The Top 10 World War II Games on PC

World of Tanks

World of Tanks keeps its popularity as a free online game that rules over many others with regular updates and a multitude of options for tank hardware and multiplayer modes. Controls are not difficult to master, and play strategy is detailed enough for hardcore tank fans. Many tanks of competing armies in various conflicts are offered, of all different capabilities from different years of the war. A lot of customization is possible and upgrades, which elevate the quality of tanks met on the battlefield as well. Balanced play permits tanks to confront opponents no more than one grade up.

Different modes allow you to engage in historical battles or choose games that are more arcade style with conquest of territory and eliminating opposition. This multiplayer game has options for different styles of team efforts or individual play against other players as enemy units. Realism is gained in much of the mechanical functional qualities and response to controls. The interactive nature of the game and the amount of variety and options, and different possible tactics with each tank, makes for different outcomes each time with no two games alike. This game is rated highly by many players, some of whom spend hundreds or even thousands of hours in online play.

Company of Heroes

Hailed as one of the best war strategy games ever, Company of Heroes adds more authentic tactics for logistics of supply and AI for response of troops on the battlefield to enemy action without a player needing to micromanage each moment. Conquered territory must be protected from incursions, or lose supply lines. Tanks are another element as part of the battle, in addition to artillery. Flanks must always be considered while fighting the front line battle, or enemy forces will take advantage and cut off the front line battle group from supply lines. This is an RTS game that doesn’t spend a lot of extra time in building mode to increase the number of buildings, men and materials unlike some other games. Opposing forces spending more time in action of battle.

Graphics of the game are next generation quality, able to incorporate the latest updates in effects of shadow and light. Detail can be so accurate as to distract a player from concentrating on game strategy to admire the features of the terrain and other objects of interest. Destruction is also a satisfying experience for its extreme nature, as artillery hits are accurately depicted in full force with flying debris and the obliteration of targets or high flying turf and dust clouds. The same is true for soldiers engaged in combat having an element of emotional realism of facial expressions. The sound is of cinematic quality with surround sound type of effects with machinery passing and bullets zipping by.

Company of Heroes continues to be one of the most visually stunning and well thought out RTS games. Authenticity, AI in troops during battle, realistic strategy for coordinating and maintaining fighting lines on different fronts and protection of supply lines in a game that gives a live experience engaged in real time.

World at War

This is not the last version of Call of Duty released but it is the most recent one with a WWII theme. With a different appearance of a dark and mood environment of action in the Southeastern Pacific islands against the Japanese in the oppressive jungle heat. Heroics are replaced with brutality of a nature that existed in that part of the war. Marines are pinned down against Japanese bullets and artillery. Graphically realistic body parts and exploding skulls of human targets are not overdone, but grimly authentic in a horrific reality that was part of the war in the islands.

The action of World at War is described by some to be the definitive Call of Duty, while others may not like the change in atmosphere of the game.

Description edited 29-1-2015

Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway

This game franchise has focused on the personal aspect of war, following the story of a soldier named Matt Baker of the 101st airborne with the never ending gruesome and tragic loss of life and friends in war as experienced by many of WWII veterans. Tactics played out in the game are effective in requiring the use of flanking maneuvers and cover fire in order to succeed against the enemy. Close relationships are kept with comrades during the fighting, to give a sense as in the title of the series, Brother in Arms fighting to survive together in the hell of combat.

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

All excess drama has been removed from this game, focusing purely on the difficulty of fighting in battle in a realism that requires you to count your rounds fired to know what you still have. Battles of the Eastern Front are recreated in the stark realism of a shooting simulator. Firing a heavy machine gun for too long will melt the barrel, causing delay as the barrel requires time to replace. No kill or victory is easy and hard work is necessary, requiring teamwork and strategy to gain an objective. If you don’t function as a team, you’ll pay a price. Realistic shooting tactics and options in movement that can make you pay for any mistake can spoil a player so that other games may disappoint, after experiencing Red Orchestra 2.

Hidden & Dangerous 2

As an older game, Hidden and Dangerous 2 excels in missions undercover with heroics and stealth tactics. Wide field and area of action with a lot of latitude in how you intend to proceed with your mission gives the game great variety, with a multitude of possible missions and varied locations from the jungles of Burma to secret snow covered mountaintop enemy installations. Movement and controls are not efficient, or AI of team mates, but other elements of the game for mission strategy and choice of action make up for it. Dead soldiers stay fallen, and characters remain consistent, give the game an air of authenticity.

Hearts of Iron III

This is a game of maps and strategy with political decisions and the logistics of resources for conduction warfare. The player can take control of any country during the war to make political decisions and economic variables. Geopolitical strategy can be played out during any of the years between 1936 and 1948, testing the capacity for Nazi and Axis Powers for world domination or Soviet potential for driving their forces into Europe after the collapse of Germany. You control troops, resources, naval and air units and U-boat missions as a part of strategy, as well as every aspect of foreign policy.

Silent Hunter III

An excellent sim for submarine action of silent strategy and stealth, Silent Hunter III remains one of the best of its kind. You command a U-boat lurking under the Atlantic, with detailed planning and navigation skills necessary to locate and track your target for a kill. Precision is needed as in true submarine warfare, or you’ll expend torpedoes into open ocean while your target continues on and you must set up again for another shot if you can. Skill and patience are required as a cold blooded killer of the open sea lanes and shipping lanes of coastal waters where U-boats dominated for several years during the war.

Graphics can be a little dated, while there is a new Silent Hunter 5 with many bugs that have been worked out since release, but still rates second in terms of testing one’s skills in strategic underwater warfare, the PC Games N reports.

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault

This is a classic game for which had all the elements of a WWII shoot out in historic missions. Other games were developed improving upon the success of this example, including Call of Duty by the same developer. Its rendition of the Normandy invasion is intense and unforgettable, as soldiers disembark from landing craft with a storm of machine gun fire, attempting to gain a beachhead as men are cut down in the water and stumbling and crawling up the beach without shelter from enemy bullets. No other game of the time could equal an historic scene of this magnitude.

War of Thunder

As a free online game of the World War II genre, War Thunder scores highly overall with most players as an engaging multiplayer experience that is more than satisfactory, from its realistic sound of machinery and visual detail, to further realism in the tracking and movement of tanks, sliding under momentum and tracks slipping, biting again into turf. A player doesn’t have to remain with one tank until death but can take control of others in his unit. Drawbacks are a lack of continuity in the terrain graphics at times where stretching or angular effects become noticeable. One other undesirable element is that a tank will disappear once destroyed, rather than remaining as a hulk on the battlefield, taking away from the realistic quality in other aspects of the game.

War of Thunder began as an air combat battle with authentic examples of WWII aircraft. Sim quality has improved dramatically while offering a great variety of machines of the era from many nations. Now adding ground tank forces, the play on the ground and in the air centers around the capture and holding of territory, with historical recreations similar to World of Tanks. For now, only German and Russian tanks are represented in the game, with more to come.

The game play is offered on PC, OS X and Playstation 4, with the identical behavior except for resolution. With further updates, this game is likely to get even better in the future.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE