For the first time in a long time, Linux gamers have a reason to smile. Gaming on the open-source operating system has long meant dabbling in Wine and arcane workarounds, but ever since Valve launched Steam for Linux a year-and-a-half ago the number of native Linux games has positively exploded.
Sure, Valve’s embrace of Linux may have a wee bit to do with advancing the Steam Machine ideal—the Steam Controller, Steam Link, and Alienware Steam Machine all kick butt—but any game released for “SteamOS” works just fine on other Linux distros, too. Here are a slew of killer PC games that’ve recently become Linux natives—including two recent two PCWorld Game of the Year winners.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown (also on Linux!) became an instant classic when it launched, mixing tough, strategic combat with perma-death for you customizable soldiers. Especially on Ironmann mode, battling back the alien invasion felt desperate and overwhelming at the best of times—and in XCOM 2, we learned that it was.
The Aliens—now dubbed the Advent—won, and now crush humanity under a velvet boot. In XCOM 2, rather than being a multinational anti-alien strike force, your team’s a rag-tag bunch of resistance fighters flying around the world in a ship of your own, trying to overthrow the invaders and restore human self-determination. The setup and frequent timed missions add an even more frantic feeling to a game that already rocked high stakes, and XCOM 2 feels far more polished than its predecessor—and tweaks like stealth insertion add even more flavor to the beloved XCOM combat.
The Talos Principle.
The Talos Principle couldn’t quite squeeze out a GOTY victory after its late 2014 debut, but its brain-bending blend of killer puzzles and deep philosophical musings almost—almost!—earned it the top spot.
Simply put, there hasn’t been a puzzle game this stellar since Portal 2
Wasteland 2 is PCWorld’s Game of the Year of 2014, and the one title that Talos Principle couldn’t quite triumph over.
It took a full quarter-century for this sequel to the legendary Wasteland to be made, and the wait was well worth it. Wasteland 2’s is nothing short of a love post-apocalyptic love letter to old-school CRPG fans, sporting a tantalizing setting, deliciously clever writing, and more far more flexibility to accommodate player actions than 99 percent of games out there.
American Truck Simulator.
Euro Truck Simulator 2 won over hordes of gamers despite sounding about as exciting as watching paint dry: You drive a truck, hauling freight from town to town, checking in at weigh stations, buying upgrades and paying speeding fines as they pop up. But once you actually play the game, the magic sets in. The truck handling feels weighty and realistic, and hauling loads down a long highway while rocking out to your favorite radio stations and tunes somehow manages to be both intensely relaxing and stimulating at the same time.
American Truck Simulator’s more of the same, but polished up and featuring American landmarks and cities rather European ones. Early reviews say it’s great. And even if you’re not sure if a driving sim’s up your alley, it doesn’t cost much to dip your toes in: The game’s only $20 and sells exclusively via Steam, which offers refunds now. In other words: Buckle up.
Pillars of Eternity.
Spoiler alert: Pillars of Eternity, the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate that we’ve all been begging for for over a decade, landed on PCWorld’s list of the top PC games of 2015. Even better than the sublime gameplay and insanely deep and well-written story?
It’s available for Linux PCs.
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