The 10 Best Strategy Games You Must Play

From the era-defining classics to the jaw-dropping graphics sensations, here are the top picks for strategy games on PC.

BY ROBERT JAMES: Strategy games have long been a source of entertainment and fascination for young and old alike. When we talk about a good strategy game, there are a number of components involved which combine together to give an immersive experience. From in-depth detailing to graphics, from engaging storylines to replayability, a wide number of factors need to be considered. But there is something beyond these formal boundaries which make us fall in love with certain games. They simply click with us, with our personalities and playstyles which often makes us stick with them.

Keeping all this in mind, let us discuss some of the best era-defining strategy games to date, some of which might be widely popular, but the core commonality between them is that they are all gems from their respective eras! (Please note that the list compiled doesn’t follow any order of popularity so each game is a beauty on its own.)

Stardew Valley

Yes, we’re classing this as a strategy game.  We would like to start off our list with a farming simulator, which became a sensation with its simplistic yet detailed gameplay. ConcernedApe’s farming heaven, Stardew Valley, incorporates a variety of strategic elements in its gameplay where you often need to plan ahead in order to succeed as a farmer.

For the start, you need to take ownership of a farm and start building up from there. As the game progresses, you will be introduced to different seasons which facilitate different crops which can be sold in the market for in-game currency. That currency is your bread and butter and in order to progress and improve your farm, you actively need to make more of it.

The game also indulges players in social events as your avatar develops has a chance to develop a love life of his own with different female characters harbouring varied personalities and preferences. There are a few RPG elements involved as well, including a dungeon crawl.

The greatest aspect with Stardew Valley is that it will give you a homely feeling of comfort with its gameplay and keep you coming back for more of the simplistic farm life. If you have a knack for farming simulators, or if you feel even the slightest inclination towards the idea, you definitely need to try it.

Warcraft III

To present Warcraft 3 as an era-defining entry seems like an understatement. Blizzard created something beyond expectation when they released it a couple of decades back. With incredibly fast-paced gameplay and an ever-engrossing storyline, this was a milestone for any and every epic fantasy game which came after it. The World of Warcraft and DOTA 2 were both realized as side projects from this very game and we all know how popular they became afterwards.

Warcraft III built upon its predecessor and introduced us to new factions with unique playstyles and mighty heroes. These magical heroes and their overwhelming abilities made Warcraft III considerably more hero-centric in comparison to another massively popular entry from Blizzard (which is also a part of our list), but we cannot complain.

The custom map editor tool allowed players to create interesting new maps of their likings with ever-changing objectives and scenario. DOTA is also a by-product of that very map editor. We would highly urge you to try this game for once, and even when compared with the latest games of the current world, you will not be disappointed.

Civilization VI

Sid Meier’s Civilization series is among the best strategy games ever created.  Players face a wide variety of ever-changing scenarios which a growing civilization might face. From the first instalment which introduced us to the very concept of civilization all the way to Civilization VI, you can’t help being awe-struck by how effectively and beautifully the series has developed.

There are a number of victory conditions which keep all the competing players on edge throughout the game run. You have to actively defend your empire as well not just from your opponents, but also from various NPC’s like hordes of barbarians which can disrupt your economy.

Various historical figures of civilizations come with their respective perks as well as weaknesses, as do their units, and it’s up to the players to make the most out of any given terrain.

Civilization VI visibly adds a major learning curve for old Civilization veterans with its new dynamics, but this shouldn’t be something to fear. Rather it presents players with the opportunity to adapt towards more engaging elements than ever before. This game might be a bit difficult to learn and understanding it properly might take visible effort, but if you are willing to put in that extra effort, the reward will surely be promising.

You can actively play this game over dedicated servers accessible through a decent internet option available with your friends. Considering an option like at&t internet deals or Xfinity bundles could a reliable call in this department. Doing so will make sure that you are properly catered in your internet connectivity so you can enjoy the extensive gaming sessions.

Age of Mythology

While the Age of Empires series wasn’t exactly able to keep up with the changing trends with its future developments, the studio’s Age of Mythology was able to shine through. Originally based on a trio of mythologies, namely Norse, Egyptian and Greek, the game was able to mesmerize audiences with a number of gameplay elements.

Players choose a major starting God under one of three factions and from there on progress through various ages under supervision of various deities. Every minor and major God come with exclusive racial bonuses as well as technological advancements which offered players various perks to outwit their opponents.

The introduction of mythological creates as a part of marching armies could arguably be one of the best aspects of this game and let’s not undermine the learning aspect where players were introduced to the world of mythologies through this game. The games also experienced a number of developments based on the huge following it amassed including the Titans expansion as well as a remastered version of the game which was introduced a couple of years back. The trio of monster-hero-mortal entities brought tons of fun and replayability for players worldwide.

All aspects considered this game, whenever there is a debate regarding top-notch strategy games, this game definitely deserves a mention.

Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings

Arguably the best strategy game made in its era, Age of Empires 2: the Age of Kings literally opened our minds to what a strategy game could actually achieve. A classic style strategy game in nature, this game had it all. Starting from the historical lessons it gave us, all the way to amassing formidable armies, everything was on point and even somewhere beyond that. Stockpiling resources from the dark ages, training militia to defend your town and then upgrading your defences as well as offenses with progressing ages, each and every aspect was impressively analysed and developed for the audiences. No wonder this game got a remaster in recent years and that too was a huge success.

The series tried building on this massively popular repute with additional entries like Age of Empires III, which is a decent game in itself, but none of the later instalments was able to live up to the earlier namesake. We consider that it is partly because of this particular instalment as it was able to set a bar so high for future strategy game developments that it even overshadowed the parent company itself.

If you are a fan of strategy games, then there is a definite possibility that you have already played this game. However, if by any certain misfortunate you haven’t tried this title, we would urge you to give it a try because it is never too late to indulge in awesomeness.

Total War: Warhammer II

The first entry in the Warhammer series showed us how the expertise of two gaming studios could create something beautiful together. Game Workshop’s fantasy world developments were perfectly complemented by the epic battles and character development techniques of Creative Assembly studio.

The second instalment, Total War: Warhammer II was released recently and has become one of the most successful games of the current era. This instalment adds a number of improvements to the overall dynamics of the series. A number of heroes and their abilities have been revamped to assist better in the various battle scenarios. The game hosts a total of four factions, namely High Elves, Dark Elves, Lizardmen, and Skaven, each of which has unique abilities and perks of their own. With the overwhelming success this game accumulated, a third instalment has already been announced.

If you wish to explore the epic world create by Creative Assembly and Game Workshop, Total War: Warhammer II would be the perfect platform to start from and we assure you that you are in for an epic journey of fantasy warfare.

StarCraft: Brood War

Everything that Warcraft III lacked from a gamers perspective, StarCraft was successfully able to deliver to the audiences. Expectations are usually low when we talk about DLC’s and expansion packs but that wasn’t the case with this one. Brood War DLC was successfully able to add to the original flavour presented by the multi-award-winning StarCraft game.

Players get to enjoy new units, terrains and visual enhancements. The intro movies have been carefully tailored and generated to support the advancing story of the game itself and one cannot stop themselves from getting emotional by the end of each storyline. New music and sound packages cater effectively to the enhanced terrain which directly delivers this feeling of immersion which is hard to neglect. Unit speeches are always an amusement and the wide array of new character additions each have their own things to say provided that you keep clicking on them long enough.

The best part about this expansion is that there are no loops in the storyline, as it starts precisely where the original game left off. That gives you the feeling of picking another gem right where the original trail ended so you can embark on the next exciting journey that lies before you, which is Brood War.

Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2

C&C’s Westwood Studio entries made us all fall in love with them attributed to their fast-paced gameplay as well the interesting cinematic experiences which often include actual Hollywood actors as the supporting cast. Every instalment in the series had its own charm and environment which couldn’t be considered as a trademark to the world of C&C. This is a major achievement for C&C that one look at the game terrain and a couple of units and we can instantly identify the title.

Among the various entries C&C brought our way, Red Alert 2 by far is the most popular. The campaign stories, spectacular units, and engaging FMV sequences, everything contributed towards this game become a cult classic of its genre. The game even got a very interesting DLC under the name Yuri’s Revenge which introduced players to a new faction along with a wider array of units.

Red Alert 2 is among the fastest paced strategy games to date and if you like challenging gameplay scenarios, Red Alert 2 still packs a decent punch for gamers of all ages.

Crusader Kings II

Crusader Kings II is undoubtedly among the grandest strategy games you will ever encounter. The gameplay introduces players to a medieval world where you act as a ruler with the objective of accumulating unparalleled power in the form of influence and territories.

Players get to be an active part of medieval wars, politics, and religion as you encounter ancient dynasties, formidable enemies, lost lovers and family members. Combine that personal element with engaging warfare, and you get a complete strategy game that will keep you hooked for days, if not hours. The death of your ruler is not the end of your journey though, rather when he gets married, he will have children, those children will become heirs to the throne and the cycle begins all over again.

All these elements increase the replayability of the game and establish this as one of the best strategy game titles to date.

Anno 1800

The awesome world of Anno introduced a number of engaging instalments for its audiences, from the medieval scenarios, all the way to the futuristic battle settings. The game lets you manage a village like an outpost starting from very scratch and from thereon you can develop it into a massively strong civilization.

The last two entries were futuristic in nature and that didn’t sit well with the general audiences. Keeping that in mind, with Anno 1800, the series went back to its origins where ship sails bring bounties from the see, and sugarcane businesses are still the primary way to go. As a leader, you need to keep your village and its community happy while safeguarding their interests. You need to consider three core components, your production lines, trades routes, and the layout of your towns. Developing all these properly will give you the start you need.

All in all, Anno 1800 is an amazing game so get a copy ASAP to embark on this epic journey.

Did we miss any great strategy games?

These titles are among the best strategy games which revolutionized the genre in one way or another, some defined an era, while others are by-products of accumulated need. Be sure to give some of these titles a go with an open mind considering the majority of these were released quite a while back. Surely you will be able to appreciate the gameplay and find out exactly why they are a part of our list.

Written by an Adult Gamer