XCOM 2 Review

Intense action with tactical operatives

XCOM doesn’t need a sequel. I mean, they beat the aliens, freed Earth, there’s nothing more to do. The old series, by the way, honestly tried to deal with this happy ending problem – they even sent us to the bottom of the ocean because everything on Earth was already fine. But now the scammers are ruling with a remake: did you handle the alien threat in 2012? Congratulations, in 2016 they still conquered the people. Know that in XCOM: Enemy Unknown you were doing useless and pointless work. Now go and truly reclaim territory.

However, all of this is not really important for a turn-based strategy. XCOM needed a sequel. The series reboot was successful but not very long-lasting. The tactical battles, locations, equipment collections – everything was good, but there wasn’t enough of it. Well, not exactly not enough – by the thirtieth hour of the game, you were still enthusiastically jumping from cover to cover and collecting alien scalps, but you had already seen everything. And since even the few maps this time were pre-made (and cemented down to the last trash can), all you could entertain yourself with after a successful campaign was to increase the difficulty level and ride the same rails, but with an increased level of nonsense called “This bastard missed again at point-blank range.”

We wanted progress, you know. To keep all the basic mechanics in place, to take two snipers on a mission again, and to have shots hit 30% more often than shots at 60%. But with new perks.

Planning a strategic mission

And progress has come!

To begin with, some fighters of the Earth resistance watched the seventh “Star Wars” and decided that if they couldn’t become Jedi with real lightsabers, then something like a new Imperial two-handed electro-pike would definitely come in handy. Thus, a new combat class appeared among the defenders – runners with machetes. That is, rangers. These comrades, you won’t believe it, love to break into the aliens’ trench and solve the sectoid or other with a single blow.

Due to the unfamiliar tactics of the rangers for the series, the instincts of an experienced XCOM veteran initially go haywire and don’t give newcomers a chance to show themselves. What does it mean to send a soldier straight to the embrasure? But the distrust of samurai charm fades after the very first demonstration of the aliens’ hand-to-hand attack power. After one of your assault soldiers is first stunned and then brutally beaten (or immediately brutally beaten), you want to disregard the local balance, recruit four rangers into the team right away, and give the scoundrels a tough ninja raid.

Following the warriors, the local support class also decided to upgrade. Apparently, at some point, the Resistance engineers got tired of dusting off the wildly popular drones from XCOM 2012, and in order not to throw away the equipment, they started issuing them to the soldiers as a mandatory requirement.

The upgrade has had the most positive effect on support units. From now on, our medics are not only medics, but also hackers. There are various police towers and terminals with secret, but poorly stored data (and other things depending on the circumstances) on the maps these days, obtaining which will undoubtedly give some bonus. And most importantly, hacking actions can be carried out remotely, without leaving the trench, as long as the drone is within range of free flight.

But it gets even better when you find out that the new flying machine also delivers medkits in the same way. You point in which direction and to which wounded soldier it should fly, and that’s it. No suicidal dashes across open fields, no crowding while waiting for enemy grenades – it’s beautiful!

Challenging encounter in the field

Moreover, with grenades and other weapons of mass destruction, the sectoids have become even better than before. These bastards seem to have really settled on Earth and now they are ruining the XCOM’s life with double the ingenuity. My new favorite is a unit called the Viper. The game tells that this comrade is the true form of the skinny humanoid “spies” (there were such dead guys in business suits) from the first part; mechanically, however, these are completely new guys. Vipers have two equally nasty tricks. The first is to breathe poisonous gas on your group, and the second is to pull one soldier close to them and start choking them for two hit points per turn. Just the appearance of reptilians on the battlefield makes you want to swear out loud.

There’s just not enough time.

XCOM 2 has greatly revitalized the tactical battles of the previous part. First of all, many missions now have timers. For example, the task of evacuating a hostage: the game will give you 12 turns for landing, reconnaissance, client liberation, and full manual evacuation. And for intercepting data from a terminal, only 8 turns. The limit is achievable, but you have to act quickly, reloading ten times and calmly choosing the best firing point on the entire map will not always be possible.

Moreover, randomly generated maps have returned to the game. This is what was missing in the 2012 game, diversity of battle locations, and the new XCOM has completely fixed this flaw. The map generator can only be praised; in the matches, there will be everything – familiar forests, destroyed settlements, urban areas (with even multi-story buildings!), UFOs descending from the sky to the ground, and all this disco will rearrange cover, firing points, hills, checkpoints, and other debris every time.

Battle in the XCOM world

The only tiny little drawback of the generator is that every first time before starting a task, you have to wait for the game to come up with a map. After many dozens of projects with practically unnoticeable and/or very fast loading after regular downtime, you get used to it, and the frequent thoughtfulness of XCOM 2 stands out.

Against the backdrop of general prosperity, only the “strategic” interface disappointed. Various menus and options have grown and entered a stage of feudal fragmentation over four years. Already at the start of the campaign, our new mobile base – a trophy spaceship, indistinguishable from the inside from an old underground bunker – includes scientific, engineering, military, and tactical principalities. To make use of them, you need to personally visit.

It seems like everything is in its place, and you know where to click to uncover the next sectoid, and where the ordinary soldiers train, but endless jumps from menu to menu with clicking on upgrades and giving orders to everyone quickly become a hassle. The Corner of Omnipotence a la Civilization 5 is sorely missed, compiling all current tasks into a quickly manageable list. It’s funny, but the designers thought of gathering all the “alarms” in one place, but they didn’t make it so that you didn’t have to constantly walk through compartments and shake hands with scientists and engineers. Please, watch the animation with the blue globe and the camera flyover to the empty (!) laboratory screen another two hundred thousand times.

Ready soldiers for deployment

But, of course, the strengths of XCOM 2 outweigh its flaws. And they outweigh them so strongly that it can be very difficult to tear yourself away from battles with aliens. As is usually the case with good strategies, you start the game for 15 minutes and one map, and end up playing until four in the morning.

Plus, the matches go at a mesmerizing pace. After a tactical battle, you quickly need to distribute the loot and assign new tasks to the engineers. It takes about three minutes, but somewhere in the last seconds, the global map suddenly lights up in red. You have to go on a mission! Well, this time it’s definitely the last one. After a tactical battle, you quickly need to distribute the loot and assign new tasks to the engineers…

If XCOM 2 didn’t turn out to be the perfect XCOM, it came very close to that goal. You can’t miss such an excellent new release for fans of the genre in any way.

Multiplayer, Strategy
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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