Last year RTS gamers were treated to some real time strategy treats, from Crusader Kings 3 to Port Royale 4. But 2020 is thankfully almost over, and now we’re looking forward to the Top RTS Game Releases of 2021!

I have a love/hate relationship with the list this year, while I’m excited about the titles in the list, there’s quite a few sequels over original content. Nevertheless, 2021 is going to be a great year with some fantastic, and sometimes nostalgic titles on the list!

5) Evil Genius 2: World Domination

Kicking off the list of our Top 5 RTS games of 2021 comes a lighter hearted sequel, Evil Genius 2 brings a little humor to a base building RTS filled with villainy. The original Evil Genius provided us with a breath of fresh air not seen since the days of Bullfrog, indeed Elixir Studios who created the original was founded by Bullfrog and Lionhead alumni.

In Evil Genius 2: World Domination you play an Evil Super Villain starting from the ground up to build a true evil empire, with terrorizing gadgets and infamous henchmen, and notorious schemes.

While Evil genius might not be one of the most in-depth RTS coming out in 2021 it’s lighthearted take on the genre is a great break from some of the heavier titles.

4) The Settlers

The Settlers makes the list easily with it’s epic legacy in the RTS world. The 2021 Settlers release is still awaiting a release date, but it promises some improvements over previous games, including a meshing of all the previous game mechanics along with some new game mechanics and features for the modern age. The Settlers 2021 release comes with both promise and trepidation, we’ve seen the series swing between innovative, and Age of Empires clone.

While details are still scarce, we’ve seen some promising news on some heavily updated graphics, updates to the food system, and improved multiplayer.

One word of warning, the Settlers has been delayed before, and we may see further delays as Ubisoft continues to restructure through the pandemic. More delays would be unfortunate, but not necessarily unexpected.

3) Gates of Hell

Diving down from the 4x genre we’re going in to a battle focused RTS which does away with the base building and sets you in to warfare with limited resources to succeed against overwhelming odds. While the idea may not be new, Gates of Hell provides in depth strategic and tactical layers that you’ll need to work through to succeed.

Gone are the tech trees and the turtling, Gates of Hell instead brings to the fore a vast array of tactical possibilities, destructible terrain, and hundreds of unit types to work with.

While the lack of strategic options might be off-putting to some RTS gamers, the level of complexity within the game itself makes this a compelling title that will stretch your strategic skillset in new and interesting ways!

2) Dark Moon

Dark Moon is an indie contender in the RTS lineup for 2021, it’s innovative game mechanics in a post apocalyptical world turn the regular RTS in a mobile race for survival as you beat the now deadly rays of the sun as the moon rotates. Your mobile base has all the regular RTS mechanics, but now you need to ensure you’re well stocked with resources as you move to stay ahead of destruction.

Dark Moon also doesn’t go easy on you, the staff of your base are essential to your future success, but there’s limited space and you’ll have to make some hard choices on who to keep, and who to leave behind. Who keeps the peace, who keeps the ship running, who is loyal, and who is really going to keep your base moving.

1) Age of Empires IV (Jan 26th)

One of the oldest RTS games is back in 2021 with it’s fourth installment, the first major release in 13 years after a series of reboots and expansions. So far we don’t now much about the upcoming sequel, but two big improvements have been highlighted. The first are the visuals, full 4k compatibility brings AOE4 graphics in to the modern age, and they are visually stunning. The second, AI, provides adaptive enemies who will use different tactics, from turtling to full on attacks, to take down your empire depending on how you’re playing.

Over the last few years we’ve seen renewed interest in the Age of Empires franchise as they have begun to reboot their entire series for modern machines and consoles. For AoE4 they are clear however, this is a massive upgrade to the franchise and aimed at the PC gamers that have supported it through the decades. Multiple times throughout their interviews they talk about the upgrades they have made for the modern PC gamer, and we can’t wait to find out everything on the release list!