Even though it has lost a lot of popularity in recent years, strategy games remain strong and deserve all respect. Being able to beat our opponents based on planning and decision-making is still a pleasure sought by many. That’s why we’ve brought here a list of the 20 best PC strategy games for those who like to plan their next step!
Attention: we focus on games that have a strategy as the predominant genre. Therefore, we leave aside games that, although strategic, fit better in other genres such as MOBA, Tower Defense, survival, simulators, etc.
Age of Empires II
It couldn’t have been him. Age of Empires II is the second title in a series that needs no introduction. It’s almost impossible to find someone who has never heard of the game. The success was so great that the title got an HD remake in 2013 (HD Edition). Like most real-time strategy games, Age of Empires II puts you in the administration of different structures and units with the objective of defeating enemy armies and destroying their bases. On the way, it is necessary to gather resources, obtain power-ups, conquer territories, etc.
Command and Conquer series
Here we cannot indicate just one. Command and Conquer is the series responsible for putting the real-time strategy genre on the map, and its success has translated into numerous sequels, expansions, and even a remastered version announced for 2020.
The original Command and Conquer series is sci-fi-themed in which a new world war takes place due to the Earth’s contamination with a mysterious substance. Alternatively, the Red Alert series takes place in an alternate past in which Albert Einstein erases Hitler from history, creating a different timeline in which the Soviet Union expands across the world.
In every game in the series, the player controls different main story cores, each with its own goals. The series also features online and local multiplayer mode and matches against Artificial Intelligence.
A classic of classics. Warcraft 3 is one of the biggest names in real-time strategy games and introduced a veritable universe created by Blizzard with its many iconic characters. Here, you participate in contests between 4 races: humans, orcs, night elves, and undead. Each has its own structures, characteristics, and heroes, and the objective is to assemble an army capable of destroying enemy bases.
Continuing with the classics, Starcraft II is as famous as Warcraft. The game follows the same real-time style in which players must build their armies and decimate enemy units and structures to win. Here, the war takes place between 3 races: Protoss, Terrans, and zergs, each with its own characteristics and style of play. Starcraft II reached a surprising level in the world competitive scenario, with millionaire awards and being a true national passion in some countries in Asia.
Civilization VI has managed to surpass all of its previous titles in basically every respect. Although the objectives remain the same (managing a civilization through different eras), the 6th title in the series has numerous new mechanics that greatly enrich the gameplay. This time you’ll need to worry about a lot more elements like trade, religion, espionage, state leaders with their own characteristics and “skills” and much, MUCH more.
Company of Heroes 2
Company of Heroes 2 is the sequel to one of the most acclaimed real-time strategy games. To get out of the medieval theme, the game takes place during World War II and the player needs to control platoons of soldiers who need to conquer territories to gather resources. With these resources, you can acquire ammunition, fuel, and other elements needed to advance through the territory and complete missions. The series is highly praised for the very high level of strategy that the stages can require, as well as the great variety of ways to complete the missions.
Sid Meier’s Civilization V
Civilization V is the fifth title in the famous strategy game franchise. In it, players need to manage their civilizations from prehistoric times to the future. Here there are several conditions for victory, which may be related to research, exploration, technological or economic development, population, diplomacy, etc. Civilization V was responsible for a huge leap in the quality of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in the Civilization series.
Age of Mythology
Age of Mythology is a spin-off from Age of Empires that has gained so much popularity and recognition that it is still remembered today. The game didn’t have a sequel but featured some expansions that greatly increased the game’s content. Here, players must control units and structures related to Greek, Egyptian and Norse mythology, each with its own characteristics and playstyle. As with all games of this genre, the objective is to destroy the enemy’s army and base, and resource management and decision-making are crucial to victory.
XCOM 2 is a turn-based strategy game in which you control soldiers of a military organization in the fight against aliens that invaded the earth. With the perspective in top-down style (from top to bottom), the player needs to manage each of the units to complete the missions in the best way. Some even have a limit on the turns in which they must be completed, and scenarios are always generated randomly.
Total War: Warhammer II
Total War: Warhammer II is another great success of one of the main strategy game franchises out there. Here, strategy takes place in real-time and turn-based in which you control entire armies of different races. First, the preparation of combats is done in turns in which the position of the units is decided, the truce is decided, etc. When armies meet, the battle takes place in real-time. The game also has several modes and an online campaign that can be played cooperatively with other players.
Europa Universalis IV
Europa Universalis IV is based on real historical events and puts you in control of a nation made up of several provinces, and the goal is to conquer the whole world. For this, the player must manage various elements such as Prestige, Gold, Devotion, Legitimacy, etc. The gameplay takes place through an interactive map of nations and the key is to obtain a great balance between military strength, diplomacy, and economy.
Crusader Kings II
Crusader Kings II is a game very similar to Europa Universalis IV, especially visually. Here, the objective is to manage your dynasty so that it expands and controls more and more territory. For that, of course, the main tools for success are wars, politics, marriages, agreements, etc. The game is full of real characters from European history and allows you to rewrite the facts. Over time, you begin to notice the fruits of your decisions as you gain territory and increase your influence.
Stellaris is a game very similar to most of this list, but with a futuristic and spatial theme. The story takes place in 2200 when spacecraft faster than light already exist. The game’s objectives are very varied and you can choose to conquer the entire galaxy through force or seek peace between civilizations. Battles, of course, take place between spaceships and in real-time. Preparation, in turn, takes place in turns where a lot of strategies is involved. In addition to the most violent means, players can propose alliances and economic treaties to achieve their goals.
Mount and Blade: Warband
Another member of famous franchises, Mount and Blade: Warband is a medieval-themed strategy and RPG sandbox. The gameplay takes place at different times and the player needs to create and customize their character, move around the map and, if they encounter enemies, participate or not in combat. At the time of fights, real-time strategy comes into play, but outside of them, decision-making is crucial. In this sense, you can choose to create your own manor, work for feudal lords, get married, attack cities, etc.
Into the Breach
Into the Breach is an indie strategy game with minimalist graphics. Here, humanity must resist the attack of aliens using powerful robots brought from the future. Battles take place through a turn system on a small 8×8 board on which numerous strategies can be worked out. Each unit has its own characteristics that must be combined with others in order for you to find the best way to pass each level.
FTL: Faster Than Light
Faster Than Light is a strategy game developed by the same studio as Into the Breach. Also with minimalist graphics, the game puts you in control of a spaceship while trying to survive the onslaught of fleets and enemy fleets. To do this, you must manage all aspects of the ship, manage each resource well, and make numerous tactical decisions during combat.
Invisible Inc. is a turn-based strategy game with various stealth and espionage elements. Here you must take control of agents on covert missions with the aim of protecting a central computer system from the attack of multinationals. Quests take place with a limited number of turns and are always very tension-filled. The game has a great tactical focus that requires you to observe a lot of the environment and the behavior of enemies at each level.
Sins of a Solar Empire
Another game that combines turn-based strategy with real-time. Sins of a Solar Empire has a futuristic space theme in which players can choose to control different extremely technologically advanced races. Each has its own network of planets and other celestial bodies, and the player must manage resources well in order to explore and conquer different regions of space.
Read more: Best MOBA Games of 2021
One of the most original strategy games out there. In Plague Inc., you take complete control of a disease with the aim of exterminating the human race. For this, you will need to develop the characteristics and attributes of the disease, choosing forms of transmission, symptoms, “talents”, etc. During the matches, you need to be aware of events around the world such as floods, earthquakes, and the closing of borders to adapt and keep the evolution of your disease.
Mini Metro is a strategy and puzzle game with very minimalist gameplay and graphics. Here, the aim is to create a subway network as efficiently and optimally as possible. Each of the phases takes place in a real city, and the more passengers appear and the new subway lines are opened, the complexity increases dramatically and administration becomes much more difficult. Certainly, a very original and perfect game to run on a weak PC, deserving a place in this list.