42 of the Best Commercial Linux Games

Are there many high quality commercial games available for Linux? That’s one of the frequently asked questions we receive in our mailbox every week.

It is true to say that the number of commercial games released for Linux each year remains small compared to other platforms. Nevertheless, we faced lots of difficult choices compiling a list of 42 of the best commercial Linux games. The selection we have finally chosen covers a wide range of different game genres, so hopefully there will be something here that will interest all.

To be eligible for inclusion in this list each game needed to be:

  • Released under a proprietary license with a fee required either to purchase the game, or a monthly charge
  • Not require Wine to run. Wine is a compatibility layer for running Windows software

Probably the best known game developer in the industry supporting Linux is id Software. They have ported many of their star titles to Linux, including Quake 4 and Doom 3. The other major innovator in the video game industry is Epic Games. They produced one of the all time classics, Unreal Tournament 2004, which we agonised over whether to include, but the list was already heavyweight in quality action games.

In any feature on Linux commercial games, there also deserves to be a special mention for Loki Entertainment Software. Between 1998 and 2001, they ported a number of games to Linux, almost all to an extremely high standard. Classic titles that spring to mine include Heretic II, Quake III Arena (featured below), Soldier of Fortune, Tribes 2, Myth II: Soulblighter, and Heavy Gear II.

Following in Loki’s footsteps, Linux Game Publishing was established in 2001 to port commercial games to Linux. Their first port was Creatures: Internet Edition.

Advocates of free software may dislike the presence of commercial games. However, having Linux games released commercially sometimes indirectly benefits gamers who prefer, or can only afford, to play freeware games. The most notable example of an awesome commercial game that was subsequently released as freeware is Wolftenstein: Enemy Territory.

Please appreciate that the list below is constantly evolving, and only represents a snapshot in 2008. There are some very exciting games to be released shortly for Linux. Watch out for Rage, Unreal Tournament 3, Sacred Gold, Jack Keane, X3: Reunion, and Celetania in particular. It’s highly probable all of these games will feature in a later ‘Best of 42’ article.

Now, let’s scrutinize the 42 games at hand. For each game we have compiled its own portal page, providing screenshots of the game in action, a full description of the game, with an in-depth analysis of the features of the game, together with links to relevant resources and reviews.

Commercial Games
Cold WarReal Time Strategy Action
DarwiniaSimilar to the classic Cannon Fodder
DOOM 3Science fiction, survival horror, first-person shooter video
Enemy Territory: Quake WarsMultiplayer first-person shooter mixing Enemy Territory and Quake 4
Eve OnlineMassive multiplayer online game set in a persistent world
Medal of Honor: Allied AssaultFirst-person military shooter
Quake 3 ArenaMultiplayer first-person shooter game
Quake 4Fourth title in the series of Quake first-person shooters
Savage 2Fantasy and science-fiction; Sequel to Savage: The Battle for Newerth
ThinkTanksTank combat designed to be a blast
ToribashRagdoll-physics, turn-based fighting
Penumbra: Black PlagueFirst person horror adventure
Penumbra: OvertureFocuses on story, immersion and puzzles
Droid Assault
Top down fast paced high action scrolling space shooter
GalconHigh-paced multi-player galactic game
H-Craft ChampionshipFuturistic 3D racing
Marble Blast Gold3D arcade action game with simple yet addictive gameplay
A Tale in the Desert 8Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying set in ancient Egypt
Ankh 2Adventure game set in ancient Egypt
Neverwinter NightsSet in a huge medieval fantasy world of Dungeons and Dragons
Penny Arcade AdventuresEpisodic video series based on the webcomic Penny Arcade
Vendetta Online3D space combat Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game
Wurm OnlineCommunity-centric Massively multiplayer online role-playing
Ancient Empires LuxPlay as all the great ancient civilizations
DEFCONOnline multiplayer strategy global thermonuclear war
Dominions 3Turn-based fantasy strategy
Gorky 17Turn-based tactics mixing elements of strategy and RPG gameplay
Knights and MerchantsMedieval-time based real-time strategy
NorthlandAdventure-Strategy; solve enigmas
Robin HoodGuide a team through missions by avoiding the sentries
UplinkImmersive "computer hacking" simulation
Creatures Internet EditionSupervise the upbringing of a simulated AI creature
MindroverIntelligent Robot Simulation
X²: The ThreatSpace trading and combat simulator set in the fictional X-Universe
X-PlaneComprehensive, powerful flight simulator
MasterKickTable football
Shredder ChessExtremely strong chess program
SmallRockets BackGammonBackgammon for the beginner and the experienced enthusiast
Professor FizzwizzlePlatform based mind-expanding puzzle with over 230 levels
Runes of Avalon 2Puzzle game with a twist
Spandex ForceCreate your own hero to clean up Vigilance Valley
The Amazing Brain TrainBrain-boosting adventure

Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, alternatives to Google, fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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