I have to say that 2017 wasn’t a bad year for strategy games despite the fact that the highly anticipated Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III didn’t connect at all with its audience. AMPLITUDE Studios made a comeback with Endless Space 2 and while the launch was a bit rocky, the developer’s dedication proved that even under SEGA we can expect great things from them. Another studio I like, Eugen Systems, brought us Steel Division: Normandy 44 the child of RUSE and Wargame born out of the dedication for tactical gameplay. Tooth and Tail took a different and more streamlined approach for the genre, but it turned out to be quite cool with an unexpected gameplay depth.
The winner though, is a strategy I wasn’t even sure I would play. Total War: Warhammer II continued on the road set by its predecessor of showcasing all the races and features of the old Warhammer universe using the refined gameplay mechanics of Creative Assembly’s strategy games. The first set the series on a good track despite some obvious flaws including an intolerable spam of paid DLCs. Warhammer II improves, more or less, on many of the preexisting problems while still having the power to stand on its own feet as a standalone game. Having only three new playable races, Warhammer II’s big selling point is the Mortal Empires free DLC, which unifies the two games on a gigantic world map that’s nothing short of amazing. There is even a more complex campaign system which follows a preset objective with an actual narrative that’s giving more meaning to the game’s action. The grand strategy elements remain modest for the Total War series but suiting for a setting that’s all about war, the focal point here being the spectacular display of real time tactical combat. The battles in Warhammer II look, play and feel amazing with each new race challenging a spot on the battlefield due to a pretty good balance (in before cheesy strategies). Even the production value has been upped a notch with newer and better animations that have heroes and special units clashing against one another in a fantastic battle of brute force.
I have to say, Total War: Warhammer II has exceeded my expectations and while the game still has a few annoying nuisances including some performance problems, I think the series is getting better with each new release. I’m afraid that the upcoming spam of paid DLCs might make me regret saying this, but Total War: Warhammer II is the best strategy game of 2017.