The long-running Microsoft’s RTS series continues strong. But these are the type of games that require constant practice to master. So, fans like you are probably looking for other games like Age of Empires.
I see three reasons why you may be looking for alternatives:
- Age of Empires games is too tough for you (or you seem to lose every online match)
- You want to continue playing other RTS games because you’ve enjoyed their entries
- You played and disliked Age of Empires IV, or you’re done with medieval warfare after years of AoEII and AoEIII.
Regardless of your reasons, we’re looking for other games like Age of Empires for real-time strategy fans.
That said, Age of Empires includes four games:
- Age of Empires (ancient Rome and ancient Greece era)
- Age of Empires II (medieval era)
- Age of Empires III (American conquest era)
- Age of Empires IV (medieval era)
The entry with the most players in the saga is AoEII: Definitive Edition (the current H.D. remaster). Coming up as close second is AoE IV, so we could say these two games are the experience you may be craving.
Selecting Games Like Age Of Empires
Regardless of your AoE game of choice, we’re directing the saga elements as a whole to identify similar titles.
- Genre: Age of Empire games are real-time-strategy entries with a historical setting.
- Single-player: Each game presents a series of historical campaigns following different conquerors, heroes, barbarians, and kings. AoEIII is the exception, though, as it features a fictional campaign about conquering America. Either way, every game features custom single-player matches against the AI.
- Historical data: The campaigns are backed up by historical data. The data comes in the form of narration, side archives, side documentation, and even mini-documentaries (like on AoE4). Notably, some of the historical characters include Joan of Arc, Hernán Cortéz, El Cid Campeador, King Edward Longshanks, and William Wallace.
- Multiplayer: These games also feature a healthy multiplayer scene. You can play 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, or 4v4 on a ranked ladder. A system called ELO determines the points you earn after each match. Alternatively, you can play co-op against the AI.
- Factions: The “factions” in the game are also historical “nations.” They imitate technologies, perks, and military units that take inspiration from historical facts.
- Gameplay: The saga follows classical RTS gameplay mechanics, and it has changed very little. In essence, these games mix micro-managing a growing empire with micro-managing your military units.
- Macro-managing: Most games, either single-player or online, start with a Town Center and a few villagers. Villagers gather resources (food, gold, wood, and stone) and build structures. Then, structures create military units, more villagers, or research technologies.
- Micro-managing: The other part of the equation is managing your military units. You can group them, use formations, tell them to stand ground, or use specific abilities. Then, you have to fight against enemy units.
- Maximum population: The entire saga has a maximum population of 200.
- Counter system: AoE has a rock/scissors/paper system. Every unit its counter, its preys, and its equals.
- Ages: Every game has four ages, and once you gather enough resources, you can age up by constructing a special building or researching a tech in the town center. New ages unlock buildings, technologies, and military units.
- Maps: AoE games have maps that imitate historical locations. Players would find on these maps resource patches.
- Constant support: Lastly, the developers keep working on AOEII: DE, AOE III, and AOEIV. The release DLCs, patches, balance fixes, new civilizations,
Overall, Age of Empires is a classical, medieval warfare RTS game. The games also have a healthy player base and healthy developer support.
The games like Age of Empires we’re looking for should offer similar advantages. We’d want you to continue playing online and offline on the titles we’re about to share. That’s the hard part, though: the RTS genre is not quite popular.
Games Like Age Of Empires
Total War: Warhammer III
- Developer: Creative Assembly
- Publisher: Sega
- Release Date: February 2022
- Platform:Windows, Linux, macOS
The Total War saga doesn’t share a lot of elements with the Age of Empires saga. However, if you’re looking for the RTS evolution and the most popular game in the genre, it’s the option to pick.
As part of the saga, it works as usual. There’s a turn-based world map where you control every aspect of your empire. You micromanage your cities by building structures, creating military units, and handling other political elements.
You also move around your soldiers on the map. Your units can attack other cities for conquest or attack other armies for victory.
Then, you micro-manage up to 40 soldier squads on battles that can support eight different armies within a battle. It can get very crazy, very fast.
Of course, the game uses the Warhammer lore to deliver its fantasy RTS game with epic proportions. The game has five races (factions), various campaigns, online battles, magical skills, and more.
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
- Release Date: July 2010
- Platform:Windows, macOS
The ongoing month of Blizzard’s controversies is not enough to put Starcraft II down. The fact that the latest seasonal update was in September 2020 is also not enough. By all means, the fast-paced sci-fi RTS should be dead, but it’s not. Instead, the player count is about 260K (September 2021), which is a fair bit more than AoE.
Like Warcraft III, SCII is tough. It’s faster than AoE, and it’s unforgiving. A single mistake can snowball into defeat. That’s because, unlike AoE, resources are very limited. That means the struggle is often about conquering expansion sites or denying your enemy’s expansion sites.
See, there’re mineral patches, gas patches, and you should have a controller amount of workers gathering your finite resources. Then, you should expand your base to other patches; the resource spawn points are often on plateaus, with a single ramp as the entrance.
Then, there’re three asymmetrical factions (Zergs, Protoss, and Terrans). The basics are the same (tech tiers, unit tiers, and resources), but the units are quite different. Even so, winning online matches is about mastering the counter system, using unit abilities, and micro-managing your armies rather than mastering the macro.
Luckily, SCII has an amazing, three-part campaign. The first part is free (Wings of Liberty), perhaps the best. Each story follows a faction and continues the level we saw on the original Starcraft. It’s a war across the stars between three races, one of which (the Zerg) poses a threat to every living being.
Age of Mythology: Extended Edition
- Developer: SkyBox Labs, Ensemble Studios
- Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
- Release Date: May 2014
Xbox Game Studios is yet to release an Age of Mythology remastered. Without the AoE treatment, the Extended Edition is the best we’ve got on. It’s a way to replay its thrilling campaign across Olympus, Tartarus, Ancient Greece, Egypt, northern tundras, and Valhalla.
This version includes the base game, The Titans expansion, and the Golden Gift campaign. The bundle also comes with enhanced visuals and new maps. Moreover, it allows multiplayer via Steam.
Age of Mythology is the fantasy RTS version of Age Of Empires for those unfamiliar. There’re four asymmetric factions, and each one features different mythological units.
Similarly, aging up requires choosing a favor of a God, which is also different for each faction. Aging rewards perks unlock mythological creatures and grant powers. Then, the campaign enemies are mostly mythical monsters, enemy factions, and even Titans.
Even though we rank AoM very high, you have to understand the game doesn’t have developer support anymore. Moreover, Steam has a short but constant player base of around 1.5K.
Crusader Kings III
- Developer: Paradox Development Studio
- Publisher: Paradox Interactive
- Release Date: September 2020
- Platform:Windows, macOS, Linux, PS5, Xbox Series
Crusader Kings III is a turn-based RTS game that plays like a board game. There’re no battles, but it’s still one of the toughest games in the genre.
As AoEII, it features a medieval setting, and it imitates the politics of a noble house in the Middle Ages. You choose a noble house, and the goal is to lead the dynasty through power across the ages.
That means establishing a reign. Yet, that requires managing diplomatic decisions, subterfuge, politics, and more. There’s a plethora of deep and complex mechanics. For example, you have to secure lands, vassals, titles, warfare, knights, man-at-arms, peasants, and heirs.
The campaign happens between 867 and 1066 A.C. The timespan is full of historical factions, facts, and events. Because of this, Crusader Kings III is also a medieval simulator. Moreover, you’re to customize your royal family members and rule with an iron fist.
Lastly, the game includes a vast medieval map from Nordic Lands to the Horn of Africa, the British Isles, and Burma.
Rise of Nations: Extended Edition
- Developer: Big Huge Games, SkyBox Labs
- Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
- Release Date: April 2014
Brian Reynolds, Civilization II designer, created Rise of Nations as another medieval RTS title. It’s an attempt to deliver an Age of Empires experience.
However, the timeline covers the entire history of humanity. There’re 18 civilizations, and each one has unique units and perks. However, the civs don’t follow historical facts, so there’s plenty of freedom to develop the factions.
The first era in the Ancient Age. Like AoE, you create villagers, gather resources, build infrastructures, research technologies, create military units, and go to war.
However, the campaign mode (Conquer The World) combines board-like features like the Total War series. You control your cities and empire and move your armies through a board-like interface. These happen in turns, and when you move into custom scenarios, the goal is to use your army to conquer the enemies.
Alternatively, you can play against other players on a ranked ELO ladder, similar to the AoE saga. Lastly, the Extended Edition improves the visuals compared to the original entry.
- Developer: Shiro Games
- Publisher: Shiro Unlimited
- Release Date: May 2018
- Platform:Windows, macOS, Linux, SteamOS, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Nintendo Switch
Northgard is a real-time strategy game with a Viking setting. It focuses more on the city building, but it’s overall very similar to Microsoft’s series. But unlike AoE games, you don’t build with villagers. Instead, you place a building with your interface and then order a villager to make it.
The plot follows a brave Viking tribe on a new land, Northgard. You’re to conquer the area on a lengthy campaign to bring fame to the clan. However, there’re undead warriors in the land, mythological monsters, a nasty winter, and wolves. However, the game’s pace is slow, so don’t go expecting epic battles right away.
The core gameplay is about building a settlement. But rather than creating villagers, Vikings can move into your city if the happiness is above a certain level. Then, you can assign your Vikings to various jobs. They can be, for example, warriors, sailors, loremasters, or farmers.
Then, you can manage your soldiers to dive deeper into the land. Here, you have to defeat the beasts that are threatening your survival. Back in town, though, players need to manage resources carefully to survive long winters.
Overall, Northgard is a gorgeous-looking Norse-themed RTS. It also has co-op modes and PvP modes on top of the campaign. Moreover, the campaign follows a storyline following the Viking King and his son. Completing the 11 chapters of the storyline requires conquering mastering 6 clans.
- Developer: Wildfire Games
- Publisher: Wildfire Games
- Release Date: Alpha State
- Platform:Windows, Linux, macOS X
0 A.D. is an open-source RTS game. The developers created it as an Age of Empires mod. However, it debuted as a fully-fledged game. It’s available for free.
There are still over 100 people working on the title, so it receives plenty of developer support. As an Age of Empires alternative, it covers the time era of the original title. In fact, the time frame focuses on 1 C.E.
The gameplay is similar to AoE. You build structures, gather resources, train the military, and battle. However, the economic system is deeper as it includes more research, tech tiers, and more.
0 A.D. is still in alpha state, though. A 2013 IndieGoGo campaign failed to raise the desired funds. So, there’s no schedule for a finished title.
Even so, 0 A.D. offers the experience AoE fans may be looking for. The similarities are staggering, as even relics are present in the free game. Moreover, the latest build is looking great and ready to play. Also, it features a lengthy historical campaign.
- Developer: DESTINYbit
- Publisher: Slitherine
- Release Date: March 2018
Empires Apart is an indie RTS game that takes all the right ideas from Age Of Empires but lacks a single-player campaign. Because of that, it debuted to low reception.
Even though it’s currently free and receiving fan praise, the player base is not growing. That said, the game offers skirmishes against the A.I. or other players in various game modes.
For example, one of the game modes is Survival. It’s about constructing your economy during the day and surviving hordes of enemy attacks at night. There’re also Challenges, which are several tests that require mechanical and tactical skills.
The setting is medieval, as it’s a homage to Age of Empires games. There’re various unique factions, customization options, and multiple victory conditions.
Lastly, the resources in the game are the same as AoE. It’s food, wood, gold, and stone. This is what you need to create structures, military units, and trading facilities.
Empire Earth III
- Developer: Mad Doc Software
- Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
- Release Date: November 2007
Empire Earth III takes the mechanical pillars of AoE and adds Civilization-like features. But unlike the previous games in the E.E. series, it only covers 5 eras instead of the entire human history and beyond.
But because it covers five eras, the game feels focused and complex. As usual, you gather resources, build, research, train units, and age up. Moreover, it includes three factions: the Middle East, the West, and the Far East.
Also, EEIII is a more cartoonish game akin to Age of Empires IV. Still, it’s an RTS title with a counter system, a lengthy campaign, and board-like features.
Also, users can customize the factions. Each civilization has sub-factions as well, like for example, Japan and China for the Far East civ. That said, the setting happens mostly in modern times. That means players can develop nuclear weapons.
Lastly, the game includes a World Domination mode that allows players to conquer the planet.
Dawn Of Man
- Developer: Madruga Works
- Publisher: Madruga Works
- Release Date: March 2019
- Platform:Windows, Xbox One, PS4, macOS
Dawn of Man is a survival and city builder title. The core gameplay is about advancing through various ages. In particular, the starting era is the Stone Age, and the end-point is the Iron Age, 10,000 years later.
You start by ordering your people to hunt wild animals for food, bones, and skin. These include mammoths, lions, bison, megaceros, and rhinos. However, each era requires different resources, but the most important stat to manage is happiness. It determines whether or not more NPCs will move to your villages, towns, and cities.
Then, as you gather resources and advance through the ages, the setting rewards you with new challenges. The idea is to adapt, as humans do, to survive and whatever the environment presents at you.
For example, there’re seasons, so you need extra food and clothes during winter. There’s also a technological tree, so you can reach radiators over time to better resist weather conditions.
Overall, it’s a city builder simulator where you gather, construct, and plan ahead. Over time, you’ll be able to expand and fortify your settlement, fight against raiders, expand your population, and unlock farming technologies.
- Developer: King Art Games
- Publisher: Deep Silver
- Release Date: September 2020
- Platform:Windows, PS5, Xbox Series
Iron Harvest is an RTS game with classical mechanics and a diesel-punk setting.
Military units include mecha, infantry, and hero units. They are your companions across the twenty original campaign missions. Alternatively, the game also offers multiplayer co-op and custom skirmish modes.
The plot follows an alternate history set in 1920. It’s a universe created by Polish artist Jakub Rozalski. Here, the story focuses on a conflict between Central and Eastern Europe in the aftermath of WWI.
The setting allows you to lead mechanized units into battle. You can also use cover or blast buildings. Moreover, the game encourages players to approach each battle with tactics, including stealth.
Lastly, the game has three factions, over 40 unit types, and nine heroes. Each hero has unique abilities to change the course of the battle.
STAR WARS Galactic Battlegrounds Saga
- Developer: Ensemble Studios
- Publisher: Disney, Lucasfilm, LucasArts
- Release Date: November 2001
There are only a couple of RTS games in the Star Wars universe. Even so, Galactic Battlegrounds come from AoEII and AoEIIi creators. As such, it uses the same mechanics and the same designs.
The factions in the game are Galactic Empire, Rebel Alliance, Wookies, Gungas, Royal Naboo, and the Trade Federation. There are various campaigns covering these factions over the Galactic War.
The Saga bundle includes the Clone Campaigns add-on. These are 14 additional missions with characters, army units, and locations from Attack of the Clones.
The gameplay is full-on classic RTS, with a sci-fi setting. However, the battles rely heavily on land, sea, and air vehicles. These battles happen across the single-player campaign, custom skirmishes, and only PvP.
Lastly, as AoE, the game has a limit of 200 units per side. However, these units should be familiar: Bounty Hunters, Droids, Wookie Kat tanks, Clone Soldiers, and Droids. Bear in mind the game is quite old, and it hasn’t aged very well.