What are the best Windows PC games, and how do I play them on a Mac? In this feature, we take a look at the best PC games on a Mac to download. Historically the Windows PC has had brilliant games, and the best PC games tend to appear for Mac OS X at a later date - if they arrive at all.
However, some of the best PC games for Mac in 2013 were released at the same time as the Windows versions, or a decent PC to Mac crossover arrived shortly afterwards. These days you're likely to see the best PC games reliably appear on a Mac at the same time as Windows.
There are numerous ways to get the best PC games on a Mac, such as Steam, The App Store, and independent game stores. Alternatively, you can play the latest stunning Windows PC games on a Mac using virtualization software like Parallels Desktop and Boot Camp. Here is our guide to the best Windows PC games and how to get them on a Mac:
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
XCOM: Enemy Unknown was one of the greatest games to hit the Mac during 2013. This combination of tactical planning and turn-based combat proved a welcome respite from many of the indie games on the App Store. XCOM Enemy Within was released towards the end of last year, and while it isn’t on the App Store yet you can pick up a copy of XCOM Enemy Within from the Mac Game Store. It requires XCOM Enemy Unknown Elite Edition to run.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
If you still haven't had enough XCOM then take a look this spin-off: The Bureau. The 3D tactical shooter XCOM made waves on both the Mac and iPad during 2013. However, towards the end of 2013 this fantastic spin-off appeared. The Bureau is an XCOM game set in the midst of the cold war (in 1962). The retro aesthetic combines with the alien combat to create an atmospheric story. It doesn't have the magic of the original XCOM game, or Enemy Within, but we find the style of The Bureau still ensures it is a classic game. Available on the App Store.
[See: Mac software reviews]
Stick It To The Man
Stick It To The Man is a fairly unique mixture of platform, puzzle and adventure game. You control Ray, who lives in a world made of paper and stickers. You can tear the world apart around you by pulling stickers off and placing them elsewhere. Ray can also read the minds of other people in the game, and you combine these two abilities to get through the levels.
Stick It To The Man has a healthy score of 85 on Metacritic. It came out in December 2013 and is currently available for Mac on Steam. Stick It To The Man is another game showing that the Mac platform is being taken seriously.
The Banner Saga
This beautiful roleplaying game sees you adventure through a Norse world of Vikings. Rather than take control of a single player, the story unfolds from several characters' viewpoints. So The Banner Saga is like Game Of Thrones but hand-drawn in a Disney style. An epic roleplaying game with strategic decisions that affect the journey. The Banner Saga was another game developed for Mac alongside the PC version and released in January 2014. Available on Steam.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag for Mac
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is another high-profile PC game that you might be considering playing on your Mac. Black Flag is also the black sheep in this round up because there isn’t currently a Mac version of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (though you can buy the Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag Companion app for iPhone or iPad on the App Store). We’re not sure if Assassin's Creed IV will be ported for Mac, and there is no announcement on the part of Ubisoft regarding a conversion.
We wouldn't advise running Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag through virtualization or Boot Camp. Both Boot Camp and users are reporting graphic errors when trying this. We’d suggest giving this one a miss for now.
How to play other PC games on a Mac
We've spoken here about the specific methods you can use to play five brilliant PC games on your Mac, but there are general methods you can use to run almost any Windows PC software on Apple hardware.
You can run Windows on a Mac using Boot Camp, and then run Windows software - including PC games - on that installation. Boot Camp is the easiest option in most cases because the required feature - Boot Camp itself - is built into OS X. It also offers the best performance because your Mac's hardware is dedicated only to running the Windows OS.
Alternatively, you can use virtualisation software such as VMware or Parallels. Virtualisation uses software to create a virtual machine, actually using your Mac's hardware but in all other respects appearing to be a separate computer. The virtual machine can run Windows, or indeed any x86 OS - you could run Linux, for example.
We discuss methods for running PC games (and other Windows software) on a Mac in our tutorial feature: How to install and run Windows on any Apple Mac using Boot Camp and virtualisation.