Top 15 Best Linux Games For 2016

Last Updated: September 30, 2016

Linux gaming has come a long way. Ever since the first Humble Bundle in 2010, a steady stream of new titles has graced the platform. This trend accelerated when Valve, owners of the biggest digital publishing platform on PC, decided that gaming on Linux is the future and made Steam available for it. Since then we’ve seen a number of AAA games find a home on Linux, and if Valve succeeds with their SteamMachines, it’s entirely imaginable that most games will have first-day Linux support.

However, let’s not forget the wonderful open source games that were there when even the indie scene didn’t care about Linux. This article showcases both the open source titles and the triple A monsters by choosing a worthy representative of various gaming genres – from arena shooters and kart racers to MOBA and management simulators. The list is separated into eight open source games and seven AAA titles.

List of 15 Best Linux Games For 2015

1. Battle for Wesnoth

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Battle for Wesnoth is a turn-based strategy game. Its familiar fantasy setting, sixteen races and hundreds of unit types will keep you busy for a long time. Once you’ve finished the single-player campaigns, you can set off into multiplayer lands, both local (hotseat) and online. The gameplay could be described as a mix of Heroes of Might & Magic and Fire Emblem, and fans of either will likely find Wesnoth very appealing. It comes with a map editor, so players can create their own maps and scenarios.

Availability: Free Distributions: Ubuntu, Mint, Arch, Fedora, SuSe

2. Xonotic

Xonotic (previously known as Nexuiz) is an arena-style first-person shooter reminiscent of Unreal Tournament. It features what you’d expect from such a game: many different weapons with alternate firing modes and a bunch of mods and maps. There are also some novel twists like laser jumping, wall lasering and weapon comboing. Like most free software games, it’s very configurable. Although there are many arena shooters for Linux, Xonotic stands out for its frequent updates, high level of polish and an active user base – you’ll easily find people to blast away.

Availability: Free

Distributions:  Arch, Fedora, Ubuntu (via playdeb.net), SuSe

3. Voxelands

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Voxelands is a fork of Minetest, which was itself inspired by Minecraft and Infiniminer. While Minetest didn’t have much except for the voxel sandbox, Voxelands is an attempt to add gameplay – and fun – to the barebones engine. Its progress has been very fast – it features hundreds of block, tool and item types, creatures, humongous maps and both single-player and multiplayer. Unlike the game that inspired it, it also runs very well on nearly any computer. If Minecraft ever struck you as overly resource-hungry, give Voxelands a try – you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Availability: Free

Distributions: Arch (AUR), Chakra (CCR), Fedora, Slackware

4. The Dark Mod

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Despite the name, The Dark Mod is not a mod, but a stand-alone game. It started as an attempt to recreate Thief in the Doom 3 engine, but eventually grew into a full-fledged game. You’ll find it very similar to the Thief series – its gloomy, steampunk gothic world and stealth mechanics are clearly inspired by the much-loved Looking Glass game, but it doesn’t reference Thief directly, and its setting is a universe for itself. The game offers a couple of tutorial missions, but many others can be downloaded from the official website.

Availability: Free

Distributions: Arch (AUR)

5. SuperTuxKart

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As you can probably deduce, SuperTuxKart is a kart racing game, similar to Mario Kart or Wacky Wheels. Unlike those older titles, it’s a 3D game, and it features various FOSS mascots as characters – play as Tux, GNU, the PHP elephant or the BSD daemon. The game has over 20 tracks, a half-dozen game modes and split-screen multiplayer. New content is often added – the latest release brought a couple of new characters and game modes, as well as graphical improvements. Work is also being done on networked multiplayer, which means you’ll soon be able to annoy your online friends by shooting them just before the finish line.

Availability: Free

Distributions: Arch, Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, SuSe, Debian, Gentoo

6. Tales of Maj’Eyal

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You may have seen this title on various digital game stores. You might not even be aware it’s an open source game – but it is.  ToME is a roguelike RPG. As with any roguelike, it features turn-based combat, permadeath, and randomly generated dungeons. But it also boasts a wealth of classes, races, and items, a rich mythology drawing upon Tolkien and Lovecraft, an overworld map, different starting points for different races, and much, much more. You could play ToME for months and not run out of things to do and try. If this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t worry, it’s also one of the most accessible roguelikes – it’s fully graphical, supports mouse controls, and has a very intuitive interface.

Availability: Free

Distributions: Arch (AUR)

7. Hedgewars

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If the description “turn-based artillery game” reminded you of Worms, you’d be right. Hedgewars doesn’t feature pink worms, instead opting for pink hedgehogs, but otherwise it’s quite similar to the game that inspired it. Teams of pink critters battle it out on randomly generated maps using a large number of weapons, ranging from conventional to completely silly. The game offers local and networked multiplayer, as well as AI opponents. There’s a staggering amount of content available for free download – 55 weapons, hundreds of costumes, minigames, 25 game modifiers, and a ton of community content packs for your further amusement.

Availability: Free

Distributions: Arch, Ubuntu, SuSe, Fedora

8. 0 A.D.

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Although it’s still in alpha, 0 A.D. has already positioned itself as one of the finest open source game projects. It’s an real-time historical strategy that began as a mod for Age of Empires II, but eventually became a separate project with its own identity. A number of historical civilizations fight in a time period that never existed in reality, and you can pit them against each other at their prime. Every civilization is completely unique in regards to gameplay and appearance, and the game features many historically accurate details – unit formations, maps based off real geography, building and landmarks appropriate for a given civilization, and there are plans for a more realistic approach to naval warfare. Being alpha software, not all of the features have been implemented yet, but it’s playable and promises to be a very worthy addition to the list of free Linux games.

Availability: Free

Distributions: Arch, Ubuntu, SuSe, Fedora

9. Dota 2

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Dota 2 is the sequel to Defense of the Ancients, the Warcraft III mod that jumpstarted the multiplayer online battle arena genre. It’s a free-to-play title, available exclusively on Steam. Despite its high learning curve, it’s one of the most popular titles in the genre, numbering as many as 800 000 players daily, which makes it the most actively played game on Steam. The gameplay consists of two five-player teams trying to destroy the other’s stronghold, while leveling their heroes and collecting items to help them in this quest.

Availability: Free-to-play, Steam

10. Borderlands 2

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Borderlands 2 is a cross between a first-person shooter and an action RPG. It’s well-known for its randomly generated arsenal of weapons and distinctive cell-shaded graphics. It features randomly generated loot (weapons, shields, items), various classes with different play styles and online collaborative campaign play. A couple of weeks prior to the release of the Linux port, the newest game in the series, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! was released simultaneously for Linux, OS X and Windows.

Availability: Commercial, Steam

11. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

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A re-imagining of the classic 1994 game, UFO: Enemy Unknown, XCOM is a tactical turn-based game which tasks the player with planetary defense against an alien invasion. In addition to controlling a team of soldiers during tactical missions, the player also needs to research new technology and keep track of the organization’s funds, which adds a strategic layer to the game. The game and its expansion pack, XCOM: Enemy Within, were ported to Linux in 2014.

Availability: Commercial,  Steam

12. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

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CS:GO is the fourth title in the Counter-Strike series of tactical first-person shooters. Like its predecessors, it’s an objective-based multiplayer shooter featuring two opposing teams, the Terrorists and the Counter-Terrorists. Depending on the game mode, the teams must fulfill various goals – in the Classic mode, it’s either defusing a bomb or saving hostages, which are sure to be familiar to returning CS players. There are other mods, such as Arms Race or Demolition. Playing against bots (AI-controlled opponents) is also supported.

Availability: Commercial,  Steam

13. Sid Meier’s Civilization V

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The latest numbered addition to the acclaimed Civilization series of 4X (“eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate”) strategy games, Civilization V brings the same type of deep and complex gameplay, where research, diplomacy and military conquest all feature prominently as the player guides a civilization from prehistoric times into the future. It also introduced some changes like hexagonal tiles and a revamped combat system. It was ported to Linux in 2014 along with the expansion packs, followed by the latest title in the Civilization series, Civilization: Beyond Earth, a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri.

Availability: Commercial,  Steam

14. Metro: Last Light Redux

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The sequel to Metro 2033, Last Light is a post-apocalyptic first-person shooter with dashes of stealth and survival horror. The (somewhat atypically presented) dark atmosphere is its greatest feature, as it aims to immerse the player in post-nuclear Russia, a life spent mostly in the metro, threatened by mutants, hostile factions and scarcity. Redux was released one year after Last Light (2013) with graphical improvements and all the DLC.

Availability: Commercial,  Steam

15. Football Manager 2015

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The final title on this list, Football Manager 2015 proves that Linux is becoming a consideration for large publishers – this is a Sega title, after all. In this football (soccer) management simulation you buy and sell players, negotiate and renegotiate contracts, scout out new faces, and do whatever it takes to make your club successful. It was released in November 2014 across all platforms, making it one of the newest additions to the rapidly-growing catalog of Linux games.

Availability: Commercial,  Steam

SEE ALSO: 20 Best Android Multiplayer Games

So, which one is your favorite game? Let us know in comments below the post.

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Ivana Isadora is a freelance writer and translator working in English, Croatian and Swedish. She's a Linux user & KDE fan interested in startups, productivity and personal branding. She loves discovering new apps and presenting them to the world.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Mageia and open mandriva was too suck and unstable + lack of many packages for now. I am stick with Manjaro + AUR for now.

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