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XCOM 2 : A Quick Rundown on What’s New
XCOM 2, the sequel to 2012’s XCOM Enemy Unknown, the great reboot of an old classic tactical strategy game, is set to release soon. Despite being a few weeks away, the game’s preview build has been shown to public starting from earlier this month, to the point of YouTubers starting out Lets Play series ahead of launch.
Basically, all you need to know about what XCOM 2 offers are pretty much in the wild right now, but in case you need a quick rundown, here are some of the highlights:
More Diverse And Scarier Enemies
XCOM Enemy Unknown has a reputation of brutal enemies. Aliens with powerful abilities that can take down your whole squad if not prepared. With XCOM 2, all the returning aliens have evolved- to reflect their success of Earth domination and splicing up human genes (I presume), and new enemy variants as well.
Sectoids, the cannon fodder little grey man encountered earlier have now sported human proportions- with mouth and teeth. No pants unfortunately. Their psi powers- only encountered late in the game, is now there from the get go. And they can reanimate dead bodies, enemies and your deceased squad members alike.
Then there’s the newly introduced Viper, replacing the Thin Men. Fun fact: The Thin Men replaced what used to be a snake-like alien foe from the original Xcom. Aside from the nods to the classics, these Viper ladies have a the ability to pull your soldiers out of cover, and coiled around them, dealing damage over time until released.
The infamously fan-favourite Chryssalid can now hide underground for sneak attacks. Enough said.
Aside from the returning aliens, new enemy variants are introduced as well. The humans siding with the aliens ADVENT troops, the Faceless which is just a huge abomination, and MEC Troopers. There’s more than just what listed and each of them can wreck havoc and despair. Be prepare.
Extensive Character Customisation
One of the prevailing elements from the XCOM reboot is permadeath. If you lost a soldier on the field, they’re dead. The only way to see them again is the memorial. Yet players have so much fun with the customisation, even making friends and family part of the squad, only to send them to their death. Such fun.
For XCOM 2, developers Firaxis doubled down on the customisation options offered. Plenty of cosmetic options, such mouth bandanas and glasses (even a monocle). More armour variants for limbs, patterns on top of the ridiculous amount of colour.
You can also customise your weapons as well, both in terms of gameplay changing upgrades and cosmetic stuff, from urban camo to smiley faces pattern. Not only that, your characters can be fully customised, even the previously locked gender and nationality. You can even write blurps of biography (and even an epitaph if they have fallen in the battlefield) for a more intimate touch.
But why put the effort on all this for them to only be in a limited time? To solve the problem, there is now a system called the character pool. This option, available in the main menu, lets you create and save your customised characters. These will be stored in the character pool where the game will use any of your created characters, instead of just the pre-made ones, in to appear naturally in game. You might encounter them as a VIP to rescue, or a soldier to recruit.
Yes,you can now have recurring characters, be it your friends or family, or anyone you created, appearing in your many game playthroughs.
Deeper Strategic Layer
XCOM is all about the micro and macro game. The tactical and strategic layer. Base building is back, but your base is now a stolen alien spacecraft.
The Geoscape is not about getting satellite coverage now, and wait for something to happen, but navigating your ship to hotspots- be it events or missions, as you uncover them. There’s a new currency called intel. The macro-level game now feels like a boardgame as aliens also will do and research stuff as you. These dark events as they called it, if completed, would buff up the aliens. using intel and choosing the right missions to tackle, can slow and prevent them from triggering.
Mod Support, And Mods Available On Launch
On release, XCOM 2 will be PC exclusive. Odd, considering XCOM EU are available on consoles, and even for high-end mobile devices. But that laser-focused platform choice has its reasons, and one of it is modding.
The devs have taken aback by what the community have developed for XCOM EU, despite the game having no official tools and not modding-friendly coding. The Long War mod is heavily cited as one such example. Thus, Firaxis is offering mod support from day one, will be releasing the SDK as well as most of the assets used for XCOM 2 for modders to tinker and play with.
Recently, the team behind aforementioned Long War mod, now a professional game dev studio aptly named Long War Studios, have announced to make a few XCOM 2 mods, available on release.
I am personally excited to see someone mod in Malaysia as a nationality for soldiers, given Indonesia is available already in game. Also, wouldn’t be awesome to have BM as soldier voice? If what they are saying is true, expect all the tools to make those happen to be available.
Other XCOM 2 Tidbits
There’s now a concealed mode. Some missions allow you to move around without the risk of the enemies being alerted, to avoid the frustrations of being jumped on the enemies once spotted. Rookie soldiers can be trained to specific classes instead of sending them to trials by fire and hope to get lucky getting that specific class you want. The 4 main classes have been redesigned, but follow a similar archetype. Psi powers are now a unique class, called the Psi operative.
From what we can see, XCOM 2 is shaping up to be a decent successor of the XCOM series. Look forward to more coverage as the game launches on PC on February 5th.