The Best RTS Games of All Time

Since the 1990s, ‘real-time strategy’ games have been a staple of the PC gaming market. While they can be found on other formats, they’re almost native to PC environments, given their complex, long-winded, tactical nature. In an RTS title, players will position and maneuver multiple units around a map while engaged in battle with an AI or a human opponent. This inherently competitive environment has given rise to many popular RTS titles throughout the last 30 years. We’re here to find out what the best RTS games of all time are.

Back in 1992, Dune II launched, and the creator began using the term ‘real-time strategy’ to market the game. This title would ultimately become iconic, serving as the de facto RTS standard for many years. In fact, thirty years after its first launch, another RTS game from the same franchise is launching, titled Dune: Spice Wars.

Where does Dune fit into the spectrum? Is it regarded as one of the best RTS games of all time? Let’s find out.

Best RTS Games of All Time

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty (2010)

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Launched in 2010, StarCraft II: WoL is regarded as one of the best RTS games of all time. It serves as the basis of the StarCraft esports scene, and it’s still a hugely popular title. On Metacritic, StarCraft II ranks in third place overall when it comes to PC-based RTS games, boasting a total Metascore of 93%. As a franchise, StarCraft can be traced back to 1998, when it launched to service the peak popularity of the RTS genre.

Company of Heroes (2006)

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Company of Heroes ranks in second place on Metacritic (for PC RTS games), boasting a StarCraft II-matching score of 93% overall. There are many fanatics who will count Company of Heroes as one of the best RTS games of all time, simply because it’s so well designed. This WWII-themed RTS boasts exhilarating, high-octane gameplay that takes place across realistic battlefields. As a game, Company of Heroes boasted an extensive campaign, an in-depth multiplayer mode, and a series of expansions.

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002)

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Fitting in somewhere between the likes of Company of Heroes and the original StarCraft, Warcraft III is one of the best RTS games of all time. When this game launched at the turn of the millennium, it boasted never-before-seen RPG elements, intertwined with top-tier RTS mechanics. This was a release in a franchise that had been established for six years already, so the series had legs. However, Warcraft III: RoC is often considered to be the best of the best where Warcraft is concerned. On Metacritic, Warcraft III pulls in a considerable score of 92%.

Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings (1999)

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Here’s another world-class RTS title from the peak heyday of the genre. When Age of Empires II launched in 1999, it quickly became established as an award-winning, best-selling title. Even today, the two-decade-old RTS is widely appreciated, giving players the opportunity to explore a wide range of historical campaigns. This was also a game adored by critics, with Age of Empires II pulling in a hefty Metascore of 92% on Metacritic. It’s easily one of the best RTS games of all time.

Dota 2 (2013)

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Dota, which is an acronym of sorts for ‘Defense of the Ancients’, originally started off as a mod for Warcraft III. Before long, the success of the mod led to the creation of a full game, and the rest, as they say, is history. Dota 2 serves as a pivotal part of the esports landscape, offering up some of the most valuable tournaments in esports history. It’s a hugely popular title, landing an impressive Metascore of 90% overall, effortlessly beating out much of its modern competition.