The PC is home to just about all types of video games in the sun, but few are also par excellence computer like strategy games.
Because it’s such a popular (and important) type of game for the platform, and because I’ve spent way too much time playing it over the past few years, I thought I was helping people by setting up a list of what I consider to be the best strategy games for the best system to play them on.
So what counts as a strategy game? It’s a good question. The one on which, thanks to the video game’s relentless drive to remove all meaning from its genre names, we may never be able to settle down. The lines are so blurry between “strategy” and “RTS” and “grand strategy” and “management” and “simulation” that I tried to narrow this list down to games that, well, most people would just like to play. agreed (through sentiment) agreed with being called “strategy games”.
So here are the best games to play if you’re in the mood to take charge of something, ruin an economy, and / or lead an army through the fields of your enemies.
What more can i say? A titan in the field, he’s not just the best Civilization game, but one of the best games ever for PC. Whatever your strategic cup of tea, be it war, diplomacy or exploration, Civilization V has you covered.
And yes I know that Civilization VI is out now and is very good, but I’ll wait at least a few months (and maybe an extension or two) before judging if it can knock over Civ V on this list or not.
Civilization V: The Kotaku Overhaul
It’s 2016. With that in mind, go play a 2010 shooter. Or a sports game. Or, well, anything else from 2010. Look how (relatively) basic it is! Notice how advancements in game design and technology have made so many of these old classics obsolete. Now go play Civilization V. I’ll see you in six months. If we’re lucky.
CRUSADER KINGS III
This place on the list used be kept warm by Crossed Kings II, but I think the time has come to replace it in the future, Crossed Kings III. While it lacks as much of the breadth and depth of the additional content Paradox has released for the former over the years, the latter’s smoother interface and nicer visuals (not to mention its own innovations from gameplay, as a vastly improved way to wage war) means this is easily the one I would recommend to people.
On the one hand, it’s a bit like Civilization! On the other hand, it is one of the newer strategy games on the market, relying on Civ’s foundations with lots of cool, new, and interesting ideas, from its sleek user interface to how its fiction results in absolutely crazy faction features. It’s also great to see a strategy game with a real sense of style.
Endless Legend: The Kotaku Review
As part of our recent change of focus, I played (and therefore wrote) about Civilization even more than usual. And for a while it seemed like every time I did that someone deep in the comments section was whispering about another game I should try, * gasp *, might be better than Civ. . So I did. And what do you know, in many ways they were right.
A COMPANY OF HEROES
For me, the RTS genre died in 2006. Not because of some cataclysmic event, but because it’s the year A company of heroes was released and perfected the formula, basically saying “shut it down, we don’t need it anymore”. No game – even its own lackluster sequel – has come close to matching it since. Replacing frantic mouse clicks and boring building controls with a constant need for real-life tactics, its slower pace and more realistic battlefield conditions mean that even ten years later, it remains an absolute classic.
The best video games of WWII
It was the most destructive conflict in human history, and one that directly shaped entire generations of creators and consumers, so it’s no surprise that for a long time WWII was perhaps the most popular setting in video games.
TOTAL WAR: SHOGUN 2
The Total war the series remains a mainstay of the PC strategy game, and although Empire is my favorite, I tend to recommend Shogun 2 first. It is more functional and focused than the Total war games before (or since), and it still looks absolutely stunning. Bonus: its big extension, Fall of the samurai, is probably the best thing overall Total war series.
WORLD OF ORIGIN
Art. The music. The way he faced a tough control challenge – moving around a fleet of ships in empty 3D space – and absolutely pulled it off. The recent remakes really only touched the sound and visuals, because everything else Home world remains almost perfect.
Homeworld: The Return of an Almost Perfect Game
Playing through Homeworld again after all these years is weird. The games are constantly changing. In general, they move forward. They are advancing not only in terms of visuals, but also in design. Shooters, for example, change the way you cover up and pick up damage, while stealth games have developed smoother controls and give the player a greater awareness of what’s going on around them.
Inspired by the classic General Panzer, Panzer Corps is a (relatively) straightforward turn-based game that still manages to pack an incredible amount of depth (and content). If you want to fight the whole of WWII but don’t want to spend hours learning complicated rules or menus, this is the game for you.
Panzer Corps: Kotaku Review
Panzer Corps is not a new game. It has been released since 2011 and is a faithful remake (except for the name) of a game first released 20 years ago. None of this matters. As of 2014, this is still one of the best strategy games you can get on PC.
WORLD IN CONFLICT
It may seem like a surprising choice, but World in conflict is a very good strategy game. He chooses a place in the genre – somewhere between the chaotic immediacy of Blizzard and Total war big-map tactics – and nails, constantly taxing both your small-scale reactions and your broader strategic concerns. It also has a weirdly wacky and lovable feel that you don’t often get in this more serious genre, from its over-the-top adherence to its 1989 setting to the narration of Alec Baldwin’s “Jack Donaghy in Fatigue” campaign.
I did not think XCOM 2 had leeway to improve on the first game. How wrong I was. Turns out that by adding stealth / visibility systems, fine-tuning the strategic metagame, and dramatically increasing the game’s cinematic flair, you can do something awesome. bigger.
AGE OF EMPIRES II: AGE OF KINGS
I don’t think that any game, even until contemporary StarCraft II and Kharak Deserts, has been able to excel in the traditional RTS model – operate, build and deploy – better than Age of kings. The scale of the maps, the armies you could build and the emphasis on fortifications… it all came together perfectly. If you are curious, the recent Definitive edition is definitely the best way to experience this classic.
I love these games and think they are all great (and representative of different types of strategy games), but they just couldn’t succeed.
Hearts of Iron III, StarCraft II, The Banner Saga, Alpha Centauri, Command & Conquer Red Alert, WarCraft III, Europa Universalis IV, Sid Meier’s Colonization.
This article has been updated since its original publication.