The Strategy Gamer's Guide to 201802 Aug 2018 1
2018 is well under way, and we've already had a great run of strategy game releases. As ever, more and more strategy titles heave into view to fill out the rest of our calendar. This article is a living guide to the big names and obscure indie titles coming this year (probably!).
Be warned, perusal of this guide may have a deleterious effect upon your wallet over the coming months.
Age of Empires IV
Publusher/Developer: Microsoft/Relic Entertainment
Relic Entertainment announced last year that a wholly new Age of Empires is (finally) in the works. No details have been released on what era it will be in, when it will be released or anything else for that matter. All we know at this point is that there is a game that Relic are working on. Speculation is, more than likely, useless. Given the trailer tracks the history of each game, from the ancients to colonial empires, it is tempting to guess that number four will continue through past the Victorian era to perhaps World War I and beyond. But surely that’d encroach upon the territory of Company of Heroes?
Talking of which, a survey went out a while back asking current Company of Heroes 2 players about where they’d like the series to go next. Given that the options were between Tunisia, Sicily, Italy and North Africa, one cannot help but to guess that a Mediterranean themed offering could well be teased this year. You saw it here first folks.
Victory at Sea Pacific
Publisher/Developer: Evil Twin Artworks
This feels very much the fare of sister site Wargamer, but strategy is strategy and we’re all one big family here. Speaking of big, Victory at Sea Pacific looks Yamato-grade in offering up the necessary scale and power WWII naval demands. Admittedly, real-time strategy in this particular vein hasn’t always offered up stand-out titles, falling back to the likes of Grognardian heavies like Carrier or War Plan Orange to do justice to the loudest cannons in the Pacific. If Victory at Sea Pacific manages to deliver on the promises made in Lesta’s Pacific Storm: Allies, then we just might be cooking with gas. Or coal. Or diesel.
Publisher/Developer: Kalypso Media/Limbic Entertainment
Platform: PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4
The poaching of the studio that designed Kalypso’s most recent Tropico games has done nothing to prevent the return of this stalwart city builder. Archipelagos are promised, new means of transportation (why do so few strategy games of any kind have bridges in them?) and the most amusingly named non-twitter Twitter program yet included in a city builder (sorry Cities Skylines) “Spitter” has been revealed. No concrete news on a release date, but you can head over to the official Steam page for more information on the game itself.
Sun Tzu said that a good general uses every advantage, and a great general uses mechs. Never has this been more true than in the upcoming Phantom Brigade, by tiny studio Tetragonworks. Alumni of Kerbal Space Program and other fine titles, the team are building one of the most exciting-looking turn-based strategies since, heck, XCOM? If Battletech was the languid, glacial clash of nuclear titans, Phantom Brigade is here to add a little zest to battlesuit beatdown. A game of severe environmental destruction, hopefully alongside that of your enemies, the game emphasizes fast and intimate engagements. With rich customization, a detailed physics and destruction module and the flatbed-sized armaments you expect from a mech game, Phantom Brigade is one to watch.
Publisher/Developer: Ubisoft/Blue Byte
City builder Anno’s been hanging around in the sci-fi world for a while now. The series returns to its historical routes with this next game centering around the Industrial Revolution. Although looking like something more from 1890 than 1800, it promises iron ships and workers revolutions, so we’ll forgive it. Promised to arrive in “Winter 2018”, it’ll be a while yet before this particular game arrives. Although one always worries at the mention of “Ubisoft” (although it’s come out smelling of roses following the loot box debacle going on the wider gaming world), fingers crossed it’ll be worth the wait.
Publisher/Developer: Sharkbomb Studios
Sporting what appears to be a shared aesthetic fever dream between Mike Mignola and Calum Alexander Watt, Nowhere Prophet is without a doubt the most tantalizing inbound game in recent memory. A single player card game set in a vibrant offworld post-apocalypse, woven together with some visual novel or CYOA elements, Nowhere Prophet is certainly not the first to deal with a grand collapse, nor undoubtedly the last, but Sharkbomb Studios have ensconced themselves firmly on my list for the lean, mean, and lovely look. We’re not short of card-based games, but I’m ready for this sort of roguelike deck-builder. Again, one to keep an eye on.
Eximius: Seize the Frontline
Publisher/Developer: Ammobox Studios
Malaysian outfit Ammobox Studios have got the promising Eximius locked in for a September release on Early Access. It's a 5v5 team multiplayer that fuses first-person shooting with real-time strategy command. One player is nominated the officer in charge of building infrastructure and defenses, as well as deploying and assigning AI units to the four players on the ground, who themselves have a range of squad management options. It's a formula that has been hinted at in the past, but none have quite done the concept justice. Eximius could very well be the dream game for armchair tacticians who want to get their hands dirty.
Frozen Synapse 2
Publisher/Developer: Mode 7 Games
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux
The first Frozen Synapse was a masterpiece of design. A tactical game that shucked the fat, leaving a lean, mean combat WEGO barnstormer. With the upcoming Frozen Synapse 2, it should be all that and more. The developers are promising an expansive sandbox campaign with factions and politics, as well as an extensive online multiplayer component that will build on the rock-solid sequel. Highly anticipated.
Latest update put a release sometime before the end of August.
Ancient Frontier: Steel Shadow
Publisher/Developer: Fair Weather Studios, LLC
Ancient Frontier: Steel Shadow is the upcoming standalone expansion or side-story to the original starship hexer, Ancient Frontier. Touting RPG elements not unlike the classic FTL, but also for my money, seeming like a tidy turn-based successor to the underrated Space Wolves series. Players take the helm of a corsair vessel and begin to wade through a main campaign, randomly generated side missions and special events, all the while fighting the oppressive Federation and growing a pirate raiding force. It looks the part, and here’s hoping it brings some interesting twists to the turn-based starship tactics subset.
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux
Overland looks like it steals the tactical vignettes of Into The Breach and the post-apocalyptic loneliness of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, meshing them into a journey through America's heartland after an enigmatic fall. A resource manager in one hand, a squad manager in the other, Overland looks set to be one of 2018's most intriguing indie strategies.
Publisher/Developer: Alt Shift
FTL has a lot to answer for, but thankfully, it’s all largely positive. The idea of a ship coursing through the heavens on a wing and a prayer, or at least sound tactics and a spritz of good luck, has been with us well before FTL, but without it, I daresay we wouldn’t have Crying Suns bearing down on us from hyperspace. The robotic slaves of an indolent humankind have inexplicably ceased to work, and it’s time for the player to explore a dying galaxy in search of hope. With that setup, players must survive in what looks like a tidy collision of FTL and Out There, fueling and repairing where possible, as well as splitting wigs when called upon. With its moody, crunchy Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery aesthetic meeting a much larger and more intricate tactical combat mode that its inspirations, Crying Suns could be a real stunner.
Publisher/Developer: Blendo Games
Platform: PC Vive VR
Indie darling Blendo Games is back with a sequel to the tidy Flotilla. Though retaining its mechanical WEGO roots, Flotilla 2 is a VR exclusive and looks to be something really quite intriguing. Depth and position become something far more tactile, as players get to inhabit the starship battlespace as they plot courses and firing vectors through the single player missions. A level editor and tools will be included for Steam Workshop sharing, just to add to the longevity. An interesting strategy sojourn awaits for those rocking the requisite Vive hardware.
Industries of Titan
Publisher/Developer: Brace Yourself Games
City builders are good, but offworld city builders are great. Or at least have the propensity to be very, very tasty. Industries of Titan developer Brace Yourself Games are creating quite the cocktail in their gorgeous, voxel-crafted title. Set to be a blend of traditional city builder, political subterfuge sim and logistics manager, Industries of Titan matches its mechanical ambition with incredible art direction and some of the most detailed assets and animation in the genre. If Brace Yourself Games can match a similar quality of gameplay to the impeccable visuals, Industries of Titan is destined for veritable acclaim.
Publisher/Developer: Auroch Digital
We've had a number of space agency simulations in the past, but in this new era of competing private entrepreneurs aiming for the stars, there is no time like the present for Auroch Digital's inbound Mars Horizon. Developed with technical assistance from the UK Space Agency, Mars Horizon gives players the historical breadth and near-future possibilities of running your very own space program. Developing technologies, outsourcing contracts, scientific breakthroughs and the eventual goal of padding about in the red regolith of our Martian neighbour; Mars Horizon is as exciting a prospect as the reality.
Age of Gladiators II: Rome
Publisher/Developer: Creative Storm Entertainment
Did you play the original Age of Gladiators? No? Well, admittedly it was a quiet release, but if you want the equivalent of Out of the Park Baseball or Football Manager, just with more death and maiming, Age of Gladiators was the first port of call. The sequel is set to add a lot more in the way of character to the ludus management sim, including some visible fights and 3D characters in place of the scrolling combat report of the original. It should be a hearty, heavy and blood-soaked strategy affair, served best with a rewatch of Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Time to practice your best John Hannah impression.
Seen any other cool strategy games coming on the horizon? Let us know and they may get added to the list in a future update!