RTS Games to Look Forward to in 2023
The RTS genre is seeing a resurgence of late, with re-releases and updates to classic titles and even a few modern takes on the genre, let's explore what 2023 has to offer.
9th February 2023
“A harsh sand planet has become the stage for a brutal war between three Great Clans. For the power over rare minerals each wants to prove their superiority. In the heat of dynamic battles with the enemy's troops, be prepared to face and attack giant Sand Snakes.”
Barkhan is what happens when Command & Conquer fans read Dune. Developed and published by Glyph Worlds, who wear their Westwood Studios inspiration on their sleeve, personally I am excited to see something that, while inspired by RTS classics, has enough differences in flavour to stand on its own.
The Settlers: New Allies
17th February 2023
“True to its almost 30 years legacy, this new entry in the series combines in-depth build-up experience with real-time strategic battles. Choose among 3 unique factions and explore this whole-new world powered by state-of-the-art graphics. Your settlement has never looked so lively.”
A game that almost slipped through my radar, The Settlers is set to return after a 13 year drought. Ubisoft hasn’t been pushing this IP after the last game got cancelled and I’m looking forward to seeing what the team can do after such a long break. It promises features like skirmish battles, a story-driven campaign, a hardcore mode, and stunning graphics. I am tentatively excited and hopeful that this could revitalise an old and beloved series.
Company of Heroes 3
23rd February 2023
“The legendary strategy franchise is back! Company of Heroes 3 is the ultimate package of action, tactics and strategy. Take charge in the heat of real-time battle, then command as a General guiding the overall campaign where every decision matters.”
Speaking of old, beloved series, Company of Heroes makes a return with its latest entry this February. The game has been playable for some time, it promises to be bigger and better than ever, and there is a fair amount of gameplay already floating around on YouTube. The newest entry features a wide variety of improvements and changes, such as a focus on the Mediterranean theatre of war. Company of Heroes is back in the safe and familiar hands of Relic Entertainment and I can’t wait to play it later this year.
Planned Release Date: 2023
“Gord is a single-player, adventure-strategy game featuring developing societies, eerie forbidden lands, and remarkable mythical creatures. Complete quests and manage a populace whose personal stories and well-being impact the fate of the settlement.”
The first of the games on this list with more vague release dates, GORD sits in a unique position somewhere between a dark RPG and a survival colony-sim. Regardless I felt it was worthy to be placed on this list as it just looks so interesting and takes a step away from grand strategy towards the micro-scale where individuals can shape the future of your settlement. If you are a fan of strategy and darker themes, definitely check this one out.
Planned Release Date: 2023
“Manor Lords is a medieval strategy game featuring in-depth city building, large-scale tactical battles, and complex economic and social simulations. Rule your lands as a medieval lord -- the seasons pass, the weather changes, and cities rise and fall.”
Now for a game that seems to be on everyone’s radar, Manor Lords is a beautiful settlement-builder with a focus on organic looking settlements that tries to put you in the shoes of a medieval lord. Technically and visually the game is very impressive but it remains to be seen whether the gameplay will be worthy of the visuals. It started as a solo project and has expanded to what you see today. We all hope this one turns out as awesome as it looks.
Outpost: Infinity Siege
Planned Release Date: Q3 2023
“Command Mobile Outpost and take Protoslag Gun to venture deep into the Signet surveillance off-limit area where dangers lurk in the dark. Collect unique Weapon Units. Amp up the firepower of the Outpost that fights with you. This game is about TD, FPS, and RTS all at the same time.”
Another hybrid title that is not a true RTS, it seems to have a build-mode where you assemble your defences, and a first-person mode where you can happily blast away at enemies. The game also features co-op and survival elements for a pretty unique take on the classic tower-defence formula, and it looks good to boot. I didn’t even mention what appears to be a mech, as we know, mechs make everything better.
Terminator: Dark Fate - Defiance
“Terminator: Dark Fate – Defiance is a gritty RTS that puts you in the middle of the Future Wars between humanity and Legion's synthetic intelligent machine network. Take command and lead your army to foil Legion's plan to destroy humanity or play as one of three factions in skirmish and multiplayer.”
Now we come to the 2023 hopefuls, the ones with no clear release date. If you are a fan of the Terminator universe you will enjoy this one. The game features two human factions and the classic genocidal AI. It’s set in the Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) universe, so no Skynet, there is only Legion, which may disappoint some fans. The gritty visuals also look a bit dated compared to some of the other titles on this list, but the game is still in development and I am hopeful that its universe will help carry the day.
“Tactical, beautiful, and wholly unique, the GOTY-winning sci-fi RTS returns with Homeworld 3. Assume control and battle through fleet combat in dazzling, fully 3D space while the award-winning story unfolds on a galactic scale.”
It’s happening. Homeworld 3 is coming after a 20-year hiatus (wow that’s a long time). The IP is now in the hands of Blackbird Interactive, the creator of the prequel Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak. With solid RTS chops and familiarity with the universe, we are all hoping for great things with this title. It’s unknown where the story will take us but the game looks gorgeous, and features fully-simulated ballistics and a persistent fleet from mission to mission. I want it now, but most of all, I really want it to be good.
“Stormgate is a free-to-play real-time strategy game set amidst a war between humanity and an onslaught of alien invaders. Take on the campaign alone or cooperatively, play casual and competitive PvP and co-op modes online, or get creative in the editor. Welcome to the future of RTS!”
I am going out on a limb here as this is one of the more recently announced games on this list and is unlikely to come out in 2023, but hear me out. Ever heard of Starcraft 2? This game comes from the creators of Starcraft 2, who left Blizzard and founded their own studio, Frost Giant Studios. With a Free-to-Play business model, a proven team and a brand new universe to explore. Can these Titans of RTS deliver something groundbreaking for the genre? Personally, I think this game will be great and I am rooting for this new studio.
“Command one of three distinct factions in a desperate struggle for power and resources in Tempest Rising - a classic RTS set on Earth after a nuclear war.”
Okay, last but not least, Tempest Rising is what happens when Command & Conquer is left by the wayside for too long, and someone threatens to make Command & Conquer, but red. The game looks great, the formula is proven, the team is backed by THQ Nordic & 3D Realms. My only concerns are that the team doesn’t seem to have a lot of RTS experience and it could end up being too similar to Command & Conquer.
With many great games on the way and more than a few hopefuls from new studios and IP, RTS is starting to see a resurgence and I couldn’t be happier for the classic genre. The question is, can these games compete with great games backed by years of nostalgia? Can RTS gain enough traction with a new audience to make itself relevant again? Or is this the last gasp of a dying genre?
I am entirely biassed, I love RTS and I truly hope to see this latest generation re-establish one of the most beloved classic genres as a real option for AA and AAA studios and publishers.