With the latest obligation for self-isolation, games have become one of the most important methods for connecting with others. People have been meeting through discord calls, and sharing experiences about some of their favorite games. Some people, however, don’t have an operating system that allows them to play some of the most popular games. This article aims to showcase some of the games that are more accessible to people on a Mac Operating system, as well as looking at emulators/shortcuts that allow Windows games to operate on a mac.
1. Valve Games
One of the most Mac-friendly developers out there is Valve, the creators of Half-Life, Counter Strike, and Team Fortress 2. Not only are all of their famous franchises available on Mac, but two of them are free. These games include:
Team Fortress 2 (Free)
This game is the most fun I have ever had in a multiplayer setting. The timeless design, the chess-tier game balance, and the wacky and hilarious private servers (including but not limited to 300% damage on every weapon, Mario Kart maps, and Trainsawlaser, the community-made map which is full of randomly attacking trains, saws, and lasers.)
Two Heavies make a push for the objective, Team Fortress 2. Credit to PC Gamer.
Counter Strike Global Offensive (Free)
This game is still going strong despite its mileage. We’re talking about a 5v5 competitive tactical shooter that tests your aim, coordination, placement, and wise financial planning. Yeah, don’t have that, do you, Rainbow 6 siege?
Half Life 1 ($9.99)
The best combat in a single-player game ever. Like, ever. I have clocked 80 hours in this game that takes 8 hours to beat, the combat is that good. Also a strong modding community.
Half Life 2 ($9.99)
Still a strong shooter. Still a strong modding community as well, as the multiple “Replace all enemies with X dead meme” makes very clear.
Left 4 Dead ($9.99)
Left 4 Dead 2 ($9.99)
These games started the 4-player co-op vs waves of dumb enemies genre. Everything in this game is structured to make you have fun with your friends, from the story about four unlikely rejects trying to survive, the level design which lets you call out weapons and shoot special zombies off of your friends, and the easy-to-access mods that replace the giant zombie with Shrek.
Shrek shrugs off the 7.62 rounds of Vadijoe’s ak-47 like nothing. Louis and the wall graffiti offer their commentary on the specific mod being run on the server. Credit to Validjoe
Portal 2 ($9.99)
Not only is this hands down the best story in any game I’ve played (and I realize now how much I say that about valve games) but the main gameplay loop, being a puzzle game, lacks gore, zombies, and extrajudicial application of a 45. Play this with your family in the room! Play the co-op mode with your little sister! Play Left 4 Dead with your little sister because gender roles are cringe!
Note that the prices are often subject to sales at any given time. any of these games may go on sale for as little as $2.99. No money? No problem!
2. Indie Games
The often present drought of unoriginal triple-A videogames, the kind that have more budget than passion, can be a source of annoyance. The lack of Mac support on those unoriginal video games can be even worse. As a remedy / to right that wrong, below are some games from developers who don’t have a team of board members breathing down their necks asking them to shove it out the door for a few specific platforms.
Hotline Miami ($9.99)
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong number. ($14.99)
These games are timeless, morbid, and violent. An amazing soundtrack, story, and visuals all make these top-down shooters enjoyable as all get-out. Not to mention a killer level editor on the second game lets you play some of the best community content out there.
This game is a stealth multiplayer game inspired by single-player stealth games such as Tom Clancy’s Splinter cell. The gameplay ranges from the realistic (bullet ballistics, directional audio that can be eavesdropped on, actual S.W.A.T. hand signals) to the incredibly realistic (Cardboard cutouts that can be used to bait enemies, banana peels that can be left on stairs, funny ragdolls). If you have 20 bucks to spare, and you think R6: Siege has turned into a poorly balanced twitch shooter, this is worth a buy.
A guard fatally misjudges an intruder’s positioning. Intruder. Credit to intruder steam store
Garry’s mod ($9.99)
This mod is built on the source engine, like Half Life 2. Its main draw is that the mods and community servers are the only servers. This means more fun, more friends, and more airpod shotguns.
The Henry Stickmin Collection ($15.00)
This timeless flash game comes to steam! All of the classic multi-choice games available on the browser have been ported, as well as including a new mission with multiple beginnings and endings. It may seem a bit much considering how much of this content is available on browser websites, but if you have money to burn and feel like short-staffed indie developers deserve a bit of encouragement, then it’s worth checking out!
Superhot Mind Control Delete ($24.99)
Superhot is the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years. Time moves only when you move. This great effect leads to amazing gunfights that the eerie and unique art style amplify in their weird, ominous, and trippy way. If you haven’t had enough with the main campaign, challenge modes, and extra content, then Superhot MCD is where you can find more. You can also deflect bullets with your katana rather than just cut them in half.
Dusk is buckets of fun. It’s a first-person shooter that takes inspiration from classic games such as Quake, Half Life, Blood, and Redneck Rampage. The low polygon count of the levels comes across as an aesthetic choice, rather than a lazy design, and towards the second half of the game, the design takes a turn for the surreal in a great way.
Undertale is a pixel art Role Playing game with an emphasis on comedic dialogue and enemies. The game’s traversal is like Earthbound or a Pokemon game in the sense that you’ve got a small character wandering around a two-dimensional open world. When you enter combat, the game takes on a turn-based combat system, like Earthbound or Pokemon, but you have the chance to dodge enemy attacks in a small arena reminiscent of top-down bullet hell games, so unlike Pokemon or Earthbound, fighting someone is more fun and challenging than a long night of filling spreadsheets.
Papers please ($9.99)
Papers please is the story of a border guard working for a dictatorship that becomes more paranoid with each passing day. This game evokes emotion in a touching way without dramatic cutscenes or big actors. Killer theme, too.
You check a work pass, your desk a mess of ID’s and visas, Papers, please. Credit to the steam store.
3. Triple A Games
Occasionally, major game companies decide to make a game optimized for mac. The downside is, ever since 2018 they’ve realized that it’s not in their best financial interest to create a game that everyone can play. The upside to that downside is that these games come on sale frequently, and paying more than 20 dollars for a video game is rarely if ever worth it. Keep in mind, though, that these aren’t the types of games that can consistently be run on old laptops. Try a benchmark test before dropping cash their way.
Max Payne 3 ($19.99)
Max Payne 3, from the series that brought you bullet time, came out in 2013 and looks better than some games being released today. The previous installments in the series are both amazing, but they ultimately do not need to be played to know what’s going on. The combat is the best I have ever played in a first-person game, and the art direction, soundtrack, and painstakingly detailed level design all make the game worth buying-not to mention the cynical neo-noir narration.
Ever since Minecraft came out, building survival games have dominated the steam front page. Subnautica breaks free of the stereotype and repetition that dominates the industry by being set in a beautifully realized underwater world. Not to mention, it’s the only game in a specific subgenre that’s actually good. The problem with that subgenre is that naming it essentially ruins any effect it has, so if you play the game, please email me to discuss it.
A player looks at their base in a coral shallow. Subnautica. Credit to the Steam store.
Bioshock Infinite ($29.99)
Bioshock Infinite is a shooter that excels in presentation, theme, and level design. The levels in particular are some of the most beautiful and creative I’ve shot my way through. The story takes place in a floating city that looks like something out of a Windsor McCay drawing, and every weapon looks, sounds, and feels impactful.
Rust is another survival-building game but set in a large online server. Now you can punch trees to build a wall as you do in every other survival-building game, but five-year-olds can call you slurs through a $2.99 tesco mic. Yay. This game is built around playing with friends, so you might not want to pay the full price if none of your friends have it.
Disco Elysium ($39.99)
Disco Elysium is a roleplaying game with a huge amount of depth. You play as a detective in a postwar town that’s rife with conflict between cops and the local union. Choice in this game is the broadest I’ve witnessed. Take bribes! Have conversations with random NPCs about the nature of life! Roll up your sleeves and establish Communism! Choice is broad and fun is broader.
Dying Light ($39.99)
Dying Light initially seems generic as it gets. An open-world stealth-action zombie game with crafting and collectibles? However, this game is visually breathtaking and takes place in a beautifully designed city with amazing environmental storytelling. The crafting and level-up system doesn’t seem as bland as those of most games, as instead of gaining skills like regenerating health or crafting things like an optional holographic sight, you gain skills like drop kicks that send zombies flying off roofs, and craft things like a jumper cable attached to a hammer.
4. Emulating Mobile Games
Yeah, sometimes the generosity and good will of people in the games industry runs dry. However, there’s still luck to be found with the same emulator I used to run Among Us for a month when I was still playing on Mac.
Bluestacks is by far the least sketchy mobile emulator available for the low, low price of free. Hey, I used it, and my default browser didn’t change, so it’s better than at least half of anything else I’ve tried. Neither Among Us nor PUBG are available on Mac, but they can be accessed from a mobile device or an emulator. You can find and download this emulator, and hey, why don’t you play the hot new mobile game, Raid Shadow Legends.
Thanks for reading this article. Given the inconvenience of playing games on the Mac, I hope that showing some of these classics can help people play what they want with their friends and teachers. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to email me at [email protected].