Like most of you, we are more than happy to see 2020 in the rearview mirror. It’s time for a new year and a fresh start, and what better way to celebrate than to look to the future for the most exciting upcoming wargames of 2021. While we don’t have a lot of firm dates in place yet for some of the most exciting new releases, we do have a lot to look forward to particularly after a string of exciting announcements made towards the end of last year.
Of course, the elephant in the room is that the industry has been moving away from hard-and-fast release dates and towards more nebulous release schedules. Early Access especially has made things complicated. As such, some of the items on this list will be appearing as full releases, while others may appear in some form of early release.
As with the same article we’ve run in previous years, we’ll be updating it as we go and expanding the scope as needed. As news and announcements get made, we’ll update this article. The header image is from Regiments.
With that said, here are some of the more exciting upcoming wargames of 2021.
Combat Mission: Black Sea (Steam)
Release date: Jan 21, 2021
This one will be fresh in your minds as we first spoke about it at the start of January, but Matrix Games & Slitherine are brining another Combat Mission title to Steam in the form of 2014’s Combat Mission: Black Sea. This one depicts a fictional conflict between Russian and NATO forces when the former invades Ukraine. Development started before the actual 2014 Russian invasion of the Ukraine, even though the game was released after the fact, so it’s not designed to bear any resemblance on ongoing events.
We also learned that week that, after Black Sea, more Combat Mission titles will be making their way to Steam at a rate of roughly one per quarter, with the next one slated to be Battle for Normandy.
Field of Glory II: Medieval
Release Date: Feb 4, 2021
One of the first big titles dropping this year is Field of Glory II: Medieval, a standalone expansion for 2017’s turn-based tactics title Field of Glory II. This newest instalment looks a good deal chunkier than the previous expansions which had previously extended the game’s timeline all the way into Late Antiquity.
Medieval is set to continue that forward march into the High Middle Ages, adding 29 new factions and more than 100 new units. It will also come with four new historical campaigns from the period, including the Angevin Empire, the Northern Crusades, Alexander Nevsky, and the Mongol Invasions.
Late last year we took a sneak peek at an early version of Medieval and it set our expectations high. For fans of the period or the base FoG2, this should be a no-brainer.
Ultimate Admiral: Dreadnoughts
Release Date: TBA 2021
An orphan from last year’s list, Ultimate Admiral: Dreadnoughts should be coming into early access sometime in 2021. So, while you should not expect a totally finished product until much farther down the line, what we’ve seen so far from the early previews has been very promising.
As Bill pointed out when he took a sneak peek at the alpha build a while back, this will not be a beer-and-skittles affair. Instead, Ultimate Admiral: Dreadnoughts is aiming, above all, for verisimilitude.
From what we’ve seen, it is shaping up to be an incredibly detailed naval simulator that will allow you to not only command your own fleet, but also to design your own ships according to realistic parameters from of the era. There’s another Ultimate Admiral game to look out for as well this year – Age of Sail has been in Steam Early Access for a while now, and we could see a full release this year, although there’s been nothing concrete announced.
Ultimate General: American Revolution
Release Date: Unknown
Dreadnoughts might not be the only thing coming from Game-Labs this year. Back in November, Ultimate General: American Revolution was very quietly announced. It will be the latest entry in the series that began with Ultimate General: Gettysburg, which later morphed into the much-lauded full campaign of Ultimate General: Civil War.
American Revolution, however, looks set to shake up the franchise by having both a strategic and tactical level of its real-time campaign, allowing the player to take control of individual battalions in an engagement if there is a general nearby. The promotional images make it look almost Total War-esque though in real-time, rather than turn-based.
While details on a specific release window haven’t been released (there isn’t even a Steam page for it yet), we are very much hoping we see some Early Access version of this pop up some time in 2021.
Gary Grigsby’s War in the East 2
Release Date: TBA 2021
December’s ‘Matrix Day 2020’ festivities included several exciting new announcements for fans of Matrix Game’s properties including new instalments in the Decisive Campaigns, WarPlan, and Flashpoint Campaigns series.
Far and away the most anticipated announcement, however, was for Gary Grigsby’s War in the East 2, the sequel to Grigsby’s legendary treatment of the German-Soviet war. The original, which came out a decade ago, was renowned for its complexity and depth. For a generation of fans, Grigsby’s name is a byword for the ‘monster’ genre of wargames something War in the East helped to solidify.
What information we already have about WitE2 makes it sound like it will be, like its predecessor, an absolute monster of a game that will build off the strengths of the original. For those interested, we have a breakdown of some of the features coming in the sequel. This could likely end up as the definitive Eastern Front game before the year is through.
General Staff Wargaming System
Release Date: TBA 2021
More than just a straightforward wargame, the General Staff Wargaming System is designed to be a suite of software that can create maps, scenarios, and armies to represent a variety of conflicts. We’ve been eagerly waiting for the release of General Staff since it was kickstarted way back in 2017.
Though it was supposed to be out in either 2019 or 2020, it looks like the development has run into some challenges which is not too surprising considering just two people are working on the project. But we are very much hoping that they can make it through the slog because what we’ve seen looks incredibly promising.
The lead designer, Dr. Ezra Sidran, has been working on wargames for years, both for commercial publication and professional use by groups like DARPA. He has decades of experience creating tactical AI and intends to put this to use in the General Staff Wargaming System. Though it may be a longshot, we are very much hoping that we get to see this in playable form sometime in 2021.
Release Date: Spring 2021
One of the first big releases from newly resurrected publisher MicroProse, Regiments puts you in command of a Cold-War-Gone-Hot scenario set in late 1980s Germany. The trailer and pre-release images look superficially similar to the real-time tactics of Eugene System’s Wargame series with plenty of bird’s eye view shots of tanks rolling across patchwork German plains.
While Regiments is based on a similar premise as the Wargame titles, it’s trying to shake up the usual World War III scenario by emphasizing the ability to have on-the-fly force customization. So rather than coming to the fight with a pre-set group of units, the player must adapt to the challenges that emerge on the battlefield. It seems like an interesting concept and, hopefully, the team at Bird’s Eye games can deliver.
Carrier Command 2
Release Date: Spring 2021
Regiments isn’t the only new title coming from the rebooted MicroProse. Also on the docket is a long-awaited sequel to Carrier Command, an 80s classic of the real-time strategy genre.
Like the original, Carrier Command 2 will allow the player to take command of a futuristic carrier alongside what looks to be an impressive array of other vehicles to use. It looks like this latest instalment will be as light on plot as the original, instead focusing on the meaty gameplay of ambiguously futuristic warfare and island-hopping resource exploitation.
Burden of Command
Release Date: Unknown
Burden of Command looks like a very different kind of wargame than the others on our list. While on the surface it looks like just another hex-and-counter affair, it distinguishes itself with its emphasis on trying to create “an emotionally authentic WWII tactical leadership RPG.” In other words, a game that can capture the pressures of company-level leadership during wartime.
That’s a tall order, but also one that, if pulled off correctly, could provide a far more impactful narrative than your typical wargame is primed to deliver. Although there hasn’t been a hard release date posted, the team appears to be chugging away with frequent updates. We’d like to think it’ll be this year, but this game has been on at least two of your ‘Upcoming Wargame’ lists now and you know how Editor Joe gets about these things.
What information Green Tree Games has released looks intriguing. This is one to keep an eye on.
More upcoming wargames 2021
The above isn’t everything we know about what’s coming in 2021, but they represent highlights and/or games with more concrete release date information. There’s plenty more we know are coming in 2021 at some point, and a few more we hope show up this year in some form. To summarise the ‘best of the rest’, here’s a final quick list:
- Armored Brigade Nation Pack: Netherlands & Czechoslovakia (Feb 25)
- Order of Battle: Allies Defiant
- Klotzen! Panzer Battles
- War on the Sea
- WarPlan Pacific
- Sea Power: Naval Combat in the Missile Age
- Stellar Warfare
- Victory at Sea: Ironclad
- Task Force Admiral
- Second Front
- Desert Armor
- Terra Invicta
- Distant Worlds 2
- Decisive Campaigns: Ardennes Offensive
- Flashpoint Campaigns: Southern Storm
- Strategic Mind: Fight for Freedom
- Middle East Crises
- Campaign Series: Vietnam
- ArmA: Reforger?
- Until the last Plane
- Kiev ’43 (JTS/WDS)
Let us know if you’ve spotted anything else that needs to be on the list!