The Best Strategy Games Ever

When you think about it, strategy games are some of the oldest you can possibly play. The genre is often overlooked, being seen by many as a much slower and methodical style of play, and yet for others, that is exactly what the draw to strategy games is.

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Having to think through each and every decision you make in order to account for what might happen an hour after that very decision is thrilling for a lot of people. While there are hundreds of great strategy games out there, only a few can be said to be the absolute best of the best.

10 Civilization 6

An isometric view of cities and mountains

Fully titled Sid Meier’s Civilization 6, this fantastic strategy series has been on the minds of strategy fans for years now. The sixth in the line originally launched back in 2016, making some major key improvements over previous installments of the classic game.

Essentially, you take control of a civilization and do your best to guide it as it grows and matures over the ages. While that may sound like an easy task, the game can be deceptively difficult, especially if the computer-controlled regions make some seriously big and shocking moves that you weren’t prepared for.

A soldier exits his vehicle and points his weapon in XCOM 2.

This fantastic tactical strategy game actually gives you a lot of different things to keep track of as you play. In XCOM 2, you need to manage your base, the countdown to alien domination, and your own units as you comb through some of the toughest missions any strategy game could offer.

It often feels as if the entire game is against you, as you can prepare for everything possible and still come up short. This is of course thanks to how random hit chances are while your units are in levels, making it so that no single playthrough is ever an easy task regardless of how good you get at the game.

8 Starcraft 2

Close Up of a man wearing a space helmet

For those people who love their strategy to come in the real-time setting, Starcraft 2 is one of the best games you could possibly give a try. Commanding your units as you attempt to survive and destroy hordes of enemies, you’ll be drawn in for the gameplay and stay for the story and lore.

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The game will introduce you to the Terrans, Protoss, and the dreaded Zerg as you make your way through it, but you’ll probably find yourself loving the Terrans. There is a reason that Starcraft 2 is regarded as one of the best video games ever made let alone one of the best strategy games ever.

7 Crusader Kings 3

A Noble Family In Crusader Kings 3

If you like your strategy games to have a bit more medieval fantasy, then you’ll love Crusader Kings 3. Originally launched back in 2020, Crusader Kings 3 sees you controlling a long line of rulers across the Middle Ages.

While many games would have seen you taking control of a character or land and playing out the game over the course of that character’s life, Crusader Kings 3 lets you continue your massive strategy experience filled with different government types from the 800s to the mid-1400s.

6 Stellaris

Two massive fleets of ships go head-to-head above a star in Stellaris.

Those who love the classic strategy games that let them take control of earth-bound regions and armies, but what a change of pace will surely love Stellaris. This sci-fi strategy game is one of the most ambitious out there thanks to its expansive campaign across the stars.

As you might expect, you have to explore the galaxy, colonize planets, build relations with other civilizations, and potentially even engage in war. The game may have come out back in 2016, but it’s stood out as a modern classic ever since its launch.

5 Into The Breach

Creatures battle on the grid of Into the Breach.

Into The Breach is on a much smaller scale of strategy when compared to many of the other games in the genre, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve attention. The 2018 indie hit sees you struggling against the horrors of the Vek with humanity’s mechs.

It’s a game that strategy veterans may not think much of at first, but it’s yet another that, once you’ve learned everything the game has to offer, you’ll still be struggling. It takes a keen mind, ready and willing to make the necessary sacrifices at the right time, to succeed.

4 Ages Of Empires 4

A bustling settlement has workers dressed in purple in Age of Empires 4.

In yet another example of excellent real-time strategy, Ages of Empires 4 is a triumph for any genre, not just strategy. Those who have played games from the series will be able to come to grips with everything it has to offer in a hurry, with multiple civilizations and campaigns to play through.

It’s another game in which you’ll think you’ve managed to plan for every possible situation, only to find yourself surprised time and time again. With some tricky moments that never feel cheap, the game can also serve as a great introduction to the genre for those looking to break in.

3 Command & Conquer Remastered Collection

A screenshot showing gameplay in Command & Conquer: Remastered Collection

This collection being here should be no surprise to anyone who’s played the excellent Command & Conquer games. They are classics of the genre for a good reason, and this collection lets you experience the first and second titles with some big improvements.

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Despite the fact that the original games launched back in the ’90s, the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection has managed to make the classic RTS war games feel modern. Each of the two games in this collection could be on this list, so the remastered collection of both is deserving of a spot.

2 Total War: Warhammer 2

Total War: Warhammer 2 Lizardmen Brutally Tearing Apart High Elves

Launched back in 2017, Total War: Warhammer 2 has been one of those strategy games that fans of the genre just can’t stop talking about or playing. It did eventually receive a sequel, but it has not received nearly the same level of love.

Like many other games from the genre, you’ll have to manage your resources and armies while also engaging in war against your enemies. This game is a great option for those who love classics of the genre with a bigger emphasis on high fantasy.

1 Desperados 3

Party members of Desperados 3 engaging in a gunfight with soldiers from the top of a train with a fire nearby.

Desperados 3 is yet another strong strategy game that came out back in 2020. Unlike many other games in the genre, this one puts a lot of emphasis on stealth and assassination throughout the game.

In another big departure from typical strategy games, this one sends you back to a bygone Western era filled with cowboys and outlaws. The game’s excellent story revolves around John Cooper, a bounty hunter who’s headed after his father’s killer. While it can feel a bit standard at times for those who love the Western genre, the story remains engaging throughout and the gameplay is where things really shine.

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