Best Mac games 2017
Mac gamers, contrary to popular belief, have plenty of top games titles to choose from these days – indeed, the most difficult part is narrowing down the options, and then finding the money to buy and time to play them. Read next: Best free Mac games
We can’t help with the latter, but the first problem is right up our alley. We’ve collected the 145 best Mac games for your delectation, dividing them for the sake of convenience into seven categories. Select your favourite genre from the list above and jump in.
Here, then, are the greatest Mac games out there, together with, where available, links to in-depth Macworld reviews and entries on the Mac App Store or Steam, so you can buy them right away. (And if you want some help finding good apps on the Mac App Store, try this tutorial: How to find the best apps on the Mac App Store.)
Roleplaying games (RPGs)
Released for Macs, PCs and iOS devices all at the same time, 7 Mages is one of many recent releases that harks back to the days of old-school RPGs such as Baldur’s Gate. To be honest, the slim storyline lacks the depth of those old classics, but 7 Mages still works as a fun dungeon crawler that gives you plenty of monsters, puzzles and loot to play with.
The farmers who live on the island of Roven are beset by raiders, so they hire you and your pals to protect them. It’s the classic story of the Seven Samurai, of course, but with wizards, warriors and rogues replacing the samurai.
The first-person point of view is unusual for a role-playing game like this, and there were times when we would have liked a more traditional overhead perspective to help us organise our party during some of the big battles. Fortunately, the game uses a turn-based combat system, so you can take your time planning your strategy, and selecting each character’s spells or combat abilities. And while some of the initial dungeon corridors that you explore can seem a bit dull, there are also some striking and atmospheric locations, such as the City Of Bone and the Temple Of Night, that draw you into the action. Throw in some adventuresome point-and-click puzzles, and you’ve got an enjoyable slice of old-school roleplaying to sink your teeth into.
The Mac version of the game costs a little over £10, but the iOS version lets you play some of the early sections for free and then buy the full game for £6.99, so you can always try it out before deciding if you want to go further and explore all the mysteries of Roven. Cliff Joseph
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At first glance, Albion Online sounds like just another ‘open world’ game, where you’re free to wander around and explore to your heart’s content. And that’s true enough – but the game also takes that ‘sandbox’ approach to an extreme that we’ve seldom seen before.
Starting out as a new character who has just arrived on the mythical island of Albion, you’re then left on your own, completely free to get on with crafting, exploring dungeons or getting stuck into player-versus-player battles, just as the mood takes you.
The entire economy within the world of Albion is controlled by players – and that includes building entirely new towns, roads and supply routes. Money-minded players can spend all their time working as a tailor, blacksmith or some other type of merchant. But if you want to do a bit of fighting then the game’s open-ended character system allows you to switch from wizard to warrior simply by picking up a magic wand or a sword.
There are dungeons to explore and treasure to be found, but you can also join a guild and battle other guilds for control of important territory or natural resources. There are also ‘hellgate’ zones for straightforward player-versus-player combat, and even MOBA-style arenas where groups of five players can team up and work together.
But, unlike many MMOs these days, Albion Online isn’t free to play. You’ll need to buy a starter pack, which can range from $30-$100, and that will give you some gold coins so that you can buy some basic equipment to get you going. You can also pay a monthly subscription that will boost your crafting and other skills, but that’s not compulsory, so you can play for as long as you like once you’ve got your starter-pack.
The game’s graphics won’t win any awards for their 3D graphical splendour, but that does mean the game will run on a wide range of Mac models. And they’re even planning an iOS version for the iPad soon as well. Cliff Joseph
Animal Gods has had mixed reviews following its launch on Steam this month, but that’s possibly because the game’s developers refer to it as an ‘action RPG’, which suggests a fast-paced sword-swinging/spell-slinging dungeon crawler like Diablo.
There is some combat in Animal Gods, but the game actually reminds me more of iOS games such as Limbo and Botanicula [both also available on Mac], as the slim storyline and combat elements are very much secondary to the experience of just soaking up the atmosphere created by the distinctive 2D artwork and soothing soundtrack.
The story is wafer-thin. You play a warrior called Thistle – who is apparently female, although her animated figure is unfortunately too small to create any real sense of character. Thistle sets out to rescue three ancient animal gods who have been trapped in a series of temples, so you have to explore each temple and overcome the enemies within, as well as solving some simple puzzles along the way.
If you’re looking for a hack-and-slash action game then you’ll definitely be disappointed, as neither the combat nor puzzle-solving elements of the game are particularly challenging. However, the gently ambient soundtrack and distinctive design – with artwork that looks rather like primitive cave drawings – do have their charms.
To be honest, Animal Gods would probably work better on handheld iOS devices than on a Mac or PC, but it might be worth checking out if you like games that can help to calm you down after a stressful day at work. Cliff Joseph
Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition
Baldur’s Gate was a landmark roleplaying game of the late 90s, and set the standard for every RPG that followed. The graphics may be dated, and the game’s interface isn’t exactly streamlined, but the complex storyline and eccentric cast of supporting characters are still very enjoyable and can provide many hours of enjoyable monster-bashing. The game is huge, covering dozens of locations around the area known as the Sword Coast, and it often seems like there are people just queuing up in the local tavern to offer you additional quests and rewards in return for your help.
Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is a genuine golden oldie (on the iPad as well as on Mac). Younger players, raised on 3D epics such as Dragon Age, may wonder what all the fuss is about, but anyone who can remember the good old days of role-playing games will thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to go adventuring on the Sword Coast once more. Cliff Joseph
Read the full Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition review
Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition
Where to buy: Mac App Store
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.7, dual-core Intel processor, 4GB RAM, 2.5GB hard disk
The original Baldur’s Gate II was released way back in 1988 by the role-playing gods at Bioware, and its 2D graphics will look pretty dated to anyone that has played modern role-playing games such as Bioware’s Dragon Age series. Even so, it’s an essential purchase for anyone that has even the slightest interest in role-playing games, and the sheer size of the game means that it’s excellent value for money.
It’s a shame that this updated Enhanced Edition couldn’t be brought right up to date with more modern 3D graphics, but it does get a cosmetic makeover with high-def versions of the original artwork, so it doesn’t look too bad on modern computer screens. Besides, whether in 2D or 3D, Bioware’s great strength has always been its story-telling skill, and Baldur’s Gate II is as captivating now as it was nearly 30 years ago. It’s very much traditional fantasy fare – with you taking on the role of a warrior, wizard, rogue or cleric – but it’s done on a truly grand scale. Your character is just one of many mortal offspring spawned by the evil god Bhaal, and the game pits you against several of your own brothers and sisters as they vie to succeed Bhaal and claim his power as their own.
There are hundreds and hundreds of quests along the way – around 300 hours worth if you try to complete them all – including power struggles within the guild of Shadow Thieves, and an epic battle with the wizard Irenicus, played in full scenery-chewing mode by Brit character actor David Warner. Throw in the return of bonkers barbarian Minsc and his giant space-hamster Boo, and BGII is a real retro treat for RPG fans. Cliff Joseph
In many ways, Darkest Dungeon is a throwback to the early days of role-playing games. Its two-dimensional sideways-scrolling graphics are stylishly drawn, but definitely rather retro when compared to most modern 3D games. The turn-based combat is also fairly leisurely and unlikely to win over fans of more action-oriented RPGs such as the Diablo series (below). It does, however, have a few modern twists up its sleeve that will appeal to RPG veterans.
The game starts off in conventional role-playing fashion, sending you and one companion to explore the countryside around your ancestral home. There are a few early skirmishes that act as a kind of tutorial – which you’ll need, as there are a lot of stats to absorb as you develop your character’s skills – and also allow you to recruit additional members to your team.
You then set off to explore the aforementioned darkest dungeon, which lurks somewhat inconveniently beneath your old family pile. Each character has his or her own special skills to master, and there are some fun character classes that you can experiment with, such as the creepy Plague Doctor and shape-shifting Abomination. And, as well as facing down all sorts of monsters and undead ghouls, your heroes also have to cope with the game’s Affliction system, which measures their stress levels during combat. Some characters will rise to the challenge, but others may turn tail and run for the hills at the first sign of trouble.
It’s pretty hardcore, too – there’s no Quick Save option, so if your team dies you’ll just have to return to town and sign up some new raw recruits. Not everyone will have the patience for this sort of slow, thoughtful action, but if you’re a hardened role-player then Darkest Dungeon will offer a satisfying challenge, and its novel Affliction system makes a nice change to the clichéd heroics of traditional role-playing games. Cliff Joseph
Company: Blizzard Entertainment
Where to buy: Battle.net
Requirements: OS X 10.6.8, 10.7.x or later; Intel Core 2 Duo; nVidia GeForce 8600M GT or better; ATI Radeon HD 2600 or better; 2GB RAM; 12GB available HD space
Twenty years after the events of the last game, a meteor strikes the much-troubled town of Tristram, opening up a gateway into the depths of the earth and paving the way for the return of the demon lord Diablo. As always, it’s up to you to gird your loins and turn back the forces of darkness before they unleash untold nastiness upon the earth.
This time around you can choose from five different character classes – barbarian, demon hunter, monk, witch doctor and wizard – each with its own unique skills and abilities. The graphics have been updated too, and now provide a true 3D view of the action.
There’s no denying the addictive grip that Diablo III exerts, even if Blizzard could have been more ambitious in updating from Diablo II. If you have any interest at all in sword and sorcery action games this is simply irresistible.
Read the full Diablo III for Mac review
Divinity: Original Sin
There are a lot of good things to say about Divinity: Original Sin. Epic fantasy-RPG: a rich world to explore, humorous writing and characters, unique co-op mechanics, intriguing story and great combat. What more could you want?
The world of Divinity is a complex one. Practically every object can be interacted with in some way, whether for pure amusement (you can wear pumpkins on your head) or practicality, such as harvesting herbs to craft potions. Almost any NPC can be killed, thus altering quests and progress. Most events have multiple solutions requiring thoughtful decision-making.
The turn-based combat is very satisfying and features a depth you would be hard pressed to find in other games. This largely stems from the way elements interact with each other. Cast a rain spell to create puddles and these can then be turned into ice for enemies to slip on or electrified traps to stun foes. Oil will slow, but also can be set on fire. If your heroes are cold they are more susceptible to be frozen and if they are wet they’ll take more damage from lightning spells. Full friendly fire is in effect so watch your spell-casting, especially in co-op mode.
Should your AI or co-op partner disagree on something, you play a game of rock-paper-scissors to determine the winner. This allows players other than the host to decide on story and quest outcomes. Expect to spend a lot of time in Divinity’s world, as each play-through will take you 50-100 hours. Jon Carr
Read our colleagues’ full review of Divinity: Original Sin for the PC
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Dragon Age II
Like its predecessor, Dragon Age II is set in the fantasy world of Thedas, but it introduces an entirely new cast of characters and a new storyline as your hero – known only as Hawke – rises from obscurity to become a mighty champion.
The focus on politics and intrigue means that DAII lacks the epic good-versus-evil story of the original, but other aspects of the game are genuinely improved. The graphics are even more spectacular, and the combat is fast and furious, with characters leaping around the screen, waving their swords and firing spells all over the place. There are also two expansion packs that you can download for about £6 each.
Dungeons And Dragons Online
This online version of the classic Dungeons And Dragons game has been around for an entire decade now, and has undergone many changes, including the inevitable switch to free-to-play. Somewhere along the way a Mac version appeared with very little fanfare, and only recently caught our eye on Steam. Read next: Best free web browser games for Mac
The original Dungeons and Dragons defined the modern fantasy role-playing genre, although – rather ironically – the age of its online counterpart means that it now looks rather unoriginal when compared to some of the more modern MMOs that have appeared in recent years. You start out by choosing your preferred style of play – fighter, spellcaster or rogue – and the game then offers a series of class options that should suit you. Then you dive into the game and quickly find yourself washed up on an island after a storm at sea, with this island acting as an introductory tutorial zone to bring newcomers up to speed. Once you’ve got the hang of the basics you head off to the city of Stormreach, where it’s dungeons and quests galore.
Despite its age, the game does have some interesting twists of its own. Instead of always starting at level 1, you have the option of creating an ‘iconic’ character who already has a few experience levels under their belt – not to mention a decent belt, armour and weapons, so that you can leap straight into the dungeon-crawling action without wasting time on killing spiders and other low-level chores.
The game also puts much of its emphasis on group action, so if you’re a lone wolf kind of player who likes to go solo while exploring World Of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls Online then you might find Dungeons And Dragons Online a little restrictive. However, it does a good job of recreating the comradely ‘band of brothers’ feel of the original D&D, and could be a good (and inexpensive) introduction to MMO gaming for newcomers. Cliff Joseph
Elder Scrolls Online
None of the previous, single-player games in the Elder Scrolls series has ever been released for the Mac, so we were pleasantly surprised when the massively multiplayer Elder Scrolls Online was simultaneously launched on both Mac and PC in April 2014.
In many ways, Elder Scrolls Online – ESO to its friends – is a stereotypical swords-and-sorcery game, with a storyline about the demon prince Molag Bal who is attempting to invade the fantasy world of Tamriel. But that’s just background stuff and, like most massively multiplayer RPGs, ESO is all about completing quests, killing monsters and generally hoovering up as much loot as you can.
Like World Of Warcraft and other RPG rivals, ESO lets you play as a warrior, wizard or rogue, but you can also join one of three warring factions known as the Daggerfall Covenant, the Ebonheart Pact and the Aldmeri Dominion. The power struggle between these three groups adds an enjoyable element of player-versus-player combat to the more routine quests and tasks, and the game does a good job of creating the atmosphere of a world at war.
The launch of the game was marred by a horde of bugs, but the game has had a year to settle down now, and ESO has also recently dropped its monthly subscription fees (although there is an optional premium membership plan for the most dedicated players). This means that you just need to buy a copy of the game and you can then play for as long as you want without a subscription.
Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited
The single-player games in the Elder Scrolls series have never been available on the Mac, so it was a pleasant surprise when the massively multiplayer Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) appeared on the Mac back in 2014. Unfortunately, the game wasn’t exactly a runaway hit, and ESO was forced to scrap its subscription fees in 2015. The Mac version also had a few technical problems and many Mac users reported problems simply trying to install the game (including me, when I bought a new iMac last year).
However, ESO has been given a second lease of life with a major revamp called Tamriel Unlimited. As well as being available to download from Steam – and now working perfectly well on my iMac – Tamriel Unlimited brings a number of major changes to the original ESO. There are many new dungeons to explore, and it’s now a lot easier to find other players to group with so that you can explore and tackle many of the larger quests and challenges. Alternatively, you can try out the new duelling system for a spot of one-on-one combat with other players.
However, the key feature of the updated ESO is ‘level-scaling’ which enables your characters to automatically adjust their level as they enter different areas. This means that even newcomers with lower-level characters can now explore dungeons and other areas that would previously have been off-limits. A lot of people argue that this removes the challenge of having to level up your characters and learning how to use your skills properly, but there are still plenty of quests and boss mobs that will give you a hard time. And, as with most MMORPGs, the real fun in ESO comes from joining groups and guilds so that you can work with other players to tackle the big ‘world bosses’ that are the game’s greatest challenges. Cliff Joseph
Final Fantasy XIV
Company: Square Enix
Where to buy: Final Fantasy XIV
Requirements: iMac from late-2013 or above, with OS X v10.10, discrete graphics card with 512MB VRAM or Intel Iris Pro
Price: £40 for first 30 days, then £8.99 monthly subscription
Final Fantasy XIV has had a troubled history on all platforms – but especially on the Mac. In fact, the Mac version of the game that was released in 2015 was withdrawn and the developers took the unprecedented step of actually offering refunds to Mac users. Even now, the high system requirements for this updated Mac version, not to mention the annoyingly convoluted registration and installation process, and monthly subscription on top, mean Final Fantasy XIV is not a game for casual players.
There is, however, a pretty good game waiting for the more seasoned MMO fan. The fantasy world of Eorzea has been devastated by a terrible war, known as The Calamity, so you enter the game as a lowly adventurer and learn the basics by performing tasks and quests that help the people of Eorzea to rebuild their society. As you gain experience and power you can tackle more demanding quests and team up with other players in ‘active events’ that take place spontaneously in different regions throughout the game.
It’s pretty standard role-playing fare, but the class system in FFXIV is very versatile, allowing you to switch from a wizard to a fighter simply by dropping your magic wand and picking up a sword instead – although you do still need to spend some time training up both your melee and magic skills in order to use them properly.
The Mac version is a bit pricey, but it does include the Heavensward expansion pack that adds major new areas and dungeons that you can explore, as well as a higher level cap, and even the ability to fly around on a variety of new mounts. Cliff Joseph
Guild Wars 2
Where to buy: www.guildwars2.com
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.7, Intel i5 processor with nVidia GT 320M or Radeon HD 6630 graphics, 25GB hard disk
Price: Free (Heart of Thorns expansion – see below – costs £34.99)
Guild Wars 2 was originally launched on the PC only and the Mac version appeared a little while later with very little fanfare, which means that GW2 hasn’t attracted that many Mac gamers so far. It’s a lot of fun, though, and the Guild Wars games have always been subscription-free, so GW2 is a good way of getting some online role-playing action without having to pay a monthly fee.
It is, admittedly, very routine fantasy fare, with warriors, wizards, and rogues, and lots of quests, monsters and loot. However, GW2 gets all the basics right, including a really flexible skills system that gives you different powers and abilities depending on which weapons you choose. You can even carry different sets of weapons with you and switch between them depending on which weapons seem best for the task at hand.
The storyline that props up the game is instantly forgettable fantasy fare, but the real heart of GW2 is the player-versus-player combat. I spend most of my time in the smaller arenas, where two groups of players fight it out for control of specific landmarks and objectives. However, there are also huge World-versus-World battles in which three armies of players wage war across large battlefields, and in battles for last for days at a time.
There’s also an expansion pack on its way, called Heart Of Thorns, which will introduce a new character class and new abilities – including hang-gliding! – as well as a new player-versus-player mode in which you try to protect the Lord of your stronghold from the enemy that is laying siege to your defences.
Guild Wars 2: Heart Of Thorns
The original Guild Wars 2 has been available on the Mac for quite a while, but we’ve had to wait almost a year for the Heart Of Thorns expansion to reach the Mac as well. Officially, Heart Of Thorns is referred to as an expansion pack, but – like the recent Tamriel update for Elder Scrolls Online – this online role-playing game now gets a major facelift that alters the nature of the original game.
The standard version of Guild Wars 2 is now free to download and play, albeit with the inevitable in-game store that tempts you to cough up some cash for various role-playing goodies. But if you want to enjoy all that the game has to offer then you’ll need to pay £34.99 for Heart Of Thorns. Once installed, Thorns raises the level cap for your characters, as well as introducing a new class called the Revenant, and new ‘master’ skills that you can use in battle, or even to learn hang-gliding with some of the game’s flying mounts. There’s also a new jungle zone, called Maguuma, that contains many new high-level quests and boss battles to keep you busy.
The game is a little pricey, considering that the original GW2 is now several years old, but it doesn’t require a monthly subscription fee, and the emphasis on player-versus-player action in the latest updates means that you can play online with – or against – your friends for ever and a day. The age of the core game also means that it should run well on most recent Macs, too. The only thing to note is that, officially, this Mac version is still ‘beta’ – although it’s been in beta since about 2014, and has never caused any problems during many hours of playing on our office iMac. Cliff Joseph
Hex: Shards Of Fate
Blizzard seems to have the trading card game (TCG) scene sewed up, with millions of people regularly playing Hearthstone. But if you fancy trying a card game that offers something different then it’s worth checking out Hex.
It’s also a good option for people who are new to card games, as Hex provides an extensive tutorial that introduces the basics of the game, including the combat cards that provide various skills and powers, and resource cards that can enhance your powers in different ways.
You start by choosing a champion, from a typical mix of fantasy races and classes, such as Humans, Orcs, and Elves, Warlocks, Clerics and Rogues. Each champion has their own abilities and style of play, so your choice here will determine the type of cards that you need to collect as you progress through the game. Like most card games, Hex is free to play, but does its darnedest to sell you additional packs of cards, with a basic starter pack costing £10.99, and the Primal Dawn pack that was released just last week adding another £9.99.
Fortunately, you can get started without spending any money at all. The developers describe Hex as the first ‘MMOTCG’, as it adds elements of the massively-multiplayer online genre to the trading card format. As well as playing against other people online, you can enter the game’s story-based campaign, which allows you to explore a number of dungeons in order to earn gold and other rewards. We like the idea of trying to play solo online, as it adds a different dimension to the standard card game format, and gives you a chance to see how far you can go without breaking out the credit cards. Cliff Joseph
Marvel Heroes has been around since 2014 – with the Mac version first appearing in 2015 – and it’s had a regular series of updates since then, often focusing on characters like Doctor Strange or Captain America who have had big film releases recently. However, this 2.0 update introduced in January gives the entire game a major overhaul.
The thing that Marvel Heroes does best is the way that it captures the feel of the different superpowers of each character, and the 2.0 update very much focuses on streamlining the powers system so that you no longer need 10 fingers on each hand to juggle all your powers and weapons. A new difficulty slider allows you to adjust the challenge level of each area as you enter it, making it easier for new players that don’t have a stack of high-level weapons and armour to use in combat. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s a new system of Infinity Powers – based on the Infinity Stones in the Marvel films – that allows long-time players to keep improving their high-level heroes.
It’s terrific fun experimenting with different characters and powers, but the game does have its drawbacks too. It’s still free-to-play, but you only get one character that you can play all the way up to the maximum of Level 60. You can experiment with others up to Level 10, but taking them beyond that level means that you have to spend hours collecting special Eternity Shards in the game, or cough up £7 to £15 for each character.
And the world of Marvel Heroes is nowhere near as vast as that of MMO rivals such as World Of Warcraft. It includes a relatively limited number of zones for you to explore, and many of the quests can feel uninspired and repetitive. But while it might not have the long-term addictive qualities of WoW or the Guild Wars games, Marvel Heroes can be a real blast if you just fancy a quick burst of super-hero action every now and then. Cliff Joseph
Overlord: Raising Hell
The original Overlord was released for the PC, Xbox and Playstation way back in 2007, but it recently appeared on the Mac for the first time. And it stands up pretty well for a game that’s almost a decade old now.
Overlord is described as an action role-playing game, along the lines of the Diablo series. You take the role of the Overlord, a bad guy who sets out to reclaim his lands from a bunch of other bad guys. The Overlord wields an axe and can learn additional skills as you progress through the game, but his primary power is the ability to summon hordes of goblin-like minions to do his bidding. You can send your minions off to destroy an enemy or pick up items that you want to carry around.
As you become more powerful you can summon larger numbers of minions, and there are also different types of minions available, including fighters, archers and healers, so this adds an element of strategy to the game as you learn how to deploy your minions against different types of enemy. And the fun element of the game lies in your ability to be as evil as possible, terrorising innocent villagers or occasionally showing mercy and letting them off the hook.
The Raising Hell expansion pack included with the Mac version also includes a number of new ‘abyss’ levels that provide a really tough challenge. Unfortunately, the Mac version doesn’t have an online multiplayer mode, but there is a split-screen mode that allows two people to play together, either working together to complete a challenge, or competing against each other to destroy a particular target. Cliff Joseph
Typical – you wait years for an Overlord game on the Mac, and then three come along all at once. Hot on the heels of the recent Overlord and its Raising Hell expansion we now have Overlord II.
The format of this sequel is very similar to the original Overlord, albeit on an even larger scale. You play as the evil Overlord seeking to regain power from the Glorious Empire, which has taken control of your lands. This gives you even bigger armies and larger territories to conquer, and you are now assisted by four different types of minions that you can use to do all your dirty work. The brown minions are brawlers who wade straight into battle, while the red minions can chuck fireballs from a distance. There are also stealthy green minions who act as hidden assassins, while blue minions can resurrect their fallen comrades and swim to explore areas that the other minions can’t reach. Your minions also have the ability to ride animals such as wolves and spiders, which give them additional abilities that you can use in combat.
This sequel also introduces two different game modes. In Destruction mode you simply destroy everything in your path, using the life force of your victims to make your destructive spells even more deadly. Alternatively, you can enslave your enemies and make them work for you, throwing them into battle as cannon-fodder or using them to develop resources that enhance your strength. It’s all good clean fun, and not too expensive at just £6.99, and the age of the game means that it runs quite well even on older Macs models. The only disappointment is that – for various technical reasons – the multiplayer options from the original PC version don’t work on the Mac. Cliff Joseph
Pillars Of Eternity
Company: Paradox Interactive
Where to buy: Steam | Mac App Store
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.6.3, 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 processor, Radeon 6750M or GeForce 330M or higher
Price: £34.99 (on Steam), £25.49 (on Mac App Store)
We confess that we missed the Mac version of Pillars Of Eternity when it was first released last year, but the game was recently updated with two major expansion packs so this seems like a good time to go back and review the entire series.
One look at Pillars Of Eternity makes it obvious that the game is very much modeled on classic roleplaying games such as Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale. The isometrics graphics are very similar, right down to the ‘fog of war’ that obscures the area you’re exploring, and the little green circles that highlight characters as they move around. The mechanics of the game are similar too, with the traditional assortment of humans, elves and other races, and the ability to train as a fighter, wizard or rogue. It does have a few ideas of its own, though, including classes such as the psychic Ciphers, or the Chanter, which is a kind of souped-up battle bard whose songs can raise the dead or summon phantoms.
You start off in Pillars Of Eternity as a humble traveller, who comes across the town of Dyrwood and discovers that it has been afflicted by a curse. Needless to say, you set off to lift this curse, gathering new companions and completing stacks of side-quests along the way. That should keep you busy for 30 to 40 hours, and if you’re enjoying the game you can buy two expansion packs – White March Part I and II – which add new zones to the main game, and a new quest to recover an ancient dwarven forge.
The reams of text, statistics, and somewhat dated graphics might not appeal to fans of more action-oriented RPGs, such as the Diablo or Dragon Age games, but the old-school storytelling of Pillars Of Eternity make it a must-have title for fans of classic roleplaying games. Cliff Joseph
Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic
Originally launched in 2003, KOTOR has bounced back since Apple launched the Mac App Store, and is now one of its top 10 highest-grossing games.
The action is set 4,000 years before the Star Wars films, at a time when the Jedi are being hunted down by the armies of the Sith. You play one of the last Jedi Knights, leading an army of freedom fighters on a series of missions across planets such as Tatooine and the Sith home world of Korriban. Your choices affect the outcome of the game, deciding whether you save the galaxy or fall to the dark side of the Force.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II
It’s more than a decade since the original Knights Of The Old Republic was first released, but that game is still selling well on the App Store even after all these years. So it came as a bit of a surprise when we realised that this sequel – originally released for PC back in 2005 – has only just arrived on the Mac for the first time.
Like its predecessor, KOTOR II is set thousands of years in the past, long before the events of the Star Wars film series. You play one of the last surviving Jedi, who have been almost completely wiped out after a long war with the evil Sith Lords. At the start of the game you wake up injured and with no memory of recent events. Even your trusty light-sabre has gone missing, so your initial challenge is to recover your memory and your Jedi powers, and then set off to try and find any other Jedi that may have survived.
There’s a wide range of skills and abilities that you can develop as you progress through the game, and you can focus on either light-sabre combat or spooky Force Powers depending on how you want to develop your character. There’s also a strong story and role-playing element, full of political twists and turns, and moral decisions that will affect the final outcome of the game. The 3D graphics look a little dated now, but the intriguing storyline and light-sabre action will soon have you hooked, and at just £9.99 the game’s a real bargain for Star Wars fans.
It’s not entirely accurate to describe Tempest as a sea-faring version of No Man’s Sky, as this nautical role-playing/strategy game only allows you to traverse the seas of a single planet, rather than the endless galaxies of outer space. However, the open-ended playing style of Tempest does have similarities to No Man’s Sky, as it allows you to explore an open world – or open sea – where you’re free to roam at will, fighting pirates and the occasional monster from the watery deeps, or just concentrating on trading in order to increase your wealth.
You start off by inheriting your father’s ship, the Henrietta, and a brief – and occasionally confusing – tutorial guides you through the basics of navigation and combat at sea. After that you can go into the main Map view and chart your course, perhaps aiming for the nearest trading port, or heading out to sea in search of adventure.
As you near your destination, or if you’re approached by an enemy ship, you’ll switch into the 3D view, which depicts your ship ploughing through the open seas. If you’re after adventure you can start firing on other ships in order to disable them and seize their treasure, or work on improving your influence with various factions so that you can trade freely and use the money to upgrade your ship or train your crew.
Like No Man’s Sky this is a game that you can play largely on your own, trading or fighting to develop your own style of play, but there’s also a multiplayer mode where you can team up with friends to complete quests, or just blow each other up in endless battles at sea.
Torment: Tides Of Numenera
Sometimes, as the saying goes, the journey is more important than the destination. That’s very much the case with Torment: Tides Of Numenera, a game that – while not a direct sequel – comes from some of the same design team who created the classic role-playing game Planescape: Torment almost twenty years ago.
Set a mind-boggling one billion years in the future (give or take a few weeks), Torment takes place in a bizarre world where a being known as the Changing God hops from body to body in order to achieve eternal life – a bit like Apocalypse in the last X-Men film, but a lot more interesting. You play a ‘castoff’: the owner of a used body that has now been discarded by the Changing God, and who now discovers that an ancient spook called The Sorrow is hunting down all the castoffs and destroying them.
That’s bad news, of course, so you set off on quest to save your own life, and also to discover more about the futuristic world of Numenera and your role in that world. And, of course, you get to choose a class for you character, such as the Glaive warrior class, the rogue-like Jacks (of all trades), and Nanos, who use nano-technology that is so advanced it pretty much doubles up as magic.
Like Planescape, Torment puts its emphasis on story-telling rather than combat, with long swathes of dialogue, and important choices that affect how other characters react, and how the game itself unfolds. And, true to its roots, the graphics are resolutely 2D and isometric.
If you’re a fan of 3D action-RPGs like Diablo then you should probably look elsewhere – and the recent 2.5 patch for Diablo 3 turns out to be quite good fun – but if you prefer RPGs that focus on story-telling and character development you’ll find the weird and wonderful world of Torment to be a worthy successor to the original Planescape. Cliff Joseph
Two Worlds II
Where to buy: Mac App Store (standard edition); Mac App Store (GotY edition)
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6.3, 2GHz Intel processor, graphics card with 512MB VRAM
Price: £7.99 (standard edition on Mac App Store), £10.99 (Game of the Year edition on Mac App Store), £14.99 (on Steam)
The original Two Worlds wasn’t released on the Mac, so you’re kind of coming in halfway through the story in this sequel. That won’t matter too much, though, since the story isn’t particularly original. You start the game by breaking out of prison and then setting off on a quest to rescue your sister, who has been enslaved by an evil emperor.
What rescues the Two Worlds II from cliché is the sheer quality and scale of the game. The world you travel across is vast, and depicted with excellent 3D graphics. There are stacks of quests to keep you busy and help you gain in wealth and experience, and the combat and skill system gives you great freedom to develop your character.
There’s something strangely apt about Tyranny, a new role-playing game based on the premise that “sometimes evil wins”. At first glance, Tyranny looks very much like a traditional role-playing game, with the old-school isometric graphics that developers Obsidian employed in the excellent Pillars Of Eternity. And, of course, you have the traditional selection of skills that allow you to train as a warrior, wizard or rogue as you progress through the game.
But Tyranny very much goes its own way, with an unusual set-up and storyline that really puts an emphasis on the choices that you make during the game. Rather than throwing you into the typical battle between good and evil, the story of Tyranny begins just as the evil overlord Kyros completes his conquest of the land known as The Tiers. And, rather than playing the hero who saves the world from the forces of evil, you are merely a ‘Fatebinder’, a lieutenant in Kyros’ army, who now presides over the conquered Tiers and has to juggle the competing ambitions of different factions within the army. Do you simply stab everyone in the back and grab all the power for yourself, or try to maintain a balance of power and lead some sort of benevolent dictatorship that doesn’t involve crushing too many innocent peasants underfoot?
If you’re looking for the trigger-finger combat of games like Diablo then you might be disappointed, but if you enjoy the role-playing aspect of RPG games then Tyranny will present you with tough decisions and challenges that will keep you engrossed for hours at a time. The game’s systems requirements are quite steep, though, so check them out on Steam or the Mac App Store before buying. Cliff Joseph
It’s hard for any action-RPG to emerge from the shadow of Diablo 3 – which is still going strong after five years, thanks to its recent Necromancer update – but Victor Vran comes up with a few ideas that help it to stand out from the crowd.
For starters, the game’s developers have abandoned the typical mediaeval fantasy setting and placed Victor’s adventures in a slightly more modern steam-punk-gothic world, where magic and science co-exist. That allows you to use a wide range of weapons and skills, with guns and grenades alongside traditional swords and hammers.
Character development is unusual too, as you don’t choose one specific class, such as a wizard or warrior. Instead, you simply choose whatever weapon seems appropriate for the next battle or enemy, and then back it up with a variety of magical skills that are powered by ‘overdrive’ energy that you build up during combat.
There’s even a card-game element too, as you can choose cards that provide a variety of different offensive or defensive bonuses. Throw in a spot of parkour running and jumping, and the game’s combat proves to be both fun and challenging, as you work out which combination of weapons and skills works best, both in the single-player and online modes.
The storyline isn’t quite so well developed. You’re summoned to the demon-infested town of Zagoravia where you simply have to kill stacks of monsters and attempt to locate an old friend who’s gone missing. The camera controls can be a bit clumsy at times, and it’s a shame that you don’t have the option of playing as ‘Victoria Vran’, but the slick combat system is plenty of fun, and there’s a number of expansions and add-ons available too – including a bizarre collaboration with head-banging band Motörhead that probably deserves a review all of its own. Cliff Joseph
Wasteland 2 is the sequel to the 1988 game Wasteland, the original post-apocalyptic RPG, and the inspiration for the beloved Fallout series of games. It also happens to be one of the several successful Kickstarter titles that was made possible with the help of more than 70,000 backers. Impressive!
The post-apocalyptic setting has always been a favorite of ours, and Wasteland 2 delivers in spades with atmosphere, colourful and engaging characters, sharp writing and lots of action. The turn-based combat is well-paced and challenging, and certain encounters will push the limits of your party.
An extensive customisation and upgrade system lets you fine-tune your parties skills and abilities to whatever you want or need. There are always multiple ways to solve a quest or bypass a locked door. Find a key, hack it, blow it up, etc.
But it isn’t all bullets and blades. This RPG is also full of great missions to fulfill, side quests to solve, characters to meet and tough choices to make. Consequences are important. Two different towns need help, and both are vital to the world – one providing food, and one providing water. Helping one will doom the other, so what do you choose? This largely freeform approach to the world and story is very appealing and provides high replay value. Wasteland 2 is just darn good fun, and RPG fans shouldn’t miss it. Jon Carr
The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings
The Witcher 2 is undoubtedly one of the best roleplaying games of recent years and, as the name implies, it’s the sequel to the original Witcher game that was originally launched on the PC in 2007. Both games are based on the popular fantasy novels written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski that follow the adventures of Geralt of Rivia – a ‘witcher’ who roams the fantasy kingdom of Temeria, slaying monsters and generally being mean and moody.
RPG fans will quickly find themselves drawn into this rich – and often adult – storyline, but the combat and skill systems are quite complex so you’ll need to devote a bit of time to mastering them. Some people may find the lack of different character classes a little restrictive, too; but the vividly drawn world of the The Witcher 2 will appeal to anyone who enjoys old-school role-playing games. It’s good value, too.
World Of Warcraft
Where to buy: WoW
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5.8; Intel Core 2 Duo; graphics card with 256MB VRAM
Price: Free (Starter Edition); £8.99-per-month subscription thereafter. Expansions vary in price
Its cutesy graphics aren’t to everyone’s taste, but World of Warcraft is still the game that rules the massively multiplayer online scene, with around seven million subscribers playing as wizards, priests, warriors and rogues. Part of that success is down to the release of regular expansion packs, such as 2010’s Cataclysm, which – quite literally – shook up the landscape, destroying some old areas and introducing new zones for you to explore. The fourth update, Mists of Pandaria, added a newly discovered continent (complete with opinion-dividing panda-esque inhabitants), while the fifth, Warlords of Draenor, came out in November 2014.
This fairly regular release of new material keeps experienced players happy, but to attract new players, Blizzard announced a Starter Edition of the game that allows you to play for free until your character reaches level 20.