Thanks to the Proton compatibility layer, Gaming on Linux went from an extremely laughable term to reality in just a few years. ProtonDB stats suggest that more than 50% of the top AAA games on Steam are now playable on Linux. From popular games like Cyberpunk to Elden Ring, Stardew Valley, and the Spider-Man series, all of them are now available on Linux systems either natively or through Proton. Therefore, if you’re looking to play games on your favorite Linux distro, here are our 16 best handpicked AAA games you can play on Linux without any issues.
1. Death Stranding Director’s Cut
Developed in 2019 by Kojima Productions and designed by Hideo Kojima himself, Death Stranding has to be one of the best AAA titles on Linux for two reasons — the overall gameplay and design.
The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world where you control Sam Bridges, a porter who works in a company called BRIDGES. Your task is to deliver cargo to KNOTs, researchers, and those who’ve survived. The enemies have breached things which are a group of bandits who try to steal your cargo. Overall, the game and its story elements are really fun to play.
Control is yet another amazing action-adventure game on Linux. The game was released in 2019 and is available on multiple platforms. The objective of the game is pretty simple. You play as Jesse Faden and your task is to explore the FCB’s headquarters which is now a center for paranormal activities. Your task is to defeat the enemy causing the problem called the Hiss.
Throughout the game, you’re required to collect stuff, defeat enemies with your abilities, and do tasks to progress through the story. The gameplay is fantastic, and the graphics are smooth and insanely good. The game is available on Steam and Epic for Windows and Linux.
Stray is an award-winning adventure game where you play as a Stray cat that falls into a city of robots living inside walls. The objective is to return back to where you came from with the help of your robot companion.
You progress through the story by climbing obstacles in third person, interacting with the map to open new pathways, and solving puzzles. Overall, it is one of the best casual adventure games that you can play on Linux.
Availability: Steam ($30)
4. Dying Light Series
The Dying Light series is one of the most popular post-apocalyptic game series and is revered across the gaming community for its story, design, and overall gameplay. There are two installments in the series — the original Dying Light and Dying Light 2.
You play as an undercover agent with the mission to infiltrate the quarantine zone called Harran which is a Middle Eastern city. The gameplay features parkour and a city with a day and night mechanism. Zombies are more active at night but slow during the daytime. There’s also a multiplayer mode where you can invite three more players to progress through the game. Overall, it’s hands down, one of the best zombie games that you can play on Linux.
Availability: Steam ($8.99)
5. Elden Ring
And how can we forget 2022’s massive game and the game of the year award winner Elden Ring? Fortunately, Elden Ring works flawlessly and has been since it was released. The game was Steam Deck compatible on launch, which is a testament to how good of a job Valve has been doing for Linux and Steam Deck.
One of the reasons why Elden Ring was successful was due to its resemblance to Dark Souls. The game was very well received and is known for its striking combat, high-quality open world, and stealth mechanics. The game sold over 20 million copies in six months, making it one of the most successful games.
Availability: Steam ($60)
6. Tomb Raider Series
Tomb Raider is another adventure game that is fully compatible with Steam on Linux. It runs on almost all of the Linux distros. The game revolves around a female warrior who forges herself to become the Tomb Raider. It takes you through the unforgiving jungle where you have to face the deadliest animals and find a way to survive. Along the way, you will learn many skills, and garner weapons, and outfits that will eventually lead you to the defining moment.
There are three main recent Tomb Raider games — Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, all of them work on Linux. The best part is, you don’t need to buy each game separately, rather, get the Tomb Raider: Definitely Survivor Trilogy, which includes all games.
7. What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is a dated game and while it’s not a AAA game, it has top-tier storytelling. The game involves Finch, a 17-year-old girl coming back to her ancestral home for the first time only to discover the secrets that everyone’s been hiding, a series of events, and deaths that led to the collapse of her family’s structure.
The game won multiple awards, including the best narrative category in the game awards 2017 and the best game award in the British Academy Games Awards. It runs like a dream on Linux and is a must-play game for those who appreciate good storytelling with eerie twists in it.
8. Counter-Strike 2
Counter-Strike 2 is the next installation in the CS franchise. Its predecessor, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is one of the best FPS games on Linux, and CS 2 will be no different. The multiplayer shooter game should run perfectly fine with all the controls and top-notch, new, and improved graphics quality.
For those unaware, Counter-Strike 2 is 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 – for example, in the Classic mode, it’s either defusing a bomb or saving hostages. There are other mods such as Arms Race or Demolition and you can also play against AI-controlled opponents. CS: GO was free to play on Steam, but Counter-Strike 2 will probably not be free.
Availability: Steam (Free to play)
If you like puzzle-based, relaxing games that you can play on the couch, Unravel is for you. You play as Yarny, a character made out of yarn, and discover the bittersweet memories of an old lady that goes through brief moments of happiness and later extremely sad events throughout the levels.
The star of the show is the levels and the music. They’re fun yet challenging, brisk yet time-consuming. The music’s composed by Frida Johansson and Henrik Oja and it brings a sense of calm and coziness to the mix. Unravel is a game that I’d play during the rain. Overall, it is one of the finest comfort games ever made.
Availability: Steam ($20)
10. The Last of Us Part I
The Last of Us Part I is the remake of the original Last of Us released in 2013. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world where players have to go through different areas and use weapons to defeat the infected, cannibalistic people.
The new Last of Us has improved graphics and listen mode that allows you to detect enemies through high sensing spacial awareness. While the description so far might sound like we’re describing The Walking Dead, the story’s different and interesting.
Availability: Steam ($60)
11. The Witcher 3
Currently, Witcher 3 is one of the most popular desktop games which is available on Windows and Google Stadia. But what if I tell you that you can play Witcher 3 on Linux too? Well, with Proton support on Steam, you can play Witcher 3 on Linux without much friction. ProtonDB, a user-driven database that tracks the status of Windows game compatibility on Linux, has awarded Platinum status to Witcher 3.
It essentially means that you can play this game without much issue if you have a decently powerful machine. However, you may have to update your graphics driver manually. As for the game, it’s about a fantasy world where you are tasked to find a child of prophecy who can save the world.
Availability: Steam ($39.99)
12. Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley is one of the top-ranking games on Steam and thankfully, it runs fine on Linux as well. If you don’t know, Stardew Valley is an RPG game that is also very much like Minecraft due to its open-ended world. Here, you need to apply your mind and create a strategy to survive the farm life.
The game has linear gameplay unlike other graphics-intensive games, but it takes simulation to a whole new level and expands on it. The game offers a fantasy world where you can grow crops, raise poultry, and perform many household duties. Simply put, Stardew Valley is ranked among the best simulation games and you should give it a try on your Linux machine.
Availability: Steam ($14.99)
13. Cyberpunk 2077
Cyberpunk was one of the most anticipated games of all time until it came out and received a bad rating because it was rendered with bugs and glitches. The issues were because CD Projekt RED, the developers of the game, had to rush the release to adhere to the release schedule. Although most issues with the game have been fixed, the bad first impression hindered the rating.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a roleplaying game set in a vast open world where you play as V and hack your way through the story by acquiring weapons to progress through the story. Overall, it is one of the best games you can play on Linux using the Proton Compatibility Layer.
Availability: Steam ($19.99)
14. Grand Theft Auto V
Speaking of open-world games, GTA V, a game from one of the most successful franchises of the Rockstar Games division, is also playable on Linux. There are lots of reasons to play GTA V and one of them is how well the game has aged for something that was developed in the year 2013. Over the years, it has received tons of quality updates and content that keeps people circling back to the game.
The objectives of the game are the same as any Grand Theft Auto game: Completing the missions and progressing through the story while traversing the vast open world. Overall, story-wise and graphics-wise, it is one of the best games you can play on Linux.
15. Forza Horizon 5
Not everyone’s a fan of open-world and action games. Some like the racing action and the endless adrenaline flow, and that’s why we have Forza Horizon 5. Owned by Microsoft, Forza is one of the most successful racing game franchises. Players get access to a huge open world with different terrains and hundreds of different cars to choose from.
The game also has a multiplayer mode where you can race with your friends or explore the open world to witness the beautiful scenery together. You can also race online with other players and the graphics, physics, and gameplay are all top-tier. Overall, it’s undoubtedly one of the best racing games on Linux.
Availability: Steam ($60)
16. War Thunder
If you’re a fan of multiplayer games that incorporate team work and lots of explosions and destruction, War Thunder is the game for you. It’s a free to play, cross-platform military game published by Gaijin Distribution where you can control tanks to take on ground fights, go above the horizons and indulge in air combat with military aeroplanes, or take on enemies at sea.
The oveall combat is really fun and exciting to play alone and with friends. War Thunder doesn’t need lots of resources to run. All you need is 4GB RAM and a GTX 660 or Radeon 77XX and above graphics card. Overall, it’s one of the best free to play titles that you can download from Steam and play on Linux or Steam Deck.
Availability: Steam (Free)
The State of Linux Gaming in 2024
Linux compatibility is largely thanks to the Proton compatibility layer, an open-source software that allows you to play games that are meant for Windows on Linux. It does so by translating Windows-understandable DirectX instructions to Vulkan-understandable instructions (Linux understands Vulkan instructions).
Proton is a modified version of Wine (Wine is not an emulator), as software that’s been used for a decade to install Windows apps on Linux. Thanks to the largely scalable nature of Proton, supported games run as if they’re running natively with absolutely no hiccups, or in some cases, with little to lots of tinkering. To enable Proton on Steam, go to Settings -> Steam Play and enable all the toggles under the Steam Play menu.
There are tonnes of games on Linux, but if we had to pick a few Elden Ring, GTA V, and The Last of Us are all amazing games.
Literally, all the games that don’t have Kernel-level or built-in anti-cheat. Valve with Proton has also sorted out BattlEye and Easy Anti-Cheat support, so don’t be surprised if you find supported games with those anti-cheats. You can visit the website areweanticheatyet.com to find all the supported and borked games that have anti-cheats built into them.
Yes, they do! In fact, there have been instances where they tend to run better than on Windows. Proton is an exceptionally well-built tool and handles games well, so well that you won’t feel like you’re “technically” emulating them on a Linux machine.