What PC strategy games are in store for 2009?

January 1, 2009

Even though they often take a backseat to my WAR discussions on this blog, I am still an avid player of strategy games.  With that in mind, when I saw Big Download had a post on the upcoming strategy games for 2009, you could color me interested.  In their own gallery-style article (which I’m still not sure if I’m a fan of), the article went through several different games they are looking forward to.  I highly recommend you go through the article if you have an interest in picking up any strategy games over the next year.  I will most likely be buying at least a couple of them.  My thoughts on some of those games (when I had thoughts) are captured below:

Demigod – Gas Powered Games generally has a pretty good strategy record, and this title could be interesting, with the ability to control a hero-type character or a horde of smaller units.  Plus Stardock is the publisher, which is a plus in my book.  It’s on my radar.

Battleforge – Collectible card RTS?  I’ve never had anything inherently against card games, but this just seems to ridiculous to meld that kind of game with an RTS.  No thanks.

Sins of a Solar Empire: Entrenchment – Apparently the first of three “micro-expansions” for Sins of a Solar Empire, the surprise strategy hit of 2008.  I picked up this game last spring and enjoyed it immensely, although the lengthy games tempered my excitement somewhat.  Very good game though.  I’ve wanted since then to get deeper into it, but never got around to it.  I will definitely consider doing the micro-expansions (estimated to be about $10 apiece) when they come around.  Note that the beta has already begun for the first and is free to try with a preorder of the expansion.

Empire: Total War – I have never played a game in the Total War series, which I know is probably a hit to my credibility.  Lucky for me I really don’t have any, so I’m ok with that.  I don’t know much about these games except for the fact that they are routinely acclaimed.  That’s enough to have it on my radar – I’ll be following it more closely as it nears release.

Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II – I purchased Dawn of War off of Steam less than a year ago, and was less than impressed for two reasons.  1) I’m not a big fan of the contant dark, blood-n-guts theme the game tends to represent.  2) Company of Heroes did the victory point system better.  Yes, I played CoH (also developed by Relic) earlier than DoW, so I was kind of ruined on CoH’s excellence, which spoiled my DoW experience.  I am, however, excited to see what Relic has in store for the sequel – if they can improve upon CoH, I’ll most likely pick it up, despite the grim atmosphere that will surely be a part of the experience.  No base building is scary though.

Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor – I immensely enjoyed CoH, but again the whole no base building thing from Relic has me cautious.  I like building up my bases, dammit!

Unannounced Red Alert 3 Expansion – Without a doubt, I’ll be picking this up if and when it’s released.  Still having a lot of fun with the base game.

Starcraft II – Again, this one is obvious.  I’ll continue to follow Starcraft II developments on my blog as they surface.  Let’s just hope the game comes out in 2009 instead of being postponed.

After you factor in some inevitable surprise games, as well as the ones I didn’t discuss, 2009 is looking like it could be a busy year in strategy!

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Starcraft II Battle Report #1 Released

December 22, 2008

Blizzard recently made available the first of what will surely be many “Battle Reports” detailing some of the different features and gameplay found in the heavily anticipated Starcraft II.  I actually didn’t play the original Starcraft when it was released, but being the big RTS fan I am, I picked it up a couple years ago and played through it.  Definitely an awesome game which holds up relatively well even today.  Blizzard has done a wonderful job turning it into the big competitive ordeal it is now, particularly in Asia.  Unfortunately, I never really got into the multiplayer on Starcraft, as I don’t enjoy having my ass handed to me on Battle.net, which generally happens when you pick up an 8 year-old game.  So I’m hoping to get in at ground level on the sequel.

I’ve followed the development of Starcraft II casually as various details have come out.  For example, I know the same three races are around, and I know I heard they were going to release the game in three phases, the first of which being the Terrans, if I’m not mistaken.  I also saw from the first released videos back several months ago that there will be some old units and many new ones, but the gameplay will be fundamentally unchanged.  That means the games are still going to be fast-paced and exciting, which is good in my book.

While watching the video, I made some notes:

– I love the idea of a base expansion area protected by a barrier that must be destroyed by either side (1:00 mark).  That looks like it will add another bit of strategy to the early game resource race.

– It’s crazy how fundamentally different the races are, while still maintaining the balance that Blizzard is known for (I assume it will be balanced anyway…)

– Man, it’s been a while.  I may need to pop Starcraft I back in to get familiar with the races again.  I’m lost with the units and teching up.  Some look familiar, but not many.

– At the 7:00 mark, the Protoss player makes a micro move where he pulls back the unit in his group of Stalkers that was getting fired upon, causing the enemy Marauder to stop firing and chase, then getting worked by the other Stalkers.  Talk about an advanced move I never would have thought to do.  These guys are several leagues above my level.

– I know it’s similar to the first game, but I don’t like how many SCV’s are necessary – it looks like an army of ants gathering resources.  Why can’t there be two or three doing the same work instead of 20?

– Let me just say, I love watching RTS games with commentary.  I know that’s an extreme geek thing to say, but I think the commentary provides a lot of insight I would normally miss, given my relative inexperience in the Starcraft games.

So all in all I have to say it looks very fun.  This game is definitely one of my most anticipated, and this video was very well done.  I’ll be looking forward to more Battle Reports and further information on Starcraft II as it surfaces.  Who knows – we may even see the release before the end of 2009!