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 ever, tacticians will be well served by the variety on offer across platforms. There are plenty of games that’ll catch your interests, and whether they come in the form of a classic series or a new game built with console in mind, we’ve got you covered.
Here are our picks for the best strategy games:
- Sid Meier’s Civilisation VI
- Halcyon 6
- Age of Empires IV
- Hearts of Iron IV
- Crusader Kings III
If you’re looking for a strategy game that balances space opera themes with rewarding real-time gameplay, while emphasising 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 flavours the galactic setting with randomised story lines, 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, Xbox, and PS4/5.
2. Sid Meier’s Civilisation VI
Sid Meier’s Civilisation series is amongst the most iconic in the strategy genre, and it’s a 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 specialised 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 civilisations 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 scenarios modes, Civ 6 remains an engaging single-player and multiplayer experience.
Civilisation 6 is available on all major platforms.
3. Halcyon 6
No good best games list these days ever feels complete without an indie entry or two, and Halcyon 6 certainly deserves its place on this list of the best strategy games.
A narrative-driven strategy game that sees the player take command of a small crew in deep space aboard a mysterious ancient space station, Halcyon 6 combines the compelling storytelling and rich worldbuilding of a good RPG with the turn-based combat mechanics of a well-defined strategy game.
While it’s not as much of a pure strategy game as others on this list, Halcyon 6 retains an excellent amount of character and creativity for a short but sweet adventure.
Halcyon 6 is only available on PC.
4. Age of Empires IV
The Age of Empires series is another classic of the strategy genre, and made a return recently with its fourth instalment, 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 civilisations to play as, 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.
5. Hearts of Iron IV
If Stellaris and space-warfare aren’t your cup of tea, maybe another of Paradox Interactive’s flagship strategy games is more your thing. Hearts of Iron 4 is a real-time strategy game based around World War Two with a focus on logistics, grand plans, diplomacy, and internal politics.
But this isn’t a history lesson packaged up in a videogame format. If you want to turn the UK l communist and conquer France, you can do just that. If you want to play as French Indochina and establish an empire across the pacific, you can do that too! This strategy game gives you the reigns to play out any alternate history.
And thanks to a massive and talented modding community, you can bring endless variations to your experience, exploring expanded technology trees and diplomacy options which bring you into the Cold War, or starting in a universe where the central powers won World War One. All this is backed up by a dedicated development team who continue to produce DLC that add new flavour, greater depth, and even new gameplay mechanics.
Hearts of Iron 4 is available on PC only.
6. Crusader Kings III
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 III 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 story lines which add character and flavour 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 showcase 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, Xbox, and PS4/5.
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 release.
For more strategy games suggestions on console, make sure to read our guide to the best Xbox strategy games. For now though, download a game from the list above and get ready to conquer the world.