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Top 7 Real-time strategy games

With Aliens: Dark Descent landing soon, here are other real-time strategy games worth checking out

Real-time strategy games have been around for quite some time. Every game challenges the might of the mind, encouraging players to think and take action. With the release of Aliens: Dark Descent on Tuesday June 20, now is a good time to look back on some of the games in the genre. Each game has their own style and rhythm. Vikings, aliens, World War II, every game has it’s own set of challenge and reward. These are my picks for the top seven real-time strategy games.

7. Sudden Strike 4

War is Hell as the old saying goes, but in Sudden Strike 4, you aren’t on the front lines. Instead, you are a commander leading your units across the various fronts of World War II. Sudden Strike 4 is a dynamic and acclaimed real-time strategy game for its commitment to historical accuracy and military tactics. Players take on the roles of famed commanders in World War II and lead over 100 different units across a wide variety of battlefield scenarios.

What makes Sudden Strike 4 a joy is its commitment to authenticity. Sudden Strike 4 is still a video game, and attributes like tactical pause allow players to better understand the battlefield. Still, this game is a challenge and puts up a good fight. Exploiting weaknesses, understanding tactics, occupying certain buildings, employing airstrikes, and knowing when to ambush an enemy unit are the keys to victory. Sudden Strike 4 is the closest being a WWII commander one will ever get.

6. Bad North

Bad North is a prime example that the simplest rules of game play can be the strongest. Most games in the genre rely on contemporary or futuristic settings but Bad North succeeds in placing a spotlight on combat in the time of ancient civilizations. Bad North impresses from the start. The art style and color selection appear as a water painting and evokes the oceanic lifestyle of Vikings. The visuals are pretty but the game play is what keeps players hooked.

Each level is a minimalist island with simple controls. There are no complex setups or menus. Players command small groups of Vikings. Where they are placed and how they engage is a matter of timing and speed as bad Viking swam the island. Leaders can be appointed and leveled up to unlock special abilities from bombs to arrow swarms. It’s a tight strategy game where one wrong move can cost players dearly but is remarkably reachable for all players. Better yet, Bad North can be played on anything, including smartphones, making it an accessible game.

5. Anomaly Trilogy

The Anomaly games are a bit of a stretch. They are best described as “reverse tower defense” which isn’t necessarily a real-time strategy game. However, real-time strategy elements exist as players command and escort units to specific destinations in order to defeat a highly-advanced alien enemy. Anomaly puts players into the role of a special forces commander. Plays are unarmed but their suit allows them the unique ability to command and control units in a boots-on-the-ground scenario.

Anomaly has players on the attacking side of combat. The enemy does everything in its power to defend their resources, but as a commander, players descend into the chaos. The closer to the objective, the more intense the aliens defenses become. Players deploy everything from mechs to airstrikes., but the alien enemy learns and strikes back accordingly. The Anomaly trilogy is sharp for those that want a unique combat and tactical experience.

4. Final Horizon

Final Horizon is unique in that it is a tower-defense game, more so than Anomaly: Warzone Earth. However, its fast-paced nature and game play keep it in the real of real-time strategy Final Horizon was released exclusively for PlayStation Vita and it’s an action packed strategy game for Sony’s boutique handheld. Final Horizon puts players into the roles of advanced sentient A.I as they work to protect humans from a large alien threat.

On the Vita, Final Horizon is remarkably fast-paced as swarm as kaiju sized bugs attack human installations. Adopting the style and attitude of Starship Troopers, players tap on the vita screen feverishly to deploy units and defend their base. At times, players take direct control of towers to pour hot plasma into the alien hordes. It’s a unique game where the story is told through AI interactions and the gameplay is the center focus. It’s a short but incredible experience and worth playing for those that seek the vita.

3. Tom Clancy’s Endwar

The first and only real-time strategy in the Tom Clancy line of games was experimental and bold for its time. Tom Clancy’s Endwar is a game that declares that World War III is inevitable, despite all the efforts of previous Tom Clancy characters, such as Sam Fisher of Splinter Cell and the Ghosts of Ghost Recon. As it is global war, players have access to cutting-edge futuristic weaponry in a battle for global supremacy. While the game no longer has online multiplayer or co-op, the game is still remarkably strong for a 2008 game. Most excitingly, it’s marked Playable on Steamdeck.

It is all out war across forests and urban landscapes. Whether under a nighttime arctic sky or in the streets of Paris, this is the War everyone prepared for but didn’t want. Now that sit here, players command entire armies in exciting detail. Infantry units take cover and position in destroyed buildings. Tanks and helicopter thunder across roads. Jets streak across the Eiffel Tower. When the time is right, special attacks, from EMP bombs to orbital strikes are employed onto the battlefield. Tom Clancy’s Endwar is certainly a strong choice for a plausible look at international war.

2. Company of Heroes

The Company of Heroes series was covered previously in preparation for the release of Company of Heroes 3 earlier this year. The specifics have been covered but the Company of Heroes games continue to remain a touchstone in the genre. This can be seen, heard, and felt through every harrowing moment of each game, which is a trifecta not often experienced in the world of video games.

This stems from genuine heart and passion that each game contains. The Company of Heroes games center both on fun and learning. World War II is a war that happened. It took the lives of millions across the planet. Accordingly, the bravery of young men who ran towards the danger thwarted a great evil. These men had lives back home and gave everything for a better tomorrow. Company of Heroes has players gain a glimpse of what World War II was really about.

1. X-Morph: Defense

In the world few video games, you can be anything. Why not be bad for once? X-Morph: Defense has players be a cybernetic alien antagonist on a quest to conquer and transformer Earth. In another example of combing genres, X-Morph: Defense combines real-time strategy with tower defense and a spaceship shmup to become an incredibly unique experience. In X-Morph: Defense, you are attacking, defending, and conquering at the same time.

X-Morph: Defense is not easy. The Earth’s advanced military forces use everything form building-sized tanks to mechs to destroy you. What they didn’t count n are your advanced towers, cybernetic brain, and interceptor starship that can fly around the battlefield. It’s an intoxicating mix of action and strategy with a pulsating soundtrack and sharp visuals. Furthermore, X-Morph: Defense even has a split-screen co-op campaign for those willing to test their mettle with another player.

Preparing for Aliens: Dark Descent

Real-time strategy is an excellent genre to get into. Having played many games, it’s been an interesting journey as to where and how the genre developed over time. Hopefully, the skills learned will prepare me for Aliens: Dark Descent on June 20. Fighting xenomorphs and scavenging for resources on a desolate moon is something I haven’t personally encountered. At any rate, if the fires of Sudden Strike 4 or the nuclear fires of Tom Clancy’s Endwar have taught me, it’s to move fast and shoot faster.

Aliens: Dark Descent is developed by Tindalos Interactive and published by Focus Entertainment. It launches for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC on June 20, 2023.

Are you excited for Aliens: Dark Descent? As always, let us know what you think in the comments!

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