The mind is sharper than the sword
No more of the mindless shooter! Enough of the bloodthirsty brawler and the tired, button-mashing fighter! You are a gamer of class, a cut above those entertained by flashing lights and simple thrills. You prefer games that challenge the mind and allow an obviously superior intellect to triumph over the slow-witted masses. For you, the strategy game reigns supreme, and you'd be insulted if anyone thought otherwise.
Now that we've appropriately stroked your ego, you're probably chomping at the bit for some good old fashioned resource allocation. But there's only so much enjoyment that otlder games can provide--sometimes we find ourselves craving something fresh. Click along as we check out some of the most exciting new strategy games on the horizon.
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth (PC)
Release date: Fall 2014 Pre-order now on Amazon
When a new Civilization title was announced at PAX East 2014, it definitely wasn't what most expected (namely Civ VI). Developer Firaxis kicked off a trailer that didn't show the ancient world of the turn-based strategy series' core games, but instead went to the complete opposite side of the timeline--to the future.
Civilization: Beyond Earth takes place on a technologically advanced earth and in space stations in the great vacuum in space. Along with the new setting, the game will have its share of new features. Players start the game by choosing a nation-based sponsor that provides specified bonuses to help you create your new civilization and and you select new affinities--harmony, supremacy, and purity--that determine your tech trees and win conditions. The details are few right now, but there's sure to be plenty of info coming on the hex-based time sink soon.
Galactic Civilizations III (PC)
When the time comes for mankind to conquer the final frontier, we can only hope it'll be anywhere near as fun as video games make it out to be. Exploring the galaxy, mining out asteroid anomalies, and negotiating with alien races is clearly the future for our species, so it's best to get as much practice in now as you possibly can. It'll be totally worthwhile when we begin colonizing the stars sometime in the next two or three hundred years.
Galactic Civilizations III might just serve as the best practice we'll get when it comes to taking that one small step for mankind. This 4X strategy title allows you to pick a race, expand throughout the galaxy, and duke it out with the other spacefaring species that cross your path. Feel free to bring a buddy with you up to the stars, but don't be surprised if he ends up stabbing you in the back.
Prison Architect (PC)
Prison Architect is a game of deceptive appeal. Why would we enjoy balancing budgets? What's so endearing about laying out cell blocks? Why is it that we're paying so much attention to the needs of our kitchen staff? Within minutes, however, it all clicks. Security guards keep the peace as they stroll up and down the cellblocks. Prisoners enter and exit the mess hall in an orderly fashion. You begin to wonder what the fuss is all about.
This is precisely the point where everything goes to hell. Fires break out in the showers. An inmate makes a break for it when he discovers an unfinished hallway. Half of your staff is killed in the Dirty Clothes Riot of 2014. Each astronomical failure becomes an incentive to dive back in--and thats just the way we like it.
Plague Inc: Evolved (PC)
Humanity does not deserve to live. Think about it--we pillage countless natural resources, ravage innumerable ecosystems, and are just as willing to slaughter other species as we are to fight amongst ourselves. When you come right down to it, we're practically begging for something to come along and wipe that smug grin clean off our face. So why not give it a shot?
Smartphone owners who have played along with the pandemic simulator can attest to the black-hearted joy that comes with exterminating mankind, and now Plague Inc: Evolved is bringing that warm, fuzzy feeling to the PC. Pick your disease, guide its evolution, and watch with glee as the most powerful nations in the world desperately bomb their own populace just to slow down the epidemic. Heartless, aren't they?
Say what you will about his work, but when Peter Molyneux talks, people listen. Fresh off the success of his experimental foray into the world of touchscreens, his independent studio 22Cans is looking to give the god game genre a facelift with Godus. While an early version of the game is available right now, it's Molyneux's promises of the completed version that has us interested.
Landscape sculpting allows you to create an environment ideal for your followers to prosper. Bestow technologies upon your worshippers to propel them through the ages, or send them across oceans to discover new worlds. Countless features have been promised, innumerable claims have been made, and it's just a matter of time until we see if Godus is the god game to end all god games.
Unclaimed World (PC)
It's safe to say that at this point, mankind has conquered the earth. No species dares to challenge our deadly weapons, overwhelming numbers, and powerful technologies, so why not take our winning streak on the road? Let's find out once and for all if we deserve to rule entire planets, or if we just got lucky.
Unclaimed World gives us that chance. You'll lead a group of interstellar colonists in their efforts to claim a new planet for the good of humanity. You won't go unopposed, however, as native alien species are just as interested in finding a bite to eat as your hungry settlers. It's up to you to keep your people happy, fend off indigenous wildlife, and transform your little colony into a successful civilization. But we've been doing that for thousands of years. It shouldn't be too hardright?
Release Date:TBA, Early Access available now
Disgruntled XCOM fans look no further--Xenonauts is the true sequel that you have been waiting for. While the recent Enemy Unknown looked to reimagine the formula, Xenonauts instead opts to keep everything largely intact. Investigating crash sites, mounting defenses, and supplying a threatened world is nearly identical to the old days, albeit with a bit of a visual update so as not to offend the eyes.
So what does Xenonauts bring to the table thats actually new? In short, quantity. Nearly fifty different enemy types, various mission types and areas, tons of equipment, and just under one hundred different pieces of tech to research means that theres plenty to experiment with in each play through. Besides, we wouldnt want the end of our race to be boring now, would we?
Clockwork Empires (PC)
Equal parts city-simulator and Lovecraftian massacre simulator, Clockwork Empires asks the age-old question: should one focus on increasing opium production, or instead secure themselves against the dreaded fishpeople invasion soon to come? This Victorian-era colony-builder starts off with the food collection and resource management you would expect, but throws in its fair share of curveballs.
Leave your scientists alone in the lab for too long? Explosions. Whalers returning home with a huge haul? Kraken. Food stores running a tad bit low? You'd better believe that Sir Whickerbottom is going to take a bite out of Johnny Coalminer's right thigh before the night is through. With automated citizenry, unpredictable hazards, and an emphasis on sandbox mayhem, don't be surprised if your first round of Clockwork Empire is nothing like the others.
Hearts of Iron IV (PC)
If World War II happened a different way--if Germany had a true strategic genius at the helm instead of that pesky Fhrer--would things have played out differently? Hearts of Iron III placed you at the helm of any and all of the countries involved in WWII, and offered a downright staggering amount of options to players. Whether you want to play a game where the US joined the war half a decade early, or jump into a match where Peru is forced to hold its own against the other South American countries, just about any situation was possible.
It was, however, overwhelming. Too many options and details made 2009's entry somewhat cumbersome, if not outright intimidating. Although not much is known about the upcoming Hearts of Iron IV the developer has promised to make the game as inviting and streamlined as possible. Perfect news for the war enthusiast in all of us.
Code Name: STEAM (3DS)
Release Date: 2015 Pre-order now on Amazon
Fire Emblem and Advance Wars have taught us that turn-based strategy is right at home on handhelds. They also have us salivating for more, so any announcement from the people behind those franchises is more than enough to get us excited.
Code Name: STEAM, however, is beyond anything that we could have imagined. The game places you in command of an elite team of steam-powered warriors formed by Abraham Lincoln to fight Lovecraftian aliens in an alternate version of London. Theres also airships, comic book-esque visuals, and--hold on--some kind of shooting system? Honestly, it all sounds a little bit nutty, but maybe all this crazy is just what the genre needs.
Salivating for the chance to lead some armies? Jonesing to build that ultimate empire? Don't feel bad--we're right there with you. Let us know which strategy games you'll be looking forward to in the comments below. And while you're at it, why not check out some New RPGs on the horizon for 2014 and beyond?