XCOM 2 thoughts after 15 hours

Xcom 2 report based on 15 hours or so with the game. In a nutshell, Xcom 2 is basically more of Xcom. A lot, lot more, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

Releasing a sequel to a very successful game is always somewhat difficult. What do you change to make it feel fresh? What do you keep to make it a real sequel and not a totally new game? How heavily do you cater to players of the first game, vs making design decisions around the assumption that someone is totally new to the game?

Xcom hits the sweet spot for me on most of these questions. The story for instance is somewhat a continuation of the first game, but it assumes you lost the first time around and its now 20 years later. Additionally, there are references to older enemy types from the ‘first war’ when you encounter them this time around. It’s a minor detail, but one that rewards having played the first time.

The combat is the same in terms of basics, but you now have a lot more toys at your disposal, the number of enemy types is WAY up, and the sheer variety of missions and goals is huge compared to the first time. What has remained is that feeling of frustration or joy when a shot misses or connects, and how that builds to eventually determine the success of a mission. I do like how this time around, there is a bigger emphasis on using a larger pool of soldiers, because this plays into having more customization options for them (weapon mods, soldier mods, the two-choice skill trees, etc).

I think the biggest change to the game is its overall ‘world’ structure. It no longer feels nearly as ‘on-rails’ as the first, and you almost always have multiple missions or objectives you can be working towards. This also aligns well with the revamped base building, which seems to fit the game better this time around.

Overall right now Xcom 2 feels like a better game than Xcom 1, which itself was fantastic. The formula wasn’t broken, so a fix wasn’t needed, and instead we just got a lot more of the first game’s goodness. Certainly worth the launch price IMO.

Edit: The only bugs I’ve run into so far are related to the camera, where sometimes during an action shot it puts itself behind a wall or something and you can’t actually see anything. Annoying for sure, but zero impact to gameplay. Another minor annoyance is that sometimes an overwatch attack has a 5-8second delay before the animation plays. This seems to happen most often when multiple overwatch attacks are being chained together.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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4 Responses to XCOM 2 thoughts after 15 hours

  1. Fucknuckle says:

    I grew up with the originals, but I liked the remake so I was excited for x-com 2. So far it has been fairly disappointing, it’s not the gameplay, which is great, but instead the setting.

    I get the twist, in having lost the first war, but the effects of it on the games atmosphere has turned the x-com 2 into something distinguishingly not x-com. Which for some reason is preventing me from enjoying the game despite the actual gameplay being better than the first remake.

    In many ways x-com 2 is like a turn based syndicate with aliens instead of corporations. I hope I eventually get over my issues with the atmosphere, but so far I regret not having waited for the game to go on sale.

  2. Caldazar says:

    What is your opinion on the turn timer?

    • SynCaine says:

      I like it. I thought one of the minor flaws of the first game was the fact that you could heavily cheese missions by just spamming overwatch and crawling across the map. The turn timers prevent that, without being so short that you have to just run and hope across a map.

      I also like that timer missions balance out; they generally have fewer enemies and fewer ‘trap’ situations. Missions without timers have often contained some pretty brutal setups and escalations.

  3. Jenks says:

    Enjoyed the first one so much that I would have bought this on day 1 without question, except for me it was one of the GOAT PC couch games. They’ve said they will patch in full gamepad support later, and I’ve got a lot to play anyway, so I’m going to wait. By the time they implement gamepad support there will probably be some great mods and the price will have come down, too.

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