As expected, this year in strategy games mostly consisted of sequels to popular titles, remasters of old franchises, and only a handful of original indie games. That said, there are some that are well worth losing hours to. Here’s my list of the Top 10 best strategy games of 2023.
Top 10 Best Strategy Games of 2023
10. Pikmin 4
Pikmin 4 has been lauded as the most accessible Pikmin game in the series, allowing players of all demographic groups to find something exciting. It masterfully blends the trademark art style and characters with a blend of real-time strategy and action gameplay. While the previous game in the series was known for its thought-provoking puzzles, Pikmin 4 introduced Night Expeditions, where players need to fight against waves of enemies.
Pikmin 4 offers a 20-hour adventure that’s a return to its true form. Even if you’ve never played a Pikmin game before, you’ll have no trouble starting here. On top of that, Pikmin 4 has a co-op mode, which allows you to play the game with another friend and help each other. Overall, this game is terribly charming and overwhelmingly fun, so don’t miss out on it!
9. Jagged Alliance 3
It’s hard to believe that the Jagged Alliance series has been going on for over 20 years now. The third installment is closer to the first game than the second one, having a lighter tone and a less gritty atmosphere. But just like the second game, Jagged Alliance 3 supports mods, which is one of the most fun elements of the gameplay experience.
Not all players were happy with the game’s graphics, which, to be honest, could definitely be better, but Jagged Alliance 3 fully capture the essence of the series, which is why I decided to include it on our list of the best strategies. If you’re into turn-based combat with strong RPG elements, then this would be a great point to familiarize yourself with this legendary series.
8. Fire Emblem Engage
The best gameplay component that ever happened to the Fire Emblem series is the new Engage mechanic, which makes every single character viable in the game regardless of their weapon. On top of that, Nintendo brought back the famous weapon triangle, which was removed for some reason in the previous installment of the series.
Fire Emblem Engage may not have the best storyline ever, but the gameplay is so engaging that you’ll easily lose a sense of time when playing. Once you try to fuse with the Emblem Rings and Bracelets, you’ll be able to execute some of the most powerful combos in the game, and that sort of experience is only available in the Engage entry.
7. Cities: Skylines 2
If you thought that the map in the first Cities: Skylines game was too small, then be prepared for a map size that’s five times larger in this year’s sequel. Although the overall size of each tile is slightly smaller in Cities: Skylines 2, there are over 400 tiles that can be unlocked here. But my favorite thing about the sequel is that the developer actually took inspiration from the modders and made the tools for building so much more intuitive and convenient to use.
So many things have been improved, including the traffic AI, tax system, progression system, as well as power, water, and sewage distribution systems. Now you can also experience all this on the consoles too, although I personally feel that the gameplay feels much better on PC.
6. Age of Wonders 4
Age of Wonders 4 also boasts a much larger map than its predecessor, introducing many more unlockable tiles and better tools for building and expanding your territories in this 4X fantasy strategy. The new game also introduces the Tomes of Knowledge mechanic, which adds a whole new level of flexibility when it comes to managing your factions.
Unfortunately, the popular Doomstacks mechanic has been removed from Age of Wonders 4 in favor of more streamlined combat, but I believe that future DLCs will bring some new and better challenges to the gameplay.
5. Total War: Pharaoh
History buffs know too well that the most exciting period of Ancient Egypt was the Bronze Age Collapse, which was arguably the most tumultuous period of Egyptian Empire history. If you ever wondered what it was like to manage all the political and military decisions back in the day, then Total War: Pharaoh will definitely scratch that itch.
Once you enter the dynamic real-time battles against one of the eight tyrants that represent Egyptian, Canaanite, and Hittite cultures, you’ll know that diplomacy may not always be the best solution.
4. Company of Heroes 3
Don’t be surprised to see a totally different game in Company of Heroes 3 from the rest of the series, as the new installment uses a brand-new Essence Engine 5.0. The developer took time and built the game from scratch without using any of the old assets.
I also recommend Company of Heroes 3 mostly to console owners, as that was the main focus of the development team, although the game was ported to PC later on. This obviously impacts the number of players taking part in multiplayer, but the new Battlegroups system allows to perfectly preserve the feel of the old battles, regardless.
3. Spellforce: Conquest of EO
I wouldn’t expect the typical Spellforce experience from the new Spellforce: Conquest of EO game, as it’s a totally different beast, which is more of a turn-based strategy than a real-time combat game. Here, you really need to focus on completing quests and collecting spells rather than building bases.
In this regard, the Conquest of EO is a much more straightforward strategy game, in the vein of the Civilization series, than the typical Spellforce gameplay. One of my personal favorite new mechanics in Spellforce: Conquest of EO is the Mage Tower, which serves as the central hub where you collect all your spells and other magical items.
2. Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp
Nobody expected to see the re-release of the most outrageously fun Nintendo strategies, but here we are, happy to fully immerse ourselves into the updated Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp. Besides the new graphical polish and updated art, the new game features a classical re-recorded soundtrack that’s truly a thing of its own.
If you’ve never played the original games, then it’s the best time to start, as Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp includes all the campaigns from both titles. And of course, there are some new features too, such as the ability to restart your failed turns and the option to fast-forward battle animations.
1. Second Front
If you like games like Valor & Victory and 1985: Under an Iron Sky, then you’ll love the Second Front, which is a brand-new turn-based 3D-hex tactical squad strategy. The developer took its time and went really deep into various combat scenarios involving both infantry and armored vehicles. The gameplay may be a bit too confusing for new players, but even veteran strategists will be in awe of all the small intricacies of the Second Front‘s gameplay. On top of that, you get a truly original art style that I personally have never seen before in a game like that.
That’s it for my list of the 10 best strategy games of 2023. Stay tuned for more strategy game reviews and lists right here at GameSkinny.