Best Games for Mac

No matter how your tastes run there are fantastic games you can play on the Mac right now. Here are ten of the best!

There are lots of games on the Mac, and you have precious few hours to play them. How do you spend your money and your time? I've rounded up ten of the best games you can get for the Mac right now in this collection, with links for where to buy or download them.

I've tried to put in a mix of games from strategy to FPS, MMO to driving, adventure and interactive fiction. I'm interested in what you think are the best games for the Mac, too, so make sure to share your thoughts with me in the comments.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Normally when Blizzard drops a new game it's a major event, such as it was when StarCraft II and Diablo III were released. Hearthstone has sort of crept out from the company, produced at a smaller scale and with a very different focus: it's the first card-collecting strategy game that Blizzard has done. It's also Blizzard's first free-to-play game.

Don't let the "collectible card game" description chase you away. Even if you've never been into Magic: the Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh, Hearthstone is really easy to pick up, learn and play, and it's a lot of fun. You play attack and defense cards as you seek to run your opponent's health down to zero and keep yours positive. Putting your deck together in the most effective way is the strategy side of this game, and if you're familiar with World of Warcraft folklore, you'll get a big kick out of seeing characters here that you'll recognize from the game — but that knowledge is purely optional.

Don't let "free-to-play" chase you off here either. You won't be bombarded with demands for money in in-app purchases or an inability to play effectively unless you pay. You can play quite effectively without ever putting a dollar into it; if you do, you'll end up buying card booster packs that give you rare cards and Legendaries. You can get these cards by playing skillfully, too.

League of Legends

Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs) have become the new jam for many gamers who look for collaborative fun with other gamers online. They're realtime strategy games that emphasize the control of champions and minions as you try to take over your opponents' territory and destroy their troop-making ability. It's essentially a sophisticated version of Capture the Flag, though that really sells the experience short.

The genre exploded after the development of a Warcraft III mod called Defense of the Ancients (DotA), and in fact Dota 2 is available for download for the Mac through Steam. But League of Legends has captured the hearts and minds of gamers worldwide as developer Riot Games puts a continuous stream of improvements and changes into the the game to rebalance and change around gameplay.

What's more, League is free to play - you can certainly get started and play for quite a long time without having to put money into it, but eventually you'll probably want to bolster your abilities by using real currency to buy additional Riot Points (RP), which let you buy content like champions, alternate skins and boosts.

F1: 2013

Looking for a high-speed racing game that's utterly realistic? Check out Feral's recent Mac conversion of Codemasters' F1 2013, a game that recreates the Formula 1 2013 season in minute detail. What's more, Classics Mode lets you race in legendary cars and against legendary drivers from the 1980s. And a Classic Edition DLC contains 1990s era content and tracks.

F1 2013 is available from different download services; I'd recommend getting it from Steam, because that way you'll be able to compete online; the Mac App Store version doesn't support that (it's because online play is through Steam; that's a no-no for Mac App Store games, because of Apple's rules).

Bioshock Infinite

It turned out to be Irrational Games' swan song (the company's founder, Ken Levine, is shutting it down to focus on different work), but what a way to go out: the third installment of the legendary Bioshock series is a masterwork.

In this installment Bioshock goes Fringe-level weird, with explorations of different universes and overlapping realities, rewriting history to include a steampunk variation on the early 20th century in which a floating city called Columbia founded by a self-proclaimed prophet hides a young woman with a terrible cosmic power. You're a mercenary hired to rescue her.

Bioshock Infinite has been out for a while but they've extended playability with a couple of DLC packs including Burial at Sea and Clash in the Clouds, so you can keep the gameplay going long after you've played through the initial story. Gorgeous graphics, terrific gameplay, and a AAA console-style gaming experience on your Mac.

The Walking Dead: The Game, Season Two

So many people love the AMC television show The Walking Dead. As anyone who's familiar with the graphic novel series upon which it's based will tell you, things have unfolded very differently on the TV show than they have in the book. Telltale Games saw an opportunity to introduce yet another narrative pathway through the Walking Dead with its adventure game series.

Though this is a separate and distinct story using different characters and situations, there is some overlap. The story focuses on Clementine, a young girl who's been orphaned in the wake of the zombie apocalypse. You have do whatever it takes to help her survive, not just in a world filled with the shambling undead, but with people who are still alive and pushed to desperate extremes to survive.

It isn't necessary to play Season One to enjoy Season Two, but it'll change the storyline if you have (the game uses your saved game files to alter story components depending on what you've done).

Minecraft

It's been five years since Minecraft first appeared and the game shows no signs of letting up - more than 35 million copies of this game have been sold to date. Minecraft is without question one of the biggest successes in the history of indie computer gaming.

Minecraft is a "sandbox" game in which you build stuff out of cubes, a little bit like LEGO building blocks. As a sandbox game, there's no specific goal or endpoint - you can do what you want. You can explore a procedurally generated world, gather resources, craft items and combat. Gameplay is divided into different modes - Survival, where you have to gather resources, eat and avoid getting killed by monsters; Adventure, where you can play custom maps and adventures; or Creative, where you can build to your heart's content without having to worry about the mundanity of staying alive.

You can also play multiplayer, which is a big part of Minecraft's draw - players can run their own servers and set up their own rules for how to play, which makes it a big collaborative experience.

Dungeons & Dragons Online

Let's face it, the bloom of World of Warcraft is off the rose - we've been playing it for years and many of us are looking for new challenges and different fun. Elder Scrolls Online is still a few weeks away from general release, so what's a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) fan to do? How about Dungeons & Dragons Online?

DDO is loosely based on the authentic Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rule set - this is a legit D&D MMO. The game is set in fictional realm of Xen'drik, populated with multiple sentient races plagued by attacks from magical monsters great and small. Emphasis is on real-time tactical combat; you can switch between third-person and first-person views. Complete quests and level up, gaining access to new feats, spells and skills. Quests award you with monetary items and you can collect special gear along the way.

DDO is free to play, though you can pay a fee to get additional rewards.

Shadowrun Returns and Dragonfall

If you haven't gotten into Shadowrun yet, now's a good time - Dragonfall, a new expansion pack, is available for download. Shadowrun Returns came out last year and won accolades for bringing back a beloved RPG franchise to OS X and Windows. The game includes a map maker that lets you build your own scenarios, but Harebrained Schemes recently created the game's first official expansion pack, Dragonfall.

Shadowrun is a set in a cyberpunk future world where technology has run amuck and magic has returned to the world. Humans live side by side with elves, dwarves, orks and trolls. You're a shadowrunner - an elite criminal. In the first game, you're tasked with solving an old accomplice's murder, and in the expansion, you travel to Berlin to uncover the secret of Firewing, a great dragon thought dead since the early days of the rise of magic.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall: $14.99 - Download now

The Stanley Parable

Although it's rendered in first person perspective, The Stanley Parable isn't a first person shooter. It's a work of interactive fiction, and a really unusual one at that. You're an office worker named Stanley; one day your computer stops working and you get up from your desk only to realize that everyone else is gone. Where have they gone? What's happening?

That's up to you to figure out. A narrator will try to keep you on track, at least for his story, but whether or not you listen to him is up to you. The Stanley Parable is all about making choices, and it explores the nature of choice-making as it affects the outcome of a game. It's highly experimental and very thought provoking, definitely worth a look if the average run of the mill action game leaves you cold.

The Stanley Parable first appeared back in 2011 but was recently resurrected for release on Steam; the Mac version came out a couple of months after the Windows version debuted.

Gone Home

Another indie game that takes a very, very different perspective on the first person genre. In this work, you arrive home after traveling for a year abroad only to discover your family is missing. Where is everyone? And what's going on? You have to figure it out by finding clues and piecing together the evidence.

"Alone in a house" is always a setup for a horror movie, but this isn't a survival horror game. It's a coming of age story, more than anything, elegantly told and very well crafted. A unique, compelling and ultimately uplifting experience.

It's another work of interactive fiction, though its emphasis is very different from the Stanley Parable. While The Stanley Parable emphasizes different choices and how they affect the outcome of the game, Gone Home is a much more linear experience - there's only one end in sight here. But that's still very rewarding. It's short - you should be able to burn through it in a couple of hours in a single sitting, unless you have no aptitude for adventure puzzlers, but it's still a rewarding outcome and a good game for non-gamers to boot.

That's my list. Now let me hear what you have to say in the comments!

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

Best Games for Mac

12 Comments

Just saw this comment and i have to say preach on!!

On a campaign right now as Oda Nobunaga domination only, and the ottomans are next on the chopping block.

I like to add a few things to a couple of the games that I've played extensively

1.) Hearthstone is extremely addicting for someone who has ever had a passing interest in TCG's but no longer has time/money to collect the cards. Best part of this free to play model is that you can get everything you can pay for simply by playing the game.

2.) League of Legends is super confusing at first. I recommend playing vs. bots to start out with but don't feel intimidated about playing vs real people once you understand, the way strategy evolves when playing against players is super cool, however it may take a few games to be consistently matched up against people who are your skill level. Some people do take the game really seriously and can flame, I recommend muting these people at the first sign of venom toward anyone on the team it will make your play time more enjoyable.

The cool thing about this free to play model is that if you don't want to pay you don't have too, it has a decent pace for purchasing characters through playing the game and the free champion rotation each week is enough to offer variety and find a champion you truly enjoy. RP is not required on anything unless you want your champion to look different, their weekly sales on champions/skins are awesome for making things cheaper. Sales change every 3 days.

3.) Minecraft has a little bit for everyone. The creative part is amazing and highly recommended if you like building. It does have different servers for finding games to play with others and can do all sorts of things from pvp, role play, to just sandbox free for all creativity.

I really enjoy Tomb Raider (the newest one). I am able to play it smoothly on my 3 year old iMac and even on my Macbook Air! Plus, it can easily connect up the PS3 controller, which makes the experience great! :)

I would suggest including World of Warcaft on this list. Very popular mmo which plays natively on the Mac and there are very few of those.

Did you not have enough coffee this morning Peter? Where is Eve Online? Oh, I get it....you just don't want too many noobs cluttering up your favorite trading stations. Our secret then.

I think some of the best mac games in history are Quake, Doom, Myth II, and Glider. All of these games you can play on your Mac depending if you have a power PC or snow leopard and before.

Quake can be played on Intel by ether "the best PC games for mac" or havering the game itself (on disc).

Doom can be played with PrBoom, all you need is to download the PrBoom app and get the wad files to play an instant classic.

Myth II can only be played if you download the universal binary update from Project Manga (I think that's how you spell it), and owning the disc. Thanks to them, you can play one of the greatest games for the mac on Intel.

The last game is Glider and you can play Glider Pro it if you have a Power PC or by getting the new version from the Mac App Store. These are all great games and I have to say that I will have soon played all of them.

I think all current Blizzard games should be checked out. Other games such as X-Com: Enemy Unknown + Enemy Within, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2 are great as well.

If only age of empires could have continued their franchise and progress as much as Civ 5. That was truly one of the best RTS games out there. These TBS games are getting somewhat old. Still love Civ 5 though