There are two main ways strategy games can be made: in real-time and by taking turns. The first one is the most popular right now. The best real-time strategy games capture the unstoppable march of time in an exciting and real way. So, all game parts and systems model the unstoppable march of time and how it affects strategic and tactical decisions. This gives these strategy games a sense of movement and a greater focus on action.
15 Best Real-Time Strategy Games For PC
Since real-time strategy is a broad genre with a long history, we’ve put together a list that beginners and experts alike can use to get into the genre.
Eugen Systems’ initial entry into the World War II setting, RUSE, is one of the more macro-oriented strategy games, and it put them on the map as a developer team to watch. It’s a classic real-time strategy game that rebalances the game’s decision-making dynamics toward a slower-paced strategy rather than the micro-intensive combat found in games like Age of Empires.
RUSE makes the list of the Real-Strategy Games thanks to its titular mechanic, which allows players to launch various operations aimed at camouflaging, deceiving, or catching the opponent off guard. Above the standard resource management and troop maneuvering, this system adds a new layer of gameplay that keeps you on your toes, constantly guessing and predicting how the enemy is trying to gain an advantage.
2. Bad North
Bad North is a smaller-scale game than best strategy games RUSE’s massive battlegrounds, with the player commanding a band of brave soldiers who must island-hop their way to safety to escape an unstoppable horde of fantasy-style Vikings. It’s a roguelike strategy game, complete and thorough, and it’s a terrific place to start for those looking to dip their toes into the vast strategy genre.
Also, Bad North succeeds in making a tense and challenging micro-tactics game that heavily emphasizes timing, positioning, and situational awareness despite having a minimalistic but captivating visual style. You’ll only have four squads of units that can be upgraded to use unique weapons and equipment, so you’ll have to rely on the islands’ various layouts to funnel Vikings into bottlenecks and chokepoints if you want to win. It is one of the best Real-Strategy Games.
Cities: Skylines, which breaks from the violence and brutality real time strategy games, makes its way onto the list as the best city-building game in recent memory and shows no signs of slowing down. Performance at scale and design flexibility are two significant aspects of the game that make it a fantastic logistics game. Cities: Skylines is a sandbox where you may create the modern metropolis of your dreams, from planning industrial hubs and efficient cargo transportation to pondering every road intersection to maximize traffic flow. It’s just amazing to sit back and watch the hustle and bustle of the city, especially when it sprawls across the entire map, once you’ve completed your momentous tasks of creating impressive urban centers.
4. Planet Zoo
Planet Zoo is a logistics management game that makes its way onto the list, ranging from concrete jungles to the freshness of nature. Players may expect to develop and manage their zoo and animal conservation project with an astounding variety of creatures to observe and care for in this game. Planet Zoo combines the same impressive flexibility as Cities: Skylines but adds a lot more detail in managing animal and customer well-being, allowing players to become more involved on a micro-level than many other management games. However, it’s Planet Zoo’s variety of modes that set it apart from the competition, as players can test their construction and management skills in various scenarios turn based strategy games.
Age of Mythology, the fantasy-set cousin of the genre-defining Age of Empires series, takes the tried-and-true classic R.T.S. formula of base building, resource gathering, and combat and adds a fantastic layer of mythological powers and divine beings to spice things up. Players will choose which deity they worship from various polytheistic pantheons, such as Greek, Norse, or Egyptian, rather than factions representing historical countries and powers from the past.
The divine powers, special abilities, and spells set the Age of Mythology apart compared to its history-based counterparts. It provides an element of surprise, similar to RUSE, while giving players more ways to engage with the map, their followers, and their armies. This system was so appealing that it was incorporated into the Battle for Middle-earth series of strategy games, which advanced the genre strategy games for pc.
6. The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth 2
Surprisingly, fantasy has been a less popular genre for Real-Strategy Games, preferring instead to be found in turn-based strategy or other non-strategy genres. There are a few rare jewels out there, and like the franchise’s crucial MacGuffin, The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth 2 may be lost to time as a valuable collector’s item due to terrible circumstances pc strategy games.
Battle for Middle-earth shows potential in the ways it deviates and innovates on the genre, particularly with the introduction of hero characters and emphasis on army formations, as well as magic spells and powers. Not to mention the fantastic license on which the game is based, which allows for an intriguing spin-off story to run concurrently with Tolkien’s War of the Ring from the books (though its canonicity is suspect).
Real-time strategy games aren’t all bombastic and stressful. Kingdom, a smaller indie game series, has seen its fair share of experimentation and invention in the genre. The series consists of three games worth playing, but Two Crowns is the greatest of the three and encompasses the best aspects of indie strategy gaming.
The kingdom is a minimalistic strategy game in which players take control of a lord tasked with establishing a settlement while defending against nightmarish evil spirits. Though the game never deviates from its premise, making it feel repetitive and grindy sometimes, Two Crowns adds on and offline co-op to make the experience more enjoyable and exciting strategy games pc.
Surprisingly, the Cold War and contemporary warfare are the minor well-represented settings in strategy games. World in Conflict provided insight into the setting and one of the most engaging and innovative multiplayer experiences of any real-time strategy game.
The core of World in Conflict’s excellent gameplay is that each player selects a tactical combat role, such as armor, helicopters, infantry, or support, and calls in off-map strikes, requiring players to work together to capture territory on the battle map. Furthermore, World in Conflict is the only game on this list with an excellent story that includes exciting characters and genuine character development war strategy games.
You’d assume that space combat and ship-based warfare would be extremely popular in real-time strategy games, but they’re pretty uncommon. Fortunately, the few available games are well worth the investment, with Battlefleet Gothic serving as the modern, high-quality space warfare gaming model. The Warhammer 40,000 setting only helps the game because it provides an excellent ground for engaging gameplay design, particularly regarding faction variety strategy games online.
Armada’s intense & fast-paced real-time tactical fight, where positioning and activation of critical abilities can mean split-second success and a crucial battlefield advantage, benefits from the excellent faction variety. The game also features many grand strategy-lite long narrative campaigns, with the Necron characters and tale being a particular highlight.
10. Men of War: Assault Squad 2
Men of War: Assault Squad 2 brings the action to the World War 2 battlefields for a more grounded and realistic experience. Because World War II is one of, if not the most famous historical setting for video games, it’s no surprise that several R.T.S. games set during that bloody Conflict cut best strategy games pc.
Men of War excels with its flexibility in modeling tiny squad skirmishes to larger frenetic and stunning slugfests, with its influence inspired by classic R.T.S. with an extra degree of historical accuracy. This is due to the game’s unique command system, which allows players to give orders to groups of units, take manual control of individual soldiers, and play the game like a third-person shooter.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is the only stealth-tactics R.T.S. on the list, and it’s also one of the best in the stealth strategy game sub-genre (the more recent Desperados 3 is also worth a look). Many strategy games aim to be open-ended strategic sandboxes or tactical challenges; Shadow Tactics is more akin to a complex puzzle game with multiple paths to take, where timing and deliberate planning are paramount grand strategy games.
Players will command a squad of post-Sengoku Jidai Edo Japanese characters and complete scenarios to advance the story. It may be tempting to charge in guns blazing, or this case, katanas unsheathed, but given the overall numerical superiority of the enemy and the relative fragility of the player’s characters, a mix of stealth and decisive offensive action will yield the best results and bring the game’s tension to a satisfying breaking point.
12. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2
The classic R.T.S. genre thrived in the 1990s and early 2000s, with three main franchises leading the charge, with the Command and Conquer series taking a more pulpy and lighthearted approach than its competitors. Despite having a long and venerable plot with a terrible ending, this series is still highly regarded, with Red Alert 2 serving as the series’ take on the genre ps4 strategy games.
With base-building, power management, resource gathering, unit recruitment, and micro-intensive combat, Red Alert 2 has all the hallmarks of a classic R.T.S. Still, the game’s character, humor, and aesthetics make it stand out. You get an unforgettable, flavorful strategy experience if you combine every hyperbolized cartoony Cold War stereotype and trope with a healthy dose of crazy science-fiction.
So, what do you get if you take Red Alert 2’s hijinks and over-the-top approach and push it even farther? Of course, you get a Warhammer 40K game. The setting’s satire and parody of science-fiction, in general, may not be as outwardly and explicitly humorous. Still, the choice of a self-serious mask paired with gothic and exaggerated architecture barely hides the setting’s satire and parody of science-fiction ww2 strategy games.
Dawn of War may not have achieved the same level of acclaim for its contributions to classic R.T.S.s as the Command and Conquer series. However, it still has several advantages, including a wide range of factions and units and extensive unit customization. Dawn of War’s aesthetics, visual style, and animation work are still exquisite and gives the game a timeless feel, despite the game’s lower graphical detail and quality compared to more modern titles.
Because of their popularity and solid gameplay structure, some of the best R.T.S.s of all time are classic R.T.S.s or R.T.S.s that are similar to them. Age of Empires 2 is no exception, and it stands alongside Command and Conquers as a pillar of classic R.T.S. gaming best turn based strategy games.
This time, players will be immersed in a historical setting, roughly the Middle Ages, and command one of the many factions in campaigns or competitive multiplayer skirmishes. Although Age of Empires has a large number of factions, they all play similarly, with slight variances in buffs, units, and buildings to differentiate them.
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is a prequel spin-off game of the well-regarded space combat game series Homeworld, which is also highly recommended. It similarly appeals to Battle for Middle-earth in that it maintains a core classic R.T.S. gaming structure while finding new and exciting ways to change those dynamics online strategy games.
The most innovative aspect of Deserts of Kharak is how it approaches base-building by giving players command of a mobile carrier that serves as a factory, an aircraft carrier, a missile carrier, and a gunship, as well as power-shunting systems for even more tactical control. Furthermore, this game begins to shift the focus away from pure resource gathering and toward unit control and effective tactics, which came in subsequent entries free strategy games.