The upcoming launch of RTS giants like Age of Empires IV and Starcraft3 has brought a huge wave of excitement for potential fans. And the best games to get the first Real-time Strategy experience are numerous. RTS Games or Real-Time Strategy Games are a very fast-paced version of their progenitors, Strategy Games. RTS games force the players to adjust and respond in a real-time scenario, unlike normal strategy games. This makes each game very fast-paced and dynamic.
While the official trailer of Age of Empires IV has riled up many of the long-time RTS fans, it has also piqued the minds of the less experienced. However, difficulty in learning in a competitive culture can deter many. But there are plenty of options for new players to jump into, and here are some of them.
10 Age Of Empires II
This title is easily the most iconic RTS to ever exist. Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition is a tasteful brush-up on Ensemble Studio’s original masterpiece. As one of the many iconic Empires throughout history, players have to skillfully balance resources as they progress through different ages. These resources are used to unlock better units and help build wonders like the Roman Coliseum. Meanwhile, players have to fend off opposing nations and take over resource pools all over the shared map. Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition gets a special mention but doesn’t get its own spot on the list as it can be slightly more difficult for newer players to jump into.
9 Total War: Warhammer Series
The Warhammer franchise is one of the biggest expanded game-verses that spans over many genres and forms of media. Thus, it is only fair for newer players to be wary of this title. But players can rest assured that Creative Assembly and Sega’s brainchild, Total War: Warhammer 2 is possibly one of the easiest titles for the first RTS experience. Not to forget the easy entry it gives you into the extensive Warhammer fandom. This series is perfect for all RTS beginners, especially Warhammer fans.
8 WarCraft 3
This title not only holds credit for being one of the pioneers of this genre but also the sole reason for the existence of yet another. Launched originally in 2002, Blizzard’s Warcraft 3 is the original fantasy RTS. It is also the first to introduce heroes and hero abilities to the genre. Its easy-to-understand nature has made sure that its player-base is growing to this day. In fact, a custom map called Defense of the Ancients gained so much of a fan-following that Valve took upon the idea years later and developed the first-ever Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game by the name of DOTA 2.
Warcraft 3: Reforged is the recently launched official remastered edition of the game which is being regularly updated and fine-tuned. It is easily the perfect place for any new players to start, be it through the offline campaign or with the robust multiplayer community
7 StarCraft 2
Speaking of multiplayer communities, Blizzard’s StarCraft franchise, or more specifically StarCraft 2, has been dominating the competitive RTS scene for over 10 years and shows no signs of stopping, even as the next title in the series, StarCraft 3, has already been announced.
Highly tense multiplayer matches are the key feature of this title. With a very diverse yet sharp multiplayer experience, this game sits apart from the others on the list. The StarCraft series has also made many RTS like “Zerg Rush” and “Base Race” famous.
6 Company of Heroes Series
Not all RTS games are set in make-believe settings. In fact, Relic Entertainment’s Company of Heroes series prides itself on quite the opposite. With both parts of the series set in World War 2, players are given control of both sides of the war depending on the mission as they get in various iconic operations like Operation Barbarossa and the liberation of France. Bringing a more realistic and gruesome take to RTS games, Company of Heroes is sure to be the game for those who enjoy learning about the history of the Second Great War. And with the newly introduced cross-play feature, players now have even more reason to jump into the game
5 Halo Wars 2
Newer players might be afraid of jumping into RTS games because they do not know any IPs. And the solution to that problem is 343 Industries and Creative Assembly’s Halo Wars 2. Halo Wars 2 is one of the lesser complicated modern RTS. It focuses on the core features of the RTS genre instead of shiny mechanics. The title is packed with vehicular action and iconic Elite units and is bound to get players’ blood rushing. Moreover, the title’s storyline canonically precedes that of Halo: Combat Evolved and proceeds that of its predecessor. This game serves as the portal for any Halo enthusiast to jump into the genre.
4 Command and Conquer
If any RTS franchise could be said to have it all, it is the Command and Conquer franchise. With games set in environments ranging from the setting of the famous IP of Dune 2 to a hyper-futuristic Sci-Fi setting, and with availability from Mobile Phones to the most expensive consoles, this series has not once failed to satisfy RTS fans over the 25 years of entertainment it has provided. And with the recent launch of Command & Conquer: Remastered Collection, entry into the IP could never be easier. So regardless of whether one is a fan of vintage games or the latest media, regardless of whether they play on their mobile phones or their highest-end Desktop, Command and Conquer is the IP for anyone wanting to get into RTS. Oh, and did we mention the live-acted cutscenes instead of the usual rendered kind?
3 Stronghold: Warlords
Not all players aim to defeat their enemies in RTS using aggressive unit micro-ing and hyper-managed troop deployment. Some players wish to out-value opponents with superior resource management and structural advantage. And for such kinds of players, Firefly Studio’s Stronghold: Warlords is the game. The Stronghold Series has been famous ever since the first iteration for its grindy approach to war. More often than not, war is not fought by battles but by attrition. And the title is lauded for how close it has come to stimulating this reality. And the Stronghold series even provides access to such an RTS experience on both PC and mobile.
2 Machines at War 3
This list has had multiple franchises with Mobile playable variants available. Yet none of these hold a candle to Machines at War 3 as far as mobile accessibility is concerned. The medieval fantasy set title lets the player command a warring kingdom. In fact, many say that the game has the best UI/UX experience among all mobile RTS titles. This game is easily the best option for primarily mobile phone gamers. The only fully 2-D game on the list, this title is bound to tickle your grey matter. Not to forget the old-school army units and Commando-esque look that is bound to fill old-timers with nostalgia.
1 Total War: Three Kingdoms
Total War: Three Kingdoms is an RTS set in the 3-kingdom period of China. Players can choose a faction out of 12 to push to the top and unify China. The title offers a unit-group-based gameplay, meaning that any player can have only specific units on the battlefield at a time. This slower approach to RTS allows newer players to get a hold of the game a bit more easily. The game features 2 game modes. One of them is a bit more story-like, while the other focuses on historic authenticity. Players can choose famous generals from history to command and exploit, and each general, in turn, comes with specific units unique to them.