Since the mid-90s, real-time strategy games have become a staple of video gaming, especially on PC due to mouse and keyboard controls that allow players to point units, drag their mouse on the screen and select the armies they'll use to attack other units.
Games belong to the realm of PC gamers, giving the PC platform an edge over their counterparts far beyond just having better superior hardware.
Regardless of the genre's love affair with the PC, the decades have been kind to the genre, offering gamers everything from ultra-competitive titles like Starcraft to more toned down real-time strategy games like Gene Wars (which doesn't isn't on this list, because it sucks) and even casual titles like The Baldies and Nintendo's Pikmin game series. Even the Nintendo DS hosted several RTS games, including a Final Fantasy title.
You won't find any of those mediocre titles here, as we're only interested in writing about the best of the best in the RTS genre. Expect to find a few fan favorites and more than a few games that have flown under everyone's radar. We include them here because that's where they belong.
We decided to catalog the 30 best real-time strategy games of all time. These date back to long before RTS became a popular genre with newer games to hit the market. There is no specific ranking here, these are just solid RTS games.
30. Total Wars: Warhammer 2
Total War: Warhammer 2 is quite the beloved video game and chances are that if you're an RTS fan, you've already been enjoying this game for quite a while now. Here, players wage war in a fantasy world with several different factions. It's all about diplomacy, empire building and conquest. There is also a story campaign here with the base game, but over the years the studio has received many DLC updates to bring even more content into the game. We have another DLC in the works right now which will be released in-game in July 2022, so you can expect there to be an active community for quite a while waiting for the next exciting installment to hit the market.
29. They are billions
They Are Billions is a game released in 2022 that offers a steampunk parallel universe. In this game, we find ourselves in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has suffered a zombie apocalypse. What's left of humanity has coalesced into small towns that aim to fight the steady stream of undead monsters flooding the region. Here you will have to build a colony while trying to allow the human colony to thrive, but you will also have to create enough defenses to fight against the hordes of undead. If you're not careful, a horde of zombies could easily creep right into the settlement and from there it's an uphill battle to contain the area.
28. Minion Masters
Minion Masters is a free and fun RTS title you can play right now. This game is a mix of deck building and tower defense as you create your deck with cards to lay out on the battlefield. From there, the map comes to life with a minion to fight enemy forces or attempt to destroy their tower to win the game. Meanwhile, players also choose a hero who also has their attributes to help during the battle. In the game, you can participate in single battles or even 2v2 skirmishes if you want to team up with another player online or join friends.
27. 8-Bit Armies
From the makers of Command & Conquer comes this Minecraft-like game that pits tanks and polygonal vehicles against each other. It's minimalistic, but it's a great RTS experience that takes all real-time strategy back to its roots. It doesn't have a story, but you'll be so engrossed in the gameplay that you won't even think about it.
26. Ashes of the Singularity
This 2022 release reinvigorates the RTS genre with all the gameplay and UI aspects one would expect from a modern game. It's essentially a new take on sci-fi classics like Supreme Commander and Total Annihilation, and it delivers that kind of mass macro RTS gameplay in spades. Players choose from two distinct factions and wage war over vast swaths of land to control the map.
Ashes of the Singularity is a large-scale real-time strategy, with large-scale battles taking place across huge swaths of land. Players build gigantic bases and control hundreds of units and send them to war against each other. It's like everything I imagined when I was 8 years old playing with toy soldiers.
25. Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is the prequel set in the events that preceded Homeworld. A planet is dying, and its inhabitants' only salvation is a mysterious, ancient abandoned spaceship found in the desert. In this prequel to the interstellar series of space strategy games, you play as the scientist leading an expedition through the harsh and unforgiving deserts of Kharak to retrieve an ancient artifact that will become the salvation of your people.
24. Gris Goo
Developed by Petroglyph, the creators of Command & Conquer, Gray Goo is a return to form. In the game, players fight for survival on a planetary oasis by commanding one of three factions: the defense-focused Humans, the versatile Beta, or the all-consuming Goo. The game accommodates a myriad of playstyles, including the ability to turtle, giving players the ability to build impenetrable walls, dominate from strategic outposts, or become the Goo and crush your enemies.
23. Total War: Attila
During the Dark Ages, against the backdrop of famine, disease and war, a new power of steppe warriors rises in the East and threatens to invade the fallen kingdoms of the classical world. The warrior king approaches and he aims to conquer Rome.
22. Planetary Annihilation
Planetary annihilation can best be described as the spiritual successor to total annihilation. In the game, players can colonize solar systems, devastate entire planets, and crush enemies in epic battles with multiple players and thousands of units on the ground. The game is even bigger with the release of the Titans expansion pack.
21. Company of Heroes 2
Company of Heroes 2 is the sequel to the World War II RTS that made headlines years ago. It features a massive single-player campaign, co-op play, and a slew of standalone expansions allowing players to compete in co-op mode online.
20. Dune 2
Dune 2: Battle for Arrakis is the game that started it all. Developed by Westwood Studios and set in Frank Herbert's fantastic Dune novel series, players have taken control of one of the Great Houses: Atreides, Harkonnen or Ordos, the last of which was invented by the game's developers and not original to the series.
As the boss of your house, you have ordered armies to cross the face of Arrakis to conquer the flood of spices, for he who rules the spices rules the universe.
Although simplistic by today's RTS standards, Dune 2 was the first of its kind and established Westwood Studios as the RTS developer.
19. Warzone 2100
Warzone 2100 was set in the aftermath of a technological apocalypse that left humanity in tatters. You play as one of the remaining human factions trying to reunite the survivors and bring peace to the desert, and uncover the cause of the apocalypse.
The little-known game wasn't a typical RTS. Although it played pretty much like every other RTS on the market at the time, it contained a persistent single-player campaign that allowed you to scavenge technology from enemy units to integrate into your own armies and use as advantage against enemies.
18. Ground Control
Ground Control is one of the first RTS games that allows players to control a set number of units in each mission instead of requiring them to construct buildings or worry about building queues.
Instead, you were given a set of units in each mission that you had to use to properly defeat your enemies without taking too many casualties, as losing your guys at the start severely handicapped you later in the mission. The game was truly a tactical challenge.
17. World in Conflict
What Ground Control started, World in Conflict perfected. Set in a scenario where the Cold War has become a Hot War, seeing both Europe and America invaded by the Soviets, World in Conflict puts players in the role of an American commander who must take charge the remnants of the US military and repel the Soviet invaders, first by activating the nuclear arsenal, then by ground strike force.
Like Ground Control, also made by Massive Entertainment, World in Conflict sees players taking charge of a small company of units and exercising tactical superiority instead of worrying about build orders and the like. This is a game that really puts you on the front line.
16. Command & Conquer 2: Sun of Tiberias
Tiberian Sun was the long-awaited sequel to the first Command & Conquer, and one of the first games to use voxel graphics before 2D sprites, or even 3D polygons. The game's use of voxels gave it a unique and impressive aesthetic that gave the game a ton of charm as a whole.
Like the first game, the game featured two campaigns spread across separate discs that put you in command of the Brotherhood of Nod or GDI. It was one of the first games to make heavy use of the environment by allowing your soldiers to poison themselves or even mutate through Tiberium fields. Ice and destructible terrain also played a role in the game, allowing you to destroy bridges to close off approaches or funnel enemy units into a kill zone.
15. Supreme Commander
Supreme Commander is the spiritual sequel to Total Annihilation. It features ultra-wide maps and equally huge robotic armies that march across the battlefield. The game lets you get dirty by zooming in on your units or a strategic overview that lets you control icons that represent your units high above.
Playable on multiple monitors, the game offers a sense of scale absent from almost any other real-time strategy game as you send out hundreds of units to battle countless others, all of which are overshadowed by super units. gigantic towers that cross the battlefield like titans.
14. Total War: Shogun 2
Total War: Shogun 2 revisits the setting where the first Total War originated: Japan. As in the original game, you take on a Daimyo pursuing the position of Shogun or Overlord of Japan.
Throughout the game, you are tasked with managing your cities and territory while commanding your army in battle against enemy samurai and their peasant followers. Depending on the territory you start in, you will possess a multitude of strengths, as well as weaknesses to contend with. Conquering territories will give you access to more units, wealth and better technologies to use against your opponents.
13. Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Red Alert isn't quite the sequel to Command & Conquer. Why, it doesn't even take place in the same universe. Instead, we are presented with a Cold War-themed world in which Hitler never came to power because Einstein, in all his wits, decided to shake hands with the dictator before he came to power. comes to power and extinguishes it from history. His actions had irreversible consequences that saw the Soviets rise to power instead of being diminished and pushed back by the Germans during World War II.
Predictably, the Soviets build a war machine bigger than Hitler could have imagined and stage the invasion of Europe.
Like the original Command & Conquer, the game's campaign is spread across two discs and lets you tell two sides of the story depending on which army you decide to command.
12. Rise of Nations
The success of Age of Empires 2 resulted in many imitators, but Rise of Nations stood above the rest by actually being its own thing instead of copying Age of Empires feature by feature.
The game featured a persistent campaign that let you take turns taking over the world. Every decision you've made has counted for (or against) your absolute victory as you travel through the ages, from prehistory to the modern era.
11. Medieval: Total War
Medieval: Total War is arguably the best game in Creative Assembly's long-running war game series. You play as a monarch of one of the many kingdoms that ruled during the Middle Ages, and it's your task to expand your kingdom and conquer the known world by establishing a domain greater than any other in the Middle Ages. 'story.
Throughout the game, you'll research technologies to aid you in your conquests and take command of armies of thousands of soldiers to plunder your opponents' kingdoms and decimate their armies, all while trying to maintain peace with Rome, in order to they don't send an army after you.
10. Dungeon Keeper
Dungeon Keeper is one of Peter Molyneux's last great games, and one that defined his career as a kickass game developer. The game puts you in the role of a dungeon keeper – a fascist overlord, boss and dictator king of a dungeon full of monsters.
With the help of your monsters, you must expand your dungeon by digging the ground, discovering treasures and mining gold, and making it an ideal place to live for your evil minions. Having a successful dungeon also makes it a tempting target for Earthbound heroes who want nothing more than to claim a slice of your hoard and extinguish the beating heart of your dungeon. To do this, you must build elaborate traps and hire minions capable of bringing down even the most powerful knights, or better yet, turn them to your cause.
One of the most epic stories ever told in gaming history, Homeworld is also the first of its kind: a space RTS that takes place in three dimensions, as opposed to a two-dimensional plane. The game tells the story of a race of humans in the distant future who discover an alien spacecraft buried in the desert of their planet, a relic of their distant, space past. In their wisdom, they decide to descend from their rock and find their way back by following the interstellar landmarks left by their ancestors.
As their home planet is destroyed by a race of other hostile aliens, they have no choice but to continue their journey. They must evade enemies, come into contact with benevolent alien races, and uncover the secrets of their heritage on the way home.
8. Myth: Fallen Lords
Myth: The Fallen Lords is a little-known game from Bungie (yes, the same Bungie that made Halo) that puts players in command of a unit commander much like the Black Company in Glen's eponymous book series Cook. Like other Bungie titles, it's very heavy on the story.
The game features highly detailed 2D sprites in a three-dimensional environment, allowing you to warp the terrain with explosives, bounce or roll grenades up hills, or even detonate your own units by accident if they interfere with the throw.
7. Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2
It would be an injustice to Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2 to describe it as Company of Heroes with a Warhammer 40K skin. We understand such claims would be made given that they both come from the same developer, but in fact there are so many unique elements to the game that this is a completely different game with a solid set of highlights to set it apart from its WWII-themed predecessor.
Much of the emphasis in Dawn of War, like Company of Heroes, is on commanding small groups of units instead of building orders and rock-paper-scissors-style gameplay. Each unit can be led by a Sergeant or Commander who attaches themselves to the unit, gaining experience points and even items to bolster their forces.
In the single-player campaign, the player takes on a set group of heroes who must fend off alien forces and undertake missions in a persistent campaign that factors in both wins and losses throughout the game.
Multiplayer is an entirely different beast, allowing players to play as one of many alien races in addition to Space Marines. There's even a sort of horde mode that lets you level up your character as you and other heroes fend off waves of enemies.
6. Age of Empires II: Age of Kings
Age of Empires II is the widely acclaimed sequel to the first Age of Empires and is set in medieval Europe. It contained several campaigns that saw players liberate your country like Joan of Arc, the rise of Frederick Barbarossa, and the conquests of Ghenghis Khan across Europe and the Middle East. It also had a fantastic multiplayer mode which spawned the "wololo" meme.
5. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty + Heart of the Swarm
Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm take place after the events of the first Starcraft. Starcraft II is the sequel to what many consider to be one of the best real-time strategy games of all time. Building on Starcraft II is its expansion pack, Heart of the Swarm, which sees the addition of many new gameplay mechanics and puts Starcraft II, which we originally left out of this list, in its place on this listing.
4. Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos
As the third Warcraft title and sequel to the wildly popular Warcraft 2, Warcraft 3 had some huge shoes to fill, and they did so by including a real-life narrative that put almost every other previous RTS on the market to shame. . It was the first RTS to feature main characters who could level up and equip items, RPG items, in short.
The game followed the stories of Arthas, Thrall, and Tyrande Whisperwind as they traversed the lands of Azeroth leading armies of humans, orcs, and night elves.
3. Total annihilation
Total Annihilation is the first real-time strategy game to present real 3D units and structures on a 3D map taking into account the vertical axis. In other words, weapons had to be fired over buildings and terrain in order to hit their targets. The game also took velocity into account, so your bullets would have had to carry moving targets or they would miss them very easily.
The units in the game were designed by Chris Taylor, a toymaker by profession, who made every unit and every build in Total Annihilation something you'd want to play with for real.
StarCraft is arguably the best competitive game of all time, surpassing all other games in mainstream popularity. The game is so popular that it is frequently broadcast on television throughout South Korea. I don't think I need to explain the game or what it is about. It's StarCraft.
1. Company of Heroes
Company of Heroes is the highest rated real-time strategy game of all time, and for good reason: it's a damn good game. this list is that he is #1 on everyone else's list, my reasons for putting him here are purely from personal experience.
As an RTS, it was the only one that managed to make me care about my soldiers, who all showed a certain personality while gaining veteran ranks to give me a good reason to want to keep them. Not only does the single-player campaign, which spans across the Tales of Valor and Opposing Fronts expansions, also play host to a damn good multiplayer experience that has more to do with actual battlefield tactics than building orders. Eat your heart out, StarCraft.