February 5th, 2016
XCOM 2 is the sequel to one of the best remakes in recent memory, taking place 20 years after humanity lost the fight against the invaders in 2012’s XCOM Enemy Unknown. No longer are you trying to stop the aliens from taking over, this time, you are fighting to overthrow an alien regime that has been in power for decades.
(This XCOM 2 video review and all content presented are my own)
Speaking of fighting, the ability to customize each and every one of your team soldiers is back. With deeper customization options available, from their names, origins, hairstyles, voices, armour and accessories, the tendency to grow attached to your team is inevitable. This plays into the fact that soldiers, like in previous instalments, will die permanently. and it’s going to hurt more when people you recognise fall in combat. and trust me, many will fall.
Like its predecessors, XCOM 2 turn based combat is still intense and exciting, daring you to make a wrong move and watch your favourite soldiers get turned into pile of ashes. As a game involving chance, in XCOM 2, you could position yourself perfectly for an ambush and still miss every shot you take. That’s not a knock on the game design, but rather, it is an integral part of design that makes every situation, triumph or failure, a important one. Of course, if you are good with your decision making, more often than not, you will come out unscathed.
There is little room for error when facing the aliens. With more procedurally generated maps, a new generation of enemies and mission types. Do not think one strategy will let you coast through the game. XCOM 2 expects you to think and strategise, and to use the right tools at the right time to ensure your survival. Even item drops are ever changing, affecting what you can research and potentially get. Adapting is the name of the game. A good variety of mission types will challenge even the most seasoned XCOM player, throwing elements like turn timers and VIPS to extract or capture, forcing you to make risky moves in order to secure your objectives. They keep the action fresh and make bold moves a calculated risk.
A new addition to the combat is concealment. Since you are now a resistance force, the enemy doesn’t usually know you’re there at the start of the mission. This allows for a certain degree of exploration and reconnaissance, before you set your perfect Overwatch ambush, and hopefully kill a few of the alien scum before they know it. The improved enemy AI also makes sure that you better choose your targets wisely, because anything left standing will fight back even harder, be it in terms of buffs like shields or retreating to a bigger group, they will get you back.
When you are not in battle, the Avenger acts as the hub, where you can conduct research, have engineering build facilities, items and outfit your soldiers for the next encounter. Mirroring the idea of a resistance, your home base is no longer restricted to a single location, the new strategic world map requires you to move from your initial starting point to other resistance cells around the globe, making contact and building up supplies, all the while raiding aliens and stopping them from building up their own facilities and scientific breakthroughs.
Performance-wise, XCOM 2 runs great on my 3-year old rig, although I have heard reports that other players have experienced bugs and crashes, thankfully, my own game has been running smoothly. The occasional clipping and dips in frame rates (outside of combat, thankfully) does little to affect me, although this might be a sticking point for those of you who want a perfectly performing game. Here’s hoping to a patch coming soon for those affected.
With a focus on a greater range of variety and replayability, XCOM 2 is a great sequel and squashes many of the problems of its predecessor, with the exception of a few graphical hiccups, it is without a doubt, a brilliant piece of work. With the same awesome tactical combat, unpredictability and alien blasting, XCOM 2 will be a game I put hundreds and hundreds of hours into, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.
Good luck, Commander.
Best turn-based tactical combat
A continuation of XCOM's excellent strategy layer
Varied combat variables