Top 10 best strategy games of 2015

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This gaming year has been very productive in the field of strategy genre. There were a lot of really good titles released in all kinds of sub-genres; such as grand, turn-based, real-time, military, economic, historical, fantasy, and even futuristic cyberpunk.

Every dedicated fan could find a game tailored to their specific preferences, both in single-campaign and multiplayer mode sessions. This article offers a look at the finest tactical-based and real-time strategy games that have been growing in popularity throughout the year, giving you a glimpse at the brightest representatives of the genre.

So, without any further ado, let’s begin the countdown of the top 10 best strategy games of 2015.

10. Sorcerer King

Released: July 16, 2015
Developer: Stardock Games
Steam link

Sorcerer King is the fourth attempt by Stardock Games to release a fantasy-based 4X-strategy and this is their best game yet. This time it’s not just another add-on to Elemental: War of Magic, Fallen Enchantress or Legendary Heroes, but instead is a original game with an updated visual style.

The game features an asymmetric gameplay with six available characters and an editor allowing you to customize your own skills. The developers managed to combine various game mechanics, achieve a good balance, and still make everything quite simple.

You start with one city and a couple of soldiers and grow from there. Your main task is to prevent the Sorcerer King’s army from destroying the crystal shards scattered around the kingdom. On your journey you will have an opportunity to explore lots of caves and dungeons, and earn your stats. You will also be involved in diplomatic relationships with other cities, so there’s much more to this game than just pillaging.

Sorcerer King is a perfect introduction for those who want to discover a turn-based strategy genre for themselves. Probably, veterans won’t see too many interesting things here, but if you like Heroes of Might and Magic series, then this game is worth checking out.

9. Satellite Reign

Released: August 28, 2015
Developer: 5 Lives Studios
Steam link

Satellite Reign is an ideological follow-up, a modern remake of Syndicate and Syndicate Wars – tactical cyberpunk classics. The basic principles and mechanics of the game have not changed. Besides tactics there is also a strategic component: saving money, kidnapping prototypes, hiring scientists to conduct research, and obtaining new types of equipment, weapons, gadgets and various implants.

You control four characters from an isometric perspective and each character has its own specific abilities. Satellite Reign features an open world that is rich and detailed with impeccable cyberpunk aesthetics.

The first few hours may seem difficult, as your abilities are extremely limited, but if you can make it past this early stage of the game, you will be immensely rewarded with a huge variety of missions to come. The story is deep and meaningful, as you’re trying to make your way through different obstacles in order to steal the drug of immortality.

This is indeed a cyberpunk game by-the-book that is worth investing many hours of your free time into -- if that’s what you’re looking for. Let's hope that the developers will keep updating the game and add new features. They have already revealed that they are working on a co-operative multiplayer mode.

8. Blood Bowl 2

Released: September 22, 2015
Developer: Cyanide
Steam link

Blood Bowl 2 is a fantasy version of American football and the PC version of the famous two-player turn-based board game Blood Bowl by Games Workshop that involves the characters from the Warhammer universe.

The original Blood Bowl was released in 2009 and since then the developers have significantly upgraded graphics and made a big step toward attracting new players by introducing a training mode with the plot. The game has a total of eight races to choose from and an excellent PvP multiplayer mode.

The gameplay is fairly simple: you need to manage players and try to score as many touchdowns as you can. On top of that, you are allowed to hit and kill your opponents on the field, bribe judges, etc. Each of the playable races has its own attitude and tactics .

The developers promise to add more new races, fix errors, and generally support the project for a long time. Blood Bowl 2 is a unique game - you will either fall in love with it and become a huge fan, or absolutely reject the unusual gameplay mechanics. It’s a niche product and that is why it is so valuable to its core audience.

7. Grey Goo

Released: January 23, 2015
Developer: Petroglyph Games
Steam link

This year started with the release of an excellent real-time strategy game - Grey Goo. The players are presented with three diverse races, the ability to develop bases, mine resources, build armies and fight in epic battles.

The game takes some of the core ideas of the Command & Conquer series and introduces some of its own concepts as well. The pace of gameplay depends on the chosen tactics and the level of intellect of your opponent.

Finding resources on the map may become a bit of a chore, as there aren’t that many spots with really valuable stuff. Usually, the side that disposes of their resources in the most effective way wins. The sense of control increases drastically throughout the game: in time you will be able to manage a whole army and not just individual units.

Unfortunately, Grey Goo has too many competitors this year that are better. But it offers challenge and complexity that every old-school strategy fan is looking for.

6. Mordheim: City of the Damned

Released: November 19, 2015
Developer: Rogue Factor
Steam link

Mordheim: City of the Damned is another Warhammer board game adaptation. Here, you can switch between two view modes: you can play your character from a third-person perspective and manage everything else as a turn-based strategy with the help of an overhead camera.

There are four warbands in the game; each band has its leader, heroes and henchmen. Respectively, there are four campaigns dedicated to each warband, including various side-quests. The main objective of the game is to eliminate all enemy units.

It’s a hard game and requires a lot of focus. Make one wrong move and you'll have to start again. In this respect, Mordheim: City of the Damned sticks closely to the roots of its board game original. The visual side of the game, albeit its limited characteristics, is quite atmospheric and provides a sense of constant dread.

If you enjoy the universe of Warhammer and yearn for a new tactical strategy that is demanding and unforgiving, then check Mordheim out.

5. Civilization: Beyond Earth - Rising Tide

Released: October 9, 2015
Developer: Firaxis Games
Steam link

Rising Tide is a huge expansion to Civilization: Beyond Earth, a part of an already well-established strategy games series – Sid Meier’s Civilization. Last year’s Beyond Earth was a critical success, but not all players appreciated the game as much as the critics. So, the developers decided to fix the inconsistencies in the gameplay that fans were so concerned about.

The title Rising Tide derives from the main focus of the DLC – a colonization of the seas through the naval battles. Now, you can build your cities on the surface of the water and even move them to the desired locations.

The new diplomacy system is also quite intriguing. It includes alliance management and diplomatic capital. Of course, this adds a whole new layer to the gameplay experience, but also creates more pressure. The AI has become more responsive and really gives you a sense of cooperation with your neighbors.

Overall, if you liked Civilization V, but were not intrigued by Beyond Earth, you can safely try Rising Tide, as this is exactly the kind of Civilization game the fans have been waiting for. It fills a significant number of gaps in the gameplay.

4. Age of Wonders III - Eternal Lords

Released: April 14, 2015
Developer: Triumph Studios
Steam link

Those who are familiar with Age of Wonders series know that this game is similar to Sid Meier’s Civilization where players focus on building cities and finding resources, but in a fantasy setting filled with dragons and magic powers.

This year’s expansion for Age of Wonders III - Eternal Lords adds a lot of new features, such as three new characters in the form of Frostling, Tigran and Necromancer bringing the total to seven (if you have both original game and the previous expansion - Golden Realms), treasure sites, new equipment, bonus abilities, diplomacy, etc.

It is especially fun to play as a Necromancer, as his undead ghouls don’t care about reputation and, most importantly, don’t reproduce naturally. So, the most reliable way to increase the population is start a war, you know, to keep the flow of fresh corpses coming. Everything else, like set of spells, skills, and units are very impressive and original, as well.

Age of Wonders III - Eternal Lords is a true fantasy kingdom simulator in the form of 4X turn-based strategy. And, we really hope this is not going to be the final expansion for the game.

3. Total War: Attila

Released: February 17, 2015
Developer: Creative Assembly
Steam link

Total War: Attila, also jokingly known as Total War: Rome 2.1, is a new game from Creative Assembly enriched with new mechanics designed to convey the specifics of the migration and the formation of the hordes. They also enhanced siege mechanics and diplomatic and political opportunities.

Since the Total War games have a huge community of fans, it was an obvious choice for the developers to continue the series after they successfully released Alien: Isolation. The new game is set in the Dark Ages, the period after the Roman Empire split into two parts.

There are ten factions to choose from and you need to manage their relationships by waging wars or keeping the peace for as long as possible through diplomacy. Concerning gameplay mechanics there's not much that has been changed, as you still have two basic interfaces for turn-based strategy and real-time combat.

This may not be the best game for new players to start with, as the campaign requires controlling a huge amount of different aspects of politics, diplomacy, city building and sustaining armies. Other than that, the challenging campaigns will fully satisfy the needs of those already familiar with the game.

2. Homeworld Remastered Collection

Released: February 25, 2015
Developer: Gearbox Software
Steam link

Gearbox Software has done some impressive work on this remastered collection of the first two Homeworld games, originally released in 1999 and 2003. Everything from models and textures to rendering and effects was adapted for high definition screens. On top of that, Gearbox implemented a multiplayer mode, which can handle up to eight players online.

The developers didn’t limit themselves to the visual side of things, but carefully reconfigured the basics of the game mechanics. First, the new unified interface is now much more convenient than the previous versions. Second, the basic gameplay of the original Homeworld has been shifted to resemble Homeworld 2, which entailed a number of significant changes.

Now, there are plenty of resources in space and there is no need for a massive thievery of the enemy ships. Research now requires investments, and small ships like the fighters and bombers no longer require constant refueling, as fuel is completely eliminated from the game. All this means that both Homeworld games are now more alike than ever before.

Homeworld and Homeworld 2 are two great games that are really noteworthy. They rightfully earned the place in the video gaming history alongside such iconic titles like C&C and Starcraft.

1. StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void

Released: November 10, 2015
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Battle.net link

This final chapter in the StarCraft saga is well designed for both newcomers and veterans of the series. For those who haven’t played the previous games at all or simply have forgotten what happened in the previous episodes of the story there is a great introductory cutscene in the Legacy of the Void, covering all the twists and turns of the plot, bringing everything together in the storyline of the Protoss.

Throughout a single campaign walkthrough you can change the types of units and their abilities in each mission.  Also, the side objectives are now as important as the main missions and at times these side missions are even worth taking due to the rewards you receive after accomplishing them.

Of course, the single-player campaign is a true pleasure, but what makes Legacy of the Void really stand out is an excellent multiplayer mode. The first thing worth noting is Archon mode, an additional function for cooperative battles in Ranked and Unranked games. It only works if you play with a friend on the same team. Another important feature of the multiplayer is random tournaments. Every two hours throughout the day players are invited to participate in any tournament with a pre-specified set of rules. This adds an extra fun bit to an already perfect game.

Legacy of the Void lifts the whole series to new heights. StarCraft II is once again above any other competitor this year, and it continues to grow offering players an excellent storyline and interesting co-op mode that improves with every expansion. Therefore, since the best RTS has now become even better there is every reason to check it out.

What is your favorite strategy game of 2015? Which one you think does or does not deserve to be in this top 10? Which strategy game has the best multiplayer in your opinion? Let us know in the comments section below.

Published Dec. 13th 2015

Correspondent

Sergey has been a freelancer in the video games industry for more than five years, writing for various publications around the world. His favorite games are MtG, Dark Souls, Diablo, and Divinity: Original Sin. Sergey doesn't own consoles because a PC is all he needs.

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