Do you like blasting aliens? How about turn based combat? If your answer is yes to both of those then you’ll love Xcom 2.
Lets start with the obvious. Xcom 2 looks leagues better then Enemy Unknown. This game is jaw dropping beautiful. Every map is filled with details, the enemies look fantastic, and everything from the regular gun fire to the psionic powers that you eventually get looks good. This is one of the best looking turn based strategy games that’s available right now and if you can run it on ultra settings then you’re in for a real visual treat.
The graphics aren’t the only thing that’s great about Xcom 2. The gameplay is as good as it’s ever been in this series. For those of you that were worried that Xcom 2 would be dumbed you shouldn’t. This game has twice as much content as the Enemy Unknown. There are more enemies, map variety, armor sets, weapons, customization, and even songs. The entire map is filled with destructible environments this time around.
In Enemy Unknown we could only destroy basic things like cover, and some walls. In Xcom 2 we can destroy just about everything. I had my sniper a good distance away from a Sectopod and thought that she was safe. I realized how wrong I was when it fired at my position and I watched in horror as my LT sniper fell through the roof and to her death. My mouth dropped because I didn’t know that could happen.
I used the environments to my advantage whenever I could. If I saw two or three enemies camping on rooftops I would aim a rocket or two up there and blow the whole thing down. It’s really awesome and brings new strategy to the game. Another neat feature is the stealth mechanic. At the beginning of just about every mission you’ll start off in stealth mode.
In this mode you’ll be able to sneak around the map. This is useful for finding out the aliens locations and setting up a good ambush. I almost always had the advantage because of this feature and even though it could use some work it never once made the game feel too easy.
Battling aliens isn’t all Xcom 2 is about. When you’re not battling for the future of mankind you’ll be upgrading your flying base or traversing the world map for more resources, scientist, engineers, or assaulting alien bases to the upper hand. The world map looks really cool. Instead of launching satellites all over the world to keep track of your allies you’ll expand your communications system by flying to them and installing it. It’s really awesome because it made me feel like we had lost the war and didn’t have the resources we used to have in Enemy Unknown.
Xcom 2 is probably the best sounding game I’ve played this year by far. The soundtrack is awesome, the sound effects are awesome, and the voice acting is surprisingly good. Guns and explosions sound like they should, but what really got me pumped was listening to all of my plasma weapons shredding my enemies into tiny pieces. Hearing the roar of the engines as I flew from mission to mission made me feel like I was one of the soldiers jumping out of the aircraft about to whoop some serious ass.
The voice acting in the Enemy Unknown was only alright. The voice acting this time around is actually really good and made watching the cutscenes that much better. They even got the “we will be watching dude” to come back and give us some more awesome one liners.
The customization in this game really great. You can literally make every soldier under your command look different in some way. The creating a character is actually fun now and I took my time and created multiple squads. My main dude was rocking a beanie and had a pretty awesome looking beard to go along with it.
If you want one of your squad mates to have tattoos you can do that now. If you want your gun to be pink and have smiley faces all over it go for it because you can do that too. The customization is one of many reason why I can recommend this game to everyone.
I thought Enemy Unknown had good alien variety, but that’s nothing compared to what we have in Xcom 2. Every enemy from Enemy Unknown, except the thin man, is present in Xcom 2, but they’re different in someway. The classic sectoids look more human, have more health, and do more damage now. The Beserker can still wreak havoc on your squad if you make a mistake and get too close to one and the Sectopod is still a bullet sponge that can wipe out your entire squad if you’re not careful.
There are a bunch of new enemies added too. For starters we get to fight human, well… somewhat human, enemies now. They have armor and guns just like the Xcom unit and ridiculously good accuracy. Giant snakes that can pull your characters across the stage with their tongue have taken the place of the thin man and can be a nuisance to deal with if you don’t take them out early. Another really awesome enemy is this thing…
I never thought I would be praising the story in a Xcom game, but I am. It’s been 20 years since the aliens won the war and they’ve reshaped Earth in their image. You get a small glimpse of the way things are in the world in the first cutscene of the game. In order for Xcom to make a comeback and try retaking Earth is by reacquiring their old commander. That’s right we get to play as the same faceless commander from Enemy Unknown.
Every cutscene in the game was pretty interesting. Xcom 2 won’t win any game of the year awards for it’s storytelling, but it’s leagues better than most strategy games that try and put good stories in their games.
The A.I. in this game is good. They’ll flank you, shoot you, and kill you, but they could’ve been better. The aliens are brain dead most of the time and do some really stupid things like move across the map and then back to the exact same spot that they just left. Occasionally the aliens will react really well and be a real pain in the ass to beat. When you’re up against a Sectopod, ground troops, a giant eyeball thingy, and mechs it can be a pain in the ass to try and walk away with a full squad.
It’s actually really hard to walk away at all on the higher difficulties. One time I had a single soldier left after a mission I was on went really bad after I walked my entire squad into a Chryssalid ambush. The A.I. is serviceable, but far from what I was hoping to go up against in Xcom 2.
This has been a hotly debated topic on the forums since Xcom 2 released. Some people hate the timers and some people, like me, love them. To complain about timers now is really stupid in my opinion because they were in Enemy Unknown. It’s not something new that Firaxis decided to put in their game. You have more then enough time to complete your objectives. I’ve only come down to one turn one time in my 40 hours that I’ve put into the game so far.
Timed missions have become quite rare for me. Later on in the game you don’t get them that often. The majority of my missions are blowing up alien bases, which is really awesome by the way, or protecting a settlement of mine from an alien attack.
Xcom 2 is optimized like shit. There’s no other way to put it. It’s literally the only problem I have with this game. Just about everyone has had stability issues with Xcom 2 myself included. Even with my new rig I get dips down to 23 fps during loading screens and inside the main base. That is unacceptable and it doesn’t seem like these problems will be fixed any time soon.
Xcom 2 is a amazing game with 10/10 potential, but unfortunately falls short of that because of major FPS issues with the game. My experience with it did not change though. This is by far the best game I’ve played so far this year and even with the optimization issues it still earns my recommendation. I get stable FPS 85% of the time and I know that these problems will eventually be worked out. Until go in with the mindset that if you don’t have a high end rig you’ll mostly likely have a lot of stability issues.