Real-time strategy games are games that don’t have turns but instead allow all players to progress at the same time, even if one of those players is the computer. These involve each player having structures and units typically featuring a lot of resource gathering, base building, development, and strategic control over units.
A lot of games under the city-building, construction and management, and real-time tactics fall under this category, especially if it is the kind of game where the player takes on a god-like role. They can be extremely demanding of the player, requiring a lot of critical thinking, skill, and a lot of replaying maps to progress throughout the game.
10 The Lord Of The Rings: Battle For Middle-Earth 2 Is A Comprehensive Collection Of Both The Books & The Movies
The Lord Of The Rings: Battle For Middle-Earth 2 is one of those solid RTS games that constantly appear on recommended lists, and for good reason. EA took its Lord of the Rings licensing and made a shining example of how good the genre could be, and then they made it even better with the sequel.
The game has characters and locations from both the book series and the films blended seamlessly. It also allows the player to choose which side to be on and thus sway the outcomes and potentially change the story that Tolkien had set forth.
9 Timberborn Is New To The Scene
Timberborn is a new RTS that is bringing back some serious love for the genre. It takes place technically in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have died out. Now, beavers have become the dominant species and are trying to survive, progress, and advance in a new society. The best part is that this one also includes serious water control, which fits the beaver theme.
It is still in early access, so it has some bugs to work out, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the best RTS games out there right now. It has some loving devs that take feedback strongly into consideration to make it even better with every update.
8 Northgard Is A Modern Viking RTS
Northgard follows Vikings inhabiting a new continent that is filled to the brim with creatures and factions they have to pit themselves against. There are various story modes, clans, and choices the player can make to keep their people thriving throughout the game.
There’s also a multiplayer option as well, so friends, families, and random strangers on the internet can pit their skills against each other. However, the best part is that every major update is free for someone who already owns the game. Therefore, that hefty price tag will pay for itself without worrying about some new DLC down the line.
7 Age Of Empires IV Continues The Legacy Of The Classic Franchise
Age of Empires has been a long-running and popular franchise, especially for fans of the RTS genre. It follows various cultures throughout history and has the player managing everything as they rise to the pinnacle of their empires.
Age of Empires IV is the most recent installment of the series, and it really outdoes itself. The mechanics are less buggy, the UI is easier to handle, and there are fewer loopholes for the AI to cheat. Not to mention, it’s a lot prettier while still feeling like an Age of Empires game.
6 Zeus + Poseidon Is Essentially An Update To An Old Classic
Zeus + Poseidon is the Steam collection of Zeus: Master of Olympus and its Poseidon expansion. This is essentially the successor to the classic Caesar games, which are favorites of old RTS city-builder fans.
Like its predecessors, this has an ancient Roman setting where the player has to build cities, manage resources, and go through events and areas present in the ancient world. It’s fixed some of the old issues, enhanced the gameplay, and streamlined the UI enough that it still feels like the old games while living up to more modern sensibilities.
5 Shadow Tactics: Blade Of The Shogun Is An Interesting Take
Shadow Tactics: Blade of the Shogun is a unique RTS game in the sense that instead of micromanaging a huge force of people, the player can only micromanage the actions of a small group of them. They can use them to lead, command, and progress throughout the story in a way that gets the player deeply invested in their different styles and goals.
Just because the player doesn’t get to be as godly as in most other RTS games doesn’t mean this one is easier. It just has a more grounded story with more set goals than many other ones, which makes it definitely worth the playtime that goes into it.
4 Ancestors Legacy Is A Good Introduction To The Genre
Ancestors Legacy is a more recent release of a squad-based RTS that allows the player to pick from four historical factions in medieval European history. It’s a story-driven game with competitive multiplayer that takes heavy inspiration from real-world history and thus has a lot of realistic warring to go along with it.
It has even won an award for best of show and multiple nominations, one of which is for its stellar soundtrack. It’s a great game for gamers new to the genre or RTS fans wanting something more story-driven and less painstakingly micromanaging. It’s relatively straightforward and easy to get through for more seasoned players, but it still has enough to keep quite a bit of entertainment going for hours.
3 Age Of Mythology Is A Classic
Age of Mythology is an old spinoff of the Age of Empires series that focuses on the mythological side of history. The story mode even follows various myths in various cultures, from the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians to the Norse.
It’s definitely a fun exploration of various popular myths and allows some interesting insight into them. The graphics and voice acting might be a bit outdated, but that doesn’t take away from how engaging the story is. It’s challenging enough to satisfy seasoned RTS fans while still being simple enough for newcomers as well, making it an all-around quality game.
2 Stronghold Crusader HD Revitalizes The Original Castle-Builder
Stronghold Crusader HD is the sequel to Stronghold and is marketed as the original Castle-builder simulator. Fans of the series will also mention that it is the best of the group despite not being the newest installment. It allows the player to choose between a few factions to partake in a fight for either freedom or conquest.
The HD update brought the visuals more up-to-date in stunning detail despite keeping a pixel style. It’s a classic that is perfect for people who love historical games and want to pit themselves against a computer without feeling like the machine is cheating against them at every turn.
1 Crusader Kings III Follows An Entire Bloodline
Crusader Kings III takes the RTS genre and builds upon it. Not only does the player have to go around and build upon the world, but they also have to manage entire bloodlines as the reign passes from heir to heir. It is massive, taking place in a medieval setting over a vast world map instead of moving along smaller maps.
Usually, the player goes through an unrealistic amount of time as the same person or force, and the traits of their leaders mean little to the overall gameplay. In Crusader Kings III, the player has to arrange everything about their leader’s lives and hope for the best, which is really a unique twist to the genre.
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