Age of Empires is one of the most iconic RTS games of all time, and a touchstone for many of the games that came after it. The real-time strategy epic possessed an unparalleled level of depth and complexity, allowing players to control every decision that could be made on both a macro and micro scale.
Age of Empires will now be seeing a full HD remake to celebrate its 20th anniversary, complete with a graphical overhaul and a new soundtrack. As influential as AoE was, there are still a number of games we hope to see receive the same treatment it will be receiving to satisfy our cravings for classic RTS games.
Company of Heroes combined intense military action with rich strategic complexity back in 2006, and it can definitely use an HD remake to improve its already advanced (for its time) visuals. Company of Heroes stood out most evidently because of its subject matter, filling a niche for a more modernized RTS experience. The game allowed for unbelievably detailed military decision making, allowing you to develop your tactics with unbelievable precision.
Soldiers behaved realistically, meaning that you could focus on the overall objective without having to worry about the movements of individual units. Their advanced AI interacted with the environment as it crumbled around them, reinforcing the tension of the dynamic battlefield that is being torn apart as you fight. An HD remake would allow for improvements to an already sophisticated environmental system that can be more in tune with current standards.
Sins of a Solar Empire is a particularly unique RTS because it blended the real-time strategy genre with the 4X genre, the latter of which is defined by their four core verbs: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. These games focus on starting as a small civilization before rapidly expanding by using the resources of the environment while crushing out all opposition.
Sins of a Solar Empire explored the potential for how to make this "exterminate" portion of 4X games even more enticing by introducing RTS elements to create something that was unlike anything released at the time. Sins of a Solar Empire approaches scale in a way that few games dared to tread, making an HD remake all the more necessary thanks to the affordances of current games technology. An HD remake can make Sins of a Solar Empire even more expansive than it was at its release, which is a feat in and of itself.
Myth: The Fallen Lords may be an unfamiliar title for some, but it was quite an important game not just for the RTS genre, but for PC games as a whole. Myth was an early title from Bungie, a company perhaps most currently known for its hit FPS series Halo. In many ways, players can see how Halo might have been influenced by this game.
Myth had a distinctly deep single player mode, ensuring that equal effort was placed into the narrative of the game as was put into its mechanics. Each level tended to focus on a small group of units taking on a seemingly insurmountable force of enemies. Players were not able to brute-force their way through levels and instead had to study enemy patterns and environmental changes in order to best approach their threats. This was a noticeable departure from the way that RTS games were generally made, in which armies of equal strength were pitted against each other. In the battlegrounds of Myth, you were always an underdog and only your wits could save you.
Warcraft III needs practically no introduction, serving as the formal basis for many of Blizzard's hit titles that came after it. With an uncompromisingly massive sense of scale in terms of both world-building and mechanics, Warcraft III stands the test of time to this very day. It likewise comes as no surprise that a Warcraft III HD remake is already in the works. However, it makes a place on this list just to reinforce how inherently necessary a Warcraft III remake is to remind players why Blizzard is the industry titan that it is today.
The inclusion of this title on this list may be surprising, but Dune 2 deserves an HD remake more than any other game previously mentioned. What Dune 2 lacks in terms of graphical fidelity it makes up for in sheer legacy.
Dune 2 was the RTS that defined almost every strategy game that came out after it. A strong intersection between story and gameplay made the game a landmark title that still deserves study to this day. However, many of its qualities do not hold up to modern expectations from players. Dune 2 needs more than just a fresh coat of paint, but any upgrades for modern gaming is well worth the effort. The game was everything an RTS should be, allowing players to put countless hours into it to devise strategies that worked distinctly for them. Given the right amount of love and attention from developers, Dune 2 can be an enormous success.
The HD remake for Age of Empires serves as a reminder of the sheer potential that exists for revitalize many classic RTS games that fans will surely adore. Not only will old fans love seeing favorites with a new visual style, but those looking to get invested in strategy games can benefit a lot from these HD releases. Traditional RTS games can serve as brilliant teaching tools for understanding how to make a successful tactics game, and underscores design elements that are implemented in many games to this day.
Were there any games on this list that you feel shouldn't have made the cut? What RTS games do you think deserves an HD remake?