What are the best WW2 games? The most devastating conflict in our species’ history of fighting over land and ideologies has been distilled into heroic charges, tense dogfights, epic digital wars, and savage battles many times over. The greatest generation deserves only the greatest games, and we’ve compiled a list of the top World War II games to play right now.
World War 2 games will have something for you whether you’re looking for the grittiness of a beach landing, the strategy of battle planning, the thrill of an aerial dogfight, or the intense camaraderie experienced by a band of brothers. So from massive, free-to-play vehicular battlefields to complex war games, you’re bound to find something below to keep you duking it out for countless hours in our round-up of the finest WWII games on PC. A lot of these offerings are also free PC games, so you’ve not got much to lose by giving them a try.
The best WW2 games on PC in 2023 are:
World of Tanks
Wargaming’s flagship free-to-play WW2 game is obsessed with tanks, hence the name World of Tanks. It’s full of incredibly detailed artillery platforms and caterpillar tracks for you to drool over before rolling into battle. Hundreds of these glorious machines can be researched, unlocked, and purchased as you gain experience and resources from every tense match.
World of Tanks is a game you can dip your toes into, play for a bit, and have fun. On the surface, it’s simple and arcade-like, but underneath the chassis is the loud, angry engine of something more serious. How vulnerable is the machine gun port of the Tiger II? Where are the soft spots on the indomitable IS-3? What is the effective armor thickness of the T-32’s upper glacis? Armour penetration, angles, weak spots – this is the stuff you need to know.
To taste victory time after time, work your way up the tank tiers, and eventually get your name on leaderboards, you need to make a significant time investment. It would feel a bit like work if this wasn’t a game about blowing up tanks, which never stops being fun. And with constant updates, new maps, modes, features, and an audience of hundreds of millions of players, you’re always learning. It might not be the most realistic game at times, but it’s easily one of the best tank games on PC.
World War 2 was a combined arms effort, with land, sea, and air forces offering equally invaluable efforts, and War Thunder truly captures that. It originally threw a spotlight on the war’s colossal aerial battles, but soon went on to include land battles through the medium of noisy tank warfare, and naval efforts via its sea-based expansion.
Boasting a dizzying number of historically accurate aircraft, tanks, and boats from pretty much every nation involved in the war, this exceptional free-to-play WW2 game offers a great multiplayer experience that neatly sits in the middle ground between complex simulation and arcade fighter. Like a sim, War Thunder has incredible attention to detail that makes it compelling to play. Each machine feels genuinely different and all offer their own challenges. And even when you’re not in the heat of battle there are tactics to consider as you stock your hangars with various new vehicles and upgrade them to suit your approach.
Developer Gaijin Entertainment has expanded each of its combat types, so you can read our War Thunder naval combat guide or our beginner’s guide to War Thunder tank battles if you need some help learning the basics.
Following in the footsteps of the massively successful War Thunder, Gaijin Entertainment’s latest title is a free-to-play multiplayer shooter that lands you smack bang in the middle of WWII. You’ll fight your way through atmospheric recreations of key battles, build and develop your squad of AI soldiers, and – of course – plough your way through the terrain in a variety of armoured vehicles.
You’re also free to build fortifications and deploy equipment anywhere on the map, rather than relying on designated areas to help push your side toward victory. And if you love your history to be as accurate as your aim, the meticulously recreated weaponry and vehicles are an additional joy in the free game – you’ll only have access to the equipment that was available at the time of each historical campaign.
World of Warships
The third of Wargaming’s WW2 games, World of Warships sees the tried and tested formula of World of Tanks transposed to the sea. It’s not just World of Tanks with ships, though, as the switch to naval combat has informed a lot of big changes. These sea battles are slower, more thoughtful, and ultimately more tactical than their land-based counterparts.
Out in the open sea, there’s a sense of dread and vulnerability that you just don’t get in Wargaming’s other titles. Not this severe, anyway. There’s no hiding or running away in World of Warships – just plans, some of which will fall apart, and others that could, with some help from your team, lead to a glorious victory.
Air support adds an extra interesting wrinkle. You can hurl the fighters and bombers positioned on your decks at your foes, and suddenly the game starts to feel like an RTS. But one where you’re also frantically trying to line up your killer cannons and praying to Poseidon that this time, this time, it’ll be a direct hit. That is what makes it one of the best WW2 games on PC. On top of all this, Wargaming also do a terrific job of updating the game, with expansions adding new ships like a Pan-Asian line of destroyers to the game, not to mention the odd World of Warships seasonal event.
Call of War: World War II
Do you ever look at the Second World War and wonder how things would have turned out if certain countries had decided to make different decisions? Well, in Call of War: World War II, you and countless other players take control of ten different nations as the war unfolds, and it’s up to you to decide how they proceed. Perhaps you’ll focus on forging alliances and building your economy through new research. Or maybe you’ve just got a thirst for conquest?
Every playable country is a little bit different. They have access to different resources and they can produce the munitions that they would have actually used during that period of history. Games can be long and complex, but if you’re looking for a more cerebral WW2 game, and one that will really give you a chance to flex your strategic muscles, then you should definitely try Call of War: World War II – since it’s free, there’s no reason not to give it a go.
Steel Division 2
If you’re not into hardcore wargames and are looking for a more hands-on WW2 strategy game then Steel Division 2 ticks a lot of boxes. Taking place on the eastern front of WW2, Steel Division 2 focuses heavily on the source material, translating every aspect of the horrid struggle between Axis and Russian forces into its gameplay. Soviet conscripts are in abundance, but are poorly equipped and will yield under too much pressure. The SS troops on the other hand offer a great deal more efficiency, but lack energy and enthusiasm after months spent fighting in the harsh Russian winter.
Much like the first game, Steel Division: Normandy ‘44, the sequel is peerless when it comes to representing the scale of warfare, offering up large maps with strict, unnatural borders so as to give you a cross-section of a large-scale combat operation. You have tanks, troops, and aircraft under your control, but your focus at all times is on the battlefield rather than where you’re drawing these forces from.
The Army General mode is a neat touch, which does an excellent job mixing RTS story campaigns with the long-form strategic decisions you’d normally find in one of the best war or grand strategy titans. These four mini-campaigns take you through the Belorussian Strategic Offensive Operation that saw Soviet forces finally break through the Axis stranglehold, with most of the action taking place on a strategic map.
Hidden & Dangerous 2
Hidden & Dangerous 2 may be an aging veteran that needs a stick to stay mobile these days, but its tales of silent heroics, undercover operations, and daring strikes have been unmatched in the 15 years since its release.
Rainbow Six for 1944, Hidden & Dangerous 2 is a tactical squad shooter with all the trimmings we’re clamoring for in the modern era: permadeath, persistent characters, detailed operation loadout screens, and fully open maps with mission goals to be completed any way you fancy. Leading a squad of four stiff-upper-lipped SAS officers, there is a fascinating variety of missions that take you to every theatre of the war, from a snowy top-secret research base to the dense jungles of Burma.
The level of freedom is comparable to Hitman: Blood Money (there is even the option to strip enemies and steal their clothing), and the lack of enforced silence means when things go belly-up you can crack open the heavy machine guns and simply murder your way out. The controls and systems are all fairly clunky and the AI of your squadmates is never up to scratch, but the thrill of Hidden & Dangerous’ campaign is absolutely worth pushing through the niggles for.
Hell Let Loose
If you are looking for breadth and realistic details, then this newcomer may be exactly what you’re looking for. Released in 2021, this is a more hardcore WW2 FPS game that seeks to promote teamwork over kills and give us the Battlefield-style WW2 experience that Battlefield itself couldn’t quite manage with its most recent return to the conflict.
100-player battles across nine different maps and two separate game modes let you take one of 14 unique roles to revel in the ultimate WW2 experience. No two matches are ever the same either, as things like capture points are dynamically generated for each individual session. There’s a reason we gave it very high marks in our Hell Let Loose review, where WW2 aficionado Ian Boudreau stated: “Hell Let Loose’s complex interplay of FPS action and real-time tactical planning rewards communication, coordination, and genuine leadership in a way few other games even attempt.” Make sure you check it out if you haven’t already.
Call of Duty 2
Call of Duty 2 was a jolt of electricity applied to the WW2 formula when it launched in 2005. Familiar scenes like the D-Day landings were recreated in greater detail, with more drama and a nail-biting sense of vulnerability. And, at the time, it was the best the war had ever looked.
With four campaigns across three theatres, the global scope of the war was on display. Like the original Call of Duty, it followed British, American, and Russian troops, but also presented the North African campaign for the first time, as the Brits fought across the desert, melting and dying and hiding from tanks.
Despite being over 15 years old, COD2 has stood the test of time thanks to the fact that it was one of the first games to add features like regenerating health, so you could focus on the battle and not worry about scurrying around looking for health kits. And with improved ally AI, it really felt like you were leading proper soldiers – all of them named – rather than mindless models with guns attached to them. Not just one of the best WW2 games, Call of Duty 2 is one of the best FPS games on PC.
Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault
As our Company of Heroes 2 review points out – despite capturing the horror of winter warfare the RTS sequel didn’t quite hit the same high notes as its venerable predecessor. But with the standalone expansion of Ardennes Assault, Relic reinvigorated the single-player portion of the series, giving it one of its most interesting campaigns and regaining the WW2 RTS games crown.
It is all about the dynamic map. The Ardennes region is one big, constantly shifting warzone, with the Germans attempting to lock down as much territory as possible. Controlling the US forces of Baker, Able, and Dog Company – all with unique mechanics and strengths – players must force the Germans out, bit by bit, in a desperate, bleak campaign. It is not just about winning battles; a victory doesn’t matter if it has cost you all your veteran units and left the rest of your force tattered and weak. A Pyrrhic victory spells doom for your campaign.
Random objectives and events can crop up in battles and on the campaign map itself, so no campaign is alike. You might be tasked with assassinating an officer during a mission or ambushing a convoy on the campaign map, and failure or victory will have a tangible impact on the rest of the war. It is a persistent, savage war, where failure is always nipping at the heels of the increasingly desperate US forces. With details like that, no wonder it is one of the best WW2 games on PC.
Commandos 2: Men of Courage
They don’t make them like this anymore, and that is a tragedy. Commandos 2 is over 20 years old but remains utterly unsurpassed. It is a puzzle game, essentially. You control a group of operatives behind enemy lines, across ten elaborate, complex, devilishly hard missions.
Each mission is a huge, sprawling thing with a beautifully detailed, liberating map and tricky objectives that require a lot of planning, scouting, smarts, and a spot of trial and error. Objectives run the gamut from stealing documents and rescuing spies to blowing up ships and stealing vehicles. Getting in the way of that are countless patrols, guards, minefields, and even harsh weather. Luckily, the Commandos have more than a few tricks up their sleeves.
You have a spy who can steal clothes and disguise himself as the enemy, a secret agent who can distract and drug Nazis, and a battle-hardened Green Beret who likes to get a bit of blood on his hands. You even have a dog, Whisky, and he is both delightful and good at drawing the attention of enemies. Each mission gives you a specific group to use, and then it is up to you how you want to go about completing the main, secondary, and bonus objectives. It is this kind of freedom that makes Commandos 2 not just one of the best WW2 games on PC, but one of the best PC games of all time, period.
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad
As much as games like Brothers in Arms and World of Tanks aim for historical accuracy in their weapons, machinery, and locations, they still offer a Hollywood-tinted depiction of the action. Red Orchestra 2 removes the filters and offers an unflinchingly difficult simulator shooter. Heroes of Stalingrad recreates battles from the Eastern Front in a Battlefield-like combined arms setting with soldier classes and vehicles. Throwing spray-and-pray, gung-ho attitudes to the wind, Red Orchestra demands strict teamwork, caution, and a considered tactical approach to objectives.
It is the hardships of being an individual cog in the machine that makes Red Orchestra compelling. Machine gunners are vital for covering fire, allowing other players to advance down the field. But holding down the trigger too long causes the barrel to melt and buckle, requiring it to be replaced in a lengthy maintenance animation. Tanks are murder machines when fully crewed, but attempt to commandeer one by yourself and you will find yourself a sitting target as you attempt to aim your cannon. As well as the stresses of being part of a team, as an individual you’ll have to constantly count your rounds as a complete lack of HUD removes any indication as to what is left in your magazine.
Each round of Red Orchestra 2 is hard work, but like ARMA and other bullet-physic heavy shooting simulations, there’s a distinct, unrivaled sense of victory with every point scored. Few WW2 games make you work this hard for a single kill. If you’re more interested in the Pacific conflict then there’s even a spiritual successor from Tripwire Interactive called Rising Storm that’s just as brutally realistic.
Silent Hunter III
The Second World War is frequently depicted as a violently bloodthirsty, explosive, and ear-drum-bursting conflict. But not every element of all-out war is noisy or fast-paced. For the quiet, considered, cold-blooded killers out there, there is nothing quite like Silent Hunter’s unique brand of stealth. Throw out your undercover OSS agents, and submerge yourself in underwater naval warfare.
Silent Hunter III, despite being over a decade old, remains one of the best WW2 games and allows you to command a U-boat full of German seamen under the surface of the Atlantic ocean. Freeform missions simply inform you of targets and naval traffic, allowing you to conduct the operation in whatever conniving manner you so wish. You will need to be map savvy; Silent Hunter is one of those gloriously uncompromising submarine games, and without solid navigation skills you’ll be firing torpedoes into the open ocean instead of the side of an Allied merchant ship. Patience is the key ingredient though, as you lurk in wait as your plan slowly comes together.
Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway
The Brothers in Arms games offer some of the best stories in the WW2 niche, filled with personal tales of struggle and camaraderie. Hell’s Highway, the third in the BiA series, brings the troubles of the 101st Airborne’s Matt Baker to a close with a harrowing story that emphasizes the relentless loss of life every soldier was forced to endure, evoking the likes of Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers.
Backing up the story is a fantastic FPS game. It borrows the third-person cover system of the Rainbow Six: Vegas games, making the squad tactics a much smoother, more effective element. War is hell in Brothers in Arms, and the methodical employment of flanking maneuvers and suppressing fire is the only way you’ll be able to survive it. Thanks to the tight-knit relationships Hell’s Highway weaves over its campaign, by the end you will really feel as if you helped pull your comrades through the dirt.
And damn is it grim. Grisly, too. Body parts are blown off, men are turned into bloody bags of meat – it is nasty stuff. It does not feel like Hell’s Highway revels in the gore, though. It feels more like an attempt to present war as a horrible, traumatizing scenario that you should be glad you are experiencing on a PC rather than in reality.
With Battlefield 1942, it felt like the FPS genre was evolving. Until DICE released the first in what would be an enduring series, multiplayer games were mostly concerned with the glory of the individual. They were about fast reflexes and kill counts. Battlefield 1942, however, is all about cooperation.
You can see where a lot of the series’ systems began, like the roles or classes, the addition of vehicles like tanks and planes, and the importance of controlling the map. There was an even greater focus on combined arms warfare, though. You could be bombarding coastlines with your capital ship while your chum flies around in a bomber, trying to take out manned installations protecting the coast. The scale and diversity was crazy. The maps let you duke it out in all of WW2’s theatres, so you could fight as the British in El Alamein or the Imperial Japanese Navy in Iwo Jima.
A few years ago, EA made it free, but it has since been removed from Origin due to Gamespy going out of business, leaving the game without servers. However! There are still places you can download it from, along with community servers, so there’s still life in the game yet – you can also get Battlefield 1942 in HD with the right mods. But should that life run out, DICE brought the 40s back with the 2018 game, Battlefield V.
Order of Battle: Pacific
Order of Battle: Pacific takes the now well-worn Panzer General style of wargames and manages to do more with it than any other of the classic game’s successors have in a long time. It is an intricate-yet-approachable wargame, with logical rules and a distinct eye for detail.
Each move becomes a series of puzzles. Objectives need to be reached quickly, with no dawdling. Yet extending your grasp for side missions can also provide bonuses further down the line. Each decision expands into new opportunities and further questions.
It is also a game that finally succeeds at naval transportation and combat, which is pretty rare among the best strategy games, and a vital feature considering the Pacific setting means much of your time will be set at sea. Order of Battle’s approach to naval is exceptionally strong and makes sailing from port to port as interesting as battles themselves.
World of Warplanes
World of Warplanes lets you live out your fantasy of being a World War 2 fighter pilot, absolutely for free. Wargaming’s WW2 game thrusts you into the cockpit of over five aircraft types that can include thousands of customizable configurations. Your eternal fight for dominance of the skies sees you facing action-packed 12v12 dogfights that require careful communication and effective teamwork for you to claim victory.
This free PC game is set in the Golden Age of military aviation, and it has the environments to match. You can choose to fight for one of seven nations, but the canvas through which you’ll be targeting the baddies is inspired by land masses all over the world. It means that, if you’re anything like us and get shot out of the sky on the regular, you’ll at least be able to enjoy the view on the way down.
IL-2 Sturmovik 1946
Though IL-2 Sturmovik is almost old enough to leave school and get a job, it remains one of the best simulation games of all time, particularly those with a military bent.
1946, then, is something very special, because it contains IL-2 Sturmovik, its sequel, and a whole bunch of expansions, which means you get an almost bewildering number of campaigns and richly detailed planes, and by the time you are done with it all, you will be effortlessly pulling off Yo-Yos like a master ace and speeding across the skies in Yaks and MiGs like a natural.
While 1946 collects all the pre-2007 IL-2 Sturmovik games and expansions, it also adds nine extra campaigns and lots of lovely jets in an alternate-history version of the war that sees Germany and Russia duking it out in the skies in high-speed jet battles. The missions are scripted, though you will find dynamic battles in the older games that come with 1946, and you’ll find yourself on tense bombing runs, foiling deadly raids, and getting into plenty of thrilling dogfights.
And there we have it: the very best WW2 games you can find on PC. In need of even more? Head to our partner site Wargamer for a look at the best WWI games or even the best WW2 strategy games. But, until next time, tinkety tonk and down with the Nazis, old fruit.