Have we found The Best Strategy Games on PC? Strategy and PC have gone hand in hand for a very, very long time. Since the earliest days of home computer software when we were working out the trajectory of explosive bananas in Gorillas in QBASIC programming on old IBMs, we’ve been taking turns and planning strategically for decades.
Strategy, both real-time and turn-based are just a thing that translates extremely well to the macros and mouse clicks of a personal computer interface. This genre, in turn, has flourished and evolved heartily upon the PC format. Some of the greatest experiences in gaming have occurred in our favorite strategy games, which we've listed below.
The Best Strategy Games on PC
We look to the best strategy games on PC and draw fond memories of days gone by. We also see modern hits that introduce new ideas and leave promise for the continued evolution of the strategy genre well into the future. More importantly, we see our identity in our form of leadership, treachery, diplomacy, or economics in these games.
Strategy games are as varied as snowflakes and there are an enormous wealth of them out there. That's why we’ve collected our favorite PC strategy games from across decades of play to present to you in this here list.
Rise of Nations
To say Brian Reynolds took something away from his time at MicroProse, working on Civilization II and Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri would be a gross understatement epitomized by the existence of this game. In 2003, Rise of Nations was a grand amalgam of many things that came before. It hosted city, population, and resource management of games like Civilization and combines it with turn-based strategy of games like Risk and real-time strategy of a Total War game.
Players are invited to take on one of eighteen civilizations across eight ages of history in Rise of Nations creating a massive multitude of options for situational and conditional games. Each nation could be played across any of the ages, even in times where they wouldn’t have existed with the game providing lore-friendly units that make sense to what a civilization would have if they had existed at the time. Multiplayer allows players to take on a single-player quest for victory, or challenge their friends or world players in a comprehensive ranking system.
Many games would be bogged down over trying to mix and mesh so many ideas into a single product and there are a ton of games that have failed trying to do it. Rise of Nations not only succeeds in cohesively putting these ideas together, but making them work exceptionally well. If you’re looking for a game that will let you play with some of the best concepts in turn-based and real-time strategy, then Rise of Nations is well worth your consideration.
Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos
You can’t talk about a list of the best PC strategy games without talking about one of the benchmarks in the genre’s history. Warcraft III was many things, none of which to be taken lightly. It was simultaneously the end of an era and the beginning of the new one. It was Blizzard at one of the absolute heights of its powers as a real-time strategy developer. Perhaps most important though, it is easily one of the most engrossing and fun real-time strategy games ever made.
Warcraft III saw us venture among many of the most important characters in the franchise’s history as the war between the Orcish Horde and the Human Alliance reached an absolute tipping point. Leaders rose and fell, Bonds were formed and destroyed, and we got to see it all through a masterful campaign offering unique and amazingly crafted maps and units for each faction.
Warcraft III has never seen quite the publicity of its sci-fi sister franchise, StarCraft in the multiplayer scene, but that doesn’t discount the presence of it at all. There is a ton of options, strategies, and versatility when it comes to creating the most perfect moves in an online match between unseen enemies and close friends. The Warcraft franchise may have given way to its MMORPG iteration forevermore, but there’s no denying Reign of Chaos and its expansion, The Frozen Throne, as the proper send-off its RTS incarnations deserved.
Total War: Warhammer 2
Fans of Total War games and fans of Warhammer games have something very much in common. Both have been burned on sub-par offerings in the past, so when Creative Assembly announced the intention to take on the Warhammer franchise, alarms may have been appropriately raised. That said, by all accounts, Creative Assembly went at the Warhammer universe with gusto, harnessing it under the elements of their Total War structure while bringing a multitude of elements to it that make it distinctly different and distinctly Warhammer. Their first foray was lauded as a great success, and a sequel closely followed which improved on the previous title in almost every way. While you'll have some diehards claiming the first is superior, the community at large agrees that Total War: Warhammer 2 is the better game.
Adding to the previous game's already impressive lineup of factions, Warhammer 2 brought the Lizardmen, Skaven, Dark Elves, High Elves and the Tomb Kings into the fray as playable civilizations. Mechanics remained much the same, with the most changes amounting to polish, ironing out some issues fans encountered in the previous installment and prettying up the game. A very healthy modding community has arisen around the game, with constant work being put into fantastic fan-made content.
Factions play far more differently from one another than they ever have in a previous Total War game due in no small part to the vastly different styles of each race. Greenskins utilize fast and aggressive tactics where Dwarves value defense and Vampire Counts use zombies shock troops before unleashing a clean-up crew. This is strengthened further by the addition of flying units, but more importantly, heroes, who can not only bring unique abilities to the battlefield but can be leveled-up and geared up in quasi-RPG fashion. Total War and Warhammer have given us varying flavors over the years, sometimes unfortunately bitter, but Total War: Warhammer has the ingredients of a very sweet marriage of the two franchises.
As Paradox Interactive has continued to weave comprehensive worlds and systems in the realm of grand strategy and 4X fun, they’ve become quite proficient at it. From Europa Universalis to Crusader Kings, the developer has wowed its audience with experiences that have built franchises and fan bases around the world. Using all of this experience, Paradox’s next project, Stellaris, would take to the stars, inviting players to a far more grand theater of play than ever before.
Stellaris is a highly customizable hybrid of real-time strategy and 4X strategy. From the very beginning, you customize your intergalactic nation from their appearance, to their flag, to their very philosophy and demeanor. This is the kind of customization you get to play around with a lot in Stellaris. As you explore nearby planets and systems, research greater sciences, expand the reach of your race, and engage and interact with other races, Stellaris moves from its own somewhat slow start into a vast and comprehensive race for control of the universe.
The game doesn’t forget where it came from in the least. Stellaris borrows socio-political and economic systems from other Paradox titles in forcing players to balance internal strife just as much as outer influence and pressure. It can be played perfectly fine solo, but a place where all of this shines most is when it’s put together with the multiplayer. Playing online against friends and enemies is a grand time that really expands Stellaris into hours and hours of fun that just might never play the same way twice.
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 is the classic example of a sequel, taking the foundation of the original and adding more elements on top of it. Arguably the most noticeable is the inclusion of all 12 races from the tabletop, each with its own ship types, strengths and weaknesses. Where nimble Dark Eldar favor hit and run tactics, Chaos ships prefer to melt armor from a distance, while Tyranids swoop in, attaching tendrils to enemy ships and bleeding their crews dry.
The three campaigns, playable from the perspective of the Imperium, Necrons and Tyranids, feature a slightly more expanded strategic map that allows players to move between different sectors while building structures and ships to expand their reach and protect their territory. While it's not the deepest example of strategic gameplay, it complements the cinematic spaceship battles that lie at the game's core.
A lot in Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 will feel familiar, but learning each race takes time and customizable abilities allow for a certain degree of specialization. Moreso, its gorgeous battlefields can be host to debris, and mines that block one's path, roaming leviathans that crash into everything in their path and other such events. Most importantly, however, blowing massive, painstakingly detailed ships to bits (or crashing an asteroid with an unhealthy amount of boosters attached to it into your enemies) never felt better.
Here’s a well-known fact: Supreme Commander is great, comprehensive, and grand-scale on a level few other games can coherently achieve. That said, we can’t talk about it without talking about its spiritual predecessor: Total Annihilation. In fact, we don’t talk about SupCom in this list in even its own entry without bringing up Total Annihilation. It’s simple really. Without lead designer Chris Taylor and Total Annihilation, you simply don’t get the amazing formula that would eventually lead to Supreme Commander’s creation.
When we look back at Total Annihilation, the cogs are already in motion. From the establishment of the Commander unit that runs base construction and is essential to player survival to the grand battles with terrain taken into account, the beginnings of this iconic design are already in motion. Even the story features a somewhat similar war between factions of pure humans and human/technology symbiotes between the rebellious Arm resistance and the hive-minded Core machine.
Even so, Total Annihilation did more than just establish the groundwork for Supreme Commander. It was a trend-setter. Total Annihilation is the very first known real-time strategy game to feature 3D units and terrain in-game. Where in previous RTS, players could field around 100 units altogether. Total Annihilation started at allowing 200 units per player and would eventually increase the cap to 5,000 a piece, practically inventing grand-scale warfare in strategy games. Supreme Commander is certainly a refinement of everything Total Annihilation created, but Total Annihilation simply cannot go without commendation for its many refinements of the real-time strategy genre as a whole.
You can buy the title from Humble Bundle.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a pretty darn good game. It was with Enemy Unknown that Firaxis proved that they were more than capable of stepping into the legendary boots that had garnered such a rabid following decades before. We originally had sequel XCOM 2 on this list, but while that game is great in all honesty it's the first game that sticks in our minds more. It's the perfect marriage of global alien invasion, starting small and then building, with XCOM as the counter-measure to the invasion with them slowly learning to counter everything the aliens throw at them - or don't, and perish.
Enemy Unknown works to establish the old fight made new. Aliens are attacking the Earth and world leaders establish XCOM as a means of fighting back and discovering the means to turn the tide against the invaders. Players have to manage their units, risk death by capturing aliens for study in order to research countermeasures, weapons and even Psychic Powers, and even decide what's the best room to build next at your base. Even the smallest decisions can have consequences, and giving yourself an advantage in one area can leave you vulnerable in another.
It's all perfect give-and-take and the perfect marriage of subject matter and satisfying gameplay. And even better, while things get quite intense it's straightforward and easy for even strategy novices to get into. Although whether they'll make it to the final battle or save scum all the time is another matter. We liked it so much it was our Game of the Year 2012, and we're eagerly awaiting our next return to the XCOM universe. As long as it's not a shooter.
It gets thrown around quite a bit about how one game or another “revitalized the franchise” or “revitalized the genre”. Often, it just means that it was a game that didn’t suck the way others like it did. Homeworld, on the other hand, presented something that had rarely been used in a strategy game before it: The dynamic and enjoyable use of 3D space combat in real-time strategy.
The original Homeworld established an amazing universe in which the last remnants of an exiled race known as the Kushan attempt to make a run across the galaxy to their rightful home. Meanwhile, the tyrannical Taiidan who originally exiled the Kushan thousands of years before seek to stop the Kushan and keep their iron hold over the race, no matter the cost. The single-player game is like if Oregon Trail was set against a tyrant who challenged you to ridiculously flashy and stylish space combat on your way to your destination.
In addition to a great story that established a great franchise, Homeworld featured varied ships, resource collection, fuel management, and trade and barter to keep players on their toes and looking for all optional opportunities between seeking primary objectives. The game featured a serviceable competitive multiplayer full of variable options as well. The best part? You can get the original Homeworld and its impressive sequel, Homeworld 2 in one collection featuring both the classic versions and their remastered updates.
Coming from the mind of industry veteran Steve Fawkner and his successful turn-based Warlords series, Warlords Battlecry was something unlike anything else at the time of its release. It wasn’t just any old strategy game set in a in a sword-and-sorcery, fantasy-fiction setting. It blended strategy gameplay with the creation and progression of heroes that would lead your armies and gain experience and skills through battle. As such, Fawkner would coin a unique term for it to be used by future and previous games like it: the “roleplaying strategy” game.
Unlike the core Warlords games before it, Battlecry employed real-time strategy. Battlecry features nine races, and though you focus on the humans and a few others in single-player, players can play any of them in multiplayer games and skirmishes. Once you’ve started, you immediately go into making a hero to lead their forces. Heroes can specialize in several professions each with several specialties, making for a multitude of customizable options amongst race, class, and specialization.
When it comes down to it, it’s very possible Battlecry wasn’t the first to employ extensive RPG mechanics in a real-time strategy game, but its utilization of the roleplaying strategy moniker it coined would influence and inform similar systems in other games, such as Warcraft III. Though the game may be dated, it helped to lay a foundation of new and engaging RPG elements mixed impressively with the strategy format.
You can grab the title from Gog.com
Europa Universalis IV
Paradox is a studio that has often prided itself on the sheer complex design of its games. They’re not always revolutionary, but even when they aren’t, Paradox’s games often push familiar mechanics to their prime state and present the apex of their use. A fine example of this is Europa Universalis IV, which is a 4X game following the development of European civilization from the 1400s to the 1800s.
Europa Universalis IV followed Crusader Kings 2 and those who have played both extensively will feel it. The game extensive mechanics based around the legitimacy of your rule, including civil obedience and unrest, coalitions and spying on other nations, and much more. Expanding your technology, religious beliefs, military, and territory of rule comes down to not only your considerate decisions, but also the occasional history event which can either help you greatly or throw a wet blanket on your plans.
A common point of most 4X strategy games is that they follow a common thread of victories in which military, economic, or diplomatic domination are the goals of any given game. The true grit and glamour of a 4X game comes in how it distinguishes itself beyond the standard set up. Europa Universalis IV is such a game that relies dominantly on established mechanics, but the use of intrigue, rebellion, and occasional historical events causing giving boon or unrest to a civilization are what make it quite a bit more than a milquetoast strategy game.
While, like so many other strategy franchises, the Empire Earth series as suffered a loss of face due to the latest entry which was widely considered to be a terrible game, it is still remembered as one of the true classics of the early noughties. Empire Earth is an ambitious game even by today's standards which sought to combine the multi-era spanning nature of Civilization with RTS gameplay. Usually, when dealing with strategy games, it's either fantasy or sci-fi. Empire Earth is both, and everything in between.
In Empire Earth, instead of the usual faction selection, there are 14 epochs of history to go through. These epochs include major civilisation changing eras like prehistory, the copper age, industrial revolution, post-World War I reaching all the way to the modern age and even beyond with two speculative futuristic epochs, featuring huge military mechs. The game features several campaigns to play through as well as a highly customizable skirmish mode, allowing you to answer questions such as "who would win - 1000 chickens or a single highly advanced combat mech?".
The game also had a thriving multiplayer scene, and Empire Earth differentiated itself from the masses by providing multiple viable ways to achieve victory. Most RTS games usually evolved a beat-all strategy that almost guarantees victory based on the exploitation of the game's mechanics and balance, however EE juggled things just right to prevent such an über-tactic from forming. Still, some methods were more effective than others, but being creative wouldn't be suicide.
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
Some developers are content to create a real-time strategy game where you fight an enemy in skirmishes to your hearts content and call it a day. They may contain versatile tactics and build strategies, but it really starts and ends on a singular battlefield. Ironclad Games went out of their way to not only say that wasn’t enough. They pushed the boundary of the battlefield beyond galaxies with Sins of a Solar Empire.
In Sins of a Solar Empire, players can take on one of three races, playing against up to 7 AI or player-controlled opponents. The battlefield consists of a web of planets across the entire galaxy. Players are tasked with establishing control over and harvesting resources from multiple systems. In turn, diplomacy, technology development, and anomalies play with the regular flow of the real-time strategy conquest.
For a real-time strategy game to feature mechanics that ran closer to a 4X strategy game was an interesting move. Each game hosts a depth that players would have a hard time finding anywhere else in the genre. Supplying a vast and far-reaching galaxy map that can scale down to situational instances is something that was awe-inspiring in 2008 and is still enjoyable now. Furthermore, Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion is a stand-alone expansion that gathers all the features of the original game while adding its own batch on top.
Crusader Kings II
In terms of design, goals, and mechanics, Crusader Kings II may be the most peculiar strategy game out there. It’s not entirely about conquering your fellow nations, winning diplomatic or economic victory, or amassing the largest army. The only technical way to win is simply to live, preserve the rule of your domain, and continue your chosen dynasty’s bloodline.
In a genre often defined by competition, Crusader Kings II isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary. From your position in your kingdom, you occasionally find yourself at odds with other rulers and that sometimes leads to conflict, but Crusader Kings II offers so much more. Taxes and Levy laws, marriage between different nobles, and education and passing of knowledge and skills to children are just a few of the comprehensive intricacies that take Crusader Kings II beyond the regular strategy game.
Paradox Development Studio has a shown a proclivity over its many years for creating unique and releasing unique and interesting games. Crusader Kings II is a perfect example of the studio taking what we know about the standard strategy game and giving it a spin that challenges our intellectual prowess. How do you win? You simply live through generations of fruitful rule, diplomacy, and intrigue.
Total War: Shogun 2
The Total War series is undoubtedly one that has had its share of ups and downs throughout its history. Sometimes you get a good Total War game. Sometimes they end up mediocre. Nonetheless, Total War: Shogun 2 is one of the entries that stands out as arguably the best that The Creative Assembly has to offer. In a community that has been regularly hard to please, the level of turn-based strategy and real-time combat in Shogun 2 is an absolute treat.
The player selects one of nine different provincial clans, each with their own land and specializations in warfare and economy. Where the game does employ the familiar sea of soldiers that the game is known for, the game also went a bit more in-depth with leaders and generals, offering a level of role-play not present previously. Players are encouraged to engage not only in outside politics, but also family politics in order to gain the trust and abilities of heroes within the clan.
Shogun 2 also introduced a unique event known as Realm Divide. When the player becomes too strong, all clans will eventually turn against the player in hopes of stopping the player’s absolute rise to power over Japan. It makes the game increasingly difficult in later stages, but also adds a layer of depth to the game as you prepare to not only face bitter enemies, but former allies. Total War games may not always be in the most stellar form, but Shogun 2 was certainly a reminder that The Creative Assembly knows how to put a masterful hybrid strategy game together.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2
A long time ago, when Westwood Studios was a master of the real-time strategy format, they asked the question, “what if there was no Nazi Germany?” The scenario they portrayed in the original Red Alert was a bleak one in which Soviet Russia seizes power and makes an unhindered run at conquering all of Europe. The original set a high bar, introducing two amazingly varied sides, each with a wicked arsenal, a heavy techno/metal soundtrack, and a cinematic story told in full-motion video between missions. The second game in the series didn't just pass over that bar, but set it higher than nearly any other Westwood Studios game would ever reach.
Red Alert 2 followed the idea that the Allies defeated Stalin and his Soviet forces, installing a puppet government. Unfortunately, the Soviets don’t take the humiliation too well. They rebuild their forces and attack American soil on all fronts. The game might be a little farfetched, but it paints the backdrop to an incredible escalating series of campaigns for both the Soviets and the Allies, complete with a slew of impressive technology for both.
If that wasn’t enough, you could go online, challenging up to 7 of your buddies to battle in several different modes. The game allowed each player to take up a nation, each with its own special unit adding an additional facet of strategy to each skirmish. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 wasn’t the swan song of Westwood Studios, but it was arguably the studio’s magnum opus. There would be other good games after Red Alert 2 from the studio, but nothing quite captured the spirit of Westwood at the height of its powers like the second Soviet/Allied wargame RTS.
You can buy the game from Origin.
Sid Meier's Civilization V
When it comes to the Sid Meier’s Civilization series, it can be argued that Civilization V breathed new life into the series that was accessible to veterans and new players alike for its novel and enjoyable approach to the turn-based strategy franchise. The game introduced novel changes to the already comprehensive system, allowing for new options when it comes to combat, technology, and diplomacy. This made for an almost entirely fresh take on world domination and diplomacy with our favorite leaders and nations.
Perhaps one of Civilization V’s biggest changes came in the form of the revamped map. Ditching the square spaces for a hexagonal grid, Civ V allowed for a slew of new tactical options when it came to unit placement, combat, unit support, and flanking. Tiles could only house one military unit at a time, but the changes to embarking on water, ranged attacks, being able to swap adjacent units allowed for multi-faceted strategy. It could be argued that in the core of Civ V, combat evolved more than anything.
Not that other facets of the game weren’t still interesting mind you. Racing for a technological victory in the space race or a diplomatic victory through peace was still a fun process. Cultural victories weren’t quite as easy, but this would change with the addition of Civ V’s stellar expansions, Gods and Kings and Brave New World, in which religion was revamped and tourism was introduced respectively. Civilization V caters to such flexibility in its randomized map-building, variety of mechanics, and wealth of tools for victory that it stands as one of the most fun and comprehensive turn-based strategy games on the market.
Blizzard had a lot of time of silence on the StarCraft front after Brood Wars came out, which was a little ridiculous considering the cliffhanger on which the last chapter of Brood Wars ends. For a long time, they simply let the community go full throttle with the game with the occasional update and balance tweak to keep things fair in the tournaments. When it came to a sequel, the hard question: how do you go about producing a sequel to one of the most beloved strategy games of all time? Twelve long years later, Blizzard had an answer. You take everything everyone loves about the original and push it to the next level.
Indeed, StarCraft II picks up right where the franchise left off. The game came out in three installments, each featuring a full campaign of one of the three major races alongside its iconic multiplayer and a few other interesting additions to the classic formula. Players would join Raynor, Kerrigan, and other amazing characters both old and new in the single player as their tales intertwine to draw the StarCraft storyline to a reasonable close. The multiplayer was just as much of natural evolution and progression, bringing StarCraft into the new generation with streamlined online matchmaking, tier systems, and rankings to go with the revamps strategies the combination of new and familiar units provided.
So where does one go with StarCraft II? The Wings of Liberty campaign is now part of the StarCraft II free-to-play version, that also includes the Versus modes and co-op Commander missions. The Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void campaigns, which continue the story can be purchased as part of the StarCraft II: Campaign Collection.
If you were to ask any hardcore real-time strategy fan worth their salt what game has the most comprehensively vast scale when it comes to the strategy genre, it would be weird if Supreme Commander didn’t at least come to mind. The game comes from the legendary mind of game designer Chris Taylor and is widely considered to be a successor to his previous 1997 title, Total Annihilation. Legacy aside, Supreme Commander is more than capable of standing on its own as a masterclass in the blending of resource management and grand-scale warfare.
Players are invited into a conflict in which they can take up one of three sides: The United Earth Federation, the cybernetic human/AI symbiotic faction known as the Cybran Nation, and the Aeon Illuminate, who worship ancient higher alien beings. Each faction brings its own strengths and weaknesses to the table and there’s a wide array of tactics to be employed by each, but everything for each faction centers around a central robotic unit, known as the Commander, which controls production and construction for the player’s forces.
Supreme Commander features a cohesive vastness that very few other games are capable of accomplishing coherently. It’s rare to see another game which can carry intercontinental battles between players as a common occurrence. The game’s mechanics allow players to shift seamlessly from a worldwide view of unit movement and activity down to the very ground where units are tearing each other apart. The game also featured ballistics, which actually factor terrain into the success of a unit’s fired volley: an absolute rarity in most real-time strategy. Supreme Commander might sound like it’s trying to pack the world into one game, and in many ways it is, but few other games tackle such vast concepts as successfully.
Master of Orion
When Simtex set out to make a new strategy game in 1993, they probably couldn’t have guessed that it would coin a term that would be applied to all games that came before and would come after that were like it. Master of Orion isn’t just any old solid and enjoyable strategy game. It’s the game from which the title “4X” emerged. It’s not that there weren’t 4X games before Master of Orion, but it was the first game that was so blatantly such that it could finally be given a name.
Master of Orion set itself from its contemporaries quickly. Where many other games were exploring turn-based strategy on earth in either historical or fantasy-fiction capacities, Master of Orion ventured to the stars. Players picked between 10 races, each with their own benefits and drawbacks, and were given a starting planet in a wide galaxy, ripe for colonization, development, and research.
Master of Orion was masterful in its use of research, expansion, predisposed biases among races, and random events that would happen throughout the galaxy. It suffered from not having a multiplayer because everything just seemed perfectly there for it, but the single player experience still provided a rich and awesome backdrop, fit for launching this then-new idea of the 4X game.
You can grab a bundle of the first two Master of Orion games on from Humble Bundle.
Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
The original Age of Empires has a right to be on this list itself. With it, Ensemble attempting to blend the best aspects of Civilization management and Warcraft combat into one game. Many will say it didn’t quite reach that goal. Although being a pretty great real-time strategy game, Age of Empires attempted to be both those games at once, but didn’t quite capture the full desired feel. That said, it established a formula that would most certainly be refined in its glorious sequel, Age of Empires II: Age of Kings, and much later, in the sequel's Definitive Edition.
Age of Kings sets players in the Middle Ages with the availability of thirteen different civilizations and five historical campaigns to play through. It runs on a 1,000-year timeline running through the Dark Age, Feudal Age, Castle Age, and finally the Imperial Age. Players are tasked with advancing their civilization while building conquering and destroying rival nations. The game contained many units which adhered to five types, each with a weakness and strength and everything was supported by careful gathering of resources, construction of new tech and buildings, and creation of new and more powerful units as players advance through ages.
Age of Kings not only contained one of the most difficult and comprehensive single-player experiences in strategy, it also allowed grand multiplayer battles across various scenarios. Players could either play a preset map, allow the game’s map generator to build one for them, or try their hand at crafting a strategic map in one of the most fantastically tooled map editors available. The Definitive Edition lets us experience everything that made the classic RTS great in 4K Ultra HD while listening to a new and remastered soundtrack. On top of that, we also get 3 new campaigns and 4 new factions.
You can purchase the title from Humble Bundle.
Crusader Kings III
There's a good reason why Crusader Kings III takes a spot on this list alongside its predecessor. The second entry in the series went to great lengths to expand upon the original's content, giving players a full-fledged medieval sandbox to stumble or rampage across. Years' worth of DLC further fleshed things out, created a challenging environment for the third game to stand out.
But stand out it did. An excellent UI revamp and expanded tutorials went a long way to ease new and returning players into the title's complex gameplay. In-depth role-playing coupled with the addition of proper 3D portraits made characters more lifelike. The religion system also got a series of changes that give you more options to slightly reform established faiths or break away and form your own nudist cult.
You also have more choice in terms of how you build your army, Knights being a force to be reckoned with. Seafaring is also more streamlined which makes for complex engagements that simply flow better. Crusader Kings III successfully evolves the series and, like its predecessor, acts a strong foundation on which Paradox can build with future DLC.
Other Essential Strategy Games on PC
- Company of Heroes
- Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun
- Tropico 4
- Ground Control
- Hearts of Iron IV
- X-COM: UFO Defense
- Battlezone 98
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War
- WarGame Airland Battle
- Battlestar Galactica Deadlock
- SpellForce 3: Soul Harvest
- Dungeons III
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
- Endless Space 2
- Distant Worlds: Universe
That’s a wrap for now, but don’t fret if your favorite wasn’t on this list. These are but a handful of the great offerings out there. While they represent a wide variety of some of the best that the industry has given to us over decades of PC gaming, there’s certainly more quality gems that have come out and there are most definitely more on the way.
What’s your favorite turn-based, real-time, 4X, or other strategy game? Let us know in the comments below!
Original article written by TJ Denzer with later additions by Bogdan Robert Mateș.
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