Strategy games are a genre with dozens of different subgenres. Among them, many types of playstyles emerge. Finding the best ones to play can be tough, especially with how infrequent releases can be for certain niches. We will review the games that came out recently and some years back, covering the best strategy games in 2022.
Company of Heroes 2
Although RTS games are their genre, there are quite a few differences between franchises. Company of Heroes defined a new style of RTS games where players control smaller squads. Each unit is unique in its strengths and weaknesses, which provides a lot more strategizing despite the smaller scale of the fights.
The Command Points are the name of the game. You must send your units to cap these positions of interest to garner more power. The units must work together to counter enemies and make it through the battle. However, losing a whole unit is a huge hit.
Players can reinforce units with new recruits, which will make them eventually grow to a considerable size. Still kept to the same limits of the game but is now more capable of handling problems. It’s all about paying attention to what the enemy brings and knowing when to fight and retreat.
Ultimately, the gameplay is spiced up with multiple playable factions with their strengths. It will give every player a fitting faction that the player can enjoy.
Total War: Warhammer 3
The newest sequel of this franchise came out with a rocky start. However, the updates and DLCs have provided a much better experience. In addition, the bug fixes have been immensely helpful to the game, and now it runs much better than it ever did.
As far as playing the game goes, there are two parts to the game. The RTS part and campaign map part. These two combine many mechanics that make Total War Warhammer games so interesting and immersive.
With the numerous factions to go about, options are nigh endless. Each has its playstyle, units, campaign mechanics, and reputation with other factions. The options are there, allowing each player to engage with them.
Should you get bored of the standard list of lords available, there’s always DLC. Unfortunately, some of it may come off as mediocre, so it’s worth checking whether it’ll give you what you want. Likewise, not all packs are built equal, with some giving an immense boost to certain factions while others feel more like icing on the cake.
Lastly, there’s multiplayer. While many people engage in highly tactical combat in multiplayer battles, it’s also possible to get some silly showdowns going if you choose. Regardless, the option is always there, with ample unit choices to go around.
Hearts of Iron IV
Hearts of Iron IV is a very specific type of game, even within the genre of grand strategy. It comes after Hearts of Iron III, which aimed to somewhat recreate the second world war. The oddness is still somewhat present in the sequel, although it’s not as railroaded.
This grand strategy allows you to choose any nation during this era. Therefore, the strategy of the game is quite a huge component. These include a lot of political schemes and concerns that all aim to keep your nation from collapsing.
The oddness mentioned above has been less present in the newer patches and additions to the game. Providing more of a sandbox approach to the game with scenarios not following the historical viewpoint but a player one.
The game strives to provide an interesting playstyle for every nation possible. These lead to fresh experiences on every replay. There are ample opportunities to derail World War 2 in the oddest ways, which is Hearts of Iron IV’s biggest advantage. However, it is also something that makes it a more niche grand strategy to play for those who aren’t as interested in the time period.
In the world of strategy games, the 4X genre holds a special place. Ever since Sid Meier’s Civilization brought the genre forward, the scope and complexity of these games have been growing. Nowadays, there’s a choice for every type of player, but the most common one ends up being Stellaris.
Stellaris is one of the most popular 4X games. It’s developed and published by Paradox studios which have garnered quite a good reputation for their strategy games. Stellaris is among the best of them with its involved nature.
As with every 4X game, your goals are to explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. Stellaris makes this loop even more engaging, with a whole galaxy committing self-serving acts while growing your faction’s power. The game gives you a choice of various modifications when first starting off, which will eventually become your faction’s species.
Species decide a lot in Stellaris, at least at the start. Giving players a rough idea of the playstyle and options to consider when engaging in each situation. The game requires time and effort to properly learn how to respond accurately. With all the moving parts, it’s no wonder.
The rest of the game will orient around these same decisions. Stellaris is a game about knowing how to progress and get yourself out of tough situations. However, once your empire has been set, very few things can shake it up.
Endless Space 2
Another 4X game, Endless Space 2, offers an interesting style of play. While your experience is impacted by the initial choice of the faction you play, as it is not locked heavily into it. An Industrialist faction can become Pacifists with enough tampering in the elections or by having a ton of assimilated races of that slant. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Endless Space 2 is a 2017 game, but its mechanics are unsurpassed even today in its niche. The asymmetrical gameplay of the factions is contested by the need to make snap decisions and changes to your playstyle.
What you thought would be an entirely science-based playthrough may turn into a war-focused one at a flip of a coin. The world is dynamic, but you aren’t helpless against it. Everybody can navigate through troublesome events with ample planning, understanding, and effort.
The game has multiple layers, each focused squarely on managing your FIDSI. FIDSI stands for Food Industry Dust Science and Influence, which are the resources of the game. Each resource can affect others in some way, making for a complex tapestry of interactive gameplay.
The goal stays the same as all 4X games, but the constant uncertainty makes runs even more fun. Coupled with unique quests for each faction and massive amounts of lore, Endless Space 2 provides an experience unlike any other.
Crusader Kings III
Stepping into the realm of grand strategies once again, we have Crusader Kings III. A highly anticipated sequel to Crusader Kings II, this game provides ample changes to make it a fresh experience while keeping the parts that made the previous game great. The game is also beginner friendly, as much as these titles can be, providing those who haven’t been able to get into previous titles a decent entry point.
The standard girth of options the grand strategy games offer is present in Crusader Kings III while also giving its own spin on the genre. The spin comes from the fact that you have to navigate court intrigue and issues that arise with your royal line to be victorious.
The sequel to the revival of the 90s franchise, X-COM: UFO Defence, is quite a fantastic game in terms of turn-based strategies. In addition, XCOM 2 provides players with even more options than the original, which already had a major amount of choices.
XCOM 2 has you control an organization of rebel fighters who try to undermine the authoritarian alien dictatorship which has subtly occupied Earth. Each battle has you choose a group of soldiers with unique talents to handle missions against the regime. There are numerous weapons and armor to research, allowing for a constant sense of progression.
The overall gameplay loop is all about choosing the best options against overwhelming odds and being careful in enemy territory. There is a constant danger of being overrun if you alert too many enemies, which is why some forethought is not only welcome but mandatory.
After all the battling, it’ll be time to return to the base. In the base, players have quite a few things to do. Here, we can research new tools, purchase items, recruit new soldiers, and expand our capabilities. The map will provide yet another set of options. These options come in the form of mission choices on the map.
Into The Breach
The indie sphere has quite a few unique strategy games. There are quite a few to pick from but Into the Breach deserves a spot here. With the extra content the game received for free a few months ago, this recommendation is even more deserved.
The game may seem like a simple turn-based fare at first. However, digging below the surface provides insight into what it is. It’s focused on positioning and risk management. There will be turns where we cannot avoid damage, but we need to know where to allow that damage to pass.
Into the Breach provides not only a multitude of playstyles but a multitude of approaches. It’s possible to choose outright power, battlefield manipulation, or complete focus on support. The player can also go for risky missions with more serious difficulty and acquire better loot or follow the path of least resistance which will grant fewer items.
Into the Breach is a rogue-lite, so mastering the gameplay loop is expected. Enduring the whole run with your team is challenging, and unlocking new items or learning new tactics is required. Seek out challenges, these grant medals which unlock even more characters.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
One of the original 4X franchises needs no introduction. Civilization games have been a significant part of the genre, putting down the groundwork for a couple of entries on this list. The game itself involves the standard 4X playstyle with some distinct important details.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI gameplay spices things up with wonders. Building a wonder is something a faction can do when certain prerequisites are met. These are usually tied to specific technology we may have.
Even the early wonders will require some setup. Having a wonder will be greatly impactful on the faction that builds it. These vary from stat bonuses for troops, resource generation boosts, or any other benefit.
There will be quite a few concerns on your campaign map. Maintaining diplomatic relationships, making trade agreements, and defending your borders being only a smidge of it. Military power is also a worthwhile choice as a solution. However, getting the whole world to fight against you is a bad choice, so choose your battles carefully.
The speed of the game is heavily customizable. With the available options at the start, each run is made into a unique game. Having a ton of available tools like this makes Civilization applicable for both short and long games.
Kingdom Two Crowns
With the upcoming addition to this franchise, it’s worth noting Kingdom Two Crowns on this list. It’s a simple but engaging strategy game that combines the qualities of tower defense, exploration, and town building. With this mix, we also get co-op to spice up the fun of the game with a friend.
Kingdom Two Crowns expanded on the original game, Kingdom New Lands, with many new features and content. With more options given to the players, playstyle changes too. Doubly so when you take into account that Kingdom Two Crowns got an expansion. Kingdom Two Crowns Norse Lands is a huge title for a decently sized expansion, giving players more benefits.
Compared to the other games on the list, Kingdom is a short game, but it’s worth the price. Also, the co-op factor makes it perfect for those with buddies who dig this style of play. There are fewer co-op games these days, so it’s a welcome sight.