The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The best PC games of 2012

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STRATEGY

DOTA 2

Publisher: Valve
Release: 2012

Valve are in a strange position with Dota 2. As the straight sequel to the Warcraft III mod that invented a genre, it’s The Man: the conservative stalwart for its more experimental cousins to set themselves against. It’s not an accident that Valve revealed the game with a million-dollar International Tournament at GamesCom: this is a competitive game to its core.

This means the same creep-farming, last-hitting action RTS mechanics that have undergone constant refinement since 2003. Don’t expect upheavals like Blizzard DOTA’s mounts, just a relentlessly tested and veteran-approved take on a classic.

Valve are looking to address rage-quitting by teaching players when and how to turn a gank into an epic comeback, and spectator tools are designed to make it easier than ever to watch and learn. If you take your ancient-defending seriously, this is the place to start.

Fields of Glory: Wolves from the Sea

Publisher: Slitherine
Release: Spring

We picture lots of wolves paddling little wolfy boats up to a beach somewhere, with special oars that can accommodate their furry paws. We get a hexagonal strategy add-on pack. Apparently this one packs over 200 new battle group graphics and ‘12 plus’ new historical battles. We can’t confirm how many more than 12 there are though. There could be 34,000.

Jagged Alliance: Back in Action

Publisher: Kalypso Media
Release: Spring

Rid foreign lands of harsh dictatorships in this remake of 1999’s Jagged Alliance 2. Unlike strategy titles that pit unfeasibly large tanks against unnecessarily large aliens, this sees you control a team of four mercenaries, with the emphasis firmly on tactics over firepower. A new ‘Plan and Go’ system recalls Frozen Synapse’s tense battles.

Legends of Pegasus

Publisher: Kalypso Media
Release: Summer

Yes, it’s another 4X space sim, but at least it looks a little more interesting than a Sins of a Solar Empire clone. There are three races: humans, the Xor and a third unrevealed class. The lead character will be able to jump between them all. Developers Novacore Studios are working hard to make sure its singleplayer campaigns are accessible.

Magna Mundi

Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release: Spring

“It’s just another Magna Mundi,” sang the Bangles, we think. Promising 400 countries and four centuries of world history, it seems to be along the lines of Paradox’s other Very Serious Grand Historical Strategies. Expect many, many pages of statistics, a manual the size of the Yellow Pages and country management complete with it own weather systems.

Prime World

Publisher: Nival
Release: 2012

The only MOBA to have a Zuma-like minigame built into it, Prime World provides a novel take on the classic DotA gameplay, leaning towards accessibility and opening the door to casual gamers. You design your kingdom in the game's Facebook component, raising buildings and researching tech that unlocks and boosts champions in the MOBA game--which is just as deep and hardcore as any you've played, with skill shots, twitch moves and terra-forming terrain that shows which side is winning. The all-important champion design looks promising, with inspired designs and unique mechanics, like the Rat Catcher sending his quick-yet-vulnerable mice minions to steal gold from all enemy players on the map.

Dragon Commander

Publisher: Larian Studios
Release: 2012

Dragon Commander is a game featuring dragons with jetpacks. We’re going to repeat that: dragons with jetpacks. It’s an RTS with RPG elements set in the Divinity universe, but... dragons with jetpacks. Dragons with jetpacks? Dragons with jetpacks! You can also marry a skeleton who has enormous apples instead of breasts, and fly with her on a magical aircraft carrier. Magical aircraft carrier! Because dragons with jetpacks.

Port Royale 2

Publisher: Kalypso Media
Release: Summer

The latest in the series of aquatic trading games. Set in the 17th century, it sees your young character enter turbulent waters – both literally and figuratively. You can either play it straight as a trader and set up trading routes, or steam in as an adventurer and commit acts of piracy. We know which one sounds most appealing to us. We’re not sure if it’ll do anything particularly new, but it’s certainly going to be solid.

X-Rebirth

Publisher: Deep Silver
Release: Autumn

The X series essentially took Elite’s space trading model and revamped it for the 21st century. X Rebirth is the sixth release in the series, featuring a whole new user interface and high-speed space exploration. It won’t be compromised by console co-development, either – developer Egosoft have promised it’ll be strictly PC only. Yay!

Wargame: European Escalation

Publisher: Eugen
Release: 2012

It’s a Cold War-era RTS with a lovely descriptive title by the chaps behind Act of War. A proprietary engine allows hundreds of infantry and vehicles to be rendered at once, giving the potential for warfare on a Supreme Commander scale.

Men of War: Condemned Heroes

Publisher: Lace Mamba
Release: Spring

Placing you in command of a Soviet penal battalion during WWII, the latest in the series looks to be the toughest yet. It’s intended to tell the story of these poor doomed soldiers. A brutal challenge for strategy veterans.

Gettysberg: Armoured Warfare

Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release: Spring

The free-to-play game is set in the American Civil War, but adds tanks, miniguns and a first-personshooter viewpoint to the traditional real time strategy. A pleasingly bonkers combo.

Naval War: Arctic Circle

Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release: Summer

Paradox finally get round to an RTS set in the present day, and all it’s all about boats in the Arctic circle. It seems Russia has gone to war with the rest of the world (didn’t they stop doing that in the ’80s?) and it’s up to NATO to stop them. Expect much chasing around the chilly waters of the north pole, complete with state of the art weaponry and ships.

Warlock - Master of the Arcane

Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release: Summer

Have you ever wanted to become a master of the arcane? A warlock, so to speak? Well, now your dreams have come true. Built on the hexy turn-based-strategy Majesty, Warlock lets you build a wizard up to warlock status by researching and mastering spells, and doing other wizardy things like growing a big beard and wearing a cloak.

Masters of the Broken World

Publisher: Snowberry Connection
Release: 2012

Hex turn-based strategies are a big deal in the eastern bloc at the moment. This gives you a whole broken world to, er, master. Starting as a bedroom project, it’s been picked up by Snowball Connection, who previously gave us Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword. True story: they’re marketing at retired Estonian schoolteachers. PC GAMING!

Carrier Command

Publisher: Bohemia Interactive
Release: Spring

A remake of the 1988 original, the new Carrier Command is a mixture of high-level strategy and real-time vehicle control with a sci-fi bent. Expect to pilot tanks, aircraft and drones from your comfortable seat on board a futuristic aircraft carrier. Not 2012’s highest-profile return of a beloved franchise, but it’ll chime with gamers of a certain age.

Crusader Kings II

Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release: Spring

We’re pretty sure there isn’t any period in the past two thousand years that hasn’t been covered by historical strategy games. Crusader Kings II begins in 1066 and covers the next four hundred years, and it’s focused more on intrapersonal relationships than ramming ships into the coast of Spain until you win. Graham’s already played a bit and he liked it a lot, describing it as: “The kind of history I can get behind.”

Scrolls

Publisher: Mojang
Release: 2012

Not to be confused with more lumpily-titled The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Mojang’s Scrolls is a card battler that is designed to scale from small-scale competitive matches to long-form campaigns. True to form, and much like card games of the real world, a degree of random chance promises to keep the game fresh. We don’t know how it’ll play, but the mind behind Minecraft has earned more than a little benefit of the doubt

Star Wolves 2: Ashes of Victor

Publisher: 1C
Release: Spring

This presents you with an open-ended campaign set in a galaxy on the cusp of open war. It’s always been a tough series to crack for new players, so we’d like to see Elite Games Team try to lower the barrier to entry a little bit.

Circus World

Publisher: Excalibur
Release: Spring

Jolly circus management with an Appreciation Engine that allows you to monitor how audiences are responding to your show. You can take a seat from a fi rstperson perspective and watch over 30 types of performer. From the maker of Populous.

Victoria 2: A House Divided

Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release: Spring

Grand strategy with a focus on the American Civil War, with new political, economic and cultural mechanics. Guide your nation through the upheavals at the birth of the 20th century and try not to get yourself shot in a theatre.

King Arthur 2: The Roleplaying Wargame

Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release: Spring

This sequel sees King Arthur return to the land of real-time strategy, complete with all the dragons and mysticism that existed during the era. Expect huge battles and some lovely visuals.

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm

Publisher: Activision Blizzard
Release: 2012

An expandosequel to the biggest strategy game in the world, the campaign focuses on one-time Queen of Blades. The new campaign allows you to upgrade Kerrigan and her Zerg swarm over twenty missions, while multiplayer has been updated with three new units per side. Almost everything else receives an overhaul too.


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