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Best Turn-Based Strategy Games to Play in 2019

Ben Leighton May 15, 2019

As you lay back in your chair, you use your mouse to scroll across the screen to survey your beautiful creation. You are the leader of a great and prosperous nation. Your armies, which you have raised and trained yourself, have conquered lands far and wide. The newly captured lands have brought new riches into your empire, unlike anything your people have seen before. You see the many trade routes that you set up coming in and out of your cities – symbols of your nation’s economic might.

This is a nation that is set to flourish for millennia, and it is all because of you: their leader and commander. Your thoughtful decision-making has made this the most prosperous nation in the world. Your success will make you a legend forever.

fantasy fortress sunset

Turn-based strategy games offer players the opportunity to sit in the captain’s chair and manage a vast array of assets that all working together to accomplish an objective. That objective could be winning a battle, repelling an alien invasion, or building a great country. Some turn-based strategy games can give the feeling of a live board game, giving players a wide view of a map or battlefield. Others can put people right into the middle of the action, giving the player the point-of-view of your soldiers.

Either way, a good turn-based strategy game will give players the same feeling no matter which game they are playing: the joy of building something of their own and watching it succeed under their leadership.

Here is a list of our favorite turn-based strategy games that should have you hooked for hours:


Best Overall: The Sid Meier’s Civilization Series

If I had a dollar for every time I said, “Just one more turn”, and then played for another three hours while playing Civilization, then I would be a very rich man. Known by many as of the most iconic turn-based strategy series of all time, Civilization puts players in charge of a nomadic tribe at the beginning of time with the goal of one day building them into a great nation. If that sounds like a generic goal, that’s how it is meant to be.

Players have an immense amount of options to choose from to build their nation exactly how they want it to be. But you aren’t alone in the world. The map is dotted with other civilizations and city-states, each with their own objectives, that players must be able to either work with or conquer as they play. However the map is set up, the goal is the same: beat out the other nations to become the greatest civilization in the world.

civilization 6 gameplay

The Civilization series has been around since 1991, with each new addition to the series adding a little bit more than the last. Most Civ fans agree that Civilization V is the best in the series, but newest edition, Civilization VI, offers some incredible gameplay on its own. Each game in the series is built with incredible attention to detail, deep immersive gameplay, and always an amazing soundtrack.

Sid Meier’s Civilization Gameplay

Whether you want to create a culturally-rich nation, a war machine that conquers the globe, the most technologically-advanced nation in the world, or a combination of all of those, Civilization gives players the tools to create their nation how they want.

There are five options for victory in Civilization: a Military Victory, a Cultural Victory, a Diplomatic Victory, or a Technological Victory. Each victory requires you to accomplish a certain goal. For example, a Military Victory requires you to conquer every other civilization’s capital, while a Cultural Victory requires you to build up enough Tourism points to become culturally influential over every other nation on the planet.

You will take each turn to order your units around the map and manage your cities’ production. Building workers allows you to develop the land around your cities, building military units allows you to defend your land or conquer your neighbors, and building settlers allows you to settle new cities and expand your empire.

Whatever you choose to build will determine the direction that your civilization will progress. Every turn is critical. A couple of wrong moves can set you back behind other Civilizations and have you scrambling to catch up in the race to victory.

While it might be tempting to hyper-focus on one aspect of your nation to try to push for victory, like your technology, Civilization forces you to juggle all aspects of running a nation in order for you to stay afloat. If you forget to construct science buildings in your cities, then you’ll risk getting mowed down by a technologically superior military.

If you lose focus on your economy, then you’ll likely have a penalty to your science research due to lack of funding. And for the love of god, don’t forget to build military units (oh hello, scary big enemy on my doorstep). Either way, players need to find a way to effectively balance all aspects of their empire in order to succeed. The balancing act is both fun and very challenging.

On top of juggling your cities and units, players must manage the diplomatic relationship with the civilizations and city-states around them. Civilization puts players in the middle of negotiations with leaders from the other nations. Whether you are negotiating the trade of luxury goods, a mutual friendship, or a peace treaty after a lengthy war, players must be ready to handle the different personalities and intentions of each leader.

You will be a lot more likely to be friends with Gandhi of India than Attila the Hun, who will probably be trying to bust down the gates of your capital.

The actions of other Civilizations on the map will also most likely force you to change what you probably thought was a solid plan for victory, like your culturally-focus nation having to rapidly build a military when a nearby militaristic nation begins stationing units on your border.

civilzation 6 strategic layout

While Civilization does have a bit of a learning curve for new players, the game does a great job of holding your hand at the beginning to help you with all of the responsibilities of running a nation. It may take a game or two for players to really get the hang of everything, but the lower difficulties will allow players to still have some success even after struggling at the beginning of the game.

Once your feeling more confident in yourself as a leader, move up to the harder difficulties where the game will really start to challenge you. And I mean really challenge you. Computer civs will get a huge boost to start with at higher difficulties, which forces players to keep their civilization alive against great odds and try to make up the initial gap between them and everyone else. It is quite the test, but it is a fun challenge for those who are up for it.

Sid Meier’s Civilization Graphics

The Civilization Series has taken its graphics in a few different directions. Most of the Civilization games are filled with beautiful maps full of realistic colors – dark greens, browns, and ocean blues – and realistic looking people, landscapes, and buildings.

civilization gathering storm

Civilization VI, however, has graphics that are more cartoonish than usual. The map is filled with bright colors and has some details that look like a map from the Age of Exploration. Not all Civ fans are a fan of the switch in graphic style, but none can deny that this game is beautifully designed on its own.

The best aspect of every Civilization game is undoubtedly the soundtrack. Each game has wonderfully written songs for each nation in the game that are worth a listen to even if you don’t ever play Civilization. One Civilization game, Civilization IV, even won a Grammy for its song “Baba Yetu”.

Sid Meier’s Civilization Storyline

Every randomly-generated map in Civilization is a sandbox for you and the other civs to create the story of your world. Will it be a world of blood and iron or a world of prosperity? That is up to you. The beauty of Civilization is that it is a different story every time.

Each game of Civilization can last well over 5 hours long, even on the game’s “Quick” mode. Games are exciting to start with, as many civilizations are rushing to grab up territory and build the foundations of their empire. The end-game is exciting too. With many civs nearing their victory goals, it can be a heart-pounding finish full of desperate moves and, often times, epic battles of the end times (nukes flying left and right).

civilization 6 modern era

One problem that Civilization has historically had, though, is keeping the gameplay from dragging a little in the middle of the game. Each edition of Civilization has added new elements to the mid-game to keep the gameplay engaging throughout, like the random “Emergency” events in Civ VI. But there are still times where there isn’t anything exciting happening in the game.

Those who are used to a fast-paced game, like a first-person shooter, might get bored of a Civ game after a few hours. But those who are fine with a slower-paced game will find plenty of important things to manage in between the major events in the game.

Sid Meier’s Civilization Coop/Multiplayer

Civilization V and VI each have options for multiplayer. You can either play online with strangers or set up your own game with friends. Civ also has a “hot seat” option for multiple players to play on the same computer.

civilization 6 middle age city

With Civ being such a long game, it can be hard to get through a full game in one sitting (be ready for a 5+ hour multiplayer session). Nevertheless, it can still be fun to talk smack to your friend as you build a world wonder a turn before them or burn down their cities (or do both at the same time).

Sid Meier’s Civilization Overall Review

With a wide variety of civilizations to choose from and many paths to victory, there will always be something new for you to come back and try in Civilization. Having personally logged well over 1000 hours of gameplay in Civilization V, I still have many civilizations to play and achievements to earn. From the beautiful graphics, the always magnificent soundtrack, and the engrossing gameplay, the Sid Meier’s Civilization series is truly a masterpiece and is absolutely the best turn-based strategy series of all time.


Best Combat Simulation: Total War Series

The Total War Series series presents a spectacle that not many other games can: showing full armies crashing together in real-time.

The games are an interesting mix between turn-based strategy and real-time combat. The Total War games have put players at the head of the Roman Empire, Napoleonic France, Shogun-era Japan, and even mythical forces. Whatever the setting, Total Wars allows players to build up their armies and strategically position their forces on the map before slamming them into their enemy in large, army-on-army combat.

Total War Gameplay

Before the big battles can happen, players need to prepare many things to ensure victory. Players need to they need to raise their armies, upgrade their cities to make sure they can pay for their armies, and strategically place their units on the map in order to get the best position for each battle. Each decision you make will impact how your next battle goes.

It is when you get into a battle that Total War really shines. You have the chance to see everything that you all that you have done – the armies you have raised, the defenses you have built, and the strategic decisions you have made – play out in real-time on the battlefield. Better yet, you get to control all of your forces as they collide with the enemy.

Total War’s combat happens on an incredibly grand scale. You can stay far overhead of the battle, which is optimal for giving orders or even zoom down to see individual soldiers doing their duty on the front lines.

The Total War series has introduced many different types of forces to control throughout the years, including samurai, Roman legions, and dark elves. Because of such a variety, Total War players will have a hard time using the same strategy on the battlefield for every type of army. The variety also keeps Total War players coming back to try something new.

total war arena huge battle

When you are not in battle, Total War’s turn-based gameplay can get a little too complex at times. There can be decisions that the game puts in front of you, like many of the diplomatic decisions that you have to make, that will have you questioning, “Why does this even matter?”. Thankfully, though, those decisions are few enough that they don’t distract too much from getting enjoyment out of the gameplay.

Total War Graphics

Total War’s turn-based mode features beautiful views of the world map. One recent Total War game, Warhammer 2, has a landscape filled with large mountains, lush forests, and shimmering oceans. The world is dotted with unique settlements of each faction, like the elegant cities of the high elves and the creepy hollows of the rat-like Skaven. The graphics are beautiful whether you are viewing the map from the atmosphere or down looking at the individual details of each city.

The battles take place in many different locations, like wide-open fields or on the outskirts of a city. The spectacle of seeing to see two large armies crash together never gets old, and each new War Series game gets better at portraying that. It is often times hard not to just forget your duties as a general and just watch the spectacle of the battle take place.

Total War Storyline

Each Total War game comes with a different campaign storyline that pits all the factions against each other in conflict. The upcoming Total War game, Three Kingdoms, will be set in China around 200 AD during the time of the collapse of the Han Dynasty. You will get to take charge of one of the factions, each controlled by a warlord, to either try and keep the empire’s fragile alliance alive or divide China up into pieces. Whichever path you choose, you will have to navigate diplomatic relationships, espionage, and, most likely, war.

total war rome commander

While the early Total War games were a little light on the story, more recent editions have presented much more engaging plotlines. The Total War series has never been known to have the strongest story ever, but each edition of the series presents a story that is engaging enough to work towards. Three Kingdom’s story looks like it should be a promising one.

Total War Coop/Multiplayer

Each Total War game has an online multiplayer mode. Setting up multiplayer games is easy in the online menus and it’s great to be able to engage with your friends or strangers in huge campaigns.

Playing Total War: Three Kingdoms online will be just like playing a single player campaign. All of the same diplomatic options are available so you can choose whether you want to form a coalition with another player or battle them.

total war armies clashing

Past Total War games have forced you to pick pre-battle whether you want to form an alliance or be enemies with your friend, so the change to a more open system will welcome some interesting gameplay with friends (that will probably involve some backstabbing).

Total War Overall Review

Total War offers a great mix of detailed turn-based gameplay and exciting real-time combat. With jaw-dropping battle moments and some interesting turn-based strategy, any game you pick in the Total War series will be a blast. Make sure to keep an eye on the new Total War: Three Kingdoms, which comes out on May 23rd, 2019, as this looks like it has the potential to be the best one yet.


Best TBSG on Nintendo Switch: Wargroove

In 2019, Wargroove was released because the developers quite obviously got tired of waiting for the next great top-down TBSG (Advance Wars 3, where are you?). The game’s pixelated graphics and character sprites harken back to the days of the Gameboy Advance, which for many people was the Golden Age of handheld gaming.

wargroove cover

Does Wargroove succeed at being a great “old-school TBSG”? It absolutely does. Wargroove takes some of the best gameplay elements from past successful titles, like Advance Wars and Fire Emblem, and adds on some additional aspects of their own, like map customization and platform crossplay. The result is an instant classic turn-based strategy game.

Wargroove Gameplay

As a commander in Wargroove, you have many different types of units at your disposal. Each unit type has its advantages and disadvantages against other units, as well as positions where its damage becomes most effective. For example, pikemen hit extra hard when next to another pikeman, while the battlepups (Wargroove’s adorable puppy units) hit hardest when surrounding units in a pack.

This makes for great strategic gameplay, as your unit’s effectiveness comes down to their positioning on the battlefield, rather than just sheer luck. The learning curve for this type of game is small (especially those who have played the Advance Wars series before), but the skill ceiling for this game can be as high as the commander of their forces is clever.

Wargroove has four different factions in the game: the Cherrystone Kingdom (a classic fairytale kingdom), the Floran (a plant-based species from space), the Heavensong Empire (a Japan-inspired kingdom), and the evil Felheim (full of vampires and skeletons). Each faction is wonderfully crafted, so playing a certain faction feels different than another one, even if each faction’s units are basically the same. Each unit even has a nice little backstory in Wargroove’s extensive codex, which is definitely worth taking some time to read.

Most important to your army are its leaders, who each wield unique power, called a “Groove”, that can change the tide of a battle. For example, Cherrystone’s young queen and warrior badass, Mercia, has the opportunity to heal all friendly units within a certain distance. This groove proves very useful when pushing an attack. Not all Grooves are very useful, though, so, unfortunately, some leaders are noticeably less effective than others.

Wargroove’s campaign starts out pretty easy as the game teaches you how to play, but the game quickly cranks up the difficulty by making players deal with some really tough scenarios as the campaign progresses. Wargroove’s AI knows how to use its units very well and it can make for a really tough opponent.

wargroove dialog

You’ll have to be on your A game while playing the campaign, which can be tough when many of the levels can easily take over an hour to complete. There are no checkpoints in the middle of levels either, so losing a hard-fought battle after an hour of gameplay can be really frustrating. The levels can drag on a little long, but the large variety of mission objectives throughout the campaign should keep you engaged enough to finish the story.

Wargroove’s default setting is on a harder difficulty, which is the way that the developers say the game is supposed to be played. But the game gives you three customization options to make the game as difficult or easy as you want. You have sliders to change the amount of gold you get per turn, the amount of damage you can deal, and how quickly your Groove charges. That level of control is fantastic compared to the usual Easy, Normal, Hard settings.

Once you finish the long single player campaign, you can move on to the difficult Puzzle Mode, the Arcade mode, or even to customizing your own map with the game’s impressively extensive map customizer. With all the gameplay options available, Wargroove has the potential to keep you engaged for 70+ hours, and that’s just on the single-player content.

Wargroove Graphics

Wargroove has a pixelated design that gives players the feel of an old-school handheld game, yet the design is beautiful at the same time. You can tell there was a lot of love for old turn-based games put into the creation of this game. Each unit and leader in the game are uniquely designed, making each one interesting to use and fun to learn about in the codex.

wargroove gameplay

There is also a wide variety of level designs – from forests to deserts, to snow-drift mountains. On the whole, the designers of Wargroove did a great job paying homage to the games that came before it, while also adding in their own design twists to make it feel like a unique experience.

Wargroove Storyline

Wargroove’s campaign centers around Cherrystone’s leader, Mercia, and her fight to save her kingdom from the evil Felheim, who have invaded her kingdom. It is a light-hearted war story that features some fun characters on both the good and the bad side. It isn’t the deepest story ever, but it is engaging enough to play to the finish.

After you finish with Wargroove’s extensive single-player campaign, the game’s Arcade mode gives you many more side quests. Each faction leader has about 3 or 4 quests to complete, which means a lot more gameplay for you.

One of the best parts about Wargroove, though, is the amount of stuff that you can create on your own. Through Wargroove’s customization modes, players are able to create their own maps, cutscenes, and even full-blown campaign tracks. Given how much freedom players have, it will be a lot of fun to see what people can create using this customization.

Wargroove Coop/Multiplayer

Adding on to its great single-player gameplay, Wargroove presents some extensive options for multiplayer. The game has the option for either local or online play, with each one allowing up to 4 players on one map for co-op or head-to-head matches.

The setup for Wargroove’s online multiplayer is especially impressive since it allows you to play cross-platform between PC, Switch, and Xbox One. You can take turns going back and forth like normal in online games, or you can even close the game and get a notification when it is your turn. The second feature is fantastic since it allows you to play multiple games at once if you want to.

wargroove map

Chucklefish, the game’s developer, has absolutely nailed the multiplayer in Wargroove. The studio has quite obviously done their homework on what players are looking for in a game like Wargroove, and all the elements they have added should make for a building a great player community for a long time to come.

Wargroove Overall Review

Wargroove’s developers put a lot of love into Wargroove, and it really shows in all the fantastic details they have included in the game. The beautiful design, the challenging gameplay, the wonderfully-crafted multiplayer, and the never-ending customization options make this game the gold-standard for top-down turn-based strategy games.


Best Character Customization: XCOM 2

Take control of humanity during its greatest hour of need during an alien invasion of Earth. XCOM 2 makes you the commander of the global defense force looking to expel the aliens from Earth. You must lead your squad through intense battles against a variety of enemy forces in order to ultimately stop ADVENT from completely wiping out the human race.

xcom2 targetted

For those looking for a fast-paced turn-based strategy game that will keep your heart pounding, XCOM 2 is the answer for you. While already three years old, XCOM 2 presents a great option for a turn-based strategy game that provides puts you right into the action and presents you with some tough strategic decisions, often times with a lot of emotional weight tied to them. I’ll explain why that is in a bit.

XCOM 2 Gameplay

The majority of XCOM 2 puts you right into battle with your soldiers. The fight against alien forces is one of desperation. A lot of your fighting will be guerilla-style warfare: attacking cargo transports, setting up ambushes, and stealthily taking out major targets. The game really delivers on giving players feeling of being overpowered by their enemies, so playing through missions can be heart-pounding and intense.

XCOM 2 gives players a lot of control over how they form their squad, from which classes they choose for their soldiers to even the soldiers’ names. Giving each soldier a unique name really adds to the brevity of the gameplay since it allows you to grow attached to your soldiers before their inevitable deaths.

None of the deaths are scripted, but often times you will have to sacrifice a soldier or two to complete a mission, and the fact that you named the soldier turns what could be a meaningless death to one that really hurts. It’s a simple trick by XCOM, but it makes for emotional storytelling, especially if you name your soldiers after your friends.

xcom 2 squad

Standing between you and victory is a wide variety of enemies. Commanders need to be careful how they move their squad, or else there will be serious consequences brought on from really powerful enemies. The wide variety of enemies and maps, combined with the constant feeling of doom, makes missions challenging and engaging throughout the campaign.

When not on the battlefield, commanders must manage the global fight against the aliens. That includes researching new technologies, maintaining communications with the rest of the world, and upgrading your base and your soldiers in order to build a force strong enough to defeat the alien invaders. One wrong move could mean a setback in the fight or even ultimate defeat.

XCOM 2 Graphics

For being three years old, XCOM 2 graphics hold up decently well. Player models look a little outdated, but overall the level design and the enemies look great for its age. One aspect of XCOM 2 that stands out is the amount of destruction possible on the battlefields. It seems like you could bring down every building if you wanted to. It not only gives you more options as a commander, but the increased destruction really adds to the feeling that you are in an intense fight.

xcom 2 laser gun

While in the action, the camera will zoom you around the battlefield to get you close to each soldier as you give them orders. You’ll even get a cool over-the-shoulder view whenever your soldier shoots an enemy. Giving orders is laid out very intuitively and makes gameplay that much smoother.

XCOM 2 Storyline

The story of XCOM 2 is the classic underdog story of a desperate struggle against an immensely powerful force. In this scenario, the aliens won the battle of XCOM 1. Humanity surrendered and is now controlled by a puppet government called ADVENT.

After going into hiding for multiple years after humanity surrendered, the XCOM forces are back to try and bring down ADVENT. You, the commander, need to win against incredibly difficult odds. There is a constant reminder in your headquarters of the impending doom should you take too long: a Doomsday Clock counting down to the time when ADVENT will destroy all of humanity.

The story itself is pretty good, but the emotional brevity of the story comes from your relationship with your squad. Since you have so much creative control over how they are named and trained, your orders for them feel that much more crucial. Any death of your squad feels heavy, even if death is hard to avoid.

XCOM 2 Coop/Multiplayer

XCOM 2 features head-to-head multiplayer battles that pit the ADVENT against humanity. After playing as the humans for the entire single-player campaign, it can be fun to take control of the ADVENT forces, who have some really cool units.

xcom 2 missions

You can play either public or private matches and choose between ranked or unranked matches. Given that it is a three-year-old game, there might not be many players left online. But it could still be fun to convince your friends to buy this game with you and fight them on the battlefield.

XCOM 2 Overall Review

With an engaging storyline, deep character customization, and intense strategic combat, XCOM 2 gives players a heart-pounding experience that is still worth experiencing even three years after being released.


Best Strategy JRPG: Fire Emblem Fates

Fire Emblem Fates is another great addition to the long-running Nintendo JRPG franchise. As with many other Fire Emblem games in the series, Fates offers a deep, engaging storyline, interesting characters, beautiful art design, and a fantastic music score.

Fire Emblem Fates opening screen

The game actually has three different storylines that you are forced to choose between at the beginning of the game. These storylines are titled Birthright, Conquest, and Revelation. Whichever path you choose determines the fate of your character and the kingdoms of Hoshido and Nohr.

Gameplay

Fire Emblem Fates gives you control over a squad of heroes, each with their own unique personality and ability. As you progress through the campaign, Fire Emblem gives you a wide amount of control over how you upgrade their abilities and over their fighting style.

There is a lot to prepare before each battle, like keeping track of your squad’s equipment to make sure they are set up correctly for battle. Not paying attention to your squad before diving into combat could mean a very tough fight ahead. Your team’s stats and equipment can be a lot to keep track of at first, but the well laid-out menus make your life a little easier as you learn your way around the game.

When in combat, players must move their squad around the map to maximize their stat bonuses in order to destroy the enemy. You get even more of a bonus by having heroes fight together often since they will eventually develop a fighting relationship.

Fire Emblem Fates combat

Fire Emblem combat is rock-paper-scissors, so having the correct units on the field to counter your enemy’s strengths is essential. Battles are generally pretty challenging – the AI is no dummy – but you can also make the battles as easy or difficult as you want since Fire Emblem has a difficulty slider. You can even turn on “Permadeath” if you’re feeling really crazy, which means that if your characters die, then they die for good.

Graphics

Fire Emblem Fates is full of beautiful Japanese-style visuals. The peaceful kingdom of Hoshido is full of lush bamboo forests, towering pagodas, and cherry blossoms. The cutscenes of the game tell the story of the game with a mix of beautifully drawn visuals and top-notch animation. The wonderful soundtrack for this game adds to the visuals to create a fantastic setting for the story.

Storyline

At the beginning of Fire Emblem Fates, you will have the opportunity to choose a path for your main character to go down. One of the paths is called Birthright, which tells the story of the peaceful king of Hoshido coming under attack by their evil neighbors, the Nohr Kingdom. You play as a prince or princess (your choice) of Nohr and you have chosen to stand up against your father, the ruler of Nohr, and stop his evil conquest against Hoshido.

Fire Emblem Fates cinematic

As you stand up against your home kingdom, you will be faced with tough decisions when facing off against family members. There are many emotional moments throughout, which makes the combat that much more impactful. Every relationship that you build along the way and each piece of equipment that you add to your team will make a difference as you progress through the story.

You have the opportunity to build deep relationships with, and between, squad members both in battle and during your time of rest. If characters form a bond, they can be found in your base eating at the mess hall together, bathing together, or even forming romantic relationships. If the romance goes far enough, you will have children to care for and raise as a part of your squad.

Coop/Multiplayer

Fire Emblem Fates has a base-building mode that allows you to build your own custom fortress to defend against invading online players. You can include things like mess halls, shops, and buffer stations for your own use or have them act as a defense.

Fire Emblem Fates review

You are also able to go visit other player’s castles to get more ideas for how to build your base. What’s unfortunate is that most of the bases end up looking somewhat the same, due to the lack of variety in build materials.

Overall Review

Fire Emblem Fates is a great addition to the Fire Emblem series and shows how good these games mix good storytelling with great combat. The game is only on Nintendo 3DS and it doesn’t look like there are any plans to adapt it to Switch, unfortunately. But for those who have a 3DS, Fire Emblem Fates is definitely worth the purchase.


Honorable Mention: Valkyria Chronicles 4

Set in an alternate universe of the European theater of WWII, Valkyria Chronicles 4 makes you the commander of the war front and charges you with the task of leading the Atlantic Federation to victory. This JRPG is a very unique strategy game that puts you right in the middle of the battlefield, and even firing the shots.

valkyria chronicles 4 opening screen

The game centers around your squad of characters, who you will see change greatly throughout the tough conflicts to come. Their motivations and their personalities may be greatly altered by the war that consumes them all. It’s storybook-like, anime-style storytelling, combined with its unique visuals, make for an experience that can only be had in a Valkyria game.

Gameplay

Valkyria Chronicles 4’s combat is a lot of fun. You are in charge of units that you can move around the battlefield to capture bases and take out the enemy units.

There are six different unit classes at your disposal: scouts, shocktroopers, lancers, engineers, snipers, and grenadiers. Each has a unique ability to handle a certain situation on the battlefield, so it is important to choose correctly while in battle. Alongside these units are your leaders, who are the main characters in the story. They are stronger than the normal units and have the power to change the tide of the battle.

In Valkyria Chronicle’s combat, you have free range to move around the battle map where you want until your move meter runs out, at which time you can perform an action or wait. The really unique part of Valkyria’s combat is allowing you to line up and take the shot yourself, rather than relying on luck. It’s a fun aspect that makes the battle that much more engaging.

Combat is challenging and forces you to learn the strengths and weaknesses of your units quickly or pay the consequences. The enemy AI will certainly punish you if you slip up.

The one downside of combat is the easy tendency to rely to heavily on one unit type. Some unit classes get so OP farther on in the campaign that it is hard not to just spam one unit class and completely forget about others.

valkyria chronicles 4 gameplay

Outside of combat, you have the opportunity to improve your troops before the next battle. You can go to your headquarters area to upgrade your battle technology, your equipment, and your tank. You can also head to the training field, where you can give upgrades to each character class. The upgrade menus are, for the most part, easy to use and make managing upgrades less of a pain that in other games.

The only downside to the menus is the fact that you have to scroll through every page after a mission to get rid of “unlocked” notifications. It gets a little annoying after a while.

Graphics

Valkyria Chronicles 4’s graphics are a unique anime style. The 3D battlefields do a great job of portraying the variety of European battlefields: from brightly covered grasslands to snowy mountains. The combat has a unique comic book feel to it. You’ll see words like “BANG” and “FOOO” appearing on the screen with explosions and gunshots.

valkyria chronicles 4 tank

Overall, the game does a good job of portraying an old WWII story through its presentation. The cutscenes play out like a storybook, with character heads framed in (what looks like) old photographs talking back and forth to drive the story forward. The menus and battle maps have a cool hand-drawn style that adds to the old-school WWII feel that the game is going for. The combination of the presentation with the very anime-style storytelling works well.

Storyline

As mentioned earlier, Valkyria Chronicle’s story is set in an alternate reality of the European theater of WWII. The game’s story is very anime, so it is filled with some great action, interesting characters, and some cheesy romance. While the storyline is pretty predictable, it is filled with characters that make it a very enjoyable journey.

Some characters are just there for comedic sake, like the hilarious soldier who is obsessed with tanks. But there are also soldiers in the game with a genuinely deep and interesting backstory. The combination of the two types of characters keeps you invested in your soldiers and makes your decisions in a battle that much more impactful.

valkyria chronicles 4 dialog

The storyline of Valkyria Chronicles lasts anywhere from 40 – 60 hours, depending on how thoroughly you play. While cutscenes can be a little long at times, they are few and far between enough to not get in the way of what you are really playing the game for – the combat.

Overall Review

Valkyria Chronicles 4 offers a very unique strategy JRPG experience with a beautiful art style and awesome combat. Though a bit cheesy, the storyline of Valkyria Chronicles 4 should keep you engaged throughout through its 40+ hours of epic battles.


Honorable Mention: Final Fantasy Tactics

For those who are already fans of the hugely popular Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy Tactics offers a great turn-based strategy game using the same lore and settings of the Final Fantasy world. Originally released on the original PlayStation back in 1997, this offshoot of the main Final Fantasy series was so well received that many fans consider this to be the best Final Fantasy game ever made.

Gameplay

Final Fantasy Tactics employs the usual combat elements of a turn-based strategy game and adds depth to it in a masterful way. Just like any other turn-based game, you have to strategically move your units around the map to outfox your opponent and defeat them.

final fantasy tactics gameplay

No two battles of Final Fantasy Tactics are ever the same. Similar to Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy Tactic’s job system lets you assign a specific role to each character, which includes black mage, white mage, dragoon, or ninja. On top of that, you are also able to assign character abilities to change or upgrade how your characters fight.

With the combination of the job system and a large number of character abilities, you have endless possibilities for how to upgrade your characters to send into battle. Whether you want to create a squad of heavy hitters to use brute force, or just sit back and hit your enemies with range, Final Fantasy Tactics gives you the ability to do so.

Those familiar with the Final Fantasy series will see many familiar elements to other games. You will cast familiar spells, summon the usual monsters, and defeat familiar fiends. Even the setting of the game, the Kingdom of Ivalice, has been used in other Final Fantasy games. Overall, the game looks and feels like you are playing a Final Fantasy game.

Graphics

The game was originally made for the original PlayStation, so be prepared for some older graphics. The 3D maps add aspects of elevation to the battles, which is a pretty cool feature for a 90’s game. One aspect of this game that will never be outdated though is the soundtrack. It’s ethereal, wispy music is beautiful and it is definitely one of the best soundtracks in any Final Fantasy game, and that’s saying something.

Storyline

The story of Final Fantasy Tactics is set in the Kingdom of Ivalice, which has been at war for the past 50 years. When the war comes to an end, the kingdom is racked with debt and that results in many soldiers going unpaid. Outraged, many soldiers resort to banditry and cause chaos all over the kingdom.

As if it couldn’t get any worse for the Kingdom of Ivalice, the king dies. Left behind to rule are two potential heirs to the throne, his infant son and his adopted daughter. After the death of the king, people take sides behind each potential heir to the throne and eventually start a new war called the “War of the Lions”.

final fantasy tactics gameplay combat

The story of Final Fantasy Tactics is a simple one but turns out to be one of the better stories of the Final Fantasy series. It is a story full of honor, corruption, greed, politics, and betrayal. There are some moments of dialogue that were poorly translated from Japanese, which can ruin some moments, but most of the game makes for a compelling story.

Overall Review

Even with its age, Final Fantasy Tactics remains a great strategy JRPG game with some fun combat and amazingly deep character customization options. If you have an original Playstation, it may be easier than you think to pick up this popular title. There was also a remake made for the PSP, which had some problems with bugs, but it would still make for a great time.


Best Turn-Based Strategy Game: Final Verdict

The Turn-Based Strategy genre has a wide variety of games that you can choose from. But the common theme in each game is giving you, the commander, the power to develop your people and lead them to victory through your decision making. It all rests on your shoulders.

For those looking for games similar to turn-based strategy games, make sure to check out are articles on the best strategy games and the best real-time strategy games. Until next time, gamers.

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