9 Games Like The Total War Series

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The Total War series has been around for more than 20 years. Games like Shogun: Total War and Rome: Total War were played by hundreds of thousands of people and the series as a whole sold more than 34 million copies.

What players love about Total War games is the mixture of resource management, strategy, and tactics. If you don’t thrive economically, you can build and maintain a strong army. If you fail strategically, you will lose regions and powerful armies without achieving anything. And if you lose tactically, you will lose battles you should have won.

The elements described above are not unique to the series. Other titles have them as well, even if they focus more on some and less on the others. In this article, you will discover 9 games like Total War.

1. Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord

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Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord is the successor of Mount & Blade: Warband and the gaming community had to wait 10 years for its release. This title takes everything that’s great about the original and makes it three times better. It also adds a lot of new skills and features that make it highly replayable.

In many games, you’re being told from the start that you’re supposed to become a great hero or some kind of savior. But in Mount & Blade 2, you’re just another adventurer who’s trying to survive and thrive in a world torn apart by war.

There are many different factions and each of them has a hierarchy. Meanwhile, your goal is to get rich by any means and build an army. There are many viable strategies and each of them requires not just a particular set of in-game skills but also a particular set of gaming skills.

One of the most effective and evil ways of becoming powerful in this game is to play the role of the ruthless merchant. Buy low, sell high. And if the selling price isn’t good enough, sabotage the local people who provide the same service and ensure that you’re the only one around who can sell products of a certain type.

In Bannerlord, you can fight as much as you want because you can always raid caravans. But you’ll have to pick your fights carefully. Another fun aspect of the game is sieging towns and castles.

If you love games in which loot is a core element, check out this guide about the best loot games on Steam.

2. Civilization V

Image credit: Firaxis Games

Sid Meier’s Civilization V is one of the most loved strategy games of all time, having a near-perfect score on Steam. More than 110,000 people have reviewed it and 96% of the reviews are positive.

Released in 2010, Civilization V challenges you to become the ruler of the world by building a civilization more powerful than the rest. In every play session, you will start at a given moment in history and then attempt to make excellent strategic decisions.

Both war and diplomacy play a big part in this game and you will need to master both to succeed. If too many enemies want you dead, you’re doomed to fail. But if you never attempt to conquer anyone, it might be hard to make progress.

One of the captivating aspects of Civilization V is that every civilization is led by a great historical figure. If you love history, you will find this aspect of the game quite captivating.

Another great quality of Civilization V is that you are allowed to win as a peacemaker. In most games, the only way to be successful is to conquer the entire map with a powerful army. But in this one, you are encouraged to try the path of diplomacy and progress.

Civilization V feels a lot like Total War games, even though the battles are minimalistic in nature and don’t give you a complex RTS experience. But even without this element, Civ V is superb and will keep you interested in what it has to offer for many hours.

3. Europa Universalis IV

Image credit: Paradox Interactive

Europa Universalis IV is one of Paradox Interactive’s finest games to date. This historical Grand Strategy simulator offers you the possibility to travel back in time, pick a nation, and then help it forge for itself a glorious alternative history.

The game was praised on Metacritic by almost everyone. Both critics and users gave it an overall score of around 8.7, which is astronomical in the gaming industry.

In Europa Universalis IV, you can play both single-player and multiplayer campaigns. You also get the option to customize the starting historical period of your sessions. The interval starts from the late Middle Ages (roughly 1444) and ends in the early modern period (~1821).

One thing that’s both great and challenging in Europa Universalis IV is the complexity. There are so many things that you can and must do during a play session, it’s absolutely mind-boggling. As a new player, you can feel overwhelmed by the number of options and it takes a while to fully understand how the game is supposed to be played.

If you have experience with survival games like Frostpunk, MOBA games like League of Legends, or any other games like Total War, you can probably learn all of the basics on your own in 4 – 5 hours. Otherwise, make sure you watch a Let’s Play Europa Universalis IV on YouTube or read a guide before jumping into this gaming ocean.

4. Crusader Kings III

Image credit: Paradox Interactive

Crusader Kings III is the perfect example of a medieval simulation game that can be played over and over again. Like Europa Universalis IV, it was developed by Paradox Interactive, but its flavor is unique. Instead of playing with a nation, you’re playing with specific characters.

Crusader Kings III feels a lot like Game of Thrones and it’s almost as if you’re required to think like Tywin Lannister. It’s all about family and legacy, and your goal is to thrive in the Middle Ages. Characters can go insane or contact deadly diseases and keeping them alive while they play their political games is quite challenging.

When it comes to games like Total War, Crusader Kings III more than matches the description in the character development department. Total War games are famous in part for how they allow army commanders to develop traits and gain military expertise. CK III takes this to the next level and treats people as complex psychological beings.

There are dozens of traits that a character can have, and these traits fall into different categories, ranging from childhood traits, reserved to characters aged 3 – 15, to commander traits. Just in the health category alone, you have a total of 10 possible traits, such as Blind, Sickly, or Wounded.

The reason why traits are important is that they affect key stats like Diplomacy, Martial, Stewardship, Intrigue, Learning, Fertility, Prowess, and so on.

5. Hearts of Iron IV

Image credit: Paradox Interactive

Hearts of Iron IV is yet another game from Paradox Interactive and its theme is World War II. Released in 2016 to universal acclaim, this title gives you the possibility to take command of any country that participated in the tragic conflict that lasted from 1939 to 1945.

Some events in the game are predetermined for the sake of historical accuracy, but many more can be greatly influenced by your decisions and strategic prowess. In that sense, Hearts of Iron IV allows you to rewrite history and accomplish things that weren’t accomplished during the real war.

Just like Europa Universalis IV, this game is highly complex and cannot be mastered with ease. Achieving even a basic level of competence requires dozens of hours of play. Therefore, the game is not for the faint-hearted and will push your mind to its strategic limits more often than you may like.

Think of Hearts of Iron IV as a mixture of complexity and difficulty that requires you to possess good knowledge of the second World War and the ability to multitask like a StarCraft 2 player. Make no mistake, this is one of the most challenging titles of the Grand Strategy genre and you are likely to fail over and over until you find success.

The map of Hearts of Iron IV includes around 11,000 small regions and locations. The game insists on the realism of the geographical element as much as Football Manager insists on the realism of its leagues. It’s both fascinating and terrifying at the same time.

6. Stellaris

Image credit: Paradox Interactive

If you want to try something similar to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th titles on this list of 9 games like Total War but in space, Paradox Interactive has you covered. The company created a true masterpiece for those who love Grand Strategy and science fiction called Stellaris.

The game was released in 2016 and just like the other titles developed by Paradox, it is highly complex, replayable, and extremely fun to experiment with. Every single session is unique. The number of options guarantees that.

Each Stellaris game starts with an exploration and quest-solving phase. There are multiple races and types of resources, so if you’ve played titles like Age of Empires II, you should feel right at home. But Stellaris is far more complex because the resource harvesting process is much more challenging.

Every step you make will require careful planning. The game simply doesn’t allow you to play on autopilot and repeat the same moves you made during a previous session. Without taking into account the specific elements of your current situation, you will almost certainly fail.

Stellaris’ Universe feels a lot like a mixture of Warhammer 40K, Star Wars, and Dune. It’s quite obvious that the developers from Paradox Interactive carefully studied what others have done and then strived to create something that’s fresh and innovative but also full of familiar elements.

7. Age of Wonders III

Image credit: Triumph Studios, Paradox Interactive

Age of Wonders III was released in 2014 and managed to sell half a million copies in its first 2 years, making it a big success. Not much is known about how it did commercially after that point, but we can suspect that the game continues to be played by many people.

Age of Wonders III offers an excellent blend of warfare, empire-building, and character development. Think of it as “Heroes of Might and Magic 3 meets Civilization V”. It’s extremely well made and even though it was criticized initially for some of its macro play elements, it’s extremely addictive once you play it for a few hours.

The battles in AoW III are quick and fun, making you want to go from battle to battle and empower your hero in the process. Every unit in the game is well-designed and the overlap between the races is minimal.

Another cool thing about Age of Wonders III is the fact that battles are not all the same. Some involve a siege while others take place in an open field. Just like in HoMM 3 and Total War games, you can skip a battle if you feel like it’s too easy for you. The AI will take care of it instantly.

The single-player campaign of the game can be a bit dull at times and full of irrelevant battles, but overall it’s enjoyable and worth giving a try.

If you’d like to learn more about how to win a strategy game like AoW III, check out this RTS case-study guide designed for Age of Empires 4.

8. Field of Glory 2: Medieval

Image credit: Byzantine Games

Field of Glory 2: Medieval was largely overlooked both by critics and players alike, but the people who played it gave it high reviews. The game is set in one of the most brutal periods in human history: the High Middle Ages or 1040 – 1270 AD. Its visuals accurately reflect the trends of that age and lovers of history will appreciate this.

This strategy wargame excels in the tactics department and allows you to make a lot of maneuvers that make the battles feel more realistic. In total, you can choose between 29 nations and factions.

Field of Glory 2: Medieval gives you the possibility to relive famous historical battles such as Hastings, Steppes, and Trutina. It features more than 100 units from the High Middle Ages and is historically accurate.

This title is probably not for everyone, but those who have an interest in the history of the High Middle Ages will certainly enjoy it. There’s a lot of emphasis on this specific element and it’s so well incorporated that it compensates for anything that the game may lack.

One thing that prevents you from getting bored with the battles is the option to choose the difficulty. If you feel like they are too easy, simply switch to a higher difficulty and the AI will give you the challenges you crave. In total, there are 6 levels of difficulty and the 6th one is quite impressive.

9. Knights of Honor

Image credit: Creative Assembly Sofia

Knights of Honor was released in 2005 and represents one of the older Grand Strategy games published by Paradox Interactive. The game was developed by Black Sea Studios and has received excellent reviews from everyone. On Steam, its approval rate is higher than 90%.

In Knights of Honor, you can choose three starting points from the Middle Ages and pick one of the 100 playable kingdoms. For a game from 2005, the number of options you get is staggering.

Some of the elements incorporated into KoH’s gameplay are war, trade, and religion. All of them constitute an important aspect of the action and you will be tasked to use them wisely if you want to succeed.

Playing Knights of Honor will give you a better understanding of the evolution of Grand Strategy games, and will also train you for the more challenging titles in this genre.

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