XCOM 2 is a huge sequel. Its still a turn-based strategy game, there are still aliens, you still have to deal a vastly superior force, and a 100% chance to hit can still miss. But while nothing has changed, everything is different.
Welcome to the resistance
The story of XCOM 2 takes place 20 years after the events of the first game. Earth has been completely overrun by the alien invaders, causing the World’s leaders to surrender and live beside them in a constructed peace. Now XCOM is a resistance group, and it plans to show the world the truth.
To free the world from the alien menace, it is necessary to once again take command of XCOM. Leaping into XCOM 2’s first missions, which doubles as a tutorial, you’re are treated to the game’s history and the basics of combat to prepare you for the battles ahead.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown offered excellent turn-based gameplay, and XCOM 2 only refines and improves on this while keeping its core essence. As in the first game, there are two distinct elements of play: base management and combat missions.
One of the bigger changes to the base management in XCOM 2 is that, rather than acting from an underground military facility, you now operate out of a hijacked alien ship known as the Avenger. A tedious aspect of XCOM: Enemy Unknown was managing radars across the world – but this is a problem the Avenger completely removes. Soldiers and resource management is also more efficient.
Another striking change is the variety of soldiers. This impacts both combat and management, because where as previously you only had to manage four unit types and their skills, there are now many more – all of whom must be upgraded, trained, and managed in mission. Thus, your options in combat are far higher.
XCOM 2 looks stunning, but at a price
In mission, the turn-based combat still reigns supreme. The changes made by the developer, Firaxis, are subtle but powerful. Turn limits change the pace of combat, new scenarios inject variety, cover can be destroyed, and there is a greater variety of enemies all with improved AI.
Through all these changes, the best elements of the original XCOM remain, such as the cover system and choice of skills. All of which will be good news to strategy fans. As in the first game, the difficulty gradually increases as you progress – ensuring that emerging unscathed from a late game mission with all your troops intact will be a feat reserved for the best commanders.
X-Com 2 looks far better than its predecessor. While the style of its characters and scenarios remain similar, the level of detail, animation, and environments look far superior. Obviously, the improved visuals demand higher system requirements. You can play on mid-range computers, but you will need something a bit beefier to get the most form it.
As for the audio it remains basically unchanged, with the same meaty sounds in combat and only slight variation on the original music to add some drama.
XCOM returns reinvigorated
XCOM 2 is a great sequel that improves the franchises gameplay without harming its essence. While the technical demands are frustrating, this can be easily forgiven to enjoy this brilliant strategy game that is a must for every fan of the genre.