Top 10 Strategy Games We're Looking Forward To In 2019

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2019 is looking like a great year for gaming overall, and the strategy genre is no different.

From historical wargames to a classic fantasy franchise getting a new coat of sci-fi paint to city builders right out of the '90s, there's something for everyone out there.

So check out our list of the top 10 most anticipated strategy games of 2019. Who knows, you may see something you'll like.

Total War: Three Kingdoms

Creative Assembly's venerable strategy series ventures into truly new historical territory for the first time since 2009's Empire: Total War. As they try to knock off Koei from their perch atop the throne of Romance of the Three Kingdoms-inspired storytelling through play, they'll be bringing to bear the classic Total War formula that's been working for them since 2000.

On a detailed map of China featuring all the historical locations from the second and third centuries AD, the early look and feel of the combat seems vaguely reminiscent of the old Rise of the Samurai campaign in Shogun 2: Total War from 2011.

Total War: Three Kingdoms drops on Steam on March 7, 2019.

Tropico 6

Taking gameplay beyond the confines of a single island for the first time in the Tropico series, Tropico 6 builds on the gameplay of its immediate predecessor to create a series of interconnected island economies across an archipelago, opening up new strategic avenues for the player who's been with this series either in recent iterations or since the very first one hit way back in 2001.

We covered the game with our impressions of the preview build, so why not give that a read while you get yourself hyped up for the game's launch?

Tropico 6 lands on PC January 25, 2019.

Imperator: Rome

Paradox Interactive has ventured into Roman history before, but the result was the uneven, disappointing Europa Universalis: Rome in 2008.

They've dispensed with trying to make this a Europa Universalis game this time, choosing instead to allow the game some room to breathe in its own right, in hopes that they'll create something that will stand alongside their other historical strategy titles and possibly launch a franchise in its own right to go with EU, Crusader KingsVictoria, and Hearts of Iron.

This doesn't excuse you from making Victoria 3, Paradox. Get on that.

Imperator: Rome will stretch across the known Classical world sometime in early 2019.

Narcos: Rise of the Cartels

Not much is known about this video game tie-in to the Netflix series of the same name, but early indications are that it's going to be a turn-based strategy game pitting Pablo Escobar's Medellin cartel against the US Drug Enforcement Agency in a game of move and counter-move.

The Netflix show is renowned for its gritty brutality, and no doubt that vibe is going to translate to the game as well, with players right at the head of all of it.

Narcos: Rise of the Cartels is slated for a PC and console release in the third quarter of 2019, just in time for it to have some press before the hot holiday season releases.

Anno 1800

The Anno series, at its heart, has always been about historical seafaring during the Age of Exploration and, in a couple of its titles, the Age of Colonization. The two tend to get blurred anyway (thanks largely to Sid Meier, who set most of the genre conventions with Sid Meier's Colonization way back in 1994), so this might just be a case of Anno needing to find a new century prefix.

This time, however, developer Blue Byte seems to be leaning into the Industrial Revolution timeline that the game's title implies, and the combination of exploration and city building looks to have just a little hint of steampunk in it to differentiate the game from the more "early New World" feel of games like Anno 1503.

Anno 1800 is scheduled for a PC release on February 26, 2019.

Phoenix Point

What happens when developer Julian Gollop, whose works include UFO: Enemy Unknown, the game that launched the XCOM series, tries his hand at a new sci-fi IP?

Well, the answer might just be Phoenix Point, developed by Snapshot Games, the studio behind the Kickstarter-funded Chaos Reborn.

The story is your classic "scientist finds alien tech underneath ice sheet, which then nearly wipes out humanity" (this time it's a virus, but it could be a Borg drone or a dimensional-portal-opener-upper, the details never seem to matter in these sorts of games...)

Anyway, cue the XCOM-esque gameplay, where you'll engage in strategic thinking, diplomacy, and good old-fashioned killing, all in a world that's less Enemy Unknown and more journey into the heart of a Lovecraft-inspired world of eldritch horrors.

Will stirring Lovecraftian horror into a classic sci-fi trope from a classic sci-fi developer be the road to glory, or will the whole thing be a giant mess?

C'mon, it's Julian Gollop. When Phoenix Point drops, it will instantly end up on every strategy gamer's must-play list.

Fire Emblem Three Houses

Love Fire Emblem? Got a Nintendo Switch?

If the answer to both questions is "yes", Nintendo's got what you want.

As the technology has improved on Nintendo's consoles, the depth of Intelligent Systems' fantasy franchise has improved with it, with ever-deeper gameplay, and recent iterations of the series have even come with a few anti-frustration features to minimize the game's notorious controller-breaking difficulty.

Furthermore, the trailer hints at an open world of some sort, possibly blending in more traditional RPG elements to go with the strategy gaming that is the series' hallmark.

How much of that will be in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, we haven't seen yet, but when this game hits the Nintendo Switch in Spring 2019, all will be revealed.

The Settlers

From developer Blue Byte and publisher Ubisoft comes a second game to go along with Anno 1800, mentioned earlier on this list.

The Settlers, continuing a tradition where reboots this decade are simply given a self-title for the franchise they're in (see Doom and Hitman for other examples), returns the series to its roots as a classic build-and-bash city builder slash RTS.

In recent years, city-builders have shied away from using heavy combat elements because as often as not, that combat feels tacked on and counter to the spirit of the game it's in—the real spiritual successor to the original series, 2014's Banished, completely eschews combat in favor of making the environment the source of the game's challenge.

The Settlers is leaning heavily into it instead, betting that there is a certain breed of player who is nostalgic for the old-school build-and-basher.

The release date is still TBA, but it is expected out next year.

Desperados 3

Love a game with spaghetti-Western gameplay but maybe the action-RPG elements of Red Dead Redemption 2 aren't up your alley?

For you, there's Desperados 3, the latest entry in THQ Nordic's strategy series.

From Mimimi Productions, creators of Shadow Tactics, they've taken their expertise out of feudal Japan and into the Wild West for a squad-based tactics game where the emphasis seems to be on using the titular desperados to lay elaborate traps, draw in the enemy, then give them a delicious lead sandwich for dinner.

The game even seems to have learned a few lessons from Red Dead, insofar as reputation matters. In the game, you'll have to make decisions between causing mayhem and keeping the peace, and townsfolk will react differently to your characters as a result.

This is a departure from the classic XCOM-style game that tends to have a much heavier emphasis on linear progression through a series of field combats.

Best-case scenario, what we'll get is a rich world and branching story. Mimimi has certainly set their sights high.

Desperados 3 is expected to release in Summer 2019.

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Triumph Studios returns to a classic franchise they helped to codify as they have partnered with publisher Paradox Interactive to release Age of Wonders: Planetfall next year.

This time, though, they've left their fantasy universe behind to get on a rocket and blast off into space, with a new sci-fi setting.

The same tactical combat and empire building you know and love now comes with hulking giant war machines, laser-shooting bad guys, and other stuff that suggests that Triumph's taking a page from Warhammer and creating its own sort of Age of Wonders 40K.

And hey, some people are into that sort of thing. Others prefer orcs to space marines.

But if you like the idea of Age of Wonders IN SPACE!, you'll get your fix in 2019.

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See anything you like? Let us know which of these and other strategy game you're most looking forward to in 2019 in the comments below!

Published Nov. 19th 2018

Featured Contributor

Sports guy with a serious strategy and simulation gaming jones. #SavePlayer1. If you like the NBA, click that "Website" link. It's good.


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