Turn-based or real-time, grand strategy or tactical RPGs, there are many sub-genres within the strategy game umbrella. For example, in one game, you can command an entire fleet in space, while in another, you bark orders to soldiers fighting on a battlefield as magic flies through the air.
Since there are so many different types of games out there, we’ll keep this list of the best strategy games on PC as broad as possible…
Here is a list of strategy games from newcomers to classics.
The best strategy games on PC are:
- Supremacy 1914
- Crusader Kings 3
- XCOM 2
- Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak
- Total War: Warhammer 3
- Civilization 6
- Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault
- StarCraft 2
- Age of Empires 4
Fancy taking control of the world’s nations as they engage in one of the largest wars in military history? If so, you should take Supremacy 1914 for a spin. This is an MMO strategy game that sees you and up to 499 other players taking control of the different countries of the world as you play through the First World War – and things don’t necessarily need to follow the path of history.
As you can imagine, each game takes a really long time to play out. With so many different playable countries (each with their own unique selection of resources available), you’ll encounter a lot of variety. History buffs will also enjoy the attention to detail present in all the cities and units that each nation produces.
Crusader Kings 3
Talk about a murderous bastard of a grand strategy game. While only time will tell whether this dynasty-spanning, emergent-storytelling successor claims the throne of its now free-to-play predecessor Crusader Kings 2, it’s certainly kicked off its reign with royal excellency.
Crusader Kings 3 has massively overhauled the series’ formerly byzantine interface, making it a welcome proposition for new players while retaining much of the depth the series is known for. It may look like a traditional grand strategy map-painter, and while it certainly features in-depth systems for waging war, the heart of Crusader Kings 3 lies in its personal, often hilarious stories.
Will you seize power through military might, wealth, religious influence, diplomacy, or subterfuge? Each character you can play has their own personality and lifestyle focus, and each member of your dynasty will shape their empire, for better or worse, before bequeathing it to their next in line. It’s a game that makes personal plots hatched behind closed doors as important as battles between nations.
XCOM 2 is one of the best turn-based strategy games, and we gave it a really good score in our XCOM 2 review. It takes the best bits from the series so far – the savage struggle, the ragtag group of heroes, the devious aliens, the tight tactical battles – and throws improvement after improvement on top.
It’s a toss-up as to whether the War of the Chosen expansion is objectively better, but there are plenty of excellent XCOM 2 mods that can bring the vanilla game up to scratch. Both offer distinct yet equally rewarding experiences. There is plenty of other XCOM 2 DLC available as well.
The battles are challenging and varied, full of horrific adversaries with tricky, surprising abilities, but the biggest changes are found on the strategic layer. You will travel all over the world, setting up cells, infiltrating black sites, and hunting for more resources so you can field more powerful weapons and tools – it is compelling rather than an afterthought.
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak
Blackbird Interactive has done the seemingly impossible with Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak. And that’s to transpose the original Homeworld games’ elegant, minimalist space wars to a single planet, making for one of the best strategy games in the process. Somehow it works really, really well.
It’s a journey across a vast desert directed by your mission to save a civilisation. Each battle is connected to the last and the ones yet to be played. Every unit that survives will live to fight another day on another mission in a persistent war for survival.
Kharak itself, despite being a giant desert, is a fantastic planet-sized battlefield that does for the ground what the originals did for space games. The addition of terrain and elevation replicates the three-dimensional battles of the previous games, with the dunes providing cover, hiding spots, and high ground from where you can unleash devastating attacks.
Like its predecessors, the game is blessed with some of the best art design you could hope to find in an RTS, meaning you can take beautiful Homeworld screenshots. Add to its incredible sound design and genuinely interesting narrative, Deserts of Kharak is a classic.
Total War: Warhammer 3
If you thought that Total War: Warhammer 2 was big, it’s got nothing on Total War: Warhammer 3’s sheer sense of scale. It essentially has everything that made that game great, all while bringing all 15 of the tabletop game’s core races to life with jaw-dropping visuals. A new five-hour tutorial prologue helps get new players up to speed, so it’s also the best jumping-in point if you’ve never experienced a Total War game.
Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault
Company of Heroes 2 was great, but it didn’t quite match the magic of its predecessor. Then Ardennes Assault came along; in our Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault review, we found that it’s one of the best RTS games you can play.
The US forces and German Oberkommando are fighting over control of the Ardennes in a campaign inspired by The Battle of the Bulge – in true war games style. That sets it apart from Company of Heroes and the sequel, alongside its non-linear single-player campaign that plays out across a strategic meta map. The Germans are dynamic, reinforced by retreating forces, changing the challenges posed by both story missions and the dynamic skirmishes.
While the campaign is only played from the American point of view, the US forces are split into three companies, all with unique specialities covering air, support, and mechanised roles. These companies all have special officer abilities and upgrade trees, and any can be used to tackle a mission. Even if you focus on one, the other two will still be on the map and can provide assistance by blocking the enemy retreat out of a captured province.
This is the first time the battles in Company of Heroes have had real weight to rival the best WW2 games, but the series won’t stop there. Company of Heroes 3 has been announced, and it’s bringing a brand new campaign layer that takes the lessons learned from Ardennes Assault and turns them up to 11.
Age of Empires 4
For years, we thought a new Age of Empires game would never happen. However, 16 years after the last numbered entry, we now have Age of Empires 4, taking everything that made the remakes of the classic RTS series such a memorable experience for so many people and dialling it up a notch. It now includes more historically inspired scenarios, eight base game civilisations, and a bunch of unique mechanics and armies at your disposal.
Suppose you feel like learning something while extinguishing your rivals’ chances at victory. In that case, it has several unlockable documentaries that are well-produced, teaching you all about the facts for each level you play. As we mention in our Age of Empires 4 review, it isn’t a revolutionary RTS game, but it shows that the genre is still fun, all while having a modern coat of paint.
StarCraft 2 is a classic base-building RTS featuring armoured cowboys, xenomorphic aliens, and space elves. It tasks you with gathering resources, building armies, and killing your enemy before they kill you with quick decisions and even quicker mouse clicks.
StarCraft 2 is a strong multiplayer game. Your enemies are human; they’ll probably be able to click faster than you, issuing orders quicker than you. You’ll lose a lot, but you’ll get better the more you play, making this one a decent RTS for anyone with a competitive streak. The PvE campaign is also notable, as the story is hard to do in RTS games. Many developers resort to cutscenes or in-mission dialogue, but StarCraft 2 lets you interact with the world outside combat.