Back in the 90’s, I was a teenager and I was super into the X-Files so anything to do with aliens seemed awesome to me. It was actually in a PlayStation magazine where I found out about X-Com: Enemy Unknown.
I thought it looked so cool, but I had never played a strategy game before and the magazine made it sound like the game was super tough….. so I passed.
X-Com games would come and go, but playing that original X-Com on the PlayStation was something that I always wanted to do, but I never did.
Many X-Com games would come and go, but it was the 2012 reboot of the series, XCOM Enemy Unknown (yep they used the same name) that really blew my mind. I was a little older (well a lot older) wiser and willing to play a strategy game and that was what I did. I picked up the Xbox 360 version and I was hooked.
There are many games like X-Com and that is what I am talking about today.
This is regarded as one of the best turn based strategy games of all time and it is easy to see why. I got into this game thanks to the guys at Giant Bomb. They talked greatly about this one year during their game of the year podcast and it made me really want to give it a try. It has a top down style, similar to the old school X-Com game.
The idea of Invisible Inc. is that you are in control of a bunch of elite agents who have the ability to turn invisible. It is with this power that they can infiltrate some of the trickiest places in the world.
There are many different agents, all kinds of upgrades, classes and game modes. There is so much content in Invisible Inc. that you can play it for a year and still not get bored. It also has a fantastic storyline with some awesome cutscenes.
Phoenix Point is not actually out yet, but I thought I would future proof this list by having it on here. What we know about Phoenix Point is that it is going to be released early in 2019 for PC and Xbox One, so no PlayStation 4 version is announced yet. It is game that has gotten many strategy fans excited.
Phoenix Point sounds awesome and it is a game that is high on my radar for next year. Like X-Com, it deals with an alien invasion of earth and using real time strategy elements you are going to have to deal with these aliens.
The coolest thing about the game though is that while this is very much a sci-fi style game. The art style takes great inspiration from the world of H.P Lovecraft so it is aliens mixed with horror!
I love the Steamworld series and put a ton of time into Steamworld Dig so picking up Steamworld Heist was a no brainer.
This game is on pretty much everything, but the version I have played is for the Wii U. Robot space pirates are what Steamworld Heist is all about and that is something that I think is really cool. I really do love the art style of this game and on PC and the more powerful consoles, it really does look fantastic.
What you will be doing is taking control of your team of space pirates and you will be trying to kill the enemies.
Now, this is a real time strategy game, but what I really liked about this was the way that you do not just put in a command and let the game do it. You have to actually aim your shot! This takes the skill required to win a battle to whole new level. It also means you can be more creative and do things like trick shots.
This is a 2D style game, but I think that makes it even better. If you want a real time strategy game that is more action based, Steamworld Heist is the game for you.
A buddy of mine told me so many times that I had to play Divinity Original Sin 2 that I was sure he was getting royalties for every copy sold.
Thankfully I saw it rather cheap on the PlayStation 4 one day so I thought I would give it a try. Divinity Original Sin 2 is one of the most fun RPG style games I have played in a very long time. I know that it is a bit of a stretch it being on this games list, but if the action is what you like about X-Com I think you will like this.
This is a fantasy style game and it has some cool classes for you to choose from. You can be an evil looking elf, a zombie and much more. The creation tools are a lot of fun, but so is the game to actually play.
You get very invested in the story and more importantly than that, you get super invested in making your character the most badass warrior you can. They have made this a game that you can play any way you want.
You can go anywhere you want and sometimes it can be tricky to stay on task as there is so much to distract you. I had a blast with this game and it is very easy to recommend, especially if you love fantasy style RPGs.
I know that you will look at the art style of Xenonauts and think that it looks rather basic. Well, that is actually one of the things that I love about the game. In terms of style and story I do feel that Xenonauts is very, very close to what X-Com offers and clearly the people who made this game have spent a lot of time in the world of X-Com.
What made me take notice of this game is the way that it is set during the cold war. This is no normal take on the cold war though, there is an alien invasion and you are part of a huge military project that needs to keep these aliens at bay. You will fight the aliens and then take their technology to use as your own….. sounds very similar to X-Com doesn’t it?
Well, that is because it is and without a doubt, if you enjoyed X-Com you will enjoy this, especially if the old school X-Com games are what you loved.
Jagged Alliance 2 is actually a game I have not played, but my friend told me it has to be on this list.
It was released way back in 1999, but you can still get it on Steam or GOG. I really think I need to check this out though as it sounds like a lot of fun. It has RPG elements and of course, this is sprinkled over the real time strategy action that the game is all about.
A crazy dictator has taken over a small country called Arulco. You need to build an army and try to free the country from this madman. The graphics may not have aged all that well, but I have always had a lot of fun going back and playing these old school real time strategy games, especially ones that have RPG elements. Hey, I promise to go and give this one a try if you do!
Wow, talk about a game that blows you away. Let me start by saying that I freaking love Chroma Squad. I have played this to death on the PlayStation 4 and I am always hopeful that we are going to get some kind of sequel to it. If you have always wanted to play a strategy style game, but have been put off by how serious so many of them seem, Chroma Squad is for you.
The story of this game is that five stunt actors have had enough and decide to start their own TV show which as you can see is clearly based on The Power Rangers. You need to hire actors, make monsters, buy studio equipment and when your show makes money you can upgrade stuff.
This is an absolute blast to play and it is one of those games where you are having so much fun you do not actually realize you are playing a strategy game. I would go as far to say that Chroma Squad is my favorite strategy style game of the last few years.
I had the original Shadowrun on the SNES and while now I can appreciate what a fantastic game it is. When I was about 12, I could not get into the game. Which really sucked as it looked cool, had great graphics and I really wanted to get into it. I tried and tried to get into Shadowrun, but I never could.
Fast forward a decade later and the original brains behind the game created Shadowrun Returns. Set in a cyberpunk world, Shadowrun Returns is one of the finest tactical RPG games you will ever play.
I fell in love with the world, the characters and I was very invested in the story. The gameplay is actually quite in depth and I would advise that you take as much time as you can to beat up low level enemies so you get to grips with it. It has an old school kind of style, but this is one very polished game.
Hard West is one of the more bloody and brutal tactical games that I have played. This is a game that as you would expect is set in the old west.
However, Hard West has supernatural and dark magic elements and that is something I think is really awesome. It makes the world you are playing in much more interesting. Plus when you shoot someone in this game they blow up into about a million pieces.
With over 40 missions and different stories to play through, Hard West is a game that is going to keep you very busy. I actually really liked the combat, you can control up to four people at once and it is turn based combat and it may sound weird, but I actually got a bit of an old school Final Fantasy vibe from the combat. If you love the idea of the Dark Wild West, Hard West is well worth checking out.
Currently on STEAM, Templar Battleforce is rated at 10/10 with over 600 reviews. That right there tells you that Templar Battleforce is a game people hold in very high regard. This combines some different gameplay styles, all of which I like. You have a top down viewpoint where you will be taking part in strategic battles, army building all covered with some RPG elements.
You play as a pilot of what is called a Leviathan Mech which is pretty fantastic. You create your own team of mechs and then you will have to fight off all kinds of foes ranging from aliens, other human factions, and other threats.
There are tons of different weapons, strategies, and upgrades for you to use to your advantage. What I really like about Templar Battleforce is not just the awesome sci-fi setting. It is how the game is easy to pick up and learn the basics, but there is a lot of depth here.
I am a big fan of Warhammer 40K, but Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus has made it onto my list thanks to a buddy who swears by this game. I have played other Warhammer strategy games, but this one I have not yet played.
What I can tell you about it though is that graphically it looks fantastic. I really love the art style and in looking at the game to add it to my list, the art style alone has made me want to play this for myself.
In terms of the gameplay, my buddy loves how hard this game is. You will make your battle plan and then hope that it comes off. However, if you make a mistake you can pay dearly and it can have dire consequences on your game. I like the sound of this as the reboot of X-Com was like this. So while I have not personally played this, I can tell you it is a sci-fi strategy game that many people love.
What the heck is this? Was what I said the first time that I saw Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. It was such a weird game and never in a million years did I think there would be a collaboration between Nintendo and Ubisoft….. and I sure as heck did not think they would make a turn based strategy game. This is a game that my Nintendo Switch had in its cartridge slot for a very long time.
That is what Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is. This is a real time strategy game that mixes the characters from the Mario universe with characters from the Rabbids series.
I love the Rabbids that dress up as Nintendo characters. The whole style of this game is so funny that you will have a smile on your face the whole time you play it. Actually, that is not true! You see while this has a very cute and friendly look to it, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle can be brutally tough so you better make sure you plan your attacks just right as this is no kiddie turn based strategy game.
Released just a few months ago (well as I write this) BATTLETECH is a real time strategy game that packs a serious punch, or should I say packs some serious firepower?
The idea of BATTLETECH is that you are part of this intergalactic war where you do not just control the soldiers, you control these huge Mech’s that they pilot. One interesting fact about BATTLETECH is that it actually is one of the success stories of a game getting funded on Kickstarter.
The gameplay of BATTLETECH is a lot of fun. While you have a ton of control over your squad during a battle. You can also level up your squad, get new equipment, customize your characters and so on.
There is a lot to do in this game and sometimes the battles can feel overwhelming as you have to take control of so many characters at the same time. This though is something that hardcore strategy fans love as it makes every decision you make matter.
Thanks for checking out my games list. I think that all these games are worth checking out, but I want to give a few personal favorites. The first one I have to mention is Xenonauts.
I especially mean this if you love the old school X-Com games as it is very reminiscing of that. Shadowrun Returns is another personal favorite of mine, this has a great story, awesome action and it is one of the best tactical RPG games I have ever played.
Now while they not feature aliens or be serious like X-Com. My two favorite games on this list are first of all Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle which is one of the most charming turn based strategy games I have ever played, plus it is hard as nails. The other personal favorite has to be Chroma Squad.
It is such a weird concept and you would think running a TV studio would be kind of lame, but Chroma Squad is anything but. I think that longtime strategy fans will love the lightheartedness of this and it would also be great for people who are new to the genre to dip their toes in with.