The Wargamer's Videogame Guide to 2017

By Sean Couture 10 Jan 2017 2

The dust of 2016 has finally settled and we grogs have bunkered down, frantically scanning the horizon for whatever may come next. Being a niche in a niche we’re used to going weeks on end without any sort of news reaching us but it doesn’t matter because we know the wait can often be worth it. Surely, the war hasn’t ended without us realizing.

To help us bide our time as we clean our weapon and try to recall the name of that one game we played in the summer of 98’ we here at Wargamer have compiled a list of what we have to look forward to over the next year. We'll try and keep this article up to date as we go along.

List is correct as of: 13th January, 2017.

Titles with Retail Releases in 2017

Close Combat - The Bloody First (Matrix Games)

To start with, we have Matrix/Slitherine’s remake of the Close Combat series with Close Combat - The Bloody First. This game has a lot to live up to whilst also hopefully improving on its predecessors. Fans of the Close Combat series that have grown a little weary of the two decade old engine it runs on will be pleased to hear this new game is running on a completely different, 3D based engine.

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Sadly there’s very little details on the game yet and few screenshots, but according to an official post in the Matrix Forums it’s due Q2 of this year with beta testing starting up at some point this month.

The Operational Art of War IV (Matrix Games)

This one actually started out as an update for its predecessor before getting bumped up to full release status. Because Matrix tends to be very tight lipped when it comes to talking about games early, there’s few details.

This secrecy extends to release dates as well, although the current rumours hint at Q2 of this year.

Afghanistan ’11 (Matrix Games)

I’d say Vietnam ‘65 may have been my biggest surprise of 2015. Despite the relative simplicity it impressed itself on me and wargamers alike due to its fun take on asymmetrical/guerrilla warfare.

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The studio behind it, Every Single Soldier and their new partners RetroEpic software, are following up on that success with Afghanistan ‘11 which will take the same formula to the Middle East. We’ve been promised more depth, a full campaign, and several new mechanics such as Afghanistan elections and foreign aid. It is expected sometime during Q1 2017.

Sudden Strike 4 (Kalypso Media)

Besides looking absolutely stunning, Sudden Strike 4 is promising several features new to the series such as being able to pick from commanders who have unique abilities a la Company of Heroes, as well as Steam Workshop support. This game lands somewhere in that no man’s land of RTS vs. Wargame, but it’s good enough for us.

Sudden Strike 4 is slated for a release sometime in spring of this year.

Panzer Battles 3 (Wargame Design Studio)

This is a quick mention - we're not 100% sure if this game is releasing in 2017 but the studio has started testing and things seem to be coming a long fine. There may be a demo released this year, but WDS is working on a lot of different Panzer Battles projects so it's a little hard to tell what's what.

We'll keep this entry updated as the year progresses, but you can read more about Panzer Battles 3 here.

Shock Tactics (Point Blank Games)

Another XCOM inspired game, Shock Tactics puts the players in the shoes of the first wave of "Space Pioneers" who are exploring an ancient Alien homeworld. This is a single-player (only, from what we can tell) turn-based affair in a sci-fi setting.

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Players will control and manage their squad, unlocking new abilities and weapons for their strike team. The game also features exploration and base-building on a procedurally generated world map for an added twist. Shock Tactics has already been delayed from late last year to early this year, but it should be releasing sometime in Q1.

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam (Tripwire Interactive) 

The Rising Storm series returns this year with Rising Storm 2: Vietnam. Ditching the tried and true WW2 setting, this new title drops players right in the middle of some good old fashioned asymmetrical, politically cagey guerrilla warfare. It promises matches big and small from huge battles involving thirty two (I wouldn’t call that huge –ED) per side to smaller firefights between eight man squads.

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Tripwire has mentioned numerous times in interviews how this entry in the series goes out of its way to represent the particulars of this conflict. We see the word ‘brutal’ used a lot. Rising Storm 2: Vietnam is due early 2017.  

Warhammer 40k: Sanctus Reach (Matrix Games)

Last but not least for retail releases is Warhammer 40,000: Sanctus Reach, which for all intents and purposes is the closest thing we’ve ever gotten to a digitized version of the Warhammer 40k tabletop game.

It promises two campaigns along with a skirmish mode and online multiplayer though sadly it only has two factions (Space Marines and Orks) at the moment so fans of the other races will have to look elsewhere. Editor Joe wrote a preview you can read here.

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Sanctus Reach is due out on Steam and direct from Matrix on January 19th, 2017.

Titles (supposedly) Leaving Early Access in 2017

Ultimate General: Civil War (Game-Labs)

From here on out we are into EA territory, so remember this is all provisional and based off what information is publicly available.

To start us off we have Ultimate General: Civil War which our brave field commander James Cobb had a look at not long ago - you can give his article a look if you’re in need of more details.

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According to the steam page developer Game-Labs are only keeping the game in EA for two to four months. Since it started its life in EA back in November of 2016 its release shouldn’t be far off now – either this month or next month at the latest. 

Sovereignty: Crown of Kings (Matrix Games/Slitherine)

This is more of a grand-strategy game than a straight-up wargame, although it does have controllable tactical battles a la Total War. We’ve been keeping an eye on for some time now and I would personally describe Sovereignty: Crown of Kings as Age of Wonders with a Slitherine twist.

It’s rumored to be leaving the safety of EA sometime this year, although it’s been delayed and pushed backed several times already. Still, we can’t wait to give it a full review. This game is due to leave Early Access on February 2nd, 2017.

Warbands: Bushido (Red Unit Studios)

A title that snuck its way under most people’s radar last year, Warbands: Bushido describes itself as a digitised miniatures board game, and has many of the trappings of a skirmish-based tactical wargame.

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Players face off in Feudal Japan with small bands samurai, archers, Ronin and other types of warriors of the period in quick five to ten minute games.

At the moment it’s multiplayer-only but the devs are planning a full story driven single player for its full release sometime in spring.

Battle Brothers (Overhype Studios)

This is a turn-based fantasy affair with some added RPG mechanics. Battle Brothers has you adventuring across the land with your band of misfit mercenaries stirring up trouble wherever they go; perma-death lurks around every corner in true XCOM fashion, so you'll want to try and keep your guys alive.

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For the eighteen-ish months this has been in early access it's garnered a hefty amount of praise for its difficulty and promotion of player freedom. Now the time has come for it to enter the big leagues, with a full release due sometime early this year.

Divided We Fall (KAVA Game Studio)

Divided We Fall is a multiplayer-only tactics wargame where players battle it out either one-on-one or in teams. Using WW2 as a setting, each player controls their own squad of four soldiers with teamwork being key to success. You can customize your soldier’s load-outs, gain ranks and draw up battle-plans for the quick-pace rounds. Lieutenant Richie Shoemaker did a tour of duty there and you can find his after action report here

Divided We Fall is meant to stay in EA for about 6-9 months which places its full release in the summer of 2017.

Call to Arms (Digitalmindsoft)

The game has been rather polarizing for some fans since its EA debut due to its F2P/DLC-focused business model. It seems the “It’s Men of War but modern” descriptor hasn’t been enough to mitigate the stigma against Free-to-Play. Captain Alex Connolly gave it a look all the way back in 2015 and you can find his opinion here.

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Regardless, it is due Q1 of this year according to the steam page.

Squad (Offworld Industries)

Born from the infamous Reality Project Mod for Battlefield 2, Squad fills that niche that exists between the Battlefield series (before it shot realism out the door anyway) and the hardcore world of the Bohemia’s ArmA. Squad is built around player teamwork and communication and has been receiving praise from outlets all over.

Our own Sergeant Richie Shoemaker (presumably demoted after his performance in Divided We Fall) seemed pretty smitten with it as well.

Squad’s steam page has it down for a mid-2017 release.

Day of Infamy (New World Interactive)

2017 seems to be the year for multiplayer-orientated WW2 shooters, as you'll see below. Day of Infamy is a continuation/evolution of the original Day of Deafeat mod from 2001, and is a 32-player close-quarters FPS. It's mainly online multiplayer focused, however there will be some co-op modes where 8-man squads go up against the AI. The main MP modes seem to be variations of the standard mode that games like Battlefield have made popular.

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The developer have their road-map up on Trello for anyone who wants to take a look, but it's due to leave Early Access in Q1 2017.

Titles (supposedly) Entering in to Early Access in 2017

War of Rights (Campfire Games)

A realistic shooter in the same vein as Squad, War of Rights is instead set during the American Civil War. It was kickstarted back in 2015 and is due to enter Early Access sometime this year.

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It promises realistic ballistics, authentic battlefields and a chain of command for added realism. Between Verdun, Squad, Battlefield 1 and the extremely popular Napoleonic Wars DLC for Mount & Blade: Warband a few years back, it’s obvious there’s a calling for semi-to-really realistic shooters with interesting historical settings.

Gates Of Hell & Soldiers: Arena (Best Way)

Gates of Hell and Soldiers: Arena are both built by the original creators of the Men of War series, and use a similar version of the engine. Soldiers: Arena looks like what Soldiers: Heroes of WW2 would look like if it got a major graphics update and was made multiplayer exclusive.

Gates Of Hell is aiming for both single and multiplayer. Both promise improved armour models as well. So hopefully no more somersaulting Panzer IVs as a result of one AT grenade.

All we know is that both are due to enter Early Access this year. Maybe.

Battalion 1944 (Bulkhead Interactive) & Days of War (Driven Arts)

In yet another case of accidental redundancy Battalion 1944 and Days Of War will both be attempting to corner the realistic WW2 shooter market this year.

Both are being built in Unreal Engine 4 and both are going for the old school approach devoid of perks and such. Battalion 1944 does have a progression system for cosmetics however along with hourly challenges whilst Days of War seems to be aiming more at purists.

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They are both due in Early Access this year; Battalion hasn't given a time-frame, but there is already a Steam page for DoW that lists January 2017 as the launch date.

Disclaimer: Editor Joe backed the Battalion 1944 Kickstarter.

Gunfleet (Areo Gaming)

Lastly, Gunfleet is taking a shot at the naval MMO scene but with a twist. Instead of focusing on big vessel like carriers and battleships, Gunfleet is all about the smaller vessels. Subs, PT boats and river monitors all finally get their time in the sun.

Gunfleet

So far four nations are confirmed (USA, USSR, Japan and Germany) with more to come later on in development. Gunfleet is due on EA sometime this month.

M.E.R.C. (Tinymob Games)

Imagine if XCOM was played in real-time, and you'll find yourself in the ballpark MERC inhabits. This futuristic sci-fi tactical strategy game that puts player's in control of 4-man squads (which can also be broken down further into two-man 'pods). You give orders, engage special abilities and fight your way through the "Last City" of Neotopia in real-time tactical engagements. 

The game features classes and plenty of customisation to make your squad THAT squad. You can co-op with other players as well, according to the steam page.

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The Early Access for this game is due to start on January 17th, and is expected to last 3-6 months... which we guess makes this entry valid for both this section, and the section above.

And with that we have our comprehensive list of stuff to look forward to this year. Some known titles such as AGEOD’s Wars of Succession, The Tactical Art of Combat, Unity of Command 2 and AGEOD’s long rumored English Civil War game couldn’t make it due to a lack of info on their release date, which is a shame. We shall end then with the all important question: What are you looking forward to this year?

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll add it to the list!

This article discusses games developed and/or published by members of the Slitherine Group. For more information, please see the About Us page.

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