Tank games: 11 of the best on PC
Tanks are brilliant because they’re immense hunks of killer steel, destroying all in their path with ease. But the tank is also synonymous with tense firefights and immense claustrophobia. The agony of reloading, the snail pace, and the fact that you’re the enemy’s priority target make tank games as nerve-wracking as they are empowering.
There have been countless greats to pick over the years; the genre has been knocking about since the Apple II days. From hyper-realistic, control-laden sims to arcadey, point-and-explode shoot-’em-ups, here are the best tank games on PC.
The best tank games are:
A leviathan of free-to-play tank games, War Thunder favours hardcore tacticians, genius statisticians, and obsessive attention to detail. Unlike rival World of Tanks, War Thunder cannot make any claims to being accessible. There are a ridiculous number of tanks and branches of research; you can easily pour hours of your time into the wrong tank. Additionally, War Thunder boasts a complex and sophisticated armour penetration mechanic, which forces careful consideration before firing a single shot.
While War Thunder’s arcade mode does a good job of introducing gamers to some of the game’s core mechanics, you cannot consider yourself a War Thunder veteran until you have emerged victorious from a simulator battle. This stripped-back game mode restricts your view, turns off aim assists, and dramatically increases the time it takes to perform any action. Every encounter is a nail-biting tactical nightmare.
If you’re just starting out then be sure to check out our War Thunder Ground Battles tips and our guide to the best War Thunder tier 1 tanks.
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WORLD OF TANKS
If it is a hardcore, lifetime-to-master tank game you are looking for, steer well clear of World of Tanks. This free-to-play titan offers fast and frantic gameplay with only a handful of realistic elements thrown in for good measure. This is one of the best tank games for casual gamers looking for an in-road to more tanking action, and yet one with enough depth and progression to keep gamers invested well into the later tiers of unlockable tanks.
Perhaps World of Tanks’ greatest strength is its roster of over 250 armoured vehicles, ranging from scout vehicles to battlefield behemoths. Better still, with the game featuring vehicles from France, Great Britain, Japan, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Soviet Russia, the United States and China, there is heaps of variation in what you will be battling alongside and squaring up to in World of Tanks.
After a multi-year beta phase, World of Tanks v1.0 launched in 2018 and is the best version of the world’s most popular tank game.
Play World of Tanks for free
While the tags of ‘MMO’, ‘free-to-play’ and ‘tank’ apply to Armored Warfare as well they do to World of Tanks, a number of key differences ensure both are worth the time of a tank games veteran. Transporting World of Tanks’ remarkably approachable gameplay to the more modern era, Armoured Warfare provides tankers with more equipment, newer tanks, and a selection of versatile tank tech that adds a great deal more variation to the core gameplay.
Additionally, Armored Warfare brings PVE to the fold, allowing you to team up with friends to take on AI enemies, progressing through the ranks of tanks without constantly losing out to highly skilled foes in PVP.
As a live game, Armored Warfare new tanks arrive frequently with updates that enhance and expand the game. You’ll never be short of a boomstick on wheels. On top of being one of the best tank games you can get, it’s also one of the best free PC games.
STEEL ARMOR: BLAZE OF WAR
What’s more fun than blowing stuff up and driving through buildings? Carefully micromanaging its crew and innards to the point where you forget you’re actually in a tank and instead begin to believe you’re a machinist in a factory… obviously.
Steel Armor: Blaze of War offers up new pastures where tank games are concerned, looking to the battlefields of the 1980s Iran-Iraq conflicts. Tank enthusiasts will adore the rampant attention to detail – there are only two tanks in the game, but both are rendered to staggering detail, inside and out. Despite being fiddly and at times inaccessible, Steel Armor’s dry ardour for military hardware makes it a must-play for tank game veterans and fans of war games who want a more modern setting.
PANZER ELITE ACTION: GOLD EDITION
Bundling two classic Panzer titles into one Steam release, Panzer Elite Action: Gold Edition is hours upon hours upon hours of driving tanks around World War II battlefields and blowing stuff up – and that is exactly what we need sometimes. Incredibly user friendly, but full of engaging mechanics and unlockables, Panzer Elite Action is a tank game all about surviving famous historical campaigns to fight another day.
Speaking of: Here are the best survival games on PC.
Playing on either the Allied or Axis side in a variety of famous conflicts, Panzer Elite Action gives you control of four-to-five tanks and sets you on your merry way blowing stuff up and cowering behind hedgerows for some semblance of cover. While it lacks the realism of its originator, Panzer Elite, the need to look after your crew and upgrade your equipment makes for a compelling experience from start to finish.
170 miles of pristine military sandbox await players heading into Arma 3 – it’s a massive open-world that lends your tanking an overwhelming sense of scale. Gone are the days of distressing close-quarters encounters in bombed-out cities, Arma 3 hands players a new source of anxiety in the form of having to constantly scan the horizons for new threats. Buildings and natural cover are scarce, meaning that survival, and indeed victory, rely upon being able to identify and destroy the enemy before they even know you are there.
While not strictly a tank game, Arma 3 possesses an incredible level of realism that brings the concept of modern tank warfare to life. Indeed, Arma 3’s realism means it has been mistaken for real war footage by news organisations. Playing as the armoured arm of a massive army is what Arma 3 does best: aiding ground assaults, hunting down enemy tanks and wreaking havoc on strongholds. Besides, when you hop out of the heavy armour you’ve still got one of the best sniper games around.
Careful positioning is key to surviving in most tank games. Battlefield 4’s tanks hate careful positioning. Battlefield 4’s tanks like going really fast, blowing helicopters out of the sky and making little ground people run away and cower behind buildings. Battlefield 4’s tanks are ridiculous.
Rampaging around the map causing untold damage and ruining the carefully laid plans of your fellow soldiers is the order of business in Battlefield 4. This is tank gameplay at its most empowering, allowing players to become Death on tracks and leave any veneer of tactics or strategy behind them as they romp around the map exchanging shells for XP.
If you prefer your tanks a little more old-school, you could hop over to Battlefield 1, or for the WW2-flavoured Battlefield 5 vehicles. Panzers, Churchills, and Sturntigers await!
HEROES & GENERALS
Forget the strategy-based metagame that accompanies Heroes & Generals’ engrossing ground battles and you have still got a hectic combined forces war game in which tanks play a vital role. Include the metagame and Heroes & Generals is the complete tanker’s package, offering everything from resource management to explosive first-person combat.
There are few tank management features to pay constant attention to in Heroes & Generals, which means the focus is strictly on wreaking havoc. The combined forces element of Heroes & Generals lends your role as a tank commander some genuine potency on the battlefield, where your actions can make the difference for your fellow teammates, whether on the ground or in the air. If WW2 military hardware is your bag then Heroes & General is easily one of the best free Steam games you can get.
RED ORCHESTRA 2
Tanks are not the focus of this realism-heavy Eastern Front shooter, but the way they seamlessly fit into its mud-and-guts gameplay make for some of the finest tanking moments around.
Red Orchestra 2 utilises a similar ballistics and armour penetration mechanic as War Thunder, ensuring that every encounter between two tanks is an adrenaline-fuelled duel where knowledge and precision triumph over brute force. The constant threat of instant, fiery death at the hands of enemy anti-tank troops is just part of what makes it one of the best multiplayer games on PC.
COMPANY OF HEROES 2
Transporting the brilliantly refined RTS gameplay of the first game to the Eastern Front, Company of Heroes 2 is all about tactical ingenuity and making the best use of your tanks. Cover, line-of-sight and suppression are the keys to success in Company of Heroes 2, meaning you will have to direct your resources using genuine battlefield tactics if you want to repel the Axis threat.
Packing a devastating punch and able to turn the tide of any battle, the tanks of Company of Heroes 2 are a joy to send guns blazing towards enemy infantry units and watch as the casualties mount up. Like all good tank games, Company of Heroes 2 acknowledges the vulnerabilities of a tank, punishing players who send their armoured units into the fray without due caution.
Panzer Corps is old school turn-based strategy gaming at its absolute finest. Putting you in the boots of a Wehrmacht general, it is your job to oversee and manage operations across 26 grueling Axis campaigns.
Ignoring the fact that you are fighting for the bad guys, the focus of Panzer Corps is firmly on leading your units to victory. There are over 800 unit types spread among 20 unit classes, which results in an endless array of attacking options for both sides. If that is not convoluted enough, every unit has roughly 20 parameters by which its strengths and weaknesses are judged – it is all a battlefield-mathematician could possibly ask for, making it one of the best strategy games around.
Stand down, commander: your training is now over. You now know all the very best tank games you can play on PC, and are ready to run your own campaign of destruction. If you’d like a little out-of-tank action, you may also be interested to know we have training in the best WW2 games, too. But until next time, keep your eyes on the road and a shell in the barrel, and have fun tanking it up.