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Everything we know about XCOM 2

XCOM 2 is approaching its official release, so let's see what we already know about the game thus far.

XCOM 2, the sequel to the highly successful reboot of XCOM - Enemy Unknown, will officially release on February 5, 2016. The game takes place 20 years after the events of the Enemy Unknown and continues the story of humanity, which was defeated by the aliens.

The new installment takes a leap forward in terms of storytelling and broadens the meaning of the campaign. This time around it’s not just an abstract set of missions, but a real narrative with strong characters.

The tutorial part of the game should not be skipped even if you consider yourself an expert, as it introduces you to a whole new set of important game mechanics and plot devices.

XCOM 2 is full of surprises, so it's essential that you know what to expect from it.

New strategic component

XCOM 2 Avenger

Aliens have succeeded – they colonized the Earth, set up a massive propaganda system and put everything under the banner of the organization called ADVENT.

What happened to XCOM? Now it’s a full-on resistance unit that plans to overthrow the alien regime. They reside in a former alien spaceship “Avenger.” The new mobile base can take XCOM wherever they desire and establish relations with other resistance groups.

XCOM will learn that the aliens have a secret project coming up – the Avatar. If aliens will make it work, it will be the end of the mission, so you have to take action immediately: destroy alien factories, kidnap key characters, steal equipment, etc.

At the same time, ADVENT will act against you and your allies. They will regularly ambush allied guerrilla bases in the type of missions resembling Terror Sites from Enemy Unknown. Additionally, aliens consistently work on new deadly weapons that will be effectively used against you.

So, as you see, from a strategic standpoint the main goal here is to increase your influence all over the world and do everything possible to prevent the aliens from bringing their secret project to life. The wider area of the map you can cover, the bigger chance you will have to succeed in your mission.

Of course, as you set up more contacts with an ever growing number of allies, the more you will have to travel and spend resources, but this networking is absolutely essential in XCOM 2.

New base and soldier management system

XCOM 2 soldiers

In the previous installment you had to dig up rooms in the underground base, but in XCOM 2 your directive is to clear up facilities on an alien ship. There are over a dozen of them, but the most important ones are Research, intended for new types of weapons and alien trophies, and Engineering, where all new equipment is being created.

In XCOM 2 you can’t simply hire a number of soldiers or scientists, this time you have to look for them and it’s not an easy task. There will be a lot of work on the base and every crew member will play an integral part in its life cycle. In case when you don’t have enough people on board, your development and research will stall.

There are five classes of soldiers in the game and no sub-classes. The names of the classes might have changed, but not their purposes. For example, Assault units are now called the Rangers, but they both specialize in close combat. Medical Support soldiers are now called the Specialists, who can also manipulate small drones.

However, there is one new class – the Psi Operative that specializes in psionic powers.

All types of soldiers have additional abilities that players can choose from and direct the development of their characters either in aggressive or supportive roles.

Tactical decision making is more varied

XCOM 2 destructibility

Destructibility now plays a huge role in your tactical gameplay. You can literally destroy any part of the building and create a real havoc inside. This gives you plenty of choices on how you want to approach your missions.

Architecture in general has become more complex and gives your characters more chances for hideouts and other tactical devices. The same goes to landscapes, so no more flat fields, but instead it looks like a guerrilla paradise with lots of opportunities to stealthily surround your enemies.

All this should be of no surprise, as XCOM 2 uses procedurally generated maps, so you won’t find two identical places in the whole game.

Another huge tactical element of the game is psionic abilities. They are used almost everywhere by the aliens showcasing all the charms of mind control. So, you will have to look for the ways how to play around it.

The last but not the least component is RNG. Yes, you still have to deal with inaccuracies during shootouts, but in XCOM 2 you have more choices. For example, you may choose a bigger chance of hitting an enemy, but with less damage, then take a risk and miss completely.

The level of difficulty

XCOM 2 global map

XCOM 2 is much harder than Enemy Unknown, which in comparison is a pretty laid-back game. However, it’s not as hard as the Long War mod, which at times was simply absurd. But you will see some of the elements of the modification in the new game, which inspired developers the most.

In the sequel you have to deal with so many things on the global map that sometimes it seems unbearable. On top of that, the game constantly reminds you that ADVENT’s progress is unstoppable and you have to do something about it right now.

This also plays a huge role in the replayability of the game. If you decide that things went the wrong way, you might want to start everything over again. The unpredictability of RNG and procedurally generated world guarantee that the new playthrough will be a completely different experience.

Some gamers will definitely appreciate this, but others may not do so. Anyhow, if aliens were easy to beat, they would never be able to conquer the whole planet.

Do you anticipate XCOM 2 to be the best game in the series? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

Published Jan. 26th 2016

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