Everlong inspired since the age of 11, Samina Hossain, a student of IUB studying for Computer Science, has been perfecting her skills in the digital art field and contributes around the gaming community. Her most recent works are for the online game DotA 2 tournaments in Bangladesh. She’s an experienced graphic designer and an aspiring digital painter who wants to inspire the community to explore beyond traditional arts and help the gaming platform to gain recognition in the fast growing E-sports industry in Dhaka.
Zahid Ul Islam, A gamer who will come as a XBOX fanboy 😛 . He is completing B.A (Hons.) in English. He is also a freelancer focusing on graphic design, web development and article writer.
Techmoshow - Season 1, Episode 20
Air Date : 5th February, 2016
10. Age Of Mythology
Long before the Ghost of Sparta sliced his way onto Playstations wielding those iconic chains of Olympus, Age of Mythology was doing a stellar job of representing the mythologies of ancient civilisations in video games. Though not as universally known as its bigger brother Age of Empires, Age of Mythology – with its incredibly memorable units, Gods and gorgeous landscapes – is the superior title.
There are three extremely distinct ancient civilisations available to a player in Age of Mythology, each with their own unique art styles, units and buildings. The factions on offer are the Greeks, Egyptians and Norse (unfortunately no Aztecs). Another key aspect which distinguishes the three civilisations are their gods. At the start of a game you are instructed to select a ‘major god’ (examples include Zeus, Odin or Ra) which will reflect the style in which you chose to play the game.
You will then select a ‘minor god’ each time you advance through a new age (or tech) which will give you access to powerful myth units or god powers to alter the tide of battle. The addition of the ridiculously powerful Titans in the expansion pack is yet another incredible addition which means that Age of Mythology is superior to Age of Empires and one of the best RTS games ever.
9. Rise Of Nations (2003)
Microsoft Game Studios
Sid Meier’s Civilization, while one of the finest series’ of strategy games ever made, is unfortunately ineligible for this list as it is a turn-based strategy, rather than a RTS. Thankfully its influence isn’t entirely absent from this list as Rise of Nations – the exceptional 2003 strategy game from Big Huge games – takes many of the best elements from Civ and places them in a traditional RTS format.
Rise of Nations features 18 unique civilisations which you must nurture through the ages en route to victory. This broad historical range means that you have the freedom to control a satisfyingly huge range of infantry in the game – you could be in the Ancient Age using a squadron of Hoplites to poke their way through a cavalry unit or in the Information Age with a Stealth Bomber.
What is more satisfying about Rise Of Nations over lesser RTS games is the more sophisticated economy. More rudimentary RTS games encourage their players to just rush through the game and be the first to amass the most powerful units available. In Rise of Nations, you can truly dominate the game with a economical and diplomatic grip.
8. World In Conflict (2007)
A game made in an age where instant gratification and Sky+/TiVo has made us all impatient, it may come as a surprise that despite its spurning of the fundamental rules which we have all come to love, World in Conflict is still an incredibly rewarding, addictive, compelling RTS game. Rather than base-building and scrambling for resources, the player in World in Conflict is given a pre-determined number of reinforcement points which are used to airdrop a given unit of your choice to the map. Gone are the build-times as you patiently wait for a unit to enter the fray – instead, you pick the unit which will best suit your strategic needs as the conflict plays out and said unit is allowed to make an immediate impact on the battle.
Set in an alternate vision of 1989 where – rather than crumbling – the Soviet Union has invaded Western Europe and the west coast of the United States, World in Conflict gives you access to all the infantrymen, tanks and helicopters of the era while also allowing you to unleash hellish attacks of carpet bombing, napalm and nukes on your luckless enemies.
The game’s multiplayer mode (supporting up to 16 players) was an instant hit upon its release, with the online giving each player on the two teams a role (infantry, air, support or armour) and asked them to be responsible for this tactical area within the team. Combine its refreshingly hectic, innovative gameplay with its incredibly attractive visuals and it’s no wonder that World in Conflict was met with critical acclaim.
7. Dune II (1992)
Widely considered to be the first RTS game as we know them today, the seminal Dune II is not only an imperative entry into the canon of strategy games but it is also highly enjoyable. Based on David Lynch’s film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel, who would have guessed that a movie tie-in would ever pioneer a whole genre of games? Though it now lives in the shadow of the big-hitters of the genre like Warcraft, Age of Empires and Command and Conquer, the unique combination of mouse-controlled military micromanagement, a resource-gathering economic model and a fog-of-war which Dune II first employed has become the standard of the genre.
Emperor Frederick IV challenges three Houses (or factions) with the task of delivering him the greatest quantity of the drug melange (or ‘the spice). The winning house will be given the planet Arrakis, the only known world where the drug can be acquired. This is the compelling premise for why you are tasked with commanding an elite troop of futuristic soldiers and vehicles in Dune, plucked straight from the pages of Herbert’s original work. The other houses aren’t your only problem though – as you send out your harvester to gather the spice, you must be wary of the planet’s marauding sandworms that can swallow your vehicle in one bite.
6. Total Annihilation (1997)
When Total Annihilation hit shelves back in 1997 it was met with arguably the strongest response to a RTS game till that point. It built on the fundamentals of the previous year’s hit title Warcraft: Humans and Orcs with both games hinging on constructing a defensive base, gathering resources and utilising reconnaissance tactics but Total Annihilation upped the ante in several key areas.
Where Warcraft only allowed you to amass a humble force of warriors, Total Annihilation encouraged you to gather a gigantic army to crush your foes, justifying its name. Total Annihilation was also far more impressive in the scope of the units you were able to build. Ranging from hovercraft and aircraft to infantry bots and a gigantic mecha called the Core Krogoth, Total Annihilation offered a great deal of depth as you learnt which combinations of units were most effective together.
It is a testament to how great an RTS game Total Annihilation is that it still has an active online community over 15-years after its initial release. The graphics may be horrendously dated but the gameplay at its core is so solid and rewarding that there will forever be Total Annihilation commanders logging in to prove their mettle online.
5. Supreme Commander (2007)
Supreme Commander is what the HQ Monaro GTS is to a car enthusiast – it may not have the same universal appeal as a Ferrari or a Mercedes but to a select group it is one of the best in the world. In the same way, Supreme Commander is an RTS-fanatic’s RTS game – it’s simply not going to be for everyone.
The spiritual successor to Total Annihilation, the game’s learning curve is so steep that those uninitiated with the genre will likely drown in the game’s complicated controls, sprawling maps and deep navigation systems. And boy, are those navigation systems deep – Supreme Commander pioneered the concept of being able to zoom out so incredibly far that you were able to see the whole map and thereby have a complete overview of your strategic situation. From here you can then zoom in close on any point in the battlefield to have a closer look at the action and admire your handiwork if you’ve outfoxed an enemy.
The game follows three futuristic factions – the United Earth Federation (or UEF), the Cybran Nation and the Aeon Illuminate – as they battle for energy and mass (the games resources). Supreme Commander has four technological tiers to indicate which stage in the game you’re in. By far the most appealing is the fourth “experimental” tier which allows you to build the game’s incredibly powerful units such as the highly dangerous Cybran’s Monkeylord Spiderbot.
4. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos
Warcraft III may not have reinvented the wheel as far as RTS games were concerned, but it took the staples of the genre and executed them with such poise that it is impossible not to recognise it as one of the best games of its kind ever. With its tight core gameplay, compelling campaign and addictive online multiplayer, Warcraft III offered more than enough for its memory as one of the greats to endure.
The game took the Human and Orc armies of the first two games and added Night Elves and Undead as playable factions (both of which are now mainstays in Warcraft lore). Where in previous games the differences between Humans and Orcs had only been cosmetic, Warcraft III gave each of its armies very different units, structures, technologies and base-building methods which meant that everybody could pick their favourite army based on their particular playing style.
The third instalment in the RTS franchise also introduced heroes; powerful commanding units which amassed experience with each enemy killed that subsequently made them more powerful. Combine these superb gameplay additions with the 3D graphics engine which made Warcraft II look like an ancient relic, and it isn’t hard to understand why Warcraft III is lauded as the finest game in the series.
3. Company Of Heroes (2006)
Building on the excellent gameplay system they had developed for Warhammer: Dawn of War, Relic reached all new levels of RTS greatness in 2006’s Company of Heroes. Rather than the traditional model of an economy being based on hordes of workers gathering your resources, Company of Heroes challenged you with controlling strategic points spread across the map to acquire manpower, munitions, and fuel. This system particularly suited the WWII subject matter, where countless soldiers fought and gave their lives to obtain strategically valuable points under the command of their superior officers. To protect these vital locations on the map, you can assign troops to control the area or build up defences like MG-42 posts.
With its incredible attention to detail and destructible environments, Company of Heroes has a rare kind of authenticity never before seen in an RTS. Both the Allies and Axis are fully playable with a long-list of unique units taken straight out of your high school history text book, from the powerful Tiger Ace tank to the legendary American Rangers.
Similar to the system used in Age of Mythology, Company of Heroes makes you choose a company (or doctrine for Axis armies) at the start of the game which will inform the style you wish to play. For example, the Blitzkrieg doctrine for Axis armies puts an emphasis on speed while the Allied Armour company gives you access to the game’s most powerful tanks.
2. Starcraft (1998)
When Blizzard’s phenomenally popular Starcraft was released on that fateful day in the March of 1998, the face of RTS gaming would be changed forever – this quintessential RTS game is what immediately comes to mind when someone mentions the genre.
Over the course of this list we have discussed how having unique units for each of an RTS game’s armies is an essential aspect of making an awesome RTS game – Starcraft is widely credited as being the pioneering master which first implemented properly distinct factions in the genre all those years ago and is still thought by many to have done it the most successfully. Indeed, the balance and diversity achieved by Blizzard in creating their three races is a thing of beauty – from the all-rounders, the Terran, to the elite-but-expensive Protoss and finally the swarming Zerg.
It is because of this incredible gameplay based on these three unique races that Starcraft was a commercial success and remains played all these years later, shipping 9.5 million units worldwide with 4.5 million of these being sold in South Korea where arenas are used to allow fans to watch elite players at work (USA Today).
Starcraft is quite clearly the behemoth – or the Zerg Ultralisk if you will – of the RTS genre so how on earth have we not found it in ourselves to not give it the number 1 spot? You’re about to find out why…
1. Starcraft II: Wings Of Liberty (2010)
Some 12-years in the making, Starcraft II is the sequel to what was – prior to its 2010 release – the greatest RTS game ever made.
The original still had an incredibly large fan-base and online community, so as soon as Blizzard had even announced that its long-awaited sequel was in development, expectations were immediately set to astronomically high levels. Though Blizzard are renowned as being some of the finest developers in the gaming industry, the incredible gameplay of the original combined with the sweet-nostalgia all RTS fans felt towards it meant that it was virtually impossible for Starcraft II to surpass its predecessor.
Somehow, Starcraft II managed to be even better than anyone imagined it could’ve been – better even than the 1998 original and subsequently better than any RTS game ever made. Though the game thankfully retained many of the elements we all loved about Starcraft, it also made improvements in several key areas. Most notably the single player campaign – which had been a secondary distraction in the original – had been given an overhaul with Blizzard really flexing their storytelling muscles whereas in the first game the narrative had been sparse.
A number of powerful, varied and suitably awesome new units were added to each of the three beloved factions. Naysayers prior to the game’s release had said that the addition of new units (or worse still an entirely new faction) would imbalance the fine-tuned harmony between the three rival races, but it did nothing of the sort.
The new units fit snugly into the style of each army and felt like a suitable progression in the given race’s technology since the original game. The online component of Starcraft II was as good as ever and it is fully deserving of the top spot on this list of the RTS genre’s best games.