Since the first Age of Empires game released back in 1997, the game has been comfortably sitting on the throne when it comes to the Real-Time Strategy (RTS) games genre. The game covers the eras from the gritty Stone Age and Iron Age all the way to the ruthless age of colonialism in North and South America.
Age of Empires is all about the players forming their own army, managing resources, building their empire and waging a war against opponents to conquer them. The game allows a player all the freedom to walk their own path and decide how they want to conquer the in-game world. The smarter you are, the bigger the threat you become to your foes.
If you have been looking to get into strategy games or simply are looking for a similar experience to sink your teeth into, then you are the right place. Here is our list of 15 cool games similar to Age of Empires:
Ensemble Studios, who created Age of Empires decided to make a spin-off series based on mythological beliefs. Unlike the Age of Empires, which is based on historical events, this game takes place in Atlantis and it focuses on the famous Greek, Egyptian and Norse myths and legends.
Much like the Age of Empires, the formula of building an army, managing resources and conquering the opposing civilizations remains the main focus of the game. The player has to choose and play from one of the three civilizations: Greek, Egyptian, and Norse. Each civilization has its own religion and culture. The game lets you choose your major God, based on your chosen empire and as you progress to the next age, you unlock minor Gods which grant special abilities to the players.
Availability: Steam ($29.99)
2. Sid Meier’s: Civilization VI
Civilization is a turn-based strategy game in which you attempt to build an empire to stand the test of time. The game starts with you being a part of a simple nomadic tribe as you build your resources, evolve, and turn into a world dominating superpower. The Civilization series of games has always been one of the toughest strategy games and if you like a challenge, you are definitely going to enjoy this one. My love for Civilization VI starts with its graphics and music selection which give this game an extra dimension.
When it comes to gameplay, prepare your minds to be blown away by the depth of strategy involved in this game. The game brings everything to the table, from religion to nation building to espionage to diplomacy, it’s got everything. The game allows you to build a country that you want to, thanks to hundreds of thousands of choices that you can make. That also makes this game a little bit overwhelming for the beginners. However, if you have time to invest and you love strategy, this is the game that you cannot ignore.
Availability: Amazon ($35.22)
3. Starcraft 2
Starcraft 2 is the second installment in the Starcraft series, a space-focused RTS game developed by Blizzard Entertainment. The game is set in a 26th-century science fiction universe, where the focus is on a galactic struggle between four different species for total universe domination. The game was split into three parts during development in order to tell a complete story.
It offers a non-linear gameplay, where the player chooses to play as one of the three species known as Protoss, Terran, and Zerg. The main game “Wings of Liberty” offers the story of Terran, whereas the two expansion packs offer the stories of Protoss and Zerg.
In the game, you assume the total control of your units and are required to come up with the best strategies with the given resources in order to survive this inter-galactic war.
Availability: Battle.net (Free to try; $39.99)
Rise of Nations is developed by Big Huge Games and features 18 civilizations and 8 ages of world history. It is consistently ranked and considered to be one of the best games of all time in the real-time strategy genre.
The key element of Rise of Nations’ gameplay is focused on the concept of “territory”. The area near the player’s settlements is considered their territory, and players can construct different buildings only within their territory or their friends’.
The aim of the player is to progress and advance to the most modern age in order to gain access to better weaponry and attack their opponents more efficiently, to either conquer them or wipe them off completely.
Availability: Steam ($19.99)
Command & Conquer is based on the Westwood’s strategy game called Dune 2. The most important aspect of this series is its focus on the campaigns of various factions in a single central storyline.
Command and Conquer: Tiberium Alliances is a military strategy game with MMO elements. The player gets to choose their sector in the world to start in, from there they start to build and grow their military base. The game allows the player to construct buildings, gather resources and engage in battles against enemy camps in order to survive and flourish.
Availability: Origin (Free)
6. Empire Earth
Similar to the Age of Empires series, Empire Age is a history-based real-time strategy game. Spanning over 500,000 years of world history, the game begins from a pre-historic era and ends at the nano age. The game requires players to gather resources to construct buildings, populate their civilizations with citizens, and conquer opposing civilizations. The game also includes an extensive map editor for the players to create their empires in whatever design they wish to.
One of the most unique and innovative systems in the game is the “Morale’ system, which affects individual unit statistics. Another new concept the game offers is its “Hero” system. Heroes can be built at the town center or capital. There are two types of heroes, Strategist heroes who heal surrounding units and can demoralize enemy units while Warrior heroes give morale to surrounding units and have a greater attack power.
Availability: GoG ($5.99)
7. Warcraft III – Reforged
Just like Age of Empires, Warcraft is a game series which is considered as one of the classics of RTS games. The game is developed by Blizzard, one of the biggest gaming studios in the world, takes players on a fantasy journey where they can command exquisite creatures the Night Elves, Undead, Orcs, and Humans. Players go through an epic journey where they can choose any faction and build their base, assemble an army, and recruit powerful heroes to lead the charge.
The latest game in the series, Warcraft III – Reforged is available for pre-order right now and will be available to play at the end of the year. The new game will bring a thorough visual overhaul, a suite of contemporary social and matchmaking features, and more. The best part about pre-purchasing this game is that players will be able to play older Warcraft III games including “Warcraft III – Reign of Chaos” and “Warcraft III – Frozen Throne” for free. So you have plenty to play before the new game hits the market.
Availability: Blizzard ($29.99 for Standard Edition)
Empire is a free to play, real-time strategy game with great multiplayer online game elements in it. The title developed by Good Game Studios is set in a medieval age, where the players slowly build their empire from ground up and turns it into a juggernaut that enemy players would think twice before attacking.
The aim is to build castles, trade with other players, raise an army and conquer your enemies. Keeping a full control over your units, building a position, coming up with the battle techniques and thinking your strategies for combat, is what Empire sets out to accomplish and succeeds at.
Availability: GoodGame (Free)
9. The Settlers Online
Developed by BlueBite, The Settlers is a free to play browser-based real-time strategy game which has a few in-game purchases. The Settlers Online introduces brand new additions and improvements to the genre. It features a world where players have to collect resources and complete in-game missions to build their own medieval kingdom where they can capture territories and explore.
The game is inspired by the famous Settlers series but the online realm and MMO elements add a whole another layer of depth to the concept. The game offers lots of content to unlock, tons of levels to progress through, various bandit camps to obliterate, and interaction with human players in the world, who we can either befriend or wage a war against.
Availability: Browser (Free)
10. Bad North
When I saw the trailer for the Bad North for the first time, I was hyped. I mean the game looks drastically different from all the other strategy based games I have played and yet it’s still one of the best real-time strategy games that you can play. At first glance, the games cartoonish graphics and mellow music might fool you, but make no mistake, this is as brutal a game as they come. The game’s premise is pretty simple. You own an island and you will have to build your army and upgrade your weapons to defend that island against the horde of Vikings that are going to attack you.
Your defense strategy not only depends on your weapon and army but also on your island’s shape and size as different islands offer a different strategic advantage. The game is really fun to play. While being quite tricky, the game is not as hard as Age of Empires of Civilization VI which makes this perfect for gamers who want to play a strategy game in short bursts.
Availability: Steam ($14.99)
11. Stronghold Crusader
Even though the game follows the same pattern of gameplay as the first Stronghold game, unlike its predecessor, Stronghold Crusader is set in the Middle East during the Crusades and features new Arabian units.
Due to the Middle-East setting, farms can only be built on limited oasis grass, which ushers a rivalry among players who fight for the limited amount of farmland and resources. Other than farms, there are other resources to gather, like iron ore, quarry, and marshes. These resources are deposited in their reserves and players can either sell or use these resources for a better defense against attacks.
Availability: Steam ($49.99)
12. Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is a prequel to the classic Homeworld games which are known for its real-time strategy gameplay. The new games take you to the deserts of Kharak where you assemble your army and lead them to victory on the shifting sand. The game takes place long before the original Homeworld games, where you and your civilization is trying to survive in a harsh desert environment while fighting the technologically advanced religious fanatics.
Being a prequel to the popular Homeworld games, it neither feels too different nor too overshadowed by the franchise. The gameplay feels totally fresh as does the storyline. Still, you get a glimpse of the older games here and there giving you a right amount of nostalgia shots. The game has received praise from critics and players alike and if you want an Age of Empire like RTS game, this is definitely the one to get.
Availability: Steam ($49.99)
13. 0 A.D.
0 A.D. is a free, open-source, cross-platform real-time strategy game, which is still under development by Wildfire Games. The game is set between 500 B.C. and 1 B.C. for the first part, and a planned second part for the years 1 A.D. to 500 A.D
0 A.D. lets the players build their base and train their army. The game also features other elements such as combat and technology research. It offers twelve different civilizations, each of the civilization is represented at their best. During the game, the player will not advance through time, but from village phase over town phase to city phase. The phases represent the size of settlements in history. Every phase unlocks new units, buildings, and technologies.
Availability: Browser (Free)
14. Tropico 5
Tropico 5 is a nation builder real-time strategy game where you develop your island from a tribe to a powerful empire. The game starts pretty easy as you can start creating plantations to grow crops and then export them to earn money which can be then utilized to improve your island’s tech. The game starts you back in the 20th century and you work your way to the modern era, all the while developing your island to make it stand against its enemies.
What I love about Tropico 5 is that your problems are not just war but also politics and economics. That makes the game a little more nuanced and more fun to play. The game also brings a multiplayer mode which allows you to start building an island with your friends. You and your friends can compete with each other to see which of you brings the most benefit to the island. You can buy Tropico 5 right now or wait for the latest version “Tropico 6” which is just around the corner.
Availability: Amazon ($9.99)
15. Total War: WARHAMMER II
If you love destruction as much as RTS gameplay than you are going to love “Total War: Warhammer II”. The game brings a breathtaking narrative campaign, set across the vast continents of Lustria, Ulthuan, Naggaroth, and the Southlands. The game is the second chapter in the trilogy so you will need to play the first game or have a working knowledge of its history to enjoy the game even more.
You will play as one of the eight legendary lords of four races where your main aim will be to develop and lead your army to disturb the giant vortex and foil the progress of other races. Each race has their own benefits and drawbacks and you will have to live with them once you choose one. The game features one of the biggest world maps that you can find in an RTS game with some of the best-looking aesthetics. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t play this game.
Availability: Steam ($59.99)
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Try These Games Like Age of Empires (Slightly Modified)
All the games listed above are considered the best strategy games of all time. Each game offers a unique setting and/or gameplay elements, which makes it unique in its own right. These games have not only contributed to, but also helped revitalize, the Real-Time Strategy genre, which deserves much more love and attention from players. So, if you like Age of Empires, you are surely going to love these games.