You’ll agree with me when I say that PC games are meant for relaxing, although some stress your brain and reflexes more or less. While FPS games are here to challenge your reflexes and are generally much more action-packed games, there are those that are based on using your brain to defeat your opponents and complete missions and levels. Yes, I am talking about strategy games, as this genre is very well on the edge of oblivion as we speak. It’s a highly underrated genre, mostly because it’s either very hard and requires some additional brain or they are just plain boring. Don’t worry; those boring strategies won’t be on our list, but 20 best strategy games for PC.
1. Total War: WARHAMMER II
Just a few days ago, Total War: WARHAMMER II was released, and… wow! This game manages to bring what the older games in the series had, but its possibilities and features are much expanded, as well as graphical and sound capabilities of the game. It’s a turn-based strategy game that is set in Warhammer Fantasy fictional universe and it brings new elements to the story such as four new continents and a brand new campaign. There are also four new factions like Dark Elves, Lizardmen, Skaven, and High Elves. The game feels great and looks amazing for a strategy game. It’s an AAA game, but it’s worth every dollar you pay for it.
2. XCOM 2
XCOM 2 is another turn-based strategy game that came out last year and received very good reviews. The game, however, isn’t a classic strategy game, but a mixture of both tactical shooter and strategy genre. It’s played from the top perspective, but the camera angle shifts as the player kill the enemy or complete the objective. The gameplay mechanics are simple; at the beginning of each mission, the player and his teammates infiltrate the mission zone undetected and it’s up to a player to choose whether to play it safe by being silent or go guns blazing. The customization feature also returns here, and players can now customize their soldiers and weapons.
Released last year, Stellaris brings a very interesting, space-based story, which you can explore however you want. In this game, the player can control everything from various species, military vessels, ships, and much more. Stellaris isn’t a simple game by any means, as there are tons of options for exploration, combat, and making alliances with various factions. The game begins by letting the player choose their species and let them control a single planet. After that, the game gets more interesting as you progress and on top of that, looks and sounds great. The game is fairly cheap but offers a ton of fun.
4. Civilization 6
Civilization series represents one of the most important series when it comes to strategy games. Civilization 6 is the newest installment in the series and follows the same gameplay principle of the older games. The main goal here is to lead your civilization, beginning with a small settlement, through ages and millennia to become the world-leading civilization. The game is one of the most complex strategy games, as the player is required to take care of various factors in the game; basically everything from exploring the world to fighting and negotiating with the other world leaders.
5. Ashes of the Singularity
You may often see Ashes of the Singularity in many GPU benchmarks on the internet, but this game is much more than a benchmark tool. Yes, it looks great, but it also plays and sounds great. This is a real-time strategy where the player is tasked with controlling thousands of individual units that engage in combat, across the large maps. This is why the game puts a lot of stress on your CPU, so you’ll need a better PC to run this properly. Other than that, the game is really good and is highly recommended for real-time strategy lovers, for its graphics, gameplay, and innovation.
6. Crusader Kings II
Crusader Kings II is one of the most successful strategy games of all time, which sold over one million copies. This game is a dynasty simulator in which player controls a Medieval dynasty from 1066 to 1453. The gameplay is great and allows some very interesting features to achieve success for your dynasty. For example, players can use assassinations, marriages, and war to bring success to their dynasty. The game can end before 1453, if the player dies, so you’ll need to think twice before making each move.
7. Hearts of Iron IV
WW2 strategy games were always somehow underrated, and I think it’s the case with Hearts of Iron IV, which is a really good game. The player can take control of any nation in the world, and try to beat some of the leading forces at the time; the Axis or the Allies. Aside from the simple, real-time combat, Hearts of Iron IV offers the players to choose their ideology (Communism, Fascism, or Democracy) and choose if they want to be Non-Aligned. The game is very well optimized and will work on every system, plus it’s very cheap which is a good reason to try it out.
8. Cities: Skylines
Of all strategy games, city-building games are probably the most complex in terms of features and gameplay and Cities: Skylines is one of those games. The goal here is to build your own city and engage in various activities throughout the city. For example, the player must control road placement, taxation, public services, economics, and much more. It’s really a great simulation that will put your mind to the test, by forcing you to control all of this stuff. So, are you smart enough to control the entire city? The only way to find out is to try Cities: Skylines.
Who would think that an 18-year old game could become such a classic in its genre? Well, Homeworld is one of those games, with its excellent gameplay and even a remastered version released in 2015. The game is a real-time strategy set in space, where the focus is on building military forces and gathering resources to fight against enemy forces, whether it’s a singleplayer or multiplayer mode. This game also has a great story. Yes, a great story in a strategy game, represented in the form of cutscenes between levels. If you don’t like the out-dated graphics, you can try a remastered version of the game, for a fairly cheap price.
10. Total War: Rome II
Total War: Rome II is set in a classical period of Rome, with the main focus of the gameplay being on improved combat from the past entries in the series. The campaign begins in 272 BC and lasts for around 300 years, although the player can play over that limit. The AI is great here, and the game offers some new combat features as well as a completely new diplomacy system, where the player’s action will determine the behavior of the other factions. All in all, Total War: Rome II was well-reviewed, and will offer months of fun.
11. Halo Wars 2
Unlike classic Halo games, Halo Wars 2 is an RTS game, played from the birds-eye perspective. The game is set in the fictional Halo universe, with the focus on controlling armies on the battlefield. The interesting thing here is that Halo Wars 2 introduces gamepad support, which is pretty uncommon for strategy games. The campaign and the story are great here, and cinematics is top-notch. Halo Wars 2 is also well optimized, so you can play it smoothly on a wide variety of systems. Definitely worth checking out!
12. Company of Heroes 2
Company of Heroes 2 is one of the best WW2 strategy games, this time, with the focus on the Eastern front and controlling the Red Army. Unlike some strategy games in which players build their cities and similar, this game is focused on controlling your division and fight against the enemies. This makes the game more simplistic, thus more accessible for those who are new to this genre. Company of Heroes 2 also offers a fantastic campaign and looks great, even though it’s a 4-year old game.
13. Rise of Nations
Even if you don’t play strategy games, you’ve probably heard of the old-school Rise of Nations. As its name says, it’s all about building a nation and expanding it by creating cities and forts. This is done by collecting various resources and gaining info about technologies that will help the creation of aforementioned stuff. Rise of Nations is often labelled as one of the best strategy games ever, and this list wouldn’t be complete without it.
14. StarCraft II
Blizzard has always been known for some great MMO and strategy games. StarCraft II is one of the best strategy games from Blizzard, focusing on military and science-fiction content. There are three different species; Zerg, Terran, and Protoss, with three different campaigns for each of the species. The gameplay here relies on controlling your army and fight against the enemies, as well as collecting various resources for upgrading your military. I’m sure that StarCraft II will get your attention even if you aren’t a hardcore strategy fan.
15. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Hearthstone takes a different approach to a strategy genre, by introducing a new turn-based card gameplay. The game plays by selecting a hero and having a 30-cards deck, with the main goal being reducing an opponent’s health to zero. By winning matches, you can earn gold that you can use to buy new cards or other game prizes. The core gameplay is very simple, although you’ll need to know a little more about the Warcraft universe to be better at it. The game is also free-to-play, which is great if you are in doubt to try it or not.
16. Tropico 5
Tropico 5 is a management simulation game, featuring one of the best graphics in the genre. The game offers an interesting campaign, with the possibility of playing co-op with your friends, as well as competitive multiplayer. The goal of the game is to build a city on the island, and manage it in terms of economics, infrastructure and even declare independence in some cases. The star of the game is the aforementioned multiplayer, where the player builds the cities on the same island and work with one another or against each other.
17. Plants vs Zombies
The strategy genre has really expanded, introducing a tower defense subgenre, seen in many mobile games, as well as other games like Plants vs Zombies. This game boasts cartoonish graphics, which look great in the game, and the main goal is to defend your houses from zombies that are trying to get into them. There are also various types of plants that you can use to defend yourself, and the gameplay further expands into the night-time, which is far more challenging. The great thing about this game is that you can play it on almost every platform out there from Windows, Android, iOS to Nintendo DS, and PlayStation Vita.
18. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3
I remember playing Command & Conquer on my PlayStation more than 10 years ago, and with Red Alert 3 released for PC, I was now able to fully enjoy it. This one is a pure classic, set in World War II, offering various playable factions and great gameplay which is based on constructing a base, while searching for resources and fighting against the enemies. The game also offers a great co-op mode and a multiplayer mode which you can play with your friends.
19. Age of Empires II
Age of Empires II is a classic when it comes to this genre, released in 1999. The game offers thirteen playable civilizations which can fight versus each other. However, the Age of Empires II offers some great features like building towns, collecting resources, and building armies that can help you defeat your enemies. Age of Empires II supports multiplayer, where up to eight players can participate in any of the singleplayer campaign modes.
20. Darkest Dungeon
Darkest Dungeon is a great mix of turn-based strategy and RPG, that will give you a fair challenge. In this game, you manage your heroes to explore dungeons, mixing both real-time movement and turn-based combat. Aside from that, the player must take care of their hero’s stress levels as it will reduce the hero’s performance in various terms. Unfortunately, Darkest Dungeon doesn’t support multiplayer, but the great singleplayer campaign makes up for it, although it’s a little short.