Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Oh no! XCOM 2: Be The Baddie has been delayed until next February. If you’re anything like me that wait is agony. There is no stronger recommendation I can give to get through it than XCOM 1 mod Long War.
Somehow, they found a way in to a system which was tragically closed, digging their into XCOM’s guts and profoundly rewriting the rules of its meta-game, even if the basic action loops and the visual side of things were harder to interfere with. To play Long War is, at first, to feel as though you’re experiencing a full-fat X-COM sequel, albeit with XCOM’s slicker, simpler combat systems.
To keep playing it is to realise quite why it’s called ‘Long War’, and quite possibly to feel beaten into the ground by its unrelenting, unforgiving difficulty. But that’s the joy of it, right? You don’t just keep steamrollering through even as the bodies pile up, but instead get that meaningful sense of having survived an onslaught, or at least progressed through it to some degree.
Yeah, for my personal tastes Long War – at least at its default settings; it can be toned down somewhat – goes too far into hardcore willy-waving, but I forgive it that because it how much it has and how much it does. I love XCOM, but it rapidly ceases to be surprising. Long War, on the other hand, sustains the ‘Oh god you’ve got to be fucking kidding’ moments. And, most preciously, I’ve got this sneaking suspicion it’s informed what we’re going to get in XCOM 2 quite a bit.