Some early impressions today of the new XCOM 2 expansion War of the Chosen (WotC), but first how odd is it that a game released in 2015 is getting a full-blown expansion in 2017, more than a year after it’s last piece of DLC? Also how odd is it that the expansion is so great, while the first bunch of DLC for the game was pretty terrible? Different dev teams maybe?
I think the most impressive thing about the expansion is how well it integrates with the base game. Rather than adding missions to the back-end of the story, or being its own stand-alone side stuff, WotC adds to the core game, while still keeping true to the main mission (stopping the Avatar project and all that). There are new classes, which also come from new factions, and those factions have reputations you need to increase via missions and ‘quests’ you can send soldiers on. There are new alien enemies, from an expanded roster of regular enemies to the three new ‘boss’ aliens that hunt you and can show up during random missions. There are new abilities, and new ways to gain those abilities. All of that makes the game better, but also doesn’t change its core, which is great because the core game was already really freaking good.
Some additional observations:
The new 3rd party faction, The Lost (basically zombies), are awesome. Some missions feature them exclusively, while other missions they are a random occurrence which really spices things up. They attack both sides, and will spawn continuously, with the more noise created, the more spawns. Individually they are weak, with only a melee attack and generally low hp, but they always come in swarms of 5+, so if not countered quickly, have a real chance to overwhelm you. To help in that, anytime you kill one, you get the action point back, so it’s not uncommon to have one soldier in one turn down 3-5 of them, assuming you don’t have to reload or the Lost survives with a few hp.
The aliens don’t get the benefit of the returned action point (95% sure on that), so in some ways The Lost are a bigger issue for them, although generally leaving enemies up for their turn in XCOM is bad, so you don’t really want to gamble and hope that the aliens or The Lost attack each other. But sometimes you don’t have a choice, and being ‘saved’ by The Lost distracting some aliens who would otherwise blast your soldiers is a great feeling. It’s also somewhat cinematic, the way The Lost swarm the aliens, and the aliens really struggling to fend them off, only to have your soldiers push in and kill everyone.
The only downside is that The Lost don’t feel like a real swarm that you fight off in a panic, but that’s mostly due to the fact that the game is turn-based rather than real-time, and the fact that it’s not designed to have your 4-6 soldiers fight off a dozen or more enemies per turn. Often times some Lost will spawn, and one or two soldiers will kill the whole spawn in a turn, which is somewhat anti-climatic to a real threat. But as mentioned, those times when The Lost do play a pivotal role, either positive or negative, more than make up for this shortcoming IMO.
I might do a full review of the expansion once I finish it, but either way, if you enjoyed XCOM, there is zero reason to pass up on picking this up and playing through the game again. It makes an already great TBS game significantly better in almost every way.