Best Strategy Games for Xbox One TechnoBuffalo 2021
When it comes to strategy games, you might think that the best games possible are only available using a PC, and that's where you'd be wrong. Xbox One has an excellent catalog to choose from, delivering everything from 4X ports and city sims to RTS battles. Out of everything available the absolute best game is XCOM 2
- Best Overall: XCOM 2 Collection
- Best Value: Banner Saga Trilogy
- Best Survival: This War of Mine: The Little Ones
- Best City Builder: Cities: Skyline
- Best 4X: Stellaris
- Best Real Time: Halo Wars Definitive Edition
Best Overall: XCOM 2 Collection
Twenty years ago, humanity fought—and lost—a war against invading aliens. In the years since, humans have more or less accepted their new overlord, but the remains of XCOM have continued to fight back using guerilla operations to do it. Now the time has come to leave the shadows and bring the fight to the next level if you want to save the world.
XCOM is a combination of grid-based combat and a base building game that delivers an excellent experience. You'll control four to six soldiers as they move across levels fighting aliens and using cover to shield them from attacks. There are four different classes, and soldiers will level up and gain new abilities, provided they survive the battle. As you play, you'll also deal with your base by building new rooms, creating items and researching new technology, weapons, and armor to be used in battle.
Each level is a mission that your squad will take on to fulfill specific parameters. Depending on the task, you may need to shut down reactors, rescue hostages, or kill a whole bunch of aliens. Strategy is a critical factor since line of sight and cover make a drastic difference, and moving too far too fast can leave you isolated and vulnerable to enemy attacks. While the campaign always starts the same way, it doesn't stick to a script, which means no two playthroughs are identical.
The XCOM 2 Collection delivers the best strategy game available on PlayStation 4, but you also get access to more than just the base game. It also comes with some excellent DLC, which wasn't available when the game launched. If you enjoy grid-based combat or base building games, then XCOM 2 is something to check out. Add the excellent story, fun graphics, and challenging gameplay, and it's easy to see why it's the best strategy game available.
- Challenging gameplay mechanics
- Great graphics
- Excellent story
- Gameplay can be unforgiving
- Steep learning curve for dealing with certain enemies
Best Value: Banner Saga Trilogy
The Banner Saga drops you into the middle of an apocalypse as a Viking caravan in the bronze age. Your job involves solving the issues in your caravan and fighting against enemies as you do. You'll solve problems within the caravan which includes speaking to party members and managing your caravan's supplies. The rest of the gameplay is combat based as you engage in fighting against enemies on a grid map. Even with the best of intentions, combat is brutal. You will lose people from your caravan, and even with a bit of cunning, those losses are going to hurt.
The story of Banner Saga revolves around the end of times, as the sun has stopped dead in the sky. The graphics of Banner Saga are all hand-painted and managed to bring the world to life even when the story becomes bleaker than you expected. Your choices here matter, and even when you try to do right by your people you're going to run into problems and watch as allies become enemies with time.
- Beautiful hand-drawn graphics
- Challenging grid-based combat
- 40 different classes of characters
- Gameplay can be very challenging
- Lack of a save function means you have to live with your choices
Best Survival: This War of Mine: The Little Ones
When civil war broke out in Graznavia, it left everyday people trapped between the army and the rebels. You play as a group of survivors during the war as they try to make it through by scavenging for supplies, protecting their shelter, and working together. There are several different people you can choose to play, each one with a specific skillset. Skills include being a better cook, having more inventory slots, or being a faster runner. Your goal is to keep everyone in your party alive through the duration of the civil war, which is easier said than done. The war usually lasts about 30-40 days but duration varies.
Each day, you'll have to make decisions that will determine if you survive that include building up your shelter, creating items, and preparing food. At night, one character will go out to a location to scavenge items to help along the way like wood, books to be burned, food items, and valuables that can be sold or traded with other survivors. Surviving isn't easy either. You'll have to combat the cold, diseases that can wipe you out, bandits that will attack during the night, and encounters while you are scavenging for supplies.
- Gritty graphic style
- Challenging gameplay mechanics
- No two playthroughs are identical
- Gameplay is difficult and does not let up
- The story is brutal and dark
Best City Builder: Cities: Skyline
City sims are generally a genre that only really gets released on PC. The console port of Cities Skyline breaks that trend fantastically. You start with an empty plot of land, and by creating roads, laying pipes, and dropping zones for residential, industrial and commercial districts, you start a city.
Cities Skyline gives you tons of control over the way that your city runs. Overlays allow you to adjust every financial aspect of gameplay so that you can fine-tune things. You'll have to build schools, police and fire stations, and more to ensure that your city stays safe as it continues to grow. As you level up, you'll be able to access new types of buildings along with expanding how much room you have to build. You'll also need to learn how to deal with issues like overpopulation, pollution, and how to keep the lights on when you run low on power.
- Tons of options for micromanaging your city
- New buildings, features, and attractions open up as you level up
- Hundreds of customization options
- Getting your city started is particularly difficult
- Lots of elements to become acquainted with
Best 4X: Stellaris
Explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. These are the words that kick off the gameplay of the universe conquering Stellaris. While full-blown 4X games are a dime a dozen on console, this stellar PC game brings an excellent port to Xbox One with most of the features that fans have already come to love. While it is missing some of the updates that PC users will look for, it still delivers tons of fun that will have you begging for one more turn before bed.
You'll start in a randomly generated star cluster, playing as one of several different civilizations trying to take over the universe. You tailor the ethics of your civilization before getting started, which lets you fine-tune the gameplay for the way you play. You'll colonize other planets and run into randomly generated events that make every playthrough unique. Micromanagement is a significant part of the gameplay as you figure out how to fulfill the victory conditions, but you can adjust the difficulty so that you're never overwhelmed by options. This is especially handy in the beginning because Stellaris has a lot of moving parts, and it takes time to learn how everything works before you can dive all the way in.
- Great gameplay mechanics
- Addictive gameplay
- Ability to take over the galaxy in several different ways
- Missing updates from the PC version
- Lots of moving parts make the game difficult to learn
Best Real Time: Halo Wars Definitive Edition
Set twenty years before the action of the first Halo game, Halo Wars takes you back to the world you love in an entirely new way. Real-time strategy games aren't particularly common on console due to the limitations of a controller, but this game manages to pull it and lets you control entire Halo armies as you try to knock the Covenant out of the game.
The Halo Wars Definitive Edition manages to deliver a fun RTS without some of the bells and whistles many fans of the genre may expect, but this helps it out when it comes to the controls. You'll see units you know like warthogs as you control an entire army in battles. The focus is always on the fighting on not as much on building units or bases along the way.
- Great real-time game mechanics
- Fun way to experience a different side of the Halo franchise
- Includes all of the DLC from the original game
- Graphics are somewhat dated
- Controls are lacking compared to PC RTS
- Lack of serious updates is disappointing
Xbox One does an excellent job of delivering a substantial catalog of strategy games, including several that you won't be able to play on any other console. No matter what kind of strategy game you're craving, there is an option out there waiting for you. Of course, out of all of them, the best of the best is XCOM 2.
This turn-based game delivers everything that makes the strategy genre fantastic: a top of the line story, great gameplay mechanics, the addition of incredible DLC and gameplay that changes every time you play through the campaign. If you love strategy games, this is the one that you don't want to miss.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jen Karner has been a gamer for more than twenty years and has spent countless hours trying to take over the galaxy and destroy the alien menace with her favorite strategy games. You can follow her on Twitter
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