Gaming and Mac computers haven’t always been on the best of terms. Many believe the optimal PC gaming experience comes via a Windows-based machine and won’t waste their time shelling out the dough for a Mac. The argument usually begins and ends with most Macs’ lack of a powerful GPU and restrictive hardware designs.
While the options for playing games on a Mac are limited compared to Windows PCs, the Mac gaming library has come a long way. Recently, more A-list games have become available for play via Mac, pleasing hoards of Apple-loyal gamers.
You can play plenty of big-name games like Stardew Valley and World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth without a dedicated gaming PC. We’ve narrowed down a list of the best Mac games — in no particular order — for all you Apple loyalists.
Following years of disappointment with the Harvest Moon series he had once loved so much, first-time developer Eric Barone, also known as “ConcernedApe”, took it upon himself to create his own version of the farming simulation game. It arrived complete with gorgeous retro-inspired sprites, charming characters, marriage, combat, and plenty of post-launch support.
ConcernedApe promised online multiplayer when the game was initially pitched to fans. Earlier this year, the feature arrived on PC and will soon be coming to the Nintendo Switch. Co-op allows up to three additional players to join you as farmhands to help operate your farm. They can also play through the story and get married in your game.
Stardew Valley is more than just a farming simulator. It’s also a role-playing game, with characters leveling up in areas such as fishing and mining, customizing their professions, unlocking new areas, and exploring a dangerous cave filled with monsters and artifacts – as in the Animal Crossing games, you can then donate these to the local museum, but should you instead want to focus your attention on your own personal property, you can fully customize your home and surrounding farm to create a rural paradise.
What would happen if you combined the precision of Mark of the Ninja, the violence of Hotline Miami, and the storytelling of Second Sight, then wrapped it all up in a ‘90s cyberpunk wrapper? You’d end up with Katana Zero, one of the most stunningly well-realized concepts we’ve seen from a developer — indie or otherwise — in years.
Set several years after the end of a war that left New Mecca on the brink of collapse, the game’s cryptic, unraveling narrative stars an assassin tasked with eliminating targets at the direction of his psychiatrist. It’s only after he has already racked up a body count that he begins to discover the conspiracy at the center of his work.
Katana Zero is a one-hit-death 2D action game, requiring you to replay levels several times (in-game you’re actually having premonitions of possible outcomes) to discover a way to eliminate all targets without being hit. What begins as a simple power fantasy evolves into a challenging and cerebral game bordering on a puzzler, testing your problem-solving skills as much as your reflexes.
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
Starcraft became a global phenomenon upon its release in 1998 and the sequel Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty carried on the tradition in 2010. It’s played so much in South Korea many have self-proclaimed it the national sport of the country. That’s high praise for Blizzard’s real-time strategy epic, though they deserve every bit of it.
In the game, you are able to take control of three separate factions: Terran, Zerg, and Protoss. Though Wings of Liberty’s main storyline has you assume command of the Terran, you’re able to play as any of the three factions when in multiplayer.
You’ll want to play Starcraft II if you thrive when micromanaging and juggling many different responsibilities. Keeping a keen eye on your resources, your available units, and your enemies’ whereabouts are all key to having a fighting chance in any match. If you just blink at the wrong time, thousands of Zerglings will bring your budding home base crashing to the ground. For those who’ve already Zerg-rushed their way through Wings, two critically acclaimed expansions — Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void — have been released since.
Read our full StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty review
Portal 2 returns players to Aperture Science in this addictive first-person puzzle game. You play as protagonist Chell as she attempts to break out of the giant Aperture research facility and claim her freedom. Tasked with working through various rooms outfitted with unique puzzles, you’re armed with nothing more than the iconic portal gun. You’ll use various environments and objects alongside time and space to advance through the facility.
Portal 2 expanded on its predecessor’s successful formula and added a deep storyline to boot. Actors Stephen Merchant and J.K. Simmons voice recurring characters and their work in the game is spot-on. Though the plot deals with a serious conflict the game is rife with well-timed comedy at every turn. Portal 2 is one of the most unique experiences in gaming and also one of the most comedic.
Read our full Portal 2 review
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
After a somewhat lukewarm fan reception to the previous game in the series — Civilization: Beyond Earth — developer Firaxis returned in full force. Civilization VI builds on what made 2010’s Civilization V great, but it adds more robust culture and science trees, more dynamic choices, and more insight into why world leaders are acting in a particular way. It’s the culmination of years of development and experience creating previous Civilization games, and it shows.
Since launch, Civilization VI has received a substantial amount of civilizations to control, including the Aztecs, Persians, Nubians, and Australians. They’re each led by a famous historical figure, such as Montezuma for the Aztecs, and with new content releasing every few months, former players have plenty of reason to return and start a new game.
Read our full Civilization VI review
Blizzard’s multiplayer card game Hearthstone blew up on mobile devices, but it’s also a perfect fit for the larger screen on your Mac. With simple, easy-to-learn gameplay mechanics and a fast playtime, you can easily get through several battles in one sitting. The game’s excellent matchmaking system helps to pair you with similarly skilled players, so every match will be close and intense.
It helps that Hearthstone draws from Blizzard’s best-known property, Warcraft, with many of its most famous characters and abilities becoming playable cards. If you’ve ever wanted to send a Murloc army at your opponent, wearing them down turn after turn with weak attacks before eventually claiming victory, there is no better game than Hearthstone.
Slay the Spire
Why develop a roguelike game or a deck-building strategy game when you could mash them both together to create something even better? Slay the Spire tasks you with climbing the titular Spire, which changes in classic roguelike fashion with each run you take, and the cards you collect as you try and fail to complete it will lead to better decks and a better chance of total victory. Right now, the game comes with more than 250 cards and 150 items, as well as a custom mode option and special relics to further enhance your deck.
It helps that the game mechanics in Slay the Spire don’t have to do all the heavy lifting – the game is a real looker, with engaging animations whenever you attack and a gorgeous art style that evokes classic ‘70s and ‘80s cartoons. Despite such a novel concept, it feels familiar in all the right ways.
Gone Home is one of those rare games that thrusts the player into an environment and just lets them explore. You’ll play as a college student returning home from a year abroad and upon arriving at your family’s estate, no one is home. It’s up to you to scavenge the house for any and all clues about where their family has gone and what they’ve done.
Gone Home has a slow but incredible story build up accentuated by its intense atmosphere. It begs players to explore and reveal the mysteries of a big empty home with a dark and sad story to tell. With its unique style of gameplay, Gone Home will have you glued to your computer from beginning to end.
Read our full Gone Home review
There’s no denying Minecraft’s immense popularity ever since even the basic version became available in 2009. Armed with nothing more than a pair of hands when starting the game, you’re given absolute freedom over an enormous, randomized map.
You start by foraging for dirt and before you know it, you’re deep underneath the ground level mining for diamond and gold. Watch your back because several enemies such as zombies or creepers are out to wreak havoc on your character and will even blow up your landscapes.
So addictive yet so simple, Minecraft will have you building towering skyscrapers and labyrinth-style mine shafts in minutes. Its pixelated, 8-bit graphics may turn some people away, though the gameplay is enough to please any and all gamers.
Kerbal Space Program
Kerbal Space Program presents an odd combination of elements. Despite the cartoonish graphics and goofy, minion-esque creatures that populate the game, KSP is no joke. Flight simulation has never been so deep, so engaging, or so addicting, and Kerbal provides a playground for both the casual gamer and the serious physicist by balancing serious rocket-building considerations — how many Kerbals must die before you finally reach the moon? — with forgiving gameplay that allows for endless experimentation.
The title also runs smoothly on almost any computer given its simplistic looks and benefits from a gratifying sense of progress. You can spend countless hours learning how to build a rocket capable of reaching the moon, however, only to realize the lunar frontier is hardly the final one. With incredible replay value, KSP is one of the few games that prove both educational and fun.
Video game settings, as a whole, are remarkably similar to each other, tending to focus on battlefields and areas of conflict that pit people against each other. Developer Campo Santo wasn’t content with exploring the same old environments and created a game set in the dense Wyoming wilderness of the late ‘80s.
As a new fire lookout, protagonist Henry thinks that his job will be boring and mundane, but things aren’t as they appear. From watching the world burn from his tower to unearthing chilling discoveries in the wilderness, Henry’s new job is anything but dull.
What helps separate Firewatch from other “walk and talk” games is its gorgeous art style, which blends realistic character proportions with slightly chunky features and bright colors. It’s instantly recognizable, and even if Campo Santo chooses to do a drastically different project in the future, we hope the visuals are here to stay.
Read our full Firewatch review
League of Legends and Dota 2
Riot Games’ League of Legends is nothing short of a global phenomenon, with millions of players battling it out online every day as they build strategies with particular champions and coordinate with their teams, and with relatively low system requirements, the game is fully playable on Mac. It’s also completely free to play if you’re willing to stick with a few champions at first, so there’s no harm in testing the waters to see if the game is right for you.
For players interested in something a little more hardcore, Dota 2 has you covered. Its predecessor began its life as a mod for Warcraft III, but the sequel has garnered its own following of dedicated MOBA players who play almost nothing else. Just be warned that the game will take up most of your free time if you fall down the rabbit hole.
World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth
The conflict between the Horde and the Alliance in the Warcraft universe has been raging for years, but it has turned into all-out war in World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. With beloved areas destroyed and powerful enemies threatening the entire planet, the stakes have never been higher, and Blizzard pulled out all the stops for the latest expansion. New cooperative “Warfronts” force you to work together with 19 other players as you attempt to overrun an objective and new raids give your guild the opportunity to prove itself to the entire community.
Other fan-requested features also make their way into the game with Battle for Azeroth, including special “allied races,” and new playable areas give you the opportunity to complete exciting new quests and even discover hidden treasure. If you want to get a new character up to the level cap in a hurry, you can even boost one to 110 – just 10 levels away from the 120 maximum.
Read our full World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth review
Jonathan Blow, the mastermind behind acclaimed indie game Braid, took his sweet time developing follow-up game The Witness, but it was well worth the wait. Pairing a unique, gorgeous world filled with increasingly difficult puzzles and philosophical musings, it’s a game that only someone as imaginative as Blow could ever hope to create, building on the foundation of earlier adventure classics such as Myst and Riven.
In contrast to those games, The Witness’ puzzles rarely feel obtuse, forcing players to rely on previously-learned tactics in order to complete each of the island’s electrical panels. It requires a keen eye and plenty of exploration, but the game never tries to frustrate you solely to make it seem more challenging or difficult.
Read our full The Witness review
Blizzard’s made a fortune developing addictive computer games and Diablo III is no different. Though Diablo II loyalist’s had to wait 12 years for a sequel, it didn’t disappoint upon debut. Since its release Blizzard has remained steadfast in its dedication to listening to its users and updating the game accordingly.
Featuring a small learning curve — though difficult to master — Diablo III won’t alienate newcomers to the series. Hack and slash your way through the land of Sanctuary as you fend off various demonic hordes and level up your character. Diablo III is dungeon crawling at its finest yet never feels repetitive with its deep class and loot system. It’s not far-fetched to dump an entire weekend into this game and feel like you’ve only just started playing.
Read our full Diablo III review
Few indie games have been able to make as immediate of an impression as Donut County, a gorgeous puzzle game that puts a stronger emphasis on story than many of its peers. It’s no surprise that it excels so strongly in narrative and visual design, as the game was created as a solo project by Ben Esposito, the developer behind the critically acclaimed, What Remains of Edith Finch.
In Donut County, You literally play as a hole – or a raccoon controlling a hole – that sucks up everything, including residents and friends. Gobbling up random items isn’t mindless, either. Carefully choosing which items you want to consume can create new concoctions and solve puzzles. It’s a simple, fun, and humorous game to play, fit with an adorable set of characters and an entertaining (but short) story.
Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods’ premise is pretty damn depressing – after dropping out of school, protagonist Mae Borowski returns to her hometown to resume her aimless former life. When she arrives, though, she finds the town has changed: Her friends aren’t the same people she remembers, and the town holds a mysterious secret.
A Night in the Woods wonderful storybook artwork creates a unique look for its distinctive characters and setting. With a supporting cast that feels like it’s made up of real people — even if they are literally animals — Night in the Woods shows how the most compelling stories need not be told with photorealistic visuals.
Fortnite: Battle Royale
Fortnite: Battle Royale is the biggest game on the planet right now, and for good reason. The free-to-play shooter mixes together tense last-man-standing shootouts with the main game’s building mechanics, creating something that is easy to pick up but incredibly hard to master. With faster fights than competitors like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, it manages to scratch a different itch, and you can easily sink hours into it in a single sitting.
The best part? You aren’t limited to playing with other Mac users. Fortnite is cross-play compatible with PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and even iOS devices. Since your account comes with you across platforms, you can even start playing on your phone before coming home and firing up the game on your Mac, instead.
Read our full Fortnite review
The Banner Saga 3
The conclusion to one of the best tactical role-playing series of all time, The Banner Saga 3 is nothing short of epic. It builds on the decision-focused story of its predecessors, with choices you made in the previous two entries carrying over and affecting the final chapter — this is a game you’ll want to play after already going through the first two games on Mac.
Combat has also been enhanced this time around, with a new “waves” system, and there are additional options for upgrading your heroes. What hasn’t changed is the gorgeous animation style, which hearkens back to Disney and Don Bluth’s work in the ‘70s and ‘80s. A ton of time and care was clearly put into the characters and the world, and that’s always appreciated.
As indie games have become increasingly popular across not just Mac but also consoles this generation, we’ve seen a ton of “rogue-lite” games focused on procedurally-generated words and a difficult, run-based gameplay loop. It’s a testament to Dead Cells’ quality that, despite being released in a sea of similar games, it manages to stand out from the pack. Its gorgeous pixel-based artwork offers a modern take on the design made famous in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, and the amount of customization options available to craft your perfect run is enormous.
Despite being a very difficult game, which keeps in line with its genre, Dead Cells doesn’t feel frustrating because the combat is so well-crafted. There are four different bosses to battle against, and the fluid system feels wonderful against even the smallest enemies. Fans of Metroid-style games will also find plenty of options for traversal.
Mark of the Ninja: Remastered
Stealth games are often the first to make use of groundbreaking new visual technology, but you don’t need ridiculously detailed characters and environments to create a rewarding stealth experience. Klei’s Mark of the Ninja is proof of that, with its 2D perspective and Saturday morning cartoon graphics pairing perfectly with simple and satisfying sneaking. With a few different tools at your disposal and the ability to quickly dart around environments to avoid being spotted by security, you truly feel like a ninja, and your relative fragility encourages moving around or behind enemies instead of trying to take them head-on.
Mark of the Ninja: Remastered gives the original game a visual overhaul, swapping out the 720p resolution for 4K, with assets redone so they’ll look gorgeous on your screen. It’s available as a $5 upgrade if you own the original version. Once you’ve beaten the main story, you can try out the New Game Plus mode and try to find the game’s many secrets. Far from an easy stealth game but with a fair level of challenge, Mark of the Ninja is an absolute joy to play, and Klei’s lighthearted aesthetic serves as a nice foil for the often-violent events you’ll witness during your time with it.
Into the Breach
Few games are better for mouse-and-keyboard players than turn-based strategy, and Into the Breach is among the best the genre has ever seen. The small, simple environments you must defend against monsters don’t look like much at first glance, but Subset Games soon reveals the title to be a tense back-and-forth between the aggressive enemies and your own mech fighters. You don’t have a chance to kill all of your enemies in most cases, instead having to think on your feet in order to protect your buildings before the timer runs out, putting a new wrinkle in the traditional turn-based combat gameplay loop.
Much like Subset’s previous game — the equally excellent and difficult FTL: Faster Than Light — Into the Breach uses a pixel art style. It avoids feeling like a simple retro nostalgia trip, however, instead offering clean, colorful, and detailed sprites that fit well with the science-fiction story. It’s a game that will look just as good in 50 years as it does right now, provided that giant monsters don’t actually storm from the sea and destroy humanity — or that the later versions of MacOS don’t support it anymore. At only $15 and even less during sales, it’s an absolute steal.
Read our full Into the Breach review
Visuals typically can only get a game so far, but in the case of Gris, they could basically carry even the most mundane game without players complaining. A gorgeous hand-drawn art style accompanies an emotional story, broken up with platforming and puzzle-solving, but Gris isn’t intended to be a super-challenging gauntlet in the same manner as Ori and the Blind Forest or even Inside.
With environmental visual storytelling rather than traditional, text-based dialogue options and a simple control scheme, Gris can be enjoyed by just about anyone, and its art is gorgeous enough to justify stopping for several moments and just taking it all in. The only thing keeping you from staying in the same spot forever is wanting to know what lies ahead.
Total War: Three Kingdoms
The Total War franchise has long been a leader in turn-based strategy, and the series headed to ancient China for an epic tale of struggle and warfare in Total War: Three Kingdoms. Set in the year 190, the game features 12 different warlords from the classic Chinese epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and its gameplay is built on the back of a relationship system that recognizes the heroes that shaped classic Chinese literature. Your story can change based on your characters’ relationships with each other, as well as the allies they gain or lose along the way.
In classic 4X strategy fashion, you’ll be able to achieve victory using a variety of factors, including military might and the economy, and you’ll have to choose every decision carefully if you hope to save your people. Only with a calm head and steady leadership can you unite China.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Critically acclaimed to the point of being widely considered one of the best role-playing games of all-time, Larian’s Divinity: Original Sin 2 features a reactive world that will change based on the decision you make, with the ability to interact with any character and even kill them without losing the ability to progress forward. Turn-based combat has been expanded to the point of including more than 200 different skills, and you’ll face off against advanced enemies. If you want to take things online, there is support for four-player multiplayer, as well as a split-screen option. There is even player-versus-player, so you can prove your worth against your friends.
Once you’ve completed the content created by Larian itself, you can download players’ own campaigns and mods on the Steam Workshop, and there is even a Game Master mode so that you can create stories, as well.
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