Apple MacBooks and Macs are popular among photographers, producers, and creatives, but out of the many groups associated with Macs, gamers are not among them.
That said, Macs can still boast some impressive performance despite lower specs than similarly priced, off-the-shelf PCs (we easily got Fortnite running on Mac). Even better, you can download most of the best MacOS games directly through Steam.
The list of game options for Mac users is growing, though Apple fans still have less to choose from than PC users. Still, everything from new grand strategy games like Crusader Kings III to indie hits like Hades are available.
Streets of Rage 4
With a name as iconic as Streets of Rage following, Streets of Rage 4 didn’t need to be a good game. It is a good game, though. Perfectly melding the old and the new, Streets of Rage 4 is a love letter to the past and a push into the future. The cell-shaded art style is gorgeous, and the beat ’em up mechanics are tight, but Streets of Rage 4 still feels like a game ripped straight from the ’90s — just with a fresh coat of paint.
Survival games are all the rage on PC, but there aren’t a ton of options on Mac. Thankfully, Apple fans only need Rust. Rust is one of the best survival games ever made, with brutal survival mechanics and even more brutal combat. Like other games in the genre, Rust excels because it lets players learn, and fail, on their own. You start your game with literally enough, and from there, it’s your job to gather, build, and sometimes kill to stay alive.
Disco Elysium isn’t just one of the best PC games, it’s one of the best games ever made. Thankfully, it’s also available on MacOS. You play as an alcohol- and drug-addicted detective who wakes up in a trashed motel room with no memory of how he got there. The guy hanging from a tree in the back doesn’t make the situation any easier, either. As you play the game, you’ll forge your own path, investigating the murder how you see fit and defining your identity in the process.
Disco Elysium is a game about choice. You can approach each encounter in the way you want. Maybe you want to gun down the sarcastically condescending motel clerk, or sweet talk him into unlocking a door in the back. No matter how you choose to approach each situation, Disco Elysium will warp the game world around the decisions you’ve made, creating a unique and unforgettable experience for each playthrough.
Crusader Kings 3
Crusader Kings 2 is considered among the best strategy games ever made, developed by Paradox Interactive, which also released Europa Universalis 4. Crusader Kings 3 only furthers its predecessor. This is grand strategy at the grandest scale. Each game starts with you choosing a noble or royal house, either starting in 867 or 1066. From there, the game plays out in typical grand strategy fashion. You can choose to forge relationships with neighboring regions, spread your religion across the continent, or rush to declare war on anyone who crosses your path.
It’s the depth and freedom of Crusader Kings 3 that sets it apart. As your kingdom progresses, you’ll need to appoint an heir to the throne, and Crusader Kings 3 has a full genetics system to pass on some of your traits to the eventual ruler. Crusader Kings 3 is a dense game, allowing you to do everything from seduce someone from a distant land to gain political influence to demand ransom for prisoners captured in war. If you can get past how much there is to do, Crusader Kings 3 provides a deeply complex and infinitely satisfying grand strategy experience that other titles simply can’t match.
What the Golf?
Available as part of the Apple Arcade subscription service or Epic Games Store, What the Golf? isn’t your normal take on the sport that could lull even a caffeinated puppy to sleep. Every course is essentially a different version of golf, ranging from levels that look like classic arcade games to physics-based puzzles. Its gorgeous art style is a perfect fit for its irreverent sense of humor, and there is always some sort of surprise waiting for you.
Best of all, it even includes boss fights — yes, in a golf video game. You aren’t limited to golfing standard balls, so if you’re in the mood to swap them out for a car or an entire house, that is totally an option. You can even launch yourself, which is either a strange metaphor for some existential crisis or just a goofy idea that developer Triband thought up on the fly. Either way, it’s funny.
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.
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. Should you instead want to focus your attention on your own personal property, though, you can fully customize your home and surrounding farm to create a rural paradise. This is also one of the best Nintendo Switch games if you’d rather play on a console.
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.
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 are 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 its 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 monitor 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.
Supergiant Games has four titles on MacOS, and they’re all excellent. Although we’d love to talk in detail about Bastion, Transistor, and Pyre, we’re giving this entry to Supergiant’s latest: Hades. Hades is a roguelike, isometric action game set in the titular character’s domain. You play as Zagreus, the “son” of Hades — it’s complicated, but we’ll let the game explain — who’s trying to escape the Underworld. As you die and die again, you can bring Darkness, Gems, and more back to purchase upgrades, making you stronger for future runs.
As for gameplay, Hades is a hack-and-slash, and an excellent one at that. Supergiant’s frantic pace makes each encounter engaging, no matter how times you defeat the same enemy. Outside of the core gameplay, Hades keeps things interesting with the Boon system. As you progress in your run, you’ll be able to accept Boons from various Greek Gods and Goddesses, granting you increased damage and new perks, among other things. Even better, Hades is available on Nintendo Switch, and Supergiant plans to add cross-save to the game before the end of the year.
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 gamer.
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.
There’s no denying it: The art style is what sells Cuphead. A throwback to ’30s cartoons is a natural pairing for a knuckle-busting platformer, and although developer Studio MDHR took a lot of time to get the look right, Cuphead did eventually release. Past the retro animations, though, it’s a hell of a game.
With unique bosses, ultra-tight mechanics, and plenty of content, Cuphead delivers on the gameplay promises its visuals put forward. Now is the perfect time to install Cuphead on your Mac, too. The game’s first DLC pack, The Delicious Last Course, is set to launch this year.
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 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. Twelve years after Diablo II, the third entry in the series was plagued with criticism upon launch, with an always-online model and a slew of connection problems. Since its release, though, Blizzard has remained steadfast in its dedication to listening to its users and updating the game accordingly.
Even though the game has a small learning curve that’s a bit 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
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online is one of the biggest games available today, and not in the same way as Fortnite. The breadth of content available, even in the base version, is staggering. It’ll take you hundreds of hours to clear the map of the base game, plus another 30-50 hours per expansion. Plus, the recently released Greymoor expansion allows you to visit one of the Elder Scrolls’ most iconic locations: Skyrim.
With The Elder Scrolls Online, everything is about scale. You can spend your time joining dozens of others to take down a dragon, take on assassination contracts from the Dark Brotherhood, or simply hang around marketplaces, trading raw materials with players that have an insanely high crafting skill. The game is usually on sale for less than $10, plus there’s no subscription fee. That leads to a sense of openness, where the only thing holding you back is how long you want to spend in-game.
Read our The Elder Scrolls Online review
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 is the biggest game on the planet right now, and for good reason. The free-to-play shooter mixes 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
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 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.
Superhot is one of the weirdest games you’ll ever play. It’s a first-person shooter, but time only moves when you do. Because of that, each of the short combat encounters pins you against the odds as droves of well-armed enemies close in on your position. The game’s minimalist art style doesn’t require a lot of horsepower, either, so you don’t need to shell out for a Mac Pro to run it.
The core mechanic of Superhot is novel, but that’s not why it’s one of the weirdest games around. There’s a method to the madness, with a thoroughly unsettling narrative beneath all of the chaos. Superhot feels like a creepypasta without context, breaking the fourth wall constantly. Without spoiling too much, it’s one of the most innovative shooters we’ve played in years.
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