When it comes to PC operating systems, Windows has always been known as the OS of choice for gamers.
Microsoft did a remarkable job of enticing game developers to use DirectX over OpenGL in the early days, offering an API with a lower barrier of entry for game developers.
Even though OpenGL’s performance was a bit better than DirectX, Microsoft offered compatibility with a wider range of hardware. In recent years however, Linux API’s like Vulkan, the next-gen replacement for OpenGL, have made Linux gaming significantly more feasible.
In this article, we’re going to look at some of the best games on Steam that you can play in Linux.
1. Left 4 Dead 2
Although L4D2 is nearly 12 years old, it received a massive update just last September 2020, adding new maps, weapons, and dialogue. You can also give the game a 4K graphics makeover with programs like ReShade, pushing the latest hardware to its limits with modern graphics technology like raytracing.
There’s still a large multiplayer community, although many servers are running gameplay mods that make the gameplay more chaotic, such as never-ending zombie waves. You can browse the Steam Workshop for all the most popular mods.
2. Snake games
If you’re feeling a bit nostalgic, there are a lot of great modern takes on the classic snake games genre. Games like Slither.io offer modern graphics and online multiplayer gameplay, adding new features to classic snake gameplay that make it worth playing.
There are a lot of other great .io games that can be played in your browser, but can also be found on Steam as native installs.
3. Bioshock: Infinite
The remarkable third installment in the Bioshock trilogy, Infinite took you to a marvelous city in the sky, rather than the underwater dystopias in the first two games. The graphics in Bioshock: Infinite hold up terrifically on modern hardware, and while photorealism was never the developer’s goal, there’s still plenty of eyecandy for graphics enthusiasts.
4. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
The Deus Ex series is perfect for Linux gamers, a game heavily influenced by cyberpunk culture, and totally not ridden with bugs like other more recent cyberpunk games that won’t be named. There are six games total in the Deus Ex series, with Mankind Divided being the latest installment.
It’s a great benchmark for Linux machines, but it’s not all eye candy, as the gameplay offers wonderful RPG and shooting elements as well. You’ll have to go back and play the earlier games to follow the story, but that’s entirely worth it as well.
5. Tomb Raider
The Tomb Raider series really pioneered the action-platformer with puzzle solving genre, and continues to be a popular series today. Games like Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Prince of Persia owe much of their success to Tomb Raider, but the Tomb Raider series has also evolved from its roots as well.
The latest Tomb Raider games released in 2016 and 2018 have heavily featured stealth elements, rather than guns-blazing gameplay in older titles. This brought all-new challenges to the series, as well as giving us a modernised and much more relatable Lara Croft, in personality and backstory.
6. Sid Meier’s Civilization V
For the turn-based strategy lovers, look no further than Civ V, which offers so many hours of addictive gameplay. Sid Meier games really trigger that “one more turn” feedback loop in our brains, and you’ll need extraordinary amounts of willpower to stop playing before the sun is coming up and birds are chirping.
7. Cities: Skylines
Hands down the best city-building alternative to SimCity, Cities: Skylines offers so much micromanagement, you’ll feel like you need a degree in civil engineering to solve traffic problems. And at some point in the game, having a civil engineering degree probably doesn’t hurt.
But even if you want to just casually build a sprawling city, without all the micromanagement headache, you can download some beautiful building mods and go construction-crazy in sandbox mode.
If survival-horror games are more your thing, Outlast will give you the terror you crave. If you have a weak heart, I do not recommend playing this one in a SteamVR headset!
Set in disturbing asylum overrun with escaped patients, Outlast leaves you completely defenseless in the weapons department. Instead, you’ll need to hide from the deranged, murderous patients, sneaking through the shadows and peeking out of slats in lockers. It’s kind of hard to listen for enemy footsteps when your heart is pounding so loudly!
Is it any surprise Doom would run flawlessly on Linux? As an example of the cross-platform capabilities of the Vulkan API, Doom 2016 was practically Linux-native from the start.
If you’re craving some old school FPS action, Doom (2016) stays true to its demon horde-slaying roots, while giving us incredible next-gen visuals.