What are the best tank games on PC? Rolling into battle in a vehicle that weighs the same as ten elephants and can raze entire buildings with a single shot never gets old, but it’s not always easy to find a tank game that delivers in every key area. Sometimes, it’s the thrill of vulnerability is vital to the whole experience: the agony of reloading, the snail’s pace, and the fact that you’re the enemy’s priority target – and not a small one at that.
Just like the best war games, the best tank games are brilliant because they’re all about making you, the player, feel both overpowered and invulnerable. But the tank in some of the best free PC games is also synonymous with tense firefights and immense claustrophobia. From hyper-realistic, control-laden sims to arcadey, point-and-explode shoot-’em-ups (and maybe even a sneaky anime RPG or two), there’s a tank game for every type of player.
Here are the best tanks games:
World of Tanks
If it is a hardcore, lifetime-to-master tank game you are looking for, steer well clear of World of Tanks. This free-to-play titan offers fast and frantic gameplay with only a handful of realistic elements thrown in for good measure. This is one of the best tank games for casual gamers looking for an in-road to more tanking action, and yet one with enough depth and progression to keep gamers invested well into the later tiers of unlockable tanks.
Perhaps World of Tanks’ greatest strength is its roster of over 800 armored vehicles, ranging from scout vehicles to battlefield behemoths. Better still, with the game featuring tanks from France, Great Britain, Japan, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Soviet Russia, the United States, and China, there’s heaps of variation in what you will be battling alongside and squaring up to. You can even play it on the go if you don’t mind using the slightly watered-down mobile version: World of Tanks: Blitz.
A leviathan of free tank games and online games, War Thunder favors hardcore tacticians, genius statisticians, and obsessive attention to detail. Unlike rival World of Tanks, War Thunder cannot make any claims to being accessible. There are a ridiculous number of tanks and branches of research; you can quickly pour hours of your time into the wrong tank. Additionally, War Thunder boasts a complex and sophisticated armor penetration mechanic, which forces careful consideration before firing a single shot.
While War Thunder’s arcade mode does a decent job of introducing you to some of the game’s core mechanics, you cannot consider yourself a War Thunder veteran until you have emerged victorious from a simulator battle. This stripped-back game mode restricts your view, turns off aim assists, and dramatically increases the time it takes to perform any action. Every encounter is a nail-biting tactical nightmare.
If you’re just starting out, then be sure to check out our War Thunder Ground Battles tips and our guide to the best War Thunder tier 1 tanks. War Thunder also offers planes and ships to pilot, making it one of our best plane games, too.
Step into the boots of a master tank operator and roll your mightily armored way across iconic WWII battlefields in Enlisted. This free-to-play MMO from Gaijin Entertainment recreates several pivotal campaigns in atmospheric detail and includes – you guessed it – a whole bunch of tanks for you to deploy and control throughout each fight.
The game’s dedication to historical accuracy means that each tank or armored vehicle available per campaign directly corresponds to the ones that participated during the wars they were in. Therefore, there’s no danger of a K2 Black Panther rolling up and anachronistically shattering your combat reverie. Plus, with each member of your AI squad specializing in a specific tactic, it’s up to you to wait out the whole battle from within your steel shell’s (relative) safe armor or switch over to infantry or aircraft for a different perspective.
Call of War: World War II
Sometimes, you want to play a game where you’re riding around in the tank yourself, blowing up your enemies, and other times, you want a game where you’ve got a top-down view of the whole war, and you can dispatch the tanks wherever they’re most needed. That’s precisely the perspective you’ll get in Call of War: World War II, a free-to-play MMO grand strategy game.
This game allows you to play as one of the major combatants in the Second World War, with you and a large selection of other players able to redirect the entire course of history with your actions. As you can imagine, you don’t get through a game of Call of War: World War II in a single session – instead, you’ll be coming back again and again over a huge span of IRL time, deciding where to invest time and resources, whether that’s research to boost the economy, or reinforcing your military so you can become an unstoppable conqueror. It’s a game you’ll easily invest loads of hours into. Read our Call of Duty: WW2 PC review to see what makes this CoD game special.
Valkyria Chronicles 4
Tanks denote a feeling of power. You burst through battlefields encased in metal, blowing various buildings to smithereens. Not every game lets you get away with that, though. Valkyria Chronicles 4 leaves you feeling exposed if you charge in all willy-nilly – making for an alluring blend of power and strategy.
Sega’s tactical RPG puts you in the trench coat of an army officer tasked with guiding his unit through the grim reality of war. As you engage foes in turn-based battles, one of the units you call upon is a tank. Play it smart, and you’ll blast them to bits in a cunning flanking maneuver; put a step wrong, however, and you’ll find your tank shut down by a Lancer.
Europe’s pre-WWI political climate inspires the setting of Valkyria Chronicles 4. Visually, however, it looks closer to an anime game, giving it a visual charm compared to other tank-based games.
Panzer Corps 2
Almost nine years after the release of Panzer Corps, the Panzer Corps 2 release date has finally arrived. Besides the substantial visual upgrade, the WWII strategy game sequel also expands on the tank battle game experience, including over 1,000 unique units (up from Panzer Corps’ 800) and an expansive campaign including 60 scenarios.
The multiplayer offerings are also numerous, with several ways to take the battle online against – or in cooperation with – your friends, and with extensive modding support and a powerful scenario editor, you’ll be able to orchestrate the tank-on-tank showdowns of your dreams.
While the tags of ‘MMO’, ‘free-to-play’, and ‘tank’ apply to Armored Warfare as well as they do to World of Tanks, some key differences ensure both are worth the time of a tank games veteran. Transporting World of Tanks’ remarkably approachable gameplay to the more modern era, Armoured Warfare provides tankers with more equipment, newer tanks, and a selection of versatile tank tech that adds much more variation to the core gameplay.
Additionally, Armored Warfare brings PVE to the fold, allowing you to team up with friends to take on AI enemies and progress through the ranks of tanks without constantly losing out to highly skilled foes in PVP. As a live game, Armored Warfare new tanks arrive frequently with updates that enhance and expand the game. You’ll never be short of a boomstick on wheels.
Steel Armor: Blaze Of War
What’s more fun than blowing stuff up and driving through buildings? Carefully micromanaging its crew and innards to the point where you forget you’re actually in a tank and instead begin to believe you’re a machinist in a factory… obviously.
Steel Armor: Blaze of War offers up new pastures concerning tank games, looking to the battlefields of the 1980s Iran-Iraq conflicts. Tank enthusiasts will adore the rampant attention to detail – there are only two tanks in the game, but both are rendered to staggering detail, inside and out. Despite being fiddly and sometimes inaccessible, Steel Armor’s dry ardor for military hardware makes it a must-play for tank game veterans and fans of war games who want a more modern setting.
Panzer Elite Action: Gold Edition
Bundling two classic Panzer titles into one Steam release, Panzer Elite Action: Gold Edition is hours upon hours of driving tanks around World War II battlefields and blowing stuff up – and that is precisely what we need sometimes. Incredibly user-friendly but full of engaging mechanics and unlockables, Panzer Elite Action is a tank game all about surviving famous historical campaigns to fight another day.
Playing on either the Allied or Axis side in various famous conflicts, Panzer Elite Action gives you control of four to five tanks. It sets you on your merry way, blowing stuff up and cowering behind hedgerows for some semblance of cover. While it lacks the realism of its originator, Panzer Elite, the need to look after your crew and upgrade your equipment makes for a compelling experience from start to finish.
170 miles of pristine military sandbox await players heading into Arma 3 – it’s a massive open-world game that lends your tanking an overwhelming sense of scale. Gone are the days of distressing close-quarters encounters in bombed-out cities.
Arma 3 hands players a new source of anxiety in the form of having to scan the horizons for new threats constantly. Buildings and natural cover are scarce, meaning that survival, and indeed victory, rely upon identifying and destroying the enemy before they even know you are there.
While not strictly a tank game, Arma 3 possesses an incredible level of realism that brings the concept of modern tank warfare to life. Indeed, Arma 3’s realism means it has been mistaken for real war footage by news organizations.
Playing as the armored arm of a massive army is what Arma 3 does best: aiding ground assaults, hunting down enemy tanks, and wreaking havoc on strongholds. Besides, when you hop out of the heavy armor, you still have one of the best sniper games.
Steel Division 2
Another game for armchair generals, Steel Division 2 is a strategy game set during the events in the Eastern Front during World War II. You take charge of the entire Soviet army fighting back against the Nazi regime in real-time skirmishes across 25 maps and multiple game modes.
When we say maps, we’re talking battlefields up to 150×100 kilometers big, with over 600 unit types that you can use to achieve victory in solo or coop campaigns and even in multiplayer matches with up to ten players on each side.
Unlike other RTS games, Steel Division 2 puts less emphasis on resource gathering, instead opting to get you commanding tanks and blowing up enemies – the fun stuff. If you want to see 20 generals have at it across a massive map, then this is the game for you.
Careful positioning is key to surviving in most tank games. Battlefield 2042’s tanks hate careful positioning. Battlefield 2042’s tanks like going really fast, blowing helicopters out of the sky, and making little ground people run away and cower behind buildings. Battlefield 2042’s tanks are ridiculous.
Rampaging around the map, causing untold damage, and ruining the carefully laid plans of your fellow soldiers is the order of business in Battlefield 2042. This is tank gameplay at its most empowering, allowing players to leave any veneer of tactics or strategy behind them as they romp around the map, exchanging shells for XP.
If you prefer your tanks a little more old-school, you could hop over to Battlefield Portal, the game mode that takes elements from classic Battlefield games and makes them playable in Battlefield 2042. Give our Battlefield 2042 review a read if you’re wondering what our opinion of the game was like at launch.
Heroes & Generals
Forget the strategy-based metagame that accompanies Heroes & Generals’ engrossing ground battles and you have still got a hectic combined forces war game in which tanks play a vital role. Included in the metagame and Heroes & Generals is the complete tanker’s package, offering everything from resource management to explosive first-person combat.
There are few tank management features to pay constant attention to in Heroes & Generals, which means the focus is strictly on wreaking havoc. The combined forces element of Heroes & Generals lends your role as a tank commander some genuine potency on the battlefield, where your actions can make a difference for your fellow teammates, whether on the ground or in the air.
If WW2 military hardware is your bag, then Heroes & Generals is easily one of the best free Steam games you can get.
Red Orchestra 2
Tanks are not the focus of this realism-heavy Eastern Front shooter, but how they seamlessly fit into its mud-and-guts gameplay makes for some of the finest tanking moments.
Red Orchestra 2 utilizes a similar ballistics and armor penetration mechanic as War Thunder, ensuring that every encounter between two tanks is an adrenaline-fuelled duel where knowledge and precision triumph over brute force. The constant threat of instant, fiery death at the hands of enemy anti-tank troops is just part of what makes it one of the best multiplayer games on PC.
Company of Heroes 3
Company of Heroes 3 is a SEGA game about tactical ingenuity and using your tanks best. Cover, line-of-sight, and suppression are the keys to success in Company of Heroes 3, meaning you will have to direct your resources using genuine battlefield tactics if you want to repel the Axis threat.
Packing a devastating punch and able to turn the tide of any battle, the tanks of Company of Heroes 3 are a joy to send guns blazing toward enemy infantry units and watch as the casualties mount up. Like all good tank games, Company of Heroes 3 acknowledges the vulnerabilities of a tank, punishing players who send their armored units into the fray without due caution. Take a look at our Company of Heroes 3 review to read our impressions of the strategy game,
Panzer Corps is old-school turn-based strategy gaming at its absolute finest. Putting you in the boots of a Wehrmacht general, it’s your job to oversee and manage operations across 26 grueling Axis campaigns.
Ignoring the fact that you are fighting for the bad guys, the focus of the Panzer Corps is firmly on leading your units to victory. Over 800 unit types are spread among 20 unit classes, resulting in an endless array of attacking options for both sides. If that is not convoluted enough, every unit has roughly 20 parameters by which its strengths and weaknesses are judged – it is all a battlefield mathematician could ask for, making it one of the best strategy games around.
Stand down, commander: your training is now over. You know all the best tank games you can play on PC and are ready to run your own campaign of destruction. If you’d like a bit of out-of-tank action, you may also be interested to know we have training in the best WW2 games. But until next time, keep your eyes on the road and a shell in the barrel, and have fun tanking it up.