Video gaming, introduced in the last century with the earliest example being the ‘Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device‘ developed in 1947 by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr., has evolved significantly over its lifetime and has become an indispensable part of human life.
This can be easily inferred by seeing stats of the US Gaming Industry which is profited with 96.68 billion USD in the year 2023. Linux Gaming, which started with the ideology to make Linux a gaming platform started as late as 1994, by Dave D. Taylor who ported the game Doom in his spare time to Linux.
Although before this, there were early free games like NetHack, Neterek, Xbill, etc. these were limited in number and also were mostly clones of famous arcade games or text adventures.
After the porting of Doom to Linux, however, there was no turning back, and with porting of many more famous games like Abuse, Quake, SimCity, etc., many more people started contributing to this Open Source Industry, with the development of Gaming Studios and much more.
Apart from this, with the employment of proprietary Linux Drivers like Nvidia and AMD, the performance of Games running on Linux became comparable to that on Windows. Now, almost all types of games, starting from Arcade, Action, Adventure, etc are being developed for Linux by many thousands of gaming fans who like them.
Here is a curated selection of 15 games, each earning its place due to critical acclaim or the massive hype that translated into substantial profits for their developers. These titles, universally appreciated by the gaming community, enjoyed significant commercial success in 2023.
1. Death Stranding Director’s Cut
Death Stranding Directors Cut is an expansion of Hideo Kojia‘s debut game, Death Stranding. But instead of a complete overhaul, this version manages to introduce new content, upgraded visuals, expanded gameplay, and more while staying true to the original game’s vision.
The game is set in a post-apocalyptic America where you play as Sam Bridges, a porter who works for BRIDGES. Your goal is to deliver cargo to survivors while facing angry ghosts, treacherous terrain, and extreme weather.
The game’s wacky plot, action, exploration, and social interaction dynamics all come together to create an amazing gaming experience.
Stray is an award-winning adventure game developed by Blue Twelve Studio. In this game, the protagonist is a stray cat that falls into a vast cybercity full of robots and unique machines. The objective is to navigate through the city and find your way home with the help of your robot companion.
The game has a lot to offer but it excels in delivering stunning art style, immersive world, and futuristic gameplay. You play in the third person and to progress you’ve to scale obstacles, solve puzzles, and interact with the map to access new pathways. Generally stray is one of the best casual adventure games you can find on Linux.
3. Dying Light
Developed by Techland, The Dying Light series is one of the most popular survival horror game series. This post-apocalyptic game has won the hearts of many gamers across the gaming community thanks to its storyline, impressive visuals, and immersive gameplay. The series comes in two editions – Dying Light and Dying Light 2.
Dying Light is set in an expansive open world that is full of zombies, where you play as an undercover agent whose job is to infiltrate the Harran quarantine zone.
The gameplay includes parkour and a city with a night and day cycle. Zombies are slower during the day and more active at night, so you have to look for supplies and craft weapons during the daytime and defend against zombies at night.
The overall gameplay, innovative combat system, and co-op mode (which lets you invite up to 3 players) make Dying Light one of the best zombie games on Linux.
4. Elden Ring
How can we fail to mention 2022’s Game of the Year award winner Elden Ring? Created by FromSoftware and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, this game is an action RPG.
Events of this game take place in an expansive world littered with castles, dungeons, and other fantastic landmarks. Fortunately for Linux gamers, since its debut Elden Ring has worked perfectly on Linux.
Valve has been doing a great job with Steam Deck and Linux and this is evident from the fact that Elden Ring was Steam Deck compatible on release.
The game’s Dark Souls-like theme as well as G.R.R Martin‘s input did wonders for this game. The game had a very good reception and was further popularized by its dynamic combat, stealth mechanics, and vast open world. If you are looking for the ultimate fantasy experience, dive into the Elden Ringworld.
5. Tomb Raider
This collaborative effort by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos-Montreal is one of the most renowned action-adventure series in gaming history. Tomb Raider is a game centered around Lara Croft, a female archaeologist, warrior, and adventurer who fashions herself into the Tomb Raider.
Tomb Raider takes you on a journey through harsh terrain where you are challenged by various enemies and vicious beasts. Along the way, you will explore dangerous tombs, gain useful skills and tactic, collect weapons, and uncover ancient relics.
There are three main installments of the Tomb Raider series – Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, all of which are fully compatible with Linux.
6. Counter-Strike 2
Counter-Strike 2 is the second addition to the iconic Counter-Strike series. Just like its predecessor, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, this first-person shooter continues to provide players with intense strategic combat.
The game follows an objective-based multiplayer concept that consists of two opposing teams, the Terrorists and the Counter-Terrorist. Depending on the mode players have to collaborate to achieve various goals. In classic mode, your task is to either recover hostages or diffuse a bomb.
There are other modes like Demolition or Arms Race and you can also compete against AI-controlled opponents. The Counter-Strike series was developed by Valve, so it comes as no surprise that this game is fully compatible with Linux.
If you are into relaxing puzzle games then you’ll love Unravel. This gem from Coldwood Interactive is a visually stunning puzzle-based platformer that relies on the principles of physics.
In the game, you play as Yarny, a small creature made out of red yarn. As you travel through the breathtaking landscape you’ll uncover the memories of a sweet old lady who goes through a brief period of happy moments at the onset of the game but later on experiences extreme sadness.
The game has a unique mechanic and uses the yarn that makes up Yarny as the tool for navigating and solving puzzles.
Unravel’s true beauty lies in its levels and music. The levels strike a perfect balance between fun and engaging, while the beautiful music conjures thoughts of rainy days, hot coffee, and warm blankets.
8. The Witcher 3
This masterwork by CD Projekt is undoubtedly one of the most loved role-playing games on Google Stadia and Windows. But that is not all, if you own a Linux PC you can now play The Witcher 3. How? You ask. Well by using Proton on Steam, you can install and play Witcher 3 on Linux without too much hassle.
ProtonDB, which is a user-powered database that monitors the level of compatibility of Windows games on Linux, has awarded Witcher 3 Platinum status.
This means that if you have a relatively powerful computer you can enjoy this game without much friction. As for the game you play as Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter in a vast open world, who is tasked with finding a child of prophecy.
SuperTuxKart is a long-established racing game that launched 16 years ago. But its developers have been constantly working on it since then, with the newest version being released last year, 2022. The game includes various mascots from open-source projects such as Tux, Gimp, OpenBox, and Thunderbird.
Super Tux Kart aims to race across multiple tracks while collecting power-ups and avoiding hazards. The game features a story mode you have to complete to unlock new characters and tracks. For an open-source game, SuperTuxKart looks pretty decent, all thanks to the huge visual improvement it got in 2015.
The game is not yet available on Steam but any decent Linux Machine will have no trouble playing it, alternatively, you can play the game on Steam deck.
Valheim is a Viking-themed survival game that rose to popularity in 2021. Valheim follows the same plot as every other survival game, but its stunning PS2-style, co-op feature, and randomly generated worlds, are what sets it apart from the crowd.
The game is still in early access but it runs flawlessly on Linux, and it continues to receive regular updates as the developers move toward a full release. The main goal is to slay mythical creatures in an attempt to establish order in the chaotic purgatory of Valheim.
Although the story and exploration aspects feel a bit incomplete, the engaging gameplay, visual style, and general air of mystery are factors that make it worth playing.
RimWord is a SCi-FI colony simulator that is not only available on Linux but works great on low-end and legacy machines too. RimWorld employs a simplistic aesthetic to deliver complex themes.
The 2-D visuals might tempt you to dismiss this game, but RimWord is a very mature game that spent years in early access before getting a full release. In the game, you manage a colony of humans trying to survive in an earth-like world inhabited by multiple tribes.
This game will teach the basics of farming, establishing your settlement, and raiding other tribes. Additionally, each in-game character has a unique personality and needs, and it’s interesting watching your little humans grow, talk, and create ties with each other.
12. Slay the Spire
Already a contender for best game of the year, Slay the Spire by Mega Crit Games is a deck-building game that stands out for its vibrant visuals and rogue-like elements. With its inexhaustible card combinations and ever-changing layout, Slay the Spire feels like a culmination of all the best aspects that have been floating around the indie scene.
Like a lot of roguelikes Slay the Spire is easy to get into but difficult to master. You have 4 characters you can play as, hundreds of cards to build your deck with, and plenty of relics to discover. The best part is that it’s still in early access, so it can only get better.
13. Team Fortress 2
Back in 2007, Valve received a lot of criticism when it chose to change the theme of Team Fortress from realistic to bold and bouncy. But the move was an astounding success.
Team Fortress features classic team player modes such as Control points, capture the flag, and excellent payload. You choose one of the many different classes (offense, defense, and support) and set out to explore one of its numerous detailed maps.
It’s currently one of the most played online shooters, and it’s completely free for Linux unless you wish to spend some cash on skins and other cosmetic stuff.
14. Dota 2
Also created by Valve, Dota 2 is a free-to-play MOBA game, competing with League of Legends as the most influential online combat arena game. Few people know that Dota is a mod of Warcraft III.
The game includes complex mechanics, exciting gameplay, and distinctive character combos. Dota allows you to select from over 100 heroes to fight alongside your team as well as your horde of minions. Words can’t do justice to Dota, you simply have to play it.
15. Grand Theft Auto V
This list would not be complete without mentioning Grand Theft Auto V, popularly abbreviated as GTA V. This game is one of the most popular series of the Rockstar Games Division, and is also available on Linux. Since its release in 2013 GTA V has steadily gotten better and better.
Over the years, the developers have released loads of high-quality updates and content that has kept players glued to their gaming screens. The goal of the game is similar to any other GTA game: Complete the mission and progress through the story while exploring the expansive open world. In terms of graphics and overall story, this is one of the best Linux games.
These are a few games that we have selected and listed here. You can also comment on your favorite game and how you see Linux Gaming in the near future.