Turn-based strategy games have been around for as long as we can remember. Ever since the genre first found stardom among tabletop enthusiasts, the kingdom has only continued to develop and thrive. Its popular subgenre, 4X, has been just one of the many products of its success, which even on its own is strong enough to shift mountains. And games like Civilization are, of course, ambassadors for such a prosperous throne.
Being a high-class subsidiary of the genre, followers tend to fall naturally whenever a new instalment to the timeline comes along. This has been the case ever since MicroProse first brought the world of Civilization to the market back in 1991. From there, it has been nothing but plain sailing. The only downside is that, with such a powerful status to back the franchise, others 4X equals tend to get overshadowed by its hold. But with that said, if you do go looking, you’ll actually find quite a lot of worthy alternatives. Just take these five, for example.
5. Age of Wonders: Planetfall
Where Civilization would usually stick to the historical quarrels and cash in on its encyclopedia of facts, Age of Wonders: Planetfall opts for an alternate route, one that sets itself apart from the bulk of its 4X rivals. Space, along with an entire fleet of whimsical races and classes, make up the majority of the turn-based strategy game, and when combined they provide a lofty sum of high-end fantasy and intriguing lore.
While the city-building aspect is pretty much the same as Civilization, its combat is torn from another book entirely. Battles are more frequent, and the game half expects you to learn to hone your skills before you learn to walk. And that’s great for those looking to indulge in a slew of fast-paced challenges, so long as you don’t forget to keep your culture afloat in the process.
4. Total War (Series)
Total War is a lot like Assassin’s Creed, in the sense that both use basically any time period as grounds for a video game. And yet, seeing how popular the strategy series is, it has become abundantly clear that Creative Assembly is doing something right, if not by the books then by its own grandiose vision.
Although it’s easy to feel threatened by the sheer amount of games in the Total War casket, you can rest assured that no two games follow the same storyline. Whatever your time period of choice is, know that it’s yours for the taking, and you can pull the strings in any way you choose, be it to enforce dominance, or establish peace and prosperity.
3. Endless Legend
From the creators of Endless Space and Dungeon of the Endless comes Endless Legend, a high-octane fantasy chapter that ramps up its former traits to new and improved levels. While keeping to its signature 4X style, the 2014 strategy game does go on to introduce the world of Auriga, a vast and open planet that accommodates not one—but fourteen races, all of whom live to prosper above all else.
From the moment you plunge into the world of Endless Legend, you’ll have the opportunity to side with one of the fourteen factions, which you must then lead into a new era through war or diplomacy. One bold move can change the fate of the world, and it’s entirely up to you on how you make it, and in which direction.
2. Master of Magic
It seems as good a time as any to bring up the classic 4X game Master of Magic, what with it being remade for 2022 on PC and that. Although it hasn’t been given an exact release window just yet, it has still managed to keep strategy fans on the precipice of anticipation. And for good reason too, considering its 90s debut was something of a treasure between copious amounts of cotton back in its heyday.
Master of Magic sees you assuming the role of an all-powerful wizard. With an eye cast over the far-reaching lands of Arcanus and Myrror, you must look to dominate your rivals and establish roots as the flagship faction of the wizarding world. With that, you can expect to enlist an army of talented folk to help turn the tide in your favor and put your colony on the map.
Humankind is Amplitude Studio’s latest and arguably greatest addition to the 4X kingdom. As a developer with a stern history of first-class strategy-based games, it comes as no surprise that the latest venture doesn’t fall far from the apple tree. However, unlike previous games, Humankind puts you back on earth, where you must evolve as a species and develop your culture along with the times.
From the second you split from the rest of the pack, you’ll have to learn to formulate a plan which will see your tribe conquer over all of humanity. Through extensive research and development, your minor faction can blossom into ambassadors of the species. Who will discover what, and which faction will lay the foundations for the generations to come? It’s time for you to rewrite the book.
So, what’s your take? Do you agree with our top five? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.