Call it “the Steam Deck effect.” Valve’s console launch is having an immediately awesome impact on the entire Linux gaming ecosystem, and is clearly swaying publishers like EA. For PC gamers eagerly awaiting the arrival of their favorite multiplayer games on Linux — specifically the ones reliant on Easy Anti-Cheat (EAC) — today brings incredibly positive news. Respawn’s hero shooter Apex Legends is up and running on Linux.
We were clued into this 5 days ago thanks to SteamDB, when a new Apex Legends branch named “Steam Deck Testing” showed up. But today Liam at GamingOnLinux told me he spotted that build in the public depot. This basically means that whatever testing had been conducted was likely deemed successful and added to the “live” game.
Lo and behold, I fired up Steam and a small update was downloaded.
It’s Not A Fluke, It’s Official
I had to dive in and test this out, especially in the absence of an official announcement from EA, Valve or Respawn.
The first sign that this wasn’t a fluke is that the Linux-specific library file for Easy Anti-Cheat is sitting in the installed Apex Legends folder. Here’s what that looks like:
We can also see from the SteamDB info that the Linux files necessary have been added to the build:
Linux gamers have frequently had their hopes dashed when Steam Proton (the compatibility layer that enables Windows games to run well on Linux) successfully “emulated” the EAC loading screen and occasionally got them into a match. This happened with Destiny 2 in the past, and unfortunately got some players kicked or banned for suspicious activity. Those instances were flukes, because the developers had not officially enabled Linux support for EAC.
In the case of Apex Legends, the required files are definitely there, and everything points to this being the real deal.
It Just Works On Steam Deck — So It Works On Linux
I’m convinced we’ll be seeing Apex Legends appear on the Steam Deck “Playable” or “Verified” list any moment. Though you won’t need a Steam Deck to play!
That’s because any development like this, even if it’s framed as being for Steam Deck, also benefits the wider desktop Linux ecosystem. I just completed multiple matches of Apex Legends on my Kubuntu Linux PC, as well as on my Steam Deck. On both systems, the game “just worked” out of the box, though there is some stutter present as new textures load in for the first time (these seem to dissipate and smooth out the more you play).
As I write this, the only requirements for playing Apex Legends on Linux now seem minimal: use Steam, have the “Enable Steam Play for all other titles” box checked, and enable Proton Experimental in the dropdown box.
Your move, Destiny 2.
I’ve reached out to Valve, Respawn, and EA for clarification. It’s been several days and I haven’t had a response, neither have others in the games media. My advice: don’t wipe your Windows partition until we get an official announcement from one of them!