Real-time strategy

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Winston Churchill first conceived of the strategy genre while flying over France in 1938, when he looked out the plane window and thought, “Hey, this would make a very fun videogame, whatever that is.” Most likely. Since then, there have been about a hundred million different strategy games, simulating as many different types of combat as there have been reasons for humans to battle one another.

This genre is as diverse as they come, whether it’s turn-based or real-time, grand strategy or tactical. But which PC strategy games are the very best? We will find out by dragging a collection box over our bodies and right-clicking on the horizon. We now have a strategy editor on staff, so we can’t really be mistaken.

CRUSADER KINGS III is the third instalment of the Crusader Kings series.

What a heinous rip-off of a grand strategy game. Although only time will tell if this dynasty-spanning, emergent-storytelling successor will claim the throne of its now-free-to-play predecessor Crusader Kings 2, it has certainly started off on the right foot.

Crusader Kings 3 has completely revamped the series’ previously befuddling gui, making it a welcoming proposition for newcomers while maintaining most of the series’ scope. Although Crusader Kings 3 can appear to be a typical grand strategy map-painter, and while it does feature in-depth systems for fighting war, the game’s heart lies in its intimate, sometimes hilarious stories.

Can you use military strength, money, religious clout, diplomacy, or deception to gain power? Each character you control has a distinct personality and way of life, and each member of your dynasty will form their kingdom, for better or worse, before passing it on to the next in line. It’s a game where private plots hatched behind closed doors are just as critical as international wars.

If you’re still undecided, don’t forget to read our Crusader Kings 3 analysis. While we wait for more Crusader Kings 3 DLC, check out our Crusader Kings 3 starting characters guide, Crusader Kings 3 beginners guide, and Crusader Kings 3 mods guide.

TRADING COMPANY FROM OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

Though its designer, Soren Johnson, also worked on Civilization IV, Offworld Trading Company is on the opposite end of the strategy game spectrum from Civilization. Though Civ chronicles humanity’s progress across history and into the future, Offworld Trading Company is all about making a fortune by manipulating our red neighbour, Mars.

It’s an RTS with the complexities of the best management games, where victory isn’t won by hurling tanks at enemies or destroying their bases. Instead, your tools are money and energy, which you use to control the market not only to make money, but to fully destroy your rivals. That is, assuming you haven’t formed a temporary alliance with one of your rivals – while you may find yourself closing deals with one hand while wielding a dagger with the other.

Offworld Trading Company invites you to be just as hostile as a warmonger, something you would not expect from an economic strategy game. It’s almost as exciting as sending infantry through artillery-pounded fields or launching stealth air attacks against an enemy stronghold in Company of Heroes or StarCraft II while you’re sizing up menus, planning what to create next, what to sell, and which company to launch a hostile takeover against next.

HOMEWORLD: KHARAK’S DESERT

With Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, Blackbird Interactive has accomplished the almost impossible. That is, to bring the sleek, minimalist space battles of the original Homeworld games to a single planet, resulting in one of the best strategy games ever. It functions in some way. Really well done.

It’s a perilous journey through a vast desert, driven by your quest to save a civilization. Each fight has a connection to the previous one as well as the ones yet to come. Any unit that survives will go on to fight another day in a never-ending battle for survival.

Winston Churchill first conceived of the strategy genre while flying over France in 1938, when he looked out the plane window and thought, “Hey, this would make a very fun videogame, whatever that is.” Most likely. Since then, there have been about a hundred million different strategy games, simulating as many different types of combat as there have been reasons for humans to battle one another.

This genre is as diverse as they come, whether it’s turn-based or real-time, grand strategy or tactical. But which PC strategy games are the very best? We will find out by dragging a collection box over our bodies and right-clicking on the horizon. We now have a strategy editor on staff, so we can’t really be mistaken.

CRUSADER KINGS III is the third instalment of the Crusader Kings series.

What a heinous rip-off of a grand strategy game. Although only time will tell if this dynasty-spanning, emergent-storytelling successor will claim the throne of its now-free-to-play predecessor Crusader Kings 2, it has certainly started off on the right foot.

Crusader Kings 3 has completely revamped the series’ previously befuddling gui, making it a welcoming proposition for newcomers while maintaining most of the series’ scope. Although Crusader Kings 3 can appear to be a typical grand strategy map-painter, and while it does feature in-depth systems for fighting war, the game’s heart lies in its intimate, sometimes hilarious stories.

Can you use military strength, money, religious clout, diplomacy, or deception to gain power? Each character you control has a distinct personality and way of life, and each member of your dynasty will form their kingdom, for better or worse, before passing it on to the next in line. It’s a game where private plots hatched behind closed doors are just as critical as international wars.

If you’re still undecided, don’t forget to read our Crusader Kings 3 analysis. While we wait for more Crusader Kings 3 DLC, check out our Crusader Kings 3 starting characters guide, Crusader Kings 3 beginners guide, and Crusader Kings 3 mods guide.

TRADING COMPANY FROM OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

Though its designer, Soren Johnson, also worked on Civilization IV, Offworld Trading Company is on the opposite end of the strategy game spectrum from Civilization. Though Civ chronicles humanity’s progress across history and into the future, Offworld Trading Company is all about making a fortune by manipulating our red neighbour, Mars.

It’s an RTS with the complexities of the best management games, where victory isn’t won by hurling tanks at enemies or destroying their bases. Instead, your tools are money and energy, which you use to control the market not only to make money, but to fully destroy your rivals. That is, assuming you haven’t formed a temporary alliance with one of your rivals – while you may find yourself closing deals with one hand while wielding a dagger with the other.

Offworld Trading Company invites you to be just as hostile as a warmonger, something you would not expect from an economic strategy game. It’s almost as exciting as sending infantry through artillery-pounded fields or launching stealth air attacks against an enemy stronghold in Company of Heroes or StarCraft II while you’re sizing up menus, planning what to create next, what to sell, and which company to launch a hostile takeover against next.

HOMEWORLD: KHARAK’S DESERT

With Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, Blackbird Interactive has accomplished the almost impossible. That is, to bring the sleek, minimalist space battles of the original Homeworld games to a single planet, resulting in one of the best strategy games ever. It functions in some way. Really well done.

It’s a perilous journey through a vast desert, driven by your quest to save a civilization. Each fight has a connection to the previous one as well as the ones yet to come. Any unit that survives will go on to fight another day in a never-ending battle for survival.

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