The 10 Squad-Based Strategy Games
Squad-based strategy games are seemingly timeless. They continue to be made, but the only real changes to the genre are upgraded graphics and sound. This is probably because one of the early examples of this type of game, X-Com, perfected the formula for everyone else to copy.
These games typically consist of controlling a squad of characters across a level/map and having to adjust your strategy along the way due to obstacles. These obstacles can include anything from enemy troops to an actual physical obstruction, in your path.
This is a list of the best squad-based tactical/strategy games available. Many of the games listed are part of a franchise with numerous other titles in their library, each of which is usually just as fun as the game which made the list.
10Valkyria Chronicles Remastered
Valkyria Chronicles was released in 2008 and developed by Sega for the PS3 and PC, and the remastered version was done by Media Vision and released for the PS4 in 2016, and the Switch in 2018.
Valkyria Chronicles is set in a fictional Europe where there are two major powers: the Empire and the Federation. Due to a scarcity of a needed resource called Ragnite, the two powers find themselves at war. The player is the commander of Squad 7 and must make the best use of the soldiers under their command. Valkyria Chronicles has wonderful visuals, the controls are simple, and the strategy can get pretty deep.
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9Jagged Alliance: Rage
Jagged Alliance: Rage is the eleventh Jagged Alliance game, and it lives up to the expectations of its fan base. In this series, the player hires quirky mercenaries to accomplish missions. The player controls the movements of the mercenaries across maps with top-down isometric views.
This game requires an ability to expertly evaluate situations and respond accordingly. Do you make your character run to cover the distance quicker, but risk alerting the enemy by making too much noise? Or do you move slowly and stealthily to make less noise, but possibly not move fast enough to avoid a patrol?
BattleTech is an enormously fun game set in the BattleTech universe that began in 1984. The player is the commander of a squad of mechs and has the freedom to outfit their squad as they wish. The level of control is fairly extensive; the player can choose the type of battlemech chassis, armor, pilots—referred to in-game as Mechwarriors—and weapons, just to name some of the variables.
The controls are fairly simple to master, and the game looks fantastic, especially some of the cinematic views during battle. If you like a sci-fi setting more than fantasy settings for your squad-based tactical games, then this is one of the best options available.
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7Frozen Synapse 2
This is a unique squad-based tactical simulator featuring graphics that bring up mental images of the old vector-based monitors used in games like Asteroids and Star Wars Arcade. The player has a top-down view of the battle area, which is usually inside a building. The player gives each of their soldiers very specific directions, or paths, to a location.
When you are done, you end the turn and watch your soldiers follow your directions and engage the enemy. It is fun to watch the battles play out, and they are surprisingly addictive when playing multiplayer matches. Encounters are typically resolved in about ten seconds after ending the turn, and they never get tiresome to watch.
6Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy Tactics was released by Squaresoft in 1998 for the PlayStation, and it is still considered one of the best squad-based tactical games ever made. There is some role-playing, but not much—most of the game focuses on tactical combat.
The player has access to Squires and Chemists, which are the root classes of the fighter classes and spell-casting classes. As your units gain levels, you can change them to newer, and better, classes. Some of the better classes are Summoners, Samurai, and Ninjas. The battles take place on a 3D battlefield, and the player is forced to keep factors like elevation in mind when planning.
5Resonance Of Fate
Developed by tri-Ace and published by Sega for the PS3 and Xbox 360, Resonance of Fate is a squad-based game with interesting control mechanics. Resonance of Fate is a cross between real-time action and turn-based strategy games, and surprisingly the end result works well.
Each of your characters moves on their turn, with every action costing a certain amount of action points. The player controls the characters directly instead of just issuing commands. You can combine your characters’ actions into a deadly special move which is always fun to watch play out.
Phantom Doctrine is different than the other games on this list in that the player is not a battlefield commander. In this game, the player instead takes on the role of a spymaster. From the world map view that is the main screen, the player monitors the movements of enemy agents across the world. The player can then send their own agents to spy on the enemy.
As you progress through the game, more options are available to your agents in terms of covert actions, meaning you won’t have to rely as much on direct confrontations and armed engagements.
3Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is as much of a role-playing game as it is a squad-based strategy game, but these two genres are frequently blended together successfully. The Divinity series is very reminiscent of the Baldur’s Gate series for the PC with a similar layout, similar game mechanics, and a sword-and-sorcery theme.
In Original Sin 2, the player can create up to four characters for their party, and, during battle, they have complete control of them. The game has vibrant, colorful graphics and plenty of eye-candy in the form of spell effects and well-animated character models.
We considered adding the first X-Com title to this list but opted for the modern version available for the PS4 and Xbox One. The original is still very much worth playing, however, and has features not included in the modern offerings. In X-Com 2 the player is the commander of the alien-fighting X-Com organization.
It is up to the player to manage their soldiers and scan the globe for alien activity to combat. The X-Com franchise also includes a little base management into the mix, as well. This time, the base is not an underground bunker though—it is a flying battle carrier.
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1Fire Emblem: Three Houses
There are a lot of fans of the Fire Emblem franchise reading this and thinking I only included this title because it was recently released. Many consider Fire Emblem: Awakening for the Nintendo 3DS to be the best of the franchise, and indeed it is an extremely good game. To be honest, using a stylus to play this type of game was surprisingly intuitive.
Three Houses is so much better in nearly every way, though, and we are just now getting to know the game. There are so many story-lines running through the characters of the three houses that one playthrough is not enough to experience all this game has to offer. The game’s graphics, cut-scenes, and visual effects are all absolutely gorgeous, and the tactical/strategy aspect of Three Houses is just as well designed and implemented as its predecessors.