Some games are awesome, some are okay, and some suck. ... And then there's the worst crap you've ever touched, those games that make you wonder how the hell they ever got the green light in the first place.
If you are curious as to what are some of the worst RTS games ever made, then look no further. You'll find terrible gameplay mechanics, awful storylines, optimization issues, game-breaking bugs, and even games so bad they were completely abandoned by the developers. Here is a compilation of some of those games available on Steam that do nothing but waste hard drive space, money, and time.
Command & Conquer 4: Tiberium Twilight
Considered by some to be the gravest offense EA has ever committed, C&C 4 is pretty much the worst Command & Conquer game ever made -- and that's taking into account that some of the franchise's games are not even RTS games at all.
It's regarded as the worst C&C title to date for gameplay that doesn't resemble the franchise, an art style out of place for the Tiberium series, an outdated engine, and a storyline that feels rushed and of poor quality. Tiberium Twilight seems more like a parody of the series itself.
The game features an "Overwhelmingly Negative" status on Steam based on 1500 user reviews, and it's currently got an average user score of 2.1 on Metracritic out of 659 total ratings.
The purpose in Citadels is to build a citadel. Sounds simple enough. To do so, you're going to have to get your peasant servants to work by gathering resources, building various types of buildings, and manning them when necessary. Still sounds pretty straightforward so far.
The "only" problem is the game is so ridden with bugs and glitches that the most simple tasks become impossible. Peasants getting trapped between buildings, path-finding issues, animation bugs, and self-destroying castles are just some of the problems.
And if that weren't enough, the game is full of some design decisions that just make you think "WTF." We're talking catapults with faster movement speeds than foot solders or the absence of the option to "Load Game." Then again, it's not possible to save a game either, so I guess that cancels itself out.
Released in 2013, it received a "Very Negative" score, and you can pick the monstrosity up for just 14,99€. I'd bother doing that conversion rate into US dollars, but if you're actually considering buying it in the first place, chances are you don't care about your money anyways.
Stronghold 3 Gold
"Hey, remember all those cool, useful features the previous title had? Yeah, let's not add any of those. Actually, let's remove even more things than the predecessor had. That'll make a good sequel."
That's the best guess of what went through the developers' minds when designing Stronghold 3. The only area that has seen an apparent improvement is the graphics. The third installment features fewer units, smaller and less maps, the loss of functions like being able to see inside buildings, and fewer types of buildings as well. It is simply an all-around downgrade except for in the graphical department.
The general consensus seems to be to completely ignore this game and to buy Stronghold 1 or 2 instead.
The Settlers Online
If someone ever writes a book titled How to Kill a Franchise, then The Settlers Online would surely deserve its own chapter. As an entry into a classic RTS franchise historically praised for its combination of city-management simulation and simple yet solid combat mechanics, The Settlers Online is not even a shadow of its former self; in fact, it has more in common with games like FarmVille than it does with previous games in the series.
The latest and apparently last title in the series, this iteration was turned into a browser-based game that was not just downgraded graphically and in terms of gameplay, but also turned into a pay-to-win scheme where the players most willing to dish out the cash have the best chances of winning.
On the flipside, it is available for free, and apparently the uninstaller works pretty well, so there's that.
A Game of Thrones: Genesis
Slap "Game of Thrones" on any product, and it's guaranteed to get some attention no matter what it is. You might think this RTS was another crappy and rushed game hoping to jump in on the bandwagon of hype for that easy money-making. The truth, though, is that A Game of Thrones: Genesis was released nearly simultaneously with the first season's broadcast on HBO.
The developers might not have thought of that easy cash-grab stance, but they might as well have given the game's final status. The game features half-baked gameplay mechanics, balancing issues, and piss-poor combat animations. A frequent occurrence is even that defeated or killed units remain standing on the battlefield.
Perhaps the game's biggest offense, however, is the overlapping gameplay design that expects you to play it like a traditional RTS with base building, unit creation, and resource gathering while managing features traditionally more common in 4X strategy games. The result is that you end up having to manage the aspects of both a traditional RTS and a 4x, and you end up in a micromanagement nightmare.
Mechs & Mercs: Black Talons
Good ideas and poor execution is the shortest way to describe this title.
Taking core ideas from both traditional RTS and mech games, Mechs & Mercs: Black Talons failed to find a good balance and mixture between the two genres and ended up being a severely unbalanced game. Described as a tactical RTS with various unit types that each have their own strengths and weaknesses, the vast superiority of certain units, such as heavily armored ones, causes the player to disregard any tactical approach whatsoever and apply brute force to power their way through the levels.
The imbalance is further exaggerated by the easily exploitable leveling and XP systems thanks to the constant spawning of enemy units who will just mindlessly charge against you. This allows players to simply farm XP and obtain levels that should not have been attained so early in the game.
Dawn of War 3
How the mighty have fallen.
The Dawn of War series is easily considered one of the best RTS franchises and Warhammer 40k games ever created. Though the third expansion of Dawn of War I received mostly negative feedback, the core game and two subsequent expansions to it were so good that it easily ranks among the best RTS games ever.
When Dawn of War II came along, though many were disappointed by the radical departure from the base-building and large army creation from the first game, it still proved to be a solid game. Relic took a leap of faith by drastically changing the gameplay mechanics with a campaign that felt more like a tactical ARPG. The MP experience, however, still gave a great RTS experience, and the game still received high scores and ratings across the board.
Relic took yet another gamble with Dawn of War III, and this time they lost hard. As what can only be described as an odd mix between traditional RTS and MOBA, fans of either genre found the game remarkable in neither aspect. Features that defined Relic's RTS games of the past, such as morale, cover systems, veterancy, or destructible environments, were all stripped in Dawn of War III.
And if the lack of features weren't enough, other hallmarks of the Dawn of War series like engaging plots and over-the-top quality voice acting were also gone.
But why is it on the list? It's neither a great RTS nor a MOBA, but at least it's not riddled with game-breaking bugs, nor is it unplayable. And that's true. The main reason Dawn of War III has made it on the list is because Relic announced it was abandoning any further support for the game. That means no new races, expansions, or updates for a game that is less than a year old. Rather than attempting to fix the mess they had, one of the biggest RTS developers ever has simply decided to abandon its own ship.
Whether it's due to poor game design or rushed to launch while riddled with bugs and glitches, these were some of the worst RTS games you can currently find on Steam. The good news is that most of them are fairly cheap, though we doubt the price justifies the experience in any of the mentioned cases.
Think some titles ought to be on the list as well? Disagree with some of those included? Let us know in the comment section below.