Five Months Later, How Has XCOM 2 Changed?

Five months and one day, in fact. XCOM 2 was a big huge hit at release, and mostly very well-received – although, variously, there were complaints about performance, difficulty, time-wasting and the opacity of its complicated systems. The picture’s a little different now we’re here in July. There have been three DLC packs, a bunch of patches, a mod community and most of all, plenty of time for repeat visits to see how it feels now we know how all the pieces fit together. I’ve just emerged from the requisite sleepless nights to wage the main part of another campaign, and I have indeed found a significantly changed game – for reasons both good and bad.

I’ll start with performance, as I was one of those who was blighted by lousy and wildly-spiking framerates both at launch and after the initial patch. The good news is the worst issues have been resolved – where once I was seeing my frame rate drop to sub-30 on a GTX 970 even with most settings at absolute minimum, now I’m seeing it range between 40 and 60 when almost everything is maxed-out, and at 1440p too. (Full SSAO, as opposed to the lesser and not hugely different Tile SSAO still takes a big toll). It’s never dropping below 30, it’s smoother and I can get the magic 60 if I compromise on a few things. I can’t prove this, but I swear it looks a little prettier than it did too. Or perhaps I’m just able to appreciate it a little bit more now I’m not seething about jerkiness and worrying that my poor graphics card is running at the temperature of the sun.

The aggravating delays between certain actions have been toned down too, although there’s still an unwelcome amount of heel-dragging as various animations or reactions play out, maddening when one is keen to know the consequence or action a riposte. This is compounded by a sometimes unbearable-feeling regularity of interruption on the strategy map side of the game. Already a beeswarm of nags and forced deviations from one’s R&D plans, with the two story-led DLC packs (the third is purely aesthetic) in the mix it’s off the scale in the early game.

I’ll get onto their actual contents later, but first let’s talk about how they’re implemented: crammed in as new missions and objectives available from an hour or two into a new campaign. You can put them off indefinitely, but you probably won’t want to, both from a thirst for the new and because you almost certainly know going in that they grant new and powerful goodies. Those goodies require research and resources though, so you’re further splitting the vote of your funds and having more things that you’re keen to progress on – but can’t, because the strategy map keeps bombarding you with other priorities.

Having a wider choice of sub-objectives is entirely welcome, as is, if this is your first time with the DLC, getting to see new places and fight new foes, but it’s so hard to make progress on anything when it’s popping up a prompt and trying to drag you on a mission quite this often. I counted four interruptions within a single in-game day at one point. My quest to upgrade Medkits seemed to take years. I swore and slammed keyboards too many times, as yet another pop-up mission or far too slow Avatar counter animation took over my screen, and I realised that I truly do hate the strategy map now. Partly it’s the extra chaff introduced by the DLC, but mostly it’s that I now know the game very well, and am acutely aware of what I want to achieve in it.

Many of the roadblocks seem to be just for the sake of it, effectively purposeless other than to rank up soldiers, which there is no shortage of opportunities to do anyway. With the DLC stuff in the mix the strategy map is now all too clearly layers upon layers, this teetering Jenga tower of thematic ideas that were clearly very carefully planned-out on paper and would almost certainly work well as a boardgame, but in a videogame it’s alarmingly akin to Windows Update repeatedly pestering you to restart when you’re in the middle of typing a long document. It drives me spare, and is so far departed from both the simmering tension of wondering if and when a UFO would appear in the original X-COM and the notorious, but by comparison clear and sedate, satellite rush system in 2012’s XCOM. There’s no flow or atmosphere, only nagging, pointless deviations (the trek to Black Market or back to HQ serves precisely zero useful purpose, for instance) and number-juggling.

Breathe. Breathe. The better news is that more mission-based (and new gear-based) content of the DLC has given me a very different campaign from my previous three. I haven’t felt as though I’m repeating myself, I’ve got a clutch of new toys and, at times, I’ve almost felt like I’m playing a full-on expansion, as was XCOM 1’s big Enemy Within pack. My battle-worn team is seriously different to those I fielded in my other resistance operations. It’s important to note, though, that I didn’t play any of the DLC as it was released piece-by-piece, but instead waited until the season pass triumvirate had completed. I’d advise your doing the same if it’s not too late – my complaints above about nagging notwithstanding, I feel that the two story packs in the mix at once makes for a far more dramatic remix than just one would.

The newest DLC, Shen’s Last Gift, is very much the highlight, as it introduces the choice of ongoing change to your squad rather than the one-off goodies of its predecessor, Alien Hunters. It also offers a little more closure about the death of XCOM’s anxious Engineer Dr Shen, although I won’t pretend I’ve particularly enjoyed XCOM 2’s determination to push advisor characters to greater prominence. It’s supposed to be my story, not theirs. That said, there is a sweet moment involving the late Shen’s relationship with his daughter, and a knowingly, agreeably silly sub-plot which also includes a nod to X-COM heritage. Plus a shedload of self-destructing robots to kill.

A long, elaborate setpiece mission involving said robots needs to be completed, and it’s a tough one (and a slightly frustrating one too, as it involves endlessly respawning foes – i.e. a ton of waiting for the enemy turns to complete), and then, bingo, you get your own robot. And the option to build more. By default, he looks like Johnny 5 on a roid-rage, but can be customised like the soldiers. Transformers gonk that I am, I made him all-over purple with a single eye, and named him Shockwave. As a consequence, I cannot abide the thought of embarking on any mission without him.

With the robot soldiers, XCOM 2 leans close to Enemy Within, although on a more limited scale. Robots level up as soldiers do, and have the choice of two different skill trees as soldiers do, plus there are some brand new weapon and armour options for them, so they’re not like the disposable, mute tanks of XCOM norm. These are true robo-homies, and ability-wise they’ve been put in a smart sweet-spot between overpowered and fragile – crucially, they can’t use cover, so expect them become priority alien target #1 whether you want them to be or not. I’d like a few more customisation options – it’s just four heads then an alternate limb and torso set, plus colours – but no doubt we can expect the mod community to flood the Steam Workshop with Transformers, Terminators and Daleks (please please can there be Daleks) before too long.

It’s a big remix to squads, and essentially makes for a third type of soldier, alongside standard infantry and psychics. Though the resources required to build a bot potentially stymie other squad upgrades for quite a while, so don’t expect to have bots-only b-team in reserve.

When this coupled with the new weapon and armour options in the Alien Hunters DLC, my squad’s abilities are markedly different from in a vanilla campaign. Very quickly, Alien Hunters bestows a clutch of new weapons on you, which are broadly speaking more powerful variants on existent gear, but you can only ever have one of each, and if you leave one in the field (i.e. you don’t drag the corpse of whoever was carrying it back home with you), it’s gone forever. Thematically, this convinces in two cases: a vaguely Warhammer 40,000ish cyber-crossbow and a special pistol which puts its wielder back into concealment after a kill.

Not so much in the others, though. One is just a pair of axes for Rangers. Just axes, so far as I can tell (one of which can be thrown as a bonus attack once per mission). You’re telling me that you can build any number of robots, train humans in psychic powers and co-opt any and all extraterrestrial weaponry as your own, but you can’t make an axe? What is this, the last axe in the universe? Same goes for the Frost Bomb, which freezes enemies for a couple of turns – given the game already offers a huge range of weird and wonderful grenades, it’s pretty weird to be saying that XCOM haven’t figured out how to make ice in a can. Minor quibbles, but this ties into a broader concern about Alien Hunters and its predecessor, Anarchy’s Children – XCOM 2’s clean, angular future-aesthetic is now groaning under the weight of a mish-mash of styles.

There was already some danger of this in the base game, a certain lack of over-arching visual coherence between the enemy types. The armoured Combine Advent troops, the familiarly space-monterish Sectoids, Vipers and Mutons, the incongrously Greco-Romanesque Archons and the cyberpunkish Codex and Avatars. Somehow it doesn’t quite convince as a unified force – compare it to Half-Life, which similarly has different species working as one army but keeps enough similarity between them that they at least feel of the same universe. XCOM 2’s foes, by contrast, come across as if the bestiaries of three entirely different games were shoved together. X-COM has form here of course, but somehow its scattergun monsters did seem like a family nonetheless.

This is worsened by the very silly – deliberately so, I think – new armour in Alien Hunters, which is obtained by finally beating three recurring, extremely difficult boss monsters. These big bastards present perhaps the stiffest challenges in the game, particularly when they turn up while you’re already engaged in a firefight with conventional enemies. They’re able to take an action every time one of your guys do – so if your squad of 6 takes 12 actions in a turn, that one enemy will also have taken 12. Bloody hell, basically.

Also, they’ll try and run away through a portal once their enormous health bar reaches around the halfway point, so you need to try and block or immobilise them. (That Freeze Bomb I mentioned really comes into its own there). If they do escape, they’ll be back a few missions later, with only some of their health replenished. These are some of XCOM 2’s best, toughest fights – and their reward is one-off, super-powered armour, which looks absolutely ridiculous. I mean, I laughed at first, but then I grimaced. Here’s me in snakeskin:

And oh my, Adam Smith, where have you been all my life?

It’s important to note that at no point does anyone in the game say anything how crazy this stuff looks. There’s five guys in fatigues sat next to one dressed as a reject, reptile-themed X-Man, and no-one bats an eyelid. It’s just fine and normal. I guess when you live under alien rule, strange has been irrevocably redefined.

I don’t object to the idea of visual comedy, but it just seems so at odds with those careful, clean futuretropolises that XCOM 2 impressed us with first time around. Especially with the Anarchy’s Children stuff in the mix. This is nothing more than set of new haircut and clothing options, in theory playing up to the idea that XCOM is a guerrilla resistance organisation rather than an international military, but it winds up looking like discarded doodles in the margin of the Suicide Squad costume designer’s sketchbook. Sure, a spiky pauldron here or a new tat there adds some more individual flavour to your soldiers, but get into the facepaint and mask options and we’re nearly going Full Saint’s Row in a game that otherwise has no comic tone. (Though body types, frustratingly, remain resolutely fixed to ‘lean’).

I appreciate having more options, but Anarchy’s Children + Alien Hunters makes for so much visual noise, a collision of opposing styles and a confused sense of what kind of tone XCOM 2 wants to have. Shen’s Last Gift and its robots, by contrast, seems to have a clearer focus, and clearly wants to exist within XCOM 2’s fiction rather than be a freakshow skin on top of it.

Those boss aliens are good time, though. They have all sorts of awful tricks up their sleeves, and completely change the nature of a mission when they arrive – just be warned that, if you’re playing on Iron Man, things can go an almost unprecedented degree of horribly, horribly wrong.

So is XCOM 2 a better game for this DLC? Well, yes and no. The robot soldiers in Shen’s Last Gift offer strong new squad options, and a reliable way to ensure that a new playthrough won’t feel the same as a vanilla one. Meanwhile, the new weapons and armour from Alien Hunters means your squad will be even more different from before, chaotic aesthetics aside. There are also a couple of new, scripted missions which add new vigour to the otherwise slow treadmill of the early game. I’ve enjoyed going back, and been just as hooked as I was first time around, screaming at the constant interruptions of the strategy map aside.

That said, the DLC may have allowed me to become a little overpowered a little too soon, and my casualty rate has been surprisingly low as a result. This is playing on second-hardest difficulty, though – I’m quite sure it would be a much tougher battle to lay hands on the new toys if I’d gone straight to the top.

Again, I also worry that XCOM 2 has lost some of its visual identity as a result of the first two DLCs. If it had gone full-pelt weird’n’funny it might have gotten away with it, but instead it just seems overblown and incongruous. The heightened nagging on the strategy map has made a grumpy man of me too. The flaws in that side of the game have widened further, and with that grows my sense that XCOM 2 is not quite the accomplishment XCOM 1 was, despite its raft of smart new tactical ideas.

‘Better’ isn’t the correct operative term, I think. ‘Different’ is, and honestly, that’s exactly what I wanted from DLC – a good reason to play through XCOM 2 again. As a total package, it’s substantial, even if not the equal of the Enemy Within expansion for XCOM 1 – though I hold out some hope that we might yet see something equivalent for XCOM 2 next year. If you’ve got the season pass but hadn’t yet gotten around to it, I’d recommend leaving the Anarchy’s Children box unticked then ploughing on into a happy new world of bright pink robots and man-size snakesuits. It’s a more diverse game now for sure – but on the other hand, if this is your first time with XCOM 2, I very strongly advise playing a campaign without the DLC to start with, or it is very likely to break your head.

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57 Comments

  1. DashingDorm says:

    Stupid sexy Adam.

    • TeePee says:

      This made me laugh reading it on the phone so much I actually walked through into the other room to log on and post about it.

      Nailed it – good job, sir.

    • Michael Fogg says:

      The armor should modify the voice files to add ‘This I command’ after every line

  2. Xocrates says:

    I don’t get the dislike Anarchy’s Children DLC gets from the aesthetic side. You can use it to make some extremely ridiculous looking characters, yes, but you don’t have to. Frankly, most of my characters probably sport some piece or two from it and they look fine within the aesthetic of the rest of the game. Heck, my psi-operatives are now required by law to use the Android headpiece.

    The game always allowed silly customizations, and there are mods far far worse than anything Anarchy’s Children contains. I honestly do not get what high ground one can claim in regards to it.

    • Xocrates says:

      I mean, is this really that much worse than that orange/green attire on the third screenshot?

      link to steamcommunity.com

    • Shadow says:

      The problem is that Anarchy’s Children’s a waste of a Season Pass “slot” for many of us, who expected meaningful additions instead of something so whimsical.

      Indeed it’s stuff I can just choose not to use, but that doesn’t change the fact something better could’ve taken its place as far as official content’s concerned.

    • Vesuvius says:

      If 1 of 3 season pass slots goes to a DLC that’s just customization, I think a lot of people would like it to be more diverse than just “goth rave”- a pretty incongrous choice for this game’s tone.

      • Xocrates says:

        goth rave?

        The thing is that people look at the most extreme cases of customization that the DLC offers and assume that’s all it offers. Much of it is completely fine. Unless you consider that some of my team are now wearing shorts to somehow ruin the game?

        • Punning Pundit says:

          That, and I knew that the first bit of DLC was going to be cosmetic _before_ I got the season pass. Playing pretty pretty dress up with my toy soldiers is one of the best parts of the game.

          • fdel says:

            Wait let me understand what you sayd. I may be wrong… but you just said that playing barbie is the best place of the game ?
            The best part on what is suppposed to be an alien hunting global defending game is dressing soldiers…Well I m glad you think so that means i m not the only onle to have found Xcom2 patethic gamewise. It only received so much attention because there s no other big adversary on the arena.

          • Punning Pundit says:

            I am so sorry you don’t know how to have fun with digital barbies and going pew pew pew. I’m sure other games will help you find things you will enjoy.

    • Explodian says:

      My issue with it is that it wasted an opportunity to give your soldiers a legitimate punk aesthetic, which would have fit perfectly with the setting. I was expecting some chaotic, Mad-Maxesque outfits with a lot of leather and layers and equipment strapped all over the place. Instead we got the goofy-ass hotpants/sports bra/biker vest combo and a bunch of stuff that looks like it was designed by a teenage metalhead who just discovered BDSM.

      The silly stuff would have been totally fine if they’d balanced it with a few more semi-serious options, but as it stands it just feels like a missed opportunity to make your soldiers a little more varied and interesting-looking while keeping the overall feel intact.

  3. Kestrel says:

    Great analysis as always, Alec. XCOM 2 was a fine game, but none of the DLCs looked appealing to me. They all seemed to further distract from whatever the identity of the base game is/was. I rarely say this, but I really just want a grittier, less cartoonish game than what we’ve got.

    It’d also be great if XCOM functioned more like Dwarf Fortress (which just released a historic 64 bit build, FYI), where enemies and soldiers were drawn from a limited pool generated at the start of the game. As the game progresses, both sides should feel the stresses of war as their resources dwindle.

    • Xocrates says:

      I always felt that the point of XCOM was to fight against overwhelming odds. Having the aliens actually lose resources over time seems like it would undermine that at a conceptual level.

      It might make sense for a game where both sides are on more or less equal footing, but not for XCOM.

      • Kestrel says:

        You’re probably right. Although that devalues the actual experience of warfare and ultimately ends with killing the enemy’s Big Boss to bring the whole conflict to an end (see: ID4, The Avengers, every Final Fantasy game, etc.).

        • Shadow says:

          You can’t wage conventional warfare in such disparate conditions, least of all a war of attrition against an enemy which vastly outnumbers you. You will most definitely run out of resources far, far sooner than your adversary.

          Therefore, victory can only be achieved through unconventional means.

    • DanMan says:

      Then keep an eye out for Phoenix Point: link to rockpapershotgun.com

  4. ryth says:

    Is there a recommended order/time to really optimize the DLC?

    I tried to start Shen’s mission right off the bat (not realizing it was DLC) and got absolutely wiped — but that said I don’t want to leave it so late that the gear/rewards are meaningless.

    • Xocrates says:

      You need a Proving Ground to build more robots, so you can maybe guide yourself by that. You can do it earlier (I did, but also got the Proving Ground quite late) so you can start leveling the free robot right away, but the mission really is quite challenging – not to mention long – so take all the time you’re comfortable taking.

      The Alien Hunter’s mission on the other hand, feel free to take it whenever you want (assuming it doesn’t de-spawn, which I’m not sure about). The new guns are given earlier at no risk, while the mission introduces the rulers (no idea if they’ll start spawning if you take too long though).

      That said, the mission itself

      • Xocrates says:

        Errr… no idea what that last sentence was about.

      • Archonsod says:

        The rulers only spawn after you do the mission (which doesn’t despawn). Which is a bit of a problem – the initial mission itself isn’t too difficult, but having one of the rulers spawn in a mission when you’re not quite prepared for it can lead to a total squad wipe if you’re not careful (they only seem to appear when the rest of their race do, which is some comfort, but having your first encounter with Muton beserkers being the Muton Queen can get nasty).
        Shen’s gift is either fairly difficult and lengthy or pretty easy and short based primarily on whether you’re prepared for robotic combatants.

        Probably the best rule of thumb is to trigger the missions when you’re already regularly facing those enemies (Vipers and Advent MECs) in the regular missions.

  5. JFS says:

    Naahh. Thanks, but not for me.

  6. Punning Pundit says:

    I love the Anarchy’s Children options, but I do wish none of my soldiers spawned with that gear. Even turning the spawn options all the way down, you can still end up with folks who are a tad bit too wild.

    And _yes_. Those constant early game interruptions are annoying. I hope that an expansion will retool the early game a bit to let me have a bit of breathing room.

    • Rizlar says:

      Does putting the slider all the way down not do that? Had a few waves of rookies in my new game and it seems to be working so far.

      • Punning Pundit says:

        Even if you put it _all the way down_, characters will still spawn with a few bits of the funky badass armor.
        Let me be clear that I do _love_ the anarchy’s children look- in bits and pieces. And I love how many more customization options that the DLC has given us. But when someone I don’t know just pops up as a visual riot, it can be a bit offputting. Soldiers need to _earn_ their Chryssalid killer tatoos, darn it!

  7. wcq says:

    I feel that during my original 80 hour attempt at finishing the game on Commander Ironman, there was a certain breach in trust between me and the game’s rules. Due to the numerous gameplay bugs and odd “features” I encountered, I started feeling that the game was screwing me over arbitrarily. In the end, I felt even my victory wasn’t a personal achievements but a freak accident. The game just decided not to ruin my campaign that time.

    This was compounded by my ever-growing distaste for the pod discovery/scamper mechanic, which still dominates the tactical game to an unhealthy degree, and other miscellaneous niggles. In the end, I just never wanted to touch the game again.

    • cosmitz says:

      Fully utterly agree.

      The first Xcom EU i had a few campaigns, not a lot, but enough, plus Enemy Within. I could have done an Ironman Legendary but i knew for sure, at the start of the game, what i’d be needing to do to play it for the next 80 hours. 1 square by 1 square Overwatch.

      Xcom 2, i played Softman Commander, and got it on my first run with some savespunking and with a lot of leeway. I’m not saying it was easier per se, but it was fun since i allowed myself to take more cheeky chances.

      But i had completed it, (btw wtf, i thought after the avatars i had to extract, not just get cinematic-saved), and after i had ZERO inclination to replay it again for a singular reason.

      The fucking, motherfucking, pod mechanics. Fuck them. While they’re better than EU, it’s still ridiculously stupid. I utterly loved the ambush mechanic (if less definitive/more vague with spotting), and i’d really wished there’d be a way to reuse it, squad level, on a map, by ‘getting away’ or something, approaching the map from another angle, say taking an hour, and having two-three chances/hours pass before they get reinforcements and you have to fight a hugely massed force or quit.

      Anything, really, anything, that’ll get rid of pod mechanics and instead turn it on an individual level. Say pod mechanics activate if a guy gets a chance to radio in to his squad, or something.

      I hate that mechanic so much and it’s sadder that the game itself is based on that mechanic so much…

  8. causticnl says:

    Im still waiting for that Xcom apocalypse remake.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    > And oh my, Adam Smith, where have you been all my life?

    At the gym.

  10. ECMArsenal says:

    There’s a website that’s copied your stories and republishes the first paragraph and doesn’t link here.

    link to mwpmasterclass.com

  11. Durgendorf says:

    I bit too early on Alien Hunters so I’ll wait until Shen’s Last Gift is on sale before I try another go round.

    The last few patches have improved the performance greatly though, and now that I think back on it my Hunters play through didn’t have a single issue with the old line-of-sight oddities. This may have been due to me blowing up a lot more walls though.

    It does suck getting too familar with the strategic level though. For all their efforts to circumvent it there’s still a definite optimal research and build path. I didn’t feel like I was getting spammed early on with one new DLC but I can definitely see two being overmuch.

    • C0llic says:

      I suspect once you’ve had a run with the DLCs and played the story missions, the best approach will be to disable them from game start. As far as I’m aware you still get the toys, with the story elements disabled. That should make the early game a lot less busy.

  12. FeloniousMonk says:

    I’ve not been taken with the DLC. I don’t want to pay for pink mohawks, the idea of randomly spawning boss monsters who turn into monster-bathrobes is only sort of neat, and I just haven’t looked at the Shen/robot thing. I guess what I’d like to hear about from those of you who have stayed with XCOM2 is how the mod community is doing – for all of the marketing that went into differentiating XCOM2 as “mod friendly”, I haven’t seen anything particularly earth shattering out there, but I also haven’t spent much time on it. Any recommendations from you, Commander?

    • Punning Pundit says:

      For me, the best bits of of my first run of XCOM2 were when I did the 2 story skulljackings. All of a sudden, the mission _changed_. I went from trying to blow up a relay or something, to killing a Codex or an Avatar. I had to radically re evaluate my situation based on something I hadn’t been able to predict ahead of time.

      That’s why I _love_ the alien rulers in the DLC. They add a layer of tactical unpredictability that makes the game interesting. No matter what the mission had been before the ruler shows up, as soon as they do the mission changes.

      For me, that’s super fun.

      • klops says:

        Skulljacking was was also cool. And pretty handy instakiller.

        • Coming Second says:

          70% of the time. And if the hacking attempt fails, it hurts your guy. I have to say I almost never found skulljacking useful, although the hack boost is quite nice.

    • Punning Pundit says:

      Also! You’re in luck: I created a few collections yesterday: link to goo.gl

      Also: shout out to the loot mod:
      link to steamcommunity.com

  13. golochuk says:

    The snake armor looks bad because you’ve recolored it badly.

    • LW says:

      The helmet pieces can also be removed, or replaced with the usual options.

  14. typographie says:

    The sentiment that Alec felt a “little overpowered a little too soon” worries me. That’s how I felt about the base game on the second-hardest difficulty. I generally thought XCOM 2 offers players too large and too powerful a toolbox for the challenge offered by the mid and late game. I plan to play on the hardest setting when I go back to it, but I hope the DLC content doesn’t overcompensate. I think what I really want is Long War 2.

    • Coming Second says:

      The alien rulers have the ability to *seriously* piss on your chips. They’re specifically designed for players who have been breezing through the game.

  15. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    That snake armor is atrocious. You’d think they’d have looked at, say, Monster Hunter or something to get some ideas for how to make creature-specific equipment that isn’t hideous looking.

  16. Themadcow says:

    I just noticed that XCOM2 is coming out on PS4 and XBOX in w few weeks time. Sadly it looks like I’m about a year away from having a PC capable of running it decently so it’ll be interesting to see how well it ports to the consoles. It’s just to tide me over until Phoenix Point blows it out the water anyway.

  17. Bollox says:

    For even more variety I really would recommend Spectrum: Complete -mod. There are more research options, weapons but I think the best part is what they have done to the Advent troops. There is more variation with unit types, but they are thematically more coherent, so you might get a mission with just mech units or psionic units. They have also added better weapons to the Advent troops. They might be armed with sniper rifles, shotguns and even rocket launchers and flamethrowers. Very nasty, but fortunately heavy weapons are not very common.

    I would first install Spectrum-mod and after that I might consider DLC.

    link to steamcommunity.com

  18. Booker says:

    I felt exactly the other way around, as far as the sparks are concerned. I think they suck. For the simple reason that they never hit anything. And why would I want to WASTE a party slot for a soldier that never hits anything?!? They are a liability. Plain and simple. If other soldier never hit anything, I slap a superior scope and maybe even superior perception PCS on them. Done. Now they are perfect shots. Sparks however, can’t use either, so they’ll stink forever.

  19. EvilGardenGnome says:

    It’s not X-man armour. It’s more of nod to Serpentor of G.I. Joe.

  20. michelangelo says:

    I loved vanila game. So many(!) unique and fantastic situations over the whole campaign. Not mentioning the fact, that I really couldn’t focus on anything else, then be commander of XCOM while that one week I’ve been playing it☻.

    But this sounds far less interesting, then what DLCs did with previous XCOM, which I was pretty much hoping to happen once again—to become reason to return.

    So, is it possible to play only with one addition and ignore others? I’d choose Shen’s Last Gift. Everything else is rudiculous in design (visual mostly).

    • SomeDuder says:

      Well, if you don’t want to play a certain DLC, you just… don’t buy it.

  21. mika76 says:

    I like this idea of re-reviewing games after a couple 5-6 months! Great idea – then the hype has worn down, bugs have been (hopefully) fixed and some DLCs are out. You guys should do this for every review :)

    • Immobile Piper says:

      I really appreciate this style too. Hype, performance and DLC concerns kept me from buying this before but I reckon I can now make a safe purchase when the next big sale comes around.

  22. SomeDuder says:

    This was a nice article. I’d like to see this type of re-review more often – visit a game once it’s been out for at least months, or maybe once a GotY/all-inclusive version has been released, when it’s had a few patches and the evergrowing stupidity of “hype” has died down.

    Things to look at would be performance, added value of DLC and the multiplayer-scene (Abandoned wasteland, dedicated fans only or thriving).

  23. NephilimNexus says:

    “there were complaints about performance, difficulty, time-wasting and the opacity of its complicated systems.”

    Incorrect use of paste-tense to describe present game.

    • fdel says:

      I bet to disagree, i m still seeking the complicated here, or maybe i already given off seeking.

  24. likefunbutnot says:

    Anarchy’s Children is just awful. I turn it off. There’s not a single costume piece in the whole set I’d even want to use. It is cosmetic stuff, but given how good some of the add-on sets can be, why did I pay for it?

    Alien Hunters is my favorite thing. Truly. The story mission is a blast. Hunting the Kings completely changes the game and forces me to third-guess my loadout every time I send a squad and hold my breath every time I uncover a pod. The first two armors are silly, though at least the Snake one doesn’t have to have the hood. The Icarus Armor makes up for the silliness. Would my sniper like to instantly reposition anywhere on the map as a free action and induce panic in that three Archon pod that just popped up? Yes, my sniper would.

    The bots are meh. I don’t care. The mission was a pain (don’t do it until you have mag weapons and a specialist with a decent hack score) and while I can see using a bot occasionally, there’s really no case where I wouldn’t rather have a Shredding/Holo targeting/Salvo-ing Grenadier, so I fully expect to never take one out again after my current squad starts getting guys above captain rank.

    The real joy of Xcom2 for me has been finding gems in the mods, especially A Better Advent, Extra Dark Events and Grimy’s Loot Mod. Any one of those is at least as good or better than two out of the three official DLCs.

    • Coming Second says:

      Yeah, the modding scene has really made the game for me. Some of Alec’s complaints, like the constant interruptions on the Strategy layer, can be easily alleviated with the right mod, and every playthrough is a little different thanks to the sheer weight of stuff to try, and the fact my grunts now sound like Alan Partridge and the L4D cast. Beagle did a good article on specific ones to try: link to pcgamer.com

  25. fdel says:

    I always found Xcom2 a weak game. More prone to play digital barbie than having smart and interesting fight and strategy. But i may be an old fart, i ll trade this game for TFTD, or EU anyday, o prefer a ton of tme the higly imperfect Xenonauts, which get way better with 1 or 2 mod.
    I m glad you sayd the truth about the DLC they dubiously aggregate anything valuable to the game but more barbie dresses.