The best RTS games on PC in 2021

It’s unimaginable to overstate how pleasing RTS video games might be. There are few issues as satisfying as increase an immense military and easily washing over your foes like a river over stones, erasing their existence as effortlessly as a click on. When you’re on the lookout for a broader checklist of the best strategy games then we’ve received a separate checklist for that – this one’s all about real-time, the place you’ll be able to’t disguise behind the protection of turn-based strategy’s tempo.

The style is essentially outlined by the likes of Starcraft and Age of Empires, however Indie games like Northgard and Driftland have proven there’s loads of different voices to be heard. There’s additionally a lot to have a good time in video games which can be technically real-time, however not strictly talking thought of ‘RTS’.

The rise of MOBAs has challenged the RTS scene fairly considerably over the previous decade, however this hasn’t stopped some worthy video games rising to the highest ranks to earn their very own place the corridor of fame. Right here’s our tackle the very best RTS video games on PC, although we’re skewing extra in direction of newer releases as a result of, truthfully, everyone knows how good Homeworld was by now.

The very best RTS video games

The very best RTS video games on PC are:

  • Shadow Ways: Blades of the Shogun
  • Northgard
  • Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation
  • Driftland: The Magic Revival
  • Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak
  • Firm of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault
  • Age of Empires II Definitive Version
  • Supreme Commander
  • Starcraft 2
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Center-Earth

An action shot from Shadow Tactics

Shadow Ways: Blade of the Shogun

Shadow Ways: Blade of the Shogun is among the greatest examples of recent RTS video games. You don’t management huge armies with innumerable items, however as a substitute, you information an elite group of 5 characters, all of whom have completely different abilities and strengths. Whereas it does match into the RTS style, it additionally owes a debt to stealth games, that means you need to be very cautious when making choices – your crew are expert killers, however they’re no match for a fort stuffed with samurai.

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It’s a neat twist on real-time technique, with every new degree of the marketing campaign presenting you with a brand new stealth puzzle to unravel utilizing your 5 very completely different troopers. Will you deploy your deadly marksman to clear the trail from afar, use your grasp of disguise to slide by means of unchecked, silently slay along with your ninja, filter small teams along with your samurai, or use traps and decoys to sow chaos? Generally it’s the wealth of choices at your disposal that makes issues difficult. Regardless, each win will depart you feeling like a strategic ninja as your foes lie crumpled behind you.



This revolutionary Viking game arrived on our technique shores mid-2018 after a stint in Early Entry, and has been occupying its personal quiet nook of the style ever since in a really stoic and very competent method. Set in a fictional world, every match of Northgard places you as newcomers to an island that you must discover and broaden into as a way to construct a brand new life in your individuals.

You don’t construct buildings and recruit items – as a substitute it’s essential to assign your restricted inhabitants to numerous ‘jobs’ that are enabled by way of buildings. The sport might be fairly hands-off in lots of respects, with even fight following a steerage mannequin vs. direct management. You received’t be alone on the island both, there’ll others additionally looking for new houses for themselves. Every ‘clan’ of Vikings has distinctive mechanics and distinct playstyles; some favor to type alliances, whereas others like to overcome. Others simply wish to earn a living, possibly summon a kraken.

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There are a number of routes to victory, and each island is procedurally generated and full of mysterious and NPC monsters to cope with. There’s additionally a survival ingredient as you must guarantee you could have sufficient meals and provides to see your self by means of the winter phases. The sport has some paid add-ins within the type of new clans, however many of the main updates – which have included a number of new game modes – have been free.


Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation

Whereas it’s plain that Ashes of the Singularity launched in a reasonably bizarre place, with a considerably characterless marketing campaign and what felt like a dearth of unit choices, it’s matured in a giant approach by way of a protracted cycle of continued growth and optimisation. It now stands as one of many extra fascinating takes on large-scale RTS that exists within the trendy time.

Ashes of the Singularity takes nods from Whole Annihilation-style video games, but additionally from Firm of Heroes with its squad-based mild autos, and interconnected useful resource nodes which operate equally in lots of respects to territories from Relic’s seminal World Warfare 2 RTS.

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It makes use of structure-based help powers much like these present in Command and Conquer 3, and constrains participant upgrades and unit counts by means of the scarce Quanta useful resource (which can also be used to activate help powers). The marketing campaign DLC has vastly improved in high quality, and whereas the sport’s specs make it tough to run on all however higher-end machines, Ashes is shaping as much as be a severe contender within the large-scale RTS area.


Driftland: The Magic Revival

It’s good to see a brand new face lastly make it onto this checklist – Driftland was in Early Entry for a few years earlier than it lastly launched in April 2019, and it appears that evidently time has been put to good use. That is an revolutionary RTS that follows within the mould of the traditional Majesty franchise – the place oblique management is the order of the day. You’re a mage whose realm is on considered one of many shattered items of the world floating round, and it’s essential to develop your holdings and broaden onto different ones by connecting them collectively.

It’s not for everybody, and there are another minor niggles that might want to get labored out over time, however Driftland willingness to be daring and experiment does it justice, and anybody on the lookout for a brand new fantasy RTS sport want look no additional.

turret defending in one of the best strategy games, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak

A brand new tackle the traditional sequence’ mechanics and a prequel to the unique Homeworld, Deserts of Kharak is gorgeous, haunting, highly effective and intense. Whereas we had been initially sceptical of how the “six levels of freedom” RTS would pan out on a flat airplane, Blackbird Interactive has packed Deserts of Kharak with nuance and coronary heart.

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Among the best RTS solo campaigns in historical past, coupled with gameplay that hides shocking subtlety, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak has been sadly missed by the bigger RTS group. Today, it’s obtainable as a part of a bundle with Homeworld Remastered, which additionally could also be value testing when you appreciated the unique traditional video games.

A tank in Company of Heroes 2

Firm of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault

With the arrival of the Western Entrance Armies expansions, the overhauling of its warfare spoils system and years of steadiness refinement, Firm of Heroes 2 has cemented its place as a good and pleasing aggressive technique sport. With the creation of the Ardennes Assault standalone marketing campaign, Firm of Heroes 2 has now additionally earned the honour possessing among the finest replayable single participant experiences in trendy RTS gaming.

Ardennes Assault gives gamers with a strategic territory-capture metagame layered over the single-player missions, together with semi-random occasions and time-based aims that change with every playthrough, 4 Corporations to command (of which you’ll make the most of three in every marketing campaign playthrough) and laborious selections in an ironman setting. These drive the participant to assume by means of every transfer and stay with sub-optimal methods throughout the size of the marketing campaign.

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Whereas Firm of Heroes 2 can chill out for now, we suspect its trendy sibling Company of Heroes 3 goes to takeover the combat quickly sufficient, particularly with the inclusion of a Whole Warfare-style marketing campaign layer.

A map from Age of Empires 2

Age of Empires 2: Definitive Version

The unique Age of Empires 2 is, undoubtedly, a excessive level on the planet of RTS video games – a lot in order that it has now been absolutely remastered and launched. The mix of items, tech analysis, and wololoing, all mix to create probably the most replayable RTS video games round. The Definitive Version verges on a remake, updating not simply the artwork, but additionally unit AI, to not point out the truth that it boasts new campaigns and a handful of recent civilisations.

Age of Empires 2 (buy here) has a luxurious mixture of fight, civ growth, development, and resource-gathering meaning you’re at all times busy clicking away on one thing. Fight is extra developed than two sides hacking away at each other till one or two fortunate warriors emerge unscathed – there are fortifications to navigate, siege techniques to make use of, and all kinds of points that may trigger your assault to crumble.

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When you’re on the lookout for extra AoE goodness, you’ll be able to learn our overview of the Age of Empires III Definitive Edition, if in case you have fond reminiscences of that sport. Additionally preserve an eye fixed out for Age of Empires 4, and we also have a devoted information to another games like Age of Empires.

Enemies doing battle in Supreme Commander

Supreme Commander

Set amongst a giant previous warfare often known as The Infinite Warfare, Supreme Commander has you making an attempt to wrangle peace out of the chaos that the galaxy has identified for thus lengthy. You’ll have to make use of each final mind cell to come back out on high in opposition to the AI and the devastating weapons they wield.

Fortunately, they aren’t the one ones able to bringing out the large weapons. There are enormous tech bushes so that you can plough by means of over the course of a marketing campaign, however the spotlight is the experimental department of items, which embody every little thing from large crab-like walkers to cell first bases, and nuclear payloads able to immediately destroying main enemy bases. Supreme Commander additionally options one of many coolest map techniques round, with the power to zoom in and out seamlessly so you’ll be able to at all times plan the next move. Few RTS video games handle to make sci-fi warfare appear and feel as spectacular as Supreme Commander, and over a decade later it’s nonetheless the benchmark in that respect.

Starcraft 2

Starcraft 2

Starcraft 2 is a titan of the RTS style. One so monolithic that many new gamers worry to even choose up the sport as a result of they’ll most likely get torn aside on-line earlier than determining the digital camera controls. Fixed analysis and growth selections will daunt the indecisive amongst you, however there’s untold freedom of alternative whether or not you’re enjoying as Zerg or Protoss. As a brand new participant you’ll be consistently weighing up whether or not to put money into everlasting upgrades, short-term buffs to your strongest items, or new items like large robo-dogs – who doesn’t need these?

However it’s multiplayer the place Blizzard’s balancing prowess actually shines, a feat that’s mirrored within the sport’s spectacular esports legacy. Profitable is a continuing, tireless wrestle to attempt to outwit your opponent, scouting out their amenities, and making an attempt to counter it. Merely put: Starcraft 2 does every little thing an RTS sport ought to do, however with a degree of polish that’s nonetheless laborious to match almost a decade later.


Europa Universalis IV

Paradox’s iconic model of technique video games are, technically, real-time technique by way of design, even when they’re generally often known as grand strategy games as of late. Nonetheless, as an expertise they’re value celebrating and since we’ve featured medieval madhouse Crusader Kings III on our ‘greatest technique video games’ checklist, right here we thought we’d maintain up EU4.

On the time of writing, Europa Universalis IV is eight years previous, and it’s still getting new DLC expansions. It’s a wonderful case examine not solely of methods to help a method sport over the long run, but additionally how sophisticated and tough that very same course of might be. Not each EU4 DLC is equal, however the quantity of latest content material that sport has acquired, particularly the free patches, is commonly under-appreciated.

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Plus, it’s a extremely enjoyable sport. You begin within the mid fifteenth century and you may lead any nation by means of a number of hundred years of tumultuous historical past as you need to wrestle with the rise of empires, colonialism and spiritual tensions. There’s additionally a ton of EU4 mods to assist spice issues up.

An entire army of men, including several of the legendary heroes like Aragon and Gandalf, are standing close to a monument. There's a river flowing to the east and several training facilities to the north.

The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Center-Earth

We’ve been fascinated by this sport lots lately, as Renata identified that not solely was it a reasonably fascinating RTS, but it surely was additionally considered one of the best Lord of the Rings games to date. Not essentially by way of the core tales of the books however usually on how the builders at EA Los Angeles (who would go on to make Command & Conquer 3 & 4) managed to translate the texture of the unique supply materials right into a sport.

Whereas Renata favours the second title – launched in 2006 – loads of readers have commented to us since that they really most popular the primary sport from 2004. Critically they acquired roughly the identical rating. The one caveat with this itemizing is that it’s very laborious to discover a copy of both sport on the market. EA misplaced the license in 2010 so that you’re caught with looking for second-hand discs or… ‘different’ means. Enjoying on-line as properly is greatest executed by way of companies similar to GameRanger, or the t3aonline.web web site which has preserved them for play in solo and multiplayer.

Extra RTS video games

Authentic checklist by Jason Coles, with additional contributions from Alex Connelly and Joe Robinson

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