The best strategy games on PC

Subscribe to PCGamesN on YouTube

What is the best PC strategy game? The genre was first invented way back in 1938 when Winston Churchill looked out of an aeroplane window over France and thought, "Hey, this would make a really cool videogame, whatever that is."

Since then there have been about a hundred million different strategy games, simulating about as many different kinds of fighting as we humans have had reasons to fight one another. From the all-encompassing broad strokes of the Civilization series to the individually rendered blades of the Total War games, and from the unflinchingly realistic depictions of Europa Universalis to the far flung fantasy tech of StarCraft, the genre is as diverse as they come.

PCGamesN: for all your PC gaming needs, point yourself over to our homepage.

But which are the absolute top strategy games on PC? Which are the best strategy games on Steam? Are any of them free? Well just drag a selection box over our bodies and right-click on the horizon, and we'll all be on our way to finding out.

Civilization VI

Best strategy games Civilization 6

If Civ V was the most streamlined the series had ever been, Civ VI is the most celebratory - a 25th anniversary iteration that sheds the sterility of previous entries in favour of a stirring soundtrack and brave new (cartoonish) look. It finds Firaxis remembering that the power of a 4X game lies as much in its atmosphere as its systems.

It’s testament to the attentiveness of Sid Meier and his studio, however, that they haven’t neglected those systems either. Civilization VI has exhumed several of the best additions from its predecessor’s Community Balance Patch, while pushing onwards and upwards with some offbeat new ideas - builders that expire after three turns, for instance, and cities that spread across several tiles.

Isn’t that what Civ is all about? Pushing onwards and upwards, reaching for the stars? Firaxis will surely continue to do just that, building on these strong foundations with balance patches and expansions. And players will do the same, conceiving game-changing Civ 6 mods. But even the game that exists now is a classic Civ. It’s not only a wonderfully colourful introductory experience, but also an intriguing twist on some of the series’ most deeply rooted mechanics that’ll keep veterans coming back for one more turn.

Want more? Here's our Civilization VI review.

Offworld Trading Company

Best strategy games Offworld Trading Company

Offworld Trading Company is right at the other end of the strategy spectrum from Civilization IV, though both were designed by Soren Johnson. While Civ spans the history and some of the future of humanity, chronicling the progress of mankind, OTC is all about making a fortune by exploiting our little red neighbour, Mars. 

It’s an RTS absent micro-management, and where victory isn’t achieved through throwing tanks at enemies or demolishing their bases. Instead, your weapons are resources and cash, which you’ll use to manipulate the marketplace not just to simply get rich, but to completely screw over your competitors. That’s if you’ve not made a possibly temporary alliance with one of your rivals, of course. Though you might end up closing deals with one hand while holding a dagger in the other. 

You might not expect an economic strategy game to be very aggressive, but OTC encourages you to be just as hostile as a warmonger. When you’re eyeing up the menus and planning what to build next, what to sell, if it’s time to start a hostile takeover of another company, it’s just as thrilling as when you’re sending infantry across artillery-pummelled fields or launching sneak air attacks against an enemy stronghold in Company of Heroes or StarCraft II. 

And remember Baba Yetu? Probably the greatest piece of music composed for a videogame? Well its composer, Christopher Tin, created the soundtrack for OTC. And yes, it’s really good.

Stellaris

Best strategy games Stellaris

Stellaris, Paradox’s 4X grand strategy hybrid, makes space surprising again thanks to event chains that are, at first, evocative of Crusader Kings II, but end up going much further. Expect mutant uprisings, robotic rebellions and the discovery of alien texts that make your citizens question their place in the galaxy. 

It’s not just a 4X game; it’s a galactic roleplaying game and empire sim, bestowing a vast array of options upon players, allowing them to create unique, eccentric space-faring species. You can play as a fundamentalist society built on the backs of slaves, or hyper-intelligent lizards that rely on robots whether they are fighting or farming. The robust species creator and multitude of meaningful decisions mean that you can create almost any aliens you can imagine. 

And underpinning all of that is the game’s focus on exploration. While most space 4X games stick with one method of interstellar travel, Stellaris gives you three to choose from, each with their own strengths and counters. In one game, the galaxy might be a network of hyperlanes, but in the next, you might find yourself building wormhole stations and blinking across the galaxy. 

Stellaris multiplayer isn’t to be overlooked either, transforming decent human beings into Machiavellian alien tyrants at the drop of a hat.

Want more? Here's our Stellaris review.

Ashes of the Singularity 

Best strategy games Ashes of the Singularity

Ashes of the Singularity wears its Supreme Commander (seen elsewhere on this list) and Total Annihilation influences on its sleeve – complete with a camera view that can zoom all the way out, to the point where you’re ordering micro machines around a grid; before zipping all way in, so that you’re so close to the action you can almost feel the grinding of a Hades aircraft’s gears. The UI is missing a strategic zoom, but hitting space brings up a strategic map overview which does the same job and doesn’t take too much getting used to. 

Ashes also operates a familiar streaming economy to Supreme Commander, whereby you build extractors to obtain resources from the land. But it strays from SupCom’s escalating tier system, instead at times echoing Company of Heroes in the way it requires you continually hunt down resource points. Metal and radioactives are the game’s primary resources and regions will typically house one or the other, whereas Turinium and Quanta make up the rest - the former used to boost intelligence and achieve critical mass; the latter needed to boost unit output - thus much of your strategy hinges on your ability to manage all resources simultaneously.

Large scale armies of course make for large scale battles, which is where Ashes of the Singularity shines. Air units provide radar and visual coverage, and can bomb targets; whereas ground units are comprised of anything from small frigates around 50m in length, to humongous, kilometer-long Dreadnoughts. These are your best form of offence as, besides their size, they employ a veterancy feature that lets them gain experience with each passing battle. And best of all, they can be grouped together into meta units, intelligently working and moving as one. 

Want more? Here's our Ashes of the Singularity review.

XCOM 2

best strategy games XCOM 2

XCOM 2 is one of the all time greats of the tactics genre. Already. It takes the best bits from the series so far – the savage struggle, the ragtag group of heroes, the devious aliens, the tight tactical battles – and just throws improvement after improvement on top. 

Once again you’re sending up to six soldiers into the breach, but this time as a group of struggling survivors fighting against a tyrannical alien regime. It’s all guerilla tactics, covert missions and dissidence. You need to learn to make sacrifices, leaving men and women behind so you can save the rest, and you need to learn to swallow losses and failures. 

The battles are challenging and varied, full of horrific adversaries with tricky, surprising abilities, but the biggest changes are found in the strategic layer. You’ll travel all over the world, setting up cells, infiltrating black sites, hunting for more resources so you can field more powerful weapons and tools - it’s compelling, rather than an afterthought. 

And XCOM 2 mods are already great. You can download a corgi gun. A corgi gun.

Want more? Here's our XCOM 2 review.

Total War: Shogun 2

Best strategy games Total War Shogun 2

Total War's second trip to Japan, the sequel to the very first Total War, is the greatest game in the series. Yes, better than the beloved original Rome or the ambitious and very pretty Attila. It’s a more thoughtful, scaled back Total War, in contrast to its massive, very flawed predecessor, Empire. 

Lessons had obviously been learned from the more focussed Napoleon. Shogun II’s map is diverse and full of interesting tactical problems thanks to the prevalence of mountains, but it’s also small, by Total War standards, and more manageable. This is very, very good, because it means one important thing: more battles! 

Total War: Shogun II is undoubtedly the prettiest game in the series to boot. Its newer siblings might be younger and firmer, but Shogun’s got a style they could only dream of, where battles are peppered with floating cherry blossoms and individual warriors duke it out in tense duels. 

There's a lot to recommend beyond the base game, too. Check our guides to the best Shogun II mods, Shogun II DLC and Shogun II user-created maps. The excellent Fall of the Samurai expansion is also a must, particularly if you want to see gunpowder warfare done right, or at least better than in Empire.

Want more? Here's our Total War: Shogun II review.  

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak

best strategy games Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak

With Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, Blackbird Interactive have done the seemingly impossible: transpose the elegant, minimalist space wars of the original Homeworld games to a single planet. And somehow, it works. 

It’s a journey, across a never-ending desert, on a mission to save a civilisation. Each battle is connected to the last, and the ones yet to be played. Every unit that survives will live to fight another day in another mission in a persistent war for survival.

Kharak itself, despite just being one giant desert, is a fantastic planet-sized battlefield. The addition of terrain and elevation replicates the three-dimensional battles of the previous games, with the sand dunes providing cover, hiding spots and high ground from where you can unleash devastating attacks. 

Like its predecessors, Deserts of Kharak is also blessed with some of the best art design that you could hope to find in an RTS, accompanied by incredible sound design and a genuinely interesting narrative.    

Want more? Here's our Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak review. 

Cities: Skylines

best strategy games Cities Skylines

Not since SimCity 4 has there been a city-builder of such great quality. Colossal Order had made a name for itself through the Cities in Motion series, which simulated city transport networks, but skylines was much more ambitious – a full-featured, highly moddable city management game. And what a game. Huge, in size and scope, detailed and logical, Cities: Skylines managed to almost make us forget about 2013's disappointing SimCity.

On the day it launched, it was already an impressive game, but by the end of the day it proved to be something else: a playground for modders. In stark comparison with EA's attitude in regards to SimCity, Colossal Order smartly opened their game up to the masses, allowing modders to fiddle with all manner of things, from in-game buildings and roads to entirely new assets and tools.

The base game should keep most avid city planners happy, but Skylines' expansions are more than worth a look as well. They expand the commercial aspect of your cities, adding in a whole lot of leisure, as well as a game-changing day and night cycle. More than just an aesthetic touch, that gives you a lot more fine control over your city, letting you plan city services like garbage disposal, public transport and police patrols around the time of day. For instance, the roads are quieter late at night, making it easier for the garbage trucks to make their stops.

With the diligent modding community still very much active, Skylines promises to only get bigger. Take a look at our list of the best Cities: Skylines mods.

Want more? Here's our Cities: Skylines review.

Endless Legend 

best strategy games Endless Legend

Whenever Endless Legend comes up in conversation, it's hard not to gush about it, which is what we're being forced to do here. Forced by the fact that it’s just lovely, earning itself a place as one of the best games of 2014

It’s a 4X game that blends fantasy and science fiction seamlessly, throwing stranded spacemen against magical dragon people in absolutely the most striking hex-based world. Diverse, gorgeous, it looks almost tangible, like you could reach out and pick up one of the elaborate cities and cradle it in your hands. "Don't worry, citizens. We won't let the horrible man-eating insects devour you and your families." 

What makes it most notable are the fascinating factions that vie for dominance over the pretty but slightly apocalyptic world, each blessed with unique and interesting mechanics that set them apart and inform how they are played. You’ve got the horrible aforementioned flesh-eating insect race, the Necrophage, for instance, who are so foul that they can’t make alliances with the other factions, forcing them to always be the opposition. And there’s the bizarre Cultists, a faction of peculiar zealots that can only construct one city and must rely on swallowing up other factions if they want to expand.

It loses steam a bit when it gets to the end game, but remains fun and the journey to that point is rich in interesting strategic and tactical decisions. Surprisingly, it’s also blessed with a strong narrative that lends the game a tangible sense of place. Every faction has a unique set of story quests that will inform a lot of your decisions without backing you into a corner, and there's an abundance of side-quests and stories that makes it feel like you're managing a world where a roleplaying adventure is taking place.

Want more? Here's our Endless Legend review.

Crusader Kings II

best strategy games Crusader Kings 2

Crusader Kings II is a murderous bastard of a grand-strategy game. You play a medieval ruler trying to gain more power, influence, and territory in a historically authentic medieval Europe. It's a game of intrigue, war, politics and religion, played out on a stunning, detailed map of the known world and in countless, complex menus. Really, though, it's about people: your dynasty, your vassals, you lovers, enemies and family members. 

It’s this personal element that makes CKII so compelling. You are in charge of a family, not an abstract nation. You will marry and have kids, you’ll die, and then your heir will take over and the whole thing begins again. In between all this, you can use intrigue or brute force to increase your holdings, but the key is that you develop a real personal connection with your characters, you avatar. You will mourn their death, you’ll cheer their every triumph.

You'll want to make a lot of friends, and then betray them all, the fools.

Usurp thrones, create politically advantageous marriages, murder your wife, and if it all gets too much for you, there's always the occasional jousting tournament or day of hunting to keep you in good spirits. As long as they don't kill you.

Want more? Here's our Crusader Kings II review.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War

best strategy games Dawn of War

Playing Dawn of War now is fascinating. In many ways, it feels like a very traditional RTS, with lots of base building, turtling and resource management. But it’s also a precursor to the likes of Company of Heroes. We see Relic starting to experiment with morale, cover, squads and drastically different factions. 

There's an intensity underpinning the whole game. It’s all about pushing forward, then capturing and holding territory. And all the time, resources become more fleeting, as generators and the like decay. But the war machine constantly needs to be fed.

Expansions fleshed the game out, introducing more factions built around unique mechanics. There’s the sneaky Eldar, waaargh-hungry Orks, the massive Imperial Guard – each faction offered different ways to play the game. By the end, there were nine in total. 

Dawn of War II ended up changing just about everything, making battles smaller and focusing on tactics over strategy. It was still great, but the move away from the traditions of the genre made it lose some of its magic. Dawn of War III's single-player campaign promises to strike a healthy balance.

StarCraft II

best strategy games StarCraft II

Starcraft II is a sci-fi strategy game about armoured cowboys versus xenomorphic aliens and space elves. It’s a classic base-building RTS where you gather resources, build armies, and kill your enemy before they kill you with quick decisions and even quicker mouse clicks.

Multiplayer is a huge part of Starcraft II. Your enemies will be human; they will be able to click faster than you, issue orders quicker than you.  You will probably lose a lot, but you will get better the more you play, and there is a small but dedicated competitive player-base to compete against at the eSports level.

The single-player is also interesting - Blizzard have combined frantic action with an RPG-like backdrop as you follow the exploits of Terran mercenary Jim Raynor. You will fight through a series of missions, many of which will have unique objectives - like trying to harvest resources on a map that periodically fills up with lava, or defending against waves upon waves of Zerg for a set period of time. In between missions you’ll explore an RPG-ish hub, where you can talk to people, research new techs and decide where your next destination will be. Story is hard to do in RTS, and many resign themselves to cutscenes or in-mission dialogue, but SCII actually makes you interact with the world outside combat, and so it’s more interactive story.

2015 saw the game conclude with the launch of Legacy of the Void, one of our best games of 2015, so if you want the whole experience, you'll be wanting to get all three entries in the series.

Want more? Here's our StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void review.

Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault

best strategy games Company of Heroes 2 Ardennes Assault

Company of Heroes 2 was great, but it didn't quite match the magic of its predecessor. Then Ardennes Assault came along. The US forces and German Oberkommando are fighting over control of the Ardennes, in a campaign inspired by The Battle of the Bulge. What sets it apart from both Company of Heroes and the sequel is the non-linear campaign that plays out across a strategic meta map. The Germans are dynamic, being reinforced by retreating forces, changing the challenges posed by both story missions and the dynamic skirmishes.

A single battle can be replayed many times, with each fight offering new obstacles. 

While the campaign is only played from the American point of view, the US forces are split into three companies, all with unique specialties covering air, support and mechanised roles. These companies all have special officer abilities and upgrade trees, and any can be used to tackle a mission. Even if you focus on one, the other two will still be on the map, and can provide assistance by blocking the enemy retreat out of a captured province. 

This is the first time the battles in Company of Heroes have had real weight. Previously, winning was all that mattered. Finish the mission and you move on to the next one, starting fresh. Ardennes Assault is a persistent campaign, though, and losses in battle can bring down a company's veterancy and manpower. There's even a risk of it being wiped out entirely, leaving the other two companies to face the Germans alone.

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion

best strategy games Sins of a Solar Empire

Sins of a Solar Empire cares more about action and titanic battles than most empire-building games do. Sure, you have planets you can colonise, industry and trade you can develop, but when it comes down to it, there’s always groups of ships throwing bullets, lasers and missiles at each other in the never-ending struggle for dominance.

It’s challenging, even against the AI. There are three races, each with their own identity, ships and technology. There are always neutral forces that will make early expansion slow, and there’s even a ‘Pirate’ faction that you can bribe to attack your neighbour, which always seems like a great idea until they’re paid even more money to attack you instead. There is a pretty involved diplomacy element as well, beyond the usual trade agreements and non-aggression pacts. Other factions can give you missions, like passing them resources or attacking another player, and you can do the same to them.

There’s a lot of movement in a typical Sins game: your scouts will be zipping from planet to planet in the search for new worlds to exploit. Your trade fleets will be moving goods from place to place, keeping the wheels of economy turning, and your mighty battle fleets will be darting from one crisis to the next, because if it’s not pirates at your door then it’s another faction coming to claim what’s yours.

There’s no single-player campaign per se: you simply play an infinite number of skirmish battles against the AI using a wide range of map set-ups, each with it’s own quirks and strategy. You can also create your own using the impressive map-making tools, and of course you can take the game online and play against real people.

Supreme Commander

best strategy games Supreme Commander

Supreme Commander was the game that broke PCs, such were the demands it placed on processors. This future war robo-RTS simplifies resource management and focuses more on creating the perfect war machine. You start off with a single irreplaceable command unit, and from there you build factories that will churn out units to wage war on your enemies.

It’s the sheer scale that does it - years later, Supreme Commander doesn’t so much break PCs anymore as it breaks minds. A player’s army can potentially reach up to 1,000 units separated out into land, sea and air. You have to orchestrate a careful ballet of production, movement and attack, grinding down your opponent while keeping your command unit safe, and your factories powered and supplied so that they can create more machines of death. It’s brilliant and mind-boggling.

This was one of the few games to officially support dual monitors, which means you can have a zoomable map up on the second screen. It’s a godsend, as it allows you to keep an eye on the big picture a lot easier. Few games are blessed with the same scale as Supreme Commander, and when you take the war online that’s where the real challenge begins. Titles like StarCraft demand quick thinking and quicker reactions, but they only deal with a couple of dozen units at most. Supreme Commander demands all of that, and deals in the thousands.

That's it, the best PC strategy games out there. But we almost certainly missed some of your favourites, so let us know in the comments.

Try these free to play games
?

These are affiliate links - clicking them and playing the games directly supports PCGamesN

Sign in to Commentlogin to comment
Chris Evans avatarunwanted avatarTim Edwards avatarrobzacny avatarDog Pants avatarsubedii avatar+45
lotrfan45 Avatar
6
2 Years ago

Command and Conquer helped create the modern strategy game, I would say that makes the game relevant, and should have a spot on this list

4
MrAptronym Avatar
356
2 Years ago

I think the list is more "What is the most fun right now.", they say "Here are the 15 best strategy games that I think you should all play right now." I love command and conquer but I don't think it has aged as well as some other titles.

Nothing wrong with lists of the most important titles, I just don't think this is that kind of list.

3
Dangerosul Avatar
1
8 Months ago

He is right, you know. The title of the article says "The best strategy games on PC" so i think C&C quialifies. Certainly not all of them are great and some have dated gfx and gameplay but the one i would definitely put on this list, and the best in the series, is C&C 3. Great gfx, gameplay, 3 playable factions, awesome superweapons and ALIENS that invade teh Earth. What more could you want in a sci-fi RTS?

1
Scar1976 Avatar
2
1 Year ago

Nope Dune brought it to life but the real player in land based rts was total anhilation, wich set a milestone wich games based on till this day

1
brmorgen82 Avatar
46
11 Months ago

There were these games called Dune 2 and Warcraft, young fella. But keep spewing garbage, it's what you do best.

1
MyGunGoesBoom! Avatar
1
3 Months ago

Although, Dune came before C&C.....

1
Chris Evans Avatar
128
3 Years ago

No love at all for any Commander and Conquer games makes me sad...but I can understand why. It is a series that hasn't really been relevant since Red Alert 2, and some would say Tiberian Sun was the last great C&C. Also some might say that the strategy is thinly veiled as you can just churn out masses of units and steam-roll the enemy for the most part. Lacks the nuance of Starcraft.

3
Rob Zacny Avatar
101
3 Years ago

Joe tried to add a C&C game. Can't remember which, I think it may have been Red Alert 2. Or maybe it was whatever was the most recent. I vetoed it for the reasons you list, and because we already had RTS games well-represented here.

I loved C&C when the series was young, but it just failed to grow. It loved its own campiness too much, the designs got more and more over the top, and yeah, that core game didn't really get more interesting. SupCom ate its lunch from the visual spectacle standpoint, and it really wasn't a good enough RTS to stand alongside any of its contemporaries.

2
Punishersfury Avatar
1
2 Years ago

i been playing rts games for a long time to not have WC3+exp nor ANY command and conquer games is a massive slight to rts hell they didnt eve mention dune between dune and c&c thats the heart of rts. now to be fair the last goood c&c game was c&c 3 tibrium wars as much as i love geerals i still have to say c&c 3 was my fav but its such a hard choice i was i could say there where both the best

1
Antonius Avatar
80
Antonius(6 hours played)
1 Year ago

No love for Homeworld(s), GalCiv or Masters of Orion?

Homeworld redefined RTS for 3D space and the GalCiv games are solid, worthy 4X.

Haven't played a MoO since MoO 3 though. That was dense as **** to get into…

1
Julian Benson Avatar
180
Julian Benson(1 day 4 hours played)
3 Years ago

For me, the series peaked at C&C: Generals. They moved away from the kitsch videos (which I did love in the original games but the sheen wore off when they started spending so much on producing B-movie cutscenes) and simply created a fun, explosive RTS.

I'm hoping the C&C Victory Studios are working on taps into the Generals style of game.

2
Empyre Avatar
258
1 Year ago

Satiellite Riegn sould be in here.

3
AnAuldWolf Avatar
859
1 Year ago

Does Armello count? No? I'm terrible at this, as I have been with every other list.

I'm not so good at strategy, really. Glad those games exist though as it can be a joy to watch someone play them, and sometimes you have to have a mind like steel tacks to outwit the AI or whomever you're playing against. And when such a person is a good winner/loser on top of that? Well, you're probably looking at quite the admirable human being.

I never could get anywhere beyond the likes of Shining Force, FEDA, and Vandal Hearts. Or was it Vagrant Story? I always get those two confused. No, pretty sure it was Vandal Hearts. Terrible at Disgaea, though, but I find it so engaging as I'm fond of NIS's sense of humour. The only developer to have made a visual novel that I not only completed, but played more than once.

If you've not heard of it, look up Disgaea Infinite. It's a PSP game, but you people seem too civilised to go for all that 'console peasant' brainrot. Good for you!

Ah, Shining Force. It had an armadillo in steampunk powered armour. Unforgettable. We need a Shining Force remake that's actually good, so I can vote that in for one of these articles. Though it might not end up on PC, so I'd probably fail at the whole concept of these lists all over again.

3
unwanted Avatar
750
3 Years ago

It's almost like someone seen me talk about this.

2
Tim Edwards Avatar
512
Tim Edwards(3 hours played)
3 Years ago

We aim to please. 

2
subedii Avatar
751
3 Years ago

I can jibe with this list.

 

Personally I'd remove World in Conflict and replace it with Dawn of War 2. Because for me, WiC is better covered by Airland Battle if we're talking cold-war RTS, and DoW2 is probably the RTS I've played most of over the years. Probably the first RTS to REALLY suck me into playing online.

 

With regards to Supreme Commander, it still has an active community given that Forged Alliance Forever dropped a few months ago. Probably more active than SupCom 2. And all in all, it's still conducive to some epic large scale battles. I'd recommned Gyle's casts if you want to check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/user/felixlighta/videos

 

 

2
Dusty Avatar
2
2 Years ago

i must say that even though this is an "old post"

there is 1 game i miss on the list..

Total anihilation.

one of the very first RTS games, along with C&C that defined RTS games

even though games like Dune 1 came back in 1992.

i would trade WiC for total anihilation or the original C&C :D

but thats just me.. im old enough to remember the good old games

to bad the newer computers are to "heavy" to play the old classics

2
xNuke Avatar
378
2 Years ago

I miss Stronghold: Crusader from this list :( With it's HD remake it's playable and Crusader 2 is about to release in 3 weeks time. It's meant to stay true to the original.

Either way, the first one should've made it to the top 20 list

2
Turrican Avatar
31
1 Year ago

This is a great list:

I would personally add, Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, Homeworld and these days I'd rather have Rome 2 or Attila over Shogun.

2
Dog Pants Avatar
1385
Dog Pants(2 days 21 hours played)
3 Years ago

Regarding Empire at War, I recall the reviews of the time giving me the impression that the ground battles were pretty terrible. Can I assume from its entry here that they're not as bad as I thought? I've not played a decent strategic Star Wars game since Supremacy so my interest is piqued.

1
Joe Robinson Avatar
6
3 Years ago

The ground battles arn't great, although I personally feel the more scripted engagements in the single-player are alright. Considering Supremacy/Rebellion didn't even have ground battles though, it's a step up from that.

If you liked Supremecy, you should like this. It may not be the best RTS ever as far as mechanics and design (again, re ground battles), but it's a pretty kick-ass star wars game. You get to summon in Star Destroyers and see them blast away, the expansion adds in the SSDs, you can build and use Death Stars... it's an experience, and not one to sniff at. That's why I included it, anyway.

1
Shriven Avatar
3278
Shriven(9 days 12 hours played)
2 Years ago

I never would have thought about saying this 6 months ago, but Rome II has been polished up so well its better than Shogun for combat and depth. But the Shogun era is much more fun just to bask in.

It deserves a revisit.

1
Njoy420 Avatar
7
2 Years ago

One of my personal favorite strategy game is Lord of the rings: Battle for middle-earth 2 :P

1
Saiph Avatar
23
2 Years ago

It's a shame someone hasn't updated Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour so that it can be played on Windows 8.1. It's a classic game, and deserves to be mentioned in this list IMO. I used to love playing the GLA and steamrolling over the Americans *evil laugh*! ("Thank you for the new shoes!" :-D )

Another game that I bought only four days ago is Rise Of Nations, and I'm really enjoying it. It's great fun to start a game with spearmen and slingshot warriors, and end up planning missions using fighter and bomber aircraft. And of course if you want to go really crazy, you can develop nukes too. Great scope for varied strategy and tactics.

Apart from those omissions I think this list is very interesting. I own 10 of the 20 games mentioned, so there are a few that I'll be checking out and possibly buying, especially if they're in a Steam sale. Thanks for updating the list!

1
Fraser Brown Avatar
954
2 Years ago

When I was updating the list, I actually had a chat with Rob in regards to Rise of Nations, especially since there's the Extended Edition now. But having not played the new version, and since it's been many, many years since I played the original, I decided that I wasn't as comfortable adding it to the list as I was with the other new additions.

Of course, we'll no doubt be updating the list again at some point, and by then I might have had time to play the Extended Edition. So it could appear down the line.

1
Embed Avatar
1
1 Year ago

Don't know how about you, but I have C&C Generals: Zero Hour on Origin and it works fine on Win 8.1.

1
a_tiny_child Avatar
17
2 Years ago

No love for the Dominions series? For shame.

1
[Q]uik Avatar
2
2 Years ago

The fact that neither Victoria nor Hearts of Iron made the list, but CK2 and EUIV (EU being the worst of them..) did, makes me quite damned sad.

that said, for the most part it's a good list.

1
[Q]uik Avatar
2
2 Years ago

Wasnt World in conflicts multiplayer shut down?

Shouldnt that be stated in the "buyers guide"?

1
Tonton Avatar
1
2 Years ago

Where the f is Homeworld?

1
BraveToaster Avatar
279
2 Years ago

I'm really happy to see Starcraft 2 isn't on here. That boring trash killed the RTS genre. Blizzard is good at killing genres

1
Tovias Avatar
1004
2 Years ago

No Mount and Blade? Really?

1
Fraser Brown Avatar
954
2 Years ago

Mount & Blade: Warband is in both our top sandbox and top RPG lists.

2
Tovias Avatar
1004
2 Years ago

You know what? I also missed the strategy part in the title, my bad.

A lot of "The Best" lately.

1
TsunamiWombat Avatar
512
TsunamiWombat(4 days played)
2 Years ago

I feel like Dawn of War 2 should be on here as well, it was different from the original but good - well, alright, I feel like the last expansion fell flat.

Other than that, perfect list.

I also feel like SupCom should be on the list twice. Just because.

1
Fraser Brown Avatar
954
2 Years ago

SupCom really is brilliant.

I can't say I'm a huge fan of Dawn of War 2, though. It can be fun, and the progression of your squad is neat, but as a strategy game I think it's severely lacking. We're also picking the best from franchises rather than listing the franchise or listing them separately, and I think most would agree that the original is still the best.

1
TsunamiWombat Avatar
512
TsunamiWombat(4 days played)
2 Years ago

Me, I really loved DoW2's squad level control. It made perfect sense with the context of Space Marines. Sadly, they never got terribly creative with the level or mission design, but moving from one end of the map to the other setting up kill zones and dealing with enemy units in different ways was fun enough, almost like a RTS'y X-Com (Nu-Com). No other game has quite emulated it's style and thats a shame.

1
subedii Avatar
751
2 Years ago

This comments section is getting confusing. I would recommend simply starting a new post come 2015 instead of continuing to update this one.

.

Glad to see Infested Planet make the list. It’s a pretty awesome strategy game, and very different from most other RTS's. You regularly see yourself battling back and forth with the bugs on each map, losing the advantage one minute and being pushed back, then suddenly having a breakout moment as you adapt and change to the circumstances, or pull off a risky raid that takes the pressure off your flank, or even just remember an ability you had been forgetting about until now.

.

There’s a heavy emphasis on on-the-fly strategy, with the battles ebbing forwards and backwards as you advance, gain ground, the aliens adapt, force you back, and you desperately try not to loose too much whilst they counter-attack and frequently circumvent your previous strategies. You can gain momentum, but so can the enemy, and the game has a lot of scope for turn-arounds from dire circumstances with the right play (which applies just as much to the enemy).

.

All in all, I definitely recommend it, especially if you’re looking for something a little different from the standard RTS or squad level tactical game.

1
Matanuska Avatar
89
2 Years ago

I'd personally put Men of War: Assault Squad 2 on this list. Sure it's rough around the edges but it has a certain charm for a WW2 RTS I haven't felt since the late 90s/early 00s.

1
Techguy10110 Avatar
1
1 Year ago

Has no one mentioned Age of Mythology?

1
tomstubbs951 Avatar
2
1 Year ago

I've only played two of these games: Civilization V and Age of Empires. I really liked both of them, so maybe I'll have to try these other games. What's age of mythology? Is it more like civilizations, but with added mythological creatures. That sounds like a pretty interesting game. http://www.gameofwarrealtips.com

2
arkons Avatar
1
arkons(1 day 17 hours played)
1 Year ago

I will always maintain, that Warcraft 3 is one of the best strategy games ever made, and it does deserve a place on this list. A game that's only downfall wasn't even in the gameplay, but it was let down by the devs, who left it in the mercy of hackers. A HD remake with cheat-secure official servers would put it back on the map, even after 10+ years. Also, I agree with some of the comments here about the C&C series, my vote would go to Generals, that was a lot of fun to play, both the core game and the expansion, Zero Hour.

1
marcusb1976 Avatar
1
1 Year ago

Home World or one of the 2 Home World sequals along with Command and Conquer or one of the 16 Comand and Conquer sequals should have a right to be on the list;)

1
fizicro Avatar
1
1 Year ago

The Emissary should be on the list to , I play it for days ( not that I recommend it ) , it's available for free ( I played it on Linux )

Check it out here http://stratmontclanstrategies.blogspot.com/

I agree on Command and conquer , spent days on it

1
Sir Killalot Avatar
1
1 Year ago

I can't believe this list doesn't have Warcraft III...

1
.The_Crow Avatar
1
1 Year ago

I would make a list as well, I can respect most. See the supreme commander as the revival of total annihilation :) the old dune and Warcraft are pas their prime but the only title I am really lacki is any title in the heroes of might and magic series?

1
Mctittles Avatar
158
1 Year ago

If you haven't played it I recommend A.I. War which is absolutely the best co-op strategy game I have ever played. Nothing else even comes close.

1
Turrican Avatar
31
1 Year ago

Great list. However, Endless Legend and Homeworld would be on my list also.

1
Droniac Avatar
50
Droniac(1 day 8 hours played)
1 Year ago

There's a few games I want to comment on:

World in Conflict - multiplayer may be shut down, but its singleplayer campaign is so good that it should probably be mentioned regardless. It's one of few strategy games that I'd point to as having good singleplayer campaigns.

Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War - I think you should make this more specific and point directly at Dark Crusade. It's easily the best version of that game.

Dawn of War 2 - is underrated. The singleplayer is only fun if you enjoy clicker-RPGs like Diablo, but multiplayer is surprisingly good. Team matches in particular are very fun and different from the norm.

Best licensed strategy game - should still be Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, but Empire at War is a great second ;)

Best strategy game campaign - where is it?

I get that CoH 2: Ardennes Assault has a nice dynamic campaign, but that's all it is: interestingly dynamic. To be blunt: CoH's mission design is terrible, its storytelling is weak, it doesn't have much variety and its presentation is poor.

There are strategy games that do try to tell a story and actually manage to present it rather well and within an interestingly varied, but structured, campaign. Think of the C&C games, StarCraft 2, World in Conflict, Battle Realms, Homeworld, etc.

Strategy games may not traditionally be the best vehicles for story, but World in Conflict outshines most story-driven shooters and Battle Realms likewise trounces most fantasy RPGs. As for StarCraft 2: that presentation, that mission design, wow.

1
Irritant Avatar
1
1 Year ago

A good test for RTS games is to think how popular or enjoyable the game would be if it had basic graphics (think 1995). In some cases (like Civilization or Starcraft) it would be just as good, in other cases (like the XCOM remake) it would make it pretty obvious that they're just a basic RNG hiding behind pretty 3D models. To call that thing a strategy game is an insult to the word "strategy". At best it involves some tactics, and (given how bad the AI is) you don't even need much of that.

1
Raith Avatar
1
1 Year ago

Look, I LOVE Sins of a Solar Empire, I do...buuut I don't think it's better than Homeworld or Galactic Civilizations 2.

1
Vinu Avatar
1
1 Year ago

What about Warcraft?

1
JeezusJessie Avatar
1
11 Months ago

SWEAW is definitely a good one, but I didn't like the population cap on it though - especially in space skirmishes. Still, glad it's here.

1
Duderonamy Avatar
2
3 Months ago

Master Of Orion not in here?

1
Jezcentral Avatar
481
2 Years ago

I know this is an update, but don't forget XCOM now has an expansion, Enemy Within. It's a cracker, and I would recommend people get that, rather than "just" the vanilla game.

God, I was so happy it was so good. (Do you see my avatar? DO YOU?)

0
aevansjr35 Avatar
3
1 Year ago

I do NOT recommend war game series. Horrible quality. T-55 tanks can take out M1A2's with no issue while M1A2's can sit their and shoot and do no damage, vehicle and weapon models are just bad. Game play is closer to arcade then it is strategy.

0
Turrican Avatar
31
1 Year ago

Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun has a special place in my heart.

I think Age of Wonders III is a great game.

There are just too many unbelievably good games out there now and with XCom2 and Warhammer on the horizon, the dilemma of what to spend precious time on is only going to get worse.

0
aevansjr35 Avatar
3
1 Year ago

I wouldnt consider the wargame series strategy games.. more like arcade RTS. Not even close to realistic.

0
Vinu Avatar
1
1 Year ago

What about Warcraft?

0
aevansjr35 Avatar
3
1 Year ago

wargamer is one of the worst wargames out their. Unrealistic and unfair scenarios its easy to play and beat but its far from being realistic and thats what kills it.

-1