Steam Play brings more Windows games to Linux
Modified Wine and new DirectX layer promises great Linux gaming
Just months after it seemed Valve might have given up on Linux gaming, a new beta version of steam Play has been released, bringing compatibility to a big selection of previously Windows-only games. As well as giving Linux Steam users access to a larger catalogue of games, Valve hopes that developers will be able to more easily port projects from other platforms.
Whether you use the Steam client on your Linux PC or you’re running Valve’s own Linuxbased SteamOS, this development means that a number of top games, such as Star Wars: Battlefront 2, Tekken 7, Fallout Shelter and most of the Doom titles (including the 2016 VR version) can now run on Linux.
Steam Play supports Windows games which don’t have a native Linux version to be installed and run within the Linux Steam client. This is made possible thanks to a twotier approach.
First is the work Valve has done with Codeweavers in developing Proton, a modified version of the Wine compatibility layer. Valve’s announcement post explains that “modifications to Wine are submitted upstream if they’re compatible with the goals and requirements of the larger Wine project; as a result, Wine users have been benefitting from parts of this work for over a year now.”
Second is compatibility with Direct3D graphics, thanks to vkd3d. This implementation of Direct3D 12 uses Vulkan for high-performance graphics. DXVK is also included – another Vulkan implementation, this time for Direct3D 11. This has involved “direct support from our open-source graphics group to fix Mesa driver issues affecting DXVK,” and collaboration with “Khronos, NVIDIA, Intel and AMD to coordinate Vulkan feature and driver support.”
Meanwhile, to improve the overall gaming experience, full-screen graphics and multithreading have all been enhanced. Full-screen games will now be “seamlessly stretched to the desired display without interfering with the native monitor resolution or requiring the use of a virtual desktop.” Additionally, all Steam-supported controllers should now be automatically recognised by supported games.