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15 of the Best Linux Games in 2023


There have been many false dawns for Linux gaming, but in recent years things have been improving unabated. The launch of the Proton compatibility layer meant that thousands of DirectX-only games can now be translated to Vulkan and therefore work on Linux, while new Linux-compatible games continue to be released as well.

If you want to play Windows-only games on Linux, see our guide on how to set up Proton and Steam Play. If, however, you just want to check out all the best native Linux games in 2023 you can play, then read on below.

1. SuperTuxKart

It might not feel like it due to its modest visuals and simple idea, but SuperTuxKart is perhaps the most fun you’ll have in a multiplayer racing game. Think open-source Mario Kart with cheerful music and multiple game modes and characters.

SuperTuxKart is not a new game – it first came out 16 years ago. But it has been under active development since then, with the latest version having come out last year. The game features mascots of many open-source projects such as the Mozilla Thunderbird. You have an actual story mode to complete, unlocking multiple characters and tracks along the way.

The game received a major visual upgrade in 2015 and looks pretty decent for an open-source title. Any modern Linux machine will have no trouble playing it, and you can even play it on the Steam Deck. The game is still not available on Steam but that might change soon, considering its popularity.

2. Friday Night Funkin’

It’s time to give a little love to the excellent indie scene over at Itch.io, which is a veritable treasure trove of free games. Some eventually make it over to Steam, but others become cult classics for the Itch community.

Best Linux Games Friday Night Funkin

Friday Night Funkin’ is one of the current big hitters on the Itch scene. It’s a rhythm-action game in the style of the PS1 classic Parappa the Rapper, with a cheeky sense of humor, catchy tunes, and a vicious retired rockstar dad who’s trying to kill you as you try to kiss your girlfriend.

The gameplay here is pretty simple to grasp but hard to master. Accuracy and speed are equally important to defeat the various colorful foes in rap battles. Plenty of mods have cropped up, introducing new characters, tunes, and levels for players to sink their teeth into. Plus, Twitch and YouTube creators have taken notice and are further hyping the game up.

It’s super simple to play, but very addictive… and did we mention that it’s free?

3. Valheim

The Viking-themed survival game Valheim may still be in early access, but it’s already an undisputed success. In a lot of ways, Valheim does much the same things as every other survival game, but its co-op focus (allowing for up to 10 people to play together) and pretty PS2-style visuals make its randomly generated worlds a joy to explore.

Best Linux Games Valheim

The game runs perfectly on Linux, and is receiving a steady stream of updates as it slowly builds up toward a full release. Admittedly, its story and exploration aspects aren’t fully fleshed out yet, but you can already go through its main quest of hunting down several legendary beasts as you try to maintain order in the monster-beset purgatory of Valheim.

Best Linux Games 2023 Valheim 2

Valheim is probably one of the most standout and most popular co-op games and considering the success it has garnered with a 5-person development team, it looks like the game will only get better from here.

4. RimWorld

Not only can you play this sci-fi colony simulator on Linux, but you can play it on a low-end Linux machine (probably even without a dedicated GPU, depending on how good your iGPU is). RimWorld’s stories are AI-generated and it’s fascinating to see how minute changes in variables affect the narrative and gameplay.

Best Linux Games Rimworld

Don’t let the simple visuals fool you, RimWorld is an incredibly deep game that was worked on in Early Access for years before maturing to a full release. It sees you manage a colony of people trying to survive on an Earth-like planet populated by other tribes.

Best Linux Games 2023 Rimworld 2

Not only do you go through the basics of farming, building up your settlement, and raiding others, but each in-game character has their own complex personality, relationships, and needs, and it’s fascinating watching your little people chat, play with, and even marry each other while you deal with delegating tasks around your colony.

5. Life is Strange

Life is Strange became widely known for its emotionally charged narrative and top-notch music. It’s an award-winning episodic adventure with themes of young love and friendship at its core, powered by a unique time-travel gameplay mechanic.

Best Linux Games Life Is Strange

The game repeatedly mentions that player choices have consequences. While you may or may not feel convinced about that based on your playthrough and preferences, the story definitely makes you feel like you have a say in the events that unfold. The simplistic point-and-click gameplay manages to deliver some heavy and gut-wrenching moments that form the highlights of the 5-episode narrative.

Best Linux Games Life Is Strange 2

Despite a few patches of sub-par dialogue and common pitfalls of any media about teens and high-school drama, Life is Strange delivers one of the most satisfying and memorable gaming experiences in recent history. The first episode is free and there’s even a remastered version with improved visuals.

6. A Short Hike

Some games are just designed to make you feel good, and while we’ve got plenty of deep and challenging titles on this list, we thought it’d be nice to include this indie gem in the mix. A Short Hike sees you wandering, flying, and base-jumping around a beautiful national park as an anthropomorphic hawk.

Best Linux Games 2020 A Short Hike

You explore the park at your own pace, traverse mountains, chat with other hikers, and generally have a wonderful time bounding around the bright and cheery landscape. It’s extremely relaxing, while also having some breathtaking moments as you can freely soar around the park on your birdy wings.

Best Linux Games 2023 A Short Hike 2

At a time when many of us want to escape into something that helps us relax and forget about the woes of reality, A Short Hike is the perfect getaway. Whether you’re looking for a change of pace or want to discover something new, this short and sweet dose of wholesomeness might get you started on an endless binge of the best indie games.

7. Total War: Warhammer 2

When people dream up which video-game franchise would match up well with movies, board games, or other IPs, the combo of Total War with Warhammer would surely rank high on many lists. A few years ago, this dream was realized, and the Total War: Warhammer bandwagon has plowed on unopposed ever since.

Best Linux Games Total War Warhammer 2

Total War: Warhammer 2 stacks on top of the original game if you own it, letting you combine all the factions from both games into one super-campaign. Each faction feels completely unique to play, and watching thousands-strong armies of Skaven, Undead, Lizardmen, Chaos, and the other grimdark factions go at it is a sight to behold.

Best Linux Games 2023 Total War Warhammer Ii 2

Several other Total War games, like Three Kingdoms and Attila, are also available on Linux.

8. Desperados 3

A hotly-anticipated release that supported Linux from the get-go, Desperados 3 is a relentlessly old-school real-time tactics game in the vein of Commandos (or of course the older Desperados games). It’s tough, tactical, and will have your finger permanently hovering over the quick-save button as you try to execute your plans to perfection.

Best Linux Games Desperados 3

But Desperados 3 (made by the devs behind the excellent Shadow Tactics) modernizes the formula, too. Showdown mode lets you pause and slow the game down to line up moves by your ragtag crew of vagabonds, and you can even play with a gamepad should you want to kick back on your couch.

Best Linux Games 2023 Desperadfos Iii 2

It’s still a tough old game at heart but made more palatable for modern gamers. Fans of the genre can’t give this one a miss. For others, the ample variety in locations, flexible playstyles, and devilishly interesting characters might just make the game one of your favorites.

9. Dying Light: Enhanced Edition

Probably the best zombie game that people don’t talk about enough (but millions of people still play it), Dying Light has been around for a few years but is still top of the pile thanks to its frantic zombie hordes and excellent parkour mechanics. The Enhanced Edition bundles together a few years’ worth of DLC, including the excellent expansion, The Following.

Best Linux Games Dying Light

Dying Light chucks you into an open-world city destroyed by a zombie pandemic, as you try to help out the enclaves of humanity that still live there. You refine your character with skills, leap between rooftops, and chop up zombies with crafted weapons.

Best Linux Games 2023 Dying Light Enhanced Edition 2

It doubles as one of the best co-op experiences out there, too, as up to three friends can dash around the city with you (complete with new challenges and competitive modes like races). Despite the success of Dying Light 2, fans of the original still swear by its superior storytelling, nerve-wracking horror experience, and overall feel of the grimy open world.

10. Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

There’s some debate around which Civilization game is truly the best (and the previous entry, Civilization V, is also available on Linux), but when it comes to accessibility and easing players into this strategy epic, the latest version is a good place to start.

Best Linux Games Civilization Vi

Civilization VI has the same stone-age-to-space-age turn-based formula as its predecessors, but adds neat new ideas like de-stacked cities, combined arms units, and (in the DLC) climate change, golden ages, and dark ages. Civilization games have always struck a chord with lovers of deep strategy and turn-based mechanics, and Civilization VI does this better than ever.

Best Linux Games 2023 Civilization 6 2

Some say it lacks the depth of previous entries, but now that all the major expansion packs are out, it’s a worthy addition to Sid Meier’s legendary series.

This is a deep and unquestionably hardcore RPG that may cause some to bounce off of it, but those who take to it will be absorbed in its world for months.

11. Slay the Spire

Already one of the best games of the year, Slay the Spire is a deck-building card game that’s embellished by a vibrant visual style and rogue-like mechanics that’ll leave you coming back for more after each infuriating (but probably deserved) death.

best-linux-games-2018-slay-the-spire

With endless card combinations and a different layout each time you play, Slay the Spire feels like the realization of all the best systems that have been rocking the indie scene in recent years – card games and a permadeath adventure rolled into one.

Best Linux Games 2023 Slay The Spire 2

Like many roguelikes, Slay the Spire is easy to pick up but (you guessed it) hard to master. You have powerful relics to discover, hundreds of cards to build your deck, and four characters to try out. And we repeat that it’s still in early access, so it’s only going to get better!

12. Dead Cells

This one deserves highlighting as the combat platformer of the year. With its rogue-lite structure, Dead Cells throws you into a dark (yet gorgeously colored) world where you slash and dodge your way through procedurally-generated levels. It’s a bit like a 2D Dark Souls, if Dark Souls were saturated in vibrant neon colors.

best-linux-games-2018-dead-cells

Dead Cells can be merciless, but its precise and responsive controls ensure that you only ever have yourself to blame for failure. Its upgrade system carries over between runs and ensures that you always have some sense of progress. If you’re itching to get your hands on a 2D platformer, this should be at the top of your list.

Best Linux Games 2023 Dead Cells 2

Dead Cells is the zenith of pixel-game graphics, animations, and mechanics – a timely reminder of just how much can be achieved without the excesses of 3D graphics.

13. Team Fortress 2

Everyone thought Valve was crazy to turn Team Fortress from a Half-life style realistic(ish) online shooter to a bold and bouncy online shooter in 2007. But it worked, and incredibly well, too.

best-free-linux-games-team-fortress-2

The bread-and-butter of Team Fortress 2 are classic team-based modes, like Capture the Flag, Control Points, and the excellent Payload, where one team needs to escort a cart across a level (sound familiar, Overwatch fans?). You pick one of several distinct classes, specializing in either offense, defense, or support, and dive into one of its many meticulously designed vibrant maps.

Best Linux Games 2023 Team Fortress 2 2

It’s one of the best influential online shooters of all time, and it’s completely free these days unless you fancy splashing out on skins and other sillies.

14. Dota 2

Another Valve stalwart, Dota 2 is a free-to-play MOBA phenomenon, rubbing shoulders with League of Legends as the most popular game of its kind. Fun fact: the original Dota is in fact a mod for the RTS classic Warcraft III.

best-free-open-source-games-for-linux-dota-2

So what makes Dota 2 special? It’s actually a little deeper than League of Legends in some ways (though I’m sure LoL fans will disagree). You can pick from one of over 100 heroes to take into battle, fighting alongside your team and your army of minions to push those lanes and destroy the other team’s base. Units range from healing support types to charging, head-down attackers. Whatever your play style, there will be one in there to suit you.

Best Linux Games 2023 Dota 2

Dota 2 has a few interesting features as well, such as the option to eat up your own minions in exchange for gold and numerous ways of kitting out and upgrading your character. Be warned: Dota 2 isn’t for the faint-hearted.

15. Open-Source Games

As an open-source platform itself, it’s only right that Linux is home to plenty of great free open-source games as well. There’s Brutal Doom for example – a beefed-up version of ZDoom, the open-source port of Doom, Doom 2, Final Doom, and Master Levels. It features extra animations, gore, and weapons, as well as redesigned maps, modernized controls, and UIs.

best-free-open-source-games-linux-brutal-doom

OpenRA lets you play Westwood strategy games like Red Alert, Tiberian Dawn, and Dune 2000 online in high resolutions. There’s 0 AD – the seemingly endless project to make an Age-of-Empires strategy game, not to mention the brilliant Dark Mod, which is a Thief-style game in the Doom 3 engine with hundreds of brilliant player-created levels.

Other than these free Linux games, you can also install DosBox to play old DOS games on Linux. Alternatively, you can also play Windows or Android games on Linux. If you’re a handheld gamer, the best games for Steam Deck might keep you hooked for months.

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Tanveer hunts far and wide for PC Hardware, Windows, and Gaming ideas to write about. An MBA in Marketing and the owner of a PC building business, he has written extensively on Technology, Gaming, and Marketing. When not scouring the web, he can be found binging on The Office, running for his life in GTFO, or wrecking karts in Smash Karts.

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