The Strategy Gamer's Guide to 201809 Jan 2018 0
Another year has passed, and as ever more and more strategy titles heave into view. 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 year.
Thrones of Britannia: A Total War Saga
Supposed to release simply in “2018” (according to its Steam page), this writer was willing to shrug his shoulders, despite the return of the series – at last – to history. One unfortunate viewing of The Last Kingdom, binged over a single day, and this writer’s now a whole lot more excited. Saxons, Vikings, Alfred the Great, what’s not to like? As one would expect, what we can see from the ingame graphics is stunning and the artwork also previewed is quite impressive as well. I have no doubt we’ll be covering this in greater depth as more is revealed.
Age of Empires: Definitive Edition
The original that launched a thousand sequels, imitators, expansions and (latterly) HD editions returns with quite the face lift and the promise of all factions and expansions from the get go - a pleasing change from the usual nickel and dime for DLC that characterize much of the wider gaming world. Set to release (at the time of writing) on the last day of 2018, it’ll be a long time to wait yet. It’s Windows 10 exclusive however – you have been warned.
Age of Empires IV
Alright, we’re cheating a little here, details are frightfully scarce, but 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.
Civilization VI: Rise and Fall
Civilization VI has had a hard time of late, with criticism being leveled at its DLC policy and the design of some of its core mechanics. Its first expansion promises to break up the format of this giant of strategy gaming, making snowballing more difficult and bringing a host of challenges for the player to overcome. Needless to say, there’s a good number of civilizations coming as well.
1C moves back a little bit from their standard 20th century focused strategy games to the early medieval period, with Slavs and Vikings (amongst others) battling it out. Details are relatively scarce and we still have no release date, but it appears the game will perhaps have more in common with Company of Heroes than Age of Empires in terms of the way units are handled.
Suggesting an experience akin to the humour in films such as The Martian, Surviving Mars offers city (or colony) building with a twist, with players not only having to deal with harsh environments but maintaining their people’s sanity as well. Giant space domes on Mars, what’s not to like?
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. As per usual, 2018 is set as the year of release, with no more information as yet.
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.
I know we included this one last year, but after all, nothing is certain in game development. UBoot (U-boat) is billed as a sandbox survival simulator aboard a Second World War German U-boat, reminiscent of FTL or a more grimey version of Bomber Crew. Recently delayed, Uboot is set to release in 2018, no more details appear to be available at present.
This War of Mine, is arguably one of the most important games about war ever made. Frostpunk, made by the same developer, has an uphill climb to match TWoM. Completely changing the setting (though arguably not the weather), Frostpunk places the player in charge of a city upon a frozen planet where heat is life. Meaningful decisions in interacting with one’s minions are promised and are where the most comparisons between This War of Mine and this new offering will likely be drawn. No strict release date as yet, but the material provided on the game’s Steam page so far suggests more information will be coming soon.
Large battles in the age of Horse and Musket? Yes please! Military theorists, rather than simply strict evaluations of hardware and tactics, guide the creation of Grand Tactician, at least according to the extremely generous development diaries provided by the game’s three man development team. We don’t know its first setting as yet, but we do know its first instalment (something post-Napoleonic to judge by the previews so far) is set to come this year.
Unity of Command 2
Unity of Command was a bit of sleeper hit in 2011 where its deep but easy to grasp interface and mechanics gave it quite the advantage over its excel spreadsheet imitating competition. A new offering shows off prettier graphics (including a pretty fancy 3D map) and new and improved mechanics. Furthermore the setting appears to be expanding as well, with combat theatres ranging from Italy to Finland. No details on when it’ll be releasing, but certainly one to be keeping a weather eye on.
Burden of Command
In so many strategy games you are the commander and your minions simple robots willing to sacrifice their lives simply because you said so. Burden of Command says it will turn all this on its head, with your plans being dictated not only by the present situation, but your subordinates and their personalities. 2018 is when the title is meant to arrive, although the developers say that it will be released not on any strict schedule but: “when it’s done”.
Total War: Warhammer 2 - Rise of the Tomb Kings
Whilst Warhammer Fantasy may now be dead on the tabletop but that won’t stop Creative Assembly pumping out more content for their Total War: Warhammer series. Rise of The Tomb Kings allows players, unsurprisingly, to take control of the Tomb Kings who come with their own legendary heroes and army lists.
Rise of The Tomb Kings is set to release on Jan 23rd this year.
Hearts of Iron IV: Waking The Tiger
Paradox are venturing over to the far east for HOI’s next expansion. Promising new national focus trees for Japan, Nationalist China and Communist China along with reworks for army groups, field marshals and air forces.
If the far east isn’t to your taste however, Germany has also gotten a rework that allows players to overthrow Hitler and restore the monarchy. Paradox haven’t specified a release, yet with their DLC track history, Waking The Tiger is guaranteed to come out this year.
Entering Early Access
Another delayed 2017 release, where UBoot is the WW2 version of FTL, Abandon Ship promises a pirate FTL. Promising a fantasy age of sail role playing, where decisions matter and every battle a nail biter. Sea monsters, volcanoes, and of course other enemy ships have been previewed. A very descriptive “Early” 2018 is meant to be when the game enters Early Access.
Neolithic: First Cities
Ancient Mesopotamia really doesn’t get the love it deserves, always being brushed aside by the titans that are Classical Greece and Rome. Neolithic: First Cities aims to redress this balance, providing the player with the ability to progressively grow their first settlers into an expansive city state in an expansive open world. Think Banished but with more war. After a successful Kickstarter, Neolithic’s solo developer tells us that the game should reach backers in the middle of this year, with public release into Early Access presumably not too long afterwards.