5 best strategy games like Total War: PHARAOH to play in 2024
If you love Total War: PHARAOH (or just the Total War games in general) there's a whole world of other strategy and tactics games out there in the genre to dive into.
While the franchise of Total War is one of the biggest strategy series in the medium, these titles all have varying historical settings and mechanics that make them worth seeking out.
From legendary franchises like Civilisation to Age of Empires, here are our picks for the best strategy games like Total War: PHARAOH you'll want to be checking out in 2024.
How we chose the best games like Total War: PHARAOH
When picking titles for this list, we kept mostly to historical games within the genres of strategy and tactics, highlighting those that you'll easily be able to while away hour upon hour. These are very vague genre classifications, of course, and there are so many different experiences that can fit into them.
While we made Total War: PHARAOH the basis of this list as the newest entry in the series, it also works for fans of any of the TW games, meaning there will be something perfect for you regardless of your favourite.
Strategy games like Total War: PHARAOH
Age of Empires 4
- Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
- Release date: October 2021
- Key features:
- Each faction feels unique
- Five different campaigns to play through
- Satisfying RTS gameplay
- War elephants
Age of Empires 4 is a historical real-time strategy that is set between the Early Middle Ages and Renaissance, depending on your chosen civilisation.
Age of Empires is all about warfare and defeating your enemy through bigger numbers and better technology. The main way to play is through campaigns, typically throwing you into a conquest against another civilisation, but there are also skirmish matches if you want to enjoy a one-off game.
Games involve building up your base by constructing buildings and gathering resources. With these, you can build newer and stronger units to get an advantage in warfare. After a while, you'll build a Landmark which takes you into a new age, which gives you bonuses and extra capabilities. Once you wipe out your enemies, you win the game.
Crusader Kings 3
- Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5
- Release date: September 2020
- Key features:
- Create a new religion to divorce your partner
- Gameplay changes depending on the area of the world
- Roleplay in a number of ways
- Tonnes of narrative freedom
Crusader Kings 3 remains one of the most unique strategy games in the medium, combining grand strategy sensibilities, with the mechanics of an RPG to create a dynasty simulator where you'll experience hundreds of years of history in the Middle Ages and the story of your family through it all.
You start by picking a character, whether they be a lowly baron with a small holding or an emperor ruling over millions. Upon their death, you'll begin playing their direct heir, where it's a case of rinse and repeat until the game ends in 1453.
During your many lives, you can roleplay and set your own goals for your family or land. Want to unite Ireland? Go for it. Looking to take revenge on the house that murdered your first character? Play the long con and butcher them in a 'red wedding'. Don't like your current heir? Plot to kill them instead so that your other child becomes heir.
There's a lot to do in Crusader Kings 3, and with so much mechanical and narrative freedom to play your own way, you can easily get lost for hundreds of hours.
Europa Universalis 4
- Platforms: PC
- Release date: August 2013
- Key features:
- Create your own goals and victory conditions
- Detailed wars
- Freedom to build your nation
- Guilt-free colonialism!
From the same developer as Crusader Kings 3, Europa Universalis 4 looks almost the same from a quick glance, but has very different priorities in terms of how it plays (and what it simulates.)
Instead of controlling a single character, you control a nation during the Late Middle Ages into the Early Modern period, focusing on trade, administration, diplomacy, colonisation, and war.
It's much closer to a map painting experience, similar to the campaign map layer of Total War games, and the goals you want to achieve are solely down to you as there's no strict winning condition. If you want to rule the world with military might, that's a valid playstyle, but so is colonising valuable land and becoming a rich trader.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
- Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
- Release date: December 2016
- Key features:
- Feudal Japanese setting
- Reactive stealth gameplay
- Tempt samurai with bottles of sake
- Unique team of characters with different abilities
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a little different to the other games on this list, with it belonging to the real-time tactics stealth genre and featuring a feudal Japanese setting.
Throughout the game, you'll control a small team of stealth experts, taking part in various espionage, sabotage, and assassination missions as you try to take down a mysterious warlord called Kage-sama.
There is a focused story in the game and less intrinsic replay value than the other games on this list, but the core of the game is designed so well that you'll enjoy every second.
What is the best game like Total War: PHARAOH?
- Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Switch, iOS, and Android
- Release date: October 2016
- Key features:
- Easy to learn
- Fear the wrath of Gandhi
- Tonnes of civilisations to play as
- Win however you want
It may not be much of a surprise to see this entry at the top of our list, with the Civilization series having been going strong for over 30 years now. Civ 6 is the most recent entry in the franchise, making for a perfect introduction to the popular 4X subgenre of strategy games.
It's a turn-based strategy game that sees you build a civilisation up through pre-history all the way into the near future. Throughout, you'll research technologies, construct new buildings, create wonders to show off your prowess, and of course, war with other civilisations over land and resources.
The 4X tag comes from the four main routes to victory: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. There are plenty of ways to win games based on your chosen playstyle, and with so many civilisations to choose from, you'll find yourself replaying over and over with a new strategy and ultimate goal.
Now that you know the best strategy games to add to cart this year, our lists homepage has even more recommendations, from the best games like Baldur's Gate 3 to The Sims and games for fans of Red Dead Redemption 2.