The Upcoming Strategy Games in 2016

by on January 20, 2016

                Following
on the streak of articles about upcoming games of 2016 I’m going to list now
some of the most notable strategy games that should be released this year.
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak
Release Date: January 20
                Originally
a free to play game, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is the planetary prequel to
the space RTS series Homeworld.
                Homeworld:
Deserts of Kharak is developed by Blackbird Interactive, a studio founded by
veterans of Homeworld and Company of Heroes. The game changes the scenery from ship
battles in the vastness of space to ground battles on the deserts of planet
Kharak.
The game promises an origin story to the series and it will
feature tactical combat in massive environments following a similar concept to
the previous games.
                Considering
the videos detailing the game have just started to come a few weeks before
release I would say Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is a flight risk. But with the
experienced and creative minds behind the game there is the potential for
something good.
XCOM 2
Release Date: February 5
                While I
wasn’t a big fan of XCOM: Enemy Unknown due to the focus on a good combat
system and production value but not much else, I have to say that XCOM 2 is
looking more intriguing.
                XCOM
was shut down and the aliens took over the Earth. Twenty years have passed and
the commander is brought back and reinstated to lead the XCOM organization in a
desperate attempt to take back the planet. Lacking the resources and with
little support the last free warriors of humanity are on the run aboard the
Avenger, an alien supply ship converted into a flying base, and carry a
guerilla warfare against the occupying alien forces.
                XCOM 2
takes a jump forward into customization with an in depth system which allows
for numerous changes in each character’s appearance, but customization isn’t
only about looks. Five classes will be available each with its own unique skill
tree, weapons and abilities.
Researching new technologies, developing new items and upgrading
the Avenger will bring XCOM one step closer to victory. But the real victory
comes on the battlefield which now is unpredictable as never before with
procedurally generated maps that look visually amazing but never have the same
layout.
The combat system was the strongest point of XCOM: Enemy
Unknown and has been refined. Various new mechanics will allow for a wider
variety of tactics which will be required to face the newer and deadlier
enemies.
                From
all the videos shown to date, XCOM 2 looks amazing and it seems like a big
improvement over the previous title and its expansion. Leaving the shooting
through walls aside which hasn’t been fixed, if we get a bug – free release and
a better written story I don’t see a reason why XCOM 2 won’t be a success.
Total War: Warhammer
Release Date: April 28
                The
newest title from the never-ending cycle of Creative Assembly annual releases
isn’t a historical one instead is set in the universe of the popular tabletop
game Warhammer. A bold and welcomed change since Creative Assembly leaves the
comfort zone and while that can be a little dangerous there is  a great opportunity to get creative.
                Right
off the bat the second most iconic faction in the universe, Chaos Warriors, is
blocked behind a pay wall. The Chaos Warriors come as a DLC available for free
with pre-purchase and most likely as a separate purchase after release, a
mischievous but not totally unexpected move from Sega/Creative Assembly.
                Leaving
bad practices aside, Total War: Warhammer is the first big change in the
franchise in years. The Warhammer setting comes with a set of rules and
mechanics that even if they work together quite well with the base mechanics of
Total War will still make this game different.
The game will give the players the opportunity to play with
four (five through DLC) of the Warhammer factions: the Empire, the Dwarfs, the
Vampire Counts and the Greenskins. The factions are represented accurately in
game through units, heroes and special mechanics.
Gigantic monsters, flying units and magic will be part of
the battlefield now adding the needed diversity in tactics and gameplay.
                Total
War: Warhammer is the first big step that Creative Assembly takes in years and
if all goes well we might get to see more Total War games outside of the
overused historical settings.
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada
Release Date: Q1
                Powered
by Unreal Engine 4 the space title from Tindalos Interactive is going to take
the players into the contested space of the Warhammer 40k universe.
                In
order to take control the Gothic sector, the forces of Chaos, Eldar, Ork and
Imperium of Mankind clash in epic space battles using their gigantic and powerful
space ships.
Armada will include a singleplayer campaign against the
infamous Abaddon the Despoiler and various game modes for singleplayer and
multiplayer. The game will also has a progression to provide more ships and
better upgrades for them but also special skills for their captains.
                Never
before a video game has featured space battles in the Warhammer 40k universe. The
uniqueness of this Armada’s setting is going to be extremely appealing for the
huge number of fans of the Games Workshop universe and strategy fans alike.
Blitzkrieg 3
Release Date: May, currently in Early Access
                Blitzkrieg
3 is a MMORTS but with a singleplayer campaign that takes place in the Second
World War covering events from the invasion of Poland to the capture of Berlin by
Soviet forces in 1945.
                While
the Blitzkrieg series has always been about strategic singleplayer, the third
installment in the series changes things quite a lot and aims for being the
first truly working MMORTS.
The main multiplayer mode is an attack – defense scenario
which functions even when the defending player is not online as AI takes over player’s
bases and continues to defend. The battles take place in a unified world on the
same server where people from opposite parts of the globe can fight each other without
restrictions.
Even the gameplay has changed to accommodate with the new
style, Blitzkrieg 3 is now a faster paced and less realistic RTS compared to
its predecessors.
                Blitzkrieg
3 has come a long way from its Early Access launch in May 2015 switching from
Mixed to Positive Steam reviews score and it’s now preparing for a full release
this year.
StarCraft II: Nova Cover Ops
Release Date: First mission pack by June 19, all three
mission packs before December 1
                The
main story in StarCraft II might have come to a conclusion but Blizzard isn’t
done with the universe or the game. The developer found a good way to cash in
on the fans that really want more (and the fans of StarCraft: Ghost).
                Nova
Cover Ops is the first mission pack for StarCraft II coming in the form of a DLC
pack split in three parts composed of three missions each. The story takes
place years after the epilogue of Legacy of the Void with the reign of Emperor
Valerian Mengsk threatened by political opposition. Dominion ghosts have gone
mission in action and their trail leads to a Terran group called the Defenders
of Man.
Nova will dive into this conspiracy to uncover the truth
behind the ghost’s disappearance and the plans of this new organization.
                This
mini-campaign will have players controlling Nova in each mission with her
personalized gear which includes a loadout feature. She will be supported by
various black ops forces which will be unlocked in a manner similar to the main
campaigns.
The campaign will come with the typical production value of
Blizzard games, including fully voiced cutscenes.
                I can’t
say that I’m totally on board with this practice, but there are many StarCraft
II fans out there who want more. DLCs are an efficient way to deliver new
content and if Nova Cover Ops delivers quality and length for the money than
it’s more than welcomed.
Age of Mythology: Tales of the Dragon
Release Date: TBA
                Age of
Mythology: Tales of the Dragon is an upcoming expansion for Age of Mythology:
Extended Edition, an updated enhanced and complete version of the original game
which was released in 2014.
                Via a
livestream in October 2015 it was revealed that the expansion will expand the
game with the Chinese Major Gods and various Chinese units including Terra
Cotta Soldiers, White Tigers, Chu Ko Nu and many other.
Tales of the Dragon’s campaign will feature a new story
unrelated to the Fall of the Trident and The New Atlantis campaigns.
                The information
about the expansion is scarce and more details are expected from the developers
Forgotten Empires and SkyBox Labs which released a new expansion for Age of
Empires II last autumn.
Ashes of the Singularity
Release Date: TBA, currently in Early Access
                Ashes
of the Singularity is best known for being one of the first games to use DirectX
12 and for being the benchmark that got the AMD cards in front in the
performance race on Microsoft’s new API.
                The
game is a RTS that is advertised as a technological advancement for the genre
with a 64bit engine capable of creating extremely large maps. Huge and detailed
units will engage in massive-scale tactical battles and a sophisticated AI
engine that needs a minimum of 4-cores CPU will make the players’ life hell by
using ingenious strategies.
                A lot
of what could make Ashes of the Singularity great comes from the investment in
technology and I sincerely want this game to succeed. This could set a good
example that holding back technology not only affects the graphical fidelity
but gameplay quality as well.
Call to Arms
Release Date: TBA, currently in Early Access
Call to Arms is the upcoming RTT
game from Digitalmindsoft that looks feels and plays like Men of War but it has
enough new features to stand on its own.
                With
Call to Arms Digitalmindsoft finally move to the modern warfare era where the USA
Army and the Global Revolutionary Movement will battle for control of a
Middle-Eastern looking location.
                There
are a group of new features that make Call to Arms feel different than its
siblings. One of the most exciting ones is a fully fledged campaign spanning
over several missions enticed through storytelling.
Another feature that is rather
unique for the strategy games is allowing the players to take control over the
aiming of their units in a weird 3rd person action mode designed to
help with accuracy in tough situations. This new feature is extremely cool as
now you can control the fire of precious units like tanks and armored vehicles preventing
the waste of ammunition on failed shots by the AI.
Last but not least, the game has some technical
improvements. While the visuals are strikingly similar with Assault Squad 2 the
physics have been ramped up by a lot. Call to Arms features extensive
destructibility with most of objects on the map being destroyable.
                Call to
Arms is currently in Early Access and I had the chance to play it and I can say
it looks very promising and I’m waiting for a full release to experience the
campaign and the intense multiplayer battles.
Cossacks 3
Release Date: TBA
                After a
10 years break from the series time in which they made the cult following
STALKER, GSC Game World is returning with Cossacks 3.
                Cossacks
3 will be a remake of the original game set again between the 17th and
18th centuries in Europe. The scope is ambitious with 12 playable
nations and a total of 70 units and the number of scientific researches and
building also goes into the hundreds. But that’s not all. The game looks
technologically promising with detailed graphics and realistic physics for
bullets and cannonballs.
                Players
can expect ferocious and tactical battles in a multiplayer mode that can hold
up to 7 players on a map and up to 10,000 units.
                Cossacks
comes from a different time when the RTS genre was in its prime, but hopefully
that will change with the return of such a classic and many other titles set to
release in 2016.
Endless Space 2
Release Date: TBA
                I
respect AMPLITUDE Studios because of the work they invest in their games even
after release and the way they listen to their fans through the GAMES2GETHER
program.
                Endless
Space is a good 4X strategy but has undeniable problems. That might be about to
change with the release of the sequel which will bring the players back to the
Endless universe to guide the various races through an era of space
colonization.
The sequel might tie the story of the space game to the
other 4X strategy from AMPLITUDE that is more fantasy oriented, Endless Legend.
                At the
current time not much is known about Endless Space 2, but in a gameplay video
we got a glimpse at an improved combat system which was the previous game
biggest flaw. The politics will also be made more complex so the population
management doesn’t rely only on happiness and the space exploration has been
slightly changed. With such welcomed improvements we can hope that Endless
Space 2 will be a better game.
Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars
Release Date: TBA
                Conquer
the Stars is a reboot of the classical 1993 4X strategy Master of Orion created
by Argentinean-based NGD Studio and published by Wargaming, the new owner of
the license.
                All 10
of the original races will make a return in the reboot but with an enhanced AI
and brought to life through quality voice acting. The game will also feature a
complex research system and customizable ships.
The action takes place on vast galaxy with up to 100
different solar systems each with a multitude of planets.
                4X
strategy is returning to its roots with Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars and
to make sure things turn out right Wargaming has some of the developers of the
original game overseeing the project.
RollerCoaster Tycoon World
Release Date: TBA
                The
fourth game in the series to make it on the PC platform, RollerCoaster Tycoon
World should take theme park simulation to the next level.
                I’m not
very familiar with the series but the game comes with a multitude of features
that should make park creation and customization complex and fun. With features
like Freeform Object Placement, Fully Deformable Terrain, Expansive Selection
of in-game Objects and an actual 3D tool that allows creating and importing
objects into the game it seems that each theme park will be completely unique.
                RollerCoaster
Tycoon World currently holds a Mixed review rating on Steam due to various
problems and bugs met in the Beta version. The game has been delayed for a 2016
release which will hopefully give the developers enough time to fix the issues
pointed out by the community.
Space Pirates and Zombies 2
Release Date: TBA
                The
indie strategy with a quirky theme gets a 3D sequel in Space Pirates and
Zombies 2. With the space zombie apocalypse defeated, the Galaxy is now a post-apocalyptic
mess in which survival is all that matters. With the infrastructures collapsed
fuel is hard to obtain, which leaves scavenging and banditry as the only options.
The Galaxy will contain hundreds of AI controlled fleets
trying to survive and as the limited resources are used conflict between fleets
is imminent.
                The
most appealing feature of the game is its factions system which is in a
continuous and constant change as the game progresses. Factions split, allies
becomes enemies and new factions will form out of necessity or desperation. The
players will have a small role in this and things will happen whether or not
they are there to intervene.
                SPAZ 2
will have a fully physics based environment with everything being destructible
including the ships. The ship building is complex and every design choice
matters. A poorly designed ship will result in a salvageable debris floating in
the vast vacuum of the Galaxy.
                The
movement is on a 2D plane and screen relative, this will lead to battles where
positioning and ship power management will be the determinant factors for
victory.
                Spaces
Pirates and Zombies 2 takes gameplay to an unexpected level of complexity. Get
ready to fight for survival in this post zombie apocalypse Galaxy!
SpellForce 3
Release Date: TBA
                Since
SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars this game has seen more sequels and changed more developers/publishers
than I can remember. What can I say is that SpellForce was a great game and one
of the most innovative strategies that have seen the light of the screen and I
wouldn’t mind more sequels if they were up to the quality of the original game.
                SpellForce
3’s story will take place before the action in The Order of Dawn and it won’t
require any knowledge of the franchise. The game will continue using the unique
mix of RPG and RTS elements allowing the players to create and customize their
own hero and develop it as they want. Alongside their hero, the players will
build and control an army and use advanced tactics worthy of an RTS to defeat
any foe.
                Now
that the time has passed and the slate has been wiped clean, Grimlore Games has
the chance to regain this franchises name and I’m pretty sure there are many
gamers out there eager to see another Role Playing Strategy (that’s right!).
Stellaris
Release Date: TBA
                Paradox
Interactive doesn’t give up on grand strategies and three years after Europa
Universalis IV Paradox Development Studio is bringing Stellaris.
                Stellaris
is a grand strategy that has space exploration at its core. With a multitude of
alien races, a system that rewards interstellar exploration, strategic gameplay
and an emergent storytelling, Paradox is going away from their classic historic
formula that the fans love so much and tries to mix things more.
                Stellaris
has some competition this year in Endless Space 2 and Master of Orion: Conquer
the Stars and despite being part of different sub-genres, Paradox must bring
their A game if they want to come on top.
The Guild 3
Release Date: TBA
                The
Guild 3 will let the players experience a medieval Europe blending economic
simulation, history, RPG elements and strategy into one game.
                Start
as a common citizen and work your way up by acquiring business and properties,
producing and trading goods and getting mixed in politics, war and even love to
create a dynasty that can last for centuries.
                The
game features a day and night cycle and four seasons influencing the world and
building immersion. There are 12 unique scenario maps based on historical
location which will provide a complex and detailed environment with story
quests leading up to hours of gameplay.
                The
Guild 3 is probably the most unique game on this list and I’m eager to see some
gameplay footage to showcase all these intriguing
features.

 

                Looking
back at this article I can’t believe how many strategy games are coming in 2016
and I’m glad to see that the genre is finally finding some stability. RTS, RTT,
TBS, 4X, grand strategies, simulators and even an RPS, 2016 will be a busy year
for the strategy fans.
See also:
Nodrim

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