The traditional wave energy converters (WECs) use hydraulic or turbine-type power take-off (PTO) mechanisms which consist of many moving parts, creating mechanical complexity and increasing the installation and maintenance costs. Linear generator-based direct-drive WECs could be a solution to overcome this problem, but the efficiency of the single conventional linear generator is not high enough, and it cannot work satisfactorily in the low-frequency range. This article reviews the recent research developments of the linear permanent magnet (PM) generator-based WEC to harness maximum energy from ocean waves. It starts with a brief introduction and background of wave energy converters using linear generators. Following this, the working principle of the WECs with linear PM generators is briefly outlined. Subsequently, the analytical model of the linear PM generator-based WEC is studied. After that, the up-to-date developments of the linear PM generator-based PTO systems are studied. Despite some modifications resulting in complexity in the linear PM generator’s structure and a rise in manufacturing costs, the study shows the systems’ efficiencies increased by increasing magnetic flux and reducing cogging force. The key parameters and improvement issues that can increase the performances and efficiencies of the PTO systems are identified to help future researchers for further development. Moreover, the review discusses the numerical and experimental analysis tools, the typical control systems used by the researchers and the challenges of the linear generator-based wave energy conversion system. Finally, conclusions about the significant beneficial characteristics and design choice of the WEC linear generator structure are provided and related to the application conditions.