The Best Strategies of 2016

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Strategies are video games that require strategic, tactical, even logical thinking that’s often met with economic challenges as well as exploration. The genre itself branches out into turn-based strategies or real-time and, in addition to this, it might require the player to either focus on building a strong economy or get into instant and merciless clashes with the enemy.

The beginnings of this particular genre date from 1972, with the release of Invasion, a digital recreation of the table-top game Risk. 1980 marks the year of the first historical war game, Computer Bismarck, and in 1983 players are able to experience, for the first time, a game where the focus is on exploring, expanding, exploiting and exterminating, games that will later be widely known as 4X strategies. In 1984, however, players become completely enthralled by the game The Lords of Midnight, the best adventure according to Crash Magazine, as well as the best strategy of the year, a title given by Golden Joystick Awards. With the release of Dune II, in 1992, the expression Real-Time Strategy chimes in for the first time. Moving on, 1997 may forever be known for the release of Age of Empires, but the year 2000 blows everything out of the water with the release of the first Total War game. In 2002, a little game called Warcraft III sets the world on fire. Fast-forward to 2017, we look back to what were the best strategy games of the year we left behind!

XCOM 2 – February 5, 2016

From the masterminds, over at Firaxis Games, comes the continuation of the epic saga against the alien conquerors. XCOM 2 is set 20 years after the events in XCOM: Enemy Unknown and challenges you with five enemy classes, new gameplay elements as well as improved AI and tactical repositioning. All that’s left to you and your XCOM forces is to find a way to unite your people and eliminate the alien threat once and for all.

With a total of 100 points on Metacritic, AusGamers are saying that XCOM 2 is an amazing work of art and it’s a game that’s an absolute must for all fans of the strategic genre. New York Daily News are not deterred by the greater difficulty and Guardian are admitting that the game is a perfect example and what each continuation should strive for. Furthermore, PC Gamer it not taken aback by the deeply challenging but rewarding experience and they are promising to play the game forever. IGN are in a similar spot and are more that impressed with the tactical battles on the random generated maps.

Stellaris – May 9, 2016

Stellaris is a 4X strategy of epic proportions, as it allows you to explore the never-ending wonders of space as well as the possibility to rule with a whole empire. Doing so will not be easy and you not only have to be extremely savvy in the arts of diplomacy but you also need a unique skillset of a sharp general. Whichever way you choose to engage in, whether that be through peaceful resolutions or brutal warfare tactics, Stellaris is, undoubtedly, one hell-of-a-strategy.

IGN Italia finds that the game opens up a completely new perspective in terms of galactic dealings and is setting the bar higher for all future strategies. PC Games labels the game as Europa Universalis in space, and GameSpew perceives the whole affair as expertly crafted mosaic with splendid decorations in the form of 4X, epic strategy and unique storyline. PCWorld can do nothing but agree with the praise and they strongly believe that additional expansions would help Stellaris reach the complexity and fun factor on the same level as Crusader Kings II.

Total War: WARHAMMER – May 24, 2016

Total War games are a hybrid of turn-based and real-time strategic elements. The latest iteration doesn’t disappoint and it lets you manage whole cities and armies from the richly populated Warhammer universe. By having at your disposal races such as dwarfs, humans, orcs, goblins and the undead one could easily identify Warhammer as the best from Empire, Rome II and Attila, but in an epic fantasy setting.

Total War: WARHAMMER is a combination of an old classic and new ideas (Level) that results in a great fantasy battle circus (IGN Italia), with high production value ( and charismatic, challenging and intriguing strategic elements (GamerRadar+). IGN holds nothing but praise for the exiting ideas, memorable characters and adorable units, as well as independent mechanics of certain fractions. By stating that the game is the best of the two worlds, explains that there’s something for everyone, whether you’d be into Total War or Warhammer.

Hearts of Iron IV – June 6, 2016

As a direct successor to the third game, Hearts of Iron IV is fully focusing on World War II and it lets you achieve the ultimate victory by setting your subjects on a thorny path of conspiracies, backstabbing diplomacy and bloody battles. Aside from a complex system for technology, you have a wide arrange of questionable, but efficient political moves at your disposal as well as a impressive armies that’re authentic to the period.

It is a game that joggles management of land, naval and air units with the constant battle for resources ( not forgetting to take into consideration the extremely high level of authenticity and smart AI (WCCFtech), in order to give the players, the best possible experience from the comfort of your couch (GameDebate). Hearts of Iron IV, according to SpazioGames, learned everything that was to be learnt from the previous games and is now one of the best World War II war simulations.

Cossacks 3 – 20 SSeptember 2016

Cossacks 3 is actually a 2001 re-make and, as such, it once again takes place in 17 and 18 century Europe. Fans of the series will fondly look upon the return of the same 12 nations, 70 units, 100 technologies, as well as the 140 historic objects. The five campaigns have the power to seduce and remind you of the uniquely adorable and recognizable charm that’s complex enough to let you wage battles with 16 000 units at any given time!

When compared to other strategies on this list, Cossacks 3 might not be the best solution for living up to your dream of becoming the next Bonaparte, but most of the renowned sites that specialize in gaming had nice things to say about the game. To that end, IGN Spain points out that Cossacks 3 is a proof that old games can still be fun, and admits that the game eventually ends up being a good strategy with an abundance of fun elements and an amazing soundtrack.

Civilization VI – October 21, 2016

Civilization VI is a turn-based strategy and as a sixth main game in this widely-known series, the game is a product of deep complexity where you rule a civilization from its very beginnings. The road to becoming a world power, however, is filled with military occupations, technological domination or diplomatic superiority. It is a dream come true for everyone who’s into exploring, founding cities, erecting buildings and/or wonders as well as positioning military units and deploying them in defensive or offensive positions. Stray from the war path and you would find numerous possibilities for world superiority through developing technologies or spreading religion.

With even greater freedom, personalization, and complex but meaningful choices, LevelUp is under the impression that Civilization VI is equally fun as its predecessors and a true masterpiece which prides itself not only on its numerous gameplay elements (IGN) but also on complex and meaningful replay values (DarkStation). Riot Pixels thought that the diplomacy system and the user interface could have been done in a better way, and so did games with the clunky AI, but no one thought that this was too an issue big enough to damage the overall superb experience that gave a whole new meaning to the phrase: just 5 more minutes.

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