XCOM: Enemy Unknown was one of my favourite games of 2012, and one of the best re-imaginings of a series that I hold dear to my heart. I couldn’t tell you how many hours I’ve sunk into the original XCOM games and Enemy Unknown.
With that in mind, you can probably understand how excited I was when I learned that there would be an expansion coming to the latter in the form of XCOM: Enemy Within, which was announced today at GamesCom in Cologne.
The official release date has been confirmed for November 12, which is exactly 13 months after the release of Enemy Unknown. It’s good to see that Firaxis are still supporting the titles they’ve developed so long after the initial release. They were also nice enough to show off the box art alongside all the other details that were confirmed today.
This expansion isn’t going to add much to the narrative element of Enemy Unknown, instead it’s going to add more to the game mechanics. If you play with Enemy Within, then you’ll be playing through the same campaign as Enemy Unknown from day one, but the additions to the mechanics should change things completely. A new character class, gene splicing, and the new Meld resource will also vastly mix up the original game.
The new class and gene splicing kind of tie into each other. One of the new mechanics lets you choose to augment your soldiers through cybernetic enhancement or biological. The latter upgrades normal classes beyond their station with research taken from performing autopsies on captured aliens. These upgrades give them the edge in certain situations, such as anti-psi shields, or the ability to climb walls without the need for a ladder. Cybernetic upgrade on the other hand change your class entirely and have your soldier re-start his training as a MEC trooper.
MEC Troopers have access to a Mechanised Exoskeleton Cybersuit (otherwise known as a mech suit), which gives them the extra power they need to wield weapons such as miniguns, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, railguns etc etc. It’s supposed to be a much more dominating class than the others, but will also feature a few downsides. The biological augmentations should be enough to offset the MEC troopers as well, meaning that neither option is more powerful than the other. It’s down to the player to utilise them to their fullest efficiency.
There’s also the new Meld resource, which adds a new layer to any map. You need Meld for some of the new features and for research opportunities, and it is readily available wherever the alien menace is found. There’s a catch though: the canisters containing it will explode if you don’t get to them fast enough.
Meld containers are added to every single map, but you’ve only got so many turns to get to them. Whilst your men are on any mission they can try and grab precious Meld before it goes boom, but they may be risking their lives in order to get it. After all, are you going to risk running your squad members out for Meld, or are you gonna hold them back where you know they’re safe?