If you’ve been thinking about getting into strategy games after, say, building a new gaming PC, figuring out where to start can be a bit overwhelming. You’ve come to the right place however, as these are some of the best strategy games available on PC right now.
It’s worth noting these aren’t ranked in any particular order because there’s a lot of subjectivity in regards to the details of strategy genre as a whole. Rather, this is meant to be a guide for anyone explore PC strategy games and trying to find a good place to start.
It’s also important to note that there’s two main kinds of strategy games: turn-based strategy (TBS) and real-time strategy (RTS). As the names suggest, turn-based strategy revolves around the player and other factions taking turns to complete actions, while real-time strategy sees warfare unfold at a brisk pace all at once.
1. Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition
It’s impossible to talk about strategy games without mentioning Age of Empires 2. This classic title first defined real-time strategy in 1999 and thanks to numerous expansions and a recent remaster, it’s better than ever. Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition allows players to command numerous civilizations as they rise to the top of the Imperial Age, from the clashes of the Scots and English to the Spanish invasion of the Aztec Empire.
2. Age of Mythology
Age of Mythology is an odd offshoot of the Age of Empires franchise. Eschewing real world history for myths and legends, players command terrifying monsters like Minotaurs and Frost Giants while currying favor with Greek, Egyptian, Norse, Atlantean or Chinese deities. It’s a great change of pace from its more realistic sister titles and the perfect game to try if you’re not sure about the many historically-focused strategy games.
3. Sid Meier’s Civilization 6
Maybe you don’t want to command the minutia of different soldiers, you’d prefer to oversee the grand research and construction of monuments across hundreds of years. That’s where Sid Meier’s Civilization 6 comes in. The latest installment in the Civilization franchise provides thousands of hours of possibilities in a game best defined by “just one more turn.”
4. Command & Conquer Remastered Collection
Command & Conquer is one of the founding names of the strategy genre as a whole. Westwood Studios’ original game has been remastered for modern hardware in a bundle with its expansion packs. While it might still be a little rustic compared to the more modern titles on this list, it’s well worth checking out if you want to see just why this was so defining back in 1995.
5. Crusader Kings 3
So, maybe you looked at Civilization 6 and thought to yourself “I want a more realistic art style and even more control over the most minute details, including the ability to run my kingdom in an absolutely depraved way.” If that applies to you, Crusader Kings 3 is calling. Forge a royal line then…literally do whatever you want. Build a kingdom, an empire, backstab your allies and suffer mental breakdowns, that just barely scratches the surface of what is possible. This is a daunting title to get into but there’s a reason it’s so popular. If you’re not sure, you can try it through Xbox Game Pass for PC.
Taking a break from forging lineages, Cold War soldiers, deals with gods or mighty academic arts, maybe you need to just need to build a factory. This logistics simulator of sorts has you trapped on an alien world, needing to build defenses. To get those defenses, you’ll need a factory. Not just any factory, a mighty, automated, mass production facility the likes of which Vanderbilt and Carnagie could never have dreamed up. It’s incredibly complicated but even more satisfying.
7. Halo Wars 2
343 Industries collaborated with strategy veterans at Creative Assembly to create Halo Wars 2, an RTS that has you take up arms with the UNSC forces of the Spirit of Fire or the mysterious new Banished, a Brute-led Covenant-like faction. While it was built for console gamepads, Halo Wars 2 works well on PC and is a great diversion away from the usual Halo shooters. It also supports cross-play, so you can play with your friends across Xbox and PC.
Check out our full Halo Wars 2 review.
8. StarCraft 2
StarCraft 2 unleashes the Terran, Zerg and Protoss forces across three campaigns — Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void — as well as co-op commander missions and the extensive multiplayer. It’s easily one of the most iconic RTS games to date and while the skill ceiling is certainly high, the barrier to entry has never been lower.
Stellaris is to galactic conquest what Crusader Kings 3 is to medieval kingdoms and no wonder, since both games are developed by Paradox Interactive. This empire simulator lets you reach out and make your mark amidst the stars in whatever you see fit. Forge careful alliances and trade agreements to create a federation that stands for equal rights? You can do that. Rule a tyrannical cyborg race that liquefies your foes? You can do that too.
10. Total War: Warhammer
Dark fantasy comes to life with Creative Assembly’s Total War: Warhammer. Developed in partnership with Warhammer creators Games Workshop, Total War: Warhammer is the perfect entry point for both the Total War and Warhammer franchises. This game combines turn-based empire management with real-time battles, allowing you to clash with the forces of the Empire, Dwarfs, Greenskins and other iconic races. You’ll also get a neat bonus for buying it when you play the sequel.
11. Total War: Warhammer 2
Total War: Warhammer 2 takes everything that worked in the first game and improves on in, bringing in new races like the Skaven, Dark Elves and Lizardmen. Additionally, if you’ve bought the first game, you can combine it with this one to create a massive, mega-campaign called Mortal Empires.
This is the perfect time to grab both games and get caught up and prepared for Total War: Warhammer 3.
12. Total War: Medieval 2
One of Creative Assembly’s older Total War games is arguably its most popular, Medieval 2. This game may have aged visually but the mechanics are still incredibly engaging, providing tons of different factions to use as you carve out a medieval kingdom to rival history. Install your own Pope, declare Crusades and crush any rival forces on your way to victory. This is also a great starting point if you want to see how Total War games have evolved over time.
13. Total War: Shogun 2
Another popular Total War entry is Shogun 2. Set in Japan, you’ll have your choice of the disparate clans as you work to dethrone the Shogun. Deploy armies of Samurai and subvert enemy intelligence with Geishas, while also determining how traditional or open to foreign culture — and advanced weapons — Japan will be.
Aliens are real and they are coming for Earth. That’s the gist of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. You’ll need to put together an elite team, build a base and do research while pulling off high stakes missions against an unknown threat and keeping the nations funding you happy. No pressure, right? Wrong. This TBS title is brutal and unrelenting, making it all the more satisfying when you pull off the perfect mission.
XCOM 2 is the sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown and is, for the most part, just more of the same but with one major twist: we already lost. Aliens have invaded and humanity has been conquered. Now, you’re not leading Earth’s defenses, you’re leading its last resistance movement. Take the fight to the alien overlords and discover what they’re planning before it’s too late.