The Best Mac Games for 2021: Apple Goes Gaming

Mac gaming isn’t as big as it used to be, but there’s still a long list of excellent Mac games. Countless great strategy games, a good chunk of the best indie games, and a growing list of action titles make up the best Mac games you can play today.

It doesn’t matter what kind of Mac gamer you are, there’s something for you. That includes AAA blockbusters like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, methodical shooters like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and indie darlings like Stardew ValleyApple fans may not have access to every Windows game and Steam game, but you’ll still find many of the best PC titles below.

If you want to play on the go, we’ve also found the best iPhone games and Apple Arcade games for your phone or iPad.

Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium on Mac.

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 Mac 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

Regional map in 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 a 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 video 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.

Stardew Valley

A thriving farm in Stardew Valley.

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 also is one of the best Nintendo Switch games if you’d rather play on a console.

Portal 2

POV into a dark industrial warehouse in Portal 2.

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

Sprawling landscape including a small town in 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

Hades

Dungeon fighting in Hades.

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 many 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 the Switch version supports cross-saves.

Minecraft

A mountaintop lodge in Minecraft.

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.

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

A rocket launches into space in 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.

Cuphead

Fighting a cuckoo clock monster boss in Cuphead.

There’s no denying it: The art style is what sells Cuphead. A throwback to 1930s 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.

The Witness

An autumnal landscape in The Witness.

Jonathan Blow, the mastermind behind acclaimed indie game Braid, took his sweet time developing the 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

The Elder Scrolls Online

Three adventures fight a massive sorcerer in 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 to 50 hours per expansion. 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.

Read our The Elder Scrolls Online review

Fortnite

Four characters overlooking Mothership in Fortnite.

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.

Read our full Fortnite review

Dead Cells

Character shoots an bow in Dead Cells.

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.

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.

Into the Breach

Into the Breach grid battle.

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 aggressive enemies and your own mech fighters. You don’t have a chance to kill all of your enemies in most cases, but instead have 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.

Read our full Into the Breach review

Total War: Three Kingdoms

Armies clash on a plain in 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

Players fight in a forest in 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 decisions 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.

Cities: Skylines

A rocket launches into space in Cities: Skylines.

Cities: Skylines is an expansive city management game, fit with traffic simulation, full day/night and weather cycles, and zoning for different districts. You can dump hundreds of hours in Cities: Skylines, which is great for a game that frequently goes on sale below $10. Like most games published by Paradox Interactive, there’s a massive list of DLC available, too. Green Cities brings electric vehicles, new green policy options, and more to the game, while After Dark adds a slew of assets to boost your city’s nightlife and attract tourists.

Subnautica

Fighting an underwater monster in Subnautica.

Subnautica is an open-world survival game for players who can’t stand them. Instead of dropping you in the world and letting you go wild, Subnautica makes you care immediately. You start the game in a crashed life pod, and you need to find a fire extinguisher right away to deal with a fire inside. From there, you’re forced to explore — not to gather wood or leaves, but to scavenge for food, water, and resources to build survival tools. Subnautica‘s world is beautiful and teeming with life, and it always feels like it has more to give.

XCOM 2

A soldier aims his rifle in XCOM 2.

Firaxis’ rebooted XCOM series is excellent, and the latest entry, XCOM 2, is available on Mac (along with its stellar War of the Chosen expansion). Like the classic PC franchise, XCOM 2 is an unforgiving tactics game where death is permanent. Instead of giving you a group of nameless units, XCOM 2 focuses on a roster of soldiers you recruit, control, and upgrade, making a death in the game actually feel like it’s one too many.

Difficulty is part of XCOM’s DNA, but that shouldn’t turn you away from XCOM 2. The game retains permadeath and a high difficulty level, but thanks to a generous saving system, anyone can enjoy the game.

Read our XCOM 2 review

Undertale

A snow-covered winter scene in Undertale.

Undertale is an RPG that never concerns itself with what it’s supposed to do. On one hand, it’s a familiar, top-down RPG in the vein of Earthbound, fit with turn-based battles. On the other, you don’t actually need to fight anyone, using your words instead of a weapon to make it through combat encounters. Undertale is weird and idiosyncratic, and that’s exactly why we love it so much.

Read our backlog Undertale review

Rust

Player cuts down a tree in Rust.

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 nothing, and from there, it’s your job to gather, build, and sometimes kill to stay alive.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Lara Croft enters an ancient dungeon in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider finishes the rebooted Lara Croft trilogy that began in 2013. It sees a tattered Lara Croft make her way to Cozumel, Mexico, hot on the trail of a paramilitary organization known as Trinity. Like the games before it, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a blockbuster action game with cinematic set pieces and frantic combat encounters. The entire rebooted trilogy is available on Mac, so we recommend playing the first two before diving in here.

Dota 2

Characters clash in a wooded area in Dota 2.

Even after eight years, Dota 2 is one of the largest games in e-sports. And for good reason. It’s a free-to-play game with all of the base content included, allowing anyone to jump into a competitive match without a disadvantage. Although the competition is stiff, Dota 2 remains the go-to MOBA for anyone looking to get into the genre.

Bioshock Remastered

Player is attacked by a creature with a drill in Bioshock Remastered.

Bioshock is one of the best FPS games ever, and if you haven’t had the chance to experience the 2007 classic, now is a great time to dive in. The game made its way to Mac in 2016 as part of Bioshock: The Collection, which features higher-resolution textures and models, improved frame rates, and 4K support. Hailed by many (including us) as the best shooting game ever made, Bioshock is deep in terms of gameplay and subject matter.

The Banner Saga 3

FANTASTICAL ARMIES LINE-UP FOR BATTLE IN The Banner Saga 3.

Like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, The Banner Saga 3 caps The Banner Saga trilogy. It’s an epic strategy RPG set in a world of Viking legend, and you command a caravan of warriors fighting back against the Dredge, a race of creatures that despises humans. The Banner Saga 3 features the same strategic combat of the games that proceeded it and continues the narrative.

You shouldn’t dive straight into The Banner Saga 3, though. It’s a great game, but The Banner Saga trilogy focuses on player choice, with your decisions shaping the world. You can import your saves from the previous two games to continue your unique story, and all three games are available on Mac.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Player fires an assault rifle into a warehouse scene in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

The Deus Ex franchise has seen peaks and valleys since its debut in 2000. The latest game in the series, Mankind Divided, is one of the peaks. It once again puts you in the shoes of Adam Jensen, and like the games before it, you can approach each encounter in a variety of ways. Mankind Divided is at its best during subsequent playthroughs. Finding new ways to approach an objective is a treat, and seeing how the game fragments and mutates based on your choices elevates the experience beyond what’s on the surface.

Questions about the best Mac games

Where can you buy Mac games?

Just like PC, you can buy and download many Mac games through Steam. Most games that have a Mac version available are for sale on Steam. Apple also offers games through the Mac App Store, and there are sites like MacGameStore that sell Steam keys.

What Mac games are cross-play compatible?

There are dozens of Mac games that support cross-play. Some of the most popular titles include Borderlands 3Team Fortress 2, and Minecraft. Many multiplayer Mac games allow you to play with friends on PC, though it’s best to check whatever game you’re interested in playing.

What are the best Mac strategy games available?

There are over a dozen excellent strategy games on Mac. Some of the best options in 2021 are Crusader Kings 3, Civilization VI, Into the Breach, and The Banner Saga 3. 

What are the best RPG games available on Mac?

Mac gamers have access to two of the best PC RPGs — Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. There are plenty of other options, though, including Undertale, The Elder Scrolls Online, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. 

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Above article first published by Source link . We curated and re-published.

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