Naval warfare games let you experience the thrill of commanding battleships on the open seas. But with their niche appeal, there aren’t many great options available.
In this article, I highlight the top naval warfare games that provide an immersive and entertaining naval combat experience for both hardcore and casual fans. These games have achieved high scores on Metacritic and are praised by all gamers alike.
The Best Naval Warfare Games:
- Silent Hunter III – Hardcore WWII submarine simulator
- Atlantic Fleet – Turn-based WWII naval strategy
- Cold Waters – Realistic Cold War-era submarine combat
- War on the Sea – WWII Pacific naval battles
- Windward – Relaxed pirate ship adventures
- World of Warships – Best-looking free-to-play naval warfare MMO
Those are just a few highlights – read on for an in-depth look at what makes these the best naval warfare games you can currently play.
Table of Contents
Silent Hunter III
Silent Hunter III is a classic submarine simulator from Ubisoft released back in 2005. This title remains a fan favorite among other titles in the franchise because of the enhanced immersion and attention to detail environment.
Although the graphics are a bit dated compared to today’s standard, the game still manages to offer a movie-like experience of realism and the thrills of being inside a submarine with its atmosphere.
The game takes place in the World War II era. Here, you take on the role of a German U-boat captain, and your objective is to take out the Allied forces and warships. You have the option to take them out silently with torpedoes or fight them on the water surface with submarine munitions.
You can also add additional content to the game and further enhance the graphics by installing mods made by the community.
Atlantic Fleet is a direct sequel and the PC version of the mobile-only game Pacific Fleet. The PC version has a lot better visuals, upgraded buoyancy and destruction physics, intuitive controls, an expanded selection of ships and submarines, etc.
Set during the historical events of World War II, you’ll get to play as either the Allied forces and defend your conveys or join forces with the German naval army and launch a full-blown attack.
The game offers a turn-based combat system that heavily emphasizes forming a strategy for being victorious. You’ll need to plan your movement and action phases carefully to get the upper hand.
Furthermore, you’ll also get to choose from a variety of different game modes, such as Single Battle Editor to make your own custom games, a Campaign Mode to play all the missions of both factions, and a Dynamic Campaign that walks you through the events from 1939 to 1945.
Cold Waters is unlike the other games on our list. The game has taken heavy inspiration from the 1988 classic “Red Storm Rising.” In fact, many consider the game to be a spiritual successor.
It’s a game where you take control of a submarine and prevent the Soviet ships from anchoring in Iceland. You have to take out enemy battleships, submarines, and aircraft using a variety of different arsenals like torpedoes, cruise missiles, etc.
The game also lets you strategize your attacks. You can either take them out quietly or go for an all-out attack. The gameplay manages to stay true to realism with the accurately modeled ships and submarines, sonar models, enemy’s AI and combat tactics, etc.
War on the Sea
War on the Sea is yet another Naval warfare game from the same developers of Cold Water. This game offers an immersive experience of the Naval battles centered around World War II’s historical events.
The premise of the game is relatively simple. You either pick the side of the USA or the Japanese Navy and then proceed to capture enemy territories in the South Pacific. As you continue to capture enemy bases, you’ll unlock more ships and aircraft that you can use to progress further.
Naval battles are intense, fun, and thrilling. After completing the dynamic campaign, you can also check out the mods (that add custom battles and ships/aircraft) to make your game more interesting.
From a small indie studio, Tasharen Entertainment Inc., comes Windward, a unique take on the naval combat gameplay. Rather than focusing on strategy formation and historical events, the game offers just the casual fun of sailing around on the open sea while battling other pirate ships.
You might also find this game a bit more relaxing compared to the other titles on our list.
You start off by creating your custom faction and sailing on a world that is generated procedurally. From there, you can explore, complete quests, trade-in on the cities, gather resources, etc. As you progress, you’ll unlock more quests and resources that you can use to upgrade your ship and make it stronger.
Throughout your journey, you’ll also encounter other enemy pirates that you’ll have to take down before they will. The combat is kept rather simplistic. You have a selection of talents and abilities to take down the enemy ship. Defeating ship will grant you experience points that you can use to unlock more talents and abilities.
World of Warships
After being released back in 2015, World of Warships quickly climbed the Steam charts and became one of the best naval warfare games in the genre.
This free-to-play game was developed by Wargaming Group Limited, a veteran in war simulation games and the same studio behind other popular titles like World of Tanks and World of Warplanes.
The reason behind the immense popularity is the immersive graphics, historically accurate battleships, and realistic ship combat and gameplay. In my opinion, this might be the best-looking game on our list.
Gameplay-wise, the game has a steep learning curve, making it easy to understand but difficult to master. Every encounter requires strategic aiming and calculation to successfully land shots at your enemies.
The game has a wide selection of ships (over 600 different ships) to choose from, and it also offers plenty of customization options. You can change the look of flags, weapons, paint jobs, etc.
You play the game on your own, but I recommend you join a fleet with your friends, as it can make the experience much more enjoyable.
Honorable Mention 1: Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves falls far from being a true Naval Warfare game, but I still think it deserves to be on the list, given how good this game is. Despite a shaky launch, the game has gone through numerous changes and has now become one of Microsoft’s best-selling games.
Sea of Thieves is not just limited to a strict naval battleship game. Instead, the game has you put on the shoes of a Pirate. You can control your character, explore islands, engage in combat with enemies, dig out treasures, and take on different quests from world NPC, etc.
That being said, the most fun aspect of this game is the ship battles. Playing the game by forming a crew with your friends is a must to elevate the experience.
Every crew member can fill a role, whether it be navigating the ship, scouting for enemies, or firing heavy artillery. Sinking enemy ships with well-coordinated teamwork feels very satisfying, and I think that is where the game really shines.
Honorable Mention 2: Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag
Like the Sea of Thieves, this game offers naval warfare gameplay, but it isn’t the game’s main focus. Regardless, the game deserves to be on the list because of the exceptional naval combat that it offers.
The naval combat gameplay in Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag is rather arcady instead of focusing on realism (as you’d expect from an action-oriented game). So, if you’re just looking to have some fun ship battles instead of micromanaging the nitty-gritty details about aiming and strategizing, then Black Flag should be right up your alley.
Although not as comprehensive as other naval warfare on our list, the game still lets you upgrade and customize your battleship, such as the Broadside Canons, Battering Rams, Mortars, Swivel Guns, etc.