WW2 strategy games haven’t been the most popular in recent years, but they still provide some of the best experiences in the strategy genre.
From squad-based combat to continental-scale strategy, you can step into some of the most famous battles of all time to test your strategic mettle. We’ve collected eight of the best WW2 strategy games here for you to check out. Some of them may be showing their age, but they’re all worth playing.
1. Company of Heroes
This real-time strategy game puts you right in the middle of the action. You’ll command a small squad of soldiers that need to capture resources, hunker down inside of abandoned buildings, and fight off the enemy. Balancing these different tasks — and the ability to control individual units during battle — is what makes this such an engaging WW2 strategy game.
The level of detail in combat is impressive: soldiers can hide inside buildings, for example, but they can only fire out of windows or holes in the wall. They’re also made immobile, which makes them more susceptible to sniper and rocket fire. You can convert buildings into barracks to create more troops, or make them medical tents to heal your soldiers.
Soldiers interact with the constantly changing environment, which will be different in every battle. You can create cover for yourself, destroy enemy positions, and change the landscape to better suit your battle.
Despite coming out in 2006, this is still a fantastic-looking game. And it puts you in the middle of a gritty, brutal World War II setting like no other game does.
Buy: Company of Heroes on Steam
2. Steel Division: Normandy 44
Taking a slightly higher view than Company of Heroes, Steel Division puts you in command of larger military divisions. This type of tactical warfare is a staple of WW2 strategy games, and this is one of the most compelling in the genre.
With over 400 historically accurate units from six different countries that unlock dynamically over the course of a battle, you’ll get to experience realistic choices and matchups on a scale that’s almost impossible to match. Customize your battlegroups with infantry, tanks, and support aircraft, then pit them against opposing troops.
Firepower will help you in Steel Division, but tactics triumph in this game. You’ll need to out-think and out-plan your opponent while reacting to changing battle conditions.
Buy: Steel Division: Normandy 44 on Steam
3. Hearts of Iron IV
Let’s jump to the opposite end of the spectrum. Instead of controlling individual units, Hearts of Iron IV puts you in command of the highest-level strategy in the war. You’ll develop technology, build and outfit armies, control forces on land, sea, and air, and launch invasions that will change the tide of the war.
But you’ll also handle negotiations, trade, and politics. By appointing ministers and generals, you can use the game’s AI to help you ensure your victory. And you can do it with any country involved in the war, from the major players to the smaller nations just trying to survive.
This is a complex game, and it requires a monumental amount of strategic thinking. If you want to see what World War II strategy looks like from the highest level of command, this is your game. (Hearts of Iron is also available on Mac, which is nice for Apple devotees.)
Buy: Hearts of Iron IV on Steam
4. Panzer Corps
If you thought Hearts of Iron‘s 400 units was impressive, you’ll be floored by the 800 unique types in Panzer Corps. This is a modern update to the classic Panzer General game, and puts you in command of the Axis’ mechanized operations. You’ll move battalions across the countryside, soften up your targets with artillery, and do your best to deal with anti-tank emplacements.
The turn-based combat gives this a slower pace than other tank games, and gives you plenty of room to think and plan. You’ll also need to level up your units and carry momentum throughout several battles in the war. Capitalize on your strengths and take advantage of your enemy’s weaknesses, and you’ll soon be marching on London and Moscow.
Buy: Panzer Corps on Steam
5. Blitzkrieg 3
Another game focusing on mechanized warfare, Blitzkrieg takes realism to the extreme. Tanks have different thicknesses of armor, infantry rifles have distinct ranges, barbed wire fences need to be correctly placed, and artillery attacks need to be planned to reduce counterfire.
Where Blitzkrieg differentiates itself from Panzer Corps is in its real-time combat. This is an RTS tank game that will keep you on the edge of your seat as you marshal your troops and direct them through a number of real and imagined battles. You can control the Allied, Axis, or Soviet forces and march through a complex campaign structure.
The latest entry in the series has phenomenal graphics and lets you simulate World War II online with lots of different modes.
Buy: Blitzkrieg 3 on Steam
6. War in the East
Let’s take a look at a different types of WW2 strategy game. War in the East is descended from a long line of tabletop war games, and it shows. This isn’t a next-generation-graphics-type game. It captures the look of cardboard chits on paper maps.
Despite that, it packs a huge amount of strategic heft. You’ll wage war along the entire Eastern front, and you can play through five different campaigns. You have access to a wide variety of units, including ski troopers, engineers, pioneers, and tank destroyers.
Beyond combat, you’ll also manage production, supply lines, weather, and fog of war effects. This is a complicated, challenging strategy game, but it’s a deep that one you can sink hundreds of hours into.
Buy: War in the East on Steam
7. Men of War: Assault Squad 2
If you’re looking for a WW2 strategy game that has a lot to offer, you can’t go wrong with Assault Squad 2. It’s a top-down real-time strategy game that lets you control every unit in your squad. 200 soldiers with unique loadouts, 250 vehicles, and five different factions make for a huge amount of variety.
There’s a realistic and gritty feel that few games manage to capture in Men of War. The graphics, even though they’re a few years old now, are great, and help get you immersed in the action. You’ll face off against other armored units, engage in sniper battles, and pit groups of infantry against the enemy in massive engagements.
This game won’t hold your hand, and you will find it very difficult. Welcome to World War II.
Buy: Men of War: Assault Squad 2 on Steam
8. Sudden Strike 4
There’s one thing that sets Sudden Strike 4 apart from many of its contemporaries: it’s a World War II strategy game available on PS4.
Beyond that, it has a lot of what you’d expect from typical WW2 RTS games: 100 units to command, zoned damage areas on tanks, building occupations, and so on. It’s a great-looking game that lets you take on three campaigns from three different sides of the war.
If you’re looking for a console-based WW2 strategy experience, Sudden Strike is the way to go.
Get Embedded in the Action With WW2 Strategy Games
These aren’t the only World War II strategy games out there. But they’re some of the best. Whether you’re looking for tactical, operational, or grand scale, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the games above.
To take your strategy on the go, check out the best Android 4X strategy games.
What are your favorite World War II strategy games? Share your recommendations in the comments below!