The tastiest brain candy to relax those tired neurons

Gaming on Linux

Article from Issue 195/2017
Author(s):

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Transport Fever, Total War: Warhammer.

There's plenty of Vulkan API news making the rounds, which is always good to see. The Radeon-Vulkan (radv) driver has been making plenty of progress, with lots of new features and bug fixes being pushed out, though still not really that stable as of yet. Along with that, Mesa 13 has seen upwards of 30 percent performance improvements on Vulkan over the last version on the Intel driver. At the same time, the porting house Feral Interactive has requested that Canonical provide a PPA for more updated Mesa drivers in order to be able to support more Intel and AMD hardware, which have unfortunately been neglected of late by many developers for such reasons. One interesting non-official project is VK9, which seeks to implement Direct X 9 over Vulkan, which may be useful to get more performance out of things like Wine. It would be nice though if this were done with d3d11, because it could hasten compatibility with a whole generation of games that are currently unplayable on Linux.

On the virtual reality side of things, the open source platform OSVR has been added to the supported platforms on Steam. This is a pretty big step for the project, because if it is to stand much of a chance commercially, then being on the biggest digital distribution platform is a must. It's also interesting to see that Valve isn't shutting out platforms that can potentially compete with Vive, and convergence with SteamVR has been hinted at in the past.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Cyberpunk dystopias with political intrigue.

Web: http://store.steampowered.com/app/337000/

Price: £39.99/$59.99/EUR49.99

Adam Jensen still looks like he was dressed by an early 2000s 9-year-old.
The series has benefited from the latest generation of graphics, bringing its world to life.

It's always great to see when big triple-A titles make their way onto Linux and even better when it's soon after the original Windows release, especially one so representative of the history of PC gaming. However, Mankind Divided really shows how far the platform has come since 2000, and even from 2011, when Human Revolution was released.

This game can be seen more as a direct sequel to Human Revolution, which is made abundantly clear in its very long sequence that summarizes the events in the two years prior to Mankind Divided. It is also made very clear that there's a lot going on in the game's dystopian future, from trans-humanism and mega corporations to apartheid and the Illuminati (not kidding). Don't let the name of the bad guys fool you, though, the story and fleshed-out world are incredibly enthralling and feel very well thought out, rather than something slapped together.

The graphics for this game are truly outstanding, and it's hard not to stop and admire the tiniest of details to appreciate the work that went into them, with these details being overwhelming at times. Choosing Prague as the main setting really lets the graphics shine, as having one of the world's most beautiful cities clad in cyberpunk decor looks both fantastic and eerie.

As for gameplay, it's hard to pin down, though perhaps best described as a stealth-shooter RPG. The action-focused parts of the game need not be action at all, as almost everything can be solved in various ways, be it through stealth or guns blazing, or discovering secret passages and using skills like hacking and cybernetic enhancements to progress. The story progression is also nonlinear, with plenty of side quests that go above and beyond simple fetch quests and their discovery rewards exploration.

Mankind Divided does almost everything right. However, because its predecessor is not available on Linux, it is made a far more rewarding experience by doing some reading into its world beforehand.

Transport Fever

A modern day answer to Transport Tycoon.

Web: http://store.steampowered.com/app/446800/

Price: £26.99/$34.99/EUR31.99

Both maps offer all vehicle types, but the European trains are faster and more advanced.

If playing OpenTTD feels a little dated, then Transport Fever certainly brings the transport management genre into the 21st century. Itself a sequel to Train Fever, it builds on those foundations to bring something far more refined and all-encompassing to the table.

The game offers two map flavors in Europe or the United States, along with their corresponding vehicle types, which consist of road, rail, air, and fluvial transport. The overall aim is to avoid bankruptcy while connecting together primary resource production with industries, building a supply chain to bring goods to consumers, as well as providing said consumers with a public transport network. As the game progresses from the year 1850 onwards, technological advancements add both speed and capacity to the network, with towns and industries growing accordingly.

Although on paper this all seems fantastic, certain things can be wonky, such as the production chain randomly stopping and then not starting again, though these issues are being ironed out through patches. The campaign modes are also a little lackluster and cease to serve their purpose once the basics of the game are learned. Overall, the game is an extremely enjoyable experience and deserves to be called Transport Tycoon's spiritual successor.

Total War: Warhammer

A match made in heaven?

Web: http://store.steampowered.com/app/364360/

Price: £39.99/$59.99/EUR59.99

Being able to control large armies gives battles an epic sense of scale.

The combination of the Warhammer and Total War franchises makes so much sense that it's a wonder it's never been done before. With the Total War games having perfected Real Time Strategy combat and mechanics, Warhammer provides an established setting for the series to ditch historical accuracy and do something a little different without having to re-invent the wheel. Those large tabletop armies seem to mesh perfectly with the real time battles of the Total War franchise.

The game has a number of campaign modes, each revolving around different races of the Warhammer world. Each race provides a different backstory, as well as race-specific advantages and challenges. Far from superficial differences, these essentially force completely different styles of play, both on the battlefield and in the overworld. As a result, every campaign feels new and as entertaining as the last, despite taking place on the same map. Unfortunately, not all the races and factions are covered, although the base game does provide tons of content. Though the main thrust of the game is the battles, the overworld system is also fairly well fleshed out, with economy, building perks trade, and diplomacy to manage, making it a broad and detailed game overall.

Also Released…

Football Manager 2017

The popular sports management franchise is back with a new iteration, featuring over 2,500 football clubs and over 500,000 players. As usual with these annual sports series though, don't expect anything groundbreaking since most changes from the previous version consist of roster updates and nothing essential for those already enjoying its predecessor. For those new to the game though, there's plenty of detail and immersion to be found.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/482730/

Silence

This sequel to The Whispered World does away with many of the point-and-click genre's staples to focus on story. The inventory system is gone, as is the fairly open world and dialog trees, leaving instead puzzles "on rails," which unlock the next part of the story. The art style is fantastic, seamlessly blending 3D characters with pre-rendered backdrops, whereas the simple gameplay is perhaps a sign that the genre is evolving.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/314790/

Motorsport Manager

If the career mode on racing games seemed like the most interesting part, then this is the game for you, especially considering many racing games have now cut that part out. It's certainly one of the best management sims out there, allowing the player to manage the financial and sporting performance of a racing team. Through its intuitive interface, it also manages to offer plenty of detail without being cumbersome.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/415200/

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