In a world where first-person shooters reign supreme, real-time strategy games have carved a substantial niche out for themselves. With hours’ worth of gameplay and replayability, some titles have even gone on to become legacy games.
With more gamers shifting towards strategy games, it is time to take a look at a few games that are worth replaying in 2022. With the summer break afoot, there is plenty of time to relax and strategize every move.
These turn-based strategy games have gotten better over time
1) Phoenix Point: Year One Edition
Phoenix Point, developed by Snapshot Games, has a love-hate relationship with the community. Although it holds its own against other titles, it did suffer a setback after being released, with players facing a number of issues.
However, following the release of the Year One Edition, things have changed.
For those who have played the original XCOM or XCOM2 turn-based strategy game and want to put their skills to the test, Phoenix Point is the perfect title. While it possesses similar mechanics and features a lot of dynamic depth, the game is very different from the XCOM franchise. Perhaps the biggest difference is how accuracy works.
Rather than players missing a shot despite a 90% hit-chance, the aiming mechanics have been revamped to function more realistically. This new “reticle-system” is a game changer as it allows players to take control of their unit’s weapons and aim manually.
With enemies evolving over time, faction politics, diverse inventory choices, and everything in between, Phoenix Point is a must-play strategy game in 2022. However, be warned, for those playing the game for the first time, it is best to disable all DLCs or risk being overwhelmed with information and objectives.
For those who love customizing giant fighting robots and taking control of them, BattleTech is the perfect turn-based strategy game to get the synapses firing. Developed by Harebrained Schemes, the game puts players in charge of their very own mercenary company, which, in this case, are pilots who control towering metal behemoths in battle.
What sets this title apart from other basic robot versus robot battle simulators is the tactical realism that players have to contend with. Simply pointing and shooting will not guarantee a kill, or even damage the opponent. Since each piece of equipment has a set functional range, choosing the right loadout for each mech is crucial to success.
Keeping aside warfare, players will also get the chance to slowly repair and upgrade their very own spaceship. Although this feature is somewhat rudimentary, it does play a pivotal role towards success. Furthermore, an upgraded spaceship makes things easier in the long-run.
For those planning on playing BattleTech for the first time, the best thing to do would be to get the base game. Given the different mechanics one has to learn, getting to DLCs immediately is probably not the best idea, as going up against super-heavy mechs on the field will become a problem.
3) Endless Space 2
When it comes to turn-based strategy games set in the cosmos, Endless Space 2 shines brightly in the night sky. Developed by Amplitude Studios, the game puts players in control of their own space-faring civilization. Given the number of species available, exploring them all will take some time.
When it comes to gameplay, however, things can get confusing. As soon as the game starts, the map and in-depth planet details can feel overwhelming for new players. However, this can be overcome with a bit of finessing and a lot of reading, after which the fun begins.
Once the basics have been mastered, players can begin expanding to colonize new planets, take control of neutral factions, and even engage in a bit of dog-fighting. Although players rarely play a part once a fight begins, they can enjoy a cinematic view of the fight and customize their own spaceships.
Given that Endless Space 2 was released in 2017, there are a lot of DLCs. Some, like Supremacy, are truly amazing, while others, like Awakening, fall rather short of being good. That being said, those new to this turn-based strategy game should get a proper understanding of the base content before planning on buying DLCs.
4) XCOM2: War Of The Chosen
When it comes to DLCs that set a benchmark in the world of strategy games, XCOM2: War Of The Chosen goes above and beyond. If the original game was great, this DLC made everything better.
Developed by Firaxis Games, it puts players in control of Earth’s last hope of stopping the alien menace. What is so good about this DLC is that it feels like a brand new game. It not only polishes things up but also adds a plethora of new content.
Aside from tougher, more advanced aliens, players must now also contend with The Chosen. These three elite characters will pop-up during random missions and make life hell for players. However, to balance things out, players can recruit special characters from three separate factions.
Aside from this, new mission types have been added in, the strategy layer on the world map has improved, and synergy between soldiers has been revamped.
Truth be told, XCOM2: War Of The Chosen is the best way to experience the game. For those looking to sink a few dozen hours in turn-based combat, there can be no better option.
5) Civilization IV: Gathering Storm
When it comes to turn-based city building strategy games, Sid Meier’s Civilization VI has no equal. It is clear to see that Firaxis Games has perfected the civilization-building formula. Even though the base game is already great in its own right, the Gathering Storm DLC makes things even better.
It introduces environmental effects, which adds a new dynamic layer to the game. Building too close or on coastal tiles can spell disaster if the ocean level rises due to climate change. Players also have to contend with other natural disasters such as storms, volcanoes, and droughts.
To even the odds, players can research and eventually build engineering projects to keep their cities safe. However, the most immersive part of this DLC is giving players the choice to pick between renewable safe energy or fossil-based power. Picking and using the latter in the long-run will adversely affect the weather, and in turn, the tiles.
Unfortunately, this DLC does not come without its fair share of criticism. Some mechanics and features do not work as intended, and the price versus value aspect has been a hot topic of debate. Nevertheless, this DLC is a great addition to the base game for newcomers and for anyone looking to hop back into Civilization 6 in 2022.
These real-time strategy games have aged well
Developed by Paradox Development Studio, Stellaris is rightfully considered the best sci-fi grand strategy game set in space. Despite being released in 2016, it is still going strong. With regular patches, major updates, and DLCs, there are hundreds, if not thousands of hours worth of replayability.
To sum up Stellaris in a few words is not possible. The game offers layers upon layers of dynamics that overlap and synergize with each other. Starting from the type of species to its origin story, everything is connected, and making sense of it all will take a lot of time.
Once the game begins, players must learn through trial and error how to explore the galaxy and expand. They must contend with other space-faring civilizations, pirates, leviathans, and the occasional invasion by forces from beyond their own galaxy.
Spoiler alert, losing the first few games is going to be the norm.
Much like any other real-time strategy game out there, Stellaris has numerous DLCs to add value to the base game. While some have revolutionized the way the game itself is played, others have left but a footnote of an impression on things. Nevertheless, they all make the game interesting in their own way.
2) Age Of Empires II: Definitive Edition
Age Of Empires is possibly the most recognizable real-time strategy game in the world. Spanning two decades and several iterations, the game is loved by old-school players.
No game in the franchise was as loved as Age Of Empires II. Thus, the developers, Forgotten Empires, decided to make a definitive edition of it.
What is great about this edition is that it upscales and improves on the original design and graphics, while retaining the original gameplay features. Though this may not appeal to newcomers in the real-time strategy genre, legacy players are more than happy with it.
Aside from rich storytelling and campaigns, the multiplayer segment is booming as well. With a variety of civilizations and a number of unique mechanics, there is no shortage of choices in either PvP, Co-op, or player versus computer.
Much like any other real-time strategy game, Age Of Empires II: Definite Edition has three DLCs up for grabs, with the latest being Dynasties Of India. Each one offers new campaigns and factions to add more variety to gameplay.
Frostpunk is a real-time survival strategy game unlike any other. Developed by 11 Bit Studios, the game drops players right into the middle of a cold-spell. If the saying, “when hell freezes over,” had a physical manifestation, this game would probably be it.
From the get-go, players are tossed into a frozen landscape with the only goal being survival. Sadly, most new games do not last long as coal runs out and the population freezes to death. If by any chance players do make it past the early-game, religion or lack of law and order will be the death of whoever remains.
However, after a couple of playthroughs, this should not be a problem. What becomes difficult are the choices that players must make as the game progresses. Should they protect a child’s rights and keep them warm in shelters, or send them out in the freezing cold to pull their own weight?
All said and done, Frostpunk offers a unique take on the cold-pocalypse and serves up gameplay sessions that will leave players wishing they had made better in-game choices early on. With Frostpunk 2 in development, this is a good time to replay the original.
4) Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition
Developed by Larian Studios, Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition is without doubt one of the most immersive real-time strategy games available on the market. The layers of dynamic complexity are truly mind-boggling. A single playthrough of the campaign will not even be enough to scratch the surface.
What makes this staretegy game great is how it encourages players to think for themselves, learn, and adapt to things on their own. While there is an in-game guide for the basics, a lot of reading and experimentation will be needed to master different aspects and skills further on in the story.
Perhaps one of the best parts of the game is how the dialog option influences the outcome of situations, and at times, parts of the storyline itself. This does not even take into account how individual characters influence the story.
For a strategy game released in 2017, it holds firm against newer titles. With countless hours of replayability, character builds, combos, and dynamic layers of synergy, Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition is the embodiment of a real-time strategy game done right.
5) Iron Harvest
Developed by KING Art, Iron Harvest puts a twist on the timeline of the early 20th century. Set in an alternate reality in 1920, this strategy game puts a spin on the aftermath of the Great War and factions that rose to prominence once the dust settled. However, this is unlike anything players have played before.
In this timeline, technology gets a jumpstart. Rather than having land-based vehicles being driven into combat, the bulk of the heavy fighting is done by steampunk-styled mechs. These metal behemoths tower above the battlefield and cause chaos among the enemy ranks.
Aside from the lumbering metal beasts, what makes Iron Harvest stand out are its campaigns. They are story-driven and ease players into the gameplay. While at times it may become frustrating, it is all part of the experience.
Although the game shines for what it is, there are a few underlying issues with certain mechanics and gameplay features. While they are not game-breaking, they may cause some agony to players when things can get intense. Other than that, for fans of alternative history, Iron Harvest is a must-play real-time strategy game.
Note: This article is subjective and solely reflects the writer’s opinions.