Many gamers who purchased Fire Emblem: Three Houses back in July are probably on the look-out for similar games right about now. The formula of squad-based tactical gameplay, blended with RPG elements, and set in a fantasy world is not unique to the Fire Emblem series.
Games in the Fire Emblem series are fantastic examples of this type of gameplay, but there are many similar titles that are just as good – and a few that are even better. These entries aren’t ranked, but the better of the games listed will be toward the bottom of the page.
10 Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers
This is the latest title in the series that was once called Dynasty Tactics; which is itself an offshoot of the popular Dynasty Warriors franchise. Godseekers is not a perfectly executed game, but it is a fun tactical RPG nonetheless. This game uses the familiar grid system for moving across the battlefield that many of these games use.
Graphics are generally exceptional in tactical RPGs; this is true going back to the 8-bit systems. This is where Godseekers falters though – the graphics and animation could have been better considering the hardware on which this game is meant to be played.
9 Shining Force I & II
Back in the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, when the Fire Emblem series was first getting started (in Japan at least), Sega’s counter to Fire Emblem was the Shining Force series. These games play almost identically to Fire Emblem but are more focused on the tactical combat versus the RPG elements.
Shining Force I and II are excellent games, whether someone is into retro games or not. Sega chose 42 games for their mini console from a library of 700+ titles. Shining Force was good enough to be one of those 42 games. This game, by itself, is worth the price of the Genesis mini console.
8 Valkyria Chronicles 4
Sega's Valkyria Chronicles games are an interesting take on squad-based tactical RPGs. This franchise blends turn-based tactical strategy with first-person action games. This combo of gameplay styles don’t sound like they would be compatible, but somehow Sega expertly blended them and produced one of the best games in the tactical RPG genre.
The game takes place in a fictional modern world, so combat takes place primarily with firearms and tanks. The story is well crafted and has an interesting cast of characters; in fact, every soldier in the player’s army has a backstory, a side-mission, and a personality.
7 Heroes Of Might & Magic III
This classic PC game was the pinnacle of the Heroes of Might & Magic series. In these games, the player is given a hero (more can be acquired later) with which to explore the world map. A hero can have up to seven troop units with them; troops are purchased in the towns that are scattered across the world map.
Victory is attained by capturing towns and vanquishing the opposing armies. This game received an HD remaster in 2015, but the expansions packs were not included. Apparently, the source code for the expansions was lost.
6 Jeanne D’Arc
Here is an entry for a (somewhat) retro system that deserves more love – the PSP. Jeanne d’Arc brings a colorful and cartoonish style to a genre that at times can get too serious. The PSP may be an aging system, but the graphics in Jeanne d’Arc have held up well thanks to their cartoonish art style.
This is a very competent tactical RPG and the story is actually good – it’s not just filler to fill up the time between battles. The battles are fought on a grid-system and include fantasy elements like spellcasting. For those with a PSP or Vita, this game is still available on the PlayStation Network.
5 Pathfinder: Kingmaker
This is a fun tactical RPG that uses the rules for the Pathfinder RPG franchise, known for the Pathfinder tabletop game. Pathfinder, like the SPECIAL system in the Fallout games, is an excellent alternative to the de facto Dungeons & Dragons ruleset. Kingmaker is not a turn-based game, it is a real-time tactical RGP that can be paused at any time.
There are mods that allow for turn-based play, but they are not an official patch released by developer Owlcat Games. This game looks and plays very, very similar to the classic Baldur’s Gate games for the PC. Kingmaker, like Heroes of Might & Magic III, also incorporates empire-building into the game.
4 Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy Tactics was the premier tactical RPG for many years; in fact, there are many who still consider this game to be the best of the genre. Final Fantasy Tactics was released by Square, the makers of the Final Fantasy RPGs, in 1998 for the original PlayStation.
As a side note, some PS3s can play games of the original PlayStation (and they look great on a PS3 too). The game features excellent graphics and a grid-based battle system. The only negative is the small battlefields. There is also Final Fantasy Tactics for the GameBoy Advanced, which is also a great game.
3 Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is another game in this list that borrows heavily from the Baldur’s Gate games. Original Sin 2 takes that borrowed style to the next level though. This game is amazing in every way. The graphics, sound, and story are all beautifully done.
The combat is turn-based tactical free roam and includes fantasy elements. The spell effects in this game are extremely satisfying to watch and never get repetitive. Original Sin 2 has enough little secrets and character interactions to keep players replaying for years. This game was given an outstanding port to home consoles in 2018 (2019 for the Switch).
2 XCOM 1 & 2
Nearly every game in the XCOM franchise was one of the best turn-based/squad-based tactical games when it was released. The original is still fun to play and almost seems like it was designed to be played using a touchscreen. The two releases for the PS3 and Xbox 360 were excellent games that any fan of Fire Emblem would enjoy.
The two modern offerings for the PS4 and Xbox One, titled simply XCOM 1 & 2, are must-play games for fans of Fire Emblem. The sci-fi setting is nothing like the fantasy world setting in Fire Emblem, but the battle systems of the two are very similar.
1 Pillars Of Eternity II: Deadfire Ultimate Edition
With Pillars of Eternity II, we once again have an entry in this list that probably owes its existence to the Baldur’s Gate series. Actually, fans of the Fire Emblem games should give the Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale games a try; just bear in mind they are not turn-based but are real-time games that can be paused at any time.
Like Divinity II, Pillars of Eternity II provides an almost perfect tactical RPG experience. This series was not originally turn-based, but the developers allowed for turn-based play via a patch. The Deadfire Ultimate Edition is getting ported to the PS4 sometime in 2019.