The Wargamer's Videogame Guide to 2017 [Updated]11 Jul 2017 7
The dust of 2016 has finally settled and we grogs have hunkered 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: 8th March, 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.
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) [Released, Read our review]
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.
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 to release on March 23rd, 2017. Read our preview on the game here.
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.
UBOOT (Deep Water Studio)
Describing itself as Fallout Shelter on a U-Boat, UBOOT promises to be one of the most unique sub-sims around. Taking a heavy amount of inspiration from the classic Das Boot, you control a U-Boat in the Atlantic during the Second World War and you have to keep a close eye on your crew if you want to survive.
Each individual's morale or level of hunger affects their performance and each of your crew is promised to have their own backstory, face or personality. As the game progresses the dastardly allies will get progressively more dangerous; equipping their ships with sonar or breaking the enigma code. In tense situations sailors will also have hidden traits that are revealed. They could be a drunkard, a dangerous psychopath or even...a spy. Lastly UBOOT looks gorgeous and promises to recreate German U-Boats in painstaking accuracy.
No information on a release yet, other than "soon", but you should check out the game's Steam Page.
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) [Released, Read our review]
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.
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) [Released, Review incoming]
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.
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) [Released, Read our review]
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.
Command & Colours Ancients & Napoleonics (HexWar)
HexWar brought Command & Colours: The Great War to PC in their Jan 2017 port, and now they're going to be tackling some more C&C games as well. GMT Games have announced a partnership with the hex-based wargame company to bring their own Command & Colours games – Ancients & Napoleonics – to PC and mobile devices.
Both are due out in 2017 in a basic form (Ancients in the Summer, Napoleonics at the end of the year), with the expansions and add-ons coming out in 2018 onwards.
Order of Battle: Kriegsmarine (Matrix Games) [Released, Read our review]
A new year means new Order of Battle content, naturally. OOB Kriegsmarine will return the series to its roots by putting you in charge of the German Navy as it fights the Allied powers for control of the high seas.
We've got no news on a release date, but given that the beta is due to start soon (at time of writing), we can't imagine the full release is far off. Kriegsmarine will also bring with it a new skirmish mode.
Syrian Warfare (Cats Who Play) [Released, Read our review]
Developed by a Russian studio, this one is bound to cause some controversy. Syrian Warfare promises a realistic portrayal of the current and rather messy conflict in that region. Unfortunately the details on both the dev’s site and the steam page are sparse. But from what we know it will apparently have realistic armour and ballistic values and will play something like 1C’s Men of War series.
The game also promises a full single player campaign where units carry over from mission to mission, gaining experience as you go. Ethics and politics aside I imagine Syrian Warfare will be an interesting discussion point for many if nothing else. All we know is that the game is due to release in February 2017, although whether this is straight to retail or an Early Access release, we're not sure.
This game was released via Steam in February 2017. At the time of writing, it's currently not available for sale due to a DMCA take-down noticed filed against it, however we understand the situation is going to be resolve shortly.
Panzer Corps 2 (Matrix Games)
After five years of expansions and other kinds of content, the ionic Panzer Corps game is finally getting a sequel. Being developed in Unreal Engine 4, this will be a fully 3D game with modern visuals that will try and keep true to the classic aesthetic.
Slitherine/Matrix haven't said much in terms of actual mechanics or features at the time of publication, but the fact that they're talking about it at all means that it won't be too long till release. Watch this space!
Armoured Brigade (Matrix Games)
Armoured Brigade was a freeware real-time tactics wargame set in the cold war that drew inspiration from Close Combat, Steel Panthers and Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm. It has been picked up by Matrix Games to be developed into a full, retail quality title.
No release date news as of publication, but you can read more about the game here.
English Civil War (AGEOD/Matrix Games)
This game has been rumoured about for a while, and now it has been officially announced.
Steel Divisions: Normandy '44 (Paradox Interactive + Eugen Systems) [Released, Read our review]
A surprise announcement from the grand-strategy publisher, Paradox announced they are working with the rather excellent Eugen systems to bring their new game to market. Taking everything they've learned over the past few years, Steel Divisions takes the action back to World War 2 where players command Divisions and Corps-level forces as they fight across the fields of Normandy in 1944. New features to this game involve a metric called "stress", which acts a lot like a typical moral system would, and each match is divided up into 'phases'. Different units are available in different phases depending on their strength, and the speciality of your division.
We're very excited for this one, although there's no news on a release window just yet.
Supreme Ruler: The Great War (Battlegoat Studios)
The singular development studio has re-surfaced with another entry to their 'Supreme Ruler' franchise. SR: The Great War takes the action to World War 1, taking everything you know and hate love about the game and packing it in an era of total war and social and economic upheaval. While these games have always looked good on paper, I personally have always found them a bit wanting in terms of execution, much like AGEOD games, in fact.
Let's see what they can do this time around! No word on a release date just yet.
Codex of Victory (1C Publishing)
A few years ago Russian developer/publisher 1C used to be a bit of a house-name in terms of wargames, but they’ve since stepped back a bit to focus on key franchises and other genres. They’ve got a new game coming soon though called Codex of Victory, which will combine real-time base building with turn--based strategy, all wrapped up in a sci-fi theme
Players expand their underground HQ to manufacture and upgrade an army of massive, advanced drone units before dropping them into turn-based battles in an interplanetary war for humankind. It’s releasing on March 16th, 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.
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) [Released]
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 left Early Access on February 2nd, 2017. You can read our review here.
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.
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.
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.
Regardless, it is due Q1 of this year according to the steam page.
Squad (Offworld Industries) [Early Access]
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) [Released]
2017 seems to be the year for multiplayer-orientated WW2 shooters, as you'll see below. Day of Infamy is a spiritual successor of the original Day of Defeat 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.
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.
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.
Wartile (Playwood Project)
A game in a similar vein as Warbands: Bushido, Wartile is another game looking to capture that miniature board game style. Instead of feudal japan however Wartile has players ordering around axe wielding, mead drinking Vikings. Despite its boardgame aesthetic this is going to be real-time, utilizing a cooldown system that the devs promise will be “a refreshing take on the real time strategy genre”. Wartile will come with both a full story mode and competitive multiplayer by the end of its Steam Early Access period (6-9 months).
It's due to enter Early Access on March 17th, 2017, and will initially feature a quarter of the campaign and quick match multiplayer.
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) [Released]
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.
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.
Days of War launched into Early Access on January 26th 2017. It's due to exist Early Access "within 12 months", so it could be end of this year or Jan 2018. We've written an analysis of the game so far that you can read here.
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.
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.
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.