The Best War Games for Mac
“War, huh, what is it good for?” - Edwin Star, War from the album War and Peace
Well… apparently, it’s good for good times. War games are all over the map. So, to honor our ever-present source of joy and soul-crushing doom, Mac Gamer HQ presents you with a four-star general overview of the best war games for Mac.
As always, we’re going for different styles and genres, as well as different price points and system requirements. We aim to help you discover great new games and perhaps one of these will be perfect for you:
|Total War: Attila||Total War: Attila||Strategy||⚠️️ Medium||80|
|Wargame: Red Dragon||Wargame: Red Dragon||Strategy||⚠️️ Medium||78|
|Company of Heroes 2||Company of Heroes 2||Strategy||⚠️️ Medium||80|
|Hearts of Iron 4||Hearts of Iron 4||Strategy||⚠️️ Medium||83|
|StarCraft 2||StarCraft 2||Strategy||⚠️️ Medium||88|
|XCOM 2||XCOM 2||Role-playing||🔥 High||88|
|The Banner Saga||The Banner Saga||Role-playing||✅ Low||80|
|COD Modern Warfare 3||Modern Warfare 3||Shooter||🔥 High||78|
|Arma 3||Arma 3||Shooter||🔥 High||74|
|Spec Ops: The Line||Spec Ops: The Line||Shooter||✅ Low||76|
|This War of Mine||This War of Mine||Strategy||✅ Low||83|
Top Mac War Games: Renowned Franchises
No round-up of the best Mac war games for Mac would be complete without touching on the big franchises that have left their mark on Mac gaming, so I’ll start with two of the major ones. These are perfect for those of you who enjoy crushing your enemies under the heel of your polished and well-kept boots.
The condition of man… is a condition of war of everyone against everyone - Thomas Hobbes
Total War: Attila
War is all-encompassing and to give you the taste of blood you crave, the Total War series relies on a dual-engine approach. First, there’s a real-time war theater which allows you to command your troops’ every move on the battlefield. It lets you deploy your soldiers, define your engagement strategy, groupings, pace, and more. In between battles, there’s a turn-based strategy interface (think a very stripped down version of Sid Meier’s Civilization series) that lets you construct the whole of your war machine. Different games in the Total War franchise take you from before the birth of Christ to the end of the Napoleonic period and all over the globe.
MacGamer HQ’s head-honcho Ric is a fan of the franchise’s take on feudal japan, Total War: Shogun 2, but I’m definitely fond of the most recent release, Total War: Attila. Attila takes you to the end of the western Roman empire and puts you in control of one of the Mediterranean or Germanic tribes that carved up former Roman territory, and their enemy’s hides in the process. The game features a skirmish mode, historical battles mode (which lets you relive some epic battlefield confrontations of the period) and a campaign mode. Campaign mode features a dynasty interface that allows you to play the court game of intrigue if you’re the type that likes your war in intimate settings. You can purchase additional campaigns and culture packs if your favorite war-mongering pack of blood-thirsty maniacs isn’t in the base game.
Wargame: Red Dragon
The Wargame series, from Eugen Systems, is a real-time strategy (RTS) wargame that gives you control of Cold War Era militaries across the globe. One of the biggest selling points is Eugen’s effort to bring you as close to the real battlefield as possible, accurately reproducing hundreds of military vehicles, troops, and weapons. The campaign modes have grown with each release and the multiplayer modes are worth hundreds of hours of replay value. A unique aspect of the game is the satellite camera mode which, on its own, is little more than a cool video effect but, in reality, demonstrates the scale of the game’s battlefields.
Wargame: European Escalation, gives the player the chance to control one of the Cold War militaries in Thatcher-era Europe. The game’s sequel, Wargame: Airland Battle, takes you right back to the battlefield in a conflict between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces. But if you had to buy just one, the series’ latest, Wargame: Red Dragon, brings you near the end of the Cold War and adds a variety of the Asian communist states, expanding the theater of war to a truly global scale.
Top Mac War Games: Real-time Strategy games
The RTS genre is dominated by war games, but the variety of styles still leaves Mac players with plenty of options for demolishing their foes.
The two most powerful warriors are patience and time - Leo Tolstoy
Company of Heroes 2
Another Mac Gamer HQ favorite, Company of Heroes 2 is the sequel to the original Company of Heroes, released over a decade ago. The sequel takes you directly onto the Eastern Front of WWII for a close-up look at the vagaries of the war you’re waging. The Essence 3.0 engine provides a beautifully rendered war theater that utilizes a variety of in-game systems to enhance the realism of the battlefield and encourage victory by skill rather than firepower. The destructible environments never cease to amaze me and the many ways the enemy can be countered with the right units is equally impressive.
The three released DLC packs introduce more armies for single and multiplayer modes (including action on the Western Front), each of which carries their own strengths and flaws. You can pick up the CoH2: Master Collection for a tidy $39.99 and choose how you want to win and on which map to reign supreme.
Hearts of Iron 4
Paradox Interactive is well known for its grand-strategy simulations. Each of their titles features an adjustable real-time clock allowing you to watch your decisions play out in a matter of minutes or extending the results of your strategic decisions to hours and days. Their games can bring you from the start of the crusades through the end of the WWII; the company’s most recent offering, Stellaris, will even take you hundreds of years into the future for galaxy-wide statecraft. Each game has it’s own idiosyncrasies and loyalists, but they’ll all give you your fix if grand strategy is your thing.
Hearts of Iron 4 is the company’s most war-oriented, giving you god-like command over pretty much any country that existed in the WWII period. An almost ridiculously complex technology system lets you guide your country’s development as you like, while diplomacy systems let you conduct trade, form and break alliances and treaties, and appoint advisors to help you turn the world from a divided battleground into one of your making. The military system provides you with the chance to specialize your battalions. Pause the game, set your plans, bump up the game-clock speed, and unpause and you can watch your grand vision bring the war to a close on your terms, or bring your country to ruin.
It would be hard to find a gamer in the world that isn’t at least aware of Blizzard’s Starcraft 2. The game extends a nearly decade and a half’s long campaign of real-time space war with an RTS system that serves as a cross between the resource acquisition of traditional 4x turn-based strategy games such as the Civilization series and the RTS battlefield play of the Total War series.
Starcraft 2 gives you control over one of three races, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, to craft a mobile war machine from, almost literally, the ground up. Nearly every aspect of your fighting force, from securing resources to front-line battle commands, is under your control and while the battlefield is yours for the taking, it’s also everyone else’s.
While Blizzard controversially released each race’s story as its own game, as opposed to the original which had all three in one package, Wings of Liberty, Legacy of the Void and Heart of the Swarm can now all be bought and played separately. With a variety of playable races, Starcraft 2 can easily satisfy any urge to dominate your fellow man … or alien.
Top Mac War Games: Turn-based
War games in the turn-based tactical strategy genre have been relatively dry as of late, but there are some definite gems if you keep your eyes open. The two below are some of the better known.
Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt. - Sun Tzu, The Art of War
XCOM 2 follows the events of the first XCOM release of the new era, placing you in command of an XCOM team living on the run in a world controlled by the alien forces. The open-ended campaign mode lets you pick and choose what to do, and where and when to do it as you regain control of Earth.
The tactical combat system provides turn-by-turn control over 5 classes of warriors that you can tailor to your own strategy. The technology system of the previous game remains, in expanded form, giving you control over how you’ll exterminate your alien overlords. A greater cast of friends, foes, NPC's, and increased diversity in weapons and gear complete the game’s customization options, giving you total control over your forces in both the campaign and multiplayer mode. With XCOM 2, you are humanity’s last stand, again, after the first last stand against alien invasion forces failed.
The Banner Saga
Easily one of the most highly regarded series’ on Mac, The Banner Saga takes you into a fantasy Viking world for an RPG epic story. A turn-based tactical battle system gives you control of 25 customizable characters, each of 2 different races and 7 different classes, in both the campaign story mode and multiplayer skirmish modes. The narrative is an important aspect of this series and each of your choices over the course of the game affects the rest of your experience in an open-ended story-mode that requires strategic decisions on the battlefield but also outside.
The 2-D graphics call to mind the old-school style of Dragon’s Lair with beautifully animated battlefields and story animations. The campaign mode is currently 2 games deep, with a third episode in development, and since decisions made in the first game carry over to the second, I recommend you start with part one and play through the second.
Top Mac War Games: Shooters
No look at the top war games would be complete without a look at the First Person Shooters (FPS) that put you right onto the front lines in the muck and the mire of warfare. The three discussed here are just a sample of the FPS war games available for Mac gamers.
I’m better when it’s breathing. - Chris, American Sniper
COD: Modern Warfare 3
In truth, it’s hard to find anything to say about the Call of Duty series. After all, who isn’t familiar with Call of Duty’s trademark fast gameplay and shoot everything that moves style. But of all the versions available for Mac gamers, Modern Warfare 3 is the one Mac Gamer HQ head honcho Ric recommends. MW3 is on Steam, features cross-platform multiplayer, a spec ops co-op mode and survival modes. Call of Duty games all have fun campaigns with production values worthy of a Michael Bay film. Yet Multiplayer is where they all shine and MW 3’s cross-platform multiplayer makes it the best Mac alternative.
The entire MW series (CoD4MW+MW2+MW3) is also available on Steam in one bundle that puts all of Modern Warfare in your hands, along with DLC, for a reasonably tidy sum. There’s really not a lot to say about it. It’s Call of Duty, but on Mac hardware. Just aim, run, and shoot people in the face.
Arma 3 puts you in control of a variety of battlefield soldiers and mechanical vehicles of destruction. The single-player story mode puts you in the boots of Ben Kerry for a 3 episode campaign. Single player training and scenarios help you beef up your battle-chops before you enter the sandbox multiplayer mode featuring both official and unofficial community-made maps and scenarios. Unique to the Arma 3 multiplayer mode is the Zeus mode, which gives players god-like influence over other players and the contingencies of the battlefield. A content editor also gives you the chance to design your own maps and scenarios for both the community and yourself. The Mac version of the game is currently in
The Mac version of the game is currently in experimental beta mode so you might want to hold off on buying the game until it receives official support. Then again, if you really can’t wait, you can buy the Windows version and then hype your friends on the Mac beta to help the process along.
Spec Ops: The Line
A personal favorite of Ric’s and mine, this 3rd-person shooter from Yager Development studios takes you into the darker psychological recesses of war. Taking control of Special Operations Force’s Captain Martin Walker, you lead his three-person team through a single-player campaign in post-apocalyptic Dubai in search of mysterious Colonel John Konrad. I won’t spoil the story for you, but let me just say that it’s different and unique. Call of Duty and Battlefield should both take notice.
The gameplay is good too, featuring some exploration but mostly taking cover and shooting (similar to Gears of Wars games). You’ll find yourself short of ammo, time, and patience often enough that you might end up needing a new controller in this game that, for myself, calls to mind the 1999 film Fight Club, but instead of not being about war, it’s about war. Post-script spoiler alert.
Top Mac War Games: Survival
This final entry comes from 11-bit studios and is easily one of the most intriguingly heartfelt approaches to the war genre in gaming history.
Our nation exists because of the people! We exist because of them. - Cidolfas Orlandu, Final Fantasy Tactics
This War of Mine
Another personal favorite of Ric’s and mine, this scavenger-hunt game is about choices when choices are too few. Putting you in control of three civilians trapped in a building in a war-torn town, your goal is to keep these people alive amidst sniper fire that keeps you inside during the day, and among thieves and other civilians just trying to survive at night.
Only the dead have seen the end of war - attribution questionable
Resource management, scavenging missions, and housekeeping are central to the survival of your group. Decisions on how your players behave toward remaining survivors affect the morale and health of your characters in the randomly generated world brought to life in a beautifully animated tale of survival and loss in a devastated world.
This is far from an all-encompassing list, but any of these games should provide hours of good times. MacOS war games come in all shades, styles, and sizes and there’s no end in sight to the destruction you’ll reap upon your adversaries. That being said, keep count of your ammo, your eyes on your scopes, and your wits about you and don’t forget to be at least reasonably respectful to your fellow gamers. As Einstein was fond of saying: Say what you want about me and how I play the game, you’ve at least gotta admit that I’m the guy with the rocket launcher.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. - Albert Einstein
This article comes from Thomas Trono.