Strategy games often thrive on PC, but Xbox does offer a variety of memorable titles in the genre. There’s a unique thrill in the ways they challenge your management skills, ingenuity, and creativity. Their trademark density, which requires long-term investment and patience, also feels rewarding and provides considerable content.
This list will feature standout strategy games across a range of worthwhile sub-genres, to represent different tones and mechanics. Selections will also be ranked for their innovation, exclusivity, how well they can run and play on Xbox, and more.
6. Anno 1800
This historical strategy game is a curious blend of multiple genres, and it’s also available on the Xbox Game Pass. That’s invaluable for strategy fans who want a risk-free opportunity to try something a bit unusual. It has refreshing gameplay that also supports co-op, an unexpected feature that further reinforces Anno 1800 as delightfully unconventional.
The gameplay focuses on economy management but also includes familiar elements of city building and diplomacy. Although Anno 1800’s gameplay becomes increasingly complex, it is also surprisingly balanced. As a result, it can feel equally relaxing and demanding, often encouraging you to spend more time in it than intended.
This instant classic successfully combines roguelike and deckbuilding mechanics with an extraordinary amount of content. Although many clones subsequently followed, Slay the Spire frequently remains the definitive experience. It also happens to be available on Xbox Game Pass, and strategy card games are already a bit rare on Xbox.
Slay the Spire provides a very particular tone and gameplay loop, where discovering and creating your own strategy is the main appeal. It successfully borrows from both tabletop and video game mediums. Slay the Spire is a more accessible strategy game that even beginners can enjoy. And it requires you to adapt to shifting, new challenges rather than master a rigid set.
4. Gears Tactics
This turn-based twist on the classic Xbox series offers more action than usual among strategy games. It also has a surprisingly brisk pace to properly fit with the established universe. Gears Tactics does borrow much from XCOM. But its streamlined approach, Game Pass availability, and console-friendly flow make it an ideal alternative.
Similarly, Gears Tactics is somewhat interchangeable with the Halo Wars series here. Gears Tactics offers a terrific variety of customization and skills, and its polished visuals are outstanding. Its combat is intuitive and a proper bridge for fans of the shooting genre, who may not ordinarily be interested in turn-based action.
Stellaris: Console Edition is an exemplary Xbox grand strategy game, a genre in a league of its own. It has a steep learning curve that requires you to manage a broad range of systems over a long period of time. Stellaris’ gameplay also features all of the trademark Paradox Interactive traditions, while adding an imaginative sci-fi setting.
Its spacefaring theme is a perfect fit for the incomparable scope of grand strategy. It has a better narrative freedom, and Stellaris effectively uses that to consistently surprise you. You’ll currently find Stellaris on the Game Pass, and unlike many of its peers, it functions unexpectedly well on Xbox.
2. Frostpunk: Console Edition
Frostpunk is a classic strategy survival game, and the Console Edition functions well enough on Xbox. It has a moody and apocalyptic theme that creates unique environmental and ethical challenges. The gameplay doesn’t just force you to juggle colony sim and city-building systems. You will determine the outcome of society itself, with laws and more.
A lot of the appeal of Frostpunk comes through its moral ambiguity and risk, with decisions that have consequences. Most strategy games allow you multiple paths to victory, with the potential to avoid violence or sacrifice. Frostpunk is an unapologetic masterpiece, so it’s stunning you can find it on the Xbox Game Pass.
This iconic real-time strategy hit dominates the genre, and Xbox Game Studios published an excellent remaster earlier this year. The visuals are a friendly update for newcomers, and they don’t compromise the look and feel of the original. The addition of online co-op was also a welcome surprise.
Age of Empires II is a deeply complex, thoughtful, and replayable game that requires extensive planning and practice. It will frequently test your patience but in an absorbing and satisfying way. The sheer scope of the content and narrative in Age of Empires II is practically unparalleled, and definitely an Xbox must-have.
Strategy games provide inventive new ways to test your wits, multi-tasking skills, and more. Xbox fans have access to a decent selection of strategy games, so be sure to tell us about other gems that deserve to join the list!