War brings out the best and the worst of humanity and some of our most compelling stories are told against the backdrop of military conflict. To be successful in a war game requires teamwork and strategic thinking.  In this ranking, we review 15 of the best war games from a variety of eras, including Roman Empire, Medieval warfare, and even futuristic combat. Which one are you brave enough to try?

15/15

Rome: Total War 

Rome: Total War 
Image: Creative Assembly
  • Teen
  • Violence
  • 2004 Best Strategy Game; IGN, GameSpy, GameSpot

Widely considered the best installment in the Total War franchise, Rome: Total War is the first war game we reviewed. In the award-winning strategy game, the Roman Empire is in its last days, under siege from barbarian forces at the border. It’s your job as a Roman general to defend the empire alongside famous names from Roman history like Julius Caesar and Spartacus. Enemies at the front line include Attila the Hun and the Saxon army. 

In the game, entire Roman legions are under your command, and once victorious the scene shifts to managing the population’s economic and civil life. Many fans of 2004’s Rome: Total War played the game in their youth, and comment it’s just as good as they remember. Some say the UI and control have improved in more modern Total War games, but nonetheless, this version is an amazing strategy game for just one battle or an entire campaign, based on feedback. 

14/15

Wargame: Red Dragon 

Wargame: Red Dragon 
Image: Eugen Systems
  • 78% Metacritic
  • Single and multiplayer mode
  • Indie, Simulation, Strategy

From the age of the Roman Empire to the height of the Cold War, Wargame: Red Dragon is up next in our ranking. In the game, it’s 1991 and western forces have amassed against the communist bloc. In a coalition of countries including the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, among others, you’ll command a total of 17 nations with aircraft and seafaring vessels. Both single and multiplayer modes are available —  in which up to 20 players can compete simultaneously — which we liked.  Nation-based expansion packs are an option.

This is the most-balanced and hardest to learn strategy game out there, according to one report — that said, you’ll get the hang of it, most player’s assure. This game is a dream for anyone fascinated by the intersections of war and politics, and deckbuilding is among the most enjoyable aspects. There’s a strong representation of different nationalities, but some do nitpick the rendering of certain military units. The naval components are also weak, some say. 

13/15

Post Scriptum 

Post Scriptum 
Image: Periscope Games
  • Simulation, Strategy
  • Action, Indie, Massively Multiplayer
  • FPS, Tactical Shooter

Post Scriptum is the first of the World War II-era games we reviewed. In this massively multiplayer tactical shooter, you’ll recreate some of the European theater’s most well-known battles like Market Garden and Operation Overlord. The game earns high marks for historical accuracy, from the period armaments to the European terrain at that time. Don’t miss the new “Invasion” game mode added to this recent edition. New factions like the German Fallschirmjägers and US 4th Infantry are also now included. 

Fans of the game call Post Scriptum an awesome FPS World War II experience, similar to Red Orchestra. The graphics and sound design are both good. Teamwork and communication are required to be successful, and you just might find yourself devoting an entire evening to a campaign. Some say the online community has declined as of late. That said, fresh content gets added regularly.

12/15

Valiant Hearts: The Great War 

Valiant Hearts: The Great War 
Image: Ubisoft
  • Teen
  • Violence, Blood
  • Use of alcohol and tobacco

From World War II, we turn now to the so-called Great War, World War I. Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a comic book-like fictional adventure with a character-driven storyline. The story involves a young German soldier who’s lost his love. Choosing from a specific cast of characters, it’s your job to help them reunite, with a trusted canine companion by your side.

With a good mix of action, adventure, and puzzle solving, the game makes warfare personal. Historical battles like the Marne and the Somme and the horrors of trench warfare are faithfully recreated. 

The game has excellent artwork and a great storyline, according to reports. One of the best games ever, another player said. Some puzzle solutions and certain aspects of the storyline resolution are a let down, based on feedback. And if you’re after a strategy game experience, then this might not be the best choice. For a strong war-time narrative experience with missions to complete, Valiant Hearts stands out. You just might cry at the ending. 

11/15

Enlisted 

Enlisted 
Image: Darkflow Software
  • Mature 17+
  • Intense Violence, Blood and Gore
  • Action, Adventure, Shooter, Simulation

For historical realism in your war games, we recommend the free Enlisted. Focused on two of World War II’s most well known battles, the Invasion of Normandy and the Battle for Moscow, every detail is faithfully recreated. You’ll manage all aspects of large scale warfare including troop movements, artillery, tanks, and naval support. There’s more than 10 squad classes in the mix, from assault and sniper to radio specialists, tank crews, and pilots. Additional campaigns and bundles like the “Pacific War” are also available.

Fans comment on the historical accuracy in the game. Progression was too slow for some players, but overall the game is fun, with tactical thinking, teamwork, and strategy required to be successful. The maps are details and the sound effects really pull you into the action, we found out. There was just too much grind for some players, though.

10/15

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad
Image: Tripwire Interactive
  • Mature 17+
  • Blood and Gore, Strong Language
  • Violence, Massively Multiplayer

Sticking with the World War II era, Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is next on our list of war games. In the game, you’ll relive the Battle of Stalingrad, between Russian and German forces, from summer 1942 through winter 1943. (There are several additional expansions available, like the D-Day anniversary edition among others, and game of the year edition with additional maps, vehicles, and gameplay modes) Otherwise, standard gameplay modes include firefight, countdown, and territory mode — pick up the counterattack map contest pack, with maps like Bridges of Druzhina, Cold Steel, and Gumrak Station. 

One report called Red Orchestra 2 the best World War II FPS out there. The game really does present a challenge, we found out. And though it is massively multiplayer, the gaming community does feel abandoned these days. There’s also a steep learning curve for new players. But overall, it’s an underrated multiplayer experience, according to one report. 

9/15

Verdun 

Verdun 
Image: M2H and Blackmill Games
  • Mature 17+
  • Intense Violent, Blood and Gore
  • Action, Indie, Simulation, Strategy

Up next in our list of the best war games is Verdun. This massively multiplayer FPS game takes place during World War I, and the Battle of Verdun specifically. With four game modes to choose from and era-specific weapons and uniforms, among other realistic aspects, there are 15 squad types to choose from. In Frontlines game mode up to 64 players can join in on the action. Additional modes include tactical attrition and skill-based rifle attrition, among others. 

The authenticity of the game’s setting, weaponry, and gear receives positive feedback from most players. So, too, does the historical accuracy of the uniform progression. The online community could be better populated, we found out, but weaponry is diverse and fun with unlockable items to keep things interesting.

8/15

Battlefield 4 

Battlefield 4 
Image: DICE
  • Mature 17+
  • Blood and Gore
  • Intense Violence, Strong Language

From World War I to modern warfare, Battlefield 4 is the next war game we reviewed. What makes the fourth installment in the series worth it are the 64-player battles on dynamic battlefields, with vehicles like stealth jets and gunboats to choose from. Or instead, go it alone in a single-player campaign and evacuate VIPs from warzones, among other types of international conflicts. Pick up the premium edition for expansion packs, priority server positioning, and other personalization opportunities.

Futuristic Battles 2042 is the latest update in the Battlefield series. Most experienced players say to avoid 2042 and go with Battlefield 4, instead, calling it the much stronger option. In the Battlefield series this one had the best maps, classes, vehicles, and overall story balance. Multiplayer mode is really where the game shines, though.

7/15

Hell Let Loose 

Hell Let Loose 
Image: Black Matter
  • BAFTA Game Nominee
  • Action, Indie, Massively Multiplayer
  • Simulation, Strategy

Returning to World War II, Hell Lets Loose takes place across nine maps based on real reconnaissance footage from the era. In the game, up to 100 evenly divided players take part in some of the war’s most historic battles like Carentan and Omaha Beach to name only two. Under your command in the RTS-inspired meta-game are tanks, artillery, and ground troops, among other warfare aspects — switch back and forth between offensive and defensive game modes, and choose from one of 14 different roles to play like medic, crewman, and sniper. There are nearly 100 capture point variations on each map, which keeps things new. 

Feedback calls Hell Let Loose an immersive and fun World War II shooter that requires teamwork and strong tactical thinking to be successful. The selection of different classes to choose from is also a strong aspect of the game, according to reports. Be sure to use the mic when playing online, with in-game proximity voip, command voip and unit voip all available. Some issues with game resets were reported, though, which forced some players to start over entirely.

6/15

Insurgency: Sandstorm 

Insurgency: Sandstorm 
Image: New World Interactive
  • Mature 17+
  • Blood, Gore, Violence
  • Strong Language

The next pick in our list is set in a fictional Middle Eastern modern conflict. A sequel to Insurgency, Insurgency: Sandstorm is a team-based, tactical FPS with high levels of character customization. Battles take place across large-scale detailed maps. Play in either two teams of 14 or in a team of eight in co-op mode against the AI. Fans of the first Insurgency will notice new gear, weapons, and uniforms added to the mix, among other aspects. We like the machine-gun-mounted drivable vehicles. The audio design is also strong, according to reports. 

Otherwise, the game offers exceptional gunplay with well-balanced realistic aspects. The game modes could be more varied, based on feedback, but fans of the original Insurgency were not disappointed. Some do call the minimum system requirements misleading, so be prepared for that — 8 gbs of RAM may not be enough. Gameplay is also more focused on infantry rather than vehicle movement, according to reports. 

5/15

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Image: Infinity Ward
  • Mature 17+
  • Blood, Gore, Intense Violence
  • Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Drug Use

Breaking the top 5 in ranking is the 2022 edition of the long-running war games franchise, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – available on a broad range of platforms, including Xbox One and PS4/5. Modern Warfare 2 takes everything good about the Call of Duty franchise and somehow makes it better, according to reports. In the game, you’ll play a member of the British SAS, or Special Air Service. The storyline follows surgical strikes against Russian-backed Iranian forces. The mission is to locate and eliminate a terrorist threat. The AI is updated, with new co-op modes to experience. The swimming and water physics have also been improved. 

The storytelling in the immersive FPS is great with a strong cast of core characters, based on feedback. The special ops — or short missions played in co-op mode — are also a nice addition. One report did say Call of Duty multiplayer mode may have been surpassed by other games on the market There’s also no zombie mode, unlike previous versions.

4/15

Medal of Honor: Frontline

Medal of Honor: Frontline - best war games
Image: EA
  • Teen
  • 20 Authentic WWII weapons
  • 20 Levels, six missions

From another acclaimed war games franchise, Medal of Honor: Frontline is fourth pick in our list. Widely considered the best Medal of Honor game in the series, Frontline follows lieutenant Jimmy Patterson. (Multiplayer mode is available in the Xbox version of the game). Your mission in this traditional FPS formatted game is to break through German lines and steal the HO-IX, a cutting-edge German weapon. In doing so, Patterson makes his way through 20 levels and completes six missions. There are 3D NPCs to encounter, and highly realistic World War II-era weapons.

Fans of Medal of Honor: Frontline call the levels expansive and beautifully rendered, though the game is on the older side. It really will pose a challenge, others add. The overall sound design also earns high marks from players. Along the way, you’ll experience some of World War II’s most iconic battles, from Normandy to Market Garden. Overall gameplay was a bit too short for some, though. 

3/15

Squad 

Squad - best war games
Image: Offworld Industries
  • Action, Indie
  • Massively Multiplayer
  • Tactical FPS

Closing in on the top spot, Squad — a first-person tactical shooter — lands in third position in our ranking. This potentially massively multiplayer game combines aspects of base-building with military simulation and an old-school arcade experience. There are 100 modern-day missions to complete. Recent editions also offer new maps and vehicles. Some maps now have aquatic elements which can be traversed in amphibious vehicles, for example, and up to 50 people can play online. 

On that note, Squad does require teamwork to be successful, according to reports. And there’s also well-integrated gameplay between infantry, air, armor, and command, we found out. The realism is such that things do truly get tense, with real-feeling battles even if the battle takes place on a familiar map.

Some favorably compare Squad to the Arma and Battlefield series. Others add enjoyment is greatly affected by those with whom you play, and the servers on which the game is hosted.

2/15

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord 

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord - best war games
Image: TaleWorlds Entertainment
  • Mature content
  • Action, Indie, RPG
  • Simulation, Strategy

Adding an RPG twist to the war games genre, we put Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord at the second spot in our list. Set in the fictional empire of Calradia, the Warband sequel allows you to create and develop a character. In a Medieval setting, you’ll raise an army, and engage in first or third-person battles, alongside political intrigue and periods of exploration and raiding. There’s a skill-based directional combat system and online multiplayer PvP with great graphics and varied battle maps. There’s also a good selection of weapons, based on feedback. 

Overall, Bannerlord improves on much of what people liked about Warband. The RTS arcade type one-on-one combat is also a popular aspect, according to most reports. The game offers the best large-scale battles one player had ever seen, though reports of persistent bugs and glitches kept us from putting Bannerlord at the top of our list.

1/15

Arma 3 

Arma 3 - best war games
Image: Bohemia Interactive
  • Mature 17+
  • Intense Violence, Blood
  • Strong Language

And taking the first spot in our list of the best war games is Arma 3 for PC. In an open-world, near-future battlefield, gameplay takes place on an unnamed Mediterranean island, a flashpoint for hostilities.  You’ll play Ben Kerry, a NATO caught up in the action in the middle of a number of international treaty organizations. Or in multiplayer mode, team-up with other players. From bootcamp to battle, there are skills to develop and weapons to choose from, across diverse landscapes and terrain. 

What set Arma 3 apart for us, though, was the available customization, scenario editor, and modding tools. More than just a shooter, Arma 3 is also a strong military simulator, we found out, with stunning graphics, excellent gameplay, and solid mechanics. Single-player mode takes place in three acts, with 12 to 15 missions each. From there, the online community is amazing with many of the game’s best aspects completely user generated, according to reports. 

Join the High Ground

We hope you found our list of the best war games useful and have discovered a new title to enjoy. Do you agree with our rankings? If you feel like another game deserves to make our list, let us know in the comments below.

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