Best Total War Games Of All Time (Ranked)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Arguably the best PC war game franchise of all time, Total War has some of the finest strategy games in the industry.
As a fan of this franchise for over a decade, I’ve been eager to write a list with my top picks. And I think that there’s no better time to do it than after the masterpiece that is Troy.
Here I’ll give an overview of the most fun Total War Games to date, including the best Sagas titles, but excluding the newer spinoff that was released for mobile devices.
As a veteran of the series, I’ve tried out some of the oldest titles, and spent the good days of my youth conquering the world in Empire, unifying Europe in Rome, and getting my towns crusaded by an angry pope in Medieval II.
Now it’s time to rank the games to see which are the best, and which are not-so-the-best (let’s face it: they’re all fantastic). Hold on to your hats, folks!
10. Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia
I know that many people thought that Thrones of Britannia was a rather underwhelming game. But I do not necessarily share that view.
The game does leave a lot to be desired in the campaign, but I think that the artwork and the units of this title make it worth picking it up if you happen to find it at a discounted price.
Thrones of Britannia takes you back to the time where Britain was being raided and colonized by Vikings, and lets you take the role of any civilization that you want in your quest to conquer the British Isles, and eventually establish a solid dominion on them.
The campaign gameplay of Thrones doesn’t truly feel great.
But the extremely-detailed map makes this game’s vibe something that I really dig.
Even though it does fall short on expectations, the title is wonderful and the battles are fantastic.
Speaking of battles, if you’re one of those Total War players that tends to stay away from Campaign gameplay and you only like to play the actual historical battles (or online battles, for that matter), then Thrones is a game that you might actually enjoy more than the average player.
The battles are super cool and the units truly take you back to one of the darkest periods in the history of Britain.
I just wish that the campaign was a bit better, but the title itself is truly fun to play. I’d recommend you pick this one up if you come across it selling online at a discounted price.
9. Total War Saga: Troy
The only reason why Troy isn’t ranked higher on my list is that this game is a Saga title, and not a complete Total War game.
Because I think that this thing is an absolute masterpiece.
Out of respect to the other Total War titles, I’m placing it a bit lower here… but it could easily take the second or third spot to be honest.
Total War games have always been known to accurately represent the artwork of the time period. But Troy takes it to the next level.
The Greek artwork of this game, and the way it blends in with the campaign map, just makes this so satisfying to play. The day and night cycle, which isn’t turn-tied, is also completely outstanding.
Now, one of the reasons why I loved Troy so much is because there isn’t as big a focus on horses and riders as in other Total War titles.
Greek warriors of the era weren’t known to use cavalry as much as in other periods of time. So battles here are mostly decided by the strength of your melee units and how you utilize them.
Troy feels like a game in which flanking plays a much more crucial role than in other Total War titles, and I’m absolutely loving every second of it.
In fact, as I write this piece, I can’t help but feel the need to start another campaign and try my luck with Paris of Troy (the most annoying faction out there, if you ask me).
With a ton of historical accuracies and the fact that Achilles is a whiney little asshole throughout most of the campaign, Troy has taken a spot in my heart, and the hearts of many fans of the franchise.
8. Rome: Total War
I still remember when Rome was released, man. This title brought so many people to the franchise that I’d say that this is the most influential Total War game released to date.
I don’t think anyone can argue that, and the only reason it takes the 8th spot on my list is just because the game has not aged too good (graphics and gameplay would make it unfair for this title to be at the top – where it probably deserves to be).
Rome was the best title ever released by Creative Assembly back in 2004. And even though it was only the third installment of the franchise, I’d still say that it’s a pretty huge deal.
The campaign was absolutely fantastic, and almost as good as the one we had a few years later in Medieval II.
What makes this game an even more impressive piece of art is that it set the tone for the many Total War titles to come, focusing on Campaign gameplay as much as it focused on the battles.
I would not recommend playing it now, solely because of the whole “graphics just being too old for modern standards”. But if you were to find yourself a time machine, please don’t go and kill Hitler. Go back to 2004 and experience this game back when it first came out.
The hype was truly unreal.
7. Napoleon Total War
Napoleon Total War, also known as “my troops will die in the snow simulator”, stands as one of those Total War games that you either absolutely loved, or you hated, until you finished the campaign.
Napoleon came right after the masterpiece that was Empire. So it’s only natural that expectations were quite high.
It didn’t live up to them as much as other titles later in the franchise, but it’s still a brilliant game.
The main issue that players had with Napoleon gameplay was that there were a ton of mechanics that would basically decimate your armies if you didn’t pay attention.
This made the campaign gameplay a bit of a chore, even though the battle gameplay was arguably better than the one we had in Empire (which was brilliant back when the game was released).
Napoleon also had this thing where online gameplay just felt so much fun, man. I don’t know why, but it still remains as my favorite online Total War experience just behind Medieval II.
The mods that got released for this game where also some of the best in the franchise. If you have the chance to play it, I fully recommend you check out the World War I mod that some crazy bastards created for Napoleon. It’s truly insane how good it is.
Even if you’re not much of a fan of mods, but you do love the Total War franchise, I think Napoleon is a must-play if you haven’t tried it before.
It might not be the most brilliant of games. But it did serve as a good representation of what we expected to see from a Napoleon-themed game.
6. Total War: Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms has been one of my favorite Total War campaigns to date.
This beauty truly recreates the state of China dring the Three Kingdoms era, and it gives you the chance to shape the destiny of the country yourself. Much like any other Total War game.
However, Three Kingdoms takes generals to the next level.
This title is one of the first in the franchise that made generals feel like actual units, and not just a bunch of horses running around. Which had been the case of generals in the past games of the franchise.
The dueling aspect of the game is awesome. You’ll find yourself zooming into battles more than you would do in any other game of the franchise.
The graphics are astonishing, too. They take you on a trip throughout the diverse landscapes of China while you spill the blood of your enemies on the battlefields.
Three Kingdoms has a difficult campaign, amazing gameplay, and a plethora of fantastic units to enjoy watching in battle. Not to mention a lot of free mods to keep the gameplay exciting.
If you’re into the combat aspect of the game as much as you are into strategy, you’ll love watching those ambushes unfold, zooming into your various units while they fight.
5. Total War: Shogun 2
I don’t care what anyone says: Shogun 2 has the most difficult campaign out of any Total War game.
Finishing this thing was truly a pain in the ass. And I’m pretty sure that’s why I love this damn game so much.
Shogun 2 takes you back to feudal Japan in a mission to unify the entire country under your shogunate.
Samurais galore and medieval Japanese armors make this game one of the best Total War titles ever released, and it’s also the one that set the precedent for the “Saga” gameplay that followed shortly after Shogun 2 was released.
If you didn’t know, the first “Saga” was actually a DLC for Shogun 2, and not Thrones of Britannia per se.
It’s called Fall of the Samurai and you should check it out if you haven’t played it yet.
Anyways, back to this amazing title. Shogun 2 will have you tearing your hair out in frustration as your allies betray you as soon as you become the Shogun. So be sure not to leave anyone alive in your path towards total Japanese unification.
Many people love to play with the Shimazu in Shogun 2 for the sheer fact that they’re in the western part of Japan, on the island of Kyushu. Not only will you be able to completely dominate European trade routes, but you also don’t have to deal with treacherous pseudo-friends.
Shogun 2 truly changes the perception one has for their allies in Total War. PTSD, man. PTSD.
4. Total War: Rome II
Rome II was a fan-favorite, and Rome’s spiritual successor. Which means it honored the original game as much as it could.
This title was probably one of the most anticipated releases of the franchise, and Creative Assembly knew the hopes for this game were high.
I’m super happy they delivered, because I wouldn’t have been able to stand the social media outrage if they didn’t.
There’s just something about the factions of Rome II that I can’t help but love. They truly feel unique, and unlike other Total War games where you don’t feel the need to play with the game’s “flagship” civilization whenever you start a new campaign.
Here, starting out as the barbarians up north is as fun as starting as the Romans down south.
It might just be me, but I truly feel that playing as a lesser civilization in Rome II is the best way to go.
Sure, picking Rome and conquering Europe is fun. But it’s just not as fun as it is to unify Europe under the barbaric tribes of Britain.
In any case, Rome II was a brilliant game. One that you can still pick up to this day and enjoy.
It has a lot of replay value for sure, and stands as one of the most entertaining Total War games ever released. The Rome II historical battles are my favorite in the franchise.
3. Empire: Total War
Empire was the Total War title that introduced us to the beauty of naval battles. But that’s not the sole reason why this game takes the third spot on my list.
Empire took land battles to the next level and made gunpowder fights feel extremely immersive, leaving behind the days of older graphics and introducing players to truly unique strategic gameplay.
I always relate Empire Total War with technological discoveries in the campaign.
Your armies will get decimated by your enemies if you don’t get proper military technologies researched early, such as the line shots and the quicker reloads.
Empire will have you scrolling through the early game technologies and researching them, should you be going for a military win, to have as much access to advanced tactics as possible. I remember using these advantages to win battles where I was outnumbered 10 to 1.
Man, Empire was a really influential Total War title.
It’s a must-play regardless of what year you’re reading this on – especially if you’re a fan of colonial-era naval battles.
Watching those canons rain fire onto enemy ships is still some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing a TW title.
2. Total War: Warhammer 2
I wasn’t much of a fan of Warhammer when it came out. But the second installment of the game had me playing the campaign over and over again, trying out all the different civilizations that make up the story.
This is a must-play Total War game even if you’re not familiar with the Warhammer franchise (40k is much better, don’t @ me).
However if you’re an actual fan of Warhammer, you’re going to have a field day playing this beauty of a game.
All the armies and races are unique, and the campaign map is just like you’d picture it to be if you only read the books before playing it.
Custom battles and the battle scenarios of this game are brilliant. And watching dragons killing goblins has to be one of the best things you can do in any modern Total War game.
A truly unique feel that will make fans of fantasy stories fall in love with this majestic title.
1. Medieval II: Total War
I have to say it: Medieval II is the best Total War game. There is no discussion to be had.
This emblematic title might have outdated graphics and no naval gameplay, but the whole concept of the game is magical and magnificently executed.
You’ll find yourself getting crusaded by the Pope if you expand too much, while religion plays as much of a big role in this game as it did during this game’s time period.
Conquering territories and watching your armies decimate enemies, all while wearing shiny armor and wielding pointy swords, I think it’ll turn non-belivers into true fans.
If you had the chance to play M2:TW back when it came out, then you know why I hold it in such high regard.
If Medieval III ever gets released, expectations are going to be so high that we’ll need a new metric unit to measure the hype.