Ancient Rome has long been a historical period of great interest, with films like Spartacus and Gladiator, along with TV shows like, well, Rome and Spartacus, entertaining the masses for generations. Video games have also had their fill on the Roman Empire, as plenty of games have tried their hand at recreating or reimagining what Ancient Rome and its denizens might have been like. The question is though, what are the best Ancient Rome games ever made?
For this list, we’re primarily focusing on games where Ancient Rome is either the setting, or plays a massive role in the events of the game. Games like Civilization, which feature Ancient Rome alongside a host of other historical periods and figures, have been excluded. With that in mind, here are the best games based on Ancient Rome that you should be playing, ranging from classics on the GameCube and original Xbox all the way up to current systems.
The Best Ancient Rome Games
15. The Age Of Decadence
Developer: Iron Tower Studios Publisher: Iron Tower Studios Platform(s): PC
We might be breaking our own rules right out of the gate, as The Age of Decadence isn’t strictly based in Ancient Rome, but the core backstory uses Rome as its primary jumping off point. A great cataclysm has befallen the world during the period of the Roman Empire, and hundreds of years later, different houses and clans are now trying to pick up the pieces/vie for control of whatever else is left. It wouldn’t be Ancient Rome without political power struggles, after all.
Instead of offering a ridiculous power fantasy, The Age of Decadence’s world is brutal and unforgiving. Combat is often too difficult to win, as you’re usually out-matched by your opponents, meaning you have to use other skills like diplomacy to engineer situations better for yourself.
With over a hundred characters and loads of choices to make, the outcomes of The Age of Decadence are in your hands. Rome might have fallen, but its future is up to you.
14. Caesar IV
Developer: Tilted Mill Entertainment Publisher: Sierra Entertainment Platform(s): PC
Two aspects of Ancient Rome that have become key aspects of its entire legacy are its architecture and military might (we’ll get to the third one soon), so it’s no wonder that the Ancient Rome setting has naturally lent itself very well to the strategy gaming subgenre. While most of these games focus on combat above all else, Caesar V takes a city-builder approach, allowing players to experience the political side of Rome.
Caesar IV casts players as the governor of a newly formed province within the Roman Empire, and it’ll be your job to manage the needs and whims of your constituents in order to rise through the political ranks. As you progress, you’ll take on more responsibilities and earn promotions, until eventually, you’ll be offered the seat of Caesar.
Sounds like a great deal, but remember: your back is always weak to knife damage.
13. Warlord: Britannia
Developer: Darkmatter Games Publisher: Darkmatter Games, Stribling Media Platform(s): PC
The Roman Empire’s reach before it inevitably crumbled was massive, with the Empire having conquered much of Europe, Britain included. How Roman invaded Britannia is often not focused on too much when it comes to games about Ancient Rome, which is why a game like Warlord: Britannia is so interesting. Not only is the premise exciting though, but the actual gameplay is also worthy of praise.
A strategy game with a twist, Warlord: Britannia sees players leading a Roman expeditionary force to take Britannia for the empire, recruiting and upgrading Legionnaires and building camps in the process. The twist is that instead of a top-down view of the action, you’ll control the general himself, exploring a huge open world to route the native barbarians in the name of Caesar.
Being able to actually control your leader and impact how battles fare puts Warlord: Britannia in a unique position in the strategy genre.
We mentioned earlier that two of the most iconic aspects of Ancient Rome are its architecture and its military strength, but there’s of course a third one: the colosseum itself. The idea of warriors and champions (and mostly slaves, let’s be honest) battling to the death for the glory of Rome is one that lends itself well to video games, so it’s no surprise there’s a lot of games about gladiators. Even still though, Gladius manages to distinguish itself from the pack.
Instead of controlling just the one Gladiator, you’ll instead be in charge of an entire school, recruiting and upgrading new warriors as you travel around the world, pitting your school against barbarians, fellow Gladiators and warriors from Egypt and Asia.
Battles themselves are turn-based, but there’s a golf game-esque swing meter mechanic that determines the power and accuracy of your strikes, so Gladius is worth talking about for just that alone.
Controlling a whole school might sound cool, but being able to experience one warrior’s journey from the colosseum to freedom is just as compelling, which is why Colosseum: Road To Freedom has gained a bit of a cult following in the years since its launch. Far from just being a brawler, Colosseum: Road To Freedom has a bit of depth to its story and structure that make it worth checking out.
With Emperor Commodus ordering daily Colosseum fights, you find yourself as a slave being sold off to Magerius, forced to compete in the Colosseum in order to pay off the guy’s debt.
While you can just try to earn enough money in the ring to buy your freedom and leave the gladiator life behind, you’ll also find yourself becoming embroiled in a plot surrounding some mysterious characters and the emperor himself.
10. We Who Are About To Die
Developer: Jordy Lakiere Publisher: Jordy Lakiere Platform(s): PC (early access)
While it’s not the last game about gladiator combat in Ancient Rome on this list, We Who Are About To Die is probably the most interesting, especially when you consider that it’s an Early Access title. With a bit of luck and some smart additions (like Steam Deck support, just saying), We Who Are About To Die could go down as one of the best Ancient Rome games ever made, and a masterclass in how to nail the gladiator game formula.
Similar to Colosseum: Road To Freedom, We Who Are About To Die casts players as a slave looking to buy their freedom, but the difference here is that WWAATD is an RPG roguelite, meaning each run will force you to make difficult choices and face random events that could spell death at a moment’s notice. If that’s not enough of a change, there’s also a physics-combat system that asks a lot of its players but leads to plenty of satisfaction for those willing to learn.
Considering We Who Are About To Die is developed by just one guy, it’s an impressive amount of work.
9. Spartan: Total Warrior
Developer: Creative Assembly Publisher: SEGA Platform(s): PS2, Xbox, Gamecube
For those who like their games to only have a passing relationship with actual history, Spartan: Total Warrior is the game for you. A purely fictional hodgepodge of mythologies and historical figures, Spartan: Total Warrior imagines a world where the Roman Empire has decided to take on Ancient Greece, and has done a pretty good job of it so far. It’s only when the Empire finally reaches Sparta does the tide begin to swing.
Playing as the mysterious Spartan, under the guidance of Ares himself, you’ll cut a bloody path through the might of the Roman Legion as you travel through Greece and into the heart of Rome itself.
While Spartan: Total Warrior might not be the most advanced or smartest telling of Ancient Rome or its mythologies and cultures, it’s still intriguing to see two iconic civilizations from history come together to have a big scrap.
8. Ryse: Son Of Rome
Developer: Crytek Publisher: Microsoft Studios Platform(s): PC, Xbox One
Despite approaching its 10th birthday at the time of writing, Ryse: Son of Rome might still be one of the most beautiful depictions of Ancient Rome in video game history. Graphically, Ryse looks fantastic, and while the story and gameplay of Ryse might make you think of Call of Duty with swords and shields, there’s a lot to enjoy here if you’re looking for one of the best Ancient Rome games ever made.
Ryse follows a Roman Centurion Marius Titus as he becomes one of the leaders of the Roman Legion. After witnessing the death of his family at the hands of a Barbarian attack on Rome, Marius leads an attack on Briton, recounting his story to the emperor Nero throughout the campaign.
The gameplay might just be a collection of quick-time events and basic melee combat encounters, but there’s a huge amount of value here if you’re looking for some cinematic thrills.
7. Imperator: Rome
Developer: Paradox Publisher: Paradox Platform(s): PC
If strategy games are your bag, you’ve probably played something from Paradox Interactive in the past. Whether it’s based in the future, the past or some fantasy world, Paradox are one of the best strategy game developers out there, but if you’re looking for a game with a bit of an Ancient Rome flavor, Imperator: Rome is the game for you, as it tasks you with building your own civilization.
While Rome is the civilization named in the title, Imperator casts quite a wide net when it comes to how you can interact with this historical period, as the game’s timeline covers a 300 year period from the time of Alexander The Great to the actual formation of the Roman Empire.
The map itself spans from south-west Europe all the way to India, and includes playable countries from everywhere in between, meaning you can choose to see Rome rise or fall.
6. Praetorians – HD Remaster
Developer: Pyro Studios, Torus Games Publisher: Eidos Interactive, Kalypso Media Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Ancient Rome might have played a huge role in world history pre-Christ, but it was far from the only power working at the time, and Praetorians definitely focuses on that aspect. Players can choose to play as one of three different factions, either the Romans, Egyptians or a tribe of Barbarians, and must find a way to survive in a hostile world where only the strongest will leave their place in history.
While it might have originally launched in 2003, the HD remaster proved that sometimes, the old ones are still the best. A real-time strategy game, Praetorians is all about using military tactics and strategy effectively in order to succeed, rather than building the biggest base and overwhelming your opponent with resources.
With lots of different units to command, and a decently sized campaign mode, Praetorians is definitely easy to recommend for those who want a trip to Ancient Rome.
5. Expeditions: Rome
Developer: Logic Artists Publisher: THQ Nordic Platform(s): PC
Political intrigue was abundant throughout the Roman Empire, making it a great time period to explore when telling mature stories that champion player choice. Expeditions: Rome places that notion front and center, putting players in the rather fashionable sandals of an unnamed young Legate, forced to run away from Rome after the assassination of their father at the hands of unknown political rivals.
Outside of Rome, your character is given command of their own Legion, which you can use in campaigns across Asia, Africa, and Gaul (barbarian country). In this turn-based RPG, you’ll upgrade your Legion with new gear and skills, while deciding how to go about completing campaigns.
Do you try to use diplomacy to earn a reputation as a negotiator, or do you just become another bloodthirsty commander in an empire built on the skulls of the defeated?
4. Field Of Glory 2
Developer: Byzantine Games Publisher: Slitherine Platform(s): PC
A lot of video games about Ancient Rome love to play fast and loose with the history and mythology in service of creating fun moments and mechanics, but if you’re looking for authenticity above all else, Field of Glory 2 is your new favorite game. When it comes to definitive virtual compendiums of everything to do with Rome, there’s few better than Field of Glory 2.
Field of Glory 2 allows players to lead small and large-scale campaigns either for or against Rome, or you could even just skip Rome altogether and focus on some of the other countries and civilizations that were active at the time. Field of Glory 2 features 48 different nations and factions from across four historical campaigns, along with 86 different, historically accurate troop models.
For strategy and tactics fans, Field of Glory 2 is a must-have game.
That’s not because you spend the entire time killing zombies, but because the game’s gladiatorial combat sees you using whatever weapons you have at your disposal. If you find a sword on the ground, it’s on you to make sure it ends up buried in your opponent’s chest.
Shadow of Rome tells a story of political intrigue and betrayal through the eyes of two main characters, focused on Agrippa and Octavianus. Agrippa is a Roman Centurion forced to compete in a gladiatorial tournament to rescue his father, falsely accused of the murder of Julius Caesar, while Octavianus is Caesar’s nephew, hoping to use stealth and subterfuge to reveal the truth about Caesar’s death once and for all.
2. The Forgotten City
Developer: Modern Storyteller Publisher: Dear Villagers Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S, Nintendo Switch
Perhaps the most high concept Ancient Rome game on this list, The Forgotten City doesn’t cast players as a wronged Centurion looking for vengeance, or another politicker hoping to use the suspicion that’s rife within government for your own purposes. Instead, you’re a time-traveler who’s traveled to this mysterious Roman society, where all citizens are turned into gold if they break the society’s laws. What those laws are when you arrive are unknown, but what happens to the city is in your hands.
Players can experience the city and its people through a time-loop, which repeats certain events and actions over and over again. Whenever players enter the portal, they restart the time-loop, keeping items they held and the information they gained in order to solve the mystery in the next loop.
With lots of characters, each with their own backstories and information, and multiple endings to find, The Forgotten City is one of the most unique and also one of the best Ancient Rome games we’ve seen yet.
1. Total War: Rome 2
Developer: Creative Assembly Publisher: SEGA Platform(s): PC
As far as strategy games go, you can’t get much better than Total War, so if you want the definitive Ancient Rome experience, Total War: Rome 2 is the only choice.
A turn-based strategy game with a wide array of options, Total War: Rome 2 allows players to get stuck into the conflict and political backstabbing of the era as one of three Roman families, each with their own abilities and traits. If that’s not enough for you though, you can also lead several other civilizations against Rome too.
Total War: Rome 2 is a turn-based strategy game with a massive sandbox campaign, which allows players to tell their own stories instead of relying on following well documented history. Your version of Rome in this campaign could be one that tries to broker peace within the various factions, but given how the game has “War” in the name, you’ll probably make your name at the cost of the enemies falling beneath. Veni, Vidi, Vici, and all that.
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