The top 10 rated RTS games

The strategy genre, including its sub-genres – real-time, turn based, management, simulation, tycoon, God game – holds a special place in my heart. It was these games that pulled me away from early consoles and onto my P166 in search of a more cerebral experience. 

At one point, the real time strategy (RTS) genre was the industry’s biggest. If anything, it has its own prolific success to blame for its relative downfall, as gamers began losing interest due to there being so many games adhering to the same basic gameplay mechanics, following each other in neat succession. 

In the interest of nostalgia, and as homage to one of gaming’s golden cornerstones, we decided to look at the ten best reviewed real-time strategy games released to date. We initially looked at Metacritic for our top ten, but found that the likes of StarCraft, Warcraft III and Dungeon Keeper did not make the cut. So we went to Gamerankings who has a more acceptable top ten.

1. Company of Heroes (2006) 93.82%

Relic’s WWII classic was an excellent game, but feels a little out of place in the top spot. 

2. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002) 93.08%

The impact that this game has had on the industry is astounding. Not only was it a great game, but its custom mod, D.O.T.A, spawned an entire sub-genre. 

3. Starcraft (1998) 92.85%

Without a doubt, StarCraft is today the most played competitive RTS in the world, and that’s 12 years after its release. Many would argue it belongs at the top, but we like to think StarCraft II will land that spot when it is released later this month. 

4. Dungeon Keeper (1997) 92.90%

Dungeon Keeper was one of the more innovative RTS’s of the 90’s, with its dark humour, unique base building structure, and disgustingly addictive gameplay, it is a firm favourite here at the MyGaming offices.  

5. Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings (1999) 91.81%

Who can forget Age of Empires? We would have preferred to see the first game in this list, but the sequel was also brilliant. 

6. Rome: Total War (2004) 91.61%

This is a bit of an iffy placement, as most of the gameplay is actually turn based, while the combat sequences are presented in epic real-time 3D action. Now with all its bugs ironed out, Empire: Total War is probably a better iteration of the Total War franchise. Until Shogun 2 – the direct sequel to the first Total War game – is released next year.

7. Command & Conquer: Red Alert (1996) 90.91%

The spin off to one of the true genre’s progenitors, Red Alert remains a cult classic. 

8. Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne (2003) 90.75%

See 2.

9. Command & Conquer (1996) 89.90%                                                                                            

C&C was the first true blockbuster RTS, and deserves its spot in this list if simply for inventing the “tank rush.”

10. Black & White (2001) 89.79%

This game can barely be called an RTS, and it probably belongs in the “God game” sub-genre. However, Gamerankings has it pegged as an RTS, and who are we to argue. Black & White reminds us of a time when Peter Molyneux was still cool. 

MyGaming’s top ten

1. StarCraft

2. Total Annihilation

3. Dungeon Keeper

4. Battlezone

5. Command & Conquer: Red Alert

6. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

7. Close Combat: A Bridge too Far

8. Age of Empires

9. Company of Heroes

10. Wahammer 40K: Dawn of War II

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  • General Spesific

    Good list, reminds me of a simpler time when games were far better than todays. Sure, graphics are better, and the mechanics work better for multi-player, but these classics will always be remembered for what they have done to elevate the industry. These games, with the addition on Half Life and Unreal Tournament, (the first ones though), caused many of us to loose days, even months, spent in front of our PC monitors. I would make one addendum to the list though, Warcraft III is, and will always be, the best RTS ever made

  • What about Dark Reign ?

    What about Dark Reign ?
    It was released at the same time as Total Annihilation and in my opinion stood its ground against TA as a awsome RTS.

  • Nic Simmonds

    I do remember Dark Reign. It was a cool game, but I'm not convinced that it was in the same league as TA. Not for me anyways…

  • Paul

    I like MyGaming's list far more.
    It looks to me like Gamerankings gave one game (Warcraft 3:Reign of Chaos/Frozen Throne) two slots.
    Also, MyGaming is clearly thinking more lucidly with their addition of Warhammer 40k.

  • Gurumaguaffi

    My List:

    Dungeon Keeper
    Warcraft 2
    C&C Red Alert 2
    C&C Generals

    Ancient art of war 😀 <— Great game for its time.. has concepts like how tired and hungry your soldiers are, and terrain like mountains slowing them down and killing them. Concepts that I would love to see in modern games.

    Dune 2 !!!!
    Age of empires2 and age of mythology

  • subversion

    prefer mygaming's list 🙂

  • Christo Le Grange

    What the hell!?ok lists ,both but what about Dune 2…the game that started it all!

    2.Warcraft 2
    3.Command & Conquerer
    5.Dungeon Keeper
    6.Red Alert
    8.Warcraft 3
    9.Total Annihilation
    10. Age of empires 2
    10. Dark Reign

    and special mention Black and White, ROme: total war and Warcraft 1

    thats a blerrie TOP 10,guys!

  • Corné

    I agree with Christo but in retrospect I would add Civilization into the fray, still a turn based game (like the Total War franchise) but got me hooked none the less.
    My top 10
    1. Starcraft
    2. Red Alert(Stalin made it for me)
    3. Warcraft II
    4. Shogun Total War (Come on, it had Ninjas!!)
    5. Age of Empires
    6. Dune 2
    7. Warcraft I
    8. Command & Conquerer
    9. Civilization
    10. Warhammer 40k : Dawn of War

  • Xero

    I don't see Homeworld or Cataclysm on the list by either party, really guys, it redefined RTS

The top 10 rated RTS games