Back then, there were many real time strategy games out there. Developers were creating and people were playing. However, in recent years, RTS genre lost popularity. But I don’t care about that, I’m still playing real time strategy games and loving it. That’s why I decided to make a list of 20 best free to play RTS games.
Consoles are the reason RTS lost popularity because it’s not easy to play strategy games with joysticks. Big corps just don’t want to make PC exclusive games.
And don’t get me wrong, some indie developers are still creating good RTS games. On the list below you can find both new and old RTS game that are completely free to play.
1. Starcraft 2
Let’s start with a legend. This is the second after the best RTS AEO2, and it’s completely free to play now. Starcraft 2 become free in the November 14, 2017.
StarCraft II is a real-time strategy game developed and published by Blizzard. It’s received %93 positive Metacritic review, and it has been cited as one of the greatest video games ever made.
The game set in the 26th century in a distant part of the galaxy and focuses on the conflict between three species:
- Terrans. (Human exiles from Earth.)
- The Zerg. (A race of insectoid aliens.)
- Protoss. (A technologically advanced alien race.)
There are 29 campaign missions, and online MMR ladder that will keep you busy for a while in Starcraft II. So, I don’t know what else to say? If you like real time strategy games, Starcraft II is a must play.
Mindustry is a RTS sandbox tower-defense game focused on industry building. Kinda reminds me of the popular RTS game Factorio.
It’s free on itch.io. You don’t need to buy it. But you may consider it buying on Steam for achievements and mod support.
RTS DEFENSE GAMES < Check similar.
In Mindustry you create supply chains to feed ammo to your turrets, produce materials for buildings, expand production, and defend against waves of enemies.
Its game modes are campaign, sandbox, co-op and multiplayer PvP.
3. Second Earth
Proxima Centauri B is humanity’s second earth. A new colony has been formed. Things were going great. But unfortunately, invasion from an alien race known as the Hive took place.
You can gather resources, build structures, expand colony, and train armies to defend against the Hive’s attacks.
I’m really surprised how good the mechanics, graphics, and gameplay of Second Earth. Because it’s a free-to-play game, you expect less, right? However, the game is top notch.
Zero-K is a free RTS game available on Steam. It’s a sci-fiction themed game where you can build robot armies, various mech, and laser weapon. Quite fun.
In this game, players build and command armies to defeat their opponents. Kinda influenced by the Starcraft franchise.
You can play the massive campaign, solo or co-op. Also, the 32 player online battles must be tried at least once. Overall, it’s a RTS game that should’ve been much more popular.
5. Planet S
Planets are aligned my friends. Here is a real-time strategy game where you can colonize multiple planets in the solar system. 14 procedurally generated planets are awaiting you.
Planet S is a strategy game set in space, where you manage resources and build a space-stations all over the galaxy. Really innovative. Especially fun in co-op.
You should keep in mind that it’s an early access game. Though the games keeps getting better and better each update.
6. War Selection
War Selection is a strategy game like Rise of Nations where you can start in the stone age and move to the industrialization. There’s something about nuking stone age civilizations.
The game features a wide variety of units, buildings, and upgrades throughout the ages.
- Survival. (Wave defense.)
- Free for all.
- Ranked 1v1 and 2v2.
- Tug of War.
- Team Match.
- Armageddon. (Battle royale.)
7. AirMech Strike
AirMech Strike is another sci-fi RTS game filled with mechs, robots, and laser units. It’s a fast-paced game where you can quickly blow off some steam.
It has a single player option and campaign, but the real fun is in the multiplayer. With its unique matchmaking and ranking system, you can have so much fun.
Casual games can still enjoy the offline play though.
8. Heart of Muriet
Heart of Muriet is a Voxel real-time strategy game set in the fantasy medieval world of Muriet.
The game is all about settlement building, micro-management, researching magic, and managing warrior units.
You can enjoy the game in story-driven single-player campaign. Currently it doesn’t have a multiplayer option but expected to be available in the third quarter of 2023.
Become the chief of a settlement on a floating island. There will be lots of barbaric invaders, but you can build 6 different unique towers to defend yourself.
Longhaus is basically a bridge between tower defense, RTS, and survival genres. It has 4 maps, and 2 season (winter, spring) for you to play in. Let me tell you, artwork of this game is beautiful.
Overall, it’s a 125mb small indie game definitely worth playing. Multiplayer is not yet ready but im sure it’ll be in the future.
TowersRTS in compound is a fast-paced RTS game where you conquer and upgrade towers as you move forward in your campaign.
Even though its free, developer still constantly works on the game and bring new content with updates. It even has a competitive multiplayer PVP mode.
Want a fun little RTS for some quick fun? Go for it!
11. Right Click to Necromance
Now comes one of my favorite RTS games, Right Click to Necromance. It’s an action-strategy game where you control a necromancer who must build an undead army by resurrecting fallen soldiers on the battlefield.
Gameplay is pretty simple. You only need to right-click to order the undead soldiers to attack enemies. But you must be strategic on doing that because your armies might be quickly overwhelmed by the enemy hordes.
You Died – Pretty ironic for a necromancer.
12. Crystal Clash
Crystal Clash is a very strategic game that mixes Dota like lane battles with deckbuilding.
You can do 2v2 PVP or co-op with a friend of yours. Which is why I like this game a lot. Though you don’t have to play PVP if you don’t like, PVE is equally good.
In the game players must protect their crystal from waves of monsters. Meanwhile you try and destroy your opponents’ crystal.
13. Retro Commander
Retro Commander is a post-apocalyptic real-time strategy wargame. Cataclysmic events ruined the old earth, now factions are competing to secure power.
The game has PvP and Co-op options, but I like the campaign most. Because its post-apocalyptic story is rich, deep, and compelling.
It might be an early access game; however, it’s almost finished and have a huge mod support.
14. Crustacean Nations
You ever imagined a game all about crab warfare? Crustacean Nations is a free real time strategy features huge army of crabs struggling to dominate each other.
The game features cute cartoon graphics, a variety of crab types, and buildings like sandcastles.
Crustacean Nations units:
- Common Crab
- Ghost Crab
- Stone Crab
- Hermit Crab
- Coconut Crab
- Spider Crab
Quite fun, wish it had multiplayer option.
15. Siege UP!
It was being developed for the last 3 years by a single person. There are still things to polish and improve. But overall, the game is great for an indie RTS.
It’s essentially a fast-paced low-poly RTS. You can enjoy 20 missions of campaign. As for the multiplayer, you can create local server or play on official servers. Also, it’s a fast-paced cross-platform game you can even play on your phone.
16. Prime World: Defenders 2
Prime World Defenders 2 is a hybrid between tower defense and card collecting genres. So, it means the game is kinda grindy. But fun nonetheless.
Key features of Prime World Defenders 2:
- 54 unique towers.
- 41 heroes.
- 29 challenging bosses.
- 26 types of creeps.
- 21 spells.
- Epic PVP battles.
- Rune system.
17. Black Forest
Black Forest is a real time strategy game all about survival. I don’t know why but bunch of people decide to create a town in the middle of mountain / forest area. As their leader, you will micro-manage every aspect of their harsh life.
This newly created village have many enemies such as wolves, bears, harsh winter, and hunger. Settlement must survive no matter what.
Currently Black Forest only have single player because it’s an early access game. So, there might be co-op and PVP features in the future.
18. Nomands on Driftland
Here is a fantasy RTS filled with mages, magic, monsters, and dragons. In Driftands, mage-rulers created a new order. However, not everyone is happy with their rule.
In Nomads of Driftlands, you’ll be joining nomads and fight for freedom. It’ll be tough but freedom always triumphs.
As for the game mechanics, it’s a fusion of RTS, 4X strategy, and Sim genres.
19. Builders of Egypt: Prologue
Ancient Egypt is filled with mystery. It’s always a welcome setting in gaming. Especially in real-time-strategy.
It’s basically a city-builder game takes place in the Nile Valley. It’s unique blend of historical accuracy and creative freedom. As a Pharoah you’ll be controlling diplomacy, politics, religion, trade, and internal affairs.
Builders of Egypt: Prologue is currently early access game and free to play.
20. 0 A.D.
0 A.D. is a historical RTS which is my favorite kind. There is something I like about grand battles of history.
AD stands for Anno Domini, Latin for “in the year of the Lord”, while BC stands for “before Christ”. – Wikipedia
In the game major civilizations over the millennium of 500 B.C. to 500 A.D featured, all in their prime. It’s the best alternative of Age of Empires franchise.
Currently the game does not have online servers. So, you can either play single-player or LAN multiplayer via Hamachi or something.