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.