The Best Xbox Turn-Based Combat Games Available in 2018

By Mark Delaney, 5 months ago
When I was younger, turn-based combat never made much sense to me. Who waits a turn when they're in a fight? I avoided the genre because of this mix of a weird premise and intimidating complexity in playing games like chess. Now I see I spent years ignoring some really awesome stuff. Turn-based combat, when done well, can make tactical strategy and role-playing games unforgettable. Below we've compiled the best such games you can find on Xbox right now in 2018. If you're a fan of turn-based combat and you've missed anything from this list, now's the time to clean up.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

TSOT Logo

South Park: The Stick of Truth is a very well-crafted game. If you're a fan of the show, consider it a must buy. If you're not, it's hard to fully recommend. With the exact look of the show, interestingly thought-out gameplay, and crude and offensive humour left, right and centre, it was the best South Park game ever made when it first came out. Unlike many TV and film-based games of this generation, this game had a lot of work put into it and it's very faithful to its source material. The turn-based gameplay fits well, and it certainly is a memorable trip to the mountain town of South Park.

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South Park: The Fractured but Whole

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The Stick of Truth was a brilliant example of how South Park can be translated into the medium of video games while still retaining its essence. The Fractured but Whole manages to do that again and take it even further. Housing a story that is both offensive, yet hilarious, ludicrous, yet serious is a rare achievement but this game accomplishes it. The overhauled combat also keeps strategy a key part of gameplay so tactical thinking is always rewarded. With customisation tying many of the game elements together, everything flows extremely well, giving us a game with which we can wind down when exploring, be on the edge of our seats when engaging with the story, and get our thinking caps on when fighting the enemy.

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XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Screenshot for the recently released trailer

Any one of the XCOM games would work here, to be honest, but we went with this one because it's a great introduction to the series and to one of the best turn-based series ongoing in games. In XCOM, you'll mourn your losses, fight til your last dying breath, and when you do succeed it'll feel earned on a level few other games can match. If you've not yet tried the series and you like tactical grid-based combat, you maybe can't do any better than XCOM.

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Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon

To say Darkest Dungeon is a challenging and satisfying RPG doesn't seem like nearly enough praise. The sheer amount of customization — 15+ different classes, seven abilities per character to choose from, equippable trinkets, and much more besides — makes for a highly involved, appetizingly deep adventure that can be approached with many different play styles. The psychological and stress aspects add something unique that is not seen every day. All the while, the roar of the excellent narrator commentates the success and failures of the player as they progress through intricately hand-drawn environments and battles with sound design tailored to perfection.

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Battle Chasers: Nightwar

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Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a magnificent success. At first glance, the beautiful visuals draw you with hopes the gameplay could match how excellent they look... and it does. The JRPG combat requires deep, tactical thought in nearly every battle as you push through your foes. Unlike most RPGs, even the random fights will often require some thinking to determine what to use to benefit you both in the current fight and in future fights, as resources are not always infinite. Bosses most of all can feel like epic battles where your strategy plays a key part in the process. Backed by strong character development and plenty of side content to keep you going, this is an RPG any fan of the genre would be a fool to miss. It's not perfect, but few games ever are. What's here is excellent and it comes highly recommended.

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Worms W.M.D.

Worms W.M.D. 8

The basic Worms formula hasn’t changed since its conception in the mid-90s. While each new game in the series brings with it new ways to destroy your foes, its heart remains the same. Team 17 has done a great job at balancing the power and weaknesses of the new mechanics so that they feel like natural additions to the Worms world, and while some of the old weapons haven't returned this time, the game never feels like it is reducing your tactical choices. Worms W.M.D continues to deliver exactly what we have come to expect from the series and fans will not be disappointed.

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Wasteland 2: Director's Cut

Wasteland 2 Release Date Screens 01

When looking at Wasteland 2 from the outside, it doesn't look like anything special. However, once you get stuck in and persevere through the initial confusion of combat and little direction you are given, there is a gem to be found here. I began my travels in the wasteland with bitterness, desperately wanting to play something else, but eventually, I started to crave playing the game more and more. The skill system makes every squad member useful, and combat can be a rewarding experience, despite particular issues it can sometimes have. The game has an alluringly addictive quality that makes you want to keep playing and strengthen your ranger squad, even if it does look a bit rough around the edges. It may not be flashy and appeal to everyone, but those who do give it a shot will be in for a pleasant surprise.

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Torment: Tides of Numenera

Torment

Torment: Tides of Numenera is a game unlike many others. In many ways its tale more closely resembles a book than a game. Much of the content in the game is told through text, from descriptions of the environment and the world to the deepest feelings of the characters. The writing creates a story worth discovering which captures your imagination and leads you on its journey. As a game it's also a success, allowing players to make real choices with an array of major and minor effects. Through making choices, you can shape your hero to be someone who truly resembles how you feel which allows you to connect with the hero on a deeper level. The only negatives are the lack of substance to the companions' stories, dismal combat that you can luckily almost entirely avoid through savvy conversation choices, and performance issues. Ultimately, Torment is a game for anyone who's a fan of a good book, an epic tale, or that simply wants a fresh take on RPGs that consoles have never seen. It may not be a great novel, but it's certainly a very good one.

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The Banner Saga 2

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The Banner Saga 2 presents a story that defies the middle episode syndrome, building on the rich lore and expanding its world in new and interesting ways to give players a wholly interesting narrative experience. It comments smartly on the role of a leader and what such a position requires while trying to beat those leaders into submission. It's a story of great scale and turmoil presented alongside a gameplay loop that does everything that it wants to do very well. It just so happens that what it wants to do is nearly identical to what it did last time. If you're returning to Stoic's Saga then it's more of what you enjoyed, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you're a fan of the genre and new to the series, The Banner Saga 2 is absolutely worth your time, just make time for its predecessor first — and look out for the trilogy's finale coming this month.

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Child of Light

Child of Light

Child of Light is actually the game that first made me question why I had avoided turn-based combat for so long. Before it became a Games with Gold title in 2015, I had played a total of one genre game, whose title I can't recall and whose gameplay I hated so much nearly two decades ago that I swore off the genre. Thankfully, I gave Child of Light a chance, and since then I've grown to really appreciate the genre. It offers a lovely soundtrack, combat with just the right amount of complexity, and a world of charm worth exploring. If you're reading this feeling how I once did, like turn-based combat is boring or inferior to action combat, let this be your gateway game into a world of awesome stuff you're sadly missing.

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Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is the host of the community game club TA Playlist. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his family. He almost never writes in the third person.