XCOM 2 Post-E3 Preview – An Offensive, Darker, and More Tactical Game than its Predecessor

XCOM 2’s reveal trailer came out a couple of weeks ago, and we were expecting more insight as time went on. Recently, Firaxis revealed various new and exciting features in XCOM 2 that greatly set it apart from its predecessor.

The first and foremost (and the most interesting) aspect of the game is that it takes on a highly pessimistic outcome of its predecessor. XCOM: Enemy Within was no easy game, and there plenty of chances to fail miserably either by running out of backers or going completely broke.

XCOM 2 pretends that is the eventual outcome; the XCOM project was a failure, and as a result humanity was invaded by aliens. 20 years after the mishaps of Enemy Within, the XCOM organization is now scattered and operates underground.

The world is controlled by aliens, who have done their fair share of good things, such as eradicating illnesses and completely eliminating crime, but still have a dark ultimate plan that does not necessarily include the betterment of humanity.

They now control the world with an iron fist and force gene therapies & augmentations on the mass population, which lives under media propaganda that displays the aliens as their saviors. In commemoration of the invasion, the aliens have a special ‘holiday’ of sorts called ‘Unification Day’, which is celebrated across the globe.

As the XCOM leader, it is up to you to use the limited funds and staff you have to create an operating force that acts as renegades in an attempt to throw off the alien governing body, the Advents. There’s no better day to do it than Unification Day to serve the poetic justice.

This backstory completely changes the way the game is played as well. There is no longer a fog of war in the game. Instead, XCOM is the one on the offense, meaning the roles are now switched. As a result, enemies have a fog of war instead of you, which allows players to use stealth and initial surprise as an important weapon in gaining advantage during tactical battles.

Once you are within the enemy’s line of sight or decide to initiate the assault, the concealment is gone, and stage turns into a full battle ground. The enemies are stronger, more sophisticated, and have AI assistance from sentinels and turrets (which can be hacked), making the initial positioning under concealment vital.

The objectives are varied and highly procedural in the game, and there is no automatic escort. Instead, after completing an objective, you are required to manually select an escort location where the dropship will come and take you out. You can do so even when there are powerful evolved aliens lurking around, provided you’ve completed your objectives.

As a result, XCOM 2 seems to be a much more offensive-oriented game rather than a defensive one, with heavier emphasis on procedural objectives rather than simply clearing out specific locations in different parts of the world.

XCOM 2 will be released for PC this November.