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7 Best Tower Defense Games

The tower defense genre has been around since the earliest days of Warcraft 3 buts its popularity as a mainstream genre has seen a resurgence recently. Tower defense is now a universally played video game genre across everything from the current home consoles to iOS and Android devices.

Of course, it’s easy to understand why tower defense games are so immensely popular; they’re hugely entertaining. There’s something so inherently satisfying about their gameplay loop that even the most basic of tower defense games can still provide hours of amusement. Setting traps, building up defenses, strategizing the placement of upgraded towers; each level brings with it the anticipation of new enemy variety and the big question: can my tactical formations withstand a renewed onslaught?

Although good old fashioned tower defense games remain a staple genre in the mobile gaming scene, we’ve seen several console and PC tower defense titles expand the concept to incorporate RPG and even FPS elements into the experience. The result is some awesome hybrid tower defense games that balance the strategic gameplay of traditional tower defense games with hero upgrades and shooter mechanics as well. Whatever your preference, we’ve got you covered with this list of the 7 best tower defense video games available to play right now across console, PC and mobile devices.

  1. GemCraft Labyrinth

tower defense screenshot of game

Play GemCraft Labyrinth

GemCraft’s blend of strategy and RPG elements was a big hit with gamers when it debuted in 2008 for iOS, but the follow up title Labyrinth is certainly the series peak. At its core, GemCraft is a traditional turret defense game, but the ability to craft and upgrade different Gem stones puts a new spin on things.

GemCraft’s Gem system works by enabling power ups to different towers, with each Gem color granting special abilities. It doesn’t stop there though, as each different Gem size and color can be combined for unique effects and damage bonus’. Gems can also be used in combination with ground traps to further damage enemies as they attempt to battle through each lane, but the unique abilities of Gems differ between tower and trap, adding further depth to strategy. The whole system offers an impressive depth to crafting, and the sheer quantity of various Gem effects provides endless replay value. Don’t be fooled by GemCraft’s rudimentary flash aesthetic; GemCraft Labyrinth is right up there with the best tower defense games ever made.

  1. Death Trap

deathrap screenshot of character behind defenses

Buy Death Trap

A spin off from developer Neocore Games Van Hellsing series, the Xbox One and PC video game Death Trap is an example of hybrid tower defense game. It’s a mash up of traditional tower defense games with Diablo style top down RPG action. Players actually take control of a hero avatar which they control during the game. There are three classes with their own abilities; sorceress, warrior, and gunslinger.

Death Trap features progression and levelling mechanics across typically found in RPG’s and marries them to an interesting take on tower defense. Essentially, you need to prevent hordes of rather sinister looking demons from reaching a portal situated at your end of the game map. Players are able to attack the demons, but characters are only able to inflict minimal damage. The key to success lies in your ability to activate magical traps such as gun turrets, spike pits or even acid pools. During later levels, Death Trap turns into an absolutely blood bath of guts and gore. Death trap is a blast to play and leaves us wondering why we haven’t seen more hybrid tower defense games become popular.

  1. Defense Grid 2

side view of defense grid gameplay

Buy Defense Grid 2

The sequel to the highly acclaimed Defense Grid, the second entry in the Defense Grid series hones the insanely addictive classic tower defense gameplay from the original title. In Defense Grid 2, players must protect power cores from streams of alien enemies that run in set paths from various corners of the map. Offensive artillery consists of an array of gun turrets that be upgraded to enhance your ability to obliterate incoming creeps.

Defense Grid 2 is a challenging game of meticulous resource management and min-maxing tactics, buts its most interesting feature is the ability to rewind time. It’s a neat addition to gameplay, encouraging perfect play-throughs and optimization by reducing the risk of trial and error tactics. Defense Grid 2 quickly becomes an obsessive loop of trying to successfully build the perfect tower layout with the least amount of resources spent. We dare you to try and play Defense Grid 2 for just a few rounds without catching the bug!

  1. Bloons TD5

one of the classic styled turret defense games - Bloons TD5

Play Bloons TD5

Available on both Windows and mobile, Bloons TD5 continues the series tried and true turret defense games formula, but developer Ninja Kiwi have added a level of spit and polish to gameplay that makes Bloons TD5 one of the best in the Tower Defense genre. The premise is simple: pop the “Bloons” with your “Monkey” towers before they reach the end of the lane. While that may sound rather basic, Bloon’s trump card is its hugely diverse array of Monkey Towers, each with special abilities and their own upgrade trees.

Bloons TD5’s Monkey towers come in all shapes and sizes from flying Monkey units that can bomb enemy Bloons, to mortar units that lob powerful explosives to destroy incoming waves. All of the towers/turrets can be upgraded to further damage and Bloons TD5 also features various traps to obstruct Bloon waves as well, there also plenty of hidden towers to unlock also. Other mechanics include the ability to farm resources outside of the lane map to finance the upgrading and purchasing of new towers.

Bloons TD5 is a busy game, and with lots happening on the screen at one time players will have to strategize and micromanage effectively to succeed.

  1. Dungeon Defenders 2

3rd person view in dungeon defenders 2

Buy Dungeon Defenders 2

With the original Dungeon Defenders achieving over 6 million copies sold and its success garnering a huge fan base, the sequel had big shoes to fill. Luckily, fans of the original area treated to more slick and addictive gameplay from what is a brilliant synergy of action RPG and tower defense. Dungeon Defenders 2 places significantly more weight on hero building than other video games of the Tower Defense genre, granting abilities such as spell casting and special attacks to defend lanes.

The series continues where the original Dungeon Defenders left off in regards to its superb, fast paced gameplay and customisable hero load outs. The sequel places even more emphasis on building, managing and upgrading multiple heroes from its tavern hub. The tavern allows the upgrade of heroes, weapons and the selection of co-operative quests or single player campaign missions. There is even a daily challenge system that rewards players with additional loot and experience for character builds.

Dungeon Defenders 2’s combination of Diablo-style looting and RPG levelling with challenging co-operative tower defense gameplay is a continuation of everything that was great with the original. It’s one of the must play turret defense games.

  1. Orcs Must Die 2

character shooting orcs third person in orcs must die

Buy Orcs Must Die 2

Developer Robot Entertainment’s Orcs Must Die 2 is another superb mashup tower defense game for the PC that combines third person action gameplay with classic strategic tower defense. Rather than just sitting back and watching the events unfold, players can take direct control of their avatar and can engage directly with the enemy. With each new stage completed, players are granted a special weapon in the form of either a magical trap to slow creeps or upgraded weaponry to tackle the enemy head on. Indeed, the Tower Defense game’s most pleasing attribute is the way it balances this direct combat with the tactical deployment of magic traps. The variety of different weapons, spells and traps available is also impressively deep, allowing players to experiment with different strategies to turn maps into effective killing fields.

Orcs Must Die requires players to plan ahead, strategize and choose wisely as which of the various upgrade points they opt for at the close of each level. Expect your micro management skills to be put to good use as well as your ability to multi-task combat and effective placement of traps. Orcs Must Die 2 is an incredibly robust and inventive take on the tower defense genre. With tight controls, an array of upgrades and customization options, the gameplay has a fun factor that’s hard to put down. If you’re after a hybrid of strategy and action, then Orcs Must Die 2 is among the best Tower Defense games is argued to be the most inventive in the genre.

  1. Kingdom Rush

screenshot of kingdom rush level

Buy Kingdom Rush

We simply couldn’t write a list of the best tower defense games without including Kingdom Rush. An instant classic, Kingdom Rush is quite simply one of the very best gaming experiences on mobile devices, let alone the tower defense genre. Perfectly balanced, Kingdom Rush is a mix of traditional turret defense games with a mechanic that allows players to actively defend lanes with their own footmen.

Kingdom Rush looks and sounds fantastic with its detailed a stylish aesthetic that is somewhere between high fantasy and whimsical cartoon. The games score, voice acting and sound effects are also top notch, but its Kingdom Rush’s gameplay that really makes it a genre defining title.

Kingdom Rush actually only features four different base tower types, though they can be upgraded and further customized to a surprising amount of different in tower combinations. It is, however, the games barracks system that adds flair to gameplay. Players are able to build barracks that send footmen onto the field to battle waves of enemy creeps. Stacking barracks and towers together produces the best effects, and choosing where to locate them in the heat of battle is hugely fun. Players of any ability will have a terrific time with Kingdom Rush, it’s a superb introduction to the genre while providing a stiff enough challenge to veteran gamers as well.

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