Strategy is the genre of choice for the thinking gamer. Far from blasting demons on your last scrap of health, if you’re a strategy gamer you relish the thought of executing a carefully-planned gambit and watching as all the pieces fall expertly into place. No matter what your chosen flavour of strategy might be, there’s plenty to tempt you over the coming months. We’ve gathered together 10 of the most promising strategy games coming in 2019.
Wargroove (Q1 2019)
Combining a beautiful pixel aesthetic with deep, compelling strategy mechanics, Wargroove will be a familiar sight to anyone who’s a fan of the Advance Wars or (to a lesser extent) Fire Emblem franchises. Wargroove takes standard turn-based mechanics and combines them with the hero-centred gameplay of titles like Warcraft III and the MOBAs it spawned. The game’s hero units, Commanders, each have a unique ability (or “Groove”, hence the title) they can use to turn the tide of battle. Some Commanders have healing abilities, while others have devastating attacks or helpful buffs. Throw in a robust multiplayer mode and an intuitive map editor and you’ve got every turn-based strategy fan’s dream.
Warcraft III: Reforged (2019)
Warcraft III is an undeniable classic, having spawned a legion of not only imitators but derivatives in the form of MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arenas) like League of Legends and Dota 2. In 2019, Warcraft III will be getting a remaster in the form of Warcraft III: Reforged. Sporting an all-new visual sheen, re-recorded dialogue lines and several quality-of-life game improvements, Warcraft III: Reforged packs in both the core game and its Frozen Throne expansion for what is shaping up to be the definitive Warcraft III experience. If you love World of Warcraft and want to know where many of its more intriguing lore points come from, here’s the game for you.
Total War: Three Kingdoms (March 7th 2019)
Fans of the Total War series already know they want this one; the games consistently deliver a level of quality and polish that few strategy franchises can match. Three Kingdoms takes the signature Total War formula to the Three Kingdoms period of China, which many gamers may already know (albeit in a slightly botched way) from the long-running Dynasty Warriors series. Important figures like Cao Cao and Liu Bei will make an appearance, and the game will focus more on its generals’ personalities; they’ll need to be appeased if you want a smooth ride. Of course, the game will also feature the series’ signature hybrid turn-based and real-time strategy gameplay.
Phoenix Point (June 2019)
Fans of XCOM, look no further for your turn-based strategy fix. Phoenix Point comes to us from the creator of the original XCOM, Julian Gollop, and is intended to be a spiritual successor to that series. Gollop wasn’t responsible for the excellent XCOM: Enemy Unknown and the equally fantastic XCOM 2, but his strategy chops are undeniable; he’s worked on the original XCOM: UFO Defense, 3DS standout Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, and many more titles of that ilk. Phoenix Point takes XCOM’s unique blend of base-building and tactical combat and transfers it to a Lovecraftian universe in which eldritch horrors threaten the existence of humanity. Sign us up!
Iron Harvest (2019)
Iron Harvest is part of the Polish gaming scene, which can only be described as “bustling”. That wonderful nation has given us The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, This War of Mine and the 2013 Shadow Warrior reboot, and there’s a strong sense that they’re just getting started. Iron Harvest is a real-time strategy (RTS) game set in an alternate 1920s and featuring mechs, so that’s us sold. Developer KING Art games promises that it listened to fans during the development of Iron Harvest, so the game will prioritise “tactics over clicks per second” and feature base building alongside classic RTS gameplay.
Gears Tactics (2019)
We don’t know a huge amount about Microsoft’s upcoming tactical Gears of War spinoff, but we know we’re super hyped for it. Gears Tactics takes place around twelve years before the first Gears of War title (incidentally, when the game was announced, it had in fact been twelve years since the first Gears was released) and will allow players to customise their squad. We know that the game will feature an entirely new squad, so if you were hoping to play as Marcus you might be out of luck. We’ll know more about this one in the coming months, but it’s one to watch for sure.
Kingdom: Two Crowns (December 2018)
Okay, so this one isn’t technically coming out in 2019, but hey – the release date is even sooner, so that’s a plus, right? If you haven’t experienced the oddball combination of 2D pixel art and strategic base-building that the Kingdom franchise offers, then this is a great place to start. The Kingdom games centre around two mechanics: base building and exploration. Players must seek out gold to give to their settlers, and once found, gold can be used to build new fortifications and settlement features, all of which will come in handy when your village is attacked (which it will be). 2018 may be the release date, but we’ll be playing this one throughout 2019.
Desperados III (Summer 2019)
Before Desperados and Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, we weren’t familiar with the “stealth-oriented real-time tactics” genre. The original two Desperados titles came out way back in 2001 and 2006 respectively, so it’s been quite some time since our favourite Wild West gunslingers stealthed their way around ornery varmints and gun-totin’ sheriffs. Desperados III, helmed by Blades of the Shogun head honchos Mimimi Productions, promises to continue the legacy of its predecessors in 2019, so apply here for all your Wild West tactics needs.
The original Xenonauts was a love letter to the early days of XCOM which we were entirely on board with. Its difficulty quirks and stubborn user interface just made us love it more, so news of a sequel had us jumping for joy (before being shot by an alien we could never have seen). Xenonauts 2 will feature improved presentation, better artificial intelligence and a more realistic physics engine, but it’s mostly more of the same alien-killin’, base-buildin’ action you know and love. Fans of the new XCOM games should start here if they want to know the franchise’s history.
Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition (2019)
Tentatively set for a 2019 release date, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition presents the classic everyone knows and loves in all-new shiny 4K resolution. Combine that with remastered visuals and an improved user interface, both of which will contribute towards retaining the game’s beloved central gameplay loop, and we’re on to a winner. A fourth Age of Empires game is in the offing, but our money’s on Age of Empires II every time.