What do Electronic Arts, Activision, and Sega have in common? Well, besides the fact that all three prominent publishers/developers work within the field of gaming, they also have invested heavily in the development studio Creative Assembly's Total War series. For the uninitiated, that IP was birthed in 2000 and has steadily delivered games that cover various time periods & themes within the confines of a strategy game format. Managing one's units and resources across vast battlefields while engaging the enemy in furious combat encompasses what Total War has been about since its inception. We're going to do a deep dive into all 17 of the mainline entries in the series as we reminisce over and rank the best Total War games.
The 17 Best 'Total War' Games, Ranked
Best 'Total War' Games
17. 'Total War Battles: Kingdom'
The Total War franchise isn't just contained on PC - it has also taken a detour into the world of mobile gaming. One of those phone/tablet projects is this one, which is certainly easy on the eyes and sounds great when it comes to overall music & the sound of steady warfare. However, mobile spinoffs such as this one sacrifice complexity to appeal to a wider mobile gaming audience. So the simplistic take on Total War's gameplay formula, plus the inclusion of microtransactions and the grinding that comes with mobile gaming hurts this one a lot.
16. ‘Total War Saga: Thrones Of Britannia’
What we have here is a Total War experience that takes place across the old-time islands of Britain and Ireland after Alfred the Great defeated the Viking invaders. And for the most part, it's solid enough. Complaints from fans and reviewers alike were lobbied at its selectable factions, which offer little in the way of varied skill sets. Plus there are issues with the recruitment system and other changes that hamper the overall Total War experience.
15. ‘Total War Saga: Troy’
The next entry we're set to highlight here takes place during the Bronze Age during the Trojan War. It certainly maintains the high level of complexity that fans appreciate about the series' combat structure, visuals, and audio. Its negatives come in the form of a less-than-stellar UI (User Interface) and other technical issues that coincide with the AI (Artificial Intelligence) of the player's combat units.
14. ‘Total War: Rome II’
This franchise entry's central focus is the location of Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Near East in the Classical antiquity time period. All the positive aspects that fans have come to respect about the Total War games are fully represented here. However, at the time of its launch, criticism was levied against the game's myriad bugs and glitches. Besides those issues, this series entry remains a must-play in its current state thanks to updates that have helped it reach its true potential.
13. ‘Total War: Attila’
The same grievances brought against Total War: Rome II were mentioned in regard to this latest selection on our ranked list of the best Total War games. Rampant bugs and glitches at launch disappointed longtime series fans, obviously. But everything else, including the attention to the time period's detail (395 AD, during the Late Antiquity era), graphical prowess, sound design, and well-tuned gameplay, make this game still worth the time investment.
12. ‘Napoleon: Total War’
Arguably the most prominent figure of the French Revolution got the starring role in this Total War game. And that historical personality is Napoleon Bonaparte, who players take control of during his military campaign across Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. There's a lot to love here, including the visuals, playable campaigns, and extreme detail when it comes to the game's historical accuracy. However, this game's weak AI component got a lot of flack for making the overall experience a bit too easy to overcome.
11. ‘Total War Battles: Shogun’
The Total War style of the strategy RPG gameplay was streamlined to format it for mobile devices. And shockingly, it worked a lot better than series diehards expected. Total War Battles: Shogun transports players to feudal Japan for exciting incursions within one of the more exciting eras the series has ever embraced. The slower pacing of the battlefield action was annoying for some, but this game as a whole knocks it out of the park when you consider everything else it has to offer.
10. ‘Total War: Three Kingdoms’
The Three Kingdoms period that enveloped feudal China are brought to the forefront of this Total War game. And for the most part, the changes brought to this release push the series forward in positive ways. The bigger focus on emergent storytelling, one-on-one duels between generals, and implementation of two styles of play for differing campaigns all come together to hold this game up as one of Total War's finest series entries.
9. ‘Shogun: Total War’
The glitches that plagued Shogun: Total War at launch are no more, which means the best parts of this game shine even more in their most complete state. As one of the earliest releases in the series, this game still deserves a ton of credit for combining turn-based strategy and real-time tactics in an efficient manner that has inspired other games just like it. There's still so much to derive from this throwback Total War game as it paints a picture of the amazing foundation put in place for the series' future.
8. ‘Total War: Warhammer’
Total War: Warhammer is the one Total War sub-series that doesn't adopt a historical setting and instead dives deep into a fictional one. The medieval fantasy time period that's showcased here quickly became a fan favorite and morphed into the one fans regularly mention as their absolute favorite. The awe-inspiring large-scale combat, diverse factions, and inspired time setting are what made Total War fans flock to this release in droves.
7. ‘Total War: Warhammer II’
The sequel to the last game on our list went ahead and improved on everything that made that game such a must-play. Total War: Warhammer II's biggest additions come in the form of new character races, new tactical options, and fresher map types. Most fans prefer this sequel's campaign in comparison to the first game's campaign, which is why it's placed higher than its predecessor here.
6. ‘Total War: Warhammer III’
We already spoke about the highly improved campaign structure of Warhammer II. Warhammer III's claim to fame is just how much better its campaign ends up being in comparison to the first two games' renditions of that legacy mode. A plethora of quality-of-life improvements made this game that much easier to wrap one's head around and enjoy, plus the larger in-game map and new combat units arrived as the expected upgrades a sequel of this caliber usually delivers.
5. ‘Medieval: Total War’
Constructing one's very own unstoppable empire across medieval Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East feels, looks, and sounds so amazing in Medevil: Total War. Once fans fully understood the many complexities of this game's mixture of turn-based and real-time tactics-based gameplay, greatness immediately ensued. A strong campaign, formidable factions to master, a well-tuned battle system, and an immense sense of scale all come together to push this Total War game into the top five spots on this list.
4. ‘Medieval II: Total War’
While Medieval II: Total War doesn't do a ton to innovate the Total War format as a whole, it instead greatly improves upon the finest aspects of its predecessor. The campaign is astounding, the presence of cheats added a lot to the game's fun factor, and the PC community's ability to mod whatever they see fit in this game makes it one of those series entries that will forever remain relevant among fans.
3. ‘Empire: Total War’
Major technical issues proved to be too much to overcome for Total War devotees at this game's launch. Years later, those issues have been ironed out to present the definitive version of one of the very best Total War games that produces something unique that fans regard highly. Participating in epic battles during the 18th century incorporated artillery, cavalry units, rifling squads, and naval combat, which all came together to produce an illuminating experience.
2. ‘Total War: Shogun 2’
Prior games in the Total War franchise were hurt by AI problems that made the enemy troops players confronted way too easy to vanquish. Total War: Shogun 2's strong AI component gets tons of acclaim for presenting a worthy challenge to Total War fans. Confronting an even higher difficulty level via the "Realm Divine" mechanic also changed things up to test players' political and tactical maneuvering.
1. ‘Rome: Total War’
Rome: Total War represented top-of-the-line gameplay and one of the best historical time periods Total War has ever implemented. This game's quality campaign offers a nearly unlimited array of content that still forces players to pour an unhealthy amount of hours into it. Navigating the political strife and bloody battles of Ancient Rome in video game form is much preferred with Rome: Total War, which stands as the very best game in the series and a triumph for the strategy genre as a whole.
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