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Baldur’s Gate III is such a large and varied game it’s almost difficult to box it into a single genre. In spite of that, the versatility of its turn-based strategic combat is relatively unique, even in the RPG space. But there’s no denying that it’s one of the game’s strongest assets. For starters, there’s the surface level of combat, like being mindful of resources, the placement of combatants, and the risk-reward of pushing forward with only the luck of the dice as back-up. But it doesn’t take long to realize that there is a deeper layer, one that can become apparent before combat even begins. Baldur’s Gate III is a game that wants, and sometimes requires, that players take special care of their surroundings. Whether it’s scouting ahead to get an accurate sense of the numbers involved or even just to get a lay of the land, it’s a game that rewards careful planning.
Having those extra advantages is worth it. Every removed enemy is another hit the team doesn’t have to take, every trap sprung on the enemy is one that can’t be brought against the player instead, and every NPC kept alive provides a potential ally for the future. What makes Baldur’s Gate III so successful is that it also keeps players on their toes. Even when the best-laid plans go bad, the game pushes players to find ways to make the most of it, helping them to think outside the box or to recontextualize the situation in looking for an answer. This is reinforced by the game’s easy access to build respecs, giving players greater control over what they are capable of in combat. And when all else fails, the random nature of the dice means that the occasional Hail Mary can sometimes arrive at the most satisfying time.
Persona 5 Tactica was a new chapter in the journey of the Phantom Thieves that dared to give a refreshing twist to the battle system and pull it off with finesse. Moving combat to grid-based scenarios and changing elemental weaknesses for positional advantage or disadvantage made the Once More mechanic feel renewed. The essence of combat remained, however, with downing enemies being the core of combat and other iconic features of the series, such as all-out attacks, being masterfully adapted. With a vibrant soundtrack and a touching story with very likable additions to the cast, Persona 5 Tactica turned out to be another triumphant story of the Phantom Thieves.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses was a tough act for this venerable series to follow, so it’s no surprise that its follow-up was more straightforward. Focusing more on the strategy of the series and less on the social aspects, Fire Emblem Engage proved to be another fine entry in the series, with a gameplay hook that allowed the inclusion of a bunch of classic characters. Combining these classic characters added an additional wrinkle to Fire Emblem’s challenging turn-based combat. By mixing that with a colorful look and a fun cast, the series provided another engaging game to enjoy.
by Zack Webster, Luis Mauicio, and Mike Apps