2018 was yet another successful year for video games industry. According to GamesIndustry.biz, global games market earned $135 billion, with mobile accounts having the largest share (47%, $63 billion) of all 3 platforms: PC, mobile and console. Strategy games have been and remain a hit, still gaining popularity among young players to this day. Check out the standings of Warhammer 2, XCom2 or Dungeons 3, if you need proof. Immersive environments and a fascinating plot are key ingredients of strategies. We too have set to pick our own best strategy games, and here’s what we got.
A global strategy that allows you to choose any century and build a brand-new civilization from scratch. It has been at the top of all charts for the last 20 years – the first part was released back in 1991. Develop a new settlement, from a small town to a world-leading entity, depending on strategy, choose various ways to achieve victory: cultural, scientific, military. And, of course, many will wonder: why aren’t we reviewing the newer Civilization VI edition… well, we like V and after it the VI just didn’t seem to find place in heart.
A handy strategic map will help to plunge into the epoch atmosphere and become an emperor for citizens. As part of game series, Civilization is progressive as it can accommodate the unlimited number of units in one hex. A well-developed system with multiple options: construct different buildings, develop a strategy and plan ahead to conquer new regions.
Platforms. PC, Nintendo, iPad.
Minimum system requirements (PC): Windows XP/Vista/7, Dual Core CPU, 2GB RAM, 8GB disk space, DVD-ROM, video card 256 MB, sound DirectX 9.0. Recommended: 1.8 GHz Quad Core CPU, 4GB RAM, video card 512 MB or higher.
Pricing: The price ranges from $10,99 to $99 depending on the package.
WW2 events serve as the historical basis for this strategy game. Eastern Front is the major setting where players take part in historical battles, plunging vividly into military atmosphere, courage of soldiers. Thus, it will appeal to those who enjoy fighters and shooters, those who wish to follow the path from Stalingrad and Moscow to the capturing of Reichstag.
Compared with Company of Heroes 1st edition, there’s a line of improvements: a broader range of weapons and roles for better engagement, a dynamic weather system for realism, etc. For instance, when it rains or snows, you cannot see all objects clearly or artillery gets frozen. Additionally, a lot of strategic details are taken into account: heavy weapons can be taken only on the home front, artillery is effective only at distance. At some point, the plot becomes too chaotic, and despite other minor glitches, CoH 2 truly deserves a place among best strategy games.
Platforms. Only PC version – compatible with Windows, Linux, and MacOS.
Minimum system requirements: 2Ghz Intel Core2 Duo or equivalent, 2GB RAM video card 512MB, 30GB of space. Recommended: 3Ghz Intel i5 quad core or equivalent, 4GB RAM, video card 1024 MB.
Pricing. $30 standard, $10 at Steam.
Cossacks 3 is relatively new to strategy series. But those who enjoy large-scale historical battles will love it. 12 states to choose from, but be careful to consider all pros and cons before beginning. Cossacks could really appeal to different age groups. The main idea is that players will manage settlements, delegate tasks to citizens (extracting resources, forming troops).
If you don’t like playing alone, invite friends – the game allows to interact with multiple players from anywhere, so competitive spirit is guaranteed! Just select a multiplayer mode and go. While the majority of strategy games focus on on-ground events, Cossacks 3 expands its reach to the sea and picturesque sea battles.
Platforms. Only PC – Windows, Linux, Mac.
Minimum system requirements: Windows XP/7/8/10, Intel Core 2 Duo 1.6 GHz, 1GB RAM, 4GB of space. Recommended: Intel Core i5-3470 3.2 GHz / AMD FX-6300 3.5 GHz, 4GB RAM.
Pricing. The Steam price starts from $19.99 for standard edition. Special bundle offers.
Crusader Kings 2 is a global strategy, based on Medieval Europe events, that impresses players with elaborate game design. Create a dynasty, manage it and gain more power through battles and fights, conquer new lands. Add feudal relationships, intrigues and military action and several hours of entertainment is served.
Attention to detail and historical figures, wide range of territories and epochs, interesting plot make Crusader Kings II a fun PC strategy game. In terms of individuals and the state relations, players can organize secret deals, dynasty marriages, make agreements etc. And of course, crusading wars serve as a prime reason to expand territory.
Unfortunately, we also found several mishaps that we hope will get fixed in the next edition. For instance, you cannot start a war without stating a proper reason for it. Since the game has thousands of characters that constantly interact, it is quite challenging to keep track and manage the empire. However, game developers did an excellent job of presenting new material to learn – it allows new players to master everything step by step.
Minimum system requirements: Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10, 2 GHz processor, 512 Mb RAM, 2GB on disk. Recommended: 3.2 GHz, 1GB RAM, 2GB on disk, nVidia GeForce 6600 / ATI Radeon x1300.
Platforms. Only PC.
Pricing. $7,99 at Steam, region-depending pricing, up to $40.
A fantasy strategy game with virtual worlds and their traditions. Eador is the universe of scattered settlements, constantly fighting against godlike creatures, mostly with malicious intentions. In contrast to triple-A rated products of the same subgenre, the plot is interesting and diverse. Campaign fights and realistic environments, otherworldly settings and numerous unexpected turns of a storyline are a treat to any gamer.
Minimum system requirements: Windows XP, 2 GHz, 512 Mb RAM, 2GB of space, nVidia GeForce / Radeon with 256 Mb of memory. Recommended: 1.6 GHz, 2GB RAM, 2GB of space, 512 Mb video card.
Platforms. Currently, only Windows. Tablet version and other OS in making.
Pricing. $19,99 fixed.
Needless to say, the iconic video game, in best traditions of strategy games. It was one of the first in its genre that provided realistic environments and descriptions, and it still holds positions among gamers. A great variety of maps and campaigns, multiplayer feature make the game appealing to people of any age and background.
In Heroes of Might and Magic III you have a wide choice of races and castles, you can upgrade units by earning gold, constructing buildings etc. The map is dynamic, where a player can observe battles or join them. Abundance of scenarios and outcomes make it gripping and unpredictable. All-time classic!
Platforms. PC (Windows, Linux, macOS).
Minimum system requirements: Windows 98, 200 Mhz, 512 Mb RAM, nVidia GeForce or Radeon. Recommended: 800 Mhz, 1GB RAM, nVidia GeForce 3 / ATI Radeon 8500.
Pricing. $9 fixed.
A large-scale global strategy with the opportunity to rewrite history. Choose one of the states or fractions and participate in world conquering, no less! Rome II is divided into two parts. One is managing state on a strategic map, while the second is large-scale historical battle to play as a tactic and/or strategist.
Truly immersive, where a battle could last half a year, and a player could be either a commander or a soldier. All battles take place in real time with nearly 30 000 soldiers on the battlefield. In addition, economic and political systems, political parties, building and infrastructure campaigns, managing finances.
Platforms. Mac and Windows.
Minimum system requirements: Windows XP, 2 GHz, 2GB RAM, sound card compatible with DirectX9. Recommended: Intel Core i5 or better, 4GB RAM, 1GB free space, sound card compatible with DirectX 11.
Pricing. $25 standard.
One of the most popular and best strategy games ever. Played in real time, it provides all the basic features of a good strategy (base development, extraction of resources) along with extra options, e.g. three races, great mechanics, multiplayer, nice interface, high-quality design. Along with multiplayer option, you may handle one or several settlements at the same time, if skilled enough. Complete freedom of actions and multiple scenarios, unlike many other strategy games!
Platforms. Windows, Mac. Mobile versions upcoming.
Minimum system requirements: Windows 7/8/10, Intel Core 1 Duo or AMD Athlon, nVidia GeForce or Radeon, 2GB RAM.
Recommended: Intel Core i5 or AMD FX series, 4GB RAM, 30GB free space.
Pricing. Absolutely free!
Warcraft 3 is the one that made a real breakthrough in strategy genre. Released in 2002, it remains relevant to this day, having thousands of fans and followers, and will probably remain popular for many years ahead. By the way, it was also the first 3D strategy to play in real-time. “Reforged” comes as the 3rd installment of original series, with remodelled characters, more campaigns (fans of Frozen Throne will be excited in particular), new cinematics and dialogs, and even female variations of heroes. Let the purge begin!
Platforms. Windows and MacOS/MacOS X.
Minimum system requirements: Pentium II 400 Mhz, 128 Mb RAM, free 550 Mb.
Recommended: Pentium III 600 Mhz, 256 Mb RAM, 1.5 GB of space.
Pricing. $20 at Blizzard shop.
The beginnings of this game go back to the 1990s, enhanced with graphics and quality game art, but core idea remained the same – Earth is attacked by alien troops and your task is to fight and protect. The mission is complicated, but hundreds of soldiers are at your disposal to assist in battle.
Xcon has two basic types of mechanics: base management and special missions. It also provides a well-designed system of units, where each component has its own characteristics and features. In contrast to simple strategies, Xcon has plenty of locations and battle experiences. Before the start, select territory and follow certain scenario (AI is utilized to predict player’s next steps).
Platforms. PC (Windows, Linux, Mac), console (PS3, Xbox 360) and mobile (iOS, Android).
Minimum system requirements: Windows Vista/7, 2.0 Ghz, 2GB RAM, 20 GB hard drive, 256 Mb video card. Recommended: 2.4 Ghz, 4GB RAM, 20 GB hard drive, sound card compatible with DirectX.
Pricing. Starts at $19,99.