Guide to the games of 2016

Strategy and sims

Offworld Trading Company

Developer: Mohawk Games
Publisher: Stardock Entertainment
Release date: 2016
Link: Official Site

Offworld Trading Company

You might not expect a combat-free economic RTS from Civ 4’s Soren Johnson would be so fast-paced and cutthroat, but it is. The multiplayer strategy is set on Mars, where companies race to acquire resources, unlock new tech, and dominate the economy. Sure, you spend the game examining prices and the market rises and falls based on player actions, but this isn’t some spreadsheet simulator. The action moves quickly, the game can turn on a dime, and the end can come abruptly. It’s been in Early Access for most of 2015, but even so it felt very complete when we played it.

Rollercoaster Tycoon 4

Developer: Nvizzio Creations
Publisher: Atari
Release date: Early 2016
Link: Official Site

RollerCoaster Tycoon World

The development of the fourth major installment in the RollerCoaster Tycoon series has had as many ups and downs as a… well, you know. After ten years and several developers, the theme park sim is finally headed our way, although its first beta weekend resulted in yet another delay. We’re still hoping it’ll recapture the enjoyment of the earlier games and that Steam Workshop support and a planned multiplayer mode can take the game to new heights.

Factorio

Developer: Tomas Kozelek
Publisher: Tomas Kozelek
Release date: 2016
Link: Official Site

Factorio

Stranded on a desolate alien planet, you must build to survive. Thankfully, you’ve got help in the form of automation: the machines you build can be used to build more machines. It’s a wonderful, challenging, and extremely satisfying building/managing simulation that’s been in development since 2012. Factorio has been playable in alpha for a while now, and the trailer shows the incredible possibilities of growing a tiny handful of factories into an automated empire.”Ther.

Angels With Scaly Wings

Developer: M.B. Saunders
Publisher: M.B. Saunders
Release date: 2016
Link: Steam Greenlight page

Angels with Scaly Wings

I’m not sure I want to live in a world where a game called Dragon Dating Simulator fails to successfully crowdfund, but that’s what happened. Happily, it’s been rebranded as Angels With Scaly Wings, and has had both a successful Indiegogo campaign and gotten a thumbs-up on Steam Greenlight. It’s a visual novel about dragons falling in love, with elements of mystery, drama, and comedy.

Ashes of the Singularity

Developer: Oxide Games, Stardock Entertainment
Publisher: Stardock Entertainment
Release date: Out now
Link: Official site

Ashes of the Singularity 1

Ashes of the Singularity is mostly known for having the first DirectX12 benchmark out in the wild, thanks to its October 2015 release in Early Access. Ashes aims to harken back to the RTS golden age with massive battles and tons of units on the screen at once, with a game engine built to sustain massive battles and smarter AI than we remember from ye old Command & Conquer. Developer Oxide is planning multiple betas throughout 2016 as they close in on the final release.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2

Developer: Vertigo Gaming Inc.
Publisher: Vertigo Gaming Inc.
Release date: 2016
Link: Official Site

Cook Serve Delicious 2

The sequel to the hectic restaurant management simulator challenges you to build your business from a tiny cafe to a five star eatery and promises over a thousand recipes to cook for your fickle customers. The original was both tough and addictive, and while we haven’t seen much yet but a reveal trailer, the food in the sequel does look quite a bit yummier.

Endless Space 2

Developer: Amplitude Studios
Publisher: Amplitude Studios
Release date: 2016
Link: Official site

Endless Space 2

With Endless Space, Amplitude Studios proved they could make a 4X game with an attractive, parsable user interface. With Endless Legend, they proved they could do the same, but make it beautiful. Early looks at Endless Space 2 show a deeper political system than the first space 4X had, with elections for different star systems. Combat looks like it follows Endless Legend, with a focus on strategic planning and big picture decisions rather than micromanagement and individual ship controls. Like Amplitude’s previous games, expect this one to launch in Early Access and be polished through community feedback from Amplitude’s “Games2Gether” program.

Halo Wars 2

Developer: The Creative Assembly, 343 Industries
Publisher: Microsoft
Release date: Fall 2016
Link: Official site

Halo Wars 2

The first Halo Wars was a surprisingly decent real-time strategy game designed for the Xbox 360, developed by legendary PC studio Ensemble (you may have heard of Age of Empires). Sadly, Microsoft closed the studio as soon as Halo Wars was out of the door. This follow-up, being developed for both PC and console, comes from Total War developer The Creative Assembly, which certainly has some RTS chops. The CG reveal trailer tells us Brutes will be in the game, and we expect to see some Marines driving around in warthogs soon enough.

Total War: Warhammer

Developer: The Creative Assembly
Publisher: Sega
Release date: April 28
Link: Official site / Amazon

Total War Warhammer 1

Live in the UK and want to see Total War: Warhammer a month before release? You can do just that at our upcoming PC Gamer Weekender event, where we'll be showcasing great upcoming games and cutting edge hardware.

Creative Assembly finally breaks out of its slavish adherence to historical warfare simulation with a slavish adherence to the world of Games Workshop’s Warhammer. So far, it seems like a match made in heaven. Total War battles have never looked more fun (or frightening) thanks to giants who knock Imperial troops down by the dozen, greenskins riding on spiders, and magic spells that can decimate an entire unit of soldiers. The overworld strategy layer incorporates quest chains and loot for Warhammer’s heroes, with special weapons pulled straight from Warhammer lore. As longtime fan Tim Clark wrote after we first saw the game at E3, “Seeing the camera zoom over the warring armies was the realisation of the dream I’ve had since it sunk in that, no, I probably wasn’t ever actually going to finish painting the two dozen heavy cavalry which I’d persuaded mother to buy me for Christmas.” We still wish they’d called it Total Warhammer, though.

Worms: W.M.D.

Developer: Team17
Publisher: Team17
Release date: 2016
Link: Official site

Worms WMD

Every few years Team17 shakes up the Worms series with a slightly new addition, or a slightly new take on some staple of the 20-year series. They went 3D! And then back to 2D! And then 3D again! And then physics! They pared down the weapons! They brought back old weapons! None of these things are that exciting! Worms!!!! If you’ve played one Worms you mostly know what to expect, but W.M.D. is the first 2D entry in several years, and adds drivable tanks, helicopters, and enterable structures. The hand-drawn art certainly has more charm than the recent 3D, and your worms can have afros, which make anything better.

XCOM 2

Developer: Firaxis
Publisher: 2K games
Release date: February 5th, 2016
Link: Official site / Amazon

Xcom 2

Sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2 is shaping up to be more of the same except bigger and better. A tactical turn-based strategy game, XCOM 2 puts you in control of a highly customizable squad of soldiers battling to reclaim the earth from alien invaders. Outside of combat, you have to upgrade your base, manage your troops, and decide which targets to attack (or ignore) next. XCOM 2 adds new classes, moves, aliens, items, and whole lot more, including improved graphics and incredibly robust modding support.

Update: It's out now! Here's our XCOM 2 review.

Democracy 3: Africa

Developer: Positech Games
Publisher: Positech Games
Release date: 2016
Link: Official site

PCG256 feat democracy main interface1 rgb

Though it had some problems at launch in 2013, Democracy 3 has matured into one of the most interesting simulations on PC. Its political simulation has leveled out and new expansions packs for extremism and social engineering have filled in the edges of the political spectrum. Its model of industrialized politics is pretty good, but the game moving to Africa next year is going to come with a whole set of new challenges. Poverty, malnutrition, disease, and dirty water are all waiting for leaders taking charge of countries like Senegal, Botswana, and Kenya.

Duskers

Developer: Misfits Attic
Publisher: Misfits Attic
Release date: March 2016
Link: Official Site

Duskers

Duskers is a tense, spooky experience, made up of cautious exploration, careful planning, and sudden “oh shit” moments. Piloting a collection of drones through derelict spaceships, you only see what your robots see as you hunt for resources and try to avoid or disable automated defense systems and dangerous alien lifeforms. It’s currently in Early Access.

The Guild 3

Developer: GolemLabs
Publisher: Nordic Games
Release date: 2016
Link: Steam page

The Guild 3

It’s the middle ages, so things are generally pretty crappy. In The Guild 3 you can make them less crappy by building a dynasty and taking part in what sounds like a crazy ambitious combination of strategy, simulation, and roleplaying. You’ll build workshops, trade goods, and hopefully make the middle ages a bit less crappy for everyone all around.

Planet Coaster

Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Frontier Developments
Release date: 2016
Link: Official Site

Planet Coaster

The former developers of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, Frontier Developments, are working on a thrill ride of their own. Planet Coaster (originally called Coaster Park Tycoon) is being funded by pre-purchases and while there’s not a whole lot of information available yet, we have seen some impressive development video, showcasing the piece-by-piece custom construction of rides and scenery and a rather charming art style.

Inversus

Developer: Ryan Juckett
Publisher: Ryan Juckett
Release date: Spring 2016
Link: Official Site

Inversus

This single- and local multiplayer indie arcade strategy plops two opponents on a board of black and white tiles, where each player can only move through tiles of their own color. Thus begins a fast-paced challenge as each player shoot tiles to change them to their color in an attempt to block, trap, and completely surround the other.

Killers and Thieves

Developer: Alex Thomas
Publisher: Stoic Games
Release date: Late 2016
Link: Official Site

Killers and Thieves

You’re not just a thief, you’re the head of the thieves guild in this strategy game that’s part stealth, part management. Lead your team of sneaks to a procedurally generated city block, guide them in real time through locked doors and past guards, and fill their pockets with loot. If you get caught, that’s where the killing comes in. Spend your take on upgrades for the guild, new skills for your crew, and bribes for Johnny Law.

Stars Beyond Reach

Developer: Arcen Games
Publisher: Arcen Games
Release date: March 2016
Link: Official Site

Stars Beyond Reach

This turn-based 4X city building game takes place on a hostile planet, where you’ll have to explore, build, and either battle or befriend the other sentient alien civilizations living there. The eventual goal is to escape the planet with as many of your citizens as possible, or at least stabilize the planet’s dangerous machinations.

SpellForce 3

Developer: Grimlore Games
Publisher: Nordic Games
Release date: 2016
Link: Steam store page

SpellForce 3

The latest entry in the SpellForce series of real-time strategy RPGs takes place prior to The Order of Dawn in a fantasy world called Eo. Customize a hero, build an army, and engage in epic battles while uncovering a story that, according to the developers, will be suitable both for veterans of the series and newcomers. It includes singleplayer mode, online play, and a co-op mode.

Riot: Civil Unrest

Developer: IV Productions
Publisher: Merge Games
Release date: April 2016
Link: Official site

Riot

We saw a lot of good pixel art in 2015, but none of it had the grit and passion of the blocky police and protesters in Riot: Civil Unrest. Riot follows the real-life protests around the world, including big uprisings in Egypt, Italy, Greece, and Spain. Come up with your own strategies for playing as either the security forces or the populous. Even historical (or theoretical) protests will be playable through the in-game editor, which will let players upset or protect any city in the world. It’s such an important and unusual subject matter in video games. We’re looking forward to getting our hands on it this April.