Though it's a much more popular genre on PC, strategy games have still come to Xbox in a big way this generation. For fans of looking before you leap, the strategy genre is the best you can do. We've compiled another lengthy list, this time looking at the genre of thinking first, acting second. Below are our picks for the best strategy games available on Xbox in 2018.
Deathtrap is a masterpiece in the tower defense genre to which many developers should look for years to come. It requires strategy and skill in equal measure in ways that few tower defense games can demand. With over 52 different map setups to complete and master, there's plenty to play in both single player and cooperative. There are many common pitfalls into which tower defense games fall, but Deathtrap deftly avoids them all, offering stable performance and a balance between the player and towers that is nearly impeccable. Better still, the fantastic depth to the RPG elements ensures that even hesitant players can find something to love in the game. Whether you enjoy action RPG combat or tower defense games, Deathtrap is a game that is more than worth your time.
Masters of Anima is an excellent game that serves as conclusive proof that Pikmin’s legacy is alive and relevant today as much as it ever was. The game’s foundation is its characters who are humorous and lovable throughout the adventure, with exceptional dialogue and voice acting to back them up. The world itself is lacking a bit in visual variety but it makes up for it in level design, which features linearity combined with a reward for off the beaten path exploration. The gameplay’s dual challenges in the form of puzzles and combat are both well-designed to take advantage of all six units’ different abilities so that you’re always confronted with scenarios that are interesting, fun and just the right amount of difficult. Ultimately, this is a game that came out of nowhere to take me on a surprise journey I never imagined I’d want to be on and I loved every second of it.
Bloons TD 5 is a game that simply makes you happy to play it. Its quirky monkeys and cartoony setting deliver a tone that’s fun and it makes everything you do in the game similarly enjoyable. The tone is backed up with a huge variety of towers, plenty of which are viable additions to any arsenal, and a set of tracks that are visually interesting and have creative paths which force you to adapt strategies that may have worked fine on previous tracks. While a poor difficulty curve and some lingering quality of life issues related to the game’s previous life as a free to play title keep it from a perfect score, the end result is a game that’s a joy to play and worth time from any fan of the genre or anyone looking for a little happiness in their life.
To this day Halo Wars remains one of the the most accessible RTS games to have ever been released on a console, and while it may lack the depth of some of its PC brethren, as an introduction to the genre it is still at the top of its class. The addition of playing it on PC is a welcome inclusion and something for which many people have been asking since the game was originally released in 2009. However, if you haven't already played Halo Wars and you're not contemplating playing it with a mouse and keyboard, the Definitive Edition doesn't offer much more over its Xbox 360 counterpart, which is already playable on the Xbox One thanks to backward compatibility.
Creative Assembly has taken the groundwork set out by Ensemble’s Halo Wars and improved on some of the areas that were lacking in the original, all while still keeping the game accessible and easily playable using a controller. The new Blitz mode adds a different approach to the RTS combat to which we have become accustomed, and the shorter, more action-oriented, matches give newcomers and veterans alike something into which to sink their teeth.
When looking at Wasteland 2 from the outside, it doesn't look like anything special. However, once you get stuck in and persevere through the initial confusion of combat and little direction you are given, there is a gem to be found here. The skill system makes every squad member useful, and combat can be a rewarding experience, despite particular issues it can sometimes have. The game has an alluringly addictive quality that makes you want to keep playing and strengthen your ranger squad, even if it does look a bit rough around the edges. It may not be flashy and appeal to everyone, but those who do give it a shot will be in for a pleasant surprise.
While a bit slow to start due to the sub-par tutorial, the game becomes more absorbing as you get a feel for it, research new tools, and try to save the crystal. The recruitment of new characters along the way adds variety, as well as researching new builds with which to beat back the enemy in new and interesting ways. The game would benefit from better explanations and perhaps a glossary of terms, as well as local multiplayer for when the going gets tough. Overall, despite the bugs, it's an enjoyable experience that requires the player to stay on his or her toes while keeping the crystal's light alive.
All in all, Aven Colony is a blast. Planning out the best places to put your facilities in order to keep most people happy is both fun and absorbing. Surprisingly simple to learn, the game makes it easy to quickly get in the groove of building and splashes of humor keep you smiling. There are times of frustration when overproduction keeps your storage facilities at capacity, but this is a very small dark cloud in the otherwise blue expanse of Aven Prime's skies. If you're into building games, you'll definitely want to give this one a try.
The basic Worms formula hasn’t changed since its conception in the mid-90s. While each new game in the series brings with it new ways to destroy your foes, its heart remains the same. Team 17 has done a great job at balancing the power and weaknesses of the new mechanics so that they feel like natural additions to the Worms world, and while some of the old weapons haven't returned this time, the game never feels like it is reducing your tactical choices. Worms W.M.D continues to deliver exactly what we have come to expect from the series and fans will not be disappointed.
The Banner Saga 2 presents a story that defies the middle episode syndrome, building on the rich lore and expanding its world in new and interesting ways to give players a wholly interesting narrative experience. It comments smartly on the role of a leader and what such a position requires while trying to beat those leaders into submission. It's a story of great scale and turmoil presented alongside a gameplay loop that does everything that it wants to do very well. It just so happens that what it wants to do is nearly identical to what it did last time. If you're returning to Stoic's Saga then it's more of what you enjoyed, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you're a fan of the genre and new to the series, The Banner Saga 2 is absolutely worth your time, just make time for its predecessor first.
Prison life isn't easy, that much I have learned from my time playing The Escapists. This game can be frustrating, make you angry, and want to quit altogether. That is, until that one thing you've been missing finally hits you and you make your escape out of a prison. It's a satisfying feeling that I haven't had from playing recent games. That feeling of accomplishment is one that a lot of mainstream games have lacked for some time. The Escapists, if you have the patience to figure it out without using walkthroughs, will leave you feeling a bit frustrated, but incredibly gratified. In a sea of ID@Xbox titles, The Escapists is one not to be missed.