Wccftech’s Most Anticipated Strategy & Simulation Games of 2021
2021. A new year, a new host of strategy and simulation games to look forward to. Last year was a good year for both genres, as seen in my list featuring the best strategy & simulation games of 2020. There were titles that I was expecting last year, like Humankind and Age of Empires IV, but they never saw a release. As such, you may see a few repeat titles from my most anticipated strategy & simulation games of 2020, as well as several new ones.
Certain entrants to the list aren't going to be a surprise. As I've said, you'll have seen some before. Others are big enough names that it'd be a surprise not to see them on the list. You'll also find some games that haven't even been announced yet, but we know they're coming so they make an appearance. If they don't, I'll eat my hat.
Without further ado, let's look at the most anticipated Strategy and Simulation games of 2021.
SEGA - Humankind & Football Manager 2022
Every year SEGA dominates this list, and with good reason. Total War has been an annual series for six years so I can only imagine we'll see a new release from the core Creative Assembly studio. Just in case we don't, and simply 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 that's coming.
Humankind - Genre: Strategy (4X). Platform: PC.
I've had a hands-off preview from Gamescom when it was first announced, as well as having a hands-on preview during the first OpenDev session. Both of these came with interviews too, me interviewing Jeff Spock, the narrative director at Gamescom, and then getting the chance to interview Romain de Waubert, the studio head at Amplitude, after my time during the OpenDev session. All I can say is that Humankind looks more impressive the more I see of it.
Games often try and fail to capture the brilliance of Civilization. Amplitude has already proven their excellence with 4X strategy games thanks to Endless Space 1 & 2 and Endless Legend. Humankind is looking to follow that path of excellence. However, instead of space exploration or the exploration and development of a new planet, we're following the full history of, well, humankind.
Football Manager 2022 - Genre: Simulation. Platform: PC (and others).
Football Manager 2021 marked yet another push forward for the series, bringing it closer to the real thing than ever before. Yes, Football Manager 2022 hasn't even been announced yet, but I am taking a stab in the dark to predict that we will see another release this year. Maybe it's not much of a stab in the dark considering the series has been an annualised series since it began in 2004.
Will Football Manager 2022 be another push forward, making it even harder for me to rate the game when I review it? I'm always hoping for the game to advance, become more engaging and engrossing. The issue with that is that I've spent thousands of hours on the series so far, that number keeps rising. Either way, it's something to look forward to.
Genre: Strategy (Real-time Strategy). Platform: PC.
Age of Empires is returning. I was expecting it last year, thus the inclusion on the most anticipated games of 2020 list, but instead we got the outstanding Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition. These titles are developed by different teams, though. Indeed, Age of Empires IV could even be part of the SEGA list due to it being developed by SEGA's own Relic Entertainment.
Information is still pretty thin on the ground, which is always a shame, much of it is just repeating what we've said in the past. They say that 'something special' is being done for the campaign. Mikolai Stroinski (The Witcher 3) has joined on as the composer. Oh, and Age of Empires IV is fully playable, now focusing on polish and balance.
Genre: Simulation. Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.
Entrant number one of what seems to be a staple of the strategy and simulation genres; early access titles that are either great already, or look like they could be great. Hardspace: Shipbreaker falls into the former category. Our very own Rosh has already done an early-access preview, describing the game as 'Tactile, Dangerous, And Delightful'. His preview, at the time, finished by saying this:
Your primary tool is a laser cutter that can either shear through metal plates and open up new routes or disintegrate the connectors that hold the whole beast together. When you cut through something you’re not meant to, the consequences aren’t quite immediate. Shipbreaker gives you just enough time to hold your breath and brace yourself against the void. It’s a thrilling, terrifying moment when you see everything is about to change, and having cut through every ship available, 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. Simply put, Hardspace: Shipbreaker is delightful.
Genre: Strategy (4X). Platform: PC.
Old World is a game that intrigues me, enough that I fully intend on doing an early access preview or at least an eventual review of the game. What interests me is the Civilization style of game but with a narrowed focus on a specific period of time. Moving from the ancient to the classical era, Old World seems to hint at Crusader Kings by focusing on story and character development, putting personality and personal choices to the forefront.
The game said to feature thousands of events. Many of these events are inspired by events from that period of history. Furthermore, these events are said to inspire and directly lead to future events, ensuring every game feels different, creating an emergent story each time you jump into the game. Simply put, I'm more than a little interested in forging my own path through history.
Genre: Simulation. Platform: PC, Xbox One.
Another early access title making the core list. This is also the third game to have also been a core entry in last years list (Humankind & Age of Empires IV). The difference here is that Ooblets has been released into early access on the Epic Games Store and has been well received. At least far better received than that announcement.
As for the game, it's more than a simulation game. Strategy elements, and more, rounding the game out. The mixture of Harvest Moon, Pokémon and whichever 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 collection aspect of the game, with them also having dance contests against other adorable critters. As it stands, Ooblets has fantastic potential, and it is improving, though it still feels like an early access title.
Strategy and Simulation Games of 2021 - Early Access Coming to Fruition
More than just the six titles mentioned above, there are many other games with potential. The majority of these titles are from smaller developers, but that seems to be par for the course with these genres. From managing an aircraft carrier during World War 2 to fighting off giant alien bugs, even to being the elected ruler - or dictator - during these current turbulent times in Democracy 4, there's so much to look out for.
- Stronghold: Warlords
- Kings Bounty II
- Starship Troopers: Terran Command
- Phantom Brigade
- Aircraft Carrier Survival
- Endzone - A World Apart
- Builders of Egypt
- The Universim
- Evil Genius 2: World Domination
- Industries of Titan
- Democracy 4
- Starbase Startopia
While the number of big named titles are smaller than last year, there's no doubt to me that the Strategy and Simulation genres have a great deal of potential over the coming year. Many games are already playable and in early access, others we've had the chance to have a hands-on and preview, titles like Hardspace: Shipbreaker, Flotsam, and Stronghold: Warlords.
There's a large number of titles to look out for, and I don't doubt there's even some I've missed out, ones that would be worth including. Feel free to yell them out below. As for the ones I've listed here, I could only recommend you take a look, see if you like what you see and get them added to your wishlist if you do.