Military video games are some of the most popular in the gaming industry. With the development of first-person shooter (FPS) games in the ‘90s, it became an all-too-common genre that usually centers around military-like mele and battle.
If the storyline isn’t expressly military related, the characters still usually take on the persona of a soldier or warrior; using military tactics to complete missions, often alongside their friends.
Here are the best and most influential top 10 military video games of all time:
10. Team Fortress 2 (2007)
Kicking off our list of top 10 military video games is an unlikely title.
TF2 is, at the surface level, a fun and cartoonish spin on warplay for the average PC gamer. It focuses on a fictitious war between the red side and the blue side, with a purple woman narrating. As a player, you can do anything from capture the flag, territorial control, king of the hill and more; the objective is always to get the best of the other side.
On a deeper level, it’s about two sides at war without any real reason why they’re fighting, beyond following the directions of a faceless dictator.
9. Far Cry 5 (2018)
The most recent title on this list, Far Cry 5 is the fifth installment in the very popular FPS series Far Cry. It’s renowned for its interesting and unique storylines, as well as the intense graphics and combat style.
This particular game is set in Montana, U.S. and focuses on an area called Hope County that has been taken over by a doomsday cult and its powerful leader. The main character’s objective is to work with other resistance soldiers to liberate the county.
Development of Far Cry 5 was heavily based on the 9/11 attacks and the Cold War era; they were trying to recreate the same social climate of those times and inject it into the game. It was met with positive reviews and grossed over $310 million in the first week of its release.
8. Command & Conquer (1995)
Ye olde Command & Conquer was a first for the real-time strategy (RTS) genre and lives up to that name. It focuses on all aspects of military strategy that go into war — not just the action itself.
Players must construct a base, find resources, and make quick wartime decisions that could make or break their success. Waging war isn’t easy and that’s best shown in C&C. The franchise also featured a FPS game in 2002.
7. Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (2002)
The third game in the Medal of Honor series, this 2002 title takes the cake. It’s a first-person shooter where the player takes on the role of Lt. Mike Powell, a member of the 1st Ranger Battalion.
Made to simulate battles in the European and North African theatres during WWII, players are taken to Omaha Beach on D-Day, behind enemy lines to recruit comrades in France, and to assault German bases in Algiers.
It’s a game that combines exciting twenty-first century graphics with the history of the Greatest Generation.
6. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield (2003)
The Rainbow Six franchise features a realistic, tactical shooter experience. Raven Shield not only includes incredible gameplay (for its time), but a plot that ties back to WWII.
Set in 2005, it focuses on the counter-terroism task force Rainbow. Their target is a neo-fascist group that can be traced all the way back to real-life Nazis in Croatia. Rainbow’s mission is to stop the new terrorist group from bringing back global fascism.
Not only is the plot interesting, but Raven Shield also includes a great multiplayer component and expansion sets that make it the best of its time, and one of the best all-time military shooter games.
5. Gears of War 2 (2008)
The Gears of War franchise is a well-known one. It’s a third-person shooter that emphasizes tactical use of cover, i.e. crouching behind things to avoid being injured. The main characters are all COG (Coalition of Gears) soldiers in Delta Squad, led by Sergeant Marcus Fenix. Their mission? To save the world.
This sci-fi military video game follows Delta Squad as they try to defeat hordes of alien locusts underneath the ground on the planet Sera. So, essentially, it’s a war against evil and powerful aliens, with cool graphics and unique weapons such as a gun with a chainsaw equipped to the barrel.
Gears of War 2 maintains the same great plot of the first, while refining the controls and making combat all the more exciting.
4. Battlefield 3 (2011)
Another FPS, Battlefield 3 had over three million pre-orders before its 2011 release, and won the IGN People’s Choice Award for Best Shooter. This installment in the wildly popular Battlefield franchise is one of Electronic Arts finest.
It’s set during the fictional “War of 2014” and allows players to control four different characters; mainly SSgt Henry “Black” Blackburn of the USMC’s 1st Recon Battalion. Different battle locations include Iran, Iraq and even Paris and NYC.
Lauded for its stunning graphics and gameplay, the real gem of Battlefield 3 is its multiplayer system that’s second to none.
3. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
The COD: MW series has some strong contenders – including COD 4 – but this one comes out on top for our list.
It follows Task Force 141 and U.S. Army Rangers as they hunt the Russian Ultranationalist party and defend the U.S. from a Russian invasion. Players can switch between Sergeant Gary “Roach” Sanderson of the 141 and Private James Ramirez of the Rangers.
The intense, emotional missions and soundtrack, as well as the multiplayer component, place MW2 at the front of the Modern Warfare pack.
2. Doom (1993)
Doom pretty much invented the FPS genre, earning them spot #2 on our list of top 10 military video games.
Players must assume the role of a space marine (popularly dubbed “Doomguy”) and fight through swarms of invading demons from Hell. While the plot and objective are fairly simple, Doom quickly became known as a video game pioneer for several reasons.
- Was one of the first and most well-done first-person shooter games
- Popularized online distribution of video games
- Pioneered 3D graphics, multiplayer, and game additions now known as “DLCs”
- Created a whole new gaming subculture
Subsequent similar ‘90s FPS games were simply called “Doom clones”. It also was the start of violent graphics and gore within video games, and stirred up quite the controversy.
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010)
Set in the 1960s during the Cold War, COD: Black Ops was the start of a whole new era for COD gamers.
The main character is CIA operative Alex Mason; Mason must recall certain memories from combat in order to locate a numbers station and stop chemical weapons attacks across the U.S.
With an all-star cast including the voices of Sam Worthington, Gary Oldman and Ice Cube, and music by The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Avenged Sevenfold, the first Black Ops was big. It sold 5.6 million copies within the first 24 hours of release.
Not only was the plot unique and immersive, but the multiplayer game is also one of the most popular (spoiler: it has zombies).
What are your top 10 military video games? Share with us below! And for more, read our top 12 classic songs about soldiers.