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The best strategy games you can play right now

Best Strategy Games

The best strategy games can make us laugh, cry, re-write history, and, um, become the pope, and crush our foes with a herd of unruly war elephants. Variety is the spice of life, they say, which particularly applies if you’re living inside a grand strategy RPG such as Crusader Kings 3 or Total War: Warhammer 2.

They’re both on this list, as are a host of great strategy games spanning the ages – on land and in space; from the past to the present to light years from now in the future – each of which puts their own unique slant on the genre. Some of the best strategy games feature on PC, but so many now star on console too, broadening each game’s player base more than ever before.

If you fancy joining that crowd, or, you know, plotting for peace or world domination, read on for our list of the best strategy games available right now.

25. Offworld Trading Company 

(Image credit: Stardock)

As the name suggests Offworld Trading Company focuses on the production, refinement and trading of the kind of resources you generally need to keep a colony alive. Where in other games you just harvest what’s available, here you need to work the market – discourage competitors, buy surplus cheaply and sell what’s in demand expensively. Offworld Trading Company makes you one of the worst forces of capitalism, a stock broker on Mars. If you like juggling numbers and working against the clock in order to make a sale, this is the game for you. In a lot of ways, it’s just like leading a large skirmish, only for cold, hard cash to replace swords. When you get to build in OTC, each building acts like a powerful skill in an RPG, giving you new means to beg, borrow and steal. Victory is never sweeping, so if you enjoy meticulous work that isn’t represented by piles of bodies on screen, play Offworld Trading Company.

Available on: PC

24. Northguard

(Image credit: Shiro Games)

If you’ve ever played a strategy game, you’re probably familiar with the Age of Empires-type RTS that has you build a civilisation from nothing in order to eventually lead it into war. Northgard is this, but with Vikings. Vikings aren’t just a replaceable people – Northgard is special because of them. You need to deal with the harsh weather in Scandinavia as well as its dangerous wildlife. Clans have different skills and war chiefs, and thus play differently, but this isn’t a game just about war. You’re asked to gather fame by making discoveries and helping your clan grow, and you can win just as easily by trading and making your clan indispensable to the Viking economy. Thus, Northgard is both a homage to famous RTS games, and an evolution of their systems.

Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

23. Battletech

(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

Despite its technical clumsiness, Battletech, based on a popular tabletop game, takes a novel approach to round-based mech combat. It’s not enough to simply hit your opponent, instead you have to disable specific limbs, something that due to the game’s random number generator is often down to luck. While gameplay can veer between annoying and really exciting that way, what makes Battletech stand out in particular is its story, which isn’t only great for a genre that doesn’t always put a lot of stock in its narratives. Thanks to a lot of effort put in the general presentation and idea, Battletech is a truly unique game you should definitely give a chance.

Available on: PC

22. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden 

(Image credit: Funcom)

If you like XCOM, there is really no reason you wouldn’t like Mutant Year Zero. It’s the same brand of round-based tactics, with a dash of post-apocalyptic weirdness in the form of your usual broken-down city environments and… anthropomorphic animals? Yes, Mutant Year Zero’s absolutely unique selling points are its mutated protagonists, who can learn new skills through further mutations, and who drive the interesting story. Add to that a good (and at times absolutely necessary) stealth system and you get a game that successfully combines old and new. It’s also a real challenge, mildly unfair at times, but definitely worth a try for all who already know XCOM like the back of their hand. 

Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch 

21. Phoenix Point

(Image credit: Snapshot Games)

It’s not surprising to find  many similarities between XCOM and Phoenix Point once you know the latter has been designed by Julian Gollop, the mind behind the XCOM brand of turn-based tactics. Phoenix Point isn’t just another XCOM, however. While the central conflict is one again one between humans and aliens, Phoenix Point refines XCOM’s systems by giving you more control over your shots, loadouts and recruits. Sometimes you just get a lot of detailed info without really being able to use it, but it does make systems more understandable and winning feel less like sheer luck. It’s an effort to add more systems and gameplay elements to XCOM – not everything works, but it’s a great alternative all the same.

Available on: PC (PS4 and Xbox One from October 1, 2021) 

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20. Age of Wonders: Planetfall

(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

4X games hardly come with this much character – from the outset, Planetfall welcomes you to a colourful world with plenty of outstanding factions. Even though it offers XCOM-style combat, Planetfall doesn’t overstay its welcome with long-winded battles, and instead turns out to be a 4X experience that’s great for beginners. Managing your colonies is easy thanks to highly readable menus, and each faction offers a meaningful story that provides a steady motivation for advancement. While it’s not unique in the world of 4X, Planetfall’s setting does enough to set it apart from what’s currently available, and each aspect from battle to society management is consistently fun to play.

Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One

19. Gears Tactics

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

It’s not far from cover shooter to tactics game, this or similar must Xbox Game Studios have thought when they developed Gears Tactics. As gory as the rest of the franchise, Gears Tactics offers interesting skill combinations between your squad members and rewards risk-taking. It also doesn’t hurt that Gears Tactics looks absolutely stunning and tends to turn the usually rather quiet and tense tactics genre into quite a spectacle.  An absolute must for Gears fans, it’s also a worth addition to the library of any fans of turn-based tactics.

Available on: PC

18. Total War: Three Kingdoms 

Total War: Three Kingdoms

(Image credit: Creative Assembly )

Total War: Three Kingdoms wears its post-Total War: Warhammer influences on its sleeve, in that its primarily rooted in history, but likewise dabbles in occasional bursts of fantasy, portrayed via age-old legend. The Chinese civil war is the event of the day here, and the idiosyncrasies of complex relationships fuel just about everything you can shake a cursor at – from diplomacy behind the scenes, trade ahead of war, and dynamics between factions on the battlefield. All of those customisable elements have been tweaked against previous Total War instalments, and Three Kingdoms’ expansive DLC gives this one even more life beyond its standard campaign.

Available on: PC

17. Wargroove

(Image credit: Chucklefish)

You can play as a dog commander called Caesar. Really, that should be all the convincing you need, but with a fantastic turn-based system and lots of chances to test the strategically inclined side of your mind, Wargroove offers plenty of tactical challenges for players of all skill levels. Charming 2D pixelated graphics set the scene for its varying campaigns that are quite similar in style to the battles found in the Fire Emblem series, or the classic Game Boy Advance title Advance Wars. With three different modes including an online mode, puzzle mode, and arcade mode, you can choose from over 12 different commanders who all have their own unique personality, power and motivation. And if you fancy creating your own challenges to share with other friends or the Wargroove community, it has a very neat in-game editor that lets you craft your own custom maps, missions, sub-quests, and stories, as well as give you the ability to change up the rules of the game without using any mods. 

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch

16. Anno 1800

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

The latest in the Anno series, Anno 1800 takes place at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution - a pivotal time in history that had a significant impact on the social, economical, and environmental climate. You’re thrown into the ever advancing new era, and it's up to you to decide how you want to run your very own industrious landscape - be it in in smoky cities of Europe, or the Jungle-filled climbs of South America. With ever advancing technology, plenty of social upheaval and a lot of messy politics, Anno 1800 lets you get stuck into running the city however you wish. With new features that let you go on expeditions and micro manage your factories, you can decide to milk your industries for all they’re worth, or help it thrive and prosper. As the technology advances and the landscapes change, you have to keep adapting your strategy to keep up with the times. It’s a challenging, addictive city builder that really requires you to take the time to think about your choices, and how you manage your way through the turbulent, exciting time in history. 

Available on: PC

15. Frostpunk

(Image credit: 11 Bit Studios)

Frostpunk is an outstanding entry to the relatively new genre of survival city building and management. On a version of earth permanently ravaged by arctic temperatures and severe ice storms, you must help your colony to keep warm, keep fed, find other survivors and deal with the injuries and technical failures that will inevitably happen. Frostpunk’s inevitability is different from the randomly generated fires or rumblings of an unhappy populace in other games. Here, disaster is a certainty and you have to make do with the bare minimum all of the time. You will have to make difficult, life or death decisions in an oddly beautiful environment. Because it can be emotionally taxing, the challenging campaign isn’t overly long, but it provides a new point of view on the more sleepy, chill city building genre.

Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One

14. Cities: Skylines

(Image credit: Colossal Order)

With the slow death of the popular SimCity franchise,  developer Colossal Order and publisher Paradox Interactive stepped in to take over the city building crown. The simulated cities you can build here will be teeming with life, and building itself is intuitive if you’ve ever played a similar game and easy enough to grasp if you haven’t. Like most Paradox games, Cities: Skylines wants you to be in for the long haul, with an astounding amount of DLC and excellent mod support, to make sure you can make a city uniquely yours. If you’re looking for an oldschool city building experience with awesomely large cities, there’s still nothing better than this.

Available on: PC, PS$, Xbox One, Switch

13. Invisible, Inc.

(Image credit: Klei Entertainment)

The concept of Invisible, Inc. was made for turn-based games – try to sneak into an office undetected, get what you came for and sneak out. All Invisible, Inc. really needs to spread its charm are its hyper-alert guards and the fact that you don’t know where what you’re looking for actually is. It’s a stylish heist adventure with a large roster of agents and plenty of different ways to tackle missions, and a really cool evolution of the popular XCOM formula.

Available on: PC, PS4, Switch

12. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 

(Image credit: Focus Home interactive)

If you enjoy big explosions and battles in space, this is just the ticket. Based on Game Workshop’s tabletop game, this RTS lets you play out massive naval spaceship battles in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Building up from the first in the series, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 lets you choose from 12 factions from the tabletop game, such as the likes of the Imperial Navy, Drukhair, Necrons and many more. With tons of customisation options for your ships, you can command and conquer your way through enemies fleets and have a blast while you’re doing it. If you want to just dive into a battle you can, but there are also three main faction solo campaigns to strategize your way through with the Tyranids, Necrons or the Imperium.  

Available on: PC

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11. Endless Legend

(Image credit: Iceberg Interactive)

Currently, Endless Legend is still the go-to for a 4X game in a fantasy setting. Because it boasts a large number of different factions and procedurally generated maps, you’ll be sure to lose plenty of sleep over the many side quests that can pop up as you’re out exploring. Like several entries of the Total War franchise, it gives you hero units that are vital to battles, and also offers several diplomatic options of handling different races that don’t have to end with someone losing their head. Basically Endless Legend has all the good traits from genre colleagues such as Civ and Total War, wrapped in a delicious fantasy burrito for you to enjoy.

Available on: PC

10. Stellaris 

(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

As a grand strategy RTS, Stellaris lets you explore the vast expanses of space and puts you in control of an interstellar empire you get to customise. With a choice of various different alien races, government systems and faction traits to choose from, you can decide how you want your empire to run and how you’ll likely approach different situations. Whether you want to wage war, or peacefully explore space and be the voice of diplomacy, there are plenty of ways to go about things. There also opportunities to strengthen your empire and expand its reach by colonizing other planets and joining forces with fellow alien species throughout the galaxies. In the starry skies of space, Stellaris rewards you for your exploration efforts and presents you with challenging strategic spaceship battles and management systems. 

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4 

9. Desperados 3

(Image credit: Mimimi Games)

The return of the Desperados franchise was a surprise, but the team at Mimimi Games approached it with the same finesse they brought to their other round-based tactics smash Shadow Tactics. Desperados 3 is a beautiful, challenging round-based action game that perfectly captures the look and feel of the Wild West. It’s appeal is similar to that of Endless Legends, as it manages to take everything that works well in the genre, like characters with interesting skills, several possible ways to approach each challenge and quite considerable difficulty, and adds to that a well-acted and engaging story. If you like round-based games and always wanted to play one in a wild west setting, don’t let Desperados 3 pass you by.

Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One

8. Europa Universalis 4

(Image credit: Paradox )

There are plenty of games that make you a part of history, but there’s nothing quite like Europa Universalis, where you write history yourself. By removing fixed win states, it succeeds in letting you run wild with historical events, while still keeping the rails on – diplomacy is always encouraged over waging wars, for example. It’s an interesting concept, cleverly executed to appeal both to history buffs and those who have yet to find the grand strategy game with the perfect setting. The usual caveats of the genre do apply however – it’s intricate systems make it difficult to get into for beginners.

Available on: PC

7. Sid Meier’s Civilization 6 

(Image credit: Firaxis Games)

Considered to be one of the best 4X turn-based style strategy series around, Civilization 6 is the latest offering that builds on its predecessor to bring us something slightly more refined and polished. While it’s great for veterans because it brings some new elements into play, it’s also more accessible for newcomers thanks to its tutorials that will help you get to grips with the general concepts of Civilization. From the Stone Age to the Information Age, you control and determine the rise of an entire civilization, which now physically expands across the map to show you just how big it’s grown. With new features like active research in technology and culture, 20 leaders to choose from who all have different agendas to pursue, and multiple ways to emerge victorious, there are plenty of tactical approaches and playstyles to get stuck into. And the recent Gathering Storm expansion (which is just one of the many DLCs) introduces a climate change system that presents additional challenges to your growing civilization. 

Available on: PC, Nintendo Switch 

6. Total War: Warhammer 2

Total War: Warhammer 2

(Image credit: Creative Assembly )

Total War: Warhammer 2 improves upon just about every aspect of its ground-breaking predecessor, underscoring further why turn-based strategy works so well in the world of Games Workshop’s enduring fantasy realm. Part Two is more intuitive across the board, both on and off the battle, its UI is easier to parse in high-pressure moments, and its ensemble of playable factions, each fresh for combat, are even more varied than ever before. If you’ve ever been put off by the main Total War series’ commitment to historical accuracy, Total War: Warhammer 2 is a great place to indulge your fantastical desires. Better still, the moral empires campaign lets you combine both this game and the original in one single sprawling map.

Available on: PC

5. Crusader Kings 3 

Crusader Kings 3

(Image credit: Paradox)

Simply put, Crusader Kings 3 is one of the biggest, more sophisticated grand strategy RPGs out there – somehow even bigger than its predecessor, Crusader Kings 2. Similar to the evolution of the Total War: Warhammer as noted above, CK3 is prettier, easier to navigate, and much, much more complex than anything that’s come before – both in battle and in storytelling. And the latter point is what stands CK3 apart from so many games of a similar ilk, because it is a pretty much unparalleled in its scope for period drama storytelling. Weave this into its warring factions, political turmoil and bouts of enduring civil war, and you’re onto a winner.   

Available on: PS5, PC, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S

4. XCOM 2

(Image credit: 2K Games)

If you’re after a challenge, XCOM 2’s alien invaded world doesn’t pull any punches. Turn-based in style with expansive terrains to navigate, the sequel is much bigger in scope than its predecessor. After XCOM: Enemy Unknown saw you try to prevent an alien invasion, the second sees you command the last remaining XCOM forces - who are the last line of defense against the aliens that now rule the Earth. Perma-death adds an extra level of difficulty to every decision you make because every choice could have disastrous consequences for your troops. Taking control of the alien supply craft known as the Avenger, you’re up against impossible odds as you set out on missions with unique challenges, facing new foes and tactically approaching each fight . You also need to try and rescue fallen comrades and research and upgrade your weapons and armor. And if this sounds like your cup of tea, last year saw the release of the excellent jam-packed XCOM 2: War of the Chosen DLC, which is a game in and of itself that adds new classes and a challenging new enemy known as “ The Chosen”. This is one sci-fi strategy number that will push your tactical mind to the limit. 

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4

3. StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

There are games that just turn out to be pillars of the genre, oft-copied but never quite reached. StarCraft was one such game for the RTS genre, so it makes sense that its successor really just offers more of the same in a shinier package. Even a decade after it was first released, StarCraft 2’s presentation still astounds. The campaign makes good use of each of its races, by now beloved by StarCraft fans. The bombastic battles are certainly the heart of the experience, all-out assaults that are satisfying to watch after you’ve put time into building your armies. Missions are varied and offer enough unlocks to keep you playing for a long time, and if you start playing now, you’ll likely discover a lot of systems you’re already familiar with, established by the likes of StarCraft and Age of Empires long ago. Well, no need to fix what isn’t broken.

Available on: PC

2. Into the Breach

(Image credit: Subset Games)

Available on: PC, Switch

Subset Games’ isometric sci-fi roguelite is a nice compact turn-based affair that takes place on an 8x8 grid. Highly replayable thanks to its varying procedurally generated challenges, it pushes you to think carefully about your strategic approach each turn. Alien nasties known as the Vek are breeding underneath the earth and pose a serious threat to humankind. It’s up to you to save the world by beating every challenge it presents you. If you fail, you essentially reverse the timeline to try and conquer the challenge again. By controlling different mechs and weapons, you encounter unique mech pilots and find more weapons throughout your battles to give yourself the upper-hand the next time around. Different civilian buildings power your mechs, so you also have to be mindful of their welfare and make sure you don’t accidentally blow them up yourself. With an appealing pixelated style, it also has a pretty interesting story-line, and its procedurally generated challenges puts your tactical skills to the test and keeps it feeling fresh. 

1. Command and Conquer Remastered Collection

(Image credit: EA Games)

The setup and delivery may seem a little naff from today’s point of view, but there’s a reason classics like this get remade after decades. This collection is perhaps not for you if you’re looking for an intricate RTS game with many features, but it’s the best version of a game that still has many fans after 25 years since its original release – you’ll find quality of life UI improvements, better graphics, content that previously was only available on console, and over 100 missions you can now replay individually. Since the game itself hasn’t been changed save for some additional difficulty options, you may have your issues with the AI, but like many RTS games C&C has a great multiplayer. This is of course a game for fans first and foremost, but if you want to go to the beginnings of the genre or just enjoy one of the best remasters around, there’s no way past this collection.

Available on: PC

Heather Wald

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.