In the last few years, things have been improving a lot for the Linux platform in terms of the gaming segment. The launch of Proton (a recently published program as a stable release from Valve Software that works with Steam Play to simplify the process of playing Windows games on Linux) meant that thousands of DirectX-only games could now be ported to Vulkan and therefore run on Linux, while new Linux-compatible games continued to be released.
Note: A group of programming interfaces for applications known as Microsoft DirectX are used to manage multimedia-related operations on Microsoft platforms, particularly those involving video and game development. Originally created by AMD, Vulkan is a low-level, low-overhead, cross-platform API and open standard for 3D computing and graphics.
To date, a solid number of Linux games have been released. Which are the best of them? What are the best we can play this year? Read more about it in the rest of the article.
Friday Night Funkin’
If you haven’t heard of Itch.io, now is the time to find out about this treasure trove of free games, as there are quite a few solid titles inside. While some titles eventually migrate to Steam, others become cult classics for the Itch community.
Friday Night Funkin’ is one of the current big hits on the Itch scene. It’s a game that in many ways resembles the classic from PlayStation 1 called Parappa the Rapper. The game with an unusual and slightly cheeky sense of humor and infectious melodies brings a lot of fun, for those who like these kinds of games. The gameplay is quite simple to understand but difficult to master. Accuracy and speed are equally important to defeat various colorful enemies in rap battles. A host of mods have appeared, introducing new characters, tunes, and levels for players to sink their teeth into. Additionally, content creators on Twitch and YouTube took notice and gave the game an extra boost. Besides being super fun and super addicting, the game is completely free, which is one more reason why you should play it.
It might not seem like it due to its understated visuals and simple concept, but SuperTuxKart is a very fun multiplayer racer. Imagine an open-source Mario Kart with upbeat music and multiple game modes and characters and that’s pretty much SuperTuxKart. It’s not a new game: it was released 16 years ago. But since then it has been actively developed, and the latest version was released last year. The game features mascots from many open-source projects such as Mozilla Thunderbird.
In the game, you have an actual story mode that you must complete, unlocking more characters and paths along the way. The game received a major visual upgrade in 2015 and looks pretty decent for an open-source title. Any modern Linux PC will have no problem running and playing, and you can even play it on Steam Deck. The game is still not available on Steam, but that may change soon given its popularity.
Not only can you play this sci-fi colony simulator on Linux, but you can also play it on a lower-spec computer, which of course has Linux installed on it. RimWorld’s stories are generated by AI and it’s fascinating to see how small changes in variables affect the narrative and gameplay. Regardless of the fairly simple graphics, RimWorld is a game that has incredible depth, having been worked on for years in early access before it matured to a full release.
In the game, you have the opportunity to lead a colony of people, who are trying to survive on a planet that’s similar to Earth and that is inhabited by other tribes. Not only do you go through the basics of farming, building your settlement, and raiding others, but each character in the game has their own complex personality, relationships, and needs for everyone in the group. Something like Civilization, but simpler. If you like these kinds of games and you have Linux, then you should definitely give it a try.
Viking survival-focused game Valheim may still be in early access, but it’s already been a huge success regardless. In many ways, Valheim does pretty much the same things as any other survival game, but its focus is on co-op, as it allows up to 10 people to play together and nice PS2-style visuals add to the quality. The worlds of Valheim simply invite you to explore them.
The game runs very well on Linux and best of all, it’s getting a steady stream of updates as it slowly approaches full release. Granted, the story and exploration aspects aren’t fully fleshed out yet, but you can already work your way through its main mission of hunting down several legendary beasts while trying to maintain order in the world of Valheim.
Valheim is said to be developing a team of five people, which is incredible, especially when we consider that most games of such complexity and quality require more than one developer. But regardless of the 5 developers, the game is of very high quality. If you like survival games, have a Linux computer, and want to have fun exploring an over-rich world, Valheim is the game you might choose.
A Short Hike
A Short Hike is a different game not only from many on this list but from many games in general. When was the last time you played a game where you played as an anthropomorphic falcon?
As a falcon, the player explores the park at his own pace. You’ll cross mountains, talk to other hikers, and move through a bright and cheerful landscape. The game seems extremely relaxing, but at the same time, the game also has several breathtaking moments, which you’ll experience while freely floating through the park on your bird’s wings. At a time when many of us want to escape from everyday troubles, problems, and noise, A Short Hike is a game that can serve you perfectly for that. Whether you’re looking for a change of pace or want to discover something new, this game could introduce you to both the world of indie games and show you that it doesn’t take much to make a quality game.
Life is Strange
Life is Strange is a game that has become widely known for its emotionally charged story and superb music. It’s a game that’s known for its different themes and uses something that never goes unnoticed when implemented in a game: the theme of time travel. The game often reminds the player that every choice has certain consequences.
Although the game is point-and-click and although some will think that it isn’t worth the investment of attention, this doesn’t have to be the case, since the story of the game is very rich and has the ability to interest everyone, even those who may not like such games. In the meantime, several patches were released that further polished the game, which is of course good and a sign that the development team is working on the game. The first episode is free, and there’s even a redesigned version with improved graphics.
A highly anticipated release that’s also available for Linux from the start, Desperados 3 is a real-time tactical game in its spirit, in the spirit of Commandos or of course the older Desperados games. The game is tough, with an emphasis on tactics, which means you’ll have to be careful how you play your next moves.
If you want to lay back on the couch while you play the game, you can. The game allows you to play with a controller as well, which is good for this game in a way, but we’re sure some players will say that games like this have to be played with a mouse and keyboard only.
Total War: Warhammer 2
For those gamers who are thinking about what video game franchise would go well with movies and board games, a combination of Total War game with Warhammer would definitely rank high with many gamers. A few years ago, this dream came true. Total War: Warhammer is a real example of that.
Total War: Warhammer 2 contains many elements of the original game, allowing you to combine all the factions from both games into one super-campaign. The use of each faction feels unique, while the scenes of huge armies warring against each other will be something that any fan of these types of games will appreciate.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
There’s debate as to which Civilization game is truly the best, with the previous sequel, Civilization V, also available on Linux. But when it comes to accessibility and polishing the different elements of the game, Civilization VI is a very good game to start with.
Civilization VI has the same alternating Stone Age to Space Age formula as its predecessors but adds neat new ideas such as “non-stackable“ cities, combined arms units, and (in DLC) climate change, the Golden Age, and the Middle Ages. Civilization games have always struck a chord with fans of deep strategy and turn-based mechanics, and Civilization VI does it better than ever.
Some say it lacks the depth of previous entries, but now that all the major expansion packs are out, it’s a worthy addition to Sid Meier’s legendary series. This is a deep and undeniably hardcore RPG that, due to its complexity, could drive away and even scare some players, because there is a lot to “grab“. But whoever decides to stay and play the sixth installment of Civilization will be richly rewarded for it.
Dying Light: Enhanced Edition
Since its release, Dying Light has won the hearts of many players, especially those who were eager for quality zombie RPG games. Techland opened things up with Dead Island in 2011, but many will say that Dying Light (the first sequel) “patched“ many holes and brought a lot of new and interesting elements, which additionally contributed to the quality of the game, such as parkour. The Enhanced Edition brings together several year’s worth of DLC, including the excellent expansion, The Following.
Dying Light throws you into an open-world city that has been destroyed by a virus pandemic. A large number of people are dead, the rest have been turned into so-called undead or zombies. There are of course also the surviving people who live in different enclaves, whom you’re trying to help. Your character has the ability to develop multiple types of skills, which branch out in the skill tree. Depending on what skills you choose and what you invest your points in, your character will be more capable in that spectrum. If you like quality zombie games and have a Linux computer, then Dying Light: Enhanced Edition is a must-play game.
Team Fortress 2
Back in 2007, Valve created Team Fortress 2: a fun online shooter. Given the huge success of the game, the game was naturally also released on Linux. The bread and butter of Team Fortress 2 are the classic team modes, such as Capture the Flag, Control Points, and the excellent Payload, where one team must follow a cart across the level.
You choose one of several different classes, specializing in either attack, defense, or support, and then dive into one of its many carefully designed colorful maps. Fun, fast, and colorful, Team Fortress 2 is a game you must play if you like games of this type and have a Linux platform.
Team Fortress 2 is practically the only game on our list that has some impact on the competitive gaming scene with tournaments such as PC Gamer Showdown, having a prize pool of up to 30,000 USD. This, of course, can’t measure up to Dota 2 or Fortnite tournaments whose prize pools reach up to 40 million USD and who attract a large betting base, mostly benefiting top online bookies.
Slay the Spire
Already one of the best games of the year, Slay the Spire is a deck-building card game with a vibrant visual style and mechanics that will keep you coming back to the game again and again, even when you experience an oft-deserved Game Over. With endless combinations of cards and a different layout, Slay the Spire feels like the realization of all the best systems that have shaken the indie scene in recent years: card games and perma-death adventure in one.
Slay the Spire is easy to play but hard to master. There are many things to discover, as well as hundreds of cards to build a deck and as many as four characters to challenge.
How to Install Steam on Linux
Now that we’ve talked about some of the best games available on the Linux platform today, we’ll talk about how to install Steam and Proton on Linux.
For Debian/Ubuntu, perform sudo apt install steam.
For Fedora, to start, enable RPMFusion:
- dnf install
- https://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-$(rpm -E %fedora).noarch.rpm https://download1.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/fedora/rpmfusion-nonfree- release-$(rpm -E %fedora).noarch.rpm
After that, install Steam with the following command:
- dnf install steam
- Arch Linux – sudo pacman -S steam
- OpenSUSE – sudo zypper install steam
Enabling the Beta Version
Once you have Steam installed and running, you can join the Steam beta program.
Click on “Steam” in the upper left corner of the screen. Then click “Settings”. In the window that appears, select the “Account” tab. There you’ll find a sub-heading labeled “Beta Participation”. Select “Change”, then select “Steam Beta Update” in the next window, and press “OK”. Steam will then ask you to restart. Accept it.
After Steam has finished reinstalling and restarting your system, you’ll notice that Steam has a slightly updated look. Return to the settings menu, then select the Steam Play tab at the bottom of the window. Check the boxes to enable “Steam Play” for supported titles.
At the bottom of the window is a drop-down menu that lists something called “Proton” with a version number. Proton is Steam’s built-in version of Wine (a free and open-source compatibility layer designed to make computer games and applications meant for Microsoft Windows work on operating systems resembling Unix), but this version doesn’t match the version of Wine. Open that menu and select the latest version of Proton. That’s all.