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Top 5 Greatest RTS Games/Franchises of All-Time

Vier

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I have been nostalgic for some great RTS gaming and thought I would put a top 5 together. What are you top 5 RTS gaming franchises? Here are mine which will probably be met with gasps for not including C & C, but hey, no wrong answers here just opinion.

1 - Rise of Nations: Amazingly good RTS with a complicated economic model, some great unit auto-formation settings, cool randomly generated maps, one of the earlier iterations of "your units provide their own naval transport", a wide variety of units (including some of the best naval combat every), and more virtues than I can really extol here at the moment.

2 - Starcraft: For bringing really distinct, unique races into the game plus being the first RTS I really got in to online multiplayer with thanks to Battle.net. Also probably the first and last RTS I played where I actually enjoyed the story.

3 - Total Annihilation: For doing some really smart UI stuff that nobody else was doing and in some cases still are mostly ignored or left out by RTS designers.

4 - Age of Empires: For exposing me to more complicated economic gameplay and base-building centric play after my initial introduction to the genre with Warcraft 2. (Age of Kings was also excellent)

5 - Starcraft 2: For being built with the eSports community in mind. I'd never really taken competitive gaming that seriously, but damned if I haven't spent way too much of my life watching competitive Starcraft over the past year.
 

Bragr

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I wouls need Warcraft, CoH and DoW on such a list, and is anyone playing Sins of a Solar Empire or Homeworld these days? I never understod why Sins ain't more embraced. Battle for Middle-Earth 2 also seems to be lost in the void for most.
 
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Hal.

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Jan 22, 2020
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I have been nostalgic for some great RTS gaming and thought I would put a top 5 together. What are you top 5 RTS gaming franchises? Here are mine which will probably be met with gasps for not including C & C, but hey, no wrong answers here just opinion.

1 - Rise of Nations: Amazingly good RTS with a complicated economic model, some great unit auto-formation settings, cool randomly generated maps, one of the earlier iterations of "your units provide their own naval transport", a wide variety of units (including some of the best naval combat every), and more virtues than I can really extol here at the moment.

2 - Starcraft: For bringing really distinct, unique races into the game plus being the first RTS I really got in to online multiplayer with thanks to Battle.net. Also probably the first and last RTS I played where I actually enjoyed the story.

3 - Total Annihilation: For doing some really smart UI stuff that nobody else was doing and in some cases still are mostly ignored or left out by RTS designers.

4 - Age of Empires: For exposing me to more complicated economic gameplay and base-building centric play after my initial introduction to the genre with Warcraft 2. (Age of Kings was also excellent)

5 - Starcraft 2: For being built with the eSports community in mind. I'd never really taken competitive gaming that seriously, but damned if I haven't spent way too much of my life watching competitive Starcraft over the past year.

Fucking lol

This is an absolute pleb-tier trash list without Command and Conquer and Company of Heroes.
 

Arkam

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My personal top 5 RTS. Ordered by hours played. Each was in the hundreds of hours (at least).

StarCraft
WarGame: Red Dragon
C&C: Red Alert
WarCraft II
Age of Empires II

Honorable mentions:
Dune 2000
KKND2
DEFCON
 
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Diddy X

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Had a lot of fun with Age of Empires as a kid.
Warcraft 3 had a smaller scale but was very good and charmful.
Halo Wars was good too.
There is this dinosaur vs alien themed one "Dinabro" it was fun too.
 

Arkam

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For Xbox and thankfully all are backwards compatible:

C&C Kane's Wrath
Halo Wars
Supreme Commander 2
EndWar
RUSE

Honorable Mention goes to Battlestations Pacific
Not sure if you are just a huge Xbox fan or simply never had a pc. RTS games on consoles suck hardcore.
However if you simply like the torture, check out Warlocked for the GBA. Pretty much WarCraft but played on a GBA with only a d-pad and two buttons. Supercool stuff.

Oh and if you like Ruse check out the WarGame series. All three are good.
 
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TBiddy

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Gonna have to go with the obvious choices;

Starcraft
C&C (or Red Alert)
Age of Empires
Warcraft 3
Company of Heroes

Dawn of War is also fucking fantastic.. but not as good as the above mentioned.
 
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SinDelta

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May 21, 2020
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For me-

Age of Empires 2
Command and Conquer Red Alert 2
Company of Heroes
Starcraft
Warcraft 3

Honorable Mentions
Age of Empires
Age of Empires 3
Stronghold
Stronghold Crusader
Homeworld
Rise of Nations
Command and Conquer Tiberium Sun
Dawn of War: Dark Crusade
Dawn of War 2
 
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Jun 23, 2020
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I'm not a big RTS player, but glad to see that Company of Heroes is getting some love here. I really liked that game, as it felt more about strategy than just pumping out more units than the other team.

For me the best would be Starcraft tho. It was one the first games I had on my first computer and I had a lot of fun with it. Loved the setting and the music, specially for the Terrans.
 
Jan 29, 2019
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I agree with most of your list, but not all so it's very bad and you ruined my day!


Rise of Nations
Total Annihilations
Supreme Commander
Age of Mythology
Warcraft 2

There you go!
 

RAIDEN1

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Aug 2, 2013
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Not sure if you are just a huge Xbox fan or simply never had a pc. RTS games on consoles suck hardcore.
However if you simply like the torture, check out Warlocked for the GBA. Pretty much WarCraft but played on a GBA with only a d-pad and two buttons. Supercool stuff.

Oh and if you like Ruse check out the WarGame series. All three are good.
Yeah but then that isn't strictly true, what about Herzog Zwei on Genesis?
 

Hal.

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Jan 22, 2020
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For me-

Age of Empires 2
Command and Conquer Red Alert 2
Company of Heroes
Starcraft
Warcraft 3

Honorable Mentions
Age of Empires
Age of Empires 3
Stronghold
Stronghold Crusader
Homeworld
Rise of Nations
Command and Conquer Tiberium Sun
Dawn of War: Dark Crusade
Dawn of War 2

Aside from Stronghold, which I never really got into, add C&C3 to this list and it is bang on.
 
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Matt_Fox

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Jul 24, 2019
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OP, top three ESSENTIAL RTS titles missing from your list...

Command & Conquer



Battle For Middle-earth



Total War

 

Sean Mirrsen

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For me it's:
  • Homeworld games in general, for being what they are, and especially Homeworld: Cataclysm for being the closest thing we ever had to an RTS with a horror setting.
  • Total Annihilation, for being so far ahead of its time in terms of gameplay design. Modern RTS games, for the most part, still don't fully match the simple-yet-flexible unit control system that TA has, and the focus on many little details, despite the scale, creates a sense of battle that even modern recreations like Supreme Commander fail to capture.
  • Command&Conquer/Red Alert/Tiberian Sun. Even if I don't personally enjoy the direction the games have taken over time, I can't deny that they were instrumental in defining the "classic RTS" genre, and I did have fun playing them.
  • Earth 2150, the whole trilogy. Despite numerous flaws, there is a lot that the game (or games) does right, and many of its unique aspects are, I think, underutilized in modern games of the genre. Customizable units and buildings, fundamental economy and technology differences between the three factions, an entire separate layer for strategic maneuvering, a campaign featuring multi-map play, a system of PiP screens for watching and controlling different areas of the map, robust AI orders with customizable scripts, the games had great potential. They went against the grain so hard that they failed, in the end, but I still consider them great examples of the genre, and very worthy of a modern revival.
  • I will not give Starcraft the time of day for overshadowing Total Annihilation and ultimately making the RTS genre decline into what it is now, so instead I'll mention Herzog Zwei. It's one of the forebearers of the Action-RTS genre, from the far-off realm of the Sega Genesis. I can't say if it had any impact on the games that came after it, but it's an excellent action-RTS title that plays a little like realtime Advance Wars, set to great music that I still listen to on the regular.
 

sainraja

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^^ I don't see how StarCraft deserves the blame for the RTS genre decline. I think that just happened without anything to do with StarCraft. If anything, it is what is still keeping it alive to an extent.

My favorite RTS games & the ones I enjoyed are as follows:

1.Warcraft 2
2. Starcraft 1
3. Warcraft 3 (with expansions)
4. Starcraft 2.
5. Age of Empires 3

I loved Warcraft 2/3. Had a lot of good times with those games. I started enjoying Starcraft later. But those are the ones I had a good time with.
 
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DGrayson

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Homeworld seems underrated. I watched a friend of mine play part 1 when it was originally released. They should do a new game with a space setting.

As mentioned I am really shit at RTS so I never played that many. Warcraft 2 and Dragon Force for Saturn (does that count?) come to mind.
 

HE1NZ

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Apr 9, 2019
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It's not like there's more than 5 that are still relevant.
Everybody knows them:

Command & Conquer
Age of Empires
Starcraft
Warcraft
Plus something smaller that you like personally (I'd put Dune. Though I never played Dune 2, I played a ton of Dune 2000 and Emperor Battle for Dune).
 
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Feb 18, 2019
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I have been nostalgic for some great RTS gaming and thought I would put a top 5 together. What are you top 5 RTS gaming franchises? Here are mine which will probably be met with gasps for not including C & C, but hey, no wrong answers here just opinion.

1 - Rise of Nations: Amazingly good RTS with a complicated economic model, some great unit auto-formation settings, cool randomly generated maps, one of the earlier iterations of "your units provide their own naval transport", a wide variety of units (including some of the best naval combat every), and more virtues than I can really extol here at the moment.

2 - Starcraft: For bringing really distinct, unique races into the game plus being the first RTS I really got in to online multiplayer with thanks to Battle.net. Also probably the first and last RTS I played where I actually enjoyed the story.

3 - Total Annihilation: For doing some really smart UI stuff that nobody else was doing and in some cases still are mostly ignored or left out by RTS designers.

4 - Age of Empires: For exposing me to more complicated economic gameplay and base-building centric play after my initial introduction to the genre with Warcraft 2. (Age of Kings was also excellent)

5 - Starcraft 2: For being built with the eSports community in mind. I'd never really taken competitive gaming that seriously, but damned if I haven't spent way too much of my life watching competitive Starcraft over the past year.
I'd do 6 and add Imperium, an underestimated yet really, really fantastic series
 

Kenpachii

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Mar 23, 2018
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they are billions
red alert
age of empire
supreme commander 2
stronghold
 
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Aug 18, 2016
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"Top RTS" lists are boring, because we now know that the genre is highly specialized, and that not everyone can make a good, balanced RTS.

Just look at Warparty

and Forged Battalion


They "honor" C&C by heralding a return to that style of gameplay but they don't have the right stuff. The balancing. The interesting units. The faction diversity. The writing! They are mediocre in comparison to "the greats."



StarCraft is always going to be #1 even if it's dated in terms of features, but they remastered it for those who want a prettier, updated version. I personally prefer the StarCraft: Mass Recall total conversion that uses SC2 assets to render SC, though I have not played the remastered version.

But can you name another RTS that is a national sport?


There really isn't a #2 or #3. Every list is going to include an iteration of the Command & Conquer franchise, from the mainline games to Generals, and an Age of Empires game (though III was not that popular). Even the OP's #1 game, Rise of Nations, is derived from AoE and CIV concepts.


Throw some WarCraft in there even though Reforged killed it. And then Homeworld.

Thankfully, life remains in turn-based and real-time tactics games. It's rough in the RTS world. I recently tried World of Goo for the first time and the first few missions bored me. Act of War/Aggression LOOKS GREAT but plays meh. It's hard out here!
 

Zathalus

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For me personally:

Warcraft III
Age of Empires 2
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2
Homeworld Cataclysm
Emperor: Battle for Dune
 

Tg89

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StarCraft is the goat, Brood War specifically. Everything about it just came together so perfectly. I think they lucked out that it turned out so well balanced, very hard to accomplish that. Unfortunate that they could never quite replicate it with SCII.

Gaming has come a long way, but filling open air stadiums in the late 90s/early 2000s was unheard of until StarCraft.

Any game that has a reasonably large eSports scene owes it to SC (and Counter Strike).
 
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