Top World War 2 Strategy Games: PC, Windows, PS4, Xbox One

Wars are more than a contest of political will and firepower; it also takes plenty of planning and carefully laid out strategies in order to win. Do you have what it takes to be a military strategist? While games hardly provide a truly realistic viewpoint of the duties of a commander, it certainly does a fairly good job at getting players to learn, discover, and execute various combat tactics and strategies. World War strategy games tend to do a very good job of recreating the variety of units and resources available to forces fighting in a war, which makes them an excellent choice for any player who likes to fight with their brains.

From real time strategy games, to real time tactics games, and everything else in between (or beyond), strategy games tend to heavily focus on one thing: war. When you have got entire fleets of warships, huge armies on foot, or entire squadrons of fighter craft, no other game genre brings out the inner-commander in players like strategy games. This is why it comes as to no surprise that there are a ton of strategy games that cover the era of the World War, and among those many games, there are a few that manage to stand out far above the rest. So to help determine which World War strategy games are truly worth having in a collection, here is a quick list of our top picks.

Soldiers: Heroes of World War 2

Soldiers: Heroes of World War 2

Available for: PC Windows

Released: 24.09.2004

Rating: 3.85/5

Originally titled as Outfront, this WW2 top-view strategy game looks and feels a lot like an RTS title with its' camera angles and in-game user interface. While being an RTS is a major part of the game play, players are also able to take full control of units, allowing for more complex maneuvers and tactics. But the game is a lot less about resource management and building troops. Players have to make the best use out of the limited units they are given each mission -making the game a lot more about combat tactics and strategy more than anything else.

Players are able to choose a campaign mode between one of four different factions: the Americans, the British, the Soviets, and the Germans. Gameplay for each of the four forces are pretty much the same, though there is a bit of a difference with the various unit types and of course, the story that unfolds.

Aside from conventional unit-on-unit combat the game also makes use of an extensive inventory system for units which make the use of ammunition (as well as acquiring it on-site during missions) something to consider when creating plans and strategies. The ability of all infantry units to mount vehicles allows for greater freedom in terms of mobility and firepower. Lastly, players can also assign part-specific targets on large enemy units such as heavy vehicles (allowing you to cripple machines for greater strategic advantage).

Download at Steam for PC Windows

Order in UK for PC Windows.

Compatibility:

For Windows: Compatible with Windows 2000/XP. In order to play the game on modern operating systems, it has to be run in Compatibility Mode (Windows XP SP3).

World in Conflict

World in Conflict

Available for: PC Windows

Released: 18.09.2007

Rating: 4.45/5

Massive Entertainment's spiritual successor to Ground Control is a grand example of an RTT game done right. Players are given a present number of units and some auto-replenishing resources with which to call reinforcements with. There are no unit building or resource collecting concerns to think about so players are completely focused on getting units to move around in the right positions and directions in order to gain an advantage in combat.

The game covers a fictional attack on America by Soviet forces during the late 80's (and the developers have often cited Red Dawn as an inspiration for the game). Players are placed in the shoes of Lieutenant Parker of the United States Army and is tasked with accomplished various missions ranging from the defense of the SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) all the way to the retaking of Seattle.

Making combat even more interesting is the inclusion of special attacks in the mix: cooldown-timed powers such as carpet bombings and airstrikes provide players with additional firepower that further advances combat strategies.

The game's multiplayer mode makes for a rich gaming experience as players are tasked with unique combat roles (depending on the role, certain troops are either exclusive or cost less points to call). This means that knowing the tactical value of one's position in the battle is critical to the success of the match.

Download at Steam for PC Windows

Order Soviet Assault expansion in UK for PC Windows.

Order the Complete Edition in UK for PC Windows.

Compatibility:

For Windows: Compatible with Windows XP/Vista

Silent Hunter 3

Silent Hunter 3

Available for: PC Windows

Released: 15.03.2005

Rating: 4.45/5

This submarine simulation game may not seem like the "strategic" type, but it is; you are managing a fully crewed submarine against ever-changing odds (and we mean that literally), you have to make all the key decisions about what do during battle and what everyone should do with their military careers in between. This is a strategy game that moves away from the micromanagement and straight into the most important command decisions.

The game puts players on missions that usually require you to kill a certain number of targets under a certain set of pre-requisites; which is usually a limited amount of time, a certain number of targets, or before targets can destroy something you are defending. Of course, the bonus missions are a little more interesting as players get to take on re-enactments of historical events; our favorite is the non-combat mission that requires you to help the Bismark, and there is even a nod to the film Das Boot which involves taking a U-96 through Gibraltar.

Being a submarine simulator, this is not a game for those wanting to have plenty of land combat or dogfights. The entirety of the game is spent either performing maneuvers underwater or helping decide how the crew gets promoted (which is an integral part of the game).

Download at Steam for PC Windows

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Compatibility:

For PC: Compatible with Windows 2000/XP (only)

Commandos 2: Men of Courage

Commandos 2: Men of Courage

Available for: PC Windows, Mac, Xbox, PS2

Released: 30.08.2002

Rating: 4.35/5

This stealth based strategy game puts players in command of a small two-person team in order to accomplish a variety of missions. The controls and the gameplay mechanics of Commandos 2 are pretty complex, so pay attention to the game's manual (and digitial instructions) as they will break down some of the most important aspects of the game for you. Ironically, the game does not have much of a tutorial for new players, so expect the first few stages to be very messy instances of trial and error.

Once you do get the hang of the controls and past the very dated user interface, the game does manage to pick up quite a bit. The stages are well designed and there are plenty of ways to achieve the objectives. The core idea is to maximize the various abilities and strengths of each of your units in order to progress. Of course, there are a few strategies that tend to work on a lot of situations -particularly with using your faster units to quickly take down enemies stealthily and then using the bigger units to hide the bodies.

Visually, the game has amazing sprites and backgrounds. Despite being a pretty dated title, much of the graphics for the game works nicely until today (except for the character portraits and the user interface that is).

Download Game for Windows at Steam.

Order Game in UK for Playstation 2.

Order Game in US for Xbox.

Compatibility:

For Windows: Compatible with XP/Vista/7. Not guaranteed to work on 8 but could, check latest Steam user reviews.

For Xbox: Compatible with first Xbox console but not later.

For Playstation: Compatible with PS2 but not later.

Unity of Command Stalingrad Campaign

Unity of Command Stalingrad Campaign

Available for: PC Windows, Mac, and Linux

Released: 15.11.2011

Rating: 4.2/5

History enthusiasts will find something to love in Unity of Command: Stalingrad Campaign. This game features the full set of events that covers everything that led up to the Battle of Kursk. Most of the games that cover the battles of WW2 focus heavily on the American and British initiatives, but mostly skim over the complexities of Germany and Russia's maneuvers against each other -Unity of Command gives players a unique insight on that.

All that being said, Unity of Command caters to a very small niche of gamers: those who can visualize themselves standing in the middle of the war-room looking at little icons and numbers. This civilization-esque styled game offers little in terms of actual combat visuals, all you have a massive overhead, hex-grid map representing each stage and simplistic icons referencing your and the enemy's troops. The actual images are sharp and the UI is stylized, but if fancy detailed maps is not your thing, then expect this game to feel visually lacking.

Combat is an exercise in strategy -maximizing troop performance means being able to calculate the advance of units on the field in order to make the most of the attack ranges. Also, the leveling system of units means that you will want to "set the stage" for your favorites in order to get them stronger faster.

Download Game for Windows,Mac, and Linux at Steam.

Download Unity of Command Trilogy Bundle at Steam.

Order Game in UK for Windows XP.

Order Game in US to get Online Game Code for PC, Mac,a nd Linux.

Compatibility:

For Windows: Compatible with XP. Not guaranteed to work on 7/8 but could, check latest Steam user reviews.

For Mac: Compatible with Mac 10.6.

Company of Heroes (with Opposing Fronts Expansion Pack)

Company of Heroes

Available for: PC Windows

Released: 25.09.2007

Rating: 4.35/5

Company of Heroes is a real time strategy game with plenty of emphasis on resource acquisition and management aside from the usual combat tactics. This is because players must constantly ensure the safety of their supply lines -in multiplayer mode, cutting off an enemy's supply lines (and defending your own) is a critical strategy that is often put into play. In the single player campaign, there is less emphasis on this though the strategy does tend to be quite favorably used in many stages. The game features a wide array of units and vehicles, as well an interesting structure acquisition system that allows players to convert occupied buildings.

Taking things up a notch is the Opposing Fronts Expansion Pack. This standalone expansion pack (which means it can be played without a prior installation of the original Company of Heroes) adds plenty of new visual effects such as day and night transitions as well as the addition of new single player story mode stages. Most notable is the addition of the British and Panzer Elite forces which is exclusively available to players who own the expansion. Multiplayer mode allows users to connect to players who only have the original game; however the option to use the new factions is a feature exclusive to those who are using the expansion.

Download the Game for PC Windows at Steam.

Download the Complete Pack for PC Windows at Steam.

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Compatibility:

For Windows: Compatible with XP/Vista. Not guaranteed to work on 7 and 8 but could, check latest Steam user reviews.

Codename Panzers: Phase One

Codename Panzers: Phase One

Available for: PC Windows

Released:30.09.2004

Rating: 4/5

The very first Codename Panzers game is undoubtedly a title that refined the concept of bridging together realistic combat simulation with accessibility. The game does much to get players into the heat of the action with all the nitty-gritty details that other games do not bother with: supply trucks for ammunition matter, seizing enemy vehicles matter, etc. At the same time, it automates much of the banalities that plague other RTS titles -resupply a unit simply means getting it and the supply truck close enough and the units automatically do their thing; no need to waste precious moments manually clicking a "supply" command.

Players will have a limited supply of troops per mission, and these units will gain experience points and increase in effectiveness over time. This means that keeping all units alive through every single stage is actually possible (thanks to clever stage design). There is a lot to enjoy about this game, from its' impressive visuals to the layout of the missions. Players are able to enjoy three different campaigns with a vast variety of objectives keeping you busy with worthwhile challenges. If you do have a friend who plays the game, then the cooperative multiplayer feature is a certain must-try. Having two active players means that you can utilize more advanced combat tactics in the game.

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Compatibility:

For Windows: Compatible with 98/me/2000/XP/Vista

Codename Panzers: Phase Two

Codename Panzers: Phase Two

Available for: PC Windows

Released:25.07.2005

Rating: 4.25/5

What makes a sequel? Codename Panzers: Phase Two certainly sounds like one, but it would certainly be better off if players treated it more as a standalone expansion than a full fledged-sequel. Sure, the game features all new missions set in a completely different environment. The visuals have been enhanced and there's a noticeably more vibrant color palette than the original mix of browns, greens, and grays of the original game. But everything in Phase Two else pretty much says that if you loved the first game and are wanting to have more, then this is where you go.

All that said, Phase Two is not a bad place to start if you feel like skipping the first game. Everything that was fun in the old game: limited number of units, dynamic mission objectives, earning points to increase unit stats -all still factor in this newer title, but are presented in an even more streamlined and stylized approach. The visual upgrades are downright charming; the day to night lighting transitions add to the mood of the combat, and much of the animations are now much more intricate and detailed making the effects of combat in a stage far more visceral than before.

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Compatibility:

For Windows: Compatible with 98/me/2000/XP

Combat Mission 1,2 & 3 - Beyond Overlord, Barbarossa to Berlin & Afrika Korps

Combat Mission

Available for: PC Windows

Released: 2000, 2002, and 2003

Rating: 4/5

Based off a pretty realistic tabletop game, the Combat Mission series is made and designed entirely for the most hardcore of gamers who want to see how in-depth a game can be when it comes to realistic turn based combat. The game takes into account plenty critical details such as muzzle velocity, bullet caliber, armor slope, shell size, and many other factors when determining what happens when units fight against each other.

Just how realistic is it? For squads, which are treated as a whole and depending on the type of squad that it is, losing a single man will affect each one differently (a rifle squad would not be as affected as a squad that is using a crew-based weapon). The game goes to pretty long lengths in order to create very realistic and logical scenarios despite the virtual nature of the game. It also has a ridiculously sized manual whose content we highly recommend that players read first before stepping into the game.

Missions will allow you to play either side of the conflict, which means that the stage designs are pretty clever and well balanced -though players could also take the foreknowledge to their advantage by bringing troops well suited for the situation.

Order Beyond Overlord at battlefront.com for Windows.

Order Barbarossa to Berlin and Afrika Korps bundle at battlefront.com for Windows.

Compatibility:

For Windows: Compatible with XP/Vista/7/8.

Men of War

Men of War

Available for: PC Windows

Released: 10.03.2009

Rating: 4/5

This gritty and challenging RTS game comes from developers Best Way -who has unanimously decided that what hardcore fans of the World War needs is a visually appealing game with a brutal difficulty. Any RTS gamer worth their salt will want to try out Men of War, the game is not your typical, "build plenty and send everyone out to destroy the enemy base" kind of game. You play missions as if you were commanding forces in an actual war: it always feels as if everything is against you (okay, so it may be a tad bit too harsh to be realistic, but that still counts).

The game's default camera view takes players up close with the action -as opposed to the more indifferent super top-down view that is commonly seen in other FPS games. This makes every maneuver and combat a lot more visceral and satisfying to pull off; and at the same, it shows you very closesly what you did wrong if you fail. Missions are chained together: finish one main objective and the map will expand to provide you with a new objective. This linking approach makes the events feel more organic and sensible. Overall,. Men of War is a tough bullet to chew on for new gamers, but those who have finished several other RTS titles will want to put this on for size.

Download Game for PC Windows at Steam.

Order Game in the UK for Windows.

Compatibility:

For Windows: Compatible with XP SP3/Vista SP1 - This product does not support Windows 95/98/ME/2000/NT or XP x64/Vista x64!

Hearts of Iron 3

Hearts of Iron 3

Available for: Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X

Released: 07.08.2009

Rating: 3.85/5

What does it take to be one of the best strategy games? The fact that the game actually focuses on being strategic instead of being too simple -war is hard; Hearts of Iron 3 shows players exactly what it means to make war-room decisions. This epic game covers various operations held from 1936 to 1947 and puts players through a gauntlet of missions designed to test their military strategies. It also works as a pretty decent resource material about some events (or simulations of potential events) of the war, though for those wanting to jump into the action, the game also has options for that too.

What goes on in a war? Aside from the actual combat, players are in charge of making big economic and political decisions. Remove ministers whose actions derail your strategies, outsource the production of weapons, keep the populace happy enough to keep factories working, but still limit the amount of resources they consume so that you can feed the ever hungry war machine, you build military structures such as barricades, and you can make full use of time and terrain to plan your attacks.

Meanwhile, other countries will also be active -even those not in the Allied or Axis forces. They could stay out of the war like they historically did, or depending on what you do, some of them could get involved or start having little wars of their own. Hearts of Iron 3 is an impressively intricate game and one that we highly recommend for those who want to have a new perspective on massive conflicts.

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Compatibility:

For Windows: Compatible with 2000/XP/Vista.

For Mac: This game is compatible with OS X 10.5.8 or higher.

Rush for Berlin

Rush for Berlin

Available for: PC Windows

Released: 16.06.2006

Rating: 3.8/5

Paradox Interactive manages to pull off a convincingly thorough RTS game in Rush for Berlin. While there is nothing significantly special about it, it still manages to provide players with a solid gaming experience through all four campaigns that like many other same-era games will take you to missions from Stalingrad all the way to, as the title says, Berlin.

The game does not solely provide an Allied POV, thankfully. And while the first two pre-requisite campaigns will have you tearing up your path all the way to the Battle of the Bulge, the third campaign that opens up will be showcasing the innovative technologies of the German army as players must fight off the invading Allied threat.

Visually, the Rush has its moments -especially with the cut scenes that further push the narrative of the story. At other times, it feels a little artificial; combat does look and feel a little mechanical due to the fact that many of the units share the same animations and the camera tends to focus on it.

Download Game for PC Windows at Steam.

Order Game in the UK for Windows

Compatibility:

For Windows: Compatible with 2000/XP/Vista. Not guaranteed to work on Windows7 or 8 but could.

Blitzkrieg

Blitzkrieg

Available for: PC Windows and Mac

Released: 04.06.2003

Rating: 4/5

Nival Interactive's Blitzkrieg features over 200 units and a whole lot of gameplay for players to enjoy. This RTS game is all about the combat and does not have a single whiff of resource management or structure building. The units you get at the start of the mission are all you will have (though some missions do provide event-triggered reinforcements), which means that keeping all your troops alive will be your main objective in each stage. There are a lot of tactical decisions to be made in the game and with its semi-accurate representation of the war, those of you who know your history books will have a slight advantage.

The game makes wonderful use of 2D assets -with lighting and texture effects that make them appear to pop out of the scenery. The explosion and particle effects also feel pretty dramatic, keeping up with the tempo of the game. And speaking of explosions, the backgrounds can be damaged -so you could choose to blow up every single building that comes along (though expect a bit of slowdown when there's a little too much destruction).

Download Blitzkrieg Anthology for PC Windows at Steam.

Order Game in the UK for Mac.

Compatibility:

For Windows: Compatible with 98/me/2000/XP

Blitzkrieg 2

Blitzkrieg 2

Available for: PC Windows

Released: 02.10.2005

Rating: 3.75/5

The first Blitzkrieg game had a massive number of units, so as a sequel, Blitzkrieg 2 naturally ups the ante by increasing this count to a solid 260. And yes, players will get a chance to use them all in combat. Of course, since this is a Blitzkrieg sequel, players once again do not make use of resource management or unit building mechanics. Your squads are provided as is at the start of the stage and any form of additional troops can only come in the form of event-triggered reinforcements (so if the story says you're on your own, you are).

Aside from having a much larger range of units to deploy, the game also does away with the old 2D assets and goes for full 3D models this time around. This changes the visual quality of the game by a significant degree -which really stands out especially when you get to see your troops blasting their way through enemies and buildings.

Download Blitzkrieg Anthology for PC Windows at Steam.

Order Game in the UK for Windows.

Order Game in the US for Windows.

Compatibility:

For Windows: Compatible with 98/me/2000/XP