XCOM 2 is an odd triumph in modern strategy games. It’s been quite a while since I’ve played something that’s managed to keep me so engrossed, so involved, and sometimes…so bewildered. The excellent parts about XCOM can sometimes be overshadowed by its missteps, but for loyal fans of the franchise, XCOM 2 is everything they had been looking for in a sequel. It’s been a few months since its initial release, and the game itself has deserved massive initial critical praise, but also quite a bit of backlash with each DLC release. We’re going to cover both the pros and cons, and let you know whether this one is worth a purchase.
To start, XCOM 2 has one of the coolest modding communities that currently exists. With mods that include armors and weapons from HALO, Aliens, katana packs, CoD packs and so much more… the list would be never ending. It’s brilliant and bold to allow the fans to have so much creative freedom with this game. Not only does the full support of mod extend the game itself, but it’s also a cheap and easy way for the company to fix the medley of glitches that are in the base game. Believe me, there are A LOT of glitches in the base game. Most of them can be forgiven, as typically there is a mod to fix it. Overall, there aren’t any hugely game breaking bugs, and most are quick and painless (i.e. floating soldiers, clipping through walls and view points, etc.).
Gameplay itself is fun, but slow. Imagine if you will an interactive chess board, where you design your own pieces. You spend a lot of time whiddling your rook, bishops, knights, and king to your liking. You set them out on the battlefield against an opponent made of stone, and play your heart out. It’s one of the most fun and enjoyable tactical experiences out there, until the RNG (better known as random chance) of the game ruins it. Dice rolls determine the fate of a soldier living or dying, and while there are multipliers that can correct that, you are ultimately at the hands of a few good or bad rolls. Take that as you will, because if that sounds unappetizing, you’re going to hate this game.
If you enjoyed the XCOM reboot of 2012 as much as I did though, you’ll spend upwards of 200 hours within this game, just like I did. The DLC that’s currently available is hit or miss. The alien rulers DLC offers a ridiculous challenge to the game that is ultimately unfair. Most of the rulers can end your campaign in a few turns, and are horribly unbalanced. Ultimately, there will be mods that fix this…but it’s still a definite knock. Adding in crossbows and new customization options to the game are pretty cool, and you can always turn them off. The Anarchy’s Children DLC is simply cosmetic, and is priced as such. While I don’t really like most of the pieces, some are genuinely pretty cool, and add a nice flair to the squad.
Graphics are very pretty, and the attention to detail is obvious. This shows through as you’re customizing your soldiers, and having them run through the well crafted maps. The customization is vast and diverse, and each soldier feels like they’re a child that you’ve raised. This is all the more important when you add in the perma death system, and the fact that not all of your soldiers may make it out alive. Complexities like dropping aliens through a roof with a grenade, blowing up a wall to make a tactical entrance, and heroes rising and falling within your ranks show the beauty of the game. Unfortunately, many of these experiences are cut short with the addition of a timer.
The ADVENT project timer was a good idea…poorly executed. The unfortunate thing is that you don’t have a lot of time to truly savor your campaign, because if you take too long in certain sections of the game, you’ll ultimately end up being defeated by the equivalent of the oven timer telling you your chicken is ready. It doesn’t bother me as much as most, but for those who are interested in grand strategy games, this one will definitely get cut short.
Ultimately, XCOM 2 is a lot of great ideas. Some are extremely well executed, some extremely poorly. For every poor execution there is a mod that can cancel it out, but if you’re not playing on the PC you will ultimately be limited with how much modding capability you’ll have. For now, PC is the only option, but when the game ultimately finds its way to consoles, I’ll definitely say it won’t be the same experience. Beautiful graphics, entertaining game play, good story, and a great community make for a game that is ultimately worth picking up…on select platforms. The DLC is hit or miss, so grab that at your discretion. XCOM 2 gets a B from us in its current state.
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