There’s nothing like piloting an armored hunk of metal through a war-torn battlefield and unleashing havoc onto enemy troops. That’s the biggest appeal behind tank games. Whether you’re piloting a hulking futuristic mech or a World War II-era Sherman, tank games remain one of the most popular genres in gaming, especially among war gamers.
Tank games range from shooters to strategy titles, and for arcade fans eager for a streamlined tank piloting experience, there’s plenty of games for that too. From tank aficionados to first-person shooter fans interested in a quick tank combat battle session, here are the best tank games around.
Best Arcade Tank Game: Battlezone Gold Edition
|Platforms||PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One|
|Release Date||Oct. 13, 2016|
|Where to Buy||Humble, Steam, PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store|
|Reason to Try||Action-packed roguelike tank combat game that nixes realism in exchange for a fast-paced shooter that’s sure to delight Battlezone fans new and old alike.|
The Battlezone series is legendary. Most remember the franchise thanks to its hit 1980 arcade game, which casts players as tank drivers in a future world. The series has grown in both size and complexity over the years, but Rebellion’s latest release, simply called Battlezone, remains one of the best.
In Battlezone, players pilot the Cobra tank and fight back against an enormous AI army bent on global domination. Players can either drive solo or team up with up to three other players, destroying enemy tanks, helicopters, and shield generators along the way. The game even has a roguelike campaign system where no two playthroughs are the same. There is also a classic arcade mode and virtual reality display support.
While Battlezone remains popular thanks to its simple, action-packed design, players interested in a more complex experience should check out the remakes Battlezone 98 Redux and Battlezone: Combat Commander. Both feature complex base-building and real-time strategy gameplay.
Best Turn-Based Strategy Tank Game: Panzer Corps
|Release Date||July 10, 2011|
|Where to Buy||Steam|
|Reason to Try||Command World War II-era tanks across historical battlefields in this approachable turn-based strategy title inspired by Panzer General.|
Tank strategy games are as old as the wargaming genre itself. One of the best tank combat video games to date is Panzer Corps, a turn-based strategy title that seems to borrow heavily from its board game roots.
In Panzer Corps, players take control of German Wehrmacht soldiers during World War II and lead their troops through various missions and skirmishes. Turns take place across a giant hexagonal map, and players take turns moving units and attacking each other, all the while aiming to complete an objective on the battlefield. That includes armored vehicles like tanks, and players will have to move their battalions around carefully if they want to outmaneuver their opponents.
Panzer Corps borrows heavily from Panzer General, the classic turn-based World War II gaming series, and its influence remains one of its biggest appeals. The game features 26 campaign scenarios in total, 30 different nations to play as, 800 unit types, and an incredibly accessible combat \system that makes the game easy to learn for newcomers, but advanced during multiplayer play. As far as turn-based tank strategy games go, Panzer Corps is one of the best to pick up.
Best Real-Time Strategy Tank Game: Men of War: Assault Squad 2
|Release Date||May 15, 2014|
|Where to Buy||Humble, Steam|
|Reason to Try||Realistic and immersive, Men of War: Assault Squad 2 lets players command World War II tanks that act just like their real-life counterparts. Remember to position them carefully on the battlefield, lest you lose one of your most powerful assets to enemy fire.|
As far as RTS games go, none compare to Men of War: Assault Squad 2’s dedication to realism. Unlike World of Tanks, which focus on arcade-style tank-on-tank combat and treat armored vehicles as fast behemoths controlled by a single person, Assault Squad 2 separates tanks into different roles. Players must carefully choose when and where to deploy specifics tanks. Dragging out a lone heavy tank destroyer in the middle of an infantry skirmish and a recon tank is to face certain defeat.
Players that learn how to properly position their tanks behind infantry units, strategically deploy tanks without overextending, and target enemy armors’ weak points will rule the battlefield in Men of War: Assault Squad 2. Be warned, this game features a brutal skill curve. Once you get it down, there’s no other realistic real-time strategy tank game quite like it.
Best Combined Arms Tank Game: Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad
|Release Date||Sept. 13, 2011|
|Where to Download||Humble, Steam|
|Reason to Try||Serve as a tank commander or work with your fellow tank crew members to pilot some of the most iconic tanks found in World War II’s Eastern Front. Whether you’re facing off against them or piloting them yourself, Red Orchestra 2’s combined arms tank combat can’t be beat.|
Few games know how to merge a tank into infantry-based first-person combat, but Tripwire Interactive’s World War II shooter Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad stands out. Tripwire went to great lengths to make tank combat both realistic and entertaining, as a result the game makes tanks a worthy foe and an incredible ally across the battlefield.
In Red Orchestra 2, players choose between either the German Wehrmacht or the Soviet Union and face off against each other across recreations of historical battles on the Eastern Front. Players can choose between various infantry roles, from assault troops to anti-tank riflemen, but the game also opens up players to command or crew their very own tanks. Red Orchestra 2’s tanks are as versatile as they are realistic, as tank crew members simultaneously provide covering fire while trying to protect themselves from getting shot and killed by enemy bullets.
Best Multiplayer Tank Game: War Thunder
|Platforms||PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Shield Android TV, Xbox One|
|Release Date||Dec. 21, 2016|
|Price||Free to play|
|Where to Download||Steam, PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store|
|Reason to Try||Drive realistic and historically accurate tanks through World War II and the Korean War in one of the best multiplayer tank combat shooters available to date. Highlights include the game’s three separate multiplayer modes, from arcade battles to immersive simulations.|
War Thunder may be known for its intense air combat missions spread across World War II and the Korean War, but its tank-on-tank combat is just as engaging, if not more so.
In War Thunder, players choose between various nationalities from the Allies or Axis and go head-to-head in teams of two. Teams square off against each other in historical battles, fighting for a strategic objective or defending their base from enemy units. Players will have to look for their enemies’ weak points if they want to destroy a tank or knock out its crew.
As players level up in War Thunder, they can unlock powerful and iconic tanks, even engage in realistic and simulated battles alongside the game’s standard arcade mode. These in particular have received critical acclaim over the years, making War Thunder one of the most popular free-to-play tank multiplayer games among hardcore armored combat aficionados.
Best Game That Happens To Have Tanks In It: Company of Heroes 2
|Platforms||PC, Mac, Linux|
|Release Date||June 25, 2013|
|Where to Download||Humble, Steam|
|Reason to Try||While not dedicated to tanks, it does adequately portray the immense power of this vehicle of war in a historical setting. The fact that it is a superb game in its own right is just a bonus.|
While not dedicated to tanks, I would argue that Company of Heroes 2 portrays tanks at their devastating best. There is nothing quite like rolling a Sherman deep into the heart of enemy territory and coming face to face with a group of Tigers. Devastation inevitably follows, and we can get a tiny inkling of the absolute terror that must have accompanied these monstrous war machines wherever they went.
The fact that Company of Heroes 2 also happens to be one of the best real-time strategy games of all time, with a superb campaign, multiple DLCs and a very low price at this point in its life cycle is all the reason you should need to give it a shot.
Best Overall Tank Game: World of Tanks
|Platforms||PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 4|
|Release Date||April 12, 2011|
|Price||Free to play|
|Where to Download||Official website, Microsoft Store, PlayStation Store|
|Reason to Try||Face off against up to 15 opponents with World War II-era historically accurate tanks. Position yourself carefully, assess your opponents’ weakpoints, and try to keep your tank alive while mowing down the enemy opposition. Remember, you only have one life, so use it wisely.|
To date, World of Tanks remains one of the most popular tank games around. That’s for a reason: World of Tanks merges gorgeous graphics and engaging tank combat with realistic depictions of World War II-era tanks, creating an easy-to-learn but difficult-to-master action-packed multiplayer experience.
In World of Tanks, players face off against each other in teams of 15 with various historically accurate tanks. The game is simple enough to play, in that every player controls their own tank and only has one life, but there’s a lot going on under the hood in this game: Players have to account for their enemies’ positioning and weak points when they fire, and as players level up, they’re also exposed to bigger, stronger, and more powerful tanks piloted by more experienced players. You can even customize your vehicles and train your crew members to enhance your performance on the battlefield.
World of Tanks isn’t all that different from War Thunder, but what truly makes this game stand out is its specific focus on tactical positioning and high-risk, high-reward combat. Everything that made War Thunder’s arcade mode great is amplified in this game, from the strategic combat down to its tanks’ depictions, and the game’s underlying complexity means there’s so much to learn if one wants to become the best tank driver on the battlefield. Easy to pick up but difficult to survive in, World of Tanks can’t be beaten, and it’s free-to-play too.
Ana Valens contributed to this article.
Disclosure: Ana Valens’ partner provided quality assurance for Rebellion’s Battlezone 98 Redux and Battlezone: Combat Commander.
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