Kind of a late game review since this game came out in 2016, but XCom 2 is the game I've been playing the past couple of weeks. (the newer one, not Terror from the Deep, though that was fun too). I finished my first run yesterday, just on normal (Veteran) difficulty, nothing special, but here are my thoughts on the game:
- Overall: a fantastic follow-up to the 2012 game adding more mission variation, more unique soldier roles, more unique items, more enemies, and a more involved geoscape
- The story conceit is a lot more original than TFTD was ("Ooh, it's like UFO Defense, except now the aliens are underwater!"). At the start of the game, XCom is on the run in a mobile helicarrier-style base, while the world governments have struck an alliance with the invading aliens. That's right, in this game, instead of defending the earth from the invading aliens, you are leading a plucky resistance group to liberate an already invaded earth!
- the turn-based part is still pretty sweet. There are a lot of new types of missions to mix things up. Rescue missions, missions with a timer, missions where you have to avoid damaging certain things, "capture alive" missions, defense missions, escape missions, and so on.
- the Geoscape part is a lot more interactive now, as there is a subgame where you have to build a global resistance communications network to gain more income, at the same time responding to alien events and guerilla tactics opportunities. The aliens also trigger "Dark Events" which give them bonuses against you, and you have to complete certain missions to prevent those Dark Events. There is also a global countdown timer towards the aliens' nefarious master plan, so you always know how far you are from losing. Completing crucual missions will set back the timer, and allowing certain Dark Events to complete will move it forward faster, and so on.
- Speaking of aliens, there's a lot more variation on the enemy soldier types, including new mech types, a new berserker unit (sometimes helps you if you can get it to go into a blind rage!), and a varied set of human-soldier hybrid officers.
- the learning curve is a bit harsh, even on the normal difficulty. I spent a few months in-game figuring things out, not really building avenger facilities optimally, not really prioritizing scientists and engineers, and getting most of soldiers wounded after every mission and so on.
- The game gets much easier as you level up and they gain new abilities, like the ability to hack enemy mech units (I was using this all the time when my soldiers got high enough hack levels), the ability for your sharpshooter to fire multiple shots as long as she keeps killing, and so on.
- There was of course, a ton of savescumming on my part. Maybe someday I'll be good enough at this game to avoid that. It's easier on the missions where there's no timer, since you have all the time to advance your squad slowly and set up favorable ambushes, but the timed missions are a lot more challenging to get through unscathed.
- These feel great:
- Killing an entire enemy squad with a single sharpshooter's turn
- Sniping an enemy from across the map using squadsight
- Taking control of two enemy mech units at the same time and charging them into other enemy squads
- Setting up an corridor of death where the enemies just run into my soldiers on overwatch and ambush them. I finished the final mission during the enemy turn this way (see image below)
- The run took me about 30 hours over two weeks (stats below). I'm not sure if I have the energy for a second run right now, maybe I'll let the game rest for a while before coming back to it. I considered buying the War of the Chosen expansion immediately as well, but I guess I'll do that when I have the energy for a second run.
(Click photos to view full-size)
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