We continue our list of the best games for Mac. The next category is:
Roleplaying games (RPGs)
Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition
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.
Book of Demons
At first glance, Book Of Demons looks a lot like action-RPGs such as the evergreen Diablo series, but it also includes elements of collectable card games and a distinctive graphics style that gives the game a pace and personality of its own.
The static screenshot shown below looks very much like the fast-paced Diablo 3 - as well as sharing the same basic storyline - as you create a warrior, mage or rogue who investigates an invasion of demons coming up from beneath a nearby desecrated cathedral. You also see two large orbs displayed on-screen that represent your health and mana for combat and casting spells, along with a quickbar that allows you to select a variety of different combat skills.
However, the action proceeds at a slightly slower pace than Diablo, as your character progresses through a series of dungeons drawn in a cartoon style that looks a lot like an old-fashioned pop-up book. And, instead of automatically gaining new combat skills and spells as you level up, your character has to collect 'cards' by defeating enemies, which can be used like the combat cards in collectable games such as Hearthstone.
You'll need to learn which cards suit your own personal fighting style, and how they work against different types of enemy, in order to fight your way down into the depths of the dungeons. But you don't need to spend entire evenings fighting through the game, as Book Of Demons has a 'flexiscope' option that allows you to set the length of each quest, making it a great option for casual players who just want to dip into the game every now and then.
Alternatively, if you're feeling really hard-core then you can also select the game's rogue-like difficulty level, which rewards failure with permanent death. The slower pace won't appeal to fans of Diablo's high-speed kill-loot-kill style of play, but if you enjoy traditional table-top role-playing games then Book Of Demons will have a lot of old-fashioned charm.
It's been in early access on Steam for about a year now, but the Mac version we tried out didn't display any worrisome bugs, and the semi-3D graphics don't need a really high-end Mac to run either.
Company: Blizzard Entertainment
Where to buy: Battle.net EU (from £16.99/€19.99) or Battle.net US ($19.99)
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 2
Company: Larian Studios
Where to buy: Steam (£17.99/$26.99), Mac App Store (£43.99/$44.99)
Requirements: macOS 10.13.6 or later, MacBook Pro 2016 or later, MacBook Air 2017 or later, iMac with AMD graphics 2013 or later, Mac Mini 2018
At the end of 2018, the developers at Larian Studios announced that they were working with Apple - in itself a bit of a shock as Apple generally shows bugger-all interest in games on the Mac - to develop a Mac version of Original Sin 2 (one of the greatest RPGs of all time) using Apple's Metal graphics system. There's nothing half-hearted about the Mac version, either - as well as using Metal for the impressive 3D graphics, the game supports HDR (high dynamic range) on the latest Macs, as well as Mac-specific features such as Apple trackpads and the TouchBar on new MacBook Pro models. And the game's multiplayer mode even works across both Macs and PCs, so you can play online with your friends (as long as you've all got the latest patches and updates). The only drawback here is that the Metal graphics require a fairly powerful Mac, so make sure to check the game's system requirements before buying.
Don't worry if you've haven't played the original game, as this sequel remains in the fantasy world of Rivellon, but steps forward in time and allows you to embark on an entirely new adventure. You start the game in a bit of trouble, as you've been captured and sentenced to jail for using a dangerous magical force called 'Source'. Using Source gives you - and other 'Sourcerors' - great power, but it also creates a gateway to another dimension called The Void, allowing evil creatures to invade Rivellon. And, yep - you guessed it - your job is to save the world from the invading demons.
The game begins with a helpful tutorial to get new players started, and newcomers can also opt for a ready-made 'origin' character that has already been set up for you. More experienced players can delve into character creation, with a wide variety of races on offer - with standard options such as humans, dwarves and elves complemented by more exotic lizards and undead - and the game also offers several difficulty levels and modes to cater for different playing styles and levels of experience.
It might all sound like fairly routine fantasy fare, but Original Sin 2 is tremendously well-made and involving. There are few simple good-versus-evil choices, and sometimes you'll find yourself wracked with guilt because you simply can't find a nice, clean solution to a particular problem or a tricky side-quest. The solo game by itself will keep even hardened role-playing fans absorbed through the dark winter months, and the various online and multiplayer modes will ensure that Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a game that you'll come back to time and time again.
Where to buy: Green Man Gaming (base game for £4.70 + expansion for £15.43), Steam (base game for £7.49 + expansion for £16.24)
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.9, dual-core Intel processor, GeForce 460, Radeon 6850 with 1GB VRAM
If you need a bit of a dragon action now that Game Of Thrones has come to an end, then the latest update and expansion for Elder Scrolls Online could be just what you're looking for. The popular single-player games in the Elder Scrolls series have never been available for the Mac, but the massively multi-player ESO has supported the Mac from day one, and a series of major updates has kept the game feeling fresh and fun as it celebrates five years of online adventure.
The basic game can be played with a one-off payment, although an optional subscription provides additional storage for all your adventuring gear, as well as an online store that sells crafting materials, pets and other goodies. That basic game gives you access to a vast online world where you can choose from a wide range of role-playing character classes and races and then explore a vast online world full of monsters, quests and annoyingly random loot drops.
The game may be full of dungeons, but there haven't been too many dragons - until now. The update for 2019 is a little pricey, but it takes you to Elsweyr, the homeland of the game's cat-like Khajiit people, which is now being threatened by a "rage of dragons".
As well as giving you this this large new region to explore, the Elsweyr update launches a major new story and a series of quests called Year Of The Dragon, which will keep you busy swinging swords and slinging spells for the rest of the year. The expansion also introduces a new character class for the first time in a couple of years, in the form of the creepy Necromancer.
Getting involved in ESO does require a bit of an initial investment, but the ability to play without a monthly subscription means that you can play for as long as you want, and explains why so many players stick with this engrossing game year after year.
Company: Square Enix
Where to buy: Square Enix EU store (£9.99, plus £8.99 per month) or US store ($19.99, plus $14.99 per month)
Requirements: iMac from late-2013 or above, with OS X v10.10, discrete graphics card with 512MB VRAM or Intel Iris Pro
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.
Guild Wars 2: Heart Of Thorns
The original Guild Wars 2 has been available on the Mac for quite a while, but we 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 it really provides 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 extra for the expansions. (Since we wrote this recommendation, the second Path of Fire expansion has been released, which also costs £25.99/$29.99 - or you can buy both expansions for £42.99/$49.99.)
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.
Overlord: Raising Hell
Company: Virtual Programming
Where to buy: Steam (£1.74/$2.49, also requires Overlord for 87p/$1.24), Deliver2 (£6.99/$9.99), Mac App Store (£8.99/$8.99)
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.9, 2.0GHz dual-core Intel processor
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.
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.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Company: Versus Evil
Where to buy: Steam (£16.49/$24.99), Green Man Gaming (£46.49/$59.99, Deluxe Edition)
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.12.6 or later, 2.9GHz Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia GeForce GT750M or Radeon R9 M370X
The original Pillars Of Eternity was a big hit back in 2015, that very much harked back to classic RPG games such as Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale. At the end of that first game you (probably) saved the world and picked up a nice little castle for your troubles. Five years later, this sequel kicks off with the somewhat disturbing news that the ancient god Eothas was buried under the castle, and he has now returned to life, destroying the castle and gobbling up a whole bunch of souls along the way. Clearly in need of a little sunshine after being buried underground for all those millennia, Eothas heads for the islands of the Deadfire Archipelago, with you in hot pursuit on board the good ship Defiant.
Setting much of the action on board the Defiant adds a new element to Deadfire. The game still has the well-written story and quests as its predecessors, along with a handy cast of characters that can join you in your adventures. However, taking control of the Defiant and its crew makes you a lot more mobile, allowing you to explore the islands and pick up all sorts of extra quests along the way. There's even an element of naval combat too, as you encounter rascally pirates eager to relieve you of all your magical loot.
The game has brushed up its traditional approach to combat too, with more detailed 3D graphics and lighting effects - overlaid on top of the finely detailed 2D background artwork that typifies this genre of role-playing game - and improved camera controls that help you to keep track of the all different characters as the swords-and-sorcery combat fills the screen. It's never going to compete with the likes of Diablo 3 with its high-speed kill-loot-kill action, but the updated graphics give Deadfire a slightly more modern feel that will help it to attract a younger audience, while still offering the rich story-telling and fantasy world-building of the best old-school RPGs.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II
Where to buy: Green Man Gaming (£2.01/$2.80), Steam (£2.51/$3.49), Mac App Store (£9.99/$9.99)
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.9.5, 2.2GHz dual-core Intel processor, 4GB RAM, 256MB graphics card
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, 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.
Two Worlds II
Where to buy: Mac App Store (standard edition: £9.99/$9.99), Mac App Store (GotY edition: £14.99/$14.99), Steam (£14.99/$19.99), Green Man Gaming (£14.99/$19.99)
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6.3, 2GHz Intel processor, graphics card with 512MB VRAM
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.
Where to buy: Mac App Store (£20.99/$21.99), Steam (£23.79/$29.99), Green Man Gaming (£23.79/$29.99)
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.10, 2.9GHz Intel Core i5 processor, discrete graphics card with 1GB VRAM
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 before buying.
Company: Haemimont Games
Where to buy: Steam (£15.99/$19.99), Green Man Gaming (£15.99/$19.99)
Requirements: Mac with OSX 10.9, 2GHz processor, GeForce 6000, AMD Radeon 5000, or Intel HD 4000
It's hard for any action-RPG to emerge from the shadow of Diablo 3 - which is still going strong after years, thanks to its 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
The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings
The Witcher 2 is 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.
Read our full The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings for Mac review
World Of Warcraft
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 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.