The 7 Best PC War Games

When it comes to combat, these games deliver

Screenshot from Battlefield 1

Best First-Person Shooter: Call of Duty World at War

Call of Duty: World at War

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You won't find a better first-person shooter war game experience than in Call of Duty: World at War, the fifth game in the best-selling series. A fan favorite among the Call of Duty franchise, the game takes place in the hectic Pacific and Eastern Front theaters of World War 2.

Call of Duty: World at War captures the intense battles between the United States, Empire of Japan, Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Play as a Marine Raider and a Red Army soldier across a dynamic single-player campaign that re-enacts historic battles such as the Malkin Island Raid and the Battle Stalingrad in gritty detail. The cinematic action, combined with open-ended environments, are a draw for any fan of FPS games, especially games with thrilling single-player campaigns. The accurate usage of real-life settings, military technology at the time, unique enemies, and combat variety will delight any war buff. World at War is an immersive PC war game experience that still beats out any contemporary Call of Duty game.

Best for Star Wars Fans: Star Wars Empire At War Gold Pack

Star Wars Empire At War Gold Pack

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Star Wars: Empire At War impressively captures the Star Wars universe in a real-time strategy (RTS) war game that fans of the series will love. Players can choose to control either the Galactic Empire or Rebel Alliance in epic battles taking place across space and land while commanding fleets of Stormtroopers, X-Wings and even the Death Star.

Set a few years before Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, Star Wars: Empire At War gives players three game modes: a story-line based campaign, skirmish mode and a galactic conquest. Galactic conquest features sandbox elements where you take over planets, build defenses and research new technology as you attempt to take out the enemy's leader. Command key heroes and villains like Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi who have special abilities that can swing any battle. Over 40 memorable ground and space locations are playable, including some unforgettable battlegrounds from the movies such as Yavin IV, Tatooine and Dagobah.

Best for Historical Setting: Rome Total War

Rome: Total War is an incredibly immersive historical PC war game with a lavish presentation reminiscent of an epic historical movie. Everything from its large-scale warfare to its soundtrack and voice acting makes it a standout in the Total War series and a favorite among critics.

Rome: Total War features gameplay with real-time tactical battles in a turn-based strategic campaign that takes place across Europe, North Africa and the Near East. Up to 10,000 soldiers can appear on the screen at once under your control. These legions are each categorized into infantry, cavalry, archers and artillery. Your army can take on other armies and invade villages in a battle system reminiscent of a complex game of rock, paper, scissors. As you strive to take over the world, you'll need diplomats to negotiate trade routes that help build your economy and spies to scout out cities and armies to get the upper hand in battles.

Best for Nostalgia: Command & Conquer The First Decade

Command and Conquer the First Decade

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Before Starcraft became a dominant force in RTS games, Command & Conquer was one of the most beloved PC war games around, introducing action-packed real-time strategy. Command & Conquer the First Decade takes the best games from the first ten years of the timeless franchise and bundles them all on a single DVD.

Command & Conquer: The First Decade comes with 12 classic games that still hold up today. The compilation includes the series' first iteration, 1995's Command & Conquer, ranging to the evolved 3D gameplay of Command & Conquer: Generals. The gameplay is simple with various missions that have you start off building a base, collecting resources, and amassing an army. You utilize the usual types of RTS combat units — spies, tanks and helicopters — and can harness the power of futuristic cyborgs, rocketeers and more. If you’re having trouble playing the older classics like Tiberian Sun and the other games, you’ll need third-party patches and to tweak some settings in order to enjoy the experience at its fullest. 

Best Online Multiplayer: Battlefield 1

Battlefield 1 is a visually striking, first-person shooter that is at its best in its phenomenal online multiplayer mode. Players partake in large-scale theatrical battles (featuring up to 64 players at once) that can last up to an hour in wide open maps with destructible environments.

Battlefield 1’s includes usual online multiplayer modes like deathmatch and domination, but the real fun comes with its chaotic conquest mode. You’ll start in a squad with four other players, selecting one of four base classes like a medic or scout, each with their own unique weapons and abilities. Once you start securing positions across the map, the action ratchets up another level. Imagine resuscitating teammates while explosions engulf you or riding horses past tanks in the Sinai Desert while avoiding a spray of bullets from airplanes above. That's just a taste of the amazing action you'll find in Battlefield 1.

Best Open World Environment: Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain

Set in an open world, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain takes place during Cold War conflicts and has a robust blend of action-adventure and stealth gameplay. The year is 1984 and you're in the middle of the Soviet-Afghan War and the Angolan Civil War. The enthralling plot has your character seeking revenge while rebuilding a mercenary unit in the midst of war.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain offers a multitude of options for how you approach missions. You get to choose whether you want to stealthy incapacitate enemies with a tranquilizer gun or unleash carnage by calling in an airstrike. Part of the game’s charm is its real-life portrayal of pivotal Cold War moments at the time, like overhearing Soviet soldiers arguing about Stanislav Petrov’s decision (a lieutenant colonel who prevented nuclear war) or discussing the stinger missiles given to the Mujahideen by the CIA.

You can enjoy Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain in many ways, from the gameplay to the rich storytelling expected of the MGS franchise. Though the story is fictional and features more fantastical elements — such as levitating psychic child soldier and a nuclear-armed bipedal tank — the game's big ideas will resonate with anyone. Throughout Metal Gear Solid V's expansive campaign you'll confront themes of nuclear proliferation and conflict caused by the difference of language and customs that help give the game a larger than life feeling.

Best Large Scale Battles: Gary Grigsby’s War in the East The German-Soviet War

Gary Grigsby’s War in the East: The German-Soviet War 1941-1945 is a turn-based strategy PC war game played on an epic scale that simulates World War 2’s Eastern Front. The game takes place on a giant map of 25,000 hexes, each representing 10 miles that span from Berlin to the Ural Mountains.

Gary Grigsby’s War in the East: The German-Soviet War 1941-1945 allows you to engage in large-scale dramatic campaigns with roughly 4,000 individual units. The game features unforgiving realism in its historical terrain, weather, logistics and more. Every detail can be the difference between victory and defeat on the front line. The types of leaders you choose and their attributes play a huge role in these intense battles. Keep an eye on your supplies, fatigue, morale and the skill of your division to come out on top. Any gamer who wants unparalleled details, scale and strategy with the ability to edit data and scenarios with a CSV export and import function will fall in love with just how much this game has to offer.