2021. A new year, a new string of strategy and simulation games in perspective. Last year was a good year for both genres, as can be seen from my list of the best strategy and simulation games of 2020. There were titles that I was expecting last year, like Humankind and Age of Empires. IV, but they never saw an exit. As such, you can see a few repeating titles of my most anticipated strategy and simulation games of 2020, as well as several new ones.
Some of the entrants on the list will come as no surprise. Like I said, you’ve seen some before. Others are names important enough that it is a surprise not to see them on the list. You’ll also find games that haven’t even been announced yet, but we know they’re coming so they’re popping up. If they don’t, I’ll eat my hat.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the most anticipated strategy and simulation games of 2021.
Also on Wccftech’s Most Anticipated Games in 2021: Action, Horror, Sports and Racing
Each year, SEGA dominates this list, and for good reason. Total War has been an annual series for six years, so I can only imagine we’ll see a new take on core studio Creative Assembly. Just in case we don’t, and just because we don’t even know what the setting will be, I won’t add it to the list. What I will include, however, is Football Manager 2022. We know it happens.
Humanity – Gender: Strategy (4X). Platform: PC.
I got a hands-on look at Gamescom when it first announced, as well as a hands-on look at the first OpenDev session. Both were also accompanied by interviews, I interviewed Jeff Spock, the narrative director of Gamescom, then I had the chance to interview Romain de Waubert, the studio head of Amplitude, after my stint during the OpenDev session. All I can say is that Humanity is all the more impressive the more I see it.
Games often try and fail to capture the brilliance of civilization. Amplitude has already proven its excellence with 4X strategy games thanks to Endless Space 1 & 2 and Endless Legend. Humanity seeks to follow this path of excellence. However, instead of exploring space or exploring and developing a new planet, we follow the full story of, well, mankind.
Football Manager 2022 – Genre: Simulation. Platform: PC (and others).
Football Manager 2021 marked a further step forward for the series, bringing it closer than ever to reality. Yes, Football Manager 2022 hasn’t even been announced yet, but I’m trying a shot in the dark to predict we’ll see another release this year. It might not really be a stab in the dark considering the series has been an annualized series since its debut in 2004.
Will Football Manager 2022 be another step forward, making it even harder for me to rate the game when I review it? I always hope that the game will move forward, become more engaging and captivating. Problem is, I’ve spent thousands of hours on the show so far, that number just keeps increasing. Either way, it’s something to look forward to.
Kind: Strategy (Real-time strategy). Platform: PC.
Age of Empires is back. I expected this last year, so inclusion on the list of the most anticipated games of 2020, but instead we got the exceptional Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition. These titles are however developed by different teams. Indeed, Age of Empires IV could even be part of the SEGA list as it is developed by Relic Entertainment of SEGA.
Information is still quite thin on the ground which is still a shame, much of it just repeats what we have said in the past. They say “something special” is being done for the campaign. Mikolai Stroinski (The Witcher 3) joined as a composer. Oh, and Age of Empires IV is fully playable, now focusing on polish and balance.
Kind: Simulation. Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.
Entrant number one in what seems to be a staple of the strategy and simulation genres; Early Access titles that are either already awesome or look like they can be. Hardspace: Shipbreaker is in the first category. Our own Rosh has already done an Early Access preview, describing the game as “Tactile, Dangerous, and Delicious.” His preview, at the time, ended up saying this:
Your main tool is a laser cutter that can either cut metal plates and open up new paths, or disintegrate the connectors that hold the whole beast together. When you cut through something you weren’t supposed to do, the consequences aren’t quite immediate. Shipbreaker just gives you time to hold your breath and prepare for the void. It’s an exciting and terrifying time where you see that everything is about to change, and after cutting out all the available ships, I’m now holding my breath for the next change the game will bring.
I would recommend reading Rosh’s preview and then picking up the game again. Simply put, Hardspace: Shipbreaker is delicious.
Kind: Strategy (4X). Platform: PC.
Old World is a game that intrigues me enough that I intend to do an Early Access preview or at least a possible revision of the game. What interests me is the Civilization playstyle but with a narrower focus on a specific period of time. Shifting from the Ancient Era to the Classic Era, Old World seems to allude to Crusader Kings by focusing on story and character development, putting personality and personal choices at the forefront.
The game is said to have thousands of events. Many of these events are inspired by events from this period in history. Additionally, these events are meant to inspire and lead directly to future events, ensuring that every game is different, creating an emerging story every time you jump into the game. Simply put, I’m more than a little interested to forge my own path through history.
Kind: Simulation. Platform: PC, Xbox One.
Another early access title that is part of the master list. It’s also the third game to have also been a main entry on last year’s roster (Humankind & Age of Empires IV). The difference here is that Ooblets was released for Early Access on the Epic Games Store and was well received. At least much better received than this announcement.
As for the game, it is more than a simulation game. Elements of strategy, and more, complementing the game. The mix of Harvest Moon, Pokémon, and any other card game you can think of makes for a very intriguing title. The Ooblets themselves are adorable. They help out on the farm and provide the Pokémon-like collectible aspect of the game, with them also having dance contests against other adorable creatures. As it stands, Ooblets has fantastic potential, and it’s improving, although it still looks like an Early Access title.
2021 Strategy & Simulation Games – Early Access is coming to fruition
More than the six titles mentioned above, there are many more games with potential. The majority of these titles are from smaller developers, but that seems to be normal with these genres. From running an aircraft carrier in WWII to battling giant alien bugs, even being the elected leader – or dictator – during those turbulent times in Democracy 4, there is has so much to watch out for.
- Fortress: warlords
- Kings Bounty II
- Starship Troopers: Terran Command
- Phantom squad
- Aircraft carrier survival
- Endzone – A world apart
- The builders of Egypt
- The Universim
- Evil Genius 2: World Domination
- Titan Industries
- Democracy 4
- Starbase Startopia
While the number of big titles is lower than last year, there’s no doubt to me that the Strategy and Simulation genres have a lot of potential for the coming year. Many games are already playable and in early access, others that we were lucky to have in hand and preview, titles like Hardspace: Shipbreaker, Flotsam and Stronghold: Warlords.
There are a great number of titles to look for, and I have no doubt that there are even some that I missed, ones that would be worth including. Feel free to shout them below. As for the ones I’ve listed here, I can only recommend that you take a look, see if you like what you see, and add them to your wishlist if you do.