Real-time strategy games may have seen better days, but the genre is having somewhat of resurgence in recent years, notably with the release of some excellent new titles invigorating strategic maneuvering of units with modern elements and quality of life improvements. Empires Apart and the upcoming Bannermen are great examples. However, nothing quite beats the nostalgia-infused game play of RTS classics. Here are the top five real-time strategy games that are well worth revisiting or playing for the first time if you missed them first time around.
1. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos
Long before the emergence of MMORPG leviathan World of Warcraft and the wonderful Overwatch, Blizzard excelled at crafting compelling RTS games. The last non-DLC entry into the Warcraft series, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos is a master class is marrying high fantasy with strategic elements. Of note is the inclusion of the hero system adding another layer of game play. The game also spawned the infamous DotA mode, which transitioned into the stand alone DotA 2, which is now one of the leading eSports in the world.
2. Starcraft & Starcraft 2
Another stalwart of eSports in gaming countries like South Korea, Starcraft and its sequel Starcraft 2 are another example of Blizzard’s successful foray into the RTS genre. Fast-paced and frenetic, the game play was all about map control, strategic use of a variety of units, and three distinctly different factions each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Starcraft is one of the best balanced RTS games ever made, hence why thousands of people still play to this day.
3. Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Command & Conquer: Red Alert is classic RTS at its best. Einstein travels back in time to stop Hitler from rising to power, leaving the path open for the Soviet union to rise to dominance. Allied powers face off with a powerful Soviet block in an alternative reality World War 2 setting. Beyond the exceptional game play and great single player campaign, the game finds much of its charm in the purposefully humorous live action cut scenes. In addition, with less reliance on resource gathering than other titles, Command & Conquer: Red Alert gets players into the heat of battle rapidly.
Coupling elements of city building, resource management, and medieval warfare, Stronghold is about defending your territory from invaders while weathering different natural disasters, notably fires. Though not the most beautiful game by any stretch, what sets Stronghold apart is the complex nature of game, which will appeal to those who enjoy a challenge. The game also has an active community which to this day creates different mods and scenarios through a versatile built-in map and scenario editor.
5. Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings
Arguably one the best RTS games ever made, Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings puts players in charge of a civilization, which from humble beginnings must be developed to reach the imperial age. With a well-balanced selection of units that counter one another, the game is all about micro, while keeping in mind an overall strategy for victory. Though not on par with Starcraft in terms of multiplayer involvement, the game boasts a vibrant community with regular tournaments, cash prizes, and big name streamers dedicated to the game.