Top Multiplayer RTS Games for the PC

Many real-time strategy games have multiplayer options that allow you to wage war over the internet. In most cases, you are required to gather resources, research new technology, build up an army, and use it to vanquish your enemy. Some games offer both single player mode and multiplayer RTS mode. You're bound to find a game that captures your imagination in this collection of new and classic real-time strategy games.

"Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak" is the long-awaited prequel to the classic RTS game "Homeworld." It is set in a dying world, and players must manage fleets, technology and resources. As you play, lead an expedition into enemy territory to investigate an anomaly that might save the planet. The game offers both single player and multiplayer modes.

 "Offworld Trading Company" is set on Mars and it differs from every other RTS game in that there is no combat in the game. Players are tasked with tapping the resources of the planet and dealing with building, management and exploration. The game is a Sci-Fi single player or multiplayer RTS game.

"Total War: Warhammer" is not the historically realistic RTS your dad played. This game has armies that ride griffins, orcs that ride boars, the undead, zombie dragons, and dwarves. The only constant of this game is explosive real-time battles. Players lead four different races and arm their armies with weapons, armor and battle magic. Take to the skies on flying creatures and strike your enemies with magical powers. The fast-paced game never slows down.

 "XCOM 2" is set 20 years after "XCOM: Enemy Unknown." The Global Council and XCOM are destroyed, and players work to build a new resistance movement, research technology, and train squad members.  Work with five soldier classes, command an alien supply craft and battle a new breed of enemy. The goal is to face impossible odds and save Earth from the human-alien sympathizers and overlords. 

Sequels can be risky because some people want unique and innovative changes, while others want the game to stay close to its roots. "StarCraft 2" manages to walk that fine line nicely, bringing the franchise into the 21st century graphically and improving the interface while still offering similar core gameplay to the original. The competition is fierce, and there are a wealth of multiplayer maps to choose from. You'd have a hard time finding a more finely crafted and beautifully presented RTS game.

The original "Dawn of War" was a big hit with multiplayer RTS fans, but this didn't keep Relic from taking chances in the sequel, "Dawn of War II." Building bases has been dispensed with and replaced with RPG elements that allow you to highly customize certain units. The emphasis is on the tactical side of the battle rather than on resource gathering and base construction. You also have far fewer units at your disposal, so you have to deploy them wisely. It's a different approach to RTS gameplay that won't appeal to everyone, and it's also a significant departure from the first "Dawn of War."

Described as the spiritual successor to "Total Annihilation," "Supreme Commander" manages to scale up the RTS experience a few notches. The game supports an astounding number and variety of units, and the tech tree is similarly vast. A unique camera interface allows you to zoom out to a tactical map that gives you a broad overview of the conflict. The maps can get truly enormous, resulting in battles that often go on for many hours. The Gold Edition includes the original game and the "Forged Alliance" expansion.

Based on an alternate history of the Cold War, "World in Conflict" is a fast-paced RTS in which NATO and Soviet forces battle over the West Coast of America. In a fresh approach, the game forgoes base-building completely, and you control a limited number of units compared to most games of this kind, but this gives it a strong tactical component. Multiplayer features different player classes and requires a great deal of team coordination.

Going back to its roots, "Command & Conquer 3" revives the epic conflict between the Global Defense Initiative and the Brotherhood of Nod. There's a third side called the Scrin in the fray now, but you'll remember the tanks and ion cannons from earlier games in the series. C&C3 has a good selection of multiplayer maps and Battlecast functionality, which makes spectating games easy. It was much better received than the sequel, Command & Conquer 4.

Taking a step back from the enormous maps and heavy resource management of the original, "Supreme Commander 2" created a split in the franchise's fan base. Some lamented that the tremendous scale and complexity of the first game was diminished, while others applaud the increased emphasis on combat and shorter matches. In many respects "Supreme Commander 2" follows other recent offerings in the genre, If you were hoping for something even more massive than the first game, you'll be disappointed, but if you prefer a more streamlined approach, SupCom 2 is a solid offering.

For space strategy on a large scale, the often overlooked "Sins of a Solar Empire" has a lot of appeal. It is real-time, but the pace is leisurely, allowing you to control numerous fleets of ships quite easily. Matchmaking for multiplayer is done through Ironclad Online, supporting up to 10 players (5 vs. 5). Multiplayer matches can take a long time on the larger maps, but they can be saved and played over several sessions.

"Company of Heroes" ties real-time strategy to a WWII setting with impressive results. The graphics are spectacular for 2006, the different factions are finely tuned, and the game allows you to make effective use of the terrain. The Gold Edition includes "Opposing Fronts," the first expansion, which adds the British 2nd Army and the German Panzer Elite to the fray. You may also want to consider Company of Heroes Online.

This game is the third iteration of Blizzard's award-winning Warcraft real-time strategy series. Although it was released in 2003, it's still one of the most widely played RTS games both online and in pro competitions. The "Battle Chest" version includes the original, "Reign of Chaos," and the first expansion, "Frozen Throne." The game brings a number of role-playing elements to the series as well as expanded multiplayer options for up to 12 players over Battle.net.

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