For fans of military-themed games here are some of the best blockbusters and under the radar sleeper-hits out there to fire up this holiday season.
VALKYRIA CHRONICLES 4 AND VALKYRIA CHRONICLES
If you've ever wanted to play an anime version of World War II (then you have very specific tastes) this is the series for you!
Set in the fictional content of Europa the original Valkriya Chronicles, recently remastered for the Nintendo Switch, was an underground hit pairing tight semi-turn-based strategy gameplay and the sort of hyper-melodramatic story you'd find in manga.
Players take control of Squad 7 in the first game which is predominately set in the battlefields of Gallia (the game's version of Western Europe).
The series offers gameplay that's entirely unique with players commanding their large diverse squad from a top-down turn-based perspective (think Fire Emblem or Advance Wars).
Once you've selected your sniper, lancer, shocktrooper or scout you then zoom into the battlefield to play as them in third-person (think Gears of War or Metal Gear Solid) and control their actions for a limited time.
What makes the game so special is that each character you control is unique. They have their own personality, storyline, strengths and weaknesses.
For example, one character might be a 'Lone Wolf' meaning that having allies nearby is a distraction that causes a drop in their evasion ability but on the flipside excel when they're alone.
This isn't just a simple stat buff or debuff character's strengths and weakness' form an essential part of their personalities as well.
Permadeath is a very real threat in the game, so if they die and you don't rescue them they're gone for good.
The most recent instalment takes the player to the WW2-era Russia, a setting not often portrayed in games.
Valkyria Chronicles 4's Squad E now features the handy Grenadier class along with larger maps.
Although not much has changed in four games (and one ropey spinoff) those who fell in love with the sleeper hit ten years ago are happy to inhabit the game-world once again.
While the story might be a little twee for some, the series doesn't shy away from the mechanised brutality and atrocities of the early 20th century.
The eponymous Valkyria in the game act as a powerful metaphor for the development of nuclear weapons and the in-game race of 'Darcsen's' tastefully mirrors the persecution faced by Jewish people during the time.
Very few video games have been brave enough to tackle The Holocaust and Valkyria Chronicles deals with the heavy themes remarkably well.
If you fancy a lengthy and original strategy game series with lot's of heart, Valkyria Chronicles is a great place to start.
SID MEIER'S CIVILIZATION VI
While most people think of first-person shooters when envisioning a military video game the legendary Civ series has so much to offer a budding military buff.
Created by, unsurprisingly, Sid Meier in 1991 the turn-based strategy game lets you 'build a civilization to stand the test of time'.
In practice, this means spending hours and hours deciding how to grow your cities, conquer opposing nations and avoid getting nuked by Gandhi.
What makes this so appealing to fans of military video games is that all the civilisations feature historically inspired combat units.
While this is very much a video game, Japanese samurai certainly never fought P-51 Mustang's in a battle for New Zealand, it's incredibly easy to get sucked into roleplaying one of the many real-life military leaders.
Civ is like a giant really complicated board game where you take it in turns win a military, culture, scientific or diplomatic victory over your rivals.
The most recent game Civ VI is the best yet and, when played with the first expansion pack Rise and Fall, is an engrossing and addictive game.
Make sure to look out for the upcoming 'Gathering Storm' expansion which adds climate change to the ever-growing list of mechanics to the series.
Civ VI has also recently been ported to the Nintendo Switch, although disappointingly without any expansion packs.
The series has truly earned its reputation as the king of 'just one more turn' gameplay.
THIS WAR OF MINE: COMPLETE EDITION
Very few games actually take the serious implications of war and run with them.
Most are happy to let players blast away 'bad guys' without dealing with any of the deep moral consequences of behaving in such a way.
If you're looking for something deeper, play This War of Mine which has been recently re-released on Nintendo Switch.
This War of Mine is inspired by the Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War in which nearly 14,000 people were killed.
British forces would support the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia under Operation Grapple.
The conflict in the game is fictional but the choices you make feel very real.
In this strategy game, you have to survive with limited resources and at constant threat from snipers which prevent you from travelling outside of daytime.
Without spoiling too much there are some brutal moments in the game which really stick with you for days to come.
Anyone looking for a mature and meaningful experience can find it in This War Of Mine.
If you've ever wanted to play Tekken with swords this is the game for you.
Taking place during a fictionalised version of the 16th century the Soulcalibur series is Namco's wacky take on melee combat.
The historical fantasy, however, is deeply rooted in real-world military history, although is much sillier.
Characters like Heishiro Mitsurugi and Taki channel the point to real Japanese military figures whereas characters like Astaroth (an axe-wielding giant) are more fantastical.
It's standard button mashing gameplay however for those willing to invest the time the complex and deep fighting styles mean that this is a game you can spend a lifetime playing and still feel there's room to grow.
If you've ever picked up a fighting game (Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat) you should be familiar with how these games work.
What is encouraging is Soulcalibur VI features a robust single-player campaign, something fighting games have ignored in recent times.
While undeniably bonkers (just google the custom characters you can create for the game) there's a rewarding meaty game underneath the slightly bizarre exterior.
VALIANT HEARTS: THE GREAT WAR
The Second World War often features in video games mostly due to the fact that Nazis make such great baddies.
WWI though makes an incredibly compelling historical setting for games but is usually relegated to flying simulator games which have niche appeal.
So for a game to come out with a WWI setting to be an Adventure game, a long forgotten but fondly remembered genre, is something of a miracle.
Featuring four parallel stories which are based on real letters from the era the moving game matches interesting puzzles with a compelling story of sacrifice and loss.
Created by Ubisoft Montpellier (a French studio based in the South of France) the studio's proximity to real WW1 battle sights offers the game a level of authenticity that few others offer.
While presented in a Pixar-esque cartoon style the game hits hard in the moments that count while honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice more than a century ago.
BATTLEFIELD V & CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS 4
To anyone even remotely interested in gaming the Call of Duty and Battlefield games should be well known.
Every Christmas both duke it out to be crowned one of, if not the best shooter of the year.
But after years of annualised sequels, many worried both had become stale.
That was until a return to the First and Second World War settings which Call of Duty was founded on added new life into the popular FPS's.
This year only Battlefield V has run with the WW2 theme, BLOPS4 instead decided to chase the Fortnight bandwagon and go 'battle royale'.
Only Battlefield V has decided to include a traditional single-player campaign this year with Black Ops causing great controversy with their high profile dropping of its campaign.
While this makes business sense (only a small percentage of players actually play the single-player campaign, let alone complete it) it's disappointing for gamers who like to experience some of the best-crafted shooter experiences in the industry to be left cold.
However, if all you're looking for is a chance to shoot along with your mates both offer a wholly satisfying experience for shooter fans this Christmas.
Read the original article on forces.net.
More about: militarygame