Linux does have games. It has a lot of them, actually. Linux is a thriving platform for indie gaming, and it’s not too uncommon for Linux to be supported on day one by top indie titles. In stark contrast, however, Linux is still largely ignored by the big-budget AAA developers, meaning that the games your friends are buzzing about probably won’t be getting a Linux port anytime soon.
It’s not all bad, though. Wine, the Windows compatibility layer for Linux, Mac, and BSD systems, is making huge strides in both the number of titles supported and performance. In fact, a lot of big name games now work under Wine. No, you won’t get native performance, but they are playable and can actually run very well, depending on your system. Here are some games that it might surprise you can run with Wine on Linux.
10. World of Warcraft
The venerable king of MMORPGs is still alive and going strong. Even though it might not be the most graphically advanced game, it still takes some power to crank all the settings up to max. World of Warcraft has actually worked under Wine for years. Until this latest expansion, WoW supported OpenGL for its Mac version, making it very easy to get working under Linux. That’s not quite the case anymore.
You’ll need to run WoW with DX9 and will definitely see some benefit from the Gallium Nine patches, but you can confidently make the switch over to Linux without missing raid night.
Skyrim’s not exactly new, but it’s still fueled by a thriving modding community. You can now easily enjoy Skyrim and its many, many mods if you have a Linux system with enough resources to handle it all. Remember that Wine uses more system power than running the game natively, so account for that in your mod usage.
8. StarCraft II
StarCraft II is easily one of the most popular RTS games on the market and works very well under Wine. It is actually one of the best performing games under Wine. That means that you can play your favorite RTS on Linux with minimal hassle and near-native performance.
Given the competitive nature of this game, you obviously need the game to run well. Have no fear there. You should have no problem playing competitively with adequate hardware.
This is an instance where you’ll benefit from the “staging” patches, so continue using them when you’re getting the game set up.
7. Fallout 3/New Vegas
Before you ask, Fallout 4 is on the verge of working. At the time you’re reading this, it might. For now, though, Fallout 3 and New Vegas both work great, both with and without mods. These games run very well under Wine and can even handle loads of mods to keep them fresh and interesting. It doesn’t seem like a bad compromise to hold you over until Fallout 4 support matures.
6. Doom (2016)
Doom is one of the most exciting shooters of the past few years, and it run very well under Wine with the latest versions and the “staging” patches. Both single player and multiplayer work great, and you don’t need to spend loads of time configuring Wine and tweaking settings. Doom just works. So, if you’re looking for a brutal AAA shooter on Linux, consider giving Doom a try.
5. Guild Wars 2
Guild War 2 is a sort-of hybrid MMO/dungeon crawler without a monthly fee. It’s very popular and boasts some really innovative features for the genre. It also runs smoothly on Linux with Wine.
Guild Wars 2 isn’t some ancient MMO either. It’s tried to keep itself modern graphically and has fairly high resolution textures and visual effects for the genre. All of it looks and works very well under Wine.
4. League Of Legends
There are two top players in the MOBA world: DoTA2 and League of Legends. Valve ported DoTA2 to Linux some time ago, but League of Legends has never been made available to Linux gamers. If you’re a Linux user and a fan of League, you can still play your favorite MOBA through Wine.
League of Legends is an interesting case. The game itself runs fine, but the installer breaks because it requires Adobe Air. There are some installer scripts available from Lutris and PlayOnLinux that get you through the process. Once it’s installed, you should have no problem running League and even playing it smoothly in competitive situations.
Hearthstone is a popular and addictive free-to-play digital card game that’s available on a variety of platforms … except Linux. Don’t worry, it works very well in Wine. Hearthstone is such a lightweight game that it’s actually playable through Wine on even the lowest powered systems. That’s good news, too, but because Hearthstone is another competitive game where performance matters.
Hearthstone doesn’t require any special configuration or even patches. It just works.
2. Witcher 3
If you’re surprised to see this one here, you’re not alone. With the latest “staging” patches, The Witcher 3 finally works. Despite originally being promised a native release, Linux gamers have had to wait a good long while to get the third installment in the Witcher franchise.
Don’t expect everything to be perfect just yet. Support for Witcher 3 is very new, and some things might not work as expected. That said, if you only have Linux to game on, and you’re willing to deal with a couple of rough edges, you can enjoy this awesome game for the first time with few, if any, troubles.
Finally, there’s yet another “white whale” for Linux gamers. Overwatch has been an elusive target that many feel should have been working on Wine since day one. Most Blizzard games have. Overwatch was a very different case. It only ever supported DX11, and that was a serious pain point for Wine.
Overwatch doesn’t have the best performance yet, but you can definitely still play Blizzard’s wildly popular shooter using a specially-patched version of Wine with the “staging” patches and additional ones just for Overwatch. That means Linux gamers wanted Overwatch so bad that they developed a special set of patches for it.
There were certainly games left off of this list. Most were just due to popularity or only conditional support under Wine. Other Blizzard games, like Heroes of the Storm and Diablo III also work, but this list would have been even more dominated by Blizzard, and that’s not the point.
If you’re going to try playing any of these games, consider using the “staging” or Gallium Nine versions of Wine. Many of the games here won’t work without them. Even still, the latest patches and improvements land in “staging” long before they make it into the mainstream Wine release. Using it will keep you on the leading edge of progress.
Speaking of progress, right now Wine is making massive strides in DirectX11 support. While that doesn’t mean much to Windows gamers, it’s a huge deal for Linux. Most new games support DX11 and DX12, and until recently Wine only supported DX9. With DX11 support, Wine is gaining support for loads of games that were previously unplayable. So keep checking regularly to see if your favorite games from Windows started working in Wine. You might be very pleasantly surprised.