Best Tower Defense Games On Steam

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Tower defense games often provide the perfect balance for all kinds of players. One minute, they could be relaxing with their backs to their chair and casually pressing buttons, and then the next, their whole base is burning down and enemies are pouring out of several breaches. Those two situational extremes are the Yin and Yang of tower defense games. It’s a roller coaster ride; a unique ebb and flow that makes for some thrilling combat.

That very well explains why they are as popular as ever. Since they offer a simple style of gameplay, they often don’t cost much — some are even free to play on Steam. That doesn’t mean those free games are of low quality or aren’t worth one’s time investment. The opposite is often true as these free tower defense games are the best way to learn how to manage a chaotic situation.

Updated July 9, 2023 by Stephen LaGioia: Once fairly prominent in the early days of PC gaming, tower defense games have made a comeback with the rise of mobile devices, which prove well-suited to the quick, intuitive nature of touch-screen devices. This has come full circle back to PC and Steam, which boasts an increasingly impressive amount of great games of the genre.

Many indie studios, in particular, continue to push boundaries in terms of gameplay, mechanics, and themes/concepts. And with such a diverse lineup of fun, innovative tower defense games to choose from, it’s time to revisit and reload this list of the best.

20 Ninja Kiwi Archive

Ninja Kiwi Archive overhead view in dark town

  • Release year: 2020
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Very Positive – 93%
  • Download here

This is, in fact, not some kind of off-brand Fruit Ninja TD hybrid, but rather a collection of classic games, hence the “archive” in the name. Moreover, these games are all from the highlight reel of the Adobe Flash era where tons of browser-based games were being made left and right.

Among these are some ingenious tower defense titles, though frankly, there are too many to mention. In any case, players will find something for everyone in this large and generous collection. Some of them even hold up well for today’s standard, which is a tall order for a cheap game from a bygone era.

19 Zombie Defense

Zombie Defense overhead battlefield troops firing

  • Release year: 2018
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Very Positive – 83%
  • Download here

If there was anything indie game companies have taught the industry of late, it’s that venturing into hybrid territory genre-wise produces good results. Zombie Defense is among those examples — as it’s part RTS and part tower defense; though the two genres don’t exactly stray off far from each other.

In any case, Zombie Defense lets players live out their dreams (or nightmares) of being a zombie apocalypse survivalist but from a top-down perspective. They’ll have to push back waves of zombies in thrilling fashion, while also managing their base resources. There’s also a mobile version for those who want a more relaxed experience.

18 Sang-Froid – Tales Of Werewolves

Sang-Froid - Tales of Werewolves gameplay wolves in icy wilderness with cabin

  • Release year: 2013
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Very Positive – 87%
  • Download here

Sang-Froid – Tales of Werewolves certainly deserves a look, especially for fans of games like Left 4 Dead or the Warhammer Vermintide series. It’s a combination of action and tower defense where players are tasked with defending a farmstead from an onslaught of rabid wolves and werewolves.

It has some interesting Van Helsing aesthetics with a modifiable crossbow included. Players not only get to rely on their skills but also their strategic management where they have to set up chokepoints and defensible areas to survive rabies waves.

17 The Defender: Farm And Castle

The Defender Farm and Castle gameplay of palace and dark woodlands

  • Release year: 2019
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Very Positive – 89%
  • Download here

The Defender: Farm and Castle is a simpler — but no less exciting — callback to the days of browser-based games. The graphics are basic enough, which means they can run on almost all PC setups. The game is also easy to understand. Monsters are out to pillage the player’s castle and they must shore up the fortress’ defenses.

Players mainly assume the role of a lone archer who can upgrade their tools to be more effective. The Defender: Farm and Castle only runs on a 2D perspective and gameplay, meaning those who are familiar with side scrollers should find plenty to like here.

16 FrankenStorm TD: Prologue

FrankenStorm TD Prologue gameplay dark town square and electric orb

  • Release year: 2021
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Very Positive – 87%
  • Download here

FrankenStorm TD: Prologue will surely attract fans of old horror literature and film as this game is all about being Dr. Frankenstein and defending Frankenstein castle from pesky villagers. As Dr. Frankenstein, players will have to craft clever mazes and lay traps on them to thwart the interlopers.

During their downtimes, they can then focus on their research of bringing Frankenstein’s monster back to life. The cute and comedic art style along with the evolving gameplay ensures that there’s plenty to do and love in FrankenStorm TD: Prologue.

15 The Riftbreaker: Prologue

the riftbreaker prologue overhead battlefield with thousands of plants

  • Release year: 2020
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Overwhelmingly Positive – 95%
  • Download here

Gamers ought to stop for a moment and open up Steam on a new tab to download this gem right away — as it’s a surefire must-play. The Riftbreaker: Prologue is the best tower defense the industry has had in years. That’s largely because it doesn’t confine itself to one genre.

It’s a mix of ARPG, strategy, and tower defense as players fight off hordes of aliens while mining some valuable resources. Coupled with the intense action allowed by the impressively jaw-dropping graphics, The Riftbreaker: Prologue is a complete package with the hardest price tag to beat.

14 Prime World: Defenders 2

Prime World Defenders 2 battlefield in icy vista

  • Release year: 2018
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Mostly Positive – 79%
  • Download here

Prime World: Defenders 2 is a worthy sequel to the original that does things even better — a rare feat for a tower defense game. Prime World: Defenders 2 pits players against an endless wave of creeps along with their tough bosses.

Like The Riftbreaker, Prime World also incorporates a hybrid tower defense gameplay. It’s also a CCG game where players have to grind for the cards they want in order to be more efficient at defending their base. It does come with its own caveat, being a deep, free-to-play game as the monetization scheme can be quite aggressive.

13 Bloons Adventure Time TD

Bloons Adventure Time TD players near winding road in wilderness

  • Release year: 2019
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Very Positive – 86%
  • Download here

Any Adventure Time game is bound to be good thanks to its colorful style and locale that’s low-hanging fruit for a game world. In any case, a tower defense franchise called Bloons made a game out of it in their own tradition.

Players get to control Finn, Jake, and friends as they shore up the Candy Kingdom’s defenses so that evil balloons don’t get through. The best part is that they managed to bring in the cartoon’s original voice actors, making everything feel authentic and not forced.

12 Vectorio

Vectorio vibrant screen of lights in grid

  • Release year: 2021 (early access)
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Overwhelmingly Positive (95%)
  • Download here

The tower defense is such a deceptively simple yet engaging genre that even something with basic vector graphics is a highly-rated game. That would be the aptly-named Vectorio which is still in early access right now but is free for everyone to try.

At first glance, it looks like Vectorio looks only a bit better than something like Tetrisor Dwarf Fortress but it quickly turns players obsessed with its fluid and hypnotic base-building and defense mechanics. Late-game, players might even build something that resembles a circuit board.

11 Guns UP!

Guns UP opponents blasting on dark battlefield

  • Release year: 2018
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Mostly Positive – 73%
  • Download here

Guns UP! is a literal wargame that’s an infusion of tower defense and strategy. Players control their military bases where the end goal is to destroy the enemy base (usually another player’s). They do this by building up their economy and defenses as well as training their troops.

Troop AI is thus more automated here and charges at the enemy base with little to no effort. The main activity is still a strategic allocation of resources for an efficient base. Should players get the shorter end of the stick and end up as a defender, then they’ll understand why Guns UP! is a tower-defense game.

10 Guardian Chronicle

Guardian Chronicle map screen with winding paths and troops

  • Release year: 2021
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Mixed – 64%
  • Download here

Tower defense games needn’t be too grim or serious. Guardian Chronicle is the perfect example of this as the visuals alone can calm down a stressed player. They do need it in this game though as the meta in Guardian Chronicle is a competitive one.

It’s also somewhat of a CCG since players need to work hard for specific Guardians that they can use on the battlefield to defend their base. Therein lies the free game’s monetization scheme which is a little too much for players.

9 Dungeon Defenders 2

Dungeon Defenders 2 chaotic battlefield in wilderness

  • Release year: 2017
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Mostly Positive – 77%
  • Download here

Dungeon Defenders 2‘s premise is pretty self-explanatory though a little too ironic as players usually raid dungeons in video games. In any case, it’s a chaotic hero-based game where players pick their team of defenders against waves of enemies.

There’s also a multiplayer component here, meaning players get to show off their lineup as they stop the land of Etheria from an invasion. The visuals are also cute enough to draw in the most casual crowds, which works in tandem with the tower defense gameplay.

8 Bloons TD Battles

Bloons TD Battles colorful battle screen with money and time display

  • Release year: 2016
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Very Positive – 90%
  • Download here

While there is an Adventure Time version of Bloons, the original Bloons TD Battles is still the best equivalent to modern Tetris battles. It also has a split-game mode where players can see the other’s progress as the two of them compete on who does better at defending their base against evil balloons.

If that’s not the game mode players want, then they can test their mettle solo against the balloons. The gameplay and graphics are nearly identical to the Adventure Time variant but this has its own inherent lore to add more context to the balloon genocide.

7 Infinitode 2

Infinitode 2 chaotic gameplay of shapes firing with selection screen

  • Release year: 2021
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Very Positive – 92%
  • Download here

While this game of geometrical warfare shines most on mobile, it’s certainly no slouch when it comes to Steam. It’s a great fit and a terrific way to ring in one’s brand new Steam Deck, being free-to-play and thriving on touchscreen controls.

Players must protect their ambiguous base by filling build points with increasingly-strong shape-like weapon systems. These range from scattered shots to anti-air blasters and sharp snipers. While seemingly simple at first glance, this colorful romp can get intense and involved rather quickly. It boasts a whopping fifty stages and a surprisingly large upgrade tree to experiment with and build one’s defenses.

6 Defense Grid: The Awakening

Defense Grid Awakening towers firing on creatures on narrow corridor

  • Release year: 2008
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Very Positive – 96%
  • Download here

Often overlooked on account of the typical art style and themes, Defense Grid is nonetheless a solid and rewarding tower defense romp. Hidden Path Entertainment’s title has withstood the test of time with its seamless 3D gameplay, and diverse elements that aren’t too intimidating to learn.

Players build fortification towers scattered about their base, fending off a slew of different alien types in the process. While somewhat straightforward, the ten tower types will need updates, strategic placement, and must hit optimal targets in order to excel. These details bring plenty of tactical gameplay to the fold.

5 Gemcraft – Frostborn Wrath

Gemcraft Frostborn Wrath top down view of troops storming through forest path

  • Release year: 2020
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Very Positive – 88%
  • Download here

Obvious puns aside, this hidden “gem” has developed a cult following since its early 2020 release. The game excels in the subtle amount of detail and variety packed into its flat scenes. As a scorned wizard freed from frozen confinement, players will wreak havoc and stave off winding pathways of pursuing monsters.

Crafting defenses in this case is more unorthodox, as players must create and merge different gems, using them to enhance buildings and turn them into weapons. Being a wizard, various skills and spells can also be utilized. This fusion of RTS, puzzle, and tower defense gameplay offers a fun fantasy twist on the standard formula.

4 Plants Vs. Zombies (GOTY Edition)

Zombies in both the water and on land attacking plants in Plants Vs. Zombies

  • Release year: 2009
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Very Positive – 97%
  • Download here

PopCap Games managed to grow a flourishing success with this delightful tower defense. This is largely thanks to its zany zombie themes, vibrant visuals, and accessible yet gripping gameplay. Players must protect their suburban property by placing weaponized plants, protective walnuts, and other items on their grid-like lawn, as they stave off the sauntering undead. Both plants and zombies vary in traits, strength, and abilities — bringing some light strategy to the newbie-friendly gameplay.

The game is made all the more sharp and intuitive when played on gadgets with touch controls, but Plants Vs. Zombies is solid — and simple to wrap one’s head around — on any device. And while the series has since gone on a tangent, starting with the microtransaction-heavy sequel, the original remains a hallmark of the genre that never withers.

3 Orcs Must Die!

Orcs Must Die Orcs storming through dark castle

  • Release year: 2011
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Very Positive – 96%
  • Download here

As fantasy hits like Lord of the Rings established, Orcs prove to be great fodder for enemy targets ripe for mowing down, and this game from Robot Entertainment doesn’t disappoint on this front. Assuming the role of a versatile, potent war mage with much at their disposal, players can take out Orcs in a number of fun and amusing ways.

Throughout the story-based campaign, gamers can play around with different spells, weapons, and Orc-stopping traps within two-dozen fortresses. Weapons and obstacles range from freezing moves to spinning blades and firey brimstone.

2 Minion Masters

Minion Masters arena battle screen

  • Release year: 2019
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Very Positive – 91%
  • Download here

Minion Masters is one of the best tower defense and competitive games at the moment that will surely draw in players from all kinds of genres. Think of it like Rocket League fused with MOBA games and CCGs. The arena is small enough to feel almost claustrophobic for the two players as they try to knock out each other’s nearby bases.

The graphics are also quite familiar as it almost resembles MOBA staples like League of Legendsand other low-polygon tower defense games around. As an added bonus, the CCG mechanic will keep the players occupied and yearning for more matches.

1 DOTA 2

DOTA 2 gameplay of heroes on front line

  • Release year: 2013
  • Steam All Reviews rating: Very Positive – 82%
  • Download here

Technically, DOTA 2 does count as a tower defense game due to how it’s structured and how its original version was made possible with tower defense elements. It can largely be thought of as a reverse tower defense game where the players assume the role of the endless creep wave bosses as they try to destroy the enemy towers and base.

Should they lag behind and let the opposing team gain an advantage, then it becomes a full-blown tower defense for them, whichever way the wind blows. Either way, DOTA 2 is a rich and solid/tower defense game with an established esports presence and a thriving elite community.

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