You know the science fiction movies in which aliens invade the Earth and a war begins with humans for possession of the planet? Well XCOM 2, a strategic one released on PC, PlayStation 4 and XBox One in 2016 and now on the Nintendo Switch in its full version , is just about this.
The game stands as a sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, in a world where the defense of the Earth has failed and therefore the aliens have managed to conquer it. To better control humans they created the puppet government called Advent, so as to operate undisturbed and work on the mysterious Avatar project. In this war for survival, we play the role of the commander of XCOM, a group of soldiers equipped with rather advanced technology, with the aim of stopping this Avatar project and chasing the aliens from our beloved planet.
But what does this package include?
XCOM 2 Collection is a bundle that contains both the base game, the four DLCs, and the War of the Chosen expansion. Of the four DLCs, Resistance Guerrillas and Sons of Anarchy introduce various cosmetics and customization options (purely aesthetic) for soldiers, Alien Hunters instead introduces new weapons and armor, other cosmetic improvements and a mission in which we will be able to use the officer John Bradford. Finally, the fourth and final DLC is titled Shen’s Last Gift and allows us to get a new class after completing some exploration missions.
The War of the Chosen expansioninstead it completely changes the cards on the table, adds three completely new classes linked to three different factions of the Resistance, new alien enemies, new environments, missions and gameplay mechanics. It also introduces three specific enemies called Chosen (hence the name of the expansion), which are extremely powerful aliens with unique abilities and very difficult to defeat. Trust me, they are scary and hurtful. So bad.
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As commander, we are in complete control of the campaign against the invader, which takes place by alternating the two main phases of the game. The first is the one on the game map, divided into various areas where the activities of the Advent and the Resistance are concentrated and where we can find both the missions, secondary and main, and various resources to collect.
North America is also on fire in 2035
Unlike other typical PC strategy / management games like Total War or Civilization, in XCOM 2 the time on the world map is constantly advancing, whether we do something or not. Add to that the fact that the aliens are constantly making progress in their Avatar project and the perfect atmosphere is created right away. To slow this advancement we will have to target the Advent research bases or select special side missions that destroy the enemy’s progress. The bases of the Advent, however, are very well defended, so good preparation is required before they can be destroyed. And if you are playing the War of the Chosen expansion, the difficulty level will be further increased by the presence of these chosen ones, who can easily take out your toy soldiers in one hit or almost.
At this point you may be wondering how to prepare yourself for these very dangerous battles and these very powerful enemies. Do other missions and try to make as few soldiers die as possible, so that you can grow them and learn new skills. Yes, soldiers die when they are killed. Indeed, after death a small ceremony is held and posters are created to celebrate their heroism and make propaganda against the Advent.
Normally you can choose only one skill when the soldier rises in rank, but after building the Training Center we can use the skill points to get the others
Initially our men will be simple recruits, but, as they fight, they will gain experience and can therefore first move to one of the available classes (Ranger, Sharpshooter, Support, Grenadier) and then rise in rank, acquiring new skills related to their role. For example, the Support can turn into a real doctor, having more ways to heal HP and status of allies, or become more adept at disturbing actions. But the management part does not stop there, because there is the one that constitutes our operational base, namely the Avenger.
No, there is no Thanos this time
The Avenger is the flying vehicle used by the aliens for transportation and that the XCOMs managed to steal and restart. Here there are several structures, for example the research center, where it is possible to study aliens and discover new technologies, and the engineering department, where the objects, weapons and armor developed through research are built.
This is the main Avenger screen in XCOM 2
There are also 12 rooms that will initially be occupied by debris but where, once released, we can build different types of structures, each of which will unlock new features. For example, the Resistance Communication room allows us to be able to connect with more allies around the world and expand our network. Other important structures are the Guerrilla School and the Experimental Department, which unlock various upgrades for our team.
Dr. Shen will be in charge of building all the weapons and armor we unlock through the research center
Unfortunately, however, the number and type of structures we can build on our ship is limited by the energy available on it, which can be increased by building Energy Hubs in one of the available spaces. Furthermore, two of these spaces are occupied by Coils, which, once restored, allow you to build a structure without having to pay the energy costs or further increase the energy supplied by the joints. Not being able to remove a structure, it is important to plan their construction well, so as not to deprive us of useful features in the future.
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The second phase of the game are instead the pitched battles, which unlike the rest of the game take place in turns. An interesting thing about this title is that every time you select a mission, the map is generated randomly. In some cases, the objective can also change, so if a map seems particularly tough, you have the possibility to load a previous save and thus have a different one. The most important missions, on the other hand, such as assaults on Advent bases, always keep the same objective and parts of the map the same, but the conformation of the area may change if you select it a second time.
This is a novelty introduced in XCOM 2, which allows both to have more secondary missions, and to make each game more unique than the others, since we will face different situations. Some might think that such an approach may be at the expense of a more refined level design, as with the hand-built maps of the first chapter of the series. This is not entirely true, indeed the maps of XCOM 2 are of remarkable quality, despite being generated in a causal way.
I told you they are ugly and you think these are just the generic ones
A very particular element of the gameplay is that it almost never pushes to solve a map in the fewest number of turns possible, which is favored in other strategy games. In fact, excluding timed objectives, it is increasingly advisable to advance calmly, without exposing soldiers to unnecessary risks, rather than running towards the objective. I remind you, in fact, that dead soldiers remain dead for the rest of the game, while wounded ones may not be available for several days because they have to recover their strength. Another mechanic that pushes a more cautious approach is the fog of war, which prevents us from clearly seeing the parts of the map where our soldiers are not present. Not seeing where our enemies are, in fact,
By killing the enemies we can then request autopsies on their corpses, so as to find out more information about these mysterious enemies
Those of you who have already played Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle will have noticed some similarities between the two titles, in fact many elements of the Ubisoft game take inspiration from the 2K series. One of these is precisely how soldiers can act during battle. There are two movement distances, the first marked in blue allows you to perform a second action later, such as attacking or warning, while the second in orange ends the turn directly. All other actions instead end the turn of the unit directly.
When Jake Solomon was creating the enemies of XCOM 2, he had no idea that there were fetishes for Monster Girls, especially half snake girls. The rest, as they say, is history.
As already mentioned, XCOM 2 alternates these two main phases of the game, on the one hand the more managerial part, in which it is essential to plan the days available to reduce the difference in power compared to the aliens, and on the other the actual battles, in the which instead prevails the short-term strategy for the completion of the objective. However, if the gameplay is a perfect combination of these two elements, the spearhead of this fantastic title, the technical side instead is certainly its Achilles heel.
Yes but play it on PC
Like many console and PC ports, XCOM 2 suffers from some technical issues, although, being a turn-based game, they affect gameplay less than an action game. In fact, the image is rather dirty and blurry and the frame rate is not solid at all, there are many drops during the movies and the animations of the characters and it happens that the game stops for a moment before loading them. Speaking of actual uploads, then sometimes after starting a save I had to wait more than a minute for something to happen. Also, every now and then, the game freezes for a few seconds between turns, as if it were having difficulty choosing what to do. I can understand the long loading before a map, as this is generated at the time of selection,
This is one of the very long screens that mask loading before missions
The PC version is certainly superior from this point of view, as well as for the controls, as the mouse is much more comfortable than any controller for this type of games. There are also various community-created mods available, which further enrich the gaming experience. But if you plan to take advantage of the portable mode a lot, don’t have a powerful enough computer (and the system requirements of this title are quite high) or don’t worry too much about these details, the Nintendo Switch version is certainly very good.