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10 Video Games With Historical Settings

Updated on July 25, 2017

10. Civilization Series

Civilization VI (2016)
Civilization VI (2016)

What's not to love about Civ games? I remember wasting hundreds of hours playing this strategy game. Each and every one of them are great even though I would recommend playing the latest installation for better graphics and more options on how you can build your empire. While it may not be historically accurate, the games bring various historical figures to life. Ranging from Napoleon to Gandhi, each civilizations feature their own respective leaders.The mix of time periods has always made the Civilization series a real classic.

9. The Saboteur

The Saboteur (2009)
The Saboteur (2009)

Most World War 2 games make the players a badass heroic soldier fighting for freedom. But not this one. This open-world action game puts the player into the shoes of Sean Devlin, an Irish racer. Sean is inspired by William Grover-Williams, a Grand Prix motor racing driver and special agent who worked for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) inside German-occupied France. Taking place in German-occupied France, players must work together with the resistance and fight for freedom.

8. Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad (2011)
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad (2011)

There was a time when gaming industry was flooded with WW2 shooters. Wolfenstein, Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, you name it. However, none of them manage to capture the horror of war. Rather than being a hero who saves the day, you are just one cog in a bigger machine in this realistic WW2 shooter. Players must work together and play their roles respectively to win the battle. The game also took away the handy dandy ammo counter in traditional HUD, forcing players to remember how many shots were fired. Health doesn't regenerate and blood loss is a thing. Each vehicles on battlefield were designed to accurately portray the real life version. If realistic experience of war is what you seek, this is the game to go for.

7. War Thunder

War Thunder (2012)
War Thunder (2012)

In this game, you don't play as foot soldier. Instead, players assumed control of one of the many WW2 vehicles. Players have access to more than 800 playable aircraft, tanks, and ships from the Soviet Union, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Japanese Empire, the United States and Italy. Other nations, such as France, Canada, Australia, and Romania, are also featured as part of the arsenal of the six main nations. Other than historically accurate vehicles, the game also features maps that are based on real battles of the era such as in Stalingrad, Russia, or Peleliu (an island in the Palau chain) though there are exceptions here and there. What stands out from this game is a game mode called Realistic Battle. This particular mode is designed for more advanced players and offers realistic physics and damage modelling while retaining some of the interface and control simplifications of Arcade Mode, a mode where the game is more accessible to wider audience.

6. Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Valiant Hearts: The Great War (2014)
Valiant Hearts: The Great War (2014)

Valiant Hearts is a cartoon-stylised puzzle-based game which takes place across the course of World War I. What's cool about this game is that it is inspired by real-life letters sent home by the troops during the Great War. This game puts the player in the role of the Frenchman Emile, his German son-in-law Karl, American soldier Freddie, Belgian nurse Anna and a dog named Walt. While these characters are fictional, they manage to put together a heart-wrenching story as they struggle to deal with the emotional toll wrought by the conflict.

5. Assassin's Creed Series

Assassin's Creed 3 (2012)
Assassin's Creed 3 (2012)

A list about games with historical settings are not complete without Assassin's Creed franchise. Love it or hate it, this open world game managed to capture the essence of historical settings it took place in. Throughout the series, the players are brought to the era of Third Crusade (1189-1192), late 15th and early 16th centuries of the Italian Renaissance and American Revolution (1765-1783). On top of that, the game features a lot of historical figures from each timeline such as Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon Bonaparte and Karl Marx. The game managed to interlink real world history and it's own story about centuries-old struggle between the Assassins who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. Both of these factions are inspired by the real world factions of al-Ḥashāshīn and Knights Templar.

4. Velvet Assassin

Velvet Assassin (2009)
Velvet Assassin (2009)

Who said women are weak? This stealth game lets the players assume control of Violette Summer, a World War II-era British Secret Intelligence Service spy operating deep behind enemy lines, attempting to help thwart the Nazi war effort. If the name Violette Summer reminded you of someone, that's because it is. The main character is inspired by the real life Violette Szabo, a Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent during the Second World War and a posthumous recipient of the George Cross.

3. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (2013)
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (2013)

This hugely underappreciated gem is one of the best Wild West shooter out there. The game puts the player into a seasoned bounty hunter, Silas Greaves. While the main character himself is fictional, characters that he hunts are not. Throughout the game, players are able to meet various infamous outlaws from Billy the Kid, Jesse James and Old Man Clanton. In addition, players can relive the legendary duel with these characters at certain point of the game. While the game made a lot of adjustment to these characters to fit the story, the optional collectibles in the game are available to provide correct information about the real life version of them.

2. L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire (2011)
L.A. Noire (2011)

Video game with historical settings does not necessarily have to based on hard times such like WW2 era. Rockstar understood this when developing L.A. Noire, a neo-noir detective action-adventure video game. In this game, players take control of a detective in the city of Los Angeles, in the year 1947. While the story and gameplay are nothing special, the world that the players are able to freely roam around are praise worthy. The world features multiple landmarks, which are all based on real monuments from 1940s Los Angeles. The game also uses a distinctive colour palette, but in homage to film noir it includes the option to play the game in black and white.

1. Age of Empires Series

Age of Empires II: HD Edition (2013)
Age of Empires II: HD Edition (2013)

Unlike Civilization series, each games in this long running series focus on historical events throughout time. The first game covers the events between the Stone Age and the Classical period, in Europe and Asia while its sequel, Age of Empires II follow Europe and Asia through the Middle Ages. Since the release of the first game in 1997, seven titles and three spin-offs have been released. The titles are applauded by both gamers and critics as one of the most important historical real-time strategy games. What's interesting about this series is even though the games are based on historical events, the research was not in depth as the designer Bruce Shelley said in an interview "a good idea for most entertainment products." He also added that most of the reference material were taken from children's sections at libraries. When asked for the reason behind this peculiar action, he simply stated that the goal is to make the players having fun. Not a bad answer.

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