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The Greatest Strategy Games of All Time, According to Ranker

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With the highly anticipated launch of Company of heroes 3 on the horizon at the end of 2022, we could say that it is now the golden age of strategy games. Recent versions such as Crusader Kings III, Humanityand Age of Empires IV have proven to be a bright spot over the past few otherwise turbulent years in the gaming industry.

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However, it was in the late 1990s and early 2000s that many of these beloved franchises, like Civilization and Starcraft, have taken on their full meaning. More than private soldierThousands of Armchair Generals have voted to find out which strategy games are the best of the best.

ten Company of Heroes (2006)


Company of Heroes Gameplay

An innovator in the real-time strategy subgenre, A company of heroes is set during World War II and follows the 101st Airborne Division during the liberation of France in 1944. A company of heroes introduced a unique strategic control point system that gives reinforcement points based on controlling strategic points.

Upon its release, A company of heroes received near universal praise, with many reviewers praising its gritty historical setting and unique design, praising it as one of the best historically accurate WW2 games. A company of heroes quickly spawned a successful franchise, with Company of heroes 3which will be released at the end of 2022 with a revamped dynamic campaign.

9 Rise of Nations (2003)


Rise of Nations gameplay.  Tanks against stealth bombers.

The brainchild of prolific game designer Brian Reynolds, best known for his work on Civilization, Rise of Nations Uniquely blends real-time strategy and turn-based strategy elements. Players must guide one of 18 playable civilizations, as they traverse 8 different historical ages. Rise of Nations may not guarantee historical accuracy, but it allows players to forge their own history.

Upon its release, Rise of Nations won several Strategy Game of the Year awards. With reviewers praising its intuitive interface and addictive game design. In 2008, a scientific study found that Rise of Nations improved a number of “essential cognitive skills” in older adults, through “nation building and territorial expansion”.


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8 Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002)


Gameplay of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

The third entry into high fantasy Warcraft fictional universe, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos uses a real-time strategy design as players build units, create bases, and collect resources to defeat an army of the undead that have invaded Azeroth.

Warcraft 3 also adds a multiplayer mode based on skill-based matchmaking. Many critics praised Warcraft 3 advanced 3D graphics and atmospheric soundtrack. In 2020, Warcraft 3 has been remastered as Warcraft III: Reforged. Although this upgrade featured improved visuals, some reviewers were disappointed with the technical issues and missing features that plagued the game upon release.


7 Command & Conquer: Red Alert (1996)


Gameplay of Command & Conquer: Red Alert, as forces clash in the snow.

A real-time strategy game set in an alternate reality version of the 1950s Cold War, Command & Conquer: Red Alert players mine resources, build bases, create vehicles, and train troops to fight the Soviets for control of Europe.

Which makes Command & Conquer: Red Alert so unique is its hilarious and convoluted plot, which takes Albert Einstein back in time to kill Hitler, but then prompts a new timeline where Joseph Stalin is about to invade Europe. This memorable story is brought to life by a number of humorous live-action cinematic sequences.


6 Medieval II: Total War (2006)


Gameplay of Medieval II: Total War.  An army standing against a castle.

The sequel to the incredibly successful first entry of the same name, Medieval II: Total War is arguably superior to its predecessor in every way. the total war uniquely combines elements of a strategic turn-based campaign and real-time tactical battles with thousands of soldiers.

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The campaign spans from the 11th to 16th centuries and allows players to control one of many playable nations from medieval Europe, North Africa or the Middle East. The game received much critical acclaim upon release, even from historians, who praised its realism and authenticity at the time.


5 Starcraft (1998)


StarCraft

A spin-off from Warcraft Blizzard Entertainment series, StarCraft takes the same real-time strategy mechanics but places them in space, blending military and sci-fi genres. The story revolves around three alien species fighting for dominance of the galaxy.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest RTS games, StarCraft and its sequel Starcraft II are still games worth playing, especially in South Korea where there is a multi-million dollar professional competition circuit for StarCraft and its sequels.


4 Rome: Total War (2004)


Total War Rome Remastered Header

Frequently touted as the greatest historical strategy game by critics and gamers alike, Rome: Total War perfected total warunique blend of “real-time tactical battles and strategic turn-based campaign”. In this game, players take control of one of Rome’s three great patrician houses and set out to conquer the known world.

Many elements have come together to create this masterpiece, from its stunning 3D graphics, to its historically accurate combat tactics, to its heart-pounding original soundtrack, which received a BAFTA award in recognition. In 2021, Rome: Total War has been remastered with a number of graphics and gameplay improvements.




3 Civilization V (2010)


Undoubtedly the most accessible and intuitive entrance to Sid Meier’s Civilization series, Civilization V built on lessons learned from its predecessors. As in previous versions, players take control of one of the world’s great civilizations and guide them through the ages of history.

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Particularly, Civil 5 was built on a new engine that hexified the once square world of civil, giving gameplay a more dynamic flow. New features were also added such as city-states, revamped culture system and ideologies, which came together to make Civil 5 one of the top ranked Civilization series games.


2 Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 (2000)


Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 gameplay, as tanks attack a Kremlin building.

In a rare example of a sequel that surpasses the original in almost every way, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 follows a plot just as ridiculous as its predecessor, with players commanding Soviet or Allied troops in an alternate universe with advanced technology.

When he came out, Red Alert 2 was one of the best-selling games of the 2000 holiday season. Reviewers found much to like about the game, with its well-balanced armies, new building mechanics, and the perfect balance of fast-paced action and reflection noted as strengths.


1 Age of Empires II: Age of Kings (1999)


Gameplay of Age of Empires II - The Age of Kings, as a city slowly builds,

A classic 1990s RTS strategy game, Age of Empires II: Age of Kings takes place in the Middle Ages with players taking control of one of thirteen playable civilizations. In this game, players gather resources which they then use to build armies and build cities as they fight with enemy armies.

Upon its release, Age of Empires II was widely acclaimed and considered the gold standard for future RTS games. Many reviewers praised its attention to realism, epic atmosphere, and a host of new features. Over all, Age of Empires II proved for the first time that the video game could be a work of art, just like painting or cinema. The recently published Age of Empires IV allows players to continue their journey.

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