The Best Strategy Games of 2019 (Still to Come)30 Oct 2019 3
This year has already had a choice selection of games come down the pipe, and things show no sign of stopping. There's so many releases due which will tickle the fancy of nearly everyone, and that's just the ones we know! From big-hitters to indie newcomers, we've researched a range of new titles that have stated they're due to release during the 2019 calendar year (Not 'financial' year, that's a bit of a cop out).
We've already seen several games shift release dates, and new projects will be announced all the time, so make sure you check back to look up any updates. We've started compiling a list of 2020 projects just so you can keep up with all of the announcements this year (as well as remind us what to write about when we come to make next year's version of this list!). Now that we'er nearly at the end of 2019 there's probably not much left to come out out now, with any leftovers slipping over till next year.
Strategy Games of 2020
Now that we're approaching the last few months of the year, we're already starting to see some games slip to next year and new ones get announced. Just for your FYI, we'll summarise some of them below:
- Astra Exodus (Sci-Fi 4X) - slipped to next year
- Iron Harvest (Real-time Tactical) - slipped to September 1st, 2020
- These games (and more) were announced recently for next year:
- Crusader Kings III
- Total War Saga: Troy
- King's Bounty 2
- Knights of Honor II: Sovereign
- Stronghold: Warlords
- Port Royale 4
- Kerbal Space Program 2
- Per Aspera
- Distant Kingdoms
- Homeworld 3
- Yes, Your Grace
- Shadow Empires
- Circle Empires: Rivals
- Dominus Galaxia
- Terra Invicta
- A Game of Thrones: The Board Game
Narcos: Rise of the Cartels
Estimated Release: November 21st, 2019
We commented this at the time we covered the news, but it's unusual to see a game announced this late that's still planning on releasing within the same year, yet Narcos promises to be in our hands by New Year's Day. It's an XCOM-style squad-based tactical game where you either play as the DEA or the Drug Cartels in a story based on the first season of the Netflix TV show of the same name. This is certainly a higher-calibre of TV/Movie tie-ins than what we're used to, but it remains to be seen how good it will be.
Still, it's ticking some interesting boxes so far. As well as the usual turn-based tactical concepts, the game is claiming to be using a form of 'WEGO' where both sides will take action at the same time. Further to this, they're going to have some kind of direct control mechanics where you can slip into a third-person shooter type view and control a character freely at key moments. Keep your eyes on this one folks, it might actually be alright.
Estimated Release: December 2019
Everybody wants to protect the world from hideous alien invaders, one way or another. For many of us, turn-based tactics games offer an intense, strategy-first, powerful challenge which has manifested in a number of games that made an impact on entire generations. Squads of men and women, each with their own talents and powers, enhanced by the best research human minds can put together, and thrown, knowing full well of the sacrifice, against an unrelenting alien menace.
Sure, it was the plot of the seminal X-COM (the Julian Gollop version not the later, perfectly lovely Firaxis streamlined version) but there's no reason not to go back to a perfectly good well – especially if you intend to do so with upgraded and improved graphics and more disgusting biological horrors.
Phoenix Point has had a bit of a wild ride in the past couple of months. Several delays have pushed the release back to December, and the announcement that it will be exclusive to the Epic Store for the first year have ruffled many feathers. Still, this deal has also some-what guaranteed at least a year's worth of DLC after launch, so it can't be all bad.
Auto Chess PC
Estimated Release: Beta ongoing, Full Release TBD
You may have seen us talk about Auto Chess a fair bit recently - with the breakout success of the DOTA 2 Mod now apparent, everyone's looking to get involved in this new emerging sub-genre of turn-based strategy (if you want to get technical, Auto Chess-like games could be described as 'WEGO', like BSG Deadlock). The original Auto Chess creators have been spending most of their time porting the mod to mobile in a more legitimate form. With that done, the team are now planning to come back to PC with a more souped-up version of the game made in the Unreal engine.
The PC version has been trundling along in Alpha and Closed Beta, so we're hoping it'll open its doors to everyone soon. Anyone who's still playing the DOTA 2 mod but wants a more bespoke, supported experience will finally be able to get their wish. As an alternative for PC players who just want to play some fake Chess, Valve's DOTA Underlords and Riot's Teamfight Tactics (Accessible from within League of Legends) are already available, although they're officially in 'beta'. Considering this is all brand new territory for everyone involved, we're not sure how long these games will remain in 'Early Access'.
Estimated Release: Subjective
The official grand-daddy of sim/management games, Dwarf Fortress is finally coming to Steam in a bespoke, premium version aimed at offering a more accessible version for new audiences. It's a bit of a bitter-sweet event - the joy of many being able to dabble in a legend in way that doesn't involve looking at ASCII code (although there are skin-pack mods available for the free version) is mitigated somewhat due to the fact that the only reason we're getting this is because the developers are being let down by the US Health System. Still, we're hoping this is going to drop this year although given the developer's penchant for taking their time, don't be surprised if this doesn't turn up.
Estimated Release: TBD
There's more than one contender for X-Com's throne. While the original creator is busy working on a bona-fide successor, anyone who wanted a more modern X-COM experience who didn't want to have to deal with 2K's mainstream offering had Xenonauts to scratch that itch. The sequel, Xenonauts 2, is not a direct follow-on more an updated portrayal of the same events using a different scenario. Alien interference has prevented the end of the Cold War, and you're tasked with heading up a clandestine organisation charged with combating the alien threat and holding the world together by any means necessary.
At the time of writing X2 is currently running through its sixth Beta version and developments seems to be progressing nicely. The general Early Access launch was supposed to be March, but obviously that didn't happen so we're not sure currently what the current timetable looks like on the Early Access build.
Estimated Release: TBD 2019
The creators of the rather excellent real-time tactical game Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun are working on the third instalment of the Desperados series. Desperados 3 will see you take control of up to five desperadoes as you go on an epic journey through 1870's America. Missions can be approached from multiple angles, and there are lethal and non-lethal ways of dealing with anyone who gets in your way.
We quite enjoyed Shadow Tactics, so we're very much looking forward to seeing Mimimi's new game, although your mileage on the theme may vary. This was originally slated for a 'Summer' release but clearly that's no happening, although the game will be at GamesCom so maybe we'll find out more then.
Age of Empires 4
Estimated Release: 2019? Maybe?
This is more a reminder than anything else - there's been painfully little news on the Relic-helmed sequel to Microsoft/Ensemble's iconic RTS franchise. Hell, the company has spoken about Age of Mythology getting a remaster more recently than Age of Empires 4.
The latest we had from Microsoft is that they'll be announcing some concrete Age of Empires 4 news in November. I'd be surprised if this includes a release date this year unless they're wanting to be very last-minute with it, but you never know. This will probably slip to 2020, though unless they've been building up to some big surprise release.
Strategy Game Remasters
It's crazy to think that, half-way through 2019, we've had to create a separate section dedicated solely to all the re-masters coming out. I mean it's great for anyone looking to ride some more nostalgia waves but, as a trend, it doesn't do anything for the long-term evolution of our favourite genre.
Warcraft III: Reforged
Estimated Release: 2019?
Where have you been for the last 20 years? Probably playing one of the innumerable offspring of the 2002 Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos, from whose loins came some of the most well received and well loved games of the last two decades, including that pioneer of MMOs, World of Warcraft. While its predecessors established the world, Warcraft 3 truly established the game and provided a platform on which new games could be created.
Warcraft 3: Reforged rebuilds every single asset of the original to a 4K standard. The gameplay hasn't changed nor have the 62 missions which are available in all the campaigns changed from the ones that you remember. Night elves, undead, orcs, and humans – they're all here.
The multiplayer beta is just about to start (at the time of writing) with the initial wave of invitations going out to those who have pre-ordered the Spoils of War edition of the game. The fact that they're now doing active testing is a good sign, although there's still every chance that this game could slip to 2020. I'm hoping we'll hear something that resembles a release date at BlizzCon this year.
Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition
I mean sure, ok. Because what the RTS genre really needs is yet another remaster of Age of Empires 2. I imagine there are enough people our there who care enough about 4K textures to warrant this but... whatever. It's happening. According to the E3 announcement, it's not just a another hi-res pass at the textures - there'll be a new expansion with new factions too. This is due to drop on November 14th, 2019.
Commandos 2 & Praetorians HD
This was a rather more pleasant surprise to come out of E3 this year - Kalypso Media have announced that they're also getting in on the remaster game by bringing back to classic strategy games - Commandos 2 and Preatorians HD. The two iconic RTS games will be coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One, with Commandos 2 being ported to additional platforms such as mobile, and the Nintendo Switch. These games are due to land 'Q4' 2019, which means they technically could slip into the 2020 calendar year as financial years are weird.
Command & Conquer (& Red Alert) Remastered
Estimated Release: Your guess is as good as mine
Warcraft isn't the only classical RTS franchise making a comeback. EA have confirmed they're working with Petroglyph to remaster the original C&C games for modern machines, starting with the first Command & Conquer. This entry is short because we don't know much about it at this point. The dev team have been trip feeding bits of information and gameplay stills, before finally dropping a full on live gameplay video in October. Red Alert is most definitely going to be 2020, we imagine, although unless EA announce something soon we imagine Command & Conquer might also slip to 2020 as well. Here's the gameplay video below, in case you haven't seen it:
Other Upcoming Strategy Games
Announced during E3 2018, all we know is that this will be a XCOM-style turn-based tactical strategy set 12 years prior to the events of the first Gears of War game, with all new characters. There was no mention of this game during the 2019 E3 show, and as of the end of October there's still been no news. For all we know this has been cancelled, but we're going to keep this entry here anyway more as an 'FYI' - it's got to be a 2020 release at this point, if it still exists.
A new RTS from Slitherine, this is a post-apocalyptic game where you must lead a group of survivors to try and retake, and rebuild, one of a few launch cities that will be based on real map data of Paris, Tokyo and New York. You've got to invest your resources and expand your influence street by street, district by district while competing against other factions. It seems like a cross between Frozen Synapse and, say, The Division, except if The Division had been created by nerds. Release window is unknown, and there hasn't been much more on the game since so unless there's a surge or activity in the next couple of weeks this might slip into 2020.
A Year of Rain (Link)
Daedelic, a company mainly known for their point-and-click adventure games, are dipping their toe into RTS for ht first time with A Year of Rain. This is a co-op RTS with an eye towards competitive Esports. Two players each take charge of hero-led armies from one of three factions. It's a mix of the usual RTS design, cmobined with MOBA like team-play, especially around army recruitment. The specific mention of Esports is a bit concerning - a game 'designed' for Esports rarely does well, but the core game premise at least sounds solid. It can also be played solo with an AI companion, if you're billy no mates. It's due to release into Early Access on November 6th, which means a full release isn't likely until 2020.
End State (Link)
A cross between Phantom Doctrine and XCOM, this squad/turn-based tactics game puts you in charge of a mercenary outfit hunting down terrorists in a fictional war-torn country. It's got an open-world strategy layer with all the trappings of modern XCOM, coupled with a free-form approach to goals and objectives. It will be launching into Early Access sometime this year.
Not only are we on the look out for top new games, but new expansions and DLC for our existing favourite games as well. Here's what we know about:
BattleTech Heavy Metal (November 21st)
The third and final DLC as part of BattleTech's initial 'Season Pass' is coming at the end of November. This latest content drop will focus mainly on mechs - eight new warmachines are being added to the game, seven of which are classic models from the original base-set, with the last one being a brand new frame being added to the lore. It also adds a new Flashpoint 'mini-campaign' that gets seeded through-out the game as a long-running side-story you can return to during new careers.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Revalations (November 20th)
Age of Wonders has only been out a couple of months and it's already got an expansion on the horizon. Revelations is a modest update that adds a brand-new race, as well as a new 'Anomaly' mechanic that are narrative based map points you can interact with and do a mini-quest. Usually they involve a fight or two, but they're almost always rewarding enough to make it worth while. There will be a free update that will launch with this as well that adds in Orbital Relays so you can quickly shuttle armies from one side of your empire to another.
Stellaris: Federations (TBC)
Stellaris finally has a new expansion officially on the cards. Federations is the 'diplomacy' update, and will focus on making the Federation mechanic more meaningful, as well as introducing a new 'Galactic Community' mechanic that revolves around a Senate and passing resolutions. There's not release window on this, so we wouldn't be surprised if this actually slips till next year, as Paradox didn't want to commit to a time-frame.
Other Management & Sim games
We dabble in management & sim games from time to time - they're not purely 'strategy' games, but the mainstream perspective quite often lumps them all together for ease, so we can't help but feel a certain kinship. There are some really interesting city-builder, management and sim projects on the horizon that we're expecting this year. We've mentioned a couple above, but there's also:
Best Strategy Games of 2019 (So Far)
We're only half-way through February, but already there's been some pretty decent releases in strategy gaming that you'll want to check out:
- AI War 2
- John Wick Hex
- Fantasy General II
- Age of Wonders: Planetfall
- Raiders of the North Sea
- Field of Glory: Empires
- Total War: Three Kingdoms
- Fort Sumter
- Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark
- Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2
- Jon Schafer's At the Gates
- Tropico 6
- Anno 1800
- Various expansions & DLCS!
Check back later as we keep this list up-to-date with everything there is to look forward to in 2019!