idea of what’s involved here.
Team play is vital, but you are in control of each character. Treat them as the five components of a key that you need to unlock the mission. Their individual skills are yours to dispense!
10. Interloper (2015)
A unique online RTS, Interloper takes just five minutes to play a game, enabling you to keep the deep focus required for a strategy game almost casual.
This traditional, territory-based experience challenges you to second-guess your opponent’s movements. Ultimately, you should eventually claim the entire map. It might sound simple, but in fact, Interloper is a tough game to master. Don’t let the short game time leave you frustrated, though!
Interloper lets you play in real time online versus other players, or offline against the AI. A useful feature for learning tactics is included in an upload tool. This lets you rewatch not just your own victories, but those of other Interloper gamers.
Which Linux Strategy Games Keep You Coming Back?
There you have it: 10 amazing strategy and real-time strategy games you can buy now for Linux on Steam. We’ll be honest, we never saw the day coming when games on Linux would be so awesome. Did you?
Which of these titles would you recommend? Are there any titles you would rather see in the list? Tell us in the comments.
Image Credits: Shchipkova Elena/Shutterstock