Obscure RTSes the world forgot about

  • November 20, 2022

The real-time strategy genre has always been near and dear to my heart. Red Alert 2 battles at LANs, playing Herzog Zwei head-to-head on my buddy’s Sega, taking time off from painting my 40k figs to play Dawn of War—it’s always been a big part of my gaming diet. It hasn’t always been easy to be a fan, however. By the time Starcraft 2 rolled out in 2010, enthusiasm for RTS games had hit an all-time low. While strategy games in general are experiencing a beautiful renaissance, it’s been a long time since the real-timers had a reason to celebrate.

There may be cause for optimism, because it looks like the RTS is back from the brink of death. With established studios and newcomers alike taking a crack at it, we might just be in for some exciting times. In the meantime, however, I have a list of some obscure classics from the vault of my lizard brain to tide you over. From time-traveling tanks to magical ninjas, here are five real-time strategy games the world forgot. 

(Image credit: Bohemia Interactive)

Developed by a tiny Czech studio and released in 2001, Original War follows the story of US and Russian troops sent back through time to secure an extra-terrestrial mineral called Siberite. While it features the usual base building and resource gathering you’d expect from an RTS, it also focuses on the personnel you brought with you—after all, it’s not like you can train up some new recruits from Fort Bragg two million years in the past. Your humans gain levels as soldiers, mechanics, scientists, or engineers and get better at various tasks as they progress. If you lose them in combat, however, they’re gone forever. You can train the regrettably named prehistoric apemen to perform their tasks, but they’re never quite as good.