What are the best strategy games? Strategy games these days sometimes earn a rather unfair reputation as a bygone or dying genre. It’s certainly true that you don’t see as many new releases in this corner of the gaming sphere compared to triple-A titles. But don’t be fooled into thinking that means the best strategy games are past their prime.
Much of the genre’s success comes from the longevity of individual games and innovation in newer ones. While you won’t find many strategy games on our list of the best games of all time, tacticians will be well served by the variety on offer across PlayStation, Switch, and Xbox. There are plenty of games that’ll catch your interest, and we’ve got you covered when it comes to deciding which ones are worth pouring 100s of hours into.
Here are the best strategy games:
1. Marvel’s Midnight Suns
While XCOM may have set the gold standard for turn-based strategy games, developer Firaxis Games certainly hasn’t rested on its laurels. The studio – also known for the Civ series – got its mitts on the Midnight Suns and turned the unlikeliest team of Marvel characters into a shining example of what can be done with the legendary franchise in a videogame format.
Blending deck-building elements with traditional turn-based combat, you’ll embody ‘Hunter’ – the sole child of Lilith. However, rather than supporting mom’s dastardly plan to revive the Elder God Chthon, you team up with the Midnight Suns in order to defeat the Mother of Demons.
According to Kyle in our Marvel’s Midnight Suns review, Firaxis “delivers a wonderfully rewarding, XCOM-topping combat system and a world full of larger-than-life characters you can’t wait to learn more about” – high praise. If you’re wondering how much time you can expect to sink into Midnight Suns, check out our Marvel’s Midnight Suns length guide.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is available on all major platforms.
2. XCOM 2
Speaking of the gold standard, next up we have 2016’s XCOM 2 – a more-than-worthy addition to our list of best strategy games. Set 20 years after the events of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the military organization XCOM is in shambles after being overpowered by alien invaders. While some XCOM members have accepted their fate, others work in the shadows as an underground resistance group. Now, it’s time to fight back.
When our friends over at PCGamesN conducted their XCOM 2 review, they noted that XCOM 2 isn’t just a bitter intergalactic struggle in terms of humans and aliens trading each other’s lives, but you’ll have to carefully decide when to trade off your own comrades’ in order to ensure the success of a mission. It’s a brutal experience, and difficult in multiple ways, but there are few games in the genre that have such impressive depth across the board.
XCOM 2 is available on all major platforms.
If you’re looking for a strategy game that balances space opera themes with rewarding real-time gameplay, while emphasizing player choice and customization, Paradox Interactive’s Stellaris is a perfect choice for you.
Putting you in the shoes of a leader of a custom-built interstellar empire, Stellaris challenges your ability to balance exploration, technological innovation, planet and star system management, and large-scale combat all at once. It flavors the galactic setting with randomized storylines, interactions with alien races, and events, all of which grow in intensity as the game goes on.
What really makes Stellaris such a standout choice though is its continued growth. Paradox has released a plethora of DLC for the game, which adds just a little bit of extra spice to some of the many mods you can find for Stellaris online. All of these allow you to change the game fundamentally from its base, giving you new worlds, mechanics, aesthetics, and events to explore.
Stellaris is available on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox.
4. Sid Meier’s Civilization 6
Sid Meier’s Civilization series is amongst the most iconic in the strategy genre, and it’s fame well-earned. The most recent entry in the series, Civ 6, is a well-rounded and refined turn-based civilisation-builder.
Developing upon the player agency, city management roots of the franchise, this entry’s main changes come from the decentralisation of cities. Players can now construct specialized districts that turn cities into sprawling hubs of activity, forcing players to reconsider how they use space for in-game improvements.
Civ 6 continues to see active development, though arguably the game suffers from some balance issues, with many of the paid-for playable civilizations holding bonuses that make them a poor match against those in the base game. Regardless, with a small but healthy modding scene and an active player base, as well as a number of challenge and scenario modes, Civ 6 remains an engaging single-player and multiplayer experience.
Civilization 6 is available on all major platforms.
5. Age of Empires 4
The Age of Empires series is another classic of the strategy genre and made a return recently with its fourth installment, Age of Empires 4. Whilst it could arguably do more to shake up the formula and try new things, it’s worth acknowledging that the formula works so well for a reason.
A fast-paced real-time-strategy game with an active fanbase and a burgeoning modding community, AoE4 brings a fresh lick of paint to the series with shinier graphics, new soundtracks, new and reworked unique civilizations to play, and a fantastic single-player campaign.
And let’s be honest: even if you still prefer Age of Empires 2, you’ve got to admit the new graphics look better, right?
Age of Empires 4 is available on PC and Xbox.
6. Crusader Kings 3
The third and final Paradox Interactive title on this list sends you about as far from the stars as you can get. An expansive and rich real-time-strategy game, Crusader Kings 3 follows on from its predecessors by allowing players to take control of any land in the 11th Century, and lead it through a dynasty of characters, steering its technological progress, internal development, faith, and conquest.
What makes this game particularly standout is the proliferation of in-game events – little storylines that add character and flavor in the smallest instances and have wide-reaching ramifications for your ruler and your kingdom in the largest. The use of intrigue, religion, and diplomacy showcases a thoughtful understanding of the complexity of the period.
While criticisms of its similarity to its predecessor still stand somewhat, the consistent stream of DLC and mods, alongside its gorgeous graphics and soundtrack, puts Crusader Kings 3 in a worthy position to take a throne in the hall of the best strategy games.
It is available on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox.
You can read our Crusader Kings 3 review here.
Of course, this is far from an exhaustive list. Plenty of older strategy games still have thriving communities today, and there are plenty more current ones equally deserving of places on here. Strategy as a genre has adapted through the decades; there are even more games out there that incorporate strategy and tactical elements without falling purely into the category. We’ll keep this list up to date so you can get the very best suggestions as they are released.
In the meantime, be sure to match the best strategy games with some of the best PS5 accessories and best Xbox accessories on the market. After all, you might have to pick up one of the best PS5 SSDs or extra Xbox storage to store them all on. See you out there, Commander.