Best Realistic Medieval Games With No Fantasy Elements

Medieval games continue to be as popular as ever even in 2022. There’s just something about donning a full suit of plate armor and charging into battle for the glory of the kingdom that gets our imagination going.

Video games romanticize the Middle Ages more than any other historical period and often associate it with things like magic, dragons, and other fantasy elements. Now, while I do enjoy fantasy games just as much as the next person, I often prefer more realistic depictions of the period.

Realistic medieval games aren’t quite as plentiful as fantasy medieval games, but there is a decent amount of them to choose from. This article will be similar to our best historically accurate games list but will be specifically focused on the Middle Ages. Which correspond to the period between the 5th century and the early 15th century and is predominantly centered around Europe.

We will take into account games that take place in fictional settings inspired by real ones. As long as they don’t feature any fantasy elements.

With that introduction out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the best realistic medieval games of all time.

Chivalry 2

best medieval multiplayer gamesImage credit: Tripwire Interactive

If you’re interested in combat-focused online medieval games you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better one than Chivalry 2. While not entirely period-accurate, the weapons and armor featured here are pretty close to their historical counterparts. Meanwhile, the gameplay can give you some small idea of what fighting on a medieval battlefield must have felt like.

Chivalry 2 is heavily inspired by Hollywood-style war movies so expect plenty of action and gore. The controls can be a bit difficult to wrap your head around at first, but once you do, you’ll be running around covered in blood while dismembering and decapitating enemies left and right like it was nothing. Sounds pretty fun, right?

If you want things to feel even more visceral you can play Chivalry 2 in first-person mode. However, I recommend sticking with third-person if you want to actually see what’s going on around you because the game can get pretty hectic. Especially during sieges, which are in my opinion the best part of Chivalry 2.

If you don’t mind outdated graphics, you could try its predecessor, Chivalry: Medieval Combat. It’s not quite as good, but it’s perfect if you’re on a budget. You can often find it on sale for just a couple of bucks.

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord

best realistic medieval games - Mount & Blade II: BannerlordImage credit: TaleWorlds Entertainment

The original Mount & Blade was a revolutionary title that played like an open-world RPG combined with a grand strategy game taking place in a massive sandbox world inspired by the early Middle Ages. That alone would have been enough to allow it to stand out, but the developers went even further and turned the combat portion of the game into a medieval battlefield simulator. And a damn good one at that.

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord plans to continue the legacy of its successful predecessor while making everything bigger, prettier, and more complex. The developers doubled down on the RPG elements, made the sieges more spectacular, refined some of the combat elements, and made a number of other improvements. In addition, Bannerlord looks ten times better than the original. Granted, the bar was pretty low to begin with.

At the time of writing, Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is still in Early Access and probably years away from being finished. You’re likely to run into a fair number of issues if you decide to give it a chance now. But I still recommend checking it out because there’s nothing else quite like it out there and it’s bound to get better in time.

Alternatively, you could try Mount & Blade: Warband instead. Despite being over a decade old at this point, it’s still one of the best medieval games around in terms of gameplay. Its graphics haven’t aged well, though.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

historically accurate medieval gamesImage credit: Warhorse Studios

A lot of medieval games focus on the cool parts of that period while conveniently ignoring the many drawbacks. That’s not the case with Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Now, the game doesn’t try to make you feel like a lowly peasant oppressed by a feudal lord, but it doesn’t have you play as a heroic knight in shining armor either.

In Kingdom Come: Deliverance you get to play as Henry, the son of a blacksmith who gets killed by marauding Cumans along with the rest of his village. Henry narrowly escapes the attack but must fend for himself (mostly) in a world that’s often harsh and unforgiving.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance was praised heavily for its attention to detail and it’s easy to see why. The developers worked hard to ensure that everything in the game looks and feels period-accurate, including clothing, architecture, weapons, armor, and more. There are some anachronisms here and there but, for the most part, the game does an incredible job at immersing you in early 15th century Bohemia.

Speaking of attention to detail, Kingdom Come: Deliverance also features a number of survival elements. You’ll need to remember to eat, sleep, bathe, clean your equipment, mend your wounds and more. While some of these things can get a bit tedious at times, they add an extra layer of realism to a game that was already remarkably historically accurate to begin with.

Total War: Medieval Ii

total war medieval gamesImage credit: Creative Assembly

Nowadays Total War is primarily known for its successful adaptation of Warhammer Fantasy. However, most games in this franchise are still historical. While Medieval II isn’t the only title in the series taking place during the Middle Ages, it is arguably the best of the bunch.

Similar to other Total War games, Medieval II offers a mix of turn-based strategy and real-time tactics. You’ll spend about half the time conquering neighboring provinces and expanding your empire on a grand campaign map. Meanwhile, the combat portion takes place on massive battlefields where armies comprised of thousands – or sometimes even tens of thousands – of soldiers and war machines clash against each other in bloody battle.

The sense of scale is what sets apart Total War from most other strategy games. Leading huge armies into battle can be micro-intensive, but the game does a good job at gradually introducing you to the various mechanics and unit types. You don’t need to worry about feeling overwhelmed at the start of a campaign but things will inevitably get increasingly more complex with every turn.

Total War: Medieval II takes place between 1080 – 1530 and gives you 17 different factions to choose from. And that’s just with the base game. You can almost double that with the Kingdoms expansion, which, among other things, also introduces a few New World factions and maps.

Going Medieval

Going Medieval is a city builder/colony sim that made waves when it came out in Early Access last year. The game is often described as a Medieval version of Rimworld with better graphics. But unlike Rimworld, this is a 3D game. And while it’s not quite as impressive in terms of scale, it’s just as complex and detailed.

This is one of those realistic medieval games that takes place in a fictional setting based on the actual world. Namely, you find yourself in an alternate version of 14th century Europe where the plague ravaged not just one third of the population, but around 95% of it. Fortunately, life always finds a way as a handful of survivors have emerged from the ashes to try to rebuild society from scratch.

As it’s often the case with colony sims, you start off with a small settlement and get to make it bigger and bigger throughout the game. The ultimate goal here is to build a huge fortress with walls strong enough to protect your settlers from the dangers of the outside world. Of which there are many as nature has reclaimed much of the world in the aftermath of the plague.

Despite still being in Early Access, Going Medieval is shaping up to be an extremely enjoyable game. Make sure to keep an eye on it because it’s bound to get even better.

Age of Empires Iv

Age of Empires IVImage credit: Relic Entertainment

You can’t talk about medieval games without at least mentioning Age of Empires. The series certainly takes a lot of liberties with its interpretation of history but it does try to stay at least somewhat grounded in reality. I’m recommending Age of Empires IV, specifically, because it’s the newest entry in the series. But its predecessors still hold up pretty well, too.

Released back in October of 2021, Age of Empires IV brings a lot of innovations to the series without straying too far from the successful formula established by its predecessors. This is very much a traditional RTS featuring all the main components you would associate with the genre. Such as base building, resource management, and plenty of combat. In addition, there’s quite a bit of emphasis on the story this time around.

Age of Empires IV launched with four single-player campaigns, each revolving around a major historical event. Namely, you have the Norman conquest of England, The Hundred Years War, the rise of the Mongol Empire, and the formation of the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Each campaign features major historical figures who lived around that time, such as Joan of Arc or Genghis Khan.

If you’re more interested in the multiplayer component, you’ll be happy to know that Age of Empires IV has no less than eight factions to choose from. With even more likely coming at some point down the line. The game hasn’t received any expansions or DLC just yet, but we expect to see some sort of post-launch content later in 2022.

Medieval Dynasty

medieval colony simsImage credit: Toplitz Productions

Next up we have one of the most interesting medieval open world games we’ve seen in a while. Medieval Dynasty combines a variety of genres like survival, RPG and strategy to create a believable world where picking fruits and plowing fields is just as important as combat and exploration. In other words, it’s a medieval life simulator.

Medieval Dynasty is often compared to Kingdom Come: Deliverance and it’s easy to see why. The two are quite similar in terms of atmosphere. But while Kingdom Come: Deliverance is primarily a narrative-focused game, Medieval Dynasty plays more like a survival/settlement manager. There is a story you can follow but it’s mainly there just to give you a bit of direction while you’re learning your way around the game.

Medieval Dynasty starts off like a typical survival game. You’ll need to do a bit of hunting, gathering and farming before building a home for yourself. Afterward, you can start a family and turn your modest home into a full-fledged village with the help of other settlers. Eventually, you can get others to do most of the work around the village in your place. Thus, freeing you up to start exploring the game’s sizeable open world.

The first few hours of Medieval Dynasty can get a little tedious. But if you can get past the slow begining, I guarantee you’ll find plenty of things to love once the game starts opening up.

Mordhau

best medieval games of all timeImage credit: Triternion

Translating the intricacies of medieval fencing techniques to video game format is no easy feat. Games have traditionally struggled with first-person melee combat and that’s still the case even today. There are only a few exceptions out there, with the aforementioned Chivalry 2 being one of them. However, Mordhau is probably a better example since it focuses even more on realism.

You can tell that this game is serious about delivering good combat based solely on its name. Mordhau, or murder-stroke, is a German half-swording technique where you hold the weapon by the blade and hit the opponent with the pommel. You can do that in-game alongside a bunch of other techniques. Or you can swing your weapon wildly and hope for the best, which is how I play.

While melee combat is the bread and butter of Mordhau, the game allows you to use ranged weapons as well. Even better, mounted combat is also an option. Just hop on your horse and start mowing down waves of enemies with your lance or polearm. Of course, sieges are a big part of the fun as well and there are a couple of other game modes to boot.

Mordhau can be pretty intimidating for new players due to its intricate combat system. But you can play co-op with your friends or practice against the AI if you want to take things slowly. But I do recommend jumping into the multiplayer at some point because that’s where the real fun begins.

Crusader Kings Iii

Paradox medieval games - Crusader Kings IIIImage credit: Paradox Interactive

Few studios can hold a candle to Paradox when it comes to historical strategy games. Crusader Kings III is their most recent project and arguably one of their best titles to date. While just as complex as many of their previous offerings, Crusader Kings III is surprisingly beginner-friendly, acting as a good starting point for players who want to see what Paradox games are all about.

Crusader Kings III is hard to describe in just a few paragraphs but you can basically look at it as a medieval dynasty simulator. I know there’s already a game literally called Medieval Dynasty on this list, but that label applies even better to Crusader Kings III. The game plays like a historical drama where diplomacy, alliances, betrayal, and espionage are all part of every day life. It’s sort of like Game of Thrones. The best parts of Crusader Kings III are the weird stories that unfold unexpectedly as you play.

One moment you could be ruling over France with an iron fist, the next you’re forced into a personal union with Poland after your wife gets assassinated by the court jester. Or maybe you want to take on the role of Pope and spread Catholicism throughout Asia? Too bad, you’ve just been sacrificed to the Norse gods after the king of England accuses you of being a drunkard and a fornicator. Crazy stories like that are what make CKIII one of the best medieval games out there.

While we’re talking Paradox games, I also want to give a quick shoutout to Europa Universalis IV. It’s not getting its own entry because although it does start off in the late Middle Ages, it mostly takes place during the Renaissance. Meaning it only partially fits this list. Great game, though.

A Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia

top medieval strategy gamesImage credit: Creative Assembly

Thrones of Britannia is a very divisive game. Creative Assembly took some risks when they decided to make significant changes to the traditional Total War formula and a lot of people weren’t happy with the results. Not necessarily because Thrones of Britannia is a bad game but because it’s quite short. And, in many ways, less ambitious than other titles in the series. On the flipside, it’s a great entry for those who like small-scale strategy games.

Just as its name suggests, Total War: Thrones of Britannia is set in the British Isles during a crucial time in their history. The game takes place in the 9th century and sees the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Gaelic tribes and other factions vying for control of the isles. There are ten factions to choose from in total, each with its own unique leader, units, and objectives.

Thrones of Britannia is a bit more narrative-driven compared to other Total War games. Each of the factions has the same end goal – ruling over Britannia – but they all have different ways of reaching it. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s better to focus on warfare diplomacy or careful political maneuvering. That said, you’ll find that some of the factions are inherently better at certain things than others.

There aren’t a lot of realistic medieval games set during this time, making this a must-play if you’re a fan of British history. It’s not the best Total War game out there but it’s certainly not the worst either.

Banished

medieval life simulator gamesImage credit: Shining Rock Software LLC

Banished is another colony sim that inspired a whole slew of medieval games. Including Going Medieval and Medieval Dynasty. The game is significantly older than either of those two but it still holds up pretty well to this day. You probably won’t be impressed by the graphics, though.

The premise of Banished is pretty straightforward: you lead a group of exiled settlers who decide to rebuild their lives in a new land. Carrying little else with them apart from the clothes on their backs, they start off by constructing a few humble homes before moving on to much bigger and better things.

One of the most interesting features of the game is the lack of skill trees. Banished allows you to build anything you want right off the bat. However, getting the resources needed to construct structures can take time. Resources are acquired either via harvesting or bartering. Since there’s no money in the game, you’ll need to stockpile everything you can so that you can use excess resources for bartering later.

Having said that, your most important resource in Banished is the townsfolk. People can acquire one of several professions and must be kept healthy and happy if you want your town to grow. If the people are neglected, the town will soon start to deteriorate.

Siege Survival: Gloria Victis

medieval This War of MineImage credit: Ravenscourt

Gloria Victis is one of the few medieval MMORPGs that feels somewhat realistic. But it’s not quite realistic enough to warrant a place on this list. Its spin-off Siege Survival, on the other hand, feels more grounded in history, despite also taking place in a fictional setting.

Siege Survival: Gloria Victis can perhaps be described as medieval This War of Mine. You lead a group of survivors trapped inside a city besieged by an enemy force. Escape is impossible and if the city falls the rest of the kingdom will follow soon. It’s imperative to survive the siege by any means possible.

Instead of leading the few remaining troops who are desperately trying to hold the city, you’re in a charge of a group of civilians tasked with supporting said troops. Your job is to scavenge supplies, find food, construct and repair infrastructure, and do whatever else is needed to ensure the survival of the city. Which won’t be an easy task given that the city is constantly being bombarded and part of it has already fallen to the enemy.

Siege Survival: Gloria Victis is unlike most medieval games I’ve played in the past and that’s exactly what I like about it. I also recommend checking out the Gloria Victis MMORPG if you’re looking for a low-fantasy medieval game.

Stronghold Crusader

stronghold crusader HDImage credit: FireFly Studios

Speaking of medieval sieges, we couldn’t leave Stronghold Crusader off this list, could we? This strategy game is almost two decades old at this point but it’s still a lot of fun to play. While not necessarily the most realistic medieval game out there, it is at least inspired by historical events.

Just in case the title didn’t already give it away, the game takes place in the Middle East during the Crusades. More specifically, the first three Crusades, which span about an entire century from 1096 to 1192. You get to play as various Crusader lords from both sides of the conflicts, including Richard the Lionheart and Saladin while leading your forces through four historical campaigns.

The bread and butter of the game involves erecting an impenetrable fortress capable of withstanding massive armies comprised of thousands of soldiers. You can build ridiculously complex fortresses to defend yourself from enemy attacks and equally outrageous armies for when you’re about to go on the offensive. Stronghold Crusader can definitely get pretty over-the-top from time to time.

If you’re looking for something similar but a bit newer you could try out Stronghold: Warlords, the latest entry in the series. It’s not quite as good as the previous games but it does have its moments.

Frozenheim

Frozenheim medieval Viking gameImage credit: Paranoid Interactive

Viking games almost always step into fantasy territory but every once in a while, we do come across a title that tries to focus more on realism than mythology. Frozenheim is one such game and while it does have minor fantasy elements related to Norse gods, they don’t play a huge role in the grand scheme of things.

Frozenheim is an RTS/city builder inspired by the likes of Age of Empires. But obviously, set during a very different time period. We don’t have a specific timeframe but the Viking age took place between the 8th (or 9th depending on who you ask) and 11th centuries so we can assume that’s when the game takes place.

After being exiled from its homeland, your clan is forced to build a new settlement and is looking at you to oversee the project. You can use a variety of resources to set up and gradually expand your village while building an army to help defend it against rival clans. Or to try and destroy them. Seasons play a big role here, with resources being easier or harder to obtain depending on the time of the year.

Frozenheim launched last year in Early Access and still needs a bit of time in the oven before it can reach its full potential. In the meantime, you can check out a very similar RTS called Northgard. It’s overall better than Frozenheim is at this stage, but it also has more fantasy elements. Which is why I didn’t want to give it its own entry on this list.

The Guild 3

realistic medieval gamesImage credit: THQ Nordic

We’re wrapping up our list of realistic medieval games with The Guild 3. Long-time fans of the series will probably be surprised that I included the latest entry instead of the previous two. While they are better in certain ways, those games feel very outdated by today’s standards. The Guild 3 is a better starting point for players new to the series.

So what’s this game all about anyway? The Guild 3 is essentially a medieval life simulator primarily focused on trade and economy. The game takes place during the late Middle Ages when free cities were starting to become commonplace. Well, at least in this universe. Your main goal is to create a strong family dynasty, at first through crafting and trading and later on through politics.

The Guild 3 first came out in Early Access way back in 2017 and has had plenty of ups and downs since. The development of the game hit some snags along the way but things have recently gotten a lot better. You can still expect to run into issues here and there, but they’re definitely not as bad as they used to be. Not even close.

If you don’t have patience for Early Access games, I recommend trying out the previous games instead. Especially The Guild 2: Renaissance. As mentioned previously, the old titles can feel outdated in some areas but they’re still fun if you can get past the initial learning curve.

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