The Upcoming Strategy Games in 2018

by on February 6, 2018

Slowly but surely I’m reaching the end of this series of articles. The last two articles in the line are unexpectedly voluminous, which it’s a good thing, but the amount of research required is a bit unnerving. Let’s have a look at the list of the most promising strategy games I could find that are coming out in 2018:

 

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall

Release Date: February 8

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall is the first expansion of the acclaimed 4X strategy bringing an unexpected and impressive list of new features and content. New units, natural and world wonders, civilizations and leaders are just customary additions as the true strength of this expansion lies with the new gameplay mechanics. Establish a Golden Age for your civilization or plunge it into a Dark Age as nine new leaders and eight new civilizations join the race for power. Recruit governors with unique traits and appoint them to your cities to further customize them and boost your loyalty. Increase the strength of your alliances with bonuses gained over time and be prepared for the world to react to the increasing power of your civilization.

Civilization VI is a good game which I considered to be the best strategy of 2016. Rise and Fall comes to expand and refine the solid base with new content and welcomed mechanics which add more layers of strategical complexity.

 

Call to Arms

Release Date: April, currently in Early Access

Call to Arms is a controversial game. It started as a successor to Men of War taking place in a modern setting, but it has gradually shifted focus towards online play featuring a free to play component, a dense season pass and loot boxes. Shady business models aside, Call to Arms is a step forward for the genre. While most of the game’s features and mechanics are taken straight from Men of War, there are a few additions. The most notable one is the ability to take control of a single unit using a 1st or 3rd person camera for better accuracy. This feature doesn’t undermine the high necessity for tactical play around which the game is built, but rather gives more power to the players to better support their strategies.

I’ve always liked the Men of War series, with all its shortcomings, because it’s one of the best war simulations out there, convening the feeling of conflict at a strategic and tactical level. To date I haven’t seen a strategy game (or FPS for that matter) with such a complex armored warfare and a better detailed damage model for vehicles. I played Call to Arms on and off throughout its Early Access and I’m looking forward to test the full version.

 

Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia

Release Date: April

Creative Assembly and SEGA seem to be on a roll, releasing Total War games at a faster rate than we are getting Call of Duty games. The next in line is Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia which departs from the historical settings that we have gotten used with.

Thrones of Britannia takes place in the year 878 AD after king Alfred the Great has put a stop to the Viking invasion. With the Vikings settled on the isles and a fragile peace established, a time of political turmoil and opportunity is coming. Play as a Viking warlord or Anglo-Saxon king and rewrite the history trying to unify the isles under one banner in the well-known style of a Total War game.

 

BattleTech

Release Date: Early 2018

Harebrained Schemes and Jordan Weisman, the original creator of BattleTech, are working on a turn-based tactical Mech combat game financed with the help of crowdfunding.

BattleTech’s action takes place in the year 3025 during a galactic civil war. At the helm of their own mercenary company, the players can choose to support a disposed ruler as she wages war to take back her throne. The gameplay is split between management elements and combat. The players can recruit, customize and develop MechWarriors as well as the dropship in preparation for the challenging battles ahead. Then travel the galaxy and take on missions which will increase the company’s reputation with the various noble houses and factions involved. Take part in turned based battles where tactical prowess and knowledge of the MechWarrior’s strengths and weakness will make the difference. Those who feel particularly competitive can join online matches against other players.

The somewhat limited production value doesn’t stop BattleTech from looking savory. It’s a tactical game backed by the power of nostalgia coming from fans that have been waiting for such a project for years.

 

Frozen Synapse 2

Release Date: Q1/Q2

Original meant to release in 2017, Frozen Synapse 2 is the sequel to the minimalistic turn based tactical game that came out in 2011.

Frozen Synapse 2 retains the same artistic direction as its predecessor while improving on the visuals to provide the players with a familiar yet fresh experience. The singleplayer features a vast procedurally generated city populated by AI-controlled factions, each with its own personality and behavior ready to respond to the player’s actions. The gameplay has been diversified with the addition of more unit classes and stealth mechanics. The multiplayer will make a return, including all the modes from the original game.

I haven’t yet gotten to play Frozen Synapse, but I’ve been meaning to. The arrival of Frozen Synapse 2 might be the push I need to familiarize myself with the series.

 

Total War: Three Kingdoms

Release Date: Fall

Total War: Three Kingdoms is the second entry planned for 2018 and it’s taking the series to Ancient China. The game will be set in the year 190 CE. With the child emperor manipulated by the tyrant Dong Zhuo and the Han Dynasty on a downfall, three heroes form an alliance to save the empire.

There isn’t much information on the factions and the new mechanics adopted for this game. The cinematic trailer let’s to believe that the heroes will play an important role in battle. However, no matter the choice of faction, there is only one goal: to unify China.

 

Phoenix Point

Release Date: Q4

Julian Gollop, the creator of the XCOM franchise, is making a comeback with a tactical game of his own, Phoenix Point.

In the year 2022 an extraterrestrial virus has started to spread, turning the humans and living creatures that came in contact with it into Lovecraftian-inspired horrors. A global apocalypse has begun, slowly covering the world in a mist that’s carrying the virus, forcing to reach for the high-ground. By the year 2057 there were few survivors left. The player takes command of one of humanity’s last bases of operation, named Phoenix Point, as part of a secret project meant to protect humanity from apocalyptic events.

The gameplay has the familiar tone requiring strategic and tactical choices to manage the base and lead the remnants of humanity in the fight for survival. The world hasn’t been fully taken by the aliens, yet. Mist free zones serve as havens for peculiar factions providing opportunities for diplomacy and trading, but the faction’s agendas don’t always line up.

From a combat perspective, Phoenix Point takes notes from modern XCOMs, but not without putting its own spin on it. A complex targeting system provides tactical advantages to be used in the fight against the alien creatures which evolved based on their combat needs. The game spices things up further with the addition of terrifying boss battles.

Phoenix Point is a darker game drawing creative inspiration from the work of H.P. Lovecraft and John Carpenter. The setting, the grim visual design and changes brought to this sub-genre make for an appealing package that I can’t wait to get my hands on.

 

Anno 1800

Release Date: Winter

After the problematic release of Anno 2205, the series is turning to the past, at the time of the Industrial Revolution. So get ready to visit the Victorian Era, a turning point in history, and build a trading empire like no other throughout the three game modes available: story driven campaign, sandbox or multiplayer.

 

Age of Empires 4

Release Date: TBA

The announcement of Age of Empires 4 by Microsoft was one of the biggest surprises of last year, even more so knowing that Relic Entertainment is working on the project. This would be the first proper entry in the series since Age of Empires III in 2005, so I’m not sure what we should expect from this sequel.

Relic Entertainment is known for making solid strategy games, despite the mishap that turned out to be Dawn of War III. I’m curious to see if the studio will use their own gameplay elements, trying to bring innovation to the series or will continue using the classic formula. With Microsoft as publisher, Age of Empires 4 will be available only for Windows 10 through the Microsoft store.

 

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II

Release Date: TBA

Shock and joy were the first emotions I felt when I saw the reveal trailer for one of the most innovative RTS games in years. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II is the sequel of the Warhammer 40,000 RTS featuring battles between space ships maneuvering on a horizontal axis.

The sequel is going to be bigger and better, with an increased production value already seen in the trailer. All the 12 factions from the table top game will join the fight which includes Space Marines, Chaos, Orks, T’au, Eldars, Dark Eldars, Tyranids, Necrons and more. Armada II will also feature multiple dynamic campaigns set during the Gathering Storm and 13th Black Crusade as well as larger scale battles. Focus Home Interactive has acknowledged the online problems of the previous game and has promised a more balanced online experience.

Armada was a welcomed change in gameplay for the genre while also showing a different side of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. I can hardly hold my excitement knowing that a more ambitious game is on the horizon. We’ll find more about Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II at What’s Next De Focus event taking place on February 7-8.

 

Door Kickers 2 – Task Force North

Release Date: TBA

Originally scheduled to enter Early Access in 2017, Door Kickers 2 was postponed and no information has been provided since. This is wishful thinking, but the tactical top-down strategy from the Romanian studio KillHouse Games could come out this year. The sequel is a big leap forward, coming with improved visuals, new gameplay mechanics and multiplayer, including a PVP mode. While there are no news about the sequel, the original game still receives the attention of the developers with a coop mode being released in November last year. A sidescrolling action spin-off based on the game, called Door Kickers: Action Squad, has also entered Early Access in 2017.

 

Fear Effect Sedna

Release Date: TBA

Fear Effect is a series dating back to the original PlayStation. While a remake of the original game is in the works, Sushee pitched a concept to Square Enix which turned into a new game, Fear Effect Sedna.

Sedna takes place four years after the events of the original game, with the team’s members on their own. But events are set in motion which might bring the gang back together. Opposite to the previous games, Fear Effect Sedna plays as a real time isometric strategy with a pausing system for tactical decision making.

I’m not very familiar with the Fear Effect series because it has been a Playstation exclusive up until now. However, Fear Effect Sedna’s gameplay videos look promising enough for a budget game and it’s worth keeping an eye on it.

 

Frostpunk

Release Date: TBA

The creators of This War of Mine are returning with Frostpunk, a city builder to toy with the player’s emotions.

In Frostpunk the remnants of society try to survive in a frozen world by developing steam-powered technology. While building and management are the core elements of the gameplay, the chances of survival also depend on the choices made by the players, which will weigh down at a gameplay and emotional level.

Having played This War of Mine, I know that 11 bit studios knows how to use a system of choices and consequences into a more strategic gameplay. I expect nothing less from Frostpunk than an emotional rollercoaster triggered by my own failures.

 

Northgard

Release Date: TBA, currently in Early Access

Northgard is another Early Access hit selling over 500,000 copies in less than a year. This city builder takes place on the continent of Northgard, a newly discovered land by the Vikings, filled with hope, riches and dangers. Build settlements, manage resources and workers in preparation for the harsh winters. Expand to new territories and prepare to face the mystical creatures that are roaming these lands.

Northgard is a lovely looking game with plenty of content to enjoy including a singleplayer campaign which is currently in beta testing.

 

Phantom Doctrine

Release Date: TBA

Did you ever imagine how an XCOM with spies would play? You don’t have to, because the creators of Wild West are already working on such a game.

Set during an alternate history Cold War, Phantom Doctrine has the players leading the Cabal, a secret organization fighting global conspiracy. Complete secret missions, interrogate enemy spies and investigate classified files to uncover a sinister plot that could send the world into chaos. The gameplay uses an expanded formula of XCOM with many new mechanics suited for the setting. Counterintelligence, forging identities, recruiting agents and infiltration are all part of the game. But when the chips are down and it all comes to fighting, the turn based combat system allows for quite some flexibility. Variable overwatch modes, breaching and a fully-fledged stealth using silenced guns and silent takedowns provide the right combat options.

Phantom Doctrine is built with replayability in mind, featuring a story from two different perspectives and a New Game Plus mode. The game’s list of features is impressive and the change in setting is quite refreshing, putting this game quite high on my watch list.

 

RimWorld

Release Date: TBA

RimWorld is a sci-fi colony simulator which has been crowdfunded back in 2013 and has joined Steam’s Early Access in 2016. After 5 years this game, which was received by the community in an overwhelmingly positive way, is getting ready for a full release.

So, if you are into micromanaging colonists, taming wild life, building, trading, exploration, fighting and whatnot then get ready for a top down adventure like no other.

 

Space Hulk Tactics

Release Date: TBA

I wasn’t aware that Space Hulk was so popular, but the last few years have brought us at least three adaptations based on this Warhammer 40,000 board game and another one is on the way.

Space Hulk Tactics will have the players going through two narrative campaigns as Blood Angels or Genestealers using a mix of tactical gameplay and elements borrowed from card games. The players will have access to decks of cards which provide customizations for the units or can trigger certain events during battle. A multiplayer mode will also be available, allowing players to choose from five customizable factions.

I find the new gameplay concepts behind Space Hulk tactics quite intriguing. However, I’m a bit worried that this could turn into another booster/loot box fiasco. We’ll have to wait and see how these cards are earned in game.

 

They are Billions

Release Date: TBA, currently in Early Access

Surviving the zombie apocalypse has made the strong move from survival to strategy games with the Early Access sensation, They are Billions.

This lovely looking 2D game is a brutal real time strategic experience. You have to build an economy, expand your base, avoid the spreading of infection and prepare for the unavoidable assault by thousands of infected creatures coming to annihilate humanity.

They are Billions has been an Early Access hit and for good reasons. The developers at Numantian Games are now working on a singleplayer campaign that should be available this spring.

 

Tropico 6

Release Date: TBA

Tropico 6 has the players taking once again the mantle of El Presidente of the island state of Tropico. Choose to be a dictator or a benevolent ruler and guide your banana republic through four different eras. Manage an archipelago, develop an infrastructure, raise your palace and steal from other countries as the world’s most feared dictator!

 

Two Point Hospital

Release Date:

Two Point Hospital is the spiritual successor of Theme Hospital, a game many older gamers remember with nostalgia and one that I didn’t get to play.

Two Point Hospital is a business simulation game in which the players will build and customize high-end hospitals in the Two Point County. Cure various illnesses, manage troublesome staff members, develop new institutions, compete with your friends online and last but not least focus on ornamental design.

 

UBOOT

Release Date: TBA

UBOOT is a submarine simulator taking place during WW2. In UBOOT the players have to control the actual crew in order to control the boat. Watch over each member’s physical and mental health to keep them in shape for battle. Be aware of their strengths and weaknesses and tend to each member’s ever changing disposition as the life of the whole crew depends on it.

UBOOT’s action follows historical events and is evolving according to them, requiring more from the player with each new battle. I can’t even remember when was the last time I played a submarine simulator, so I’m quit eager for the release of this game.

 

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War

Release Date: TBA

It was about time we saw a 4X strategy set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. I’m not sure how this will work out, but the developers at Proxy Studios are giving it a shot.

Space Marines, Orks, Imperial Guard and Necrons will finally meet on the virtual battlefield. The action will take place on the planet Gladius Prime where something sinister has awakened (what it could be?!) prompting a war for survival. The singleplayer campaign follows a narrative tied within the gameplay through quests and the discovery of ancient artifacts which reveal secrets about the planet’s mysterious past. Each of the factions involved will feature unique gameplay mechanics, research trees, units and heroes meant to provide a tremendous amount of replay value. There’s even a multiplayer for those brave enough to play a 4X strategy online.

I’m glad to see that the Warhammer 40,000 universe is used for a wider spectrum of strategy games. Now we just have to hope that Gladius – Relics of War will make us forget about the disappointment brought to us by Dawn of War III.

 

Xenonauts 2

Release Date: TBA

Xenonauts was a spiritual successor to UFO: Enemy Unknown, however, its sequel doesn’t follow the chronological line of the original nor is it a spiritual successor of any game. Xenonauts 2 covers similar events that take place in a different timeline.

This time the alien invasion occurs in a Cold War-era Earth and humanity has to face it without the advanced technology of the modern days. With the change of setting, the storytelling sees some improvements with the addition of more characters and a much deeper plot that’s meant to increase the immersion by giving meaning to the action. The gameplay has received some improvements, addressing some of the issues of the ground combat, adding more strategic choices to the Geoscope and revamping the air combat to require more skill. The big change here is the transitioning to Unity3D engine which ramps up the graphical fidelity while coming with some neat features like rotatable camera.

The change of setting and the swap to 3D might make the game unrecognizable. However, I wouldn’t be worried, Xenonauts 2 seems to be focusing on improving the old school formula of the original game.

 

Who would have thought that strategies will be so well represented this year?  This is one impressive list of strategy games for all tastes. If you like simulators, city builders, 4X, grand strategy, RTS, RTT and whatnot, you’ll definitely find something new to play, because 2018 seems to be one of a hell year for this genre.

See also:

The Upcoming Action Games in 2018

The Upcoming Adventure Games in 2018

The Upcoming Survival Games in 2018

The Upcoming Shooters in 2018

The Upcoming MMOs and Online Games in 2018

The Upcoming RPGs in 2018

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