Paradox Interactive is rapidly becoming a trusted and favoured name in the world of PC gaming, following the release of acclaimed titles such as Magicka and Crusader Kings II. And it shows no signs of slowing down; from its heavy-hitter War of the Roses to the '90s simulation throwback A Game of Dwarves, Paradox's lineup for the coming year is an eclectic and vibrant one worth following for any PC gamers.
Warlock: Master of the Arcane
Release: Out now
Warlock is, perhaps quite shamelessly, a fantasy version of Civilization V, but this inspiration absolutely works in its favour. The similar interface and world-conquering set-up means the adjustment time is minimal, but instead of discovering Earth's cities and waging war with their leaders, you'll be taking to hax-based worlds covered in castles and lava, and battling skeletons, trolls and spiders in a similarly turn-based fashion.
It has a number of neat ideas up its sleeve, too; you can align yourself with different gods, and refusing quests can see you incur the wrath of some and not others. Spells give you buffs in battle and exploration, and hidden portals open up to extra maps that feature more valuable treasures - and much tougher adversaries.
War of the Roses
Release: September 2012
Created by developers who have worked on Lead & Gold and Battlefield, War of the Roses is a competitive multiplayer title that's billed as Paradox's flagship release of the year, handing players swords, shields, bows and spears and letting them have at it in a Medieval setting.
The fighting in War of the Roses is slow and tactical, but it also provides hectic battlefields bustling with activity, as long and short-ranged footmen work for territory and men-at-arms on horses crash into each other. The variety of classes available and the prospect of 64-player combat will undoubtedly lead to some spectacular skirmishes.
> Read our hands-on preview of War of the Roses
Release: End of 2012
Fed up of adventurers always ruining his schemes, the Evil Lord Dungeon Master has created a theme park to attract do-gooding warriors with the lure of treasures, only for them to meet their demise thanks to deadly creatures and traps.
Dungeonland is co-operative brawler that, despite its cutesy exterior, has a rock-solid difficulty at its core, relying on strong teamwork to survive. Monsters, pick-ups and challenging mini-bosses will spawn at random on every attempt, not unlike Valve's co-operative hit Left 4 Dead.
Perhaps the most interesting feature is that while three players control adventurers, a fourth will be the dungeon master, deciding where to spawn monsters in a bid to thwart other players.
Release: August 2012
Starvoid is a budget-priced real time strategy title that's fairly ordinary on the surface, with a Starcraft-style science-fiction theme and aesthetic, bog-standard array of class types and modes that consist of capturing bases and taking down other enemy teams.
It does, however, take a number of smart ideas from the world of first-person shooters to make it incredibly accessible. Matches are designed to be very speedy, with no respawn delays after death or penalties for quitting out. When it comes to making units, they spawn alongside your hero character to get them in the action quickly, and won't be left behind at the base.
The developers say it's something best played in windowed mode, suggesting it's a game you plug away at in the background while doing other things, and between that and its attempts at knocking down as many barriers to entry as possible, Starvoid looks to be a solid, accessible strategy game for non-strategy fans.
The Showdown Effect
Release: End of 2012
Arrowhead's next title is inspired by the golden era of action flicks, taking stereotypical movie leads - from the hard-boiled New York Cop to the quick-fisted martial artist - and making them do battle in a number of outlandish settings.
Fast-paced combat, explosions galore and the ability to use environmental items such as bar stools and plant pots as improvised weapons could make this the Super Smash Bros. of the action movie world.
It's a more competitive and action-orientated title than Magicka, but it still retains the studio's wonderful tongue-in-cheek and referential humour.
A Game of Dwarves
Release: End of 2012
Zeal Game Studios want A Game of Dwarves to invoke the spirit and feel of classic '90s strategy games such as Theme Hospital, and between its bold, colourful visuals, cheerful characters and deceptively deep gameplay, they appear to have nailed their goal.
Players must manage their own underground mine, commanding dwarves to dig rock tunnels in the search for new resources. As well as exploring the surrounding area and fighting off orcs, you'll need to feed and keep your dwarves happy, as well as furnish the king's domain with new decorations.
And similar to '90s simulation titles, its single player sees you jump from mine to mine over the course of its campaign, each one with new goals, tougher enemies and fewer resources to manage.
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