We decided not to call this the top 10 best Linux games of 2016, because that would suggest we can have an informed opinion about every little game that was released in the past 11~12 months – and that would be just wrong, as our time is limited and there is no way we could have enough time to play most titles out there for Linux.
So we will focus on what we thought was great based on what we had time to play. There won’t be any particular order (who cares), so don’t assume the first one or the last one is our top 1 pick or something. Alright, let’s go through our picks then.
Life is Strange
It’s almost a no-brainer. You know I loved it when I tested it back when it was released, and I still think many months later that it is a fantastic game – it left me with very strong memories, and I have been watching the making-of movies several times to better understand the efforts made by the team to get to such a high quality production. Feral’s port is very good too, leaving us nothing to complain about. If you haven’t played it yet, what are you waiting for ?
I have yet to write a full review about that one – but I can already tell you it’s pretty good. I have to admit it’s kind of difficult to classify it as a game, since the action is pretty linear, and there’s only choices when it comes to dialogues (like all the time) – so it’s almost like a visual novel, but it’s very well made and endearing. The mystery about the island you are stuck in keeps you looking for answers, and the group of teenagers you work with has some very colorful members that keep it from getting boring or too cliche. Once again the port is pretty good (Unity I believe?) so all is well if you decide to try it out.
One of my favorite games of this year – and probably the most unexpected one too. Unexpected because there was no telling this game was still coming to Linux (rumors had it it was cancelled), and also because it ended up being a great game, building up on the movies that came before it. To this date this is the best Open-world game for Linux, and one of the most visually impressive titles too. Once again Feral aced that port – while there is still some gap versus the Windows performance, the Linux experience is very decent and runs very well in most cases.
The sequel to the extremely popular reboot of the series is very solid (yet not without flaws) and it made it to Linux on the same day as the other platforms. You will still be cursing when your character misses a shot even though they have it at 95%, and overall it’s a very unforgiving game when the difficulty goes up. But damn! It is still fascinating as ever. As for the port, it had rough edges on the first couple of weeks, but now there’s really no reason to frown upon it. Note that Feral has just updated the game (today!) to officially support AMD cards with the latest Mesa version!
PSPwner decided to relive the Half Life experience once again with the release of Black Mesa on Linux (note it is still missing the Xen chapters) and boy was it worth it! It’s everything you remembered (and more) with all graphics boosted up to more recent standards. Still one of the greatest games in the history of FPS’s, and the port is almost flawless (while some bugs are still ironed out).
Hey, we often made fun on how late the port was (and for good reasons) but now that it’s finally on Linux… we just enjoy it. This is my go-to game when I don’t have several hours in front of me, because, you know, a game is only 5 minutes… well keep telling you that – once you start it’s actually very hard to stop, and the “just one more match” line will become familiar till you sink more hours in it than you wished. Oh well. It’s a pretty good game, well tuned and designed and the online mode (cross-platform!) is the main reason why you will play it. WHat about the port? Well. Let’s not pretend it’s perfect yet – there are still some random crashes in between matches on Linux, and some weird audio bugs once in a while. And wireless PS4 pads are not recognized (WHY???). But the framerate is pretty good and otherwise it plays just like on every other platform. Note that the game is still expanding with new arenas (free) and new cars (paying DLCs) so there’s more and more value added to it as it keeps growing.
This is an odd one! Who would have thought that this indie game, with dead-simple mechanics, would be actually that good? It’s nonsensical, some of the levels are just crazy, but jumping from one truck to another to complete a level will become a second nature once you get the gist of it.
Tomb Raider 2013
As I said before, this Tomb Raider has about nothing to do with the old Lara Croft that you used to know – this is more a kind of clone of Uncharted that you should expect here. It’s completely over the top and full of unbelievable action scenes, but if you can forget about that a bit, you will get some spectacular moments that are genuinely impressive to watch and play through. The port from Feral is very decent but in the wider areas with long distance views the framerate is known to drop pretty badly – that’s probably an issue with “DirectX calls work well for this, but OpenGL calls are not as efficient in such cases” as this does not affect every port from Feral either. Nevertheless, a very enjoyable game and I secretely hope we will see its sequel on Linux too.
Saints Row: The Third
I have not written a review of this one yet, but that’s basically as close as GTA as we are going to get unless Rockstar has a change of heart anytime soon. It’s actually even better than GTA in some ways. It’s a lot more crazy, a lot more over the top and completely not politically correct – and it certainly makes fun of itself as well. The gameplay is, let’s say… approximative… but that does not remove any of the game’s qualities – and the port on Linux shines as well (despite some drops in framerates here and there).
This is a very recent release, but well worth it to make it in this year’s highlights. This is your typical Commandos-style game, where you coordinate actions of characters with different skill sets in order to complete levels full of enemies – if possible without being seen or detected. It takes place in old Japan (well not that old since they have guns already) and while there are inconsistencies with the Japanese aspect of things, the game is really fun and well designed. As for the port, I’ll come back on it in more details in my upcoming review, but it does not have major issues.
Taken as a whole, this was an amazing year for us Linux gamers. There were more AAA titles than ever, and high quality ones at that. The indie scene continues to flourish as well since most releases are Unity indie games where ports are usually more straightforward.
This is the first time where I am wishing I had A LOT more time to play – Deus Ex: Mankind Divide, Black Mesa and Total War: Warhammer are waiting for me since i barely scratched their surface – as there are just too many great games trying to get my attention. And obviously, Rocket League does not help either.
While I don’t want to leave you guys with a sad end note, it’s worth noting that not all went as expected either – the Street Fighter V port that was supposed to hit Linux in Spring is nowhere to be seen, Witcher 3 is still missing and there is zero communication that would indicate an upcoming release… and let’s not forget Civilization VI that has yet to be confirmed for our platform (see the latest tweet from Aspyr: no news until next year), despite the fact that Civ V was very popular on Linux, and despite the cookies delivery. But not all hope is lost, and 2017 may bring some great titles we do not expect at all.
Have a great End of the Year, and enjoy Christmas (and the gifts that come along) if you celebrate it!
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