Most major video games today are released across consoles and the PC. Strategy games, however, have long remained a quintessential PC gaming experience.
Maybe it’s the fact that the controls translate best to keyboard and mouse. Or maybe, as elitist PC gamers believe, it’s because console gamers find the games too complicated and difficult.
Whatever the reason may be, here are the best 5 strategy games ever released onto the world’s best gaming platform (in no particular order).
I’ve played dozens of role playing games before. But Civilization V is the only game I’ve ever played where I can really feel like I’m making important decisions on a grandiose scale. And it’s not even a role playing game!
Should I feign friendship with my neighbor Germany for centuries, despite secretly knowing I need their port city capital for future expansion? Should I rush to research nuclear technology just to nuke Gandhi’s capital of Delhi before he nukes me? Or should I just turtle and build a thriving, peaceful economy and catapult my civilization into space?
Civilization V literally gives you worlds to explore and conquer. You can play it as a classic military strategy game. Or you can play it as an empire-builder. Or use diplomatic strategies to keep everyone happy.
There are so many different options available with Civilization V – and I haven’t even mentioned the Steam workshop mods. Personally, I’ve sunk more hours into Civilization V than any other game in my PC gaming library (and I know I’m not the only one).
Company of Heroes flipped the strategy world on its head when it was released in 2006. Up to 2006, most real time strategy (RTS) games involved frantically clicking around the screen, desperately managing your economy and fighting skirmishes against your enemies at the same time.
Company of Heroes did something different. Instead of giving you an economy to grow and develop, Company of Heroes focused on warfare. The warfare proceeded like normal warfare: it went at a slow pace until everything suddenly sped up and became ridiculously intense.
The game emphasized tactics, careful planning, and the ability to manage your assets when everything becomes FUBAR. Even 10 years on, the game is a classic.
You could pick almost any game in the Total War franchise for this list. Empire is a great choice. Medieval and Medieval II were both unforgettable. Rome and Attila were a little more forgettable.
But Shogun 2 is where the Total War franchise reached its zenith. Set in feudal Japan, Shogun 2 combined jaw dropping graphics with intense, challenging strategy. Taking the Japanese throne (and the title of “shogun”) was a legitimate challenge – and holding onto that throne was even more difficult.
Released in 2011, Shogun 2 let you control up to 56,000 soldiers in a single battle – making it the game with the largest Total War battles to date.
If you like the slow-paced, tactical nature of turn-based strategy, but still want some of the intensity and thrill of real-time strategy battles, then the Total War franchise is exactly what you’re looking for.
Oh, and did I mention you can download maps from the Steam Workshop like Helm’s Deep, Iwo Jima, Gettysburg, and the Battle of Thermopylae? Re-play these battles over and over again and rewrite history. Play against your friends in multiplayer.
Prior to Panzer Corps, a number of developers had released their own strategy games. Panzer Corps, however, was the first to pave the way for future PC strategy games as we know them today.
The game was so popular because it was simple to play and difficult to master. Unlike other strategy games – which overwhelm you with information – Panzer Corps packed an amazing amount of depth while still being accessible to strategy newbies.
Basically, Panzer Corps let you fight the entire Second World War.
The original was released way back in 1994. The game was re-released and remastered by developer Slitherine in 2011.
There’s a reason that Age of Empires II is still played competitively to this day: it’s one of the most remarkably well-balanced strategy games ever made. We’ve seen a revival in the series thanks to the HD edition, which allows you to have up to 400 units and also improves the resolution and adds extended online support.
Whether you’re into competitive multiplayer or you just like building up a fortress empire on the Black Forest map to destroy the AI, Age of Empires II provides a new gaming experience with every randomly-generated map.
I can already feel the backlash against this list starting to form. Let’s be honest: choosing to pick just 5 for this list was a dumb move. There are dozens of strategy games that could have made this list without debate. Let us know in the comments section below if we’ve left any of your favorites off the list!