Without a question, fast-paced, action-oriented games have their place, but every now and then you need the adrenaline rush that comes from smashing foes with your wits. This is when strategy and tactics games appeal to you.
Between the strategy and tactics genres, there is a thin line. In most strategy games, you are tasked with managing all facets of the war, such as gathering energy sources and constructing bases or troops. The StarCraft games are a good example of this. Tactics games, on the other hand, usually concentrate on unit maneuvering and other combat features. Gears Tactics is an excellent representation of the genre. Games in either category can be played in either turn-based or real-time modes.
8. Gears Tactics
The main Gears of War games are cover-based shooters that put you in the shoes of muscled soldiers defending humanity against the Locust monster swarm. Surprisingly, Xbox Game Studios’ Gears Tactics—the franchise’s first foray into the turn-based tactics genre—retains many of the franchise’s traits, such as wild melee executions, cover-heavy locations, and waves of overaggressive adversaries.
The game’s tactical aspects include action points, travel lines, range cones, and the opportunity to recruit fresh troops. Cheap enemy spawning, on the other hand, might lead to some frustrating times.
7. Halo Wars 2
Halo Wars 2 is a real-time strategy game in the popular Halo universe created by Xbox Game Studios. Halo Wars 2 puts you in charge of building bases and armies to confront invading alien forces using a rock-paper-scissors combat system.
It’s merely a matter of developing the correct troops for the job at hand, whether that means seizing enemy bases, defending your own base, or surviving enemy waves, once you’ve familiarized yourself with your units and resource production. The straightforward architecture of Halo Wars 2 makes the RTS experience accessible to both newbies and veterans, but aside from the esports-friendly Blitz mode, the game doesn’t offer much to enliven the genre.
6. XCOM: Chimera Squad
The XCOM games are not for the faint of heart or the impatient. Random chance, permanent unit loss, and an overarching campaign that demands many hours of careful resource management are all part of the cruel, turn-based strategic gameplay. Unfortunately, inexperienced strategy lovers may find the game intimidating. XCOM: Chimera Squad, on the other hand, is a friendlier, more approachable XCOM game developed by Firaxis.
The premise and general feel of the XCOM series are retained in this spin-off game, but the stakes are lower thanks to a single city to defend, a small squad of different (and pre-created) forces, and a more forgiving combat system. XCOM: Chimera Squad lacks the savagery of the core PC games, yet it still satisfies your strategy cravings.
Stellaris, Paradox’s first effort into galactic-scale 4X, had a shaky start, but with to a number of major upgrades and even bigger DLC expansions, it’s grown into something far more amazing, and most crucially, far more varied, than it was before.
As we’ve seen with games like Crusader Kings II and Cities: Skylines, Paradox often continues with its games for the long haul, but Stellaris has reaped the most benefits thus far. In the spirit of slicker and wiser galactic empire-building, entire systems have been torn out and replaced. Its space civilization fight is now wide and strange, with gene wars and synth rebellions coexisting with the more expected likes of imperialistic aliens, and it’s a lot better set up for pacifistic play than it was previously. This empire has retaliated forcefully.
4. Civilization VI
There was a lot of dispute over whether Civ 5 or Civ 6 was the superior modern Civilization game (we even did a full post about it), but with the release of the Gathering Storm expansion, the sixth installment of the series can finally stand proud as a terrific strategy game worth noting.
Civilization 6 continues to exemplify the ‘one more turn’ mentality that makes these games so addicting. It also adds a slew of new mechanisms to bring the globe to life around you. It’s not just about schmoozing this civ or declaring war on that civ – you have to think about how you’re changing the world and how you’re working toward your goals, which come in a number of shapes and sizes.
3. Crusader Kings 3
The Crusader Kings games are a mix of strategy and role-playing games. You’ll spend time directing armies and conquering land, but you’ll also be concerned about the king you’re controlling’s daily life. You’ll be concerned about your vassals’ rival goals, wonder if your disdainful wife is upset over the dirty dishes or trying to kill you, and fear the charmless moron your daughter recently married. The stakes of these family dramas are just as high as the ones on your southern front, for if your ruler dies in the throne room, you’ll inherit their heir and be forced to live with the consequences of your prior decisions.
2. FTL: Faster Than Light
Many games allow you to play as a rogue starship pilot, but if you grew up watching Star Trek, you may have different life goals. A fantasy in which there are opponents on the view screen, flames in the engine room, and your life is dependent on a mysterious extraterrestrial passenger you met on your last voyage to another planet. This is one of FTL’s favorite kind of science fiction scenarios.
1. Starcraft II
StarCraft II is a multiplayer game with a lot of potential. Your opponents are human, thus they’ll probably be able to click and issue commands faster than you. You’ll lose a lot, but the more you play, the better you’ll get, making this a must-have RTS for anyone with a competitive streak. The PvE campaign is especially noteworthy, as telling a story in RTS games is difficult. Many games use cutscenes or in-mission speech, but StarCraft II allows you to engage with the universe outside of combat.