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The best PC strategy games are easy to learn, but hard to master, offering intuitive systems full of satisfying strategic depth.
Strategy games have long been at home on PC, where the traditional mouse and keyboard setup allows players to skillfully control their favorite titles. Many of the best PC strategy games also rank amongst our list of the best PC games for this very reason.
Strategy games encourage you to think broadly, making decisions that often come with long-term repercussions. Whether you’re managing an interstellar economy or leading a fantasy army in battle, all of these titles ask you to balance short-term concerns with the demands of the bigger picture. It’s through this tension that the best PC strategy games are at their most dramatic, offering nail-biting moments that put even the best RPGs to shame.
On our list, you’ll find fresh titles as well as older classics. You’ll come across some of the best co-op games out there, not to mention a range of more bespoke single-player experiences, too. Whatever your fancy, there’s bound to be something on our list that’ll help you scratch your strategy itch.
Best PC strategy games 2023
It’s impossible to talk about the best PC strategy games without mentioning Age of Empires 2. This classic title first defined our understanding of real-time strategy genre in 1999 and thanks to numerous expansions and a recent remaster, it’s better than ever.
Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition allows players to command numerous civilizations as they rise to the top of the Imperial Age, from the clashes of the Scots and English to the Spanish invasion of the Aztec Empire.
It may have fewer quality-of-life options than its modern counterparts, but, if you’re looking for one of the definitive RTS experiences, you could do a lot worse than the grandparent of the genre.
The Civilization series ranks highly amongst the best PC strategy games, and Civilization 6 is no exception. Like its predecessors, Civ 6 grounds the stakes and spectacle of its grand strategy in our own reality, ensuring that any who play it instantly have access to the frame of reference.
Over the course of several dozen hours, you’ll guide and mold your fledgling civilization, bending the course of history. Why not have the U.S. build the Eiffel Tower or the Incas develop steam power years before the British? With Civilization 6, history is yours to shape. The title is especially strong in multiplayer, too, and well worth playing alongside friends.
Perhaps the best PC strategy game when it comes to a single-player experience, Frostpunk is a brutal title that’ll force you to make dozens of difficult choices. The premise is novel, too. Taking place in an alternate version of Victorian England, the world has been gripped by a sudden winter, freezing the land to the core. You are the captain of one of the last holdouts. Gather coal, build infrastructure, and pass laws as you attempt to weather the storm.
You will need to decide who to triage and who to save. Do you tell your people the truth, or is a brutal surveillance state the only way to ensure survival? Not for the faint of heart, Frostpunk will push your strategy skills to the limit as you attempt to save humanity from the great freeze.
Crusader Kings 3
sits comfortably among the best PC strategy games of recent years. In this century-spanning title, you take on the role of a feudal noble during the medieval period. Over the course of your character’s lifespan, you’ll make countless decisions, ranging from the personal to the political. You’ll wind up embroiled in a complex web of politics and social intrigue, underpinned by marriages, vendettas, and raw ambition.
What’s more, every game of Crusader Kings 3 is different, a promise delivered by the game’s mind-bogglingly broad library of events and happenings, enhanced by constant updates. Crusader Kings 3 isn’t just a test of your strategic nous, but also tells an emergent story. Players come away from campaigns full of anecdotes and amusement. Plus, with the game available on Xbox Game Pass, there’s never been a better time to join them.
343 Industries collaborated with genre veterans at Creative Assembly to create Halo Wars 2, a distinctive title that brings more than a little style to our best PC strategy games list. The RTS has you take up arms with the UNSC forces of the Spirit of Fire or the mysterious new Banished, a Brute-led Covenant-like faction.
Though built to be console-friendly, Halo Wars 2 is a blast on PC, offering a campaign that’s especially rewarding to fans of the Halo franchise. The title also boasts some incredible music, courtesy of composers Gordy Haab, Brian Lee White and Brian Trifon. Expect the games’ colorful visuals and percussive soundtrack to stay with you long after you step away from your keyboard.
If Age of Empires 2 started the modern RTS, then it’s Starcraft 2 that refined the model to near perfection. This eSports giant is perhaps the most renowned title on this best PC strategy games list, and with good reason. The 1v1 skirmish mode alone offers a finely tuned PvP experience that’s set the gold standard for RTS titles for years.
On top of all this, Starcraft 2 offers a three-part campaign, full of gorgeous cinematics and more than the occasional difficult choice for players to make. In addition to customizing your units between missions, the immersive campaigns have you take on the role of a faction’s leader, deciding how to handle the dangerous situations the galaxy throws at you. Whether you play as the plucky Terrans, the enigmatic Protoss, or the xenomorphic Zerg, there are plenty of memorable moments across Starcraft 2‘s varied missions.
is to galactic conquest what Crusader Kings 3 is to medieval kingdoms. Both are developed by Paradox Interactive, but Stellaris takes a rather broader approach, allowing you to build an interstellar civilization of almost any kind. From starship construction to planetary management, there’s a huge amount for you to do in this strategy epic.
Want to play as a federation of human do-gooders who want to seek out new live and new civilizations? You can. Want to be an alien hive mind hell-bent on devouring all organic life in the galaxy? You can do that, too. Thanks to the wealth of customization options and expansions available, the possibilities are nearly endless.
Total War: Warhammer 3 is one of the best PC strategy games when it comes to fantasy. Armies of Elves, demons, ogres, and more clash across the Old World of Games Workshop’s classic dark fantasy setting in stunning real-time battles. As you’d hope, each faction behaves very distinctly, the noble knights of Bretonnia’s majestic cavalry couldn’t be more different from the conniving infiltrators of the rat-like Skaven.
What’s more, the game’s campaigns have you manage an entire faction, building armies, upgrading cities, and spending resources to best defeat your enemies. Though the basic campaign makes for an engaging story, the recently added Mortal Realms mode allows you to battle across locations from all three games in the series, using any of the trilogy’s factions. It’s an ambitious game mode that needs to be seen to be believed.
Total War: SHOGUN 2 prides itself on being the perfect mix of real-time and turn-based strategy, ideal for both newcomers and veterans of the genre. Set in the darkest age of Feudal Japan, endless war has left a country divided. Ten warlords strive for supremacy, but only one can rise above it all to win the heart of the nation.
Within this game, you take on the role of Daimyo, the clan leader, and you must use military engagements, economics and diplomacy to re-unite Japan under your command and become the new Shogun. You’ll also be able to battle online and experience the main campaign in two-player mode, if you wanted to share the battle with a companion.
Aliens are real and they are coming for Earth. That’s the gist of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. You’ll need to put together an elite team, build a base and do research while pulling off high stakes missions against an unknown threat and keeping the nations funding you happy. No pressure, right? Wrong. This TBS title is brutal and unrelenting, making it all the more satisfying when you pull off the perfect mission.
With the original XCOM being widely regarded as one of the best turn-based strategy games, the re-imagined title only expands on the legacy with a new invasion story, new enemies, and new technologies to fight them with in your desperate rush to defend Earth.
is the sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown and is, for the most part, just more of the same but with one major twist: we already lost. Aliens have invaded and humanity has been conquered. Now, you’re not leading Earth’s defences, you’re leading its last resistance movement. Take the fight to the alien overlords and discover what they’re planning before it’s too late.
Within this high-stakes title, you’ll take command of the Avenger, an alien supply craft which has been transformed into XCOM’s mobile headquarters. From here, you’ll be able to enjoy an open-ended experience that lets you take control of your strike team and where to guide them next and how to try and return somewhat to normal.
If you’re looking for other games to jump into, we’ve got a list of the best MMOs, alongside the best RPGs. But, if you’re specifically on the search for a solo adventure, we’ve compiled all the best single-player games too.