Tower defense is a fun and exciting type of game, and best of all it's a style that adapts equally well to computer, desktop, phone, tablet or console system. Best of all, tower defense games don't use up a ton of time - you can quickly play a level in between other tasks or events.
In tower defense, your objective is to judiciously place towers along a path so that creeps which follow the path get killed before reaching the end. If a sufficient number reach the end, you are dead. If you ever find yourself struggling, check out these tower defense tips before your next game.
Usually the path of the creeps is pre-determined by the game, but there are some types of tower defense where there is no path, and your job is to place the towers themselves in such a way that they create a path.
OK, let's move on to discover the best tower defense games.
Best for beginners: Steampunk Defense
If you're newer to tower defense games, or some of the other games you've tried are too frustrating and difficult, I recommend Steampunk Defense from Stereo 7 Games. It's available for Android, iPhone and Windows. The art is really cute and you can figure out the game without needing a ton of play. You can progress well without having to spend real money, and best of all there are so many levels! You won't run out of fun times with Steampunk Defense - there's always another level waiting for you. As mentioned, the difficulty level is one of the easiest on this page so you'll be able to progress without frustration.
Best for fun and excitement: Bloons TD
Bloons TD is a very fun and goofy game where the towers are run by monkeys and the creeps are balloons. The goal is to have the monkeys pop the balloons before they get to the end. This game is made by NinjaKiwi and is available for iPhone, Android, Steam, and Amazon Appstore. This is the perfect game when you want something that's a whole lot of fun and not too serious. There are distinct upgrade paths you can choose from for the various towers, and you also have a monkey knowledge research tree, so there's lots to keep the more serious gamers happy here too.
Best all-around: Kingdom Rush
If you're a tower defense fan you've probably already played or at least heard of Kingdom Rush by Ironhide Games. But there's a reason it's in this article: if I was allowed to name one of these games as the best all-around tower defense game, it would definitely be Kingdom Rush. The difficulty level is pitched well: not too easy or too hard. The different terrains keep the background interesting, and you get to fight epic boss battles too. You have to contend with occasional terrain-changing effects in some of the more difficult levels. Kingdom Rush is available on Steam, on the iPhone, iPad and Mac App Stores, Android, Amazon, and even Nintendo Switch.
Best for serious gamers: Defense Grid
Defense Grid by Hidden Path Entertainment is set on a space station where the creeps are aliens which are trying to steal your reactor cores. It's one of the rarer tower defense games where your placement of towers defines the path that the creeps take.
Another thing which makes it stand out among other games is that there is actually a storyline! The storyline is more of an aside; your job still remains to stop the alien creeps from stealing your reactor cores, but it definitely makes the levels a whole lot more fun. The art is futuristic rather than cutesy, and has the added bonus of being in 3D instead of 2D like most tower defense games. It's only available for PC and XBox 360, but we've also successfully run it on XBox One just by installing it from the official Microsoft game store.
Best original idea: Citywars Tower Defense
For tower defense gamers who are also fans of block-building games such as Minecraft, Citywars Tower Defense by 01 Studio is the ideal game for you! You gather resources, craft tools and build towers in a survival style block-like world. Your towers defend against waves of creeps. You can level up buildings and expand your city with your friends. This is a must-try game! At the time of writing it was free-to-play on Steam for Windows and Mac.
Plants vs Zombies
No article on tower defense would be complete without Plants vs Zombies by Electronic Arts. Here, you have plants kill zombies. There are different variations and editions of these, but they tend to be for phone only, so you can only play this on Android or iPhone.
Gemcraft by Game in a Bottle is a novel twist on traditional tower defense games: your towers are powered by gems, and you can combine gems to create more powerful gems and thus more powerful towers. The art is detailed with a medieval slant. Overall it has a more serious look than the upbeat cartoon-style art of Kingdom Rush or Steampunk Defense. This one is available through Steam for Windows only.