ESRB EVERYONE 10+: Drug Reference, Mild Violence, Language, Suggestive Themes / Users Interact
If total world domination is what gets you out of bed in the morning, then take your place amongst history’s greatest leaders in Civilization VI on PS4.
You’ll start from humble beginnings, taking the helm of great civilisations and making your mark by sending out scouts, discovering great wonders, and battling barbarians. Soon though, political allegiances become vital as you strive to lift your society out of the dark ages and into economic and military dominance.
Civilization VI launches on PS4 with the Rise and Fall and Gathering Storm add-ons, so there’s also natural disasters and civil unrest to deal with, just in case conquering the world isn’t enough.
Play it if... you think the world would be a better place with you in charge.
This unique city management game thrusts you into a bleak, frozen tundra, leading a displaced population in a desperate hunt for food, warmth, and shelter.
Keeping your people alive initially relies on the basics: employing workers to hunt, construct buildings, and gather resources. Soon though, you’ll be faced with moral choices and strategic decisions if your settlement is going to survive.
Will you send children to work? What do you do with sick residents? Can you spare the workers needed to rescue citizens stranded in the frozen wastes? Easy decisions are as scarce as a good meal in the world of Frostpunk, but it’s down to you to keep hope alive.
Play it if... you want to feel better about the winter nights drawing in.
ESRB EVERYONE 10+: Fantasy Violence / Users Interact
From the team that brought us Stardew Valley, Wargroove takes a similarly charming 16-bit style and puts you in command of one of four warring factions battling for control of a fantasy kingdom.
As you take turns to move your army across the map, you’ll raid towns to gain the funds you need to recruit new warriors and lead them to the next battle. As well as the usual array of archers and spearmen, you can channel supernatural forces, recruit dragons, and harness unique ‘groove’ abilities for your commander.
In single player mode there’s a story to follow of a young queen fighting to free her lands. Go online however, and you can take on friends’ armies, or create and share your own maps for the community to download.
Play it if... you like your warfare to be a bit more colourful.
ESRB EVERYONE 10+: Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Use of Alcohol / Digital Purchases
Harnessing the Viking traditions of discovery and exploration (with a side order of conquest and pillaging), Northgard lays out an entire continent for your hardy settlers to make their own.
Resources are limited, as is your population, so you’ll make tough decisions on where they work, whether they should train as fighter or hunters, and generally prepare your people for the harsh winters.
If that isn’t enough, you’ll soon discover you’re not alone on this new continent. Wolves roam the land, undead natives will need to be dealt with, and there are even giants to be fought or befriended. There are several ways to win depending on your strategy, but whichever direction you take your people in, prepare to hunker down when the snow comes.
Play it if... you like exploring the unknown.
The latest instalment in the Age of Wonders series casts you as leader of a faction battling to seize control of a procedurally-generated planet.
How you colonise the planet depends on a series of strategic decisions. There are different biomes to exploit, cities to establish and manage, rival factions to deal with, and a population to keep happy.
Will you follow a military path and muscle your way to victory, or be more diplomatic, form allegiances with your neighbours? Of course, there’s always the option of sending out spies to gather intelligence and mount a covert campaign to steal resources before declaring war.
Play it if... conquering Earth just isn’t enough for you.
ESRB MATURE 17+: Violence, Blood and Gore
Stealth is a ninja’s deadliest weapon, and as you’re thrust into the world of feudal Japan, you’ll need razor-sharp skills to successfully take down a merciless warlord.
Of course, being a ninja, you’ve got plenty of tools at your disposal to silently take down enemy warriors inhabiting each level, using the environment to create distractions or traps.
Each encounter requires meticulous planning: anticipating what your enemy can see, finding a route across the rooftops, and assassinating foes without raising the alarm gets increasingly complex. Fortunately, you’ll recruit allies along the way, each with new abilities to aid your mission.
Play it if... you take a more subtle approach to strategic battles.
ESRB TEEN: Violence, Blood, Use of Tobacco
Strategy games aren’t only for power-hungry megalomaniacs. In XCOM 2 the tables turn - you're the last line of defence as aliens try to take over the planet and wipe out humanity.
As the commander of a highly customizable squad of Special Forces soldiers, you’ll need to train recruits with specific skills to drive back the alien assault. In turn-based missions, position your marines at tactical points around the map, anticipating the route the enemy will take, before mounting an ambush or a counter assault.
As the aliens get more determined to wipe you out, you’ll need to upgrade your command centre and research new weapons and abilities if you want to avoid total annihilation. No pressure.
Play it if... being wiped out by aliens isn’t on your bucket list.
ESRB TEEN: Violence, Drug Reference, Mild Language / In-Game Purchases, Users Interact
Let’s face it, one of the most annoying things in any city management game is your pesky citizens and their constant demands. Treating them fairly can be a drag – but the good news is Tropico 6 is all about doing things your way, even if it means making promises you can’t keep.
As El Presidente, you can cast yourself either as a feared dictator or a peace-loving statesman, building and maintaining your banana republic on a string of tropical islands. Of course, being the world’s greatest dictator comes with plenty of challenges, from managing the economy (while skimming off profits for yourself) to quashing uprisings, stealing famous landmarks from other nations, and making rousing election speeches to keep yourself in a job.
Play it if... you dream of addressing your adoring subjects from the balcony of your mansion.
ESRB TEEN: Violence, Blood, Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Suggestive Themes
Blurring the lines between strategy and JRPG, the fourth instalment of the Valkyria Chronicles saga follows the story of Squad E – a band of brave resistance fighters embroiled in the second European War against the Empire.
Set in a beautifully rendered world, you’ll choose from a range of tactical operations and prepare a fireteam with different skills. Positioning them around the map uses command points; directly controlling a unit shifts your perspective into Action Mode, where you’ll use Action Points to put your plan into action, whether that be launching an attack, healing an ally, or seizing a strategic position.
Training units, using vehicles and battleships, and earning medals for valor all feed into a detailed world brimming with lore and charming characters that offers much more than just military tactics.
Play it if... story and characters are just as important to you as strategic decisions.
ESRB EVERYONE 10+: Mild Language, Violent References
Billed as ‘grand strategy on a galactic scale’, Stellaris casts you as a commander with the grandest ambitions of all: to conquer an entire galaxy.
As you’d expect, there’s a lot involved in such a feat. Diplomacy, resource management, and governing the populations of your planets are just a few of your responsibilities. But of course, galactic expansion is an intricate business, with rival alien races standing in the way of you conquering their homelands and seizing their technological wonders for your own gain.
As interstellar warfare breaks out, you’ll need to be a master strategist to advance through deep space, managing allegiances and tipping the balance of power in your favour. After all, no one said galactic dominance was going to be easy.
Play it if... your strategic ambitions are too big for one solar system.