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Best Superhero Strategy Games

60
LOTR strategy games

Highlights

  • Dive into the world of superhero gaming with
    Marvel Snap
    for fast-paced card battles in just three minutes with iconic Marvel heroes.
  • Marvel Strike Force
    adds layers of strategy with a squad-based turn system where character speed determines your next move in tactical battles.
  • Experience a unique superhero strategy game like
    Freedom Force
    that adds a twist to the genre with comic book aesthetic and tactical combat.

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Superheroes are an enduring part of the gaming industry. Fans love stepping into the shoes of their favorite costumed crime-fighters and combating crooks from the worlds of DC & Marvel. Most of the best DC & Marvel games dominate the superhero market, simulating that feeling are action titles, which makes sense. After all, what better way to capture the excitement and breakneck power of their abilities? However, these do-gooders have also infiltrated a genre that fans might not expect.

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A handful of superhero strategy games have emerged on the market. These titles usually look at their comic worlds on a grand scale, tasking fans with organizing their teams of masked marauders. As a result, most of the games are turn-based affairs. The results are an experimental and intriguing change of pace from the usual fare. Maybe superheroes should dabble in strategy more often, especially if it breeds further innovation.

5 Special Mention: Capes

This indie title has the flashiness of superheroes and the depth of a tactical RPG.

A battle in Capes

Capes

Released
2024-00-00

Developer(s)
Spitfire Interactive

Genre(s)
Turn-Based Strategy

Whilst Capes has not released just yet, there is a demo available, and gameplay from Spitfire Interactive that shows what kind of game this could be. Some might see this title as the spiritual successor to Freedom Force, and they would be right, since the writer of Freedom Force (2009), Morgan Jaffit, is involved, albeit with supervillains instead of Nazis. Capes presents a dystopian world where the baddies have taken over, so a heroic resistance must overthrow them. It’s a trite premise, made all the more so by the comparatively mundane presentation. Thankfully, what it lacks in personality, it makes up for in gameplay.

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Rather than dabble in tactical RPG elements, these developers go all in, taking ample advantage of team mechanics in the context of the battlefield. Each hero has unique abilities, and positioning can either aid or impede their efficacy. If they’re so inclined, they can disarm enemies to deal less damage, making the battle easier in the long term. Also, like Freedom Force, the heroes can mix their powers for vicious combos. Amplifying these further are upgrades applied between missions. So many elements affect the outcome that it’s challenging to juggle them all.

The plus side is that such variety invites experimentation. Players can form whichever strategies work best for them. That mentality is second nature to fans of the genre. Capes simply applies the rules to superheroes and makes it look easy.

4 Marvel Snap

Metascore: 85

A match in Marvel Snap

Marvel SNAP

Released
August 22, 2023

Developer(s)
Second Dinner

Genre(s)
Digital Card Game

Here’s a case of great potential let down by its medium. Marvel Snap is a card battle title, and that aspect works well enough. Players build energy to play more powerful cards, thereby outdoing those on the opponent’s field. The Marvel character roster for Marvel Snap is vast enough to sustain a plethora of cards for each individual, and the locations shift the dynamics to keep players on their toes. Even better, this system is beautifully streamlined, with the developers bragging that each clash only takes three minutes. This factor makes it easy to pick up and play, but it’s also the game’s downfall.

At the end of the day, Marvel Snap doesn’t have much to offer. Card battles are the main and only attraction. The game has no narrative to speak of, and only a few modes are available. These shortcomings make for a shallow experience. Granted, that is probably the intent of a mobile game, so it can be fun to pick up the phone and play a few strategic card battles with some iconic Marvel heroes and their variants, collecting them all and growing in power.

3 Marvel Strike Force

App Store Score: 4.6 (256K Ratings)

A battle in Marvel Strike Force

Marvel Strike Force

Released
March 28, 2018

Developer
Scopely, FoxNext

Another Marvel mobile title, Marvel Strike Force opts for a turn-based battle system. Fans build a squad of heroes, customize their skills, and take on various villains. Options range from regular melee attacks to more powerful blows exclusive to each character. The formula is straightforward, but that’s no bad thing. Plus, it’s not strictly turn-based. Instead, characters’ speed determines when they can attack. Players must then decide: do they include a fast character who can attack more often with weaker strikes, or do they opt for a powerhouse who’s on the slower side? This balancing act adds a welcome layer to the baseline tactics.

Marvel Strike Force further mixes things up with different spins on the normal gameplay loop. The title sports a number of modes for both solo and online matches. Many of these involve several players working together to defeat a larger enemy or a gauntlet of foes. When fighting in tandem, they feel the rush of excitement that comes from a superhero team-up. Like Marvel Snap, though, this game undermines itself through built-in limits.

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The title has all the trappings of a free-to-play mobile game. For some players, that’s exactly what they sign up for. However, it still takes a while to rack up levels, meaning new players won’t qualify for the exciting events anytime soon. Rather, they become bogged down in grinding.

Despite this issue, the game admittedly has more depth than Marvel Snap. Not only does it feature single-player campaigns, but it relies on character-building rather than a one-note card for each hero. Nevertheless, it falls back on medium conventions, such as microtransactions, and an over-emphasis on multiplayer. Thus, it’s nowhere near as engrossing as it could be.

2 Freedom Force Vs. The 3rd Reich

Metascore: 86

A battle in Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich

Freedom Force Vs. The 3rd Reich

This game is easily the weirdest entry on the list. Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reichforgoes the well-known superheroes of the modern day, instead crafting an original costumed cast during World War 2. That said, weirdness often stems from creativity, which this game has in spades. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the presentation. The text boxes, thick outlines, and stylized designs instantly evoke classic comics of the ’30s and ’40s. In addition, the tone is deliberately corny a la radio dramas from that time. The developers embrace that world and carve an appealing identity for themselves, contrasting wildly with the blander aesthetics of modern superhero titles. It’s not just looks, though.

Freedom Force is also classy in the gameplay department. Players move units around in an RTS format, but they can frequently pause to issue commands. Doing this can help the heroes combine powers for devastating results. The process calls for the same strategic mindset as an isometric RPG, simply applied to superheroes. The flashy powers even echo the spells found in wizard units, but they never overshadow the methodical, militaristic tactics. At the same time, the enhanced units help to distinguish Freedom Force from other strategy games tackling the WW2 setting. Given that random combination, it has no business working this well.

1 Marvel’s Midnight Suns

Metascore: 83

A match in Marvel's Midnight Suns

Midnight Suns

Released
December 2, 2022

Genre(s)
Tactical

Coming from the developers of XCOM, this gem bears many similarities to the acclaimed strategy series. However, it’s arguably deeper in some areas. Each hero functions as a different unit, and their moves depend on cards randomly drawn from a customized deck. This formula breeds tremendous variety in abilities and ensures each bout feels unique. The developers further enhance that personal vibe through social aspects.

Marvel’s Midnight Suns sees players interact with the costumed crime-fighters between missions. They get to know their crew outside of their superhero exploits, becoming more aware of their capabilities. The process eventually yields new cards, providing extra incentive to engage with the characters in their downtime. The social element soon becomes an organic extension of normal gameplay. Who knew such an unexpected marriage of mechanics could have such addicting results? Then again, Marvel is all about underdog heroes.

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