Top 15 Best Warship & Naval Warfare Games

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Whether it’s the blood-pumping action of boarding a ship or the tense silence while waiting for your modern artillery to hit its target, few things are more exciting than naval combat gaming.

Since this genre seems to get bigger and bigger as time goes on, it can be hard to keep up with some of the better titles in the space

That’s what prompted me to make a list detailing my best picks for the aficionado fleet commander.

If you just aren’t sure which naval battle games to try out, well I’m sure you’ll find something here!

 

15. Windward (2015)

Windward gameplay screenshot

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Our voyage at sea begins with Tasharen Entertainment’s Windward, a naval exploration and combat adventure where the world is procedurally generated.

Design your own custom faction and set out to conquer the newly-generated Seven Seas.

Whether you want to become the sea’s pirate scourge, a trader, or a smuggler – it’s up to you.

Whatever you choose to do, you’ll have to hone your captaining skills to overcome the intense battles you’ll inevitably find yourself in.

 

14. Cold Waters (2017)

Battleship in Cold Waters gameplay screenshot

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Killerfish Games have been in the naval warfare scene for a while, and Cold Waters is one of their most unique offerings.

It was inspired by the 1988 game Red Storm Rising, based on a Tom Clancy novel of the same name.

In Cold Water, you’ll have to command a nuclear submarine desperately trying to stop mutually assured destruction – and halt the Soviet advance.

With 40 different vessels to command, a realistic sonar model, and a fantastic enemy AI that’ll perform authentic Soviet combat tactics, this game will make you feel immersed like few others.

 

13. Shipped (2019)

Shipped 2019 gameplay screenshot

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Majorariatto’s Shipped came out last year, offering 8-player local multiplayer matches in various modes, including races, shoving matches, and good-old naval combat.

While it’s different from anything else in the list, the way these little ships are controlled and how they move is pretty unique and feels like captaining a real boat at times.

This will force you to hone your skills and think ahead if you want to win.

 

12. Tempest (2016)

Tempest 2016 npc dialogue screenshot

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Developed by Lion’s Shade, Tempest offers players the opportunity to become buccaneers in a Pirate Action RPG unlike any other.

Recruit and level up your crew as you accrue naval victories and earn cash to upgrade your ship.

Even if randomly sinking vessels isn’t your thing, there are dozens of islands to explore across three regions – and there’s always a new quest to take on.

You’ll even face some supernatural challenges, including ancient sea creatures and the cult followers that adore them.

The game focuses on providing a compelling single-player experience, but you can also play with or against your friends.

 

11. Naval Campaigns: Wolfpack (2019)

Naval Campaigns: Wolfpack gameplay screenshot

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John Tiller Software makes incredibly detailed and technical games that focus on strategy and depth, rather than visuals. These are true tactical games that can keep you busy for weeks, if not months.

Naval Campaigns: Wolfpack takes place on the Atlantic during WWII.

It offers 50 different scenarios centered around the conflicts between Kriegsmarine U-Boats and the convoys protecting British supplies and other vessels.

The game’s real-time engine and historical accuracy are some of its best features. This makes Naval Campaigns: Wolfpack ideal for the armchair strategist who’ll become deeply immersed in their command role.

 

10. Atlantic Fleet (2016)

Sinking ship in Atlantic Fleet Game screenshot

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Along with Cold Waters, Atlantic Fleet is one of Killerfish Games’ most enjoyable naval combat simulators.

Controls and gameplay are simple to grasp. But it features deep mechanics grounded in realism, and geared toward providing a challenging yet rewarding skill progression.

To get better, you’ll have to learn military tactics, escort strategies, and plenty more.

While the game’s primary focus is naval combat between warships, there are also submarines and even land-based aircraft that can turn the tide of battle.

 

9. Blackwake (2020)

Player point of view in ship Blackwake game

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In naval combat, it isn’t always the ships and their guns. But the grit of the men operating them that truly makes a difference.

In no game is that as obvious as in Mastfire Studio’s Blackwake.

Taking place during the Golden Age of Piracy, this online game lets you become a member of a ship’s crew – or its captain, depending on how things play out.

Everyone on the ship has a role to play in battle, from manually reloading and firing cannons to boarding enemy ships.

 

8. Sea of Thieves (2020)

Two pirate ships in battle Sea of Thieves Game

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It’s a bit hard to talk about games taking place on the sea without mentioning Sea of Thieves, easily the most famous pirate-themed game in recent years.

Despite beginning its life as a somewhat barren and repetitive early access title, the game had soul.

And the development team over at Rare kept updating with new content and cool new weapons to make the waves come to life.

It just got a full release in 2020, and it’s looking better than ever.

 

7. Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail (2020)

Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail gameplay screenshot

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Just as Sea of Thieves exits Steam’s early access program, Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail begins its tenure. As such, developer Game-Labs is still working out the kinks, but the game is definitely worth a play in its current state.

It’s a spin-off from the Ultimate General series, and it focuses just as much on tactical warfare – except on the sea.

Unlike most hardcore tactical wargames out there focusing on WWII, this game covers the Napoleonic Wars and the American Revolutionary War.

You’ll even witness the United States Marine Corps’ birth as landing forces supporting your fleet.

Besides the rich history it portrays, the game shines for its realistic sailing and detailed damage models that let you focus your fire on specific parts to cripple your enemies slowly.

 

6. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 (2019)

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 gameplay

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While most great naval combat games focus on important periods of our history, there’s nothing wrong with thinking outside of the box.

Or in this case, outside of the planet.

These warships are of the spacefaring kind, brought to life from the Warhammer 40K universe by Tindalos Interactive.

The result is a dramatic RTS featuring large-scale space battles where lasers, missiles, and good-old ramming are your tools for success.

While anyone can play Armada 2 and have a blast, it’s the Warhammer 40K fanbase that really can’t let this slip by them.

 

5. Carrier Battles 4 Guadalcanal (2020)

Carrier Battles 4 Guadalcanal game menu screenshot

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Avalon Games’ unassuming masterpiece focuses on the events of the war over the Pacific Ocean between 1942 and 1943.

It started as a mobile game and was quickly noticed by naval wargame fans worldwide for its deeply strategic hex-based gameplay.

This desktop version provides the same intense battles of the original, with extra polish and a very comfortable UI thanks to the bigger screen.

It’s a game for the number-crunching armchair admiral who cares about detail and realism over graphics.

 

4. Rule the Waves 2 (2019)

 gameplay screenshot

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Another game for the hardcore naval wargame crowd out there is Rule the Waves 2, developed by Naval Warfare Simulations after its predecessor’s relative success and fan acclaim.

One of the main upgrades made to the formula was extending the game’s progression up to 1950.

Since it begins at the dawn of the 20th Century, that’s 50 years of naval history to experience firsthand.

While naval battles are as demanding as you’d expect, the real challenge in RTW2 lies in managing the budget, speeding your military arms race along, and keeping your war machine well-oiled. You’re also expected to carefully design your ships to suit your playstyle.

This game doesn’t glaze over the details, and neither should you.

 

3. World of Warships (2015)

Battleship in World of Warships screenshot

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If there’s a game in this list that everyone has heard about, it’s World of Warships.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see the giant steel vessels shooting each other to bits on ads all across the internet.

And, frankly, I don’t mind.

While not as detailed as some of our other WW2-based games, the way the folks over at Wargaming translated their tense and engaging World of Tanks gameplay to the Pacific’s waters is a thing of beauty.

It’s an online game that isn’t chained down by its historical accuracy and stays fresh with new content and creative collabs.

 

2. World of Warships Blitz (2018)

World of Warships Blitz gameplay screenshot

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Even if you don’t feel compelled enough to play the game on PC, perhaps the mobile version of the World of Warships formula might pique your interest for on-the-go play.

Just like the original, Blitz is entirely free-to-play, though you may want to boost your progress or get cool cosmetics with cash.

Whether you want engaging single-player missions or intense multiplayer, this has you covered.

Becoming the greatest Fleet Commander on the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific oceans from my sofa’s comfort sounds wonderful to me.

 

1. Command: Modern Operations (2019)

Command: Modern Operations gameplay screenshot

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I think it’s fair that the #1 spot in our ranking goes to the naval warfare game with the biggest scope of them all.

And that’s WarfareSims’ Command: Modern Operations.

Part of that scope comes from the fact that the game puts you in control of land and air forces too, making it a cross-domain wargame. That said, the naval aspect doesn’t suffer. Instead it’s invigorated with the joint operations between different branches of your army.

The sophisticated physics engine and realistic geography give this game great depth.

And every minor detail counts in these complex operations.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.