What is SteamPlay?
We covered this a little bit before, but for the uninitiated, SteamPlay is a feature introduced by Valve in 2010 that allows for Steam games bought on one platform to be download onto any other, be it Windows, Mac or Linux. In some cases it also allows for cross-platform multiplayer. Whether you have purchased your SteamPlay enabled game on a Mac or PC, you will be able to play on any other platform free of charge. Valve first launched this feature with Portal, and over time all their games were SteamPlay enabled. These days it’s a fairly common feature to be seen on the Steam store. SteamPlay games have a number of benefits ranging from better prices, frequent Mac support on-release and best of all, usually features cross-platform multiplayer so you aren’t limited to the smaller Mac audience. Here is our top ten list of SteamPlay games.
1. Borderlands 2
The “bigger, badder and better” sequel to the original Borderlands takes everything great about the first game and does just that. The levels are bigger, the weapons badder and the gameplay better. Fantastic graphics, endless loot, zany missions and some of the best cooperative fun you can have around. If you didn’t like the first Borderlands, this one probably won’t sway you. But if you enjoyed the first, or are just looking for a great FPS/RPG to play with friends, then Borderlands 2 will deliver in spades. (Buy)
2. Left 4 Dead 2
Another sequel to a fantastic original game, Left 4 Dead 2 shambled onto the Mac scene in late 2010. Even years later this terrific zombie-apocalypse themed shooter remains fun. While many coop games you are free to do as you please, this game requires teamwork and skill to survive. All of the original games campaigns have been ported over, and with the Steam Workshop you can find dozens of new levels. Even better there’s a near endless amount of mods to add from weapons, characters, zombies and even audio and visual effects. For pure, frantic cooperative awesomeness, check out Left 4 Dead 2. (Buy)
3. Max Payne 3
While marred by some launch and performance problems, Max Payne 3 still presents a dark and personal story combined with intense gameplay. Newcomers and veterans of the series alike will be drawn into Max’s world of corruption, violence and mystery. When you have completed Max’s journey alone in the campaign, you can take the action online in a variety of brutal game modes. This third entry into the franchise should be experienced by anyone who loves a good story and a top-notch shooter. (Buy)
4. Civilization 5
One of Aspyr’s big SteamPlay titles, the latest and greatest Civilization game provides beautiful visuals and sound, an expanded cultural system and new challenges in combat. Even if new to the series, the game can be played how you wish. Want to kill everyone? Build an army! Want to awe the world with your well-developed culture? Build wonders! Want to terrify China with your space program? Build Apollo! You will have hours lost playing “just one more turn” in single or multiplayer battles. (Buy)
5. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
For all the strategy (and RPG) fans out there, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is an amazing game. Base building, a deep upgrade and skill system, and best of all, highly rewarding and challenging turn-based tactical combat. While a campaign run could easily keep you busy for 30 or 40 hours, multiplayer games are easier to hop into. Customize your squad, load up and fight to the death. Save the world and crush your friends. It’s hard to ask for more than that. (Buy)
A simplified version of the MOBA or “hero arena” style games, Awesomenauts is a side scrolling DOTA-like. While quite accessible, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s easy. There’s plenty of strategy and teamwork to be had before victory is achieved. With unique heroes, plenty of players and the ability to drop into ongoing matches, Awesomenauts is a great choice for a quick break or extended play sessions. (Buy)
7. Trine 2
The first thing you will notice about Trine 2 is how absurdly good looking it is. And while one of the game’s strong points is to bedazzle you with visuals, those who are concerned the game is only pixel-deep need not be worried. Trine 2 holds up in every area and only the most jaded of gamers will not enjoy round two of this colorful fantasy romp. With up to three player coop locally or online, treat yourself and your friends to a puzzle-solving, monster-smashing, platforming adventure. You won’t regret it. (Buy)
8. Guns of Icarus Online
Perhaps the most unique game on this list, Guns of Icarus Online describes itself as a “Steampunk multiplayer airship combat game.” Pitting your ship and crew against other captains in the skies, a variety of maps and game types await you to duke it out for victory. Featuring character upgrades, ship customization and tense matches, the game will keep you on your toes. With frequent updates and even a competitive scene now, this odd yet curiously entertaining indie gem is worth your attention. (Buy)
9. Dungeon Defenders
A product of the evolution of tower defense games, Dungeon Defenders allows you to play an actual hero in addition to constructing towers. While not the most original hybrid of action RPG and TD games, it’s one of the most charming and entertaining. The colorful graphics, varied hero abilities, increasingly tough waves and great coop play will keep you coming back for more. (Buy)
10. Bioshock Infinite
While yet to be released, the highly anticipated Bioshock Infinite makes our list because it’s just that good. The world of BioShock has always been unique, and this third iteration is no exception. Leaving the seas of Rapture behind and taking to the skies of a flying city, Infinite will offer players a blend of compelling story and intense action you won’t find elsewhere. Aspyr will also be supporting all DLC content for the game, currently out and to-be released. Look out Columbia, Mac gamers are coming! (Buy)
So there you have it, our top ten list of SteamPlay enabled games. This list intentionally focused mostly on games with strong multiplayer or cooperative elements. There’s certainly many more fantastic games to explore on Steam that aren’t on this list, and any avid or interested Mac gamer should do so. Happy gaming!