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We have too many choices when it comes to video games nowadays. Even great new games can now go unnoticed because there is just simply too much on offer.
Go back a few years where we were less spoilt for choice, the great games really stood out amongst the rest. Because of this, they gained a massive online player base, some of which still last until this day.
Here are a few of those games.
1. Age of Empires II
Let's start this list off strong. You've undoubtedly heard of Age of Empires, one of the biggest franchises to come out of Microsoft Studios. If not, you're in for a treat!
Age of Empires II revolutionized RTS games in 1999 with its fast-paced, tactical gameplay and historical accuracy. Featuring 13 playable civilizations in the base game, each with their own perks and gameplay styles, with the addition of 18 more in the following 4 DLCs which are all reasonably priced.
This game features mechanics and gameplay which is relatively simple at its core but will take months or even years to perfect to the level of the pros.
The game was remastered in 2013 giving us some lovely HD textures and 1080p support and also making it easier for the player base to play together through the
Fans have played this game religiously since its release and they haven't stopped yet. For the old players, get back on this game! For the new players, get on this game now!
2. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2
Maybe my personal favourite on this list, and oh, if I could only take back the hours I put into this game. . .I wouldn't take them back.
Released in 2000, play as various nations across the world in Red Alert 2 and an additional faction in the DLC Yuri's Revenge each featuring their own unique units and tactic styles.
Crush your enemies with an armada of different military, tanks, planes and ships. Infiltrate your enemies bases with the Allied spy or annihilate the enemy base with the Soviets iconic Kirov Airship. Obliterate your enemies with the different faction superweapons, including the weather machine or the soviet nuclear missile.
Accompanying this game is one hell of a soundtrack written and composed by Frank Klepacki, it will properly kick you into the right headspace for playing this game.
The original servers for this game are unfortunately retired now, but the player base lives on through various unofficial third-party programs such as Gameranger.
Even until this day, this is hands down my favourite RTS ever.
3. Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War
As someone who played this game on release day back in 2004, let me tell you that this game does not mess around.
This game is designed around the concept of the board games so naturally, you'll be looking for cover, inclines bunkers in the maps to give you an advantage over the enemy and their armies.
Dawn of War features 4 playable factions/races in the base game with 5 more available in the following 3 DLCs. You can pick up the final DLC Soulstorm as a base game which is effectively a definitive edition featuring all the said factions and races. Though there is a campaign which is great and fully accurate to its 1000 page books of lore, any of you who have already played this game will know that the multiplayer is where the real fun is in this game.
This classic RTS is hardcore, brutal, and in your face, and should be a staple in any RTS fans library.
4. Quake III / Quake Live
This is a monumental game. This game paved the way for shooters to come for years. If you don't go into this game on your toes, the other players will slap you silly.
Quake III has some of the fastest-paced shooting action you're going to get in any game. It's a true 'no-nonsense' kind of game where you won't be able to cheese your way to victory - if a player is more skilled than you in this game, they WILL win.
Featuring an array of weapons to decimate your enemies such as gauntlets, rocket launchers and the fabled B.F.G. (Google it), this is one of the most satisfying, addicting games I have ever played, and with there still being a huge player base for this game the best players won't make it easy for you to climb the leaderboards.
This game was one of the first few games to have an E-sports scene with pro players, tournaments and cash prizes.
Similarly to Age of Empires 2, Quake 3 was remastered and rebooted under the new name of Quake Live in 2010 refreshing the player base even further, adding new maps, weapons and again, giving us a whole bunch of new HD textures.
5. Diablo 2
In 2000, Diablo 2 blew up the ARP/RPG world. This is one of the games that made Blizzard the titan of a games company they are today.
It's a classic top-down RPG-style hack and slash with an in-depth leveling system, huge maps, an array of armor/weaponry and no shortage of waves of undead armies to destroy.
Play as the Amazon, the Necromancer, the Barbarian, the Sorceress, the Paladin, the Druid or the Assassin in Diablo 2—all boasting their own original play styles, players are encouraged to team up with other players to raid dungeons and bosses together, giving you the best chance of survival and getting you that juicy satisfying loot.
The original servers are still online for Diablo 2 though a lot of players who still play are playing on private servers. There's definitely reason enough that players still flood in to play this game.
Honorable Mention: Populous: The Beginning
Maybe you've heard of this game, maybe not, but to me, this game is a classic in its own right. Populous: The Beginning was released in 1998 by Bullfrog Productions, a company who was later (unfortunately) absorbed by EA.
This game is a little different to the other RTS games I've mentioned on this list. You play as a shaman and her tribe, travelling to various planets in a solar system
trying to create small armies and learn of the planets different secrets to use against the enemy tribes.
In most cases, the secrets are spells but are also often new technologies for your tribe such as buildings or new unit types.
The spells are your main destructive force in Populous, you have the ability to wreak havoc creating tornados, volcanoes and literally making the ground erode beneath your enemies.
You can summon an 'Angel of Death' to scour the map for the enemy shaman, pick her up and spit her into the sea and if that doesn't sell this game to you then nothing will.
Again, for this game, the original servers are unfortunately down, but the player base was reignited when Populous Reincarnated was formed, a matchmaker letting you find opponents easily online.
Let's not forget about the games that made us the gamers we are today—support your retro gaming community!!
© 2018 Jessica Sadie Jenkins and Adam Wood