Grand-scale tactics and well-considered strategy are two features often missing from some of the more popular WWII games (and also war-based games in general) in existence. This is the reason our top WWII Strategy picks below offer the kind of in-depth and wartime tactics that are often missing from the often monotonous first-person shooter WWII titles out there.
Company of Heroes 2
A real-time strategy title and sequel to the universally acclaimed original, Company of Heroes 2 focuses on the events happening on the Eastern Front battle theatre of WWII. What makes this game stand out is the fact that for the majority of the gameplay you’re controlling the Soviet Red Army, experiencing first-hand the possible events of historical battles like the Battle of Berlin and Operation Barbarossa.
Company of Heroes 2 has all the hallmarks of an RTS including resource production/collection, construction of buildings, combat mechanics, and even variables such as weather systems. Company of Heroes 2 has however been criticised for being too similar to its predecessor and not offering enough variation.
Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front
This title continues the action of the successful original, moving the focus this time to the Eastern Front. This is a turn-based strategy affair with gameplay looking rather similar to that of Company of Heroes. This sequel offers four new campaigns that can be experienced from both the Axis and Allied sides.
There are additional modes such as a skirmish mode with randomly generated maps, an asynchronous multiplayer mode, and even an editor to play with. Notice the simplified, touch-screen-centric interface reflects the multi-platform intentions of the game’s developers. Slitherine has done well here however: Battle Academy 2 is a fantastic WWII RTS game.
Men of War: Assault Squad
Men of War: Assault Squad’s gameplay shows great attention to detail by its developers. This is a real-time tactics affair through and through, though elements of real-time strategy also feature here. The gameplay feels more like a war simulation however, with the tiniest details (ammunition, fuel levels, inventory items etc.) being accounted for by the game’s mechanics.
What you may enjoy most about the game is the supreme level of control afforded over each individual troop, which effectively is treated as a unit in itself. Its graphics are now outdated by today’s standard, but it remains as one of the most impressive and detailed WWII strategy games out there.
Panzer Corps’ strategy-heavy gameplay should have fans of its predecessor, Panzer General, very pleased with the gameplay. What’s so incredibly fun and unique about Panzer Corps is the alternate-history angle, effectively giving you control over German forces and seeing how the scenarios play out under your command.
The single-player campaigns are arguably the meat of the game – strategic elements like fuel, ammunition, and so forth play a major role here of course – though the multiplayer is limited at best.
Hearts of Iron III
Grand-strategy is the only way to properly reflect the sheer scale of Hearts of Iron III’s magnificent gameplay. Consider the epic ambition of its scope – the representation of each major nation involved in WWII set between the years of 1936 and 1948 – and you realise just how impressive Hearts of Iron III really is as one of the true games of that period.
You get to experience the strategic action from the perspective of the Axis, Allies, or the Comintern. The action involves almost every aspect of wartime strategy that you can think of: diplomacy; politics; espionage; the military; tactics – simply everything is represented here, and it can only be bested by its sequel, Hearts of Iron IV.
Making History II: The War of the World
This game has a similar scope and like-for-like ambition matching that of Hearts of Iron, though the reception from critics wasn’t quite as favourable as its epic rival. Making History II is all about grand strategy in the years including and surrounding those of WWII.
Though its scenarios are extremely realistic and are composed with impressive detail and attention to historical accuracy, the less-than-friendly user interface coupled with the sheer quantity of information you have to deal with when learning to play the game makes it a second choice over Hearts of Iron III if you’re looking for a decent grand-strategy game.
Supreme Ruler 1936
The focus of this game is battalion-level grand-strategy. Beginning in 1936 yet effectively remaining open-ended in terms of end-date/end-game scenarios, Battlegoat’s Supreme Ruler 1936 is a game that is full of potential at the outset, and this potential doesn’t seem to fade even after hours of gameplay.
If you’ve played the other Supreme Ruler games, you’ll be happy about the improved graphics and friendlier user interface, though issues such as scripted scenarios (written into the game as a must-happen regardless of your input) can lead to derailing the historical accuracy of the game.