The Cold War is one of the most influential topics students of modern history will encounter throughout their studies. Framed as a clash of two superpowers vying for control of the world, the conflict was made even more existential due to the threat of atomic war. With such an epic setup, it’s hardly any surprise that this modern conflict has served as the backdrop for many of the best war games that have ever been released. Students looking to add a fun dimension to their history education can supplement their schoolwork by playing games that are set during this period.
Most historical education revolves around reading assignments, text analysis, and essay writing. While all these methods certainly have their place in learning about the past, playing games is definitely a more exciting take on the past. By saving on the time it takes to complete reading assignments or write an essay on the Cold War, students can free themselves to enjoy the excitement of the past and check out these 4 examples of the best ever games set during the Cold War:
1. DEFCON (2006)
DEFCON, which is also sometimes subtitled as Everybody Dies, uses the outbreak of nuclear warfare as its setting. The name is a reference to the United States’ different levels of alert used to signal the likelihood of a nuclear conflict. Players have a map of the globe and a varied arsenal of both conventional and nuclear weaponry with which they can attack their opponents’ targets. The aim of DEFCON is to inflict as much damage on the opponent as possible. An average game sees civilian deaths on both sides exceed the millions, but it is the player who destroys the most who wins. DEFCON does a great job of showing the true strategy behind a nuclear world war and the sheer numerical cost of its devastation.
2. Wargame: Red Dragon (2014)
Wargame: Red Dragon is a 2014 real-time strategy game developed by Eugen Systems. The game is one installment of the Wargame series and consists of an alternate historical timeline. The setting of Wargame: Red Dragon is an alternative version of post-World War II East Asia, in a scenario where the Soviet Union never collapsed. There are over 21 countries featured, and the grand strategy of the game involves choosing a number of units from both air force, naval, and combat forces to create a deck of players pitted against opponents on opposite sides of the battlefield. This edition of Wargame has received positive reviews from critics, who mostly praise its audio and graphics.
3. ARMA 3 (2013)
ARMA 3, first released by Bohemia Interactive in 2013, is an open-world gameplay-style naval based in various seas around the world. The game is available for PC and functions on the Steam platform. ARMA 3 is set in the mid-2030s, but Bohemia Interactive has launched a DLC of the Vietnam War era, which allows players to further explore the Pacific region. Single-player in style, the main tactics involve taking on a wide range of missions – from lone wolf operations to large-scale invasions. Critics and players alike have found ARMA 3 highly favorable, praising its photorealistic graphics. It features a large player community, and Bohemia Interactive has put a lot of work in over the years to continue releasing content and expanding DLC expansions.
4. War Thunder (2011)
War Thunder was first released in 2011 by Gaijin Entertainment. The gameplay focuses on the use of vehicles in warfare and is multiplayer in style. Players can opt to use vehicles, ranging from tank to fighter planes, that stem from a number of different eras of warfare. Options include pre-World War I vessels, as well as options from the Vietnam War, Cold War, and Spanish Civil War. There are many different game modes that players can opt to choose from, including capture the flag, king of the hill, and classic arcade battles. Reviews for War Thunder are generally positive, praising the wide range of vehicles and play modes for Steam users to choose from.
These options make for just 4 of the top options when it comes to enthusiasts looking to dive into the fascinating history of the Cold War through the lens of gaming and make for a great way to combine history with entertainment.