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10 games like Age of Empires to conquer

Age of Empires
(Image credit: Microsoft)

These games like Age of Empires should help keep you balling like a boss while you wait for Age of Empires 4. Whether you like your strategy with a historical hustle or a fantasy flavor, there are plenty of lands here to conquer with your knack for military maneuvers, resource management, and city planning skills. Some have wildly advanced alien technology, some will start you out with basic Stone Age tools and wish you the best. There are also a few things you might not expect from games like Age of Empires, including an animal civil war, and Tim Curry. 

Age of Empires 4 is currently in development with Relic Entertainment and will hopefully see a release this year, though no date has been confirmed. Until we can play it, here are more games like Age of Empires to keep you busy. 

Northgard

Northgard

(Image credit: Shiro Games)

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Vikings are hot right now, unless you've failed to prepare for winter in which case they're all going to freeze to death. This indie game has you controlling your own clan as they build a settlement, finding success and renown through trade, conquest, and lore. Unlike your usual historical sims, Northgard isn't afraid to lean into Norse mythology, with the gods playing an important role and undead warriors wandering the woods. Just keep an eye on the weather report, as a harsh winter is just as likely to end your saga as a band of marauders. 

Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3

Command and Conquer

(Image credit: EA)

Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360

A classic series for a reason, the real-time strategy icon combines a touch of history with a flair for the outlandish and FMV performances from Tim Curry and George Takei. The plot is a madness of time travel and there are three factions to play as, the Allies, the Soviet Union, and the Empire of the Rising Sun. Forget historical accuracy, the weapons you get to play with as you build bases and launch attacks include psionic schoolgirls, armored war bears, Vacuum Imploders, Proton Colliders, and nanoparticle shields. If only history lessons had been more like this. 

Dawn of Man

Dawn of Man

(Image credit: Madruga Works)

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4

If your favorite part of Age of Empires is advancing your civilization through the different periods of humanity, Dawn of Man will give you plenty to do. You need to get your people from the Stone Age to the Iron Age, hunting mammoths, cave lions, and wooly rhinos and fighting off raiders. Keeping an eye on the seasons is key, as your technology tree is still a few years off adding radiators, so you'll need food in your stores and clothes to stop your little people from turning into pink popsicles. Do well and you can construct Stonehenge style structures, do poorly and you'll be singlehandedly dooming humanity. Fun! 

Tooth and Tail

Tooth and Tail

(Image credit: Pocketwatch Games)

Platforms: PC, PS4

It's a civil war, but a much fluffier version than we're used to. Taking the role of a general in one of four factions - the Longcoats, Commonfolk, KSR and Civilized - you direct the action on the battlefield, attacks, and retreats, scouting and building, all at a crazy pace. Despite the illustrations - which will bring back memories of those weird, dark 1980's cartoons - this game has a tough learning curve and will deliver a challenge to even the most battle-hardened RTS player. 

Frostpunk

Frostpunk

(Image credit: 11 Bit Studios)

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

If you like your strategy games to be bleaker than an episode of HBO's Chernobyl, Frostpunk has you covered. The world is now a frozen, harsh place, and as the ruler of its last surviving city, you must keep your residents alive and happy. That means building facilities and homes, looking after resources, and managing power (ensuring the city stays warm enough to support life is a constant battle) but also dealing with moral dilemmas. How will you deal with lawbreakers? Will you try to encourage people to follow religion to keep them content and docile? None of the choices are easy or obvious, and it's worryingly easy to go from benevolent ruler to child labor tyrant when things get tough. 

Surviving the Aftermath

Surviving the Aftermath

(Image credit: Paradox)

Platforms: PC and Xbox One

Like in Age of Empires you're building a colony, but the catch here is that you're doing it in a post-apocalyptic world. That means as well as the usual management of food and power and housing for your people, you need to worry about pollution (that can cause radiation sickness), bandits, and what to do with other survivors that come looking for aid. To really thrive, you'll also need to send some of your camp specialists out beyond your colony to scavenge for rare resources and increase your scientific knowledge, which lets you build more back at base. The game is still in Early Access and receiving regular updates, but it still has plenty to hook you right now. 

Bad North

Bad North

(Image credit: Plausible Concept)

Platforms: PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One

If you like the tactical battles of Age of Empires but are less worried about telling people to collect berries or chop down trees, Bad North strips all the survival stuff away to deliver an addictive and brutal bit of real-time strategy. You have to defend your island from Viking invaders, who can land on any coast on your island and cause utter chaos. They come in waves, and success comes from managing your small units of soldiers and using the geography of your island to your defenders. It's a tough game, but it helps that it looks like it fell out of a toybox so at least you'll enjoy looking at it while you fail. 

Cities: Skylines

Cities Skylines

(Image credit: Colossal Order)

Platforms: PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One

Maybe you couldn't give a monkey's about the people in Age of Empires, you just like building sprawling towns. In that case, Cities: Skylines has you covered. Spend hours building a stunning city and then realize your traffic infrastructure is broken, no one has power, and that you really should have invested more heavily in your fire service. You'll need to consider your economy and people's needs, and you can even zone different districts. The game got rave reviews on release and since then has only expanded with add-ons and mod support, making it a must-play for anyone who likes to balance a lust for power with a healthy respect for how sewage systems work. 

Tropico 6

Tropico 6

(Image credit: Kalypso Media)

Platforms: PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One

City building with a political edge, Tropico 6 puts you in the role of El Presidente, and leaves it up to you to be a ruthless dictator or a kind and cuddly statesman. As well as the usual building and resource management you can also decide to send your people out on heists to steal trophies like the Statue of Liberty, form alliances with revolutionaries and give inspiring political speeches. It's a very tongue in cheek look at the challenges of ruling a nation, but one that comes with some seriously tricky campaign missions and a sandbox mode that you can lose days in. 

StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty

StarCraft 2

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Platforms: PC

It would be a crime to make this list and not include Starcraft 2, a game so addictive it's still killing it as an esport. Sending real-time strategy into space, there are the humans (Terrans), and the Protoss and Zerg, alien species with suitably otherworldly powers. The game has a cracking single-player campaign, but its longevity is the result of brilliant balancing and map editor options that just keeps delivering tense and enjoyable matches 12 years since the game was originally released. 

Looking for something else to play? Here are all the most exciting new games of 2021 and beyond on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Rachel Weber
Rachel Weber

Rachel Weber is the US Managing Editor of GamesRadar+ and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Rachel began working in games journalism in 2006, combing her love of video games with her passion for writing. Starting as a fresh-faced staff writer of Official PlayStation Magazine, she went on to cover the business side of the industry with GamesIndustry.biz, before joining Rolling Stone's ambitious - if short-lived - Glixel project in 2016. She returned to Future and joined GamesRadar+ in 2017, revitalizing the news coverage and building new processes and strategies for the US team.


Throughout her 15 years of experience, Rachel has interviewed celebrities about their gaming habits, chatted with PlayStation and Xbox bosses, written thousands of words of previews, reviews, and news, and appeared as an expert on BBC radio and TV. In the name of games journalism, she's also taken rap lessons, appeared on the streets of London as a zombie, tried her hand at sword-fighting, and taken part in more than one 24-hour gaming marathons. 


When she's not on duty for GamesRadar expect to see her hunting down the weirdest indie games on Steam, curling up with the latest horror novel, or binging the newest must-see crime documentary. You can find her at @therachelweber on Twitter.