In 2020, it feels like Linux gaming has finally arrived. I say this because you can now truly play a number of AAA title games on Linux which were exclusively available on Windows earlier. From popular games like The Witcher to Stardew Valley, all of them are now available on Linux systems either by direct porting or through a compatibility layer. So if you are wondering what new games you can play on Linux, well we have selected the 15 best Linux games that are available right now. We have carefully chosen the games which perform really well on many Linux distros and do not exhibit any graphics issue. We have also mentioned some of the popular open-source games at the end so that you can enjoy some of the best native games on your Linux machine. Now having said all of that, let’s go ahead and learn about Linux gaming in detail.
State of Linux Gaming in 2020
Before moving to the list, I want to shed some light on the state of Linux gaming in 2020. As of now, Linux has improved by leaps and bounds in the desktop gaming segment. It’s largely because many big gaming studios are now developing games with Vulkan API to make their games available on Google Stadia. If you are not aware, Google Stadia runs on a Linux server. So if you connect the dots, most games available on Stadia will run fine on Linux as well due to direct porting by the studios. And that’s why the list of games under the SteamOS + Linux section is increasing day by day.
Other than that, Steam brought something called Proton in 2018 which basically allows you to play Windows games on Linux without VMware or any virtual machine. Essentially, Proton is a compatibility layer (a modified version of Wine) between Windows and Linux. It translates the Windows DirectX API to Vulkan or OpenGL API on Linux in real-time. So you get amazing performance without much friction. Surprisingly, the Windows games run absolutely fine and you can check the compatibility status of many Windows games on ProtonDB.
To enable Proton on Steam, go to Settings -> Steam Play and enable all the toggles under the Steam Play menu. In case the option is not available, you may have to update to Steam Beta.
List of Best Linux Games in 2020
1. Counter Strike: Global Offensive
Counter Strike is one of the best Linux games in this list mainly because CS:GO has been natively developed for this open-source platform. The multiplayer shooter game runs perfectly fine with all the controls and top-notch graphics quality. If you are not aware, CS:GO 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.
Availability: Steam ($14.99)
2. DOTA 2
Dota 2 is another Linux game that runs amazing and without any hiccups on any Linux distro. You can play this online multiplayer game out of the box as it’s developed natively for Linux and other systems. No need to install any drivers or configure the settings. And the best part is that Dota 2 is 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 other’s stronghold and collecting items to help them in this quest.
Availability: Steam (Free to play)
3. Rocket League
Rocket League is my favorite game on Linux because of two reasons. It’s available natively just like CS:GO and DOTA 2 so the gaming performance is excellent. And second is its physics-driven approach to the game. It’s basically a soccer game, but you will have to play with cars. Yes, it’s unusual but that’s what makes it one of the best Linux games in this list. The controls are fluid and easy to understand and you can compete with other online players too. There are also modes in which you can play hockey and basketball with your car. Overall, Rocket League is action-packed and you should definitely play this game on your Linux machine.
Availability: Steam ($19.99)
4. 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)
5. Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is another adventurous game that is fully compatible with Steam on Linux. It runs on almost all of the Linux distros, but Manjaro and Pop OS provide the best gameplay experience. Talking about the game, it revolves around a female warrior who forges herself to become the Tomb Raider. The game 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, garner weapons, and outfits that will eventually lead you to the defining moment.
Availability: Steam (Free Trial, $59.36)
6. Team Fortress 2
Before the Steam support on Linux, Team Fortress 2 was one of those rare games that used to run like a charm on any Linux distro. And now, it’s better than ever before. The game runs natively and has no performance issues at all. Even after these many years, Team Fortress 2 still gets updates for maps, game modes, and equipment. Moving to the game, it’s a multiplayer first-person shooter game where you can join as many as nine classes to develop your character. After that, you will be part of the combat team who will go on a mission to capture the flag or become the king of the hill. It’s a thrilling Linux game and you should not give it a miss.
Availability: Steam (Free to Play)
7. League of Legends
League of Legends is one of the most popular free-to-play games on Mac and Windows. Now, with Lutris and DIVX support, you can play this multiplayer online battle arena game on your Linux machine too. It runs pretty well on Linux distros, but you will need a powerful machine with dedicated graphics. As for the game, here you take the role of a champion having powerful abilities and go on a quest against other champions controlled by the computer or other online players. You need to find and destroy a defensive structure where your opponent’s power resides through discrete maps and weapons which you will find along the way. All in all, League of Legends does not need much introduction on the gaming front, but you should know that you can play this amazing game on Linux now.
Availability: Lutris (Free to Play)
8. 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. Sure, 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)
While there are many great first-person shooter games, the reason I am mentioning Doom in this list is because it runs perfectly fine on Linux machines. Despite the game has been developed for Windows, it runs using the Proton feature on Steam. The Proton layer translates the Windows graphics API in real-time so it runs flawlessly on Linux distros. Apart from that, the game is quite intense and brutal with gory characters and destructive guns. In the single-player game, you can fight against the demon hordes in hell to free yourself. There is also a multiplayer mode where you can compete against your online friends. To conclude, if you are looking for an FPS game that runs on Linux without any hiccup, go for Doom.
Availability: Steam ($19.99)
Xonotic is an open-source FPS game that is natively available on Linux so no issues on the performance front. Talking about the game, if you remember Unreal Tournament from the yesteryear days, it’s something like that. It features what you’d expect from a first-person shooter game: many different weapons with alternate firing weapons and a bunch of modes and maps. There are also some novel twists like laser jumping and wall lasering. Like most free Linux games, it’s very configurable and you can choose your outfit and equipment. Although there are many arena shooters for Linux, Xonotic stands out for its frequent updates, high level of polish and an active user base.
Download from its Website (Free)
Hitman is undisputedly one of the most popular PC games in the world. However, Steam has made sure to bring the Hitman series on Linux systems too. With SteamOS+Linux and Proton, you can almost get the same gaming experience on your Linux distro too. However, make sure to update your graphics driver or just move to Manjaro or Pop OS. Also, talking about the game, here you play as Agent 47 who goes on to become the master assassin. You can travel around the world and kill your targets with poise– from a rifle to an exploding golf ball. It all depends on your strategic skill. So, if you love playing underworld Agents, Hitman is the game you should play on your Linux machine.
Availability: Steam (Free Trial, $59.11)
Robocraft is a game that quickly rose to popularity because of its insane graphics performance on Linux distros. Earlier it was available as a standalone Linux game, but now you can play Robocraft through Steam free of charge. The game allows you to build a robot vehicle that can be used to fly, drive, walk and swim. Along the way, you will have to collect futuristic weapons and make your vehicle as powerful as you can. The game gets really interesting when you face robot vehicles from other planets. Overall, Robocraft is a powerful and graphics-rich Linux game and you should definitely not miss it.
Availability: Steam (Free to Play)
13. Battle for Wesnoth
When Steam was not available on Linux, open-source games like Battle for Wesnoth were a hit among the Linux users. However, even after these many years, this wonderful fantasy game still makes its way to the list of best Linux games and deservedly so. 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: Steam (Free)
SuperTuxKart is a popular kart racing game in the Linux ecosystem which is open-source and completely free. The game is very similar to Mario Kart and Wacky Wheels. It’s a 3D game and features various FOSS mascots as characters. You can play as Tux, GNU, the PHP elephant or the BSD daemon. The game has over 20 tracks, half-dozen game modes including a split-screen multiplayer mode. New content is often added – the latest release brought a couple of new characters, AI mode, a separate Grand Prix mode, and significant graphical improvements. All in all, if you want a little fun game on Linux, SuperTuxKart will not disappoint you.
Download from SourceForge (Free)
Minetest is our final Linux game in this list. It’s an open-source game natively developed for Linux systems. It’s strikingly similar to Minecraft and other sandboxing games where you have an open world full of various types of blocks. You can create your own voxel blocks in a three-dimensional world and you can also destroy the structures. The game allows you to use many mods and texture packs to personalize your world. Not to mention, there is crafting, fuels, food and a lot to discover in this game. So if you want to play Minecraft like game on Linux then Minetest would be the perfect alternative.
Download from its Website (Free)
Best Linux Games on Steam and Lutris Ranked For You
So those are our picks for the best Linux games you can play in 2020. To be frank, there are many more games that can be added to the list as Linux has recently got huge support from Steam and Lutris. However, if you want to explore yourself, you can go through the list of best Linux games from these corresponding websites: Steam and Lutris. Anyway, that is all from us. But what about you? Which one is your favorite Linux game? Do comment down below and let us know.