Free Open-Source Linux Games That Are Actually Good

Tate Galbraith
Nov 25, 2020 · 5 min read
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Photo by Lorenzo Herrera on Unsplash

Linux is awesome. For developers Linux is a dream. There are tons of great open-source tools for building software, but not a whole lot when it comes to games. Compatibility is a huge problem, and most Triple-A titles are really only available on Windows. Whether you run a dual-boot system or a virtual machine, the options for setting up a smooth transition between multiple different operating systems are fairly limited. Having to boot into another system to play a game and then boot back into Linux is annoying. So what are some other options if Linux is your daily driver?

Aside from the obvious “use a different OS”, you can try some new, different and less well-funded games. Games made to run directly on Linux without any fuss. Sure, they may not have the latest and greatest graphics, but you can still have fun and scratch that gaming itch without ever having to leave the sanctity of Linux.

In this article we are going to cover some free, open-source and still totally awesome games available on Linux. We’ll focus on titles that can be quickly and easily installed on most Debian-based systems and ones that are actively developed. Let’s start playing!

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Playing a match in 0 A.D. on Debian.

0 A.D. is a fantastic RTS game available directly from the Software Center on Debian-based distributions. This is game is reminiscent of Age of Empires and has smooth, engaging gameplay. The game itself runs well on most systems and is very resource efficient. There were rarely any times where the graphics had noticeable hiccups or the UI became sluggish. The technology tree is impressive and the models have a very high level of detail.

Overall, this game is a great option if you love RTS and especially if you are a fan of the legendary Age of Empires series.

Check out the website and source code for 0 A.D available below:

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source: https://xonotic.org/media/

At first glance, Xonotic looks like just another FPS clone. Well, technically it is but it is also amazingly fun too. Xonotic reminds me of a cross between Quake and Unreal Tournament. The gameplay is fast-paced and buttery smooth. The UI is simple and effective. Only giving you the most crucial deathmatch-style information.

Xonotic is highly addictive and the ultimate option if you want to get together and play competitively with friends. There are also a ton of different game modes available for you to choose from as well which makes for some really cool variations.

Getting up and running with Xonotic is simple. You just download the game package and then run the provided binary. There’s no messy installation to sit through.

Links to the Xonotic website and source available below:

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Playing Minetest on Debian.

What list of open-source games would be complete without a Minecraft clone. Although Minetest is more of an approximation of Minecraft, it still provides the same sense of sandbox adventure that Minecraft does. You are dropped into a procedurally generated world with no final goal other than to explore and build to your heart’s content.

The mechanics are similar to Minecraft with a few small quirks here and there. You can walk around and punch different blocks to obtain them and then place them again. The crafting interface is a little clunky at times, but it gets the job done. Where Minetest really shines is in the modding community. There are a ton of mods available for Minetest that you can bolt on to provide a wide range of different functionality.

There are hundreds of mods available and they add everything from new mob types to different technology iterations. You can check out a list of mods available here: https://content.minetest.net/packages/?type=mod

Official Minetest links available below:

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Endless Sky on Debian.

Endless Sky is a unique 2D space simulation game that has a rich story and excellent artwork. In Endless Sky you take the helm of your very own spaceship as a trader and navigate space discovering new worlds and interacting with new people. You can earn money by completing missions and trading in order to purchase different upgrades for your ship. Who doesn’t like feeling like a freelance space trader?

Even though this game is totally free and open-source it still maintains a high level of production value. The story is engaging and the art style is unique. There is also a very active community associated with the game and producing new content and updates regularly.

Endless Sky details are provided in the links below:

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Playing Flare on Debian.

In the interest of ticking all the genre boxes and rounding out our list we have Flare. This is a lightweight action RPG similar to the Diablo series of games. At first glance the game seems too simplistic and lacking, but once you get a little further the effort that went into this game becomes clearer. The UI is effective and gets out of the way making for an extremely intuitive interface. The gameplay is classic hack and slash with an emphasis on loot and provides endless fun.

There were several points where I caught myself thinking I was playing Diablo, only to be reminded otherwise by the differences in game mechanics and artwork. Although the graphics are definitely on the rudimentary side the game is still a bunch of fun to play. If you’re looking for that Diablo-esque hack and slash style of play this fits the bill nicely.

More information on Flare is available below:

Thanks for reading! These games are supported by the community and rely on many great open-source contributors. If you enjoy these projects consider donating to them or checking out their repositories and lending a hand.

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Tate Galbraith

Written by

Software Engineer @mixhalo & die-hard Rubyist. Amateur Radio operator with a love for old technology. Tweet at me: https://twitter.com/@Tate_Galbraith

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +775K people. Follow to join our community.

Tate Galbraith

Written by

Software Engineer @mixhalo & die-hard Rubyist. Amateur Radio operator with a love for old technology. Tweet at me: https://twitter.com/@Tate_Galbraith

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +775K people. Follow to join our community.

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