Medieval games come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from real-time strategy to open-world RPGs and everything in between. Most gamers have played at least one medieval-themed title in their lives and have perhaps wondered if these games are indeed an accurate portrayal of medieval times. Well, most of the time they’re not.
However, there are a good number of realistic medieval games out there as well. We’re talking about titles that don’t incorporate magic, dragons, elves or any other fantasy themes in their gameplay. While not entirely historically accurate, the titles we’re looking at today come as close as you can get to conveying realism while still making for a compelling video game. In no particular order, down below you can find our picks for the 10 best realistic medieval games of all time.
We’re starting off with a pretty obvious choice – a multiplayer sandbox RPG that markets itself as a medieval life simulator. That’s actually a pretty accurate description of Life is Feudal, as the developers went to great lengths to make sure that everything feels as realistic as possible.
Some might say they perhaps went too far and that Life is Feudal is an immense grind where you start with nothing but the shirt on your back and have to figure things out from there. That’s certainly true and Life is Feudal does have its flaws, however, it’s hard to deny that this is one of the most realistic medieval games out there when it comes to presenting the harsh reality and difficulties of surviving in a game world inspired by the Middle Ages.
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is pretty much what it says on the tin – a multiplayer game that focuses on offering a realistic depiction of medieval combat. As one might expect, the game puts a lot of emphasis on melee combat and making it feel as precise and responsive as possible.
While there are also a few ranged weapons to play around with, the bread and butter of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is definitely its deep melee system, which incorporates swings, thrusts, blocks, parries and everything else an experienced warrior needs to make short work of his opponents. If you’re looking for a visceral and bloody medieval combat simulator, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better one than Chivalry: Medieval Warfare right now.
Okay, so maybe you’re not happy with just being a foot soldier fighting in the name of some ruler that doesn’t even show himself on the field of battle. If that’s the case, you may want to kick it up a notch and command your own army in Medieval II: Total War.
Like most Total War games, Medieval II features a rather steep learning curve and you’ll probably feel overwhelmed at first by the mix of turn-based empire management and real-time strategy if you’re not familiar with the series. Put in the effort to learn all its little intricacies, however, and you’ll find that Medieval II: Total War is an incredibly satisfying experience and by far one of the most realistic medieval grand strategy games out there.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is an RPG that focuses on historical accuracy and a high degree of realism. The debut project of Warhorse Studios, Kingdom Come: Deliverance was built from the ground up as an immersive single-player experience with period-accurate combat techniques, weapons, castles, and even music.
The developers went as far as to enlist the help of architects in order to recreate real-world castles in-game while also reproducing music from medieval songbooks with the help of Czech composers. Despite suffering from a rather rocky launch, Kingdom Come: Deliverance ended up becoming one of the most compelling and realistic medieval games we’ve seen so far.
I’m sure you saw this one coming a mile away and there’s a good reason for that. Despite being close to nine years old and looking fairly dated even back when it was released, Mount & Blade: Warband continues to be one of the best medieval games on the market. Some might even say that it’s the best in its genre, albeit that doesn’t necessarily say much given that there aren’t really any other games like this.
Mount & Blade: Warband is pretty much the complete medieval experience that combines a number of different genres to offer a truly unique game. Not only that but its sandbox world allows for almost infinite freedom and possibilities, letting you approach in any number of ways everything from army management, sieges, and character development to marriage, politics and making a name for yourself without being restricted to a certain path. A must play for any fan of realistic medieval games.
A title that needs very little introduction, Age of Empires 2 is an absolute classic for PC gamers. Particularly, real-time strategy fans. The game may look a bit dated by today’s standards, even with the 2013 graphical overhaul, however, that doesn’t really detract from how good it is. On the off chance that you’re not familiar with this classic title, Age of Empires 2 is a medieval real-time strategy game that incorporates all the traditional elements associated with the genre, such as base building, resource gathering, army management, and so on.
Almost two decades since the original came out, Age of Empires 2 is still a compelling and enjoyable RTS that has the potential to eat away all your free time if you let it. Whether you choose to play through its lengthy single-player campaigns or just go straight to waging war against other people in multiplayer, Age of Empires 2 is certain to quench your thirst for strategic medieval battles.
Just as its name suggests, War of the Roses is based on the real-world series of conflicts that took place during the 15th century between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. While the setting sounds like it would make for a great strategy game, War of the Roses is actually an action-packed hack and slash that’s very reminiscent of one of our other entries on our list, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.
Unlike Chivalry’s first-person view, however, War of the Roses uses a third-person perspective. The game also offers a lot of customization options, most of which are quite realistic and inspired by historical armor and weaponry. Having said that, this is one of those games were skill matters a lot more than what gear you’re wearing and War of the Roses features a pretty solid combat system that takes advantage of that. It’s not the easiest combat system to learn, but it certainly feels satisfying once you eventually do get the hang of it.
Another callback to the golden age of real-time strategy games, Stronghold Crusader could be best described as a ‘build your own medieval castle’ simulator. Just like Age of Empires, the Stronghold series as a whole is definitely worth checking out. But if you’re not sure where to start, Stronghold Crusader would probably be your best choice.
I mentioned castle-building before but, of course, this realistic medieval game is about much more than that. In addition to building your fortress, you also get to command sizable armies, manage villagers, sabotage your enemies, and so much more. Just as its title suggests, the game takes place during the Crusades (the first three, to be more precise) and you can choose to play as either the Crusaders under the command of Richard the Lionheart or as the Muslim armies led by the Sultan Saladin.
This is another game set during the Crusades, similar to the previous title on our list. When it comes to the gameplay, however, Crusader Kings 2 is quite a bit different compared to Stronghold. A grand strategy game similar in some ways to the Civilization series, Crusader Kings 2 puts heavy emphasis on territory management and political intrigue. Combat is, of course, also part of the game, as you build up your forces in an attempt to expand more and more across Europe, however, that’s not the bread and butter of this title.
The reason why Crusader Kings 2 is one of the most realistic medieval games has everything to do with how the game deals with the wide variety of political matters you’re forced to deal with. After all, political machinations were the main catalyst for most wars across the centuries, and that goes double for the Middle Ages.
This name may or may not ring a bell depending on how much attention you pay to gaming news. But basically, Mordhau is an upcoming multiplayer-focused medieval fighting game in the vein of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare that also borrows elements from titles like War of the Roses, For Honor, and Mount & Blade. If you’re familiar with any of those games, you pretty much know what to expect here.
Mordhau uses a first-person perspective and promises an extremely realistic and fluid combat system; perhaps the best combat system ever seen in a game like this. In addition to small-scale skirmishes, we can apparently also expect massive battles of up to 64 players, complete with horses, siege engines, and castles to capture. It’s a bit hard to say at this point if the game can actually deliver on that promise, but the footage we’ve seen so far certainly looks great. Mordhau is set to launch sometime later this year.
This article was originally published on geeksnack.com on May 20th, 2017 before the site was taken down later that year. The piece was edited and updated to reflect certain events that have occurred in the meantime that are relevant to the titles discussed above.