Confucius says: "A person who prefers Linux on their home computer is like a person who prefers to be under the hood of their car instead of driving it." This is probably why /g/earheads prefer Linux, but we're abo/v/e that. Linux has been a favorite of neckbeards everywhere since the 90s, but now it's really been catching on: when people do a 360° and moonwalk away after seeing the unholy abomination of Windows 8, or their jaws drop in shock when they see how Windows 10 went full 1984 on the users' privacy, yet realize they can't afford an iComputer, they look at Linux and say, well, why the fuck not.
But you may ask: "What about the vidya?" True, Linux has fewer games than Windows. Other than a short porting fad back in the 90s, it just didn't seem commercially viable. But things are changing: all major engines are now designed with multiplatform in mind (thanks in large part to the growth of mobile platforms), so ports have become easy and cheap to do. Digital distribution also helps reduce costs, and even Valve pushes hard for Linux gaming because they got afraid of Windows' app store.
Although the amount of commercial games is still modest, there's a bunch of online stores that offer them:
Other than native games, there is Wine, a compatibility layer to run Windows applications (it's recommended to use the PlayOnLinux frontend).
Free games from repositoriesEdit
To download and install programs on Linux, one typically does not download .exe files from various websites and run them by hand; instead, distros provide a software repository or package manager. If something is not in your distro's manager, you can still port the package over but you might need to puzzle out some missing dependencies. For those of us who love to tinker on the engine more than driving the car, you can get the source code for each of these and compile it by hand.
|Battle for Wesnoth||Turn-based Strategy||Fantasy strategy game where much of the game's units, music, artwork, and campaigns are player contributed. The game plays on a hex based system, with terrain affecting the accuracy of attacks and unit movement. Six well-balanced factions are available for play at the start. It makes you really feel like you're commanding an army by having you level troops into hardened veterans, which you can recall for future battles. Dozens of custom units are available for single player and multiplayer by downloading player mods known as "eras". Fantastic quality considering it's freeware. Download stable version if you just want to play the game without too many bugs.|
|Beneath a Steel Sky||Adventure/Point 'N Click||Classic adventure style game that follows Robert Foster on a journey through a cyberpunk-esque metropolis. Requires ScummVM to be played, but that is also a free install from your local package repository. Fun fact: the background art is drawn by Dave Gibbons of Watchmen fame.|
|Freeciv||Empire Building||The awesome that is Sid Meier's Civilization, now with multiplayer that isn't hot-seat, custom tilesets, and you can tinker the hell out of the rules. It's been upgraded since to play more like Civ2. If you preferred the sort-of sequel "Colonization," check out FreeCol.|
|Frogatto||Adventure/Platformer||Old school adventure platformer with RPG elements like quests and buying powerups.|
|Frozen Bubble||Puzzle||It's Bust-A-Move, that game that's like Breakout plus Bejeweled where you break the walls by adding more bricks. Every Linux magazine from here to India puts this in their top ten list. Casual gamers can't get enough of this on Linux or any other platform.|
|Nethack||Roguelike||Imagine Dungeons and Dragons in a very difficult, video game form. Death is permanent, the dungeon is always randomly generated, and you aren't going to win for a very long time. A spinoff of "Rogue," so it's a Rogue-like game, but everyone had a go at the source code to add everything including kitchen sinks. You can check out the game's wiki Here. Default interface is ASCII graphics in a term window, but you can download extra packages for a tileset or even isomorphic interface instead.|
|Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup||Roguelike||This game is a modern take on the roguelike genre that doesn't stray too far from its roots. It keeps the randomly generated environments, turn-based gameplay and punishing difficulty of classic roguelikes. But reduces the amount of keystrokes to learn, replaces the ASCII with more descriptive tiles and improves the interface to the point it is playable by using a mouse. It also focuses on reducing the amount of spoilers required to finish the game without sacrificing its inherent complexity. Definitely one of the best modern roguelikes (others are ADOM and TOME4) around and probably the easiest one to get into that doesn't dumb things down too much (Dungeons of Dredmor) or is barely a roguelike (FTL, Spelunky, Binding of Isaac). You can get it here.|
|Oolite||Space Combat, Trading||The classic 8-bit galaxy-on-a-single-floppy space game Elite lives on. Better graphics (duh), a mod community and a wiki proves that Elite ain't dead.|
|Simon Tatham's Puzzle Collection||Puzzle, Casual||Futoshiki, Lightup, Loopy, Nonograms, Sudoku, Untangle... all those Japanese puzzles that people install on their Blackberries and iPhones and buy cheap books of at Barnes and Noble, Simon Tatham already ported them to Linux and you can make each one as hard or as easy as you want. Also available on Android (which is Linux under the hood, so no surprise.)|
|Spring RTS Engine||Realtime Strategy||It's Total Annihilation re-implemented to use OpenGL and more computing power. When the kids in high school were pissing themselves over the strategy of StarCraft, the TRUE neckbeards-in-training were playing Total Annihilation. The game mods have taken on a life of their own, so you can use Spring Engine for real-time strategy games with rules (not just re-skinned units!) for WWII, Gundam, Star Wars, sci-fi, necromancers, or even a Tron game if Darwinia isn't crunchy enough for you.|
|SuperTuxKart||Racing||A cool mascot racer in the vein of Mario Kart. But here, all the characters are mascots of various free software projects, such as BSD's Beastie, GIMP's Wilber, and KDE's Konqi.|
|Torus Trooper||SHMUP||Another shooter from Kenta Cho. Remember Tempest? This is Tempest on steroids. You're racing down this tube, sometimes at over 4000km/h blowing shit up. The graphics and music help to put you in the mood too, kind of has the same feel as Rez. It's not a game with a whole lot of depth, but it's fun to play every now and then.|
|The Ur-Quan Masters||RPG||Star Control 2. Adventure across the stars, recruiting other aliens that got the shit kicked out of them since the previous game, or fend off the aliens that decided to kiss ass to the new murderous-squid overlords. Between exploring distant stars and doing mineral scans (Hmmmm...) you get into ship-to-ship action combat against different vessels with a rock-paper-scissors balance of abilities.|
Free games in distro-agnostic packagesEdit
These are still typically free software (or at least freeware), but do not use your easy-peasy package manager to install itself deep in your system. Most of the time, they are just binaries (or executables in Windows parlance) in downloadable tar.gz archives (which work like .zip files). Though, in some more rare cases, these may also include games that come as source code only -- you need to hunt down the right libraries through your distro's package manager, compile, and install manually (while trickier, this has the added bonus of increased optimization for your computer hardware, however marginal).
|Abuse||Platformer||You got locked up in a prison where illegal genetic experiments take place, and all the inmates were transformed into monsters. A 2D platformer with a rather unique mouse-driven aim system, a gritty style, and merciless action. Was made free when the developer went bankrupt. Worth checking out.||Desura|
|Heroes of Newerth||Action-RTS||It's DotA by S2 Games. Need I say more? Just run the shell script in terminal to install and you're good to go. Went F2P model because of competition from LoL. Some heroes are original, while others are ported from DotA. This'll hold you over until Gaben decides to port every Valve game (DotA2) to Linux.||Official site|
|Katawa Shoujo||Visual Novel||The story tells of a young man who, after suffering a heart attack upon hearing a confession from the girl he loves, is diagnosed with cardiac dysrhythmia and sent to a school where he meets several lovely and charming teenage girls who each suffer from a different disability.||Official site|
|Marathon trilogy||FPS||The predecessor to the Halo series. The year is 2794 and you are a security officer aboard the UESC Marathon, a large, multi-generational colony spacecraft (converted from one of Mars's moons). As the ship and the Tau Ceti colony are attacked by hostile extraterrestrials, you find that something is amiss with the ship's artificial intelligences - one of which having gone quite insane after figuring out a secret greater than universe itself.||Sourceforge|
|Revenge of the Cats: Ethernet||Team FPS||Tug-of-war style territory fight with an unusual travel/heal/respawn mechanic.||Official site|
|Typhoon 2001||Tube shooter||Fan remake of Tempest 2000, one of the trippiest shooters ever.||Mirror|
|World of Padman||Arena FPS||Wacky colorful cartoons and cleavage. Spray your color and run around on bookshelves.||Official site|
|Xonotic||Arena FPS||This is very much like Quake (its engine actually is a massively improved version of the original Quake engine), but with even more jumping around; you'll see what I mean once you play it. Includes game modes like Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, "Keyhunt" and more, both in Singleplayer and Multiplayer. Has about 10-30 people playing for any region at their respective daily "peak times", but hopefully there will be more once version 1.0 is released.||Official site|
Commercial games Edit
|Picture||Title||Genre||Year Released||Description||Where to acquire|
|Alpha Centauri||Empire Building||1999||FreeCiv IN SPAAAAAACE. There's some story that gets revealed, and landmarks you can make use of even on a randomly generated world. More diplomacy and culture-changing options too.|
|Amnesia: The Dark Descent||Horror & Survival||2010||You play as Daniel, an amnesiac who must investigate the mysterious Castle Brennenburg, with only two goals in mind: Find your memories, and kill the castle's owner, the mysterious Alexander of Brennenburg. VERY loosely based on Lovecraft's "The Outsider" (So loosely based that you will only understand the similarities after you beat the game). TL:DR; Decently hard puzzles. Loads of NOPENOPENOPE|
|Aquaria||Action-adventure||2007||Massive award-winning indie title created by Spelunky programmer Derek Yu and Crayon Physics Deluxe composer Alec Holowka. Aquaria features huge underwater environments with an emphasis on exploration, challenging-but-not-stupid boss battles and an absolutely phenomenal soundtrack. Before you ask: yes, there is a nude mod.
An absolute must-have for any Metroidvania fan.
|Cave Story+||Action-adventure||2011||A robot boy awakens in a dark cave and soon comes across a village of rabbit-like creatures being attacked by a mad scientist. A vast and rather challenging game, originally free but this paid version has upgraded graphics and improved gameplay.||Steam|
|Cities: Skylines||Simulation||2015||Love Sim City? Looking for something that was not ruined by developer incompetence and publisher greed? Say no more.||Steam|
|Darwinia||RTS||2005||Get your RTS on with 8-bit troops in a 32-bit terrain. Very hacker atmosphere, terrific soundtrack, simple interface that focuses you on the fights and resources instead of min/maxing and spreadsheets. You'll be cheering every time your blocky little guys defeat a wireframe evil spider.|
|DEFCON||RTS||2006||You remember the movie WarGames? With Matthew Broderick? It's EXACTLY like the game that he was supposed to be playing, only this time there's no namby-pamby AI that tells you it's a bad idea to throw nukes at the Commies.|
|Drunken Robot Pornography||FPS||2014||Get your jetpack and laser blaster ready: you made the mistake of giving free will to your robot bartender and the son of a bitch built an army of giant robots to destroy the city! Unique indie mix of FPS and bullet hell, perhaps a bit "fluff" but still very fun. Quite unique in the FPS genre for having extremely vertical stages. Sadly, it in fact does not contain any pornography. From the creators of AaAaAA!!!.||Humble|
|Dust: An Elysian Tail||Platformer / Action-RPG||2013||A mysterious warrior wanders a fantasy land with a magical talking sword and a little flying sprite companion, trying to regain his own memories. A beautiful furry-themed indie 2D platformer with RPG and beat 'em up elements. Stunning painted backgrounds, top notch animation, great voice acting. Hard to believe one guy did most of the game all by himself.||GOG|
|Freedom Planet||Platformer||2014||Glorious indie old-school 2D mascot platformer, with the sort of level design, physics, graphics and music you'd expect from the very best Mega Drive games.||GOG|
|Half-Life Complete||FPS||2008||An experiment goes terribly wrong, and everyone's favorite crowbar-wielding MIT Ph.D. has to deal with a ton of aliens invading and the black ops trying to cover up the whole mess. Come on, it's the goddamn Half-Life series, you can't not play this!||Steam|
|Lux Delux||Strategy||2005||Risk done right. Over 700 maps, and you can make your own, SDK for hacking the ruleset (like having naval units, or canals, or remember playing nuclear Risk?). Comes with LAN and Internet play too.|
|Neverwinter Nights||RPG||2003||Do you like third edition Dungeons and Dragons? Well, this game is basically that, but in computer form. Play as whoever you want, read nice big blocks of text, and enjoy slow, somewhat lengthy turn-based battles. Plenty of mods out there for those who want them and tons of persistent worlds (mini-MMORPG's, ranging from action PvP to deep DM-heavy roleplaying) still online.|
|Papers, Please||Dystopian Document Thriller||2013||You are the immigrations inspector for Arstotzka, a Eurasian communist shithole. It is your job to inspect the papers of everyone trying to enter the country, turning away any and all who do not qualify.
A lot more engrossing than it sounds. Seriously, play this.
|Portal Bundle||Puzzle||2007||Welcome to the Aperture Science Computer-Aided Enrichment Center. It is time to do science or die trying.||Steam|
|Postal||Isometric shooter||1997||Now this is the story all about how some guy's life got flipped-turned upside down, so he cracks and goes out on a shooting rampage. Unlike the sequel, or the movie, this game does not play violence or potty humor for laughs. It is absolutely straightforward in its unabashed depravity. It is disgusting and frightening. And it's also a hidden gem of a mercilessly hardcore game.||GOG|
|Postal 2||FPS/Sandbox||2003||One of the most hilariously fucked up games ever. Survive a week in a crazy little hick town plagued by anti-gaming activists, cannibals, terrorists, bank robbers, radical environmentalists, ATF agents, and Gary Coleman! Will you refrain from using force, or will you leave a trail of mangled, charred corpses in your wake?||Humble|
|Rochard||Platformer / puzzle||2011||When an asteroid mining crew finds evidence of intelligent life out there, they're attacked by space bandits, and soon find themselves as targets of a nasty conspiracy. Excellent graphics and sound, some nice run-n-gun action, and a ton of crazy physics-manipulating puzzles.||Steam|
|Shadow Warrior||FPS||2013||A bodyguard / henchman / hired killer is sent to acquire a very special sword, but when a horde of demons gets in the way and slaughters everyone before he has a chance to, he realizes there's something weird about his corporate overlords.
Remember the 90s classic? Lo Wang was a sort of oriental Duke Nukem, but unlike the notorious DNF, this one is actually a good game... a fast-paced, damn fun, insanely over the top, ultra violent romp. From the same team of the also excellent Hard Reset.
|Spec Ops: The Line||TPS||2012||In a near future, Dubai was annihilated by a series of freak sand storms. Months later, a radio transmission indicates that there might be survivors there after all. You lead a Delta Force team sent to investigate, but when you get there, you find there's some real crazy shit going on.||Humble|
|The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings||Action-RPG||2012||The very brutal and rather titillating journey of a badass monster slayer in a gritty, morally ambiguous fantasy world. Think "Zelda meets Game of Thrones" and you'll kind of get it.||GOG|
|Unreal Tournament 2004||FPS||2004||Skip the first Unreal Tournament and get this one instead. Fast-paced arena FPS, based heavily on acrobatics and aim, recommended for its complexity and variety. Gametypes range from vehicle-based Onslaught mode to football-like Bombing Run. Unreal Tournament 2004 is commended for consistent developer support, and a once-massive mapping/modding community that produces quality content to this day. The single-player is boring but the AI is rather intelligent in all maps, especially deathmatch.|
|Uplink||Strategy/Sim||2002||Hack computers. Don't get caught. Decent story, full of intrigue. Bring down corporations and destroy people's lives for money to upgrade your computer while searching for a mysterious virus. Don't let the appearance fool you, the later missions are hard and intense, and the game has quite a few secrets.|
|Wasteland 2: Director's Cut||RPG||2014||From the producer of the original Fallout, this is what a modern Fallout would be if they made it for the old fans instead of casuals: a top-down, turn-based tactical RPG with a fuckton of possibilities and immense room for customization.||GOG|
|World of Goo||Puzzle||2009||I shouldn't have to tell you what World of Goo is. Yes, they made a native Linux version. Is there a platform this game DOESN'T run on?||Steam|