While 2016 wasn’t the best year for strategy games, we still got quite a few good ones to satiate our need to issue commands, conquer, and micromanage. We have galaxy-spanning 4X epics, as well as smaller scale guerrilla warfare campaigns that are definitely the best the genre has to offer. Feel free to let us know if we missed anything, though bear in mind we’ve spent a lot of time debating these games already.
Here are our picks for the best strategy games of 2016.
Developer: Paradox Development Studios
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
When it comes to strategy games, you don’t have to look far past Paradox Interactive. In fact, we’ll even go as far as to say that in my mind, the two are synonyms – “A Paradox Game” to me has always been that game that’s as deep as the Grand Canyon and as hard as fully armored battlecruiser. Stellaris is no different. It brings the depth and complexity of Hearts of Iron or Europa Universalis into the endless reaches of space, and does so well. It feels like a game that took the best elements of others and combined them into something else, bigger that the sum of its parts. For the hardcore strategy fan who isn’t afraid of a few losses on the road to learning, Stellaris is the one-stop-shop for all space empire needs.
Total War: Warhammer
Developer: Creative Assembly
As a fan of the Total War franchise from its very beginning, and a huge Warhammer nerd, I might be a bit biased here. But even taking this bias into account, Total War: Warhammer (Or “Total Warhammer” as the game should have been called – a missed opportunity in my book) is the best rendition of the Games Workshop fantasy universe to date. It combines what Warhammer fans love, along with what Total War fans would, to make a single bundle of joy lasting anywhere from 60 to 6,000 hours. It offers everything we’ve come to expect from the Total War franchise, adds the rich Warhammer universe seamlessly and goes on the warpath. There’s indeed very little the Grand Strategy genre can offer you that you can’t find here and it’s all so… Orky.
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Having been delayed to an early 2016 release, I wasn’t sure how well XCOM 2 will hold up against an entire year’s worth of strategy. And yet – not only did it hold up, but it has done so with honors. Showing us that a sequel can borrow from its predecessor and still provide its own unique twist, XCOM 2 comes heartily recommended whether you played the first game or not – it’s enough of a standalone experience for it not to matter in the long run. Since it’s original release on PC back in February, the game has made its way to consoles, and received several new DLC packs and community-made mods, making it bigger and better in every aspect. A strong candidate for any Christmas shopping you might have planned.