In this list of games like Northgard, we will explore some of our favorite RTS games that resemble some of Northgard’s mechanics and playstyle. As avid RTS fans, we played dozens of RTS games over 20 years and really fell in love with the genre. While there are a lot of RTS games, and what that genre entails, we will focus on the classical definition of “RTS” and stick with ones that have full real-time gameplay and “multiple unit control”.
That excludes something like Dota 2 – a single-controlled unit playstyle, more of a “MOBA” genre, or Stellaris – not truly real-time as it can be paused, and more of a “4X grand strategy” genre. It’s important to make this distinction, as the term “RTS” is used pretty loosely nowadays. That said, here is our list of the best RTS games like Northgard.
Age of Empires 4
Credits: Relic Entertainment
If you like a bit more realistic, history-oriented RTS games, Age of Empires 4 is a good choice. The game (as the name suggests) focuses on historical battles and empires of different periods in time. The campaign is pretty robust, but the game really shines the most in the multiplayer setting.
We played a lot of Age of Empires 2, which is an RTS classic, and while the game is very good, the mechanics do feel a bit outdated. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it does feel “sluggish” compared to something like Starcraft 2. All in all, if you love historical battles and more of a realistic type of game, we highly recommend Age of Empires 4.
Company of Heroes Series
Credits: Relic Entertainment
Company of Heroes is kind of a unique RTS game because it has a weird pace to it. It’s sort of similar to something like Generals: Zero Hour, but the units themselves feel like they hate that they have more robust characteristics. For example, a tank in Company of Heroes is armored, mostly on the front, and will take more damage on the sides and from behind, just like in real life.
This type of feeling is what makes this game stand out over some other World War 2 strategy, and we really like it. If you’re a fan of war games, this one is a must. It’s worth mentioning that there are three games: COH1, COH2, and most recently, COH3. Honestly, the newest version doesn’t feel “new” and there are a lot of things that need to be finished in the game. We recommend you play the second one with all its expansions.
C&C: Generals Zero Hour
Credit: Electronic Arts
Command & Conquer is one of the most important and influential series in the gaming industry, especially when we talk about RTS games. This is where EA was at its peak as a company, and publishing quality games was a given back then. There are quite a few games that came from the series: Generals, Red Alert, Tiberium Wars, etc.
Picking which game to play is really a matter of taste rather than quality; generals are set in a somewhat realistic war scenario. Red Alert is an “alternative” history scenario with a very cool story and things in the game itself like Mirage Tanks, Anti-ship Dolphins, and Tesla Coils. The final important one, Tiberium Wars, resembles more of the Starcraft/Sci-fi scenario and is the most recent one with pretty good graphics for its time (~2007).
Stormgate is a new RTS strategy game that tries to mimic Starcraft and Warcraft as much as possible, with its twist added. The game has a lot of OG developers, and they are working hard on making the game suitable for Starcraft 2, first and foremost. This is evident by the fast game pace and competitive mechanics that resemble Blizzard-style RTS games.
It’s still in its early stages, and we expect a lot of additional work to be done, like fixing bugs and making tweaks to improve the overall balance of the game. We consider this one of the most exciting RTS games in the last several years, and let’s face it there weren’t that many new titles in this genre.
The Battle for Middle Earth 2
Credits: Electronic Arts
Every time we play BFME 2, we are really surprised at how high-quality this game is and how much it encompasses all the things from the Lord of the Rings series. You literally have 95% of the stuff from the books and movies, and it’s done in a way that makes sense in an RTS game. Moreover, the game explores some pretty cool mechanics with countering units.
For example, Chivalry instantly dies when facing Pikeman and Dragons are unkillable by anything except archers. Sure, other types of RTS games have these types of mechanics, but in BFME 2, you really feel the weight when your unit counters the enemies. For all these reasons, we consider BFME 2 one of the best games of all time and one of the best picks when exploring RTS games like Northgard.
Credit: Blizzard Entertainment
When we talk about RTS games, Starcraft 2 is always in the conversation. The game is known for its extremely “speedy” mechanics and high skill cap. Nevertheless, the game offers a lot of different modes of playing. The three-part campaign (Terran/Zerg/Protoss) is very extensive and is one of the best we played when talking about RTS campaigns, and this is coming from us, who really don’t like RTS campaigns that much. The Zerg one is especially well-made, and we recommend it to all RTS fans.
While the campaign is excellent, our favorite mode in the game is the Co-op mode. This is really where the game shines since the base game kind of feels too “basic” and the multiplayer is very competitive and filled with veterans and old-school players—not a very beginner-friendly experience. The co-op is perfect for new players and the learning curve is not that steep (unlike the usual multiplayer 1v1 experience). Moreover, the game is free and in a very solid state, and that is rare today considering the gaming world that insinuates overpaying for video games, which can’t be said for most of the RTS games from 10+ years ago.
Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne
Credit: Blizzard Entertainment
Well, this is a bit boring, but it’s no surprise that WC3 is at the top of our list of games like Northgard. The game has a lot of mechanics that define modern highly-regarded games like Dota 2, League of Legends, etc. Moreover, the Warcraft universe has a very rich and deep story that resembles a medieval fantasy style. We really like the overall playstyle and the unit “feel”. The biggest thing that makes the gameplay in Warcraft dynamic is the Hero element. The Hero is your main unit and it scales as the game progresses. Compared to Starcraft 2, where there is no “special” unit, Warcraft feels much more dynamic and fun to play just because of this factor. It may not seem like much of a difference, but the “Hero” type is the main reason why Dota 2 and LoL exist.
Now that we had our mini-rant about Heroes, let’s explore some other excellent things in the game. The campaign has a very rich story and will hook you into the Warcraft universe. It’s probably the best campaign we played, even outside of the RTS genre. Moreover, Warcraft has a very extensive library of custom maps that can be very fun to play at a LAN party. Overall, this game has everything, and the only thing that is really lacking is a good modern remaster of it. The “Reforged” remaster doesn’t do it justice, and we even prefer the older version over this one. Nevertheless, we consider Warcraft 3 to be one of the best games like Northgard and our top pick for the whole RTS genre.