XCOM 2: The Aliens are Back … and Worse than Ever

Platform: PC
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Rating: TBC

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This sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown takes place 20 years after the reboot ended, with a major twist: the invading aliens defeated humanity, and now rule the world through their ADVENT Administration. XCOM is mostly forgotten about by the public, but, sing the Avenger (a captured alien barge transformed into their new base), players must take their team out into multiple missions to free Earth from the aliens. It’s a pretty grim, intense point to start from – but gives players a different perspective on the long-running series.

Technology has moved on quite a bit since the original XCOM debuted on the Amiga many years back, but the core focus on tactics & strategy remains largely the same. So, what can we expect from this sequel?

XCOM 2 – What’s New?

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XCOM 2 appears to feature a stronger emphasis on dynamic storytelling than the reboot: while Enemy Unknown featured scripted council missions, XCOM 2 adds new secondary objectives, which arrive during levels to help keep the gameplay more fluid & open-ended. By starting the game off on the losing side, players will follow their squad through the fight to take Earth back – it’s a fresh spin on the series, and making the goal global liberation creates higher stakes.

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Still, there’s so much more to any game than story, so what about the gameplay itself? Players will get to enjoy some awesome new character types and equipment: the new XCOM force has a different range of weapons to use – and melee combat has been added, allowing players to get up close and personal with the enemy.

Other new gameplay additions include specialist soldier-types: the Ranger carries a sword, and can sneak around levels without being spotted to set up ambushes, while the Hacker has a drone which moves independently to track enemy threats; enemy hardware – such as turrets – can also be hacked and turned against them.

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What about other new features? Injured soldiers can now be picked up and carried out of danger, and alien remains can be looted – giving players a real incentive to search battlefields. Environments are also more destructible, which means fixtures can only provide so much cover: players need to think about how they use their surroundings a little bit more.

The terrain and buildings in maps is said to vary from one playthrough to another, and armour & weapons can be researched & upgraded back at the base. New enemies include the viper (which can use its tongue to pull enemies in and constrict them), the berserker, and robotic reinforcements: this is a race in control of the world, and they’re sure to pose a real challenge to players (but then, what do we expect from this series?!).

Fancy some DIY Alien-Bashing?

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As Fireaxis plans to release the Unreal Development Kit, XCOM 2 will also support modding, allowing players to create their own classes, enemy, & campaign types to share through Steam Workshop – the developers appear keen to see what creative-minded players will do with their work, and this will help to expand the lifespan of the game. Modding communities are a huge part of today’s gaming world, and it’s always great to see developers support it.

XCOM 2 is still some way away, but the series has a major following, and the new storyline, features, and modding support (which was missing from Enemy Unknown) should give us all plenty to enjoy. What do you think? Are you excited to dive into this latest instalment? Let us know below!