Second World War is one of the darkest and most significant chapters of human history. It stretched across the world and made a bloody impact on individuals, families and entire humanity. It’s been eighty one years since its start, but we still understand the conflict, sympathise with the victims and cherish the acts of bravery. And that is why this time period continues being a popular setting for books, movies and games as well. There’s a lot to choose from, but we’ve prepared the list of 10 best WW2 games.
Call of Duty: World at War
Release date: 11 November 2008
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Nintendo DS
If you are a kind of a gamer who only plays the titles with modern polished graphics, it’s time to broaden your horizon. Call of Duty: World at War is a rare example in the CoD series, where multiplayer, despite its numerous perks, is completely overshadowed by atmospheric campaign mode. Through the prism of two Privates, the game introduces the player to two parallel storylines set in The Pacific Theatre and Eastern Front.
Both plots are fantastic in how they express war and how it twists humans in all its unflattering colours without losing focus on gameplay. And that’s a major selling point. CoD: World at War campaign is unapologetic in how it portrays horror and tragedy of war. Nonetheless, it masterfully maintained balance between being serious and being an entertaining shooter.
Call of Duty: WWII
Release date: 3 November 2017
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
This action FPS feels like CoD was going back to the roots. Firstly, after focusing on wars of the future, like in Black Ops III and Infinite Warfare, CoD returned to the World War 2 setting, meaning the familiar atmosphere and an opportunity to play with weapons of that time. The campaign is centered around one of the most crucial points in WW2 - the Battle of Normandy. No more Red Army, as it’s a brave American soldier that saves the day.
Secondly, the good old health packs are back in the shooter, replacing such a convenient and unrealistic regenerating health. That’s right, you can’t rambo your way through the map, hide behind the wall and wait out until your health is regenerated. Just like in the good old days, you have to look for health packs or ask your squad for one. As for the rest of the gameplay, it’s everything one would want from AAA CoD franchise: a good variety of missions in the campaign, awesome cutscenes that help with story-telling, a multiplayer and zombie mode.
Commandos 2: Men of Courage
Release date: 20 August 2002
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation 2
You don’t need epic shoot-em-ups, blasts and explosions to make an exciting, addictive WWII game, and Commandos 2: Men of Courage proves that. In this isometric real time strategy you take control of a squad and order them around in an attempt to infiltrate the enemy’s base. Each soldier has different abilities and weaknesses, thus you must use all of your cunning and agility to coordinate your actions to complete the map.
And that’s why it is a challenging strategy game best played by a patient, strategic-minded person. You are outnumbered in the vast location, possess limited resources, thus you heavily rely on stealth approach. Your squad being noticed or the enemy’s noticing one of their people being dead results in “Alarm! Alarm!”. Commandos 2: Men of Courage HD Remaster came out on 24th of January 2020 with much needed for a newcomers tutorial, improved graphics and interface. However, it was heavily criticised for excessive censorship. Thankfully, the original game is still available on Steam for you to try.
Company of Heroes 2
Release date: 25 June 2013
At the time of the release, Relic Entertainment made some noise with this WW2 RTS game set on Eastern Front, a history chapter that was barely explored by western game developers. Moreover, the players got a unique opportunity of completing the campaign with the Red Army. All of its controversy aside, it’s refreshing to try out new fraction and experience Order 227 ‘Not One Step Back ‘.
You are guaranteed to spend dozens if not hundreds of hours in highly addictive multiplayer mode in Company of Heroes 2. Apart from the familiar aspects and mechanics of a strategy game, the weather conditions have a major influence on the flow of the game, completely changing the course of the battle. Whether you pit your wits against other players or AI, play 1v1 or 4v4, the game rewards you with game currency. Plus, Steam workshop support allows developing new maps, meaning you’ll never play the same game again. Company of Heroes 2 is a truly exciting and addictive game.
Hearts of Iron IV
Release date: 25 June 2013
Hearts of Iron IV is a grand strategy war game, and we mean GRAND. You take control of everything from factories’ locations, technological development, army and politics. The possibilities are endless, even when it comes to picking a country you are gonna play with. However, only a handful of countries have their unique focus trees to work through, the most important aspect of which are political and ideological development. You can take them any direction and create alternative history!
All of this sounds extremely exciting as well as overwhelming, thus prepare to invest some time reading through the game’s wiki for some sort of guidance, because this strategy game isn’t going to spoon-feed you any. But that’s the price you pay for enjoying a complex war game which gives you the opportunity to control large armies and numerous divisions. Especially when you feel more confident with the gameplay and start winning.
IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad
Release date: 22 October 2014
This continuation of the IL-2 Sturmovik offers the best WW2 air combat simulation experience the gaming industry can offer. Mesmerises not only with beautifully realistic design of the models, but also with outstanding levels of realism of aircraft management and simulation physics. You can feel the difference in the weight drag as you drop the bombs, the pilot can lose consciousness when performing maneuvers, there’s condensation forming on the glass after flying through the glass. It’s these realistic obstacles that spice up the gameplay.
There are four types of single-player modes for you to try out, which we strongly recommend in order to practice your piloting skills before trying out two multiplayer modes. For example, quick mission mode allows adjusting numerous aspects of flight and condition: from the type of aircraft, map and time period to weather and turbulence level. Moreover, IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad also has VR modes, which does not require VR headset. The only major drawback are the high prices for the base game and DLCs. Luckily, you can check the prices on GG.deals to see if it’s on sale. 😉
Sniper Elite 4
Release date: 14 February 2017
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation 4
The developers of Sniper Elite series really understood what features were making the franchise great and which ones will make it even better. And everything came together in this stealth shooter game, which takes place on a picturesque, crawling with Nazis, Italian peninsula. With the larger maps and multiple ways of completing the missions, Sniper Elite 4 offers a semi-open world, giving a significantly larger degree of freedom.
Thanks to the extensive selection of sniper rifles, machine guns, shotguns and explosives, a player gets even more flexibility when executing tasks. However, nothing beats the satisfaction of completing the campaign relying exclusively on stealth. Maybe only bloody, exquisite x-ray kill cam whenever you manage to shoot a high-ranked Nazi general. In addition, Sniper Elite 4 grants three multiplayer modes, including a 2-player co-op campaign, which further diversifies the gaming experience.
Steel Division 2
Release date: 18 June 2019
The advancement of game graphics is finally being used in WWII strategy games and it is presented in all of its glory in Steel Division 2. Thanks to the scalable game engine, you can clearly see the unravelling battles of the Eastern Front in detail as you zoom in the individual units. All of this beauty is also accompanied by startling 600 units and 25 maps!
In each session you can have tanks, infantry troops, artillery, aviation and other types of division. Pick anything you like as long as you have enough game points to spare and, when the time comes for the battle, participate in real-time or auro-resolve it. Each division has its own strengths that can be enhanced when accompanied by suiting division, and weaknesses that are emphasised by different conditions such as topography.
Sudden Strike 4
Release date: 11 August 2017
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
How would another real-time tactics game grasp one’s attention? Well, Sudden Strike 4 offers an extensive, varied single-player, as there are three campaigns to choose from (Allied, German and Soviet), each having different missions and objectives. And even within each campaign a player gets to choose real-world Generals, which determine the division and upgrade trees.
Another noteworthy fact is that there’s no need to worry about resource gathering, base building, in-mission technological development and that other “dirt-farming” stuff, which lets the players concentrate on pure war strategy and tactic. Moreover, there are limited units available at your disposal, therefore you have to be more practical and resourceful.
Release date: 30 April 2019
Infantry, tanks, planes… However, WW2 games enthusiasts don’t have a huge variety of naval games, even less featuring submarines. That’s why this simulator of a submarine from an indie developer Deep Water Studio is a much needed addition to this top 10 list. In a nutshell, UBOAT is actually a survival game with crew management mechanics, which gives you an opportunity to dive deep into the unique atmosphere. After all, World War 2 was not only about the epic battles, but also about the daily fight for survival, a struggle with hunger, boredom and mental instability.
As you get a German submarine and its crew to your disposal, you’re obliged to pick an assignment which will take you on your journey to the sea. Anything can happen on your way: from a surprise assignment to a sudden attack of Brits, meaning engaging in a naval combat. Luckily, you have your people, a periscope, a hydrophone and 88 mm deck gun to take the matter in your hands. Successful completion of assignments means you get funds to upgrade your boat, buy new equipment in order to continue your conquest in this survival sandbox.
Brothers in Arms series - tactical action games by Gearbox Software. This series consists of three titles in which the player takes control of soldiers of 101st Airborne Division’s paratroopers squad.
Medal of Honor series - The first title in the series appeared in 1999, but it’s Medal of Honor: Allied Assault that became a real hit in 2002. The sequel titled Pacific Assault was equally successful and the last game in this WWII first-person shooter series was MoH: Airborne.
Men of War series - these are complex real-time strategies in which the player has a limited number of units at his disposal and a task to complete a mission. The series has interesting features, such as the ability to take control of a selected soldier.
Battlefield series - The brand debuted in 2002 with Battlefield 1942 and quickly gained many fans, which got the Swedish studio DICE noticed and bought by Electronic Arts. Another WWII title, Battlefield 1943, also turned out to be a great FPS. After a long break from World War 2 theme, DICE returned to its roots in 2018 with Battlefield V, however the comeback was not well-received by the fans.
Silent Hunter series - Five combat simulation games have appeared under the banner of Silent Hunter and offer its players the role of submarine’s captain in World War II.