We play video games and strategy games to have a mindless adventure or to be scared out of our minds. We look for epic journeys with action and tragedy, hoping to lose ourselves in wonderful writing and narrative. Then there are those moments when we want to test our mettle with the greatest strategy games. It’s not about becoming lost in a story or losing track of time. We want to see how well we can plan and strategize. Our is where this list comes in; whether you’re looking for 4X, real-time, tower defense, or war games, we’ve got you covered.
These games represent the greatest of the strategy games, ranging from punishingly challenging to approachable. Some games take hours to fully comprehend, while others are simple to pick up and play without needing to read instructions. But if there’s one thing they all have in common, it’s that they properly define strategy game.
Here is a list of top 5 most played strategy games in the world.
1. Crusader Kings III
In terms of design, goals, and mechanics, Crusader Kings II may be the most peculiar strategy game out there. It’s not all about conquering your neighbors, achieving diplomatic or economic victories, or amassing the most troops. The only technical method to win is to simply live, maintain your domain’s authority, and carry on your chosen dynasty’s lineage.
Crusader Kings II isn’t out of the norm in a genre that is generally defined by competitiveness. You will occasionally find yourself at odds with other kings in your country, which might lead to conflict, but Crusader Kings III has so much more to offer. Tax and levy regulations, noble marriages, and education and the transmission of knowledge and talents to offspring are just a few of the many intricate details that elevate Crusader Kings III above and above the typical strategy game.
Over the years, Paradox Development Studio has demonstrated a predilection for producing and publishing unusual and fascinating strategy games. Crusader Kings II is a wonderful example of the studio taking what we already know about strategy games and adding them a twist that tests our mental fortitude. How do you triumph? Simply put, you live through decades of successful rule, diplomacy, and intrigue.
2. Total War: Warhammer 2
Fans of Total War games and fans of Warhammer strategy games share a lot in common. Both have been burnt in the past by subpar games, so when Creative Assembly revealed their plan to take on the Warhammer series, eyebrows were raised. By all accounts, Creative Assembly went all-in on the Warhammer universe, harnessing it under the features of their Total War structure while adding a slew of new components that make it distinct and unmistakably Warhammer.
Their initial venture was hailed as a huge success, prompting a sequel that outperformed the original in nearly every regard. While some diehards would argue that the original is greater, the majority of strategy gamers think that Total War: Warhammer 2 is the superior strategy game.
Warhammer 2 added the Lizardmen, Skaven, Dark Elves, High Elves, and Tomb Kings as playable civilizations to the prior game’s already outstanding roster of factions. The mechanics remained mostly same, with the majority of the improvements being cosmetic in nature, addressing some of the complaints that fans had with the prior iteration and making the strategy game seem nicer. A thriving modding community has sprung up around the strategy game, with amazing fan-made content being constantly updated.
Due in no little part to the immensely varied styles of each race, factions play significantly differently than they ever did in a prior Total War game. Whereas Dwarves emphasize defense and Vampire Counts deploy zombies as shock soldiers before unleashing a clean-up squad, Greenskins adopt quick and aggressive tactics. The addition of flying troops, but more crucially, heroes, who can not only offer unique skills to the battlefield, but can also be leveled up and equipped up in a quasi-RPG way, adds to this.
Over the years, Total War and Warhammer have given us a variety of tastes, some of which have been harsh, but Total War: Warhammer has the makings of a really delicious marriage of the two brands.
3. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is an excellent strategy game. Firaxis demonstrated with Enemy Unknown that they were more than capable of filling the famous shoes that had acquired such a fervent following decades before. We originally included the sequel XCOM 2 on our list, but while that game is fantastic, the first strategy game is the one that remains with us the most. It’s the ideal marriage of a worldwide alien invasion that begins small and grows, with XCOM serving as the invasion’s counter-measure, steadily learning to counter whatever the invaders throw at them – or perish if they don’t.
Enemy Unknown strives to resurrect an old battle. Aliens attack the Earth, and global leaders form XCOM as a method of retaliating and researching ways to reverse the tide against the invaders. Players must manage their soldiers, risk death by capturing aliens for research on countermeasures, weapons, and even Psychic Powers, and even determine which room in their base to construct next. Even the simplest actions have ramifications, and gaining an edge in one area may leave you vulnerable in another.
Everything is in great balance, and the subject matter and gameplay are both satisfying. Even more, even when things become serious, it’s simple and easy to understand for strategy newbies. Whether they make it to the last fight or continue to save filth is another question. We loved it so much that we named it our Game of the Year for 2012, and we can’t wait to return to the XCOM universe again. As long as it isn’t a shooter, that is.
4. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos
Strategy Games like Warcraft III were the peak of RTS gaming back when Blizzard could do no wrong. Reign of Chaos expands on the tale we’ve been following since Warcraft: Orcs & Humans with new gaming concepts like heroes and items, a new, more colorful graphic style, and the Undead and Night Elf factions. Everything we loved about the first two games is back, including classic base-building elements and unforgettable characters like Grom Hellscream and Uther Lightbringer. Despite a few new features, fans of the Warcraft franchise will have no trouble diving right into Reign of Chaos.
Warcraft III is the point at which the mythology grew huge enough to fill the massive World of Warcraft universe, with the prize being a fantastic RTS experience spread across four distinct campaigns. Cutscenes were visceral and packed with fantastic moments, as expected with Blizzard at the helm, such as Thrall and Grom’s struggle against Mannoroth and when Arthas Menethil—well, we’ll err on the side of caution and avoid spoilers.
5. Into The Breach
In an ideal world, something will come along and easily leapfrog this turn-based mechs vs. giganto-beasts follow-up to FTL, but what strategy game would we recommend to practically everyone right now? There are no other options. Into The Breach spits out every last drop of unnecessary strategic bathwater without losing a single ounce of baby. It demands you to concentrate solely on the most pressing issue at hand: your men are there, the acid-spitting enemy is there, and a skyscraper full of innocent citizens is there: what are you going to do, hotshot?
In Into The Breach, every action matters. It nearly usually means disaster if you fail to perform something valuable with one of your three units. ‘Elegant’ is the term to beat for Into The Breach, although it may make it seem cold and remote. Only the reverse is true: every movement resonates with tremendous drama, and it does so while trusting your imagination to fill in the gaps left by its 2D, sparsely animated presentation. Anything more would take time, and time would only make it baggy, and Into The Breach feels like the (now) ultimate word on how to design a turn-based strategy game precisely because it is not baggy in the least.