If you want to play all of the latest and greatest computer games, then your only real option is Microsoft Windows. Even macOS, which is gaining in popularity, only gets a few choice titles each year.
For Linux users, the choices have been more sparse over the years, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of games to play. Let’s highlight the best Linux games you can play today.
A Note on Non-native Linux Games and Linux Exclusives
In our article on Linux Gaming, we highlighted how easy it is to play games that were made for Windows in Linux. In particular, Steam has an incredibly robust conversion system known as “SteamPlay”, where Windows games are wrapped in special software that makes a title work in Linux.
In this article we aren’t going to include Windows games that work on Linux using systems like SteamPlay. If we did, the list would pretty much look like a Windows game list. Instead, we’ll only include the best Linux games that have a native Linux port.
Also, don’t expect to see any games that are exclusive to Linux. While there are a handful of exclusive Linux games, they are usually indie fare that really don’t measure up to the best games that can be played on the platform. If you have any exclusive Linux game suggestions, we invite you to share them in the comments below.
With these ground rules out of the way, let’s move on to the awesome native Linux games you can play!
The Metro series of games are based on popular novels telling the tale of a post-apocalyptic Russia where survivors have taken shelter in the subway tunnels. Tough, scary and very fun to play, the Metro games are masterpieces in their own right.
This Redux Bundle contains both Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light. The latest game in the series, Exodus, sadly does not have a native Linux port at the time of writing.
These are the “Redux” versions of the games and, as such, they have been remastered with improved graphics and features. They also come with a less hardcore difficulty mode, but you can ignore it and play the games as originally intended as well.
If you like more realistic, gritty horror survival shooters, there aren’t many that can stand toe-to-toe with the Metro games. Having native Linux ports of these titles is simply fantastic.
The latest in Sid Meier’s incredibly popular turn-based strategy games has a native Linux version. Even better, this is a game without particularly high system requirements. So many laptop systems are going to run it just fine.
This is by far the most polished Civ game, with beautiful Pixar-like cutscenes and animation, beautifully detailed tiles and graphics and oodles of atmosphere.
The point of the game is to develop your civilization to its pinnacle, which comes in the form of various achievements. Whether through war, diplomacy or technological supremacy the future of your people is in your hands.
Civ is still as addictive as ever and honestly, do you even need another game on your Linux system? Where would you even find the time to play anything else?
This should not be confused with the very first Hitman game, instead this Hitman game represents a reboot of the series. It brings unparalleled sandbox-style gameplay to the assassin-for-hire that made these games famous in the first place.
This game was originally released in an episodic format, with a new, dense, self-contained mission. This Game of the Year edition includes all of the content made for the game, so you don’t have to wait to enjoy everything Hitman has to offer.
Hitman has immense replayability, beautiful graphics and an intriguing story. As Agent 47, you’ll have to work out the best way to get your target, stick to the mission parameters and make it out in one piece. The best players will do all this without anyone ever knowing they were there.
Agent 47 can use a variety of weapons, gadgets, disguises and the environment to accomplish his goals. Hitman is an amazing amount of fun and a must-play title for anyone who likes stealth puzzle gameplay.
The first Borderlands game set the bar for the “looter shooter” genre that now has juggernauts such as Destiny within its stable. Grab some friends, pick your character class and set out into the weird world of Pandora depicted in spectacular cel-shaded graphics. Borderlands took the action-RPG mechanics of Diablo and combined it with solid first-person gunplay. The final ingredient is the series’ signature humour and bonkers sci-fi story.
Borderlands 2 takes everything that made the first game great, and improves upon it. Although there have been two Borderlands games since the release of number 2, the second title is still the pinnacle of the series, with pitch-perfect jokes and incredibly balanced gameplay.
This edition comes with all the downloadable content released for the game over the years. There’s an astounding amount of game here for you and your buddies to plough through. Don’t be discouraged if you’re more of a lone wolf however. Unlike the first game, Borderlands 2 is a very enjoyable solo game.
Rally games are incredibly underrated titles in the video game racing genre. Sure they don’t have the same pizazz as track racing games where you face off against other cars. In most rally formats, you’re racing against yourself, but that’s not any less pulse-pounding! Especially when you’re racing across multiple surfaces, incredibly technical courses and driving an insane all-wheel-drive monster with horsepower coming out its ears.
Of all the rally games you could play, Dirt Rally and the series that’s lead up to it is one of the best. This is a Codemasters title. The people behind Colin Mcrae Rally and various other top-notch racing sims. Not only does Dirt Rally look absolutely astounding the racing experience is second to none.
The game includes more than 40 real world cars modelled with incredible accuracy. There are over 70 stages spread across six rallys. Once you’ve mastered those, you can make your own custom rallys by mixing and matching stages. If you’re a tinkerer, the game also offers systems where you have to repair, tune and modify your car. It’s a dirt lover’s dream and with a game this realistic, you’ll feel like you really have to pick dirt and bugs from your teeth.
Linux Can Game!
While Linux is still not the first choice of operating system for PC gaming, it’s hardly the most distant choice anymore either. Between these excellent native ports and the many Windows games that now work thanks to projects like Steam Play, there’s no reason to stick to boring old work on your Linux computer.
As more people catch the Linux bug, more developers will support it. So why not show them some love and buy a few great Linux games? All the links above are for the Humble Store, which means a percentage of your purchase goes to charity. There’s really no downside.