Strategy gaming often feels like a bit of a niche, but 2019 is looking like a great year for fans of the genre. There’s everything from huge grand strategy titles – both Creative Assembly and Paradox Interactive have new mainline releases – to a return of one of the better Warhammer 40,000 titles, and we’re even throwing some city building and small scale tactical games into the mix as well. I mean, why not?
While strategy games are typically thought of as the preserve of PC gamers, a number of the titles on this list are actually looking to branch out onto console, regardless of their scope and scale.
Total War: Three Kingdoms
Platforms: PC – Release: 07/03/19
People have been waiting for a new mainline historical Total War game for a long, long time – though that really shouldn’t diminish the excellence of the Total War: Warhammer games. Three Kingdoms takes us back to a period in history that Creative Assembly have never visited before, with medieval China plunged into civil war as three factions vie for supremacy and loyalty from mercurial warlords.
Inspired by the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, you have two ways to play this game: Classic mode and Romance mode, where your hero characters have an accentuated role to play, both in the grand campaign and on the battlefield. There they can go head to head with entire regiments of enemy soldiers, but they can also challenge enemy heroes to a duel, tipping the flow and morale of a battle one way or the other.
For more on Three Kingdoms, be sure to catch our pre-Gamescom preview
Stellaris Console Edition
Platforms: PS4, XBO – Release: Q1 2019
It’s not often that you get sweeping grand strategy games on console, but now feels like the right time for Paradox Interactive to make their first attempt at bringing their brand of game across. Stellaris is, in many ways, the easiest and lightest Paradox Development Studios game to get into, with an interstellar setting, easy expansion in the early stages and randomised storylines that allow for plenty of replay value.
The UI has been overhauled for console, of course, but the core game remains the same. Paradox are taking a similar approach to how they’ve ported Cities: Skylines across, in starting from a slightly older, mature codebase and planning to stagger out the game’s handful of PC expansions, though the Leviathans Story Pack and Utopia expansion will be available at launch.
Battlefleet Gothic Armada II
Platforms: PC – Release: 24/01/19
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada wasn’t just a decent Warhammer 40,000 video game, it was one of the better video game adaptions that I can think of. It could easily have thrown out a lot of what made the source game great, but actually kept a lot of the feel of the naval battles in space of the tabletop game. You’re still predicting movements, sending speculative torpedos, scouting with faster ships, and dealing with morale and mutinies as the battle turns against you.
For the sequel, Tindalos are simply expanding on what already worked. At launch it will now include all 12 factions from the tabletop game, from the returning Imperial Navy and Chaos to the new T’au, Ork and Tyranid fleets, each of which has their own unique quirks and mechanics, while the Tyranid, Necron and Imperial single player campaigns are set to the backdrop of the Gathering Storm and 13th Black Crusade.
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC, Mac, Linux – Release: 25/01/19 (PC), Q2/Q3 2019 (console)
OK, so Tropico pushes the limits of the “strategy and tactical games” category for this list, but El Presidente has to put a modicum of thought and strategic planning into ensuring his or her survival and that of their banana republic. With new developer Limbic Entertainment at the helm, Tropico 6 will span Colonial, World War, Cold War and modern eras, with maps that can span an archipelago of smaller islands that can be chained together with bridges.
Tropico 6 will also have fully simulated citizens, where your actions will affect their productive output, happiness, and even lead to a revolt if you’re not careful!
Age of Wonders: Planetfall
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC – Release: 2019
Though the Age of Wonders games have typically concerned themselves with fantasy realms, Planetfall takes the series up into space and a galaxy spanning quest to claim the throne of a fallen empire. The Star Union’s collapse brought hyperspace travel crashing to a halt, isolating all the races and factions from one another, with the story jumping from one faction to another as they gradually expand once more.
Though told on a galactic scale, each campaign takes place on a single planet, as you first make planetfall, set up base camp and start to expand, coming into contact with the natives, finding the old Star Union facilities and abandoned experiments, and seeking to grow. That might lead you to war, with the series’ turn-based battles returning, but with a sci-fi twist to them and the ability to call on orbital attacks and reinforcements.
Age of Wonders is also coming to console for the first time, again expanding publisher Paradox Interactive’s portfolio of games on your telly.
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC – Release: 2019
From grand interstellar scale to small-scale real time tactics, now. Coming from the developers of Shadow Tactics, Desperados 3 takes us back to the Wild West, where you’ll have to outsmart you methodically take out the guards and goons in your way. Each level will have a variety of possible approaches to take, but running in all guns blazing typically won’t be the best way to go about things….
Platforms: PC – Release: TBC
Having started with one titan of the grand strategy genre, we finish with the other. Paradox Interactive’s next internal game release heads back to the rise of the Roman Empire for a player-made tale of expansionism and conquest. Of course, playing as Rome will be an obvious starting point for many, sending their indomitable armies forth to do battle with all, but you could also play as one of their long-time foes in Carthage, Greece, Egypt, the Seleucid Empire, or consider any of the hundreds of smaller tribal nations that existed at the time. There’s even migratory tribes that you can play as and sweep down from the cold of Scandinavia to raid the sunnier, more fertile lands of southern Europe.
Imperator: Rome feels like a fascinating mix of Paradox’s other internal games. Heart of Iron’s influence is felt in how armies can be customised and the importance of battle tactics and counter-tactics, while you’ll also have to manage the personalities and loyalties of you generals and governors to avoid revolts.
That’s all for this selection of strategy games, but let us know in the comments which, if any, tickle your fancy! Also, be sure to check out the rest of our Ones to Watch series and follow it through to the new year.