Update

35 great PC games for Linux and Steam Machines

The arrival of Steam has lured hordes of big-name games to Linux PCs. Here are some of the best Linux PC games you can play today.

linux gaming pc
Alex Campbell/Rob Schultz

Linux gaming rising

For the first time in a long time, Linux gamers have a reason to smile. Gaming on the open-source operating system has long meant dabbling in Wine and arcane workarounds, but ever since Valve launched Steam for Linux the number of native Linux games has positively exploded.

Sure, Valve’s embrace of Linux may have a wee bit to do with advancing the Steam Machine ideal—the Steam Controller, Steam Link, and Alienware Steam Machine—but any game released for SteamOS works just fine on other Linux distros, too.

What better way to bask in how far Linux has come than to play some games that call it home? Here are a slew of killer PC games that’ve recently become Linux natives—including several recent PCWorld Game of the Year winners and 5-star games.

Editor’s note: We constantly update this article to add the newest games. It was most recently updated on 2/1/2017 with Hitman, Civilization 6, Rocket League, and Long War 2.

hitman

Hitman

Hitman came damn close to being named PCWorld’s best PC game of 2016, and now, it’s on Linux, too.

This reboot returns the series to beloved Blood Money form, featuring sandbox-style assassinations that can range from quick and silent kills to prolonged slugfests to downright slapstick, darkly humorous affairs. (You can take out Home Alone’s Sticky Bandits while dressed as Santa, for example.)  The large, complicated environments and myriad death-dealing ways give Hitman amazing replayability, bolstered by a borderline endless series of custom assignments that task you with killing specific NPCs in wild ways.

This is the sequel you’ve been waiting for for nearly a decade—and in many ways, this new Hitman surpasses its beloved predecessor. Buy it.

civilization 6
Civilization 6

Civilization 6

Another one of 2016’s top games, Civilization 6 brings the series back to its historical roots after taking a detour into outer space with Civilization: Beyond Earth (which is also on Linux). Civilization 6 adds some fairly substantial tweaks to the ol’ Civ formula, with new Districts and Active Research features that make the acts of city building and planning your nation’s advancements much more lively, respectively.

While previous Civilization installments needed expansions to truly achieve greatness, Civ 6 feels like a much more complete game straight from the get-go. Be prepared to fall into the endless “just one more turn” trap yet again.

xcom 2

XCOM 2

XCOM: Enemy Unknown (also on Linux!) became an instant classic when it launched, mixing tough, strategic combat with perma-death for you customizable soldiers. Especially on Ironmann mode, battling back the alien invasion felt desperate and overwhelming at the best of times—and in XCOM 2, which also almost nabbed 2016 game of the year honors, we learned that it indeed was.

The Aliens—now dubbed the Advent—won, and now crush humanity under a velvet boot. In XCOM 2, rather than being a multinational anti-alien strike force, your team’s a rag-tag bunch of resistance fighters flying around the world in a ship of your own, trying to overthrow the invaders and restore human self-determination. The setup and frequent timed missions add an even more frantic feeling to a game that already rocked high stakes, and XCOM 2 feels far more polished than its predecessor—and tweaks like stealth insertion add even more flavor to the beloved XCOM combat.

Even better, Pavonis Interactive just released Long War 2, the successor to the beloved Long War mod for the original XCOM. Long War 2 tweaks and twists virtually every aspect of the game, adding new maps, new mission types, new enemies, new weapons, new solider classes, new abilities, and even a deep new haven management system that makes the strategy layer much more compelling, complex—and stressful. And yes, Long War 2 works on Linux.

deus ex mankind divided

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a worthy entry in one of my favorite series of all time. The game’s futuristic recreation of Prague is brimming with possibilities and back-alley paths, supporting players who want to fight, talk, hack, or sneak their way through predicaments. You can play the whole thing without killing a single soul, and breaking into the game’s massive bank is downright thrilling. That’s not to say it’s perfect, as the game ends abruptly, and AMD Radeon graphics cards flat-out aren’t supported in the Linux version yet (though we’re writing this the day after the game’s Linux release).

PCWorld’s Deus Ex: Mankind Divided review dives more deeply into the details, but bottom line: It’s excellent, and its arrival on Linux is welcome indeed.

rocket league
Rocket League

Rocket League

C’mon. It’s Rocket League

This thrilling, good-natured blend of soccer and rocket-powered cars has taken the world by storm for damned good reason, and developer Psyonix keeps the game feeling fresh with frequent updates and add-ons. Be warned: Once you fall in love with this game—and you will—you’ll have a hard time ever putting down the controller.

mad max

Mad Max

It took over a year for a Mad Max Linux port to arrive, but the wait may have been worthwhile. The game proved divisive when it launched, with critics lamenting its lack of soul and many gamers praising its Arkham Knight-like fisticuffs and glorious car combat. There’s a beautiful open world to explore and varied enemies to fight. Mad Max is a lot of fun despite its abundant filler and poor pacing.

So why is the delayed Linux release a good thing? Simple: The game costs a whole lot less now, making those niggling flaws much less worrisome.

superhot

Superhot

SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT.

This marvelous game is the most innovative shooter we’ve played in years, hands-down. Time only moves full-speed when you move. Stand still and everything slows to a crawl. Bullets hang in the air, red trails stretching out behind. People are practically motionless, frozen mid-charge.

Superhot is a gimmick game, to be absolutely clear. But as far as one-trick ponies go this one is pretty stellar, doing its damnedest to make you feel like the consummate badass and leaving you with all sorts of “That was amazing” moments, feats that could never be pulled off at full-speed. Play it.

dying light following

Dying Light: The Following Enhanced Edition

Okay, okay, Techland’s latest open-world zombie slaughterfest aims higher than it manages to hit. The game trips over some details, with a bored-sounding main character and a tendency towards dumb fetch quests.

But if you ignore all that and just run around, basking in the game’s killer parkour mechanics and cornucopia of outrageous hidden secrets,Dying Light is a blast—kinetic, brutal fun. It’s gorgeous, too. Dying Light: The Following Enhanced Edition includes the vast The Following expansion, which adds a massive new area and a dune buggy that completely changes the way you play the game. Even better: The game supports four-person co-op, and it’s an absolute blast to play with pals.

soma

SOMA

The slickly atmospheric SOMA does Bioshock better than Bioshock does Bioshock—albeit with far more exploring and far less gunplay. It’s one of the finest pieces of science fiction in recent memory, and we gave it a perfect five-star review. What more do you need to know? Get this.

talos principle

The Talos Principle

The Talos Principle couldn’t quite squeeze out a GOTY victory after its late 2014 debut, but its brain-bending blend of killer puzzles and deep philosophical musings almost—almost!—earned it the top spot. Simply put, there hasn’t been a puzzle game this stellar since Portal 2.

portal 2

Valve games: Portal 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, etc.

Speaking of which, Portal 2 is a Linux native, as Valve's been busy porting its deep catalog of gaming hits over to Linux, and they're just as great as they were on Windows.Team Fortress 2, Dota 2, Left 4 Dead 2—the deuces are all here.

rimworld

RimWorld

RimWorld sells itself as “a sci-fi colony sim driven by an intelligent AI storyteller.” It’s awfully similar to the legendary Dwarf Fortress, but set in space with better graphics. That sort of system-driven gameplay leads to glorious emergent gameplay scenarios like this and this.

There’s a good chance you already know if you’d love it or hate it. I adore it.

wasteland 2

Wasteland 2

Wasteland 2 is PCWorld’s Game of the Year of 2014, and the one title that Talos Principle couldn’t quite triumph over. It took a full quarter-century for this sequel to the legendary Wasteland to be made, and the wait was well worth it. Wasteland 2’s is nothing short of a love post-apocalyptic love letter to old-school CRPG fans, sporting a tantalizing setting, deliciously clever writing, and more far more flexibility to accommodate player actions than 99 percent of games out there.

Don’t have a key? Blow up the door. But make your choices wisely—each one affects how the story and characters react to you.

american truck simulator

American Truck Simulator

Euro Truck Simulator 2 won over hordes of gamers despite sounding about as exciting as watching paint dry: You drive a truck, hauling freight from town to town, checking in at weigh stations, buying upgrades and paying speeding fines as they pop up. But once you actually play the game, the magic sets in. The truck handling feels weighty and realistic, and hauling loads down a long highway while rocking out to your favorite radio stations and tunes somehow manages to be both intensely relaxing and stimulating at the same time.

American Truck Simulator’s more of the same, but polished up and featuring American landmarks and cities rather European ones. Early reviews say it’s great. And even if you’re not sure if a driving sim’s up your alley, it doesn’t cost much to dip your toes in: The game’s only $20 and sells exclusively via Steam, which offers refunds now. In other words: Buckle up.

invisible inc

Invisible Inc.

Ostensibly a turn-based stealth strategy game, the sublime Invisible Inc. blends parts of XCOM, Splinter Cell, and rogue-like games into one heck of a gloriously addicting game. Whether you’re slinking through an office, hacking cameras, or knocking out guards, danger’s always lurking around the corner—this is one tough game—while the randomly generated maps ensure you’ll find new challenges awaiting for as long as you want to keep on playing. And it just oozes style.

Simply put, Invisible Inc. is one of the best turn-based strategy games in recent memory.

undertale

Undertale

If you follow indie games at all, you’ve likely heard people namedrop Undertale quite a few times over the past year. People love this game,. And let this serve as your official recommendation: Stop reading and go play it. Undertale rewards going in blind.

Still here? Need more convincing? Okay, it’s a JRPG, sort of. It’s also a bullet-hell game, sort of. And it’s pretty funny and irreverent, sort of. Think of it kind of like a modern-day Earthbound...sort of. Undertale’s a mishmash of genres, backed up by some silly writing and memorable characters. Spoiler alert: This game is best played across several playthroughs, with your decisions affecting behavior and sometimes even opening new experiences in subsequent runs.

kerbal space program

Kerbal Space Program

Build your own spaceships and fly them to the stars without having them explode or crash and kill the crew. It’s easier than it sounds in this amazing—and amazingly tough—physics-based game. Once you’ve got the takeoff under your belt, Kerbal Space Program lets you build spacestations, massive spaceships, and planetary bases in three different game modes. On top of the Linux support, this game's mod friendly, and it earned PCWorld's first perfect review rating in years (though SOMA and Witcher 3 earned similar reviews shortly thereafter).

baldurs gate siege of dragonspear

Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear

Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear is technically DLC for the superb Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, but don’t let that fool you. This 30 hour expansion fills in the blanks between the two Baldur’s Gate games, maintaining everything that made the originals so wonderful to begin with and adding some interesting new touches of its own (like massive army brawls!).

Who knows what possessed Beamdog to make Siege of Dragonspear an expansion to a 17-year-old game, or what devil’s pact coerced them into making it thirty-odd hours long. It’s insanity. But it’s also incredible. Be sure to check it out.

pillars of eternity

Pillars of Eternity

Meanwhile Pillars of Eternity, the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate that we’ve all been begging for for over a decade, landed on PCWorld’s list of the top PC games of 2015. Even better than the sublime gameplay and insanely deep and well-written story? It’s available for Linux PCs.

cities skylines

Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines is everything that the supremely disappointing SimCity wasn’t, also cracking our list of the best PC games of 2015. Yes, Cities: Skylines somehow lives up to the unfair expectations heaped upon it, presenting one of the best city builders in years, and the developers were diligent in ensuring it works on Linux systems as well as Windows PCs.

shadow of mordor

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

This adventurous romp through Tolkien’s universe takes some of the best action elements from the Batman and Assassin’s Creed series, then ties it all together with a unique Nemesis system that creates tailored enemies for you, down to unique names, personal strengths and weaknesses, and growled greetings that hark back to your previous encounters when you bump into a bloodthirsty Orc yet again.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor landed on a legion of top-ten lists last year, and there’s a damn good reason why. Try it out—though be warned that only Nvidia graphics cards are officially supported in the Linux version.

transistor

Transistor

Transistor, from the same developer that brought us Bastion, is a gorgeous, wonderfully crafted game. Everything from the lush visuals to the compelling, customizable combat to the feels-infused narrator and Darren Korb’s haunting soundtrack perfectly complement each other to create a tight, fun experience of a game. It’s beautiful.

Don’t miss this. Transistor was my favorite title of 2014 behind Talos Principle and Wasteland 2.

kotor 2

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2

Sure, KOTOR 2 may be a decade old, but the game made its Linux debut in 2015, complete with a modern overhaul that added support for 5K resolutions and the Steam Workshop—including day one support for the Restored Content Mod, which adds a bunch of cut content back into the game and fully fleshes out the games amazing story. This is what makes PC gaming so grand.

And to top it off, KOTOR 2 is still one of the best RPGs ever released.

prison architect

Prison Architect

A long-time Steam Early Access darling, Prison Architect—which tasks you with building and managing a prison—finally hit an official release in October. From our review: “Prison Architect’s genius is in translating a real-world debate into video game terms, forcing players to make tough choices with no good solutions.”

And it’s a hell of a lot of fun, too.

metroll3 100037166 large

Metro: Last Light Redux

Metro: Last Light is a flawed, yet unique and fun first-person shooter that sets you loose in post-apocalyptic Russia, with an emotionally-charged narrative told through a number of powerful scenes. We love it.

What's more, Metro: Last Light was one of the first big-name games to be ported to Linux after Valve announced its SteamOS endeavor. It was bundled with the Steam Machine prototypes Valve passed out to 300 lucky gamers. If you aren't one of them, you can grab the Metro Redux Bundle (which also includes Metro 2033Last Light's superb predecessor) on Steam for $50, or $25 for each individual game.

shadowrun returns

Shadowrun series

Shadowrun Returns, uh, returned the iconic series to its glorious turn-based isometric roots when it launched in late 2013, dropping players into a murky world mixing cyberpunk, fantasy, and crime elements alike. It sounds messy, but the game's terrific storytelling and mature approach help it shine.  

Two expansions/sequels have launched since then and they're even better than the original (and also available on Linux)! Shadowrun: Dragonfall offers the perfect blend of narrative and player choice, and while Shadowrun: Hong Kong suffers a bit from offering almost too much freedom, it's still one hell of a game.

crypt of the necrodancer

Crypt of the Necrodancer

After earning an honorable mention in PCWorld’s list of the best PC games of 2014 while still in Early Access, Crypt of the Necrodancer finally has a full release (and also earned an offical slot on our best games of 2015). This Zelda-esque game is a roguelike dungeon crawler, except all movements and attacks are tied to the beat of the music.

It may sound weird, but give Crypt of the Necrodancer a whirl—it’s insanely addicting.

europa universalis iv

Europa Universalis IV

Europa Universalis IV is a grand strategy game about colonization, enlightenment, overthrowing tyranny, religious upheaval, nation-building, mercantilism, piracy, feuding monarchies, and political intrigue.

Or none of that. Like most Paradox games, EUIV is a virtual sandbox with a ton of systems and no real end goal. It’s dense, but if dense strategy games are your thing, this is a killer pick.

crusader kings 2

Crusader Kings II

Another Paradox title, Crusader Kings II is still going strong years after release because of the developer’s devotion to releasing awesome new content on a regular basis. This deep strategy games plops you down in medieval Europe and is pretty much a less-graphic, strategy game version of Game of Thrones.

The behind the scenes intrigue is nothing short of a soap opera, full of adultery, murder, incest, political marriages, pope bribing, and the occasional slaughter of friends and enemies—all in the name of advancing your goals. This strategy sandbox sinks its hooks into you and won’t let go.

borderlands presequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Borderlands 2

Gearbox’s loot-crazed shooter series has nestled in nicely on Linux, with both Borderlands 2 and the stopgap (but still fun) Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel gracing open-source shores. (The original is not, alas.) If you can round up a couple of friends to play with these fast-paced firefests are a ton of fun, though they can feel like a bit of a slog after a while if you’re playing by yourself.

ark

ARK: Survival Evolved

Dinosaurs, weapons, multiplayer, and survival elements. Is it any wonder that Early Access title ARK: Survival Evolved has taken the world by storm? As Steam user Kakaloto put in a review of the game, “Ark is a childhood fantasy come true. It’s like a mix of Jurassic Park and Minecraft with a touch of DayZ.”

Sold.

binding of isaac rebirth

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is essentially The Legend of Zelda’s dungeons meets randomized Rogue-like gameplay meets monsters and rooms full of poop. If your sensibilities can handle the heavier story aspects, this finely tuned game is borderline impossible to put down—especially if you can find a buddy to play co-op with.

grim fandango

Grim Fandango Remastered

Grim Fandango is the prime example of adventure games done right, and the recent remaster proves that Manny Calvera’s Day of the Dead-inspired trip through the Underworld is just as compelling as you remember (though you may want to keep a guide handy for some of the obscure old-school puzzles).

The writing is hilarious, the characters and setting are creative as hell, and Grim Fandango’s ambitious and mature in a way that not a lot of games before or since have accomplished. Buy it now.

shovel knight

Shovel Knight

If Wasteland 2 is a love letter to old-school CRPG fans, Shovel Knight is a pitch-perfect homage to the side-scrolling platformers of old, built from the ground up to mimic the look, sound, and even the feel of games like Mega Man and Duck Tales. Be warned: Like the 8-bit games of yesteryear, this game pulls no punches when it comes to difficulty, but the controls are so tight that you won’t care.

kentucky route zero

Kentucky Route Zero

Love Neil Gaiman books? Then you’ll love the thoughtful, magic-tinged world of Kentucky Route Zero. Only four of a planned five episodes in this saga about a highway in the caves under Kentucky are complete thus far—and it takes a long time for each new episode to be published—but KRZ’s already one of the most memorable adventures since, well, Grim Fandango.

linux games

But wait, there's more!

Whew! That’s a veritable bounty of top-notch PC games, all of which will run without you needing to partake in WINE. And even better, it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Door KickersFTLThe SwapperRogue LegacyNEO ScavengerOctodadHotline MiamiMonaco: What's Your is MineJazzpunkMountainHexcells InfiniteDon’t Starve. Many, many more.

It's still not quite the year of Linux on the desktop, but one thing's for certain: Linux's gaming prospects are looking brighter than ever before