When XCOM 2 originally came out I liked it, as it was more of XCOM, and the first game was great. I didn’t love it as much as the original (which I played through twice, once on ironman), but I think that was a combo of it being a little too similar, and just at the time not being on a huge TBS kick like I was when XCOM 1 came out. All of which is to say that XCOM 2 hasn’t really been on my radar for a while.
I also never played the Long War mod for XCOM 1, as it came out long after I was done with that game. On paper I like some of what the mod does (more stuff), but wasn’t a huge fan of its main feature: making the game long via more missions to reach the end-goal.
Recently the Long War mod has been released for XCOM 2, and it really is a total overhaul of the game. I won’t do a full list of the changes as you can get that from the mod page, but I will touch on a few of them that I’ve noticed so far and that have left an impression.
First and foremost, the game even on veteran difficulty is brutally hard. The resource management part is even more difficult in terms of deciding when to spend resources and on what, and resources seem even more scare so far. Upgrading the base is slow, there are more choices for research, and I don’t know if I’m ahead, behind, or on-pace in terms of the progression (I’m only about a month into it in-game).
Combat is also much harder, with more enemies per map, the AI being smarter, and since you have to run multiple squads at a time (more on why later), you don’t just run missions with the same 5 super-soldiers, which means how you distribute weapon upgrades and such is also more important. Even when you win, if too many soldiers are injured, that will cascade down to make future missions either much harder, or basically impossible.
Speaking of squads, the mod increases the total size, and you can now bring up to 12 (or 10, not sure and traveling right now so can’t check), which also has a huge impact on the feel of the game. Combine this with new classes, new weapons, new enemies, and new abilities, and again, Long War feels almost like a new game, just using the same basics and setting.
One final item I really like but that I’m having a hell of a time managing is the new infiltration system. The way this works is that when a mission comes up, rather than immediately selecting your troops and starting it, you first send your squad to infiltrate the area. The more time you spend doing this, the easier the mission will be (starting at basically impossible at 0% infiltration). Missions have time limits, so you can’t go to 200% just by waiting, and other factors (squad size, the weapons you bring, weapon mods like silencers) also influence the rate. Finally, you can spend intel to increase infiltration, so on an important mission where you didn’t have a lot of setup time, this might be a necessary ‘last resort’ option.
With larger max squad sizes and the infiltration system, this means you use more soldiers overall than the base game, and the mod greatly increases the total roster size as well as the number of rookies you start the game with. What this accomplishes is that missions feel different not only because of all the new stuff, but also because you are using a different mix of soldiers as well. That’s huge, and a really enjoyable challenge.
If you are in the mood for awesome TBS gameplay, and enjoy a challenge, grab XCOM 2 and the Long War mod. Just know you are signing up for a ROUGH ride, but one that feels especially rewarding when a solid plan gets executed to perfection (or the RNG gods play nice and that 17% hit chance is a crit that turns the tide for you).