The Best Strategy Games in 2023

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Strategy games have been a staple of PC gaming since its earliest days. From simple board game adaptations to complex empire-building simulations, strategy games offer a diverse range of experiences to players of all skill levels.

One of the most popular subgenres of strategy games is the real-time strategy (RTS) game. These games typically involve managing resources, building units, and engaging in fast-paced battles with other players or AI opponents. Some of the most well-known RTS games include StarCraft, Age of Empires, and Command & Conquer.

Another popular subgenre of strategy games is the turn-based strategy (TBS) game. In these games, players take turns moving their units and making decisions. TBS games often have a slower pace than RTS games, allowing players to carefully plan out their moves and strategies. Some popular TBS games include Civilization, Total War, and XCOM.

The 4X (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) subgenre of strategy games focuses on building and managing empires over long periods of time. These games often involve researching new technologies, negotiating with other factions, and engaging in large-scale battles. Some popular 4X games include Endless Legend, Galactic Civilizations III, and Stellaris.

Strategy games can also take place in a variety of settings, from historical to science fiction to fantasy. Games like Crusader Kings III and Europa Universalis IV allow players to experience different periods of history, while games like Star Wars: Empire at War and Homeworld offer a sci-fi twist. And games like Warcraft III and Heroes of Might and Magic feature classic fantasy elements like elves and dragons.

In some cases, a strategy game can have multiple entries in a series, each offering a unique experience. For example, the Civilization series has been going strong for over 30 years, with each new entry offering new features and improvements. Similarly, the Total War series has explored different historical periods and settings over the years.

Overall, strategy games offer a wealth of options for players who enjoy planning and executing complex strategies. Whether you prefer fast-paced battles or long-term empire-building, there’s a strategy game out there for you.

Crusader Kings 3

Crusader Kings 3

Release date: 2020 | Developer: Paradox | Steam

Crusader Kings 3, released in 2020, has rightfully claimed the title of the best strategy game of the year, surpassing its predecessor in many ways. As a grand strategy RPG, CK3 offers an immersive and cohesive experience that is both polished and visually stunning. With a focus on roleplaying and simulating the lifestyles of medieval nobles, CK3 offers a unique experience that is well worth the investment.

Upon first glance, CK3 may seem familiar to those who have played its predecessor, CK2. However, the game distinguishes itself through its vast array of new and reconsidered features, which allow for a deeper level of gameplay and customization. CK3 offers a ceaseless storytelling experience, with complex systems that demand attention and exploration. With its nested tooltip system and ample guidance, getting to grips with CK3 is considerably easier than previous iterations, allowing players to quickly dive into the game’s rich and immersive world.

At the core of CK3 lies a soapy dynastic drama that is carried along by its brilliant flow. The game allows players to meander through life without any specific plan, yet find themselves embroiled in countless intrigues, wars, and trysts. This unpredictability is part of what makes the game so compelling, and players can easily lose hours building their dynasty, establishing relationships, and navigating the complex political landscape of medieval Europe.

Overall, Crusader Kings 3 is an excellent addition to the grand strategy RPG genre, offering a vast and immersive world, deep customization options, and a compelling storytelling experience. Whether you’re a fan of the series or new to the franchise, CK3 is definitely worth playing, and it’s no surprise that it has claimed the title of the best strategy game of 2020.

Old World

Old World

Release date: 2020 | Developer: Mohawk Games | SteamEpic

Few 4X games can challenge the iconic Civilization series, but Old World offers a unique take on the genre, thanks in part to lead designer Soren Johnson’s previous experience with Civ 4. While Old World shares similarities with Civilization, it also sets itself apart in several significant ways.

Firstly, Old World is set exclusively in the ancient world, unlike Civilization’s wide-ranging scope that spans human history. This shift in focus allows Old World to explore the intricacies of people and empires during this specific period. Rather than playing an immortal ruler, players take on the role of a ruler who lives and eventually dies, passing the torch onto their heir.

The human aspect of empire-building takes center stage in Old World, with players managing courtiers, spouses, children, and rivals, adding layers of depth and complexity to the game. As a result, the game offers a wealth of events, plots, and surprises, with the potential for family members to assassinate each other, reminiscent of the popular game Crusader Kings.

Old World’s emphasis on personal relationships and historical context provides players with a unique perspective on empire-building, elevating it above many other 4X games. With its rich gameplay and fresh take on the genre, Old World is a game that any strategy fan should check out.

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Release date: 2019 | Developer: Triumph Studios| Steam

If you’re looking for a fantastic strategy game, Age of Wonders is definitely worth checking out. With several titles to choose from, you really can’t go wrong. If you prefer a fantasy setting, then Age of Wonders 3 is the game for you. However, if you’re in the mood for a more sci-fi experience, then Age of Wonders: Planetfall is the perfect choice.

Set in a galaxy that’s slowly recovering from a long period of decline, Planetfall offers a rich and engaging gameplay experience that will keep you hooked for hours on end. As you lead your faction to victory, you’ll need to compete with other ambitious factions that range from dinosaur-riding Amazons to psychic bugs. The game offers a wide range of factions to choose from, each with its unique strengths and weaknesses, making every playthrough feel fresh and exciting.

One of the most significant improvements in Planetfall is its methodical empire building. The game benefits from significant changes to its structure and pace, making the process of building and managing your empire more engaging than ever before. However, what really sets Planetfall apart are the turn-based tactical battles between highly customizable units. You can equip your units with a wide range of weapons and abilities, from lasers and jetpacks to special psychic powers, making each battle a unique and exciting experience.

In addition to the engaging gameplay mechanics, Planetfall also boasts impressive graphics and a fantastic soundtrack that really immerses you in the game’s universe. And let’s not forget about the heroes. In Planetfall, you can nurture your heroes like they’re RPG protagonists, leveling them up and customizing their abilities to suit your playstyle. With so much to do and explore, Age of Wonders: Planetfall is a must-play for any strategy fan looking for an epic and engaging sci-fi adventure.

Company of Heroes 3

Company of Heroes 3

Release date: 2023 | Developer: Relic Entertainment| Steam

If you’re a fan of real-time strategy games, Company of Heroes is a series that you should definitely check out. The latest installment in the franchise is a behemoth of a game, offering two campaigns, four factions, and a whopping 14 multiplayer maps right out of the gate. And with post-launch support and updates, it’s only going to get bigger and better.

While the dynamic campaign system introduced in this game is a bit hit or miss, with some players finding it lacking in terms of challenge, the turn-based campaign still provides a lot of content and strategic options to explore. However, it’s the real-time battles that are the true highlight of the game. From the deserts of North Africa to the rolling hills of Italy, you’ll have access to an incredible variety of units, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, to deploy in battle.

There are so many ways to approach each battle, and the game gives you plenty of tools to do so. Want to drop paratroopers behind enemy lines for a surprise attack? Go for it. Need to cover a battlefield in smoke so your troops can charge into enemy trenches under cover? You can do that too. And then there are the truly spectacular moments, like launching terrifying tank assaults, calling in artillery and air strikes, or even naval bombardments that can completely reshape the terrain of the battlefield.

All of this adds up to a truly epic experience, one that’s filled with glorious chaos and intense, heart-pounding action. Whether you’re playing alone or with friends, Company of Heroes 3 has something for everyone, and it’s a game that’s definitely worth your time.

Iron Harvest

Iron Harvest

Release date: 2020 | Developer: King Art| Steam

If you’re a fan of real-time strategy games and have ever thought “What this really needs is some giant mechs,” then Iron Harvest is the game for you. Set in an alternate 1920s Europe, this game features a variety of factions battling it out with traditional troops, tanks, and, most notably, clunky steampunk mechs. From small exosuits to massive, smoke-spewing behemoths, these machines are a joy to play with and, just as importantly, to destroy.

And there will be plenty of destruction to be had in Iron Harvest. The game loves its explosions, and after a big fight, the area will be almost unrecognizable. Thanks to mortars, tank shells, and mechs that can walk right through buildings, don’t expect much to remain standing. The level of destruction is as impressive as it is grim, but there are some lighthearted moments to be had as well. For instance, you can watch a bear take on a mech in combat.

Each faction in the game has a heroic unit, accompanied by their very own pet. These units have unique abilities that can be a game-changer in battle, and they can even take on the massive war machines with some skillful play. But ultimately, it’s the mechs that steal the show. They’re an absolute blast to use, whether you’re unleashing a hail of gunfire on your enemies or charging headlong into battle.

All of this adds up to a game that’s incredibly fun and satisfying to play. Whether you’re a fan of strategy games or just looking for a game where you can stomp around in giant mechs, Iron Harvest is definitely worth your time. So buckle up, grab your biggest mech, and get ready for some explosive action.

Command & Conquer: Remastered

Command & Conquer: Remastered

Release date: 2020 | Developer: Petroglyph, Lemon Sky Studios (originally Westwood)| Steam

The world of real-time strategy games has come a long way since the release of the original Command & Conquer and its alt-history spin-off Red Alert. These two games, released in the mid-1990s, were pioneers in the genre, and they have stood the test of time as beloved classics. Now, both games have been remastered and packaged together in the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection, a must-play for fans of the genre and newcomers alike.

The Command & Conquer games are known for their delightful FMV cheese and sci-fi battles, and the remastered versions bring these elements to life like never before. The 4K graphics are crisp and vibrant, and the updated UI makes the game easier to navigate. But the real magic of the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection lies in the gameplay itself.

Building up your base, recruiting a diverse array of units, and sending them into battle against your opponents is just as fun now as it was over 25 years ago. The games are packed with weird and wonderful units, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and it’s a blast to experiment with different strategies and see what works best against different opponents.

The Command & Conquer Remastered Collection also includes all three expansions for both games, as well as the map editor, which allows players to create and share their own custom maps. And for fans of the iconic Command & Conquer soundtrack, Frank Klepacki’s remastered score is included as well. From the driving guitars of “Hell March” to the haunting melodies of “Valley of the Forgotten”, the soundtrack is as memorable and enjoyable as ever.

Perhaps most importantly, the remastered collection allows players to duke it out in multiplayer. Whether you’re playing against friends or strangers online, the fast-paced, strategic gameplay of Command & Conquer is just as thrilling now as it was in the ’90s. And with the updated graphics and UI, it’s easier than ever to jump into a game and start building your base.

In short, the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection is a lovingly crafted tribute to two of the most important RTS games in history. If you’re a fan of the genre, you owe it to yourself to experience these classics in all their remastered glory. And if you’re new to Command & Conquer, there’s no better time to dive in and discover what all the fuss is about.

Unity of Command 2

Unity of Command 2

Release date: 2019 | Developer: 2×2 Games| Steam

Unity of Command 2 has been one of the most anticipated wargames of recent years, and for good reason. The original Unity of Command was already a fantastic entry point into the world of wargames, and its successor manages to maintain that accessibility while adding a wealth of new features.

What sets Unity of Command 2 apart from other wargames is its emphasis on tactical puzzles. Every battle presents a unique set of challenges that require careful consideration and planning to overcome. However, unlike many other wargames, Unity of Command 2 is not about memorizing a specific strategy or set of actions to win. Instead, it is a reactive puzzle where players have the freedom to experiment with different solutions and adapt to changing circumstances.

The game’s mechanics are intuitive and easy to learn, but the depth of strategy is impressive. The new features, such as the dynamic frontline system and the ability to call in off-map support, add a level of complexity to the game that keeps it fresh and engaging. Meanwhile, the beautiful graphics and atmospheric sound design make each battle feel like a cinematic experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned wargamer or a newcomer to the genre, Unity of Command 2 is an excellent choice. It’s not only a great place to start for beginners, but it’s also a brilliant wargame that will keep even the most experienced players engaged for hours on end. So if you’re looking for a tactical puzzle game that offers both accessibility and depth, look no further than Unity of Command 2.

Tempest Rising

Tempest Rising

If you’re a fan of classic real-time strategy games, then Tempest Rising is a title that you should keep an eye on. This upcoming game is heavily inspired by the ’90s and early 2000s RTS titles that many of us grew up playing, but it also incorporates a visually stunning and modern aesthetic that sets it apart.

In Tempest Rising, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in base building and lead one of three factions, each with its own unique approach to combat and economic management. Whether you prefer to build up your forces and overwhelm your enemies with sheer numbers or rely on more strategic tactics, there’s a playstyle to suit every type of RTS enthusiast.

In addition to traditional multiplayer and comp stomp skirmishes, Tempest Rising also boasts a pair of 15-mission campaigns that will put your strategic skills to the test. During these campaigns, you’ll have to compete for control of neutral buildings and contend with neutral populations, which will make the battlefield feel more dynamic and challenging than ever before.

While there’s no official release date for Tempest Rising just yet, it’s expected to make its debut sometime in 2023. So, mark your calendars and get ready for some classic RTS action with a modern twist!

Third Age: Total War

Third Age: Total War

Prior to the release of Total War: Warhammer, fans of both fantasy and strategy gaming had to rely on mods to fulfill their cravings for a fusion of both genres. One such mod that stood out was Third Age, an overhaul of Medieval 2 that transported players to the third age of Middle-earth.

Third Age recreated the world of Middle-earth in impressive detail, featuring iconic cities, landmarks, and a plethora of recognizable characters, such as the ents and orcs. Players could engage in epic battles, forging alliances or waging wars against various factions. The mod’s attention to detail and immersion in the world of Lord of the Rings made it stand out among the countless other mods that were inspired by the franchise.

The popularity of Third Age and other mods like it demonstrated the demand for fantasy-based Total War games, which was finally realized with the release of Total War: Warhammer. Nevertheless, for many fans, Third Age remains one of the best and most beloved mods in the Total War community, showcasing the creativity and passion of modders and their ability to breathe new life into classic games.

Long War 2

XCOM: Long War

XCOM: Long War is a mod that takes the already excellent XCOM game and expands it into something truly special. Many fans of the original X-COM games felt that the rebooted XCOM lacked the complexity and depth that made the series so beloved. Long War bridges that gap, adding a staggering amount of new content and complexity without sacrificing the accessibility and polish that made the reboot so successful.

One of the most impressive aspects of Long War is how it manages to tweak and refine nearly every aspect of the game without compromising the core gameplay loop. The mod adds new soldier classes, weapons, enemies, and missions, as well as new mechanics like fatigue, meld, and an expanded base-building system. It’s a lot to take in, but the game is designed so well that it never feels overwhelming or confusing.

One of the reasons Long War works so well is that it was created by a team of experienced modders who understood what made the X-COM series so great. They were able to take the best elements of the old games and integrate them into the new one, creating a seamless experience that felt like a true successor to the original X-COM games.

Even Firaxis, the developers behind the XCOM reboot, recognized the quality of Long War and got involved in the modding community. They released official add-ons for XCOM 2 that were based on the Long War mod, and the team even created a sequel, Long War 2, that was just as ambitious and impressive as the original.

In the end, XCOM: Long War stands as one of the best examples of what the modding community can do when they’re given the tools and the freedom to create something truly great. It’s a testament to the enduring legacy of the X-COM series and a reminder that sometimes the most exciting and innovative ideas come from the fans themselves.

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