The one thing that makes every XCOM 2 War Of The Chosen campaign different

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Though it suffers from having as many different tones as the last thirty years of Dulux catalogues sellotaped together, I found in my XCOM 2: War Of The Chosen review that the latest expansion for Firaxis’ game is an extremely effective remix of, basically, everything. But there’s one very small change in WOTC that I didn’t mention – a tiny thing with massive, massive repercussions for XCOM 2: War of the Chosen [official site]’s replayability.

There’s a lot of things that XCOM does different to its more measured and unpredictable precursor X-COM, but the way you research new military technology is not one of them. Make a choice over what tech you want to unlock (or lay the groundwork for next), wait several in-game days or weeks for it to complete, do it again – each time agonising that you might have sold yourself short by, say, choosing weapon upgrades instead of better armour.

It’s a system that I feel works very well – making a significant strategic choice that will very likely define your next few hours of play – but, depending on which iteration of the series we’re talking about, it at worst forces and at best encourages a single golden path of research. XCOM 2 already dialled this down a bit by adapting the types of enemies you face to where your soldiers are in terms of tech, plus there was a wider range of XCOM soldier skills to call upon, rather than total reliance on firepower and armour. Even so, one can’t really escape the ‘I need Plasma weapons and the bestest best armour’ stomp.

What WOTC introduces to solve this is your in-game scientists having flashes of ‘inspiration’, wherein they suddenly have a brainwave about a particular improvement. If you choose to take them up on their suggestion, they’ll take significantly less time to research that tech – but choose something else instead and the speed-up offer will be lost. It’s still a moment of dilemma, but this time it’s not simply ‘do I want X or Y’ but rather ‘do I want X enough to lose the opportunity to get Z super-fast?’

Because of this, I’ve spun off down totally different research paths than I’d planned to, and ended up getting certain techs way before I usually would – and others way later than I usually would. Compounding this is that inspiration can offer upgrades that are not otherwise available from Research or anything else in the game – bonuses such as one extra hitpoint of armour per soldier, or making stims reusable rather than disposable, or +1 damage on a certain type of weapon.

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These one-off toys are irresistible, even if, moments before, I was absolutely convinced that I must have Powered Armour or finish autopsying Gatekeepers. It’s both the immediacy of the bonus – concrete improvements to your existing squads rather than merely laying groundwork for what the squads might be capable of much later – and the idea that it’ll be lost forever if I don’t shift my plans over to it nownownow that motivates me so.

Every campaign, this stuff’ll go differently. I’ll research the core tech at different rates and in a different order, and may never even find my way to certain stuff, because instead I’m improving my military capabilities organically, in multiple and unexpected directions.

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This all ties into other moves WOTC makes to prevent a linear stomp (such as broadening the ways to expand the resistance network and folding various one-off weapons from boss fights into the mix to reduce the need to reach specific weapon research milestones), guaranteeing difference every time.

Of course, it arguably also ties into that uncomfortable sense that XCOM has now fully become a game of outlandish superheroics and dubious internal logic. Why, for example, can scientists have a great idea about how to patch some extra plating onto armour now but will forget it about it later?

I’ve made my peace with this, more or less, but it does mean that we’re not closer to the XCOM series replacing X-COM – both continue to serve very different purposes. If, however, WOTC sounds far too lairy for your tastes, might I suggest you have scan our 50 best strategy games opinion-o-feature for something a little more sedate?

78 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    Personally, I’d still prefer it if different techs remained relevant throughout the game, affecting enemies differently maybe, such as slug throwers being better against shields and energy weapons being better against armour. But that’s a massive thing.

    • Walsh says:

      The inspirational bonuses have made some of the older tech last longer. My folks are still using magnetic and gauss weapons when sectoids showed up. They have several bonuses to health and damage because of the inspiration research. They are holding their own.

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        Mungrul says:

        But even so, plasma weapons inevitably make all other techs irrelevant (except for the uniques from Chosen and Rulers).

      • Cyber Ferret says:

        Sectoids show up in the first mission. Or they do for me.

        • Kitsunin says:

          He must’ve meant something different? Because yeah, sectoids are always there long before you move on from even conventional weapons…

        • Vilda says:

          Probably meant Sectopods.

          • Cyber Ferret says:

            I figured it was probably sectopods, but thought he might be playing on some different difficulty where sectoids didn’t show up until later. Sectopods aren’t dangerous in themselves. The game provides a lot of options for dealing with mechanical enemies that don’t require powerful weapons.

            If you’re playing on Ironman, though, and have fallen behind on weapon tech, the game starts to get vastly more dangerous during that mid-phase where it starts spamming armor on everyone, and you can no longer clear enough enemies in a single turn to make you immune to RNG.

  2. Cyber Ferret says:

    The more or less optimum linear path through the tech tree remains one of my biggest disappointments with the series, although I enjoy it despite this. I would *really* like there to be more mutually exclusive decisions that allow experimentation with entirely different army mixes that cater to one style of play over another. By the end of any given game there’s no reason you can’t pick up all the toys XCOM has to offer, resulting in clear optimal mixes, and the replay value isn’t quite what it could be for me.

    As for the WotC tech inspiration system, I don’t find that the research time discounts are significant enough to warrant veering off course on a more vital tech. I do like the unique “bonus” techs, but I end up picking up more of these through faction resistance ring missions than I ever see pop in the research lab.

  3. klops says:

    I usually don’t mind not be able to play all the newest games in my old computer, but these XCOM2 articles are really hurting me.

    Thwn again, my XPiratez campaign is nowhere near finished.

    • tour86rocker says:

      Been there. I was meant to enjoy Fallout 4 on my birthday when it came out, but I hadn’t realized how far behind I’d gotten in hardware upgrades so I had to wait a couple of years. I eventually resorted to buying a modern console like a heretic. WAY cheaper than a gaming computer. I’m going to play XCOM2 on it eventually. I hate that. XCOM should be played with a mouse.

      • Duoae says:

        I play XCOM2 on my ps4 but it plays fine on my phenom II x4 955 BE (no overclock) rig… though I did upgrade my RAM and graphics card a year ago and, more recently, the OS HDD to an SSD.

        You might not need to invest as much as you think to get it running.

      • Blackfish says:

        The Firaxis XCOM games do actually play very elegantly on a controller in my opinion, to the point where I prefer to play with a controller. Probably the worse thing about not playing on PC is not having the ability to mod your game.

    • geldonyetich says:

      This is an expansion to a game released in early 2016, based on the engine of a 2012 game, and it’s turn based so doesn’t require a great frame rate.

      You may well find it working on an older computer. Try one of those bargain XCOM2 packages and see for yourself.

      • Stromko says:

        I actually had quite bad performance in XCOM 2 on my old system, and that system ran Fallout 4 pretty well. It may be an old engine but it seems to be pushing that engine very hard.

      • klops says:

        Those were my exact thoughts when I bought the game (without really checking the system requirements)! I have already whined on couple occasions that Dishonored 2 is playable (although slow to load) in my computer but XCOM2 is not.

      • shde2e says:

        XCOM 2 was actually quite heavy on my old computer. I could run it, but only barely with all the settings turned down and with a framerate hovering around 20.

        Apparently they made serious performance improvements with this expansion though. But it also seems that it’s locked to the expansion, because they had to overhaul so much that they couldn’t really port that over into the vanilla game.

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          Herring says:

          There were lots of reports of XCOM 2 running poorly even on fast computers at release (though I’ve never experienced them). They fixed many of those issues, though there were a few remaining issues that seem to have been cleared up in WOTC.

          Like I said, I’ve never had a problem but it _may_ be that the patched vanilla XCOM2 runs better for you now.

    • Cyber Ferret says:

      If it encourages you at all, Im playing it on hardware that was considered mid-range 3-4 years ago, and it’s perfectly playable.

      There have actually been significant performance improvements introduced by, or concurrent with, WotC–especially the loading times.

    • Crusoe says:

      It runs a LOT better than in the days following release.

  4. Cyber Ferret says:

    To differ a bit with the premise of the article, I’d say the various random faction resistance cards, vs the dark advent cards that get unlocked make the biggest difference in the feel of different games for me.

    In my first WotC game, I had the “Any hit instakills Lost”, -1 DA timer point every month, +2 to all mission timers, and some other really helpful cards unlocked, and that campaign was a breeze. I’m towards the end of my second Ironman game and haven’t seen any of those, and the AI have some really nasty bonuses unlocked. The campaign is far more grim as a result.

    • klops says:

      Same difficulty?

      • Cyber Ferret says:

        Yes, the various cards deployed can make for a significant variance in challenge even on the same difficulty setting.

        Extra time for timed missions is a big deal–it eliminates the frantic rushing that can lead to costly mistakes. A -1 DA tick on the doom clock basically means it will never advance if the player doesn’t want it to, which reduces a lot of stress in the game. There are other cards that greatly increase the amount of training points you can get, which lets you run around with super soldiers very easily. Stuff like that.

    • jp says:

      The problem Im having is the game is even more RNG dependant.
      RNG on general shooting and getting hit (this is fine).
      RNG to get good inspirations.
      RNG to get good covert actions.
      RNG to get good resistance bonuses.
      RNG to get good bonus/random XCOM skills on troops.
      RNG to not get nasty dark events.
      RNG to get good continental bonuses and start near a good one.
      RNG probably more.

      • Goldeneye says:

        XCOM 2 has always been something of a rogue-like compared to its direct predecessor, War of the Chosen just makes it even more so with all the random stuff that can help or hurt your campaign.

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        Herring says:

        It means you have to adapt your strategy on the fly; without it the game would be even more susceptible to only having one, optimal path.

        I had quite poor luck on my final successful Ironman / Legendary run and it turned out ok (though not amazingly :)). I think LW2 is much more susceptible to bad RNG; the dark events being permanent means you can get a crippling bad debuff with bad RNG.

  5. Dracofav says:

    Do the WotC changes to research affect the base games scenarios/play through as well? I never picked up XCOM2 but these articles are definitely making me want to.

    • tour86rocker says:

      Related question: would I miss out on something if I waited for this expansion before I played XCOM2 at all? Or is it different enough that I’d want to play it both ways from start to finish?

      • Cyber Ferret says:

        Vanilla XCOM 2 is still a fine game. The expansion just adds more variety and replayability.

      • Xocrates says:

        WotC changes enough in both story and gameplay (not to mention adding a LOT of stuff) that I would actually recommend playing vanilla first just to get the hang of the basics.

        The expansion can genuinely make it feel like a different game.

      • icarussc says:

        Flip side: a couple of professional reviewers (Kotaku and can’t remember who else, maybe here) suggested the opposite — not playing vanilla and going straight here. Back in XCOM 1, I gave the same recommendations out regarding Enemy Within. As long as you’re not strategy-game averse, you’ll keep up fine.

        • shde2e says:

          I would suggest dipping into vanilla first.
          WOTC is definitely the better version, but it was designed for people who had already played the vanilla game. So it adds a ton of new story, mechanics and whatnot, and it does so basically from the start. Which could probably feel pretty overwhelming if you’re just learning the game :)

  6. geldonyetich says:

    On my third Veteran (and second Ironman) run of WotC now, research is a bit simpler than I’d like. Yes, the breakthroughs and inspirations help mix things up a little, but it’s still very much a game of getting the most important techs done first.

    Three tiers of weapons/armor is a rather weak showing. I should really give the Long War mod a play, as I understand it adds a bit more.

    On a strategic note, turns out it’s a bad idea to go armor > weapons. It just turns every battle into a war of attrition. Go weapons > armor, stuff dies before squaddies even get hit.

    • Cyber Ferret says:

      Indeed. If you’re playing optimally, the only real reason to go after heavy armor aggressively is to unlock wraith armor, which is very cool.

      That said, plate armor makes the game much more forgiving when you make a mistake. Still not nearly as important as firepower.

  7. GomezTheChimp says:

    I`m about halfway through X-Com 2. Is it worth ditching it and buying this?

    • Cyber Ferret says:

      I’d never go back to vanilla after WOTC, but it might be worthwhile to play through the vanilla game first so you can have a more informed opinion about the changes made. Vanilla XCOM 2 is also a fine game.

    • bglamb says:

      Think of vanilla as your main course. Take your time and enjoy it, knowing that there’s a similarly delicious desert there waiting for you when you’re done.

      If you rush in and gorge yourself on your pud, you might find you’re still hungry for more, but that the perfectly good main course tastes too bland in comparison.

  8. Xocrates says:

    By the way, what’s everyone’s verdict on the new classes?

    Reapers I completely fell in love with, even though it took them a while to grow on me since they’re not hugely impressive at the start.

    Skirmishers I found consistently useful, although I’ve rarely used them as one of my “main” team members, as I feel other classes outscale. Kind of like Jack of all trades, master of none.

    Templars I’m having a hard time justify using. Some of the abilities seem useful, but the melee focus makes them very situational. Anyone figured out any good strategies with them yet?

    • geldonyetich says:

      They all have their ups and downs.

      I’ll agree its hard to top a Reaper’s capability to be a penultimate scout. They are far more effective at pod avoidance than tossing sensors or keeping a Ranger in concealment. The ability to keep revealed enemies perma-revealed is extremely useful.

      The Templars are pretty effective at assuring something that needs to die does, just like a Ranger, for the same reason: melee rarely misses. Their better abilities take awhile to unlock, and are tricky to employ well.

      Skirmishers can be very effective. Their grapple gives them excellent maneuverability, and combined with being able to attack twice (or more) a round it is often an effective means to down multiple enemies. A fun trick with them is to dart ahead to grab some fallen advent gear, then grapple to safety.

    • Cyber Ferret says:

      Reapers: Helpful at times if you don’t have a stealth-ranger for spotting. When not acting as a scout, they have maybe 2 tricks that are anything other than situationally useful…their stealth claymore explosion (useful early game), and their god tier ability “Banish” (high level), which coupled with an extended ammo clip, lets you remove basically any given enemy from the board in a single turn.

      That said, I’ve found no reason to use them past early game. A stealthed ranger can do the job just as well, then bring on the pain when stealth is broken, whereas a Reaper just has his low damage BB gun rifle.

      Skirmisher: Another early game achiever, basically just a shooty type with a lot of mobility options. Past early game, a Ranger will be just as mobile, but packs a much bigger punch. In the early game, though, being able to shoot then move, or shoot twice is helpful, though their damage is sub-par if not landing two hits.

      Templar: These are my favorite. They’re the only faction troop I use past mid game. They get just as many tactical mobility options as the Skirmisher (fun things like switch place with an enemy), but are much more survivable and can contribute in late game. Give them some +mobility, and they can run around the field assassinating enemies with their lightsabers, but can be left out in the open if need be, because they can make themselves immune to the next attack, and sometimes deflect incoming fire.

      In the end, another ranger *might* be a better choice for a slot, but only because rangers are so godly, but they wont be as fun. Templars have a unique playstyle, and some fun abilities.

      • Xocrates says:

        I suspect you’re having the same problem I had with Reapers, but the trick with reapers is that you never need to break stealth AND still deal a fair amount of damage.

        1. It doesn’t have to be the Reaper to trigger claymores, and they don’t end the turn or break stealth. So you can toss a claymore on an enemy pod, have someone else trigger it – usually with a grenade for a double sized boom that can insta-gib some weaker enemies and leave everyone else nearly dead – and still have an action left to shoot someone.

        2. Which works really well with the ability for bonus damage against wounded enemies + the no-stealth reveal on kill. And since Reapers are usually near, or behind enemy lines, they can shoot someone with near 100% accuracy, while remaining in stealth, and doing about as much damage as an assault rifle.

        Like, sure, if you want more pure damage other classes are better (reason why I don’t take Reapers on the final mission) but the combination of best scout in the game with a reasonable amount of (near) guaranteed damage makes them hard to pass for me.

        • Cyber Ferret says:

          Hmm. Must be a playstyle thing. When you say “fair” amount of damage, you must mean less than an assault rife, which is not a weapon I field for any reason other than the support abilities that might come with it.

          My playstle requires me to be able to reliably remove pieces from the board every turn, and the reaper doesn’t contribute to that until they get Banish, and rarely without breaking their stealth. Their damage is basically on par with taking a pistol shot with a sharpshooter with upgraded pistols.

          That said, I did kill the stealthed assassin Chosen with my Reapers remote ignition ability once, because I suspected she might be near an explodable truck. That was fun.

          • Xocrates says:

            I literally just checked, with the +1 vs wounded the Reaper rifle does the same damage as an equally leveled assault rifle, with the Reaper having an higher aim stat than the assault rifle using classes , AND you still get the claymore + shoot and enemy once (or twice) per mission.

            If you want pure damage, sure, other classes are better, but don’t underestimate the Reaper’s usefulness in determining what pods are active and when.

    • Coretex says:

      Reaper’s scouting made it mandatory for me to have one in every squad. Knowing exactly where enemies are coming from I rarely even had a reaper revealed through the entire battle. Dropping two homing mines on a sectopod or gatekeeper squad and then popping it with Sting thanks to a buddy action for a one turn wipe of a tough enemy is incredible as well.

      Skirmishers didn’t feel like they were going to be useful. Rangers have basically everything that they do bar the Grapple attacks, and at first they seem to be following the same sort of skill tree. Later however they really come into their own as the action masters. Battlelord lets them take an action after every enemy they can see (up to two I have noticed, although that isn’t written anywhere) which means you can easily make 5 attacks in a single round having grappled all over the place as well. More if you use their version of Bladestorm and clever positioning.

      Templars felt MUCH less useful to me. Their attacks are exactly like a Rangers’, their abilities are all lower damage and less useful than a plain attack from someone else. And they have an annoying extra resource to worry about. Later they have some utility but even then my Rangers would far outpace in most circumstances. Parry is probably their most useful ability, which I had skipped until very late. The ability to draw the fire of the one enemy left at the end of your turn for no damage lets you play fast and loose with engagements in a way that is really fun.

      • Cyber Ferret says:

        What can a reaper do scouting wise, that a ranger can’t? They have a slightly easier time staying in stealth, but probably aren’t contributing much otherwise. A ranger can scout, but will also be highly useful in battle every single turn.

        I have a hard time justifying the slot for a reaper after mid game when I have a number of stealthy, ass-kicking rangers. Mostly I use my reaper for Resistance Ring mission requirements.

        • geldonyetich says:

          That “slightly better time staying in stealth” is major, the reduced enemy LOS makes them far easier to maneuver around and far less risky to advance in the fog of war.

          Their unique unlockable ability to keep things permanently revealed is also major.

        • Xocrates says:

          The difference between a Ranger and Reaper is that the Ranger needs to break stealth to contribute to a fight while a Reaper does not.

          • Cyber Ferret says:

            I don’t consider most of the things a reaper can do while stealthed as much of a contribution.

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            Mungrul says:

            In addition, soldier experience mostly comes from kills in XCOM 2, and Reapers just aren’t that great at killing stuff when compared to a Ranger, so they will always lag behind.

          • Xocrates says:

            @Mungrul: No, they aren’t that good at dealing damage (when not using claymore), but in order for them be useful they need to get the killing shot, so they actually get a fair amount of kills, even if someone else does most of the work.

            It does mean they’re weakest early on, since they need a few ranks before unlocking the “does not reveal on kills” ability.

          • Coming Second says:

            You don’t consider blowing up a car, killing one of a pod and shredding the armor of the other two, whilst remaining in stealth useful?

            Reapers can also solo Facility mission with laughable ease. Rangers can only do that once Wraith armor becomes a thing, and even then are heavily reliant on luck.

          • Cyber Ferret says:

            I sure do consider that useful! All the enemies in Xcom are always standing next to cars right?

            I approach it from a purely sabermetrics point of view for my 6 man team. Rangers can reliably remove one or more pieces from the board every turn. Their efficiency is not situational. Reapers may be somewhat better at stealth than rangers, but are they *that much* better at it to justify the loss of killing power for that team slot?

            Remember that offense is everything in Xcom.Especially on higher difficulties, there is no defense. It’s about how efficiently you can remove or lock down pieces from the board before they get to shoot at you.

          • Coming Second says:

            They very often are, particularly when the AOE is doubled! Gas tanks/Advent explodium boxes are even more ridiculous.

            I think a lot depends upon the map and mission you’re on. Rangers are great, don’t get me wrong, but they have a nasty tendency to trigger other pods with their forward movement which means they have to be used carefully. The new tunnels maps also hurt Sharpshooters effectiveness a lot – you’re unlikely to find that elevated position with a view they rely on to be OP. And as already said, Reapers make Facility raids a laugh.

          • Cyber Ferret says:

            It happens sometimes. I wouldn’t say it’s often. At least not often enough to differ from a tossed grenade.

            I guess the reason for my dissenting opinion is that I don’t have any problems using rangers for stealth–that was a rhythm I developed in the base game before reapers were a thing. I’m never triggering unwanted pods for them because I’ve already scouted the area and aren’t moving past the safe zone unless it’s on the first turn when the entire squad can still react.

            It was one thing in the base game where you had to make decisions as to whether to be a stealth ranger or a combat monster ranger, but now that it’s a trivial matter to have your favorite characters get *all* the useful abilities, there’s no reason to have a ranger that can’t conceal and then also murder everything in sight as the situation calls for.

            I also find stealth to be of limited value in XCOM, because activating mission objectives auto-breaks it. If a reaper could run in, activate an objective, then run back out without begin detected, I would be much more keen on them. But they run in, activate something, then they’re exposed, and reapers suck when not stealthed.

            Example: I just ran a rescue mission for a captured teammate. The jail room was being camped by an enemy pod. Either opening the door or picking up the prisoner would have broken stealth. The reaper would have been boned doing that. The ranger just broke the stealth, murdered everyone in the room, repositioned into cover in a single turn, took a shot from a turret he was immune to because of the kills, then ran out to the drop zone with the prisoner very next turn.

            No amount of reaper apologism is going to compete with that for me ;)

          • Cyber Ferret says:

            The new tunnels maps also hurt Sharpshooters effectiveness a lot – you’re unlikely to find that elevated position with a view they rely on to be OP.

            In which case they just rely on their massively OP Pistol skills to kill everything in a room. Properly specced sharpshooters with upgraded pistols are always effective.

          • Cyber Ferret says:

            To correct the above, I should have said their “highly effective” pistol skills. Calling them massively OP is an exaggeration, especially when compared to a sniper with the Chosen Rifle clearing entire maps at will.

            The point is through, even denied an elevated position, the sharpshooter is still a huge damage dealer, and can knock out the majority of a squishy pod or a high value target by themselves in a single turn.

          • Coming Second says:

            Alright, mate. I wearily accept that the optimal path to victory, in vanilla anyway, is to go all Sharpshooter/Ranger and cheese it using the Chosen weps. It remains only for me to submit that that is a really dull way of playing.

            I triggered a petrol station that completely wiped out a pod whilst remaining in Shadow in my C/I game today, and all I could think was ‘It’s a shame that guy on RPS can’t enjoy something like this, given it isn’t the absolutely best way of beating the game’.

          • Cyber Ferret says:

            Well, I play Ironman, and am mostly concerned with staying alive. I don’t really have the skill to play around with things that don’t work as well as others just for kicks. Maybe if I were a better player I’d have more tolerance for the sub-optimal.

      • Cyber Ferret says:

        Tip for Templars: Factor in the one-two punch of Bladestorm with their rend ability. Move them into melee, strike, parry, end the turn, and if the enemy is still alive they get wiped out by bladestorm the next turn as a free action, while your templar moves to remove another piece.

        Bladestorm isn’t a class ability for Templars, but I haven’t had a game yet where it wasn’t available in the training menu.

    • Cyber Ferret says:

      I guess what it comes down to is Rangers and Sharpshooters–the two clearly best classes in the game. With the unique Chosen weapons and the right build, each of these classes is capable of clearing a screen by themselves–the Rangers once, maybe twice, a mission, and an elevated sniper *every turn*.

      Probably 3 of 6 slots should be occupied by some combination of these classes, unless you’re trying to make your game more challenging. Everyone else is there for support. A specialist gives healing and anti mec capability, and I’m too chickenshit to run without one on Ironman. A Psi soldier lets you cheese your way through lots of situations that would otherwise be challenging, and provides the “Oh Shit” contingency for your squad, and so gets a spot for sheer utility.

      That leaves basically one flex slot. Do you choose a grenadier for extra crowd nukes and armor debuff, a reaper for scouting that could probably be done well enough by a ranger, or a templar for Jedi Knight fun? Or, you know, a skirmisher for a weaker version of what snipers and rangers can do between them?

      • geldonyetich says:

        I like SPARK units, although maybe that’s more of an aesthetic preference than a tactical one. However, contrary to what the wikis say, you *can* use attachments on SPARK weapons, so they’re actually quite effective with a superior scope.

        I deeply suspect that the resistence “hero” units are designed to be superior to the rank and file, easier to obtain, squaddies. Soif you find Rangers and Sharpshooters genuinely superior to those hero units, it’s either a balance problem or you haven’t uncovered their full potential yet.

        • Cyber Ferret says:

          Well, more likely it’s that I don’t have that DLC :)

          I think with the exception of the specialist reaper units, the faction heroes are supposed to be hybrids between other things. However, unless they make Chosen weapons for those, it’s hard to see how they compare to an elevated Sniper with the Hunter rifle that can fire an unlimited number of times virtually every turn.

          That’s what Im looking for in high rank characters..the ability to reliably remove multiple units at a time.Sharshooters and rangers do this…other classes not so much.

        • Xocrates says:

          SPARKS are in a weird spot with me. I never got them in vanilla because they generally came in too late for me – and at too much of an investment – to slot in what was the equivalent of a squaddie into my main group.

          The slower levelling pace of WotC actually had me pick up one early in my current playthrough (just for the hell of it) and I’m kind of torn on whether it was worth it: Not only was it expensive, but it can’t bond, or use AP to unlock more skills, so it can never be as ridiculously powerful as other classes.

          However, Overdrive (being able to take 3 actions of any kind in a single turn) is good enough that I like having it as an option for some missions, and will happily swap it for a grenadier if no-one better is available.

          And regarding the resistance units: I suspect they are meant as specialists, not necessarily as some sort of super powerful hero units. Reapers are stealthy and opportunistic, Skirmishers are mobile and versatile in combat, and Templars are… weird.
          If reapers could use the regular snipers, and the Skirmirshers could use shotguns/assault rifles, they could easily become the hero units you mention, but as of right now the only ones I use in the late game are reapers because claymores and the perma-stealth have proven to be consistently useful, even though I can’t rely on them to be a significant damage source.

          • Cyber Ferret says:

            Reapers are definitely specialists. I see Templars as a sort of psionic ranger hybrid.

            Skirmishers I see as a kind of highly mobile general purpose combat unit, that would indeed be awesome if they could use assault rifles. The thing that ends up burning me out on Skirmishers are their low accuracy and damage. They aren’t largely RNG-proof *reliable* like a ranger or a sharpshooter, without really pumping their aim, and Im usually spending +aim items on sharpshooters and sometimes grenadiers if they get access to the Serial ability.

            Skirmishers get access to a lot of useful abilities, but those abilities are usually replicated or exceeded by other classes I deem more critical. If I had 7 team slots, I’d take one every time.

          • Coming Second says:

            Seek out the Metal Over Flesh mod for Sparks. It adds a whole bunch of projects you can chase in the Proving Grounds which make them much more worthwhile.

            It’s also worth noting that although they don’t get ability points or bonds, they also don’t suffer from tiredness or negative traits, and are immune to a lot of psionics and special effects. Overall they aren’t nearly as effective as high-end meatsacks, but they’re still a worthwhile investment, particularly with the mod.

          • Cyber Ferret says:

            It’s also worth noting that although they don’t get ability points or bonds, they also don’t suffer from tiredness or negative traits,

            Since WOTC already mandates keeping a deep bench, this is really a non-factor.

            Dont get me wrong. I *love* the idea of mec units, and resent the fact they weren’t in the base game. But WOTC almost completely invalidates them.

      • Cyber Ferret says:

        [misfire]

  9. racccoon says:

    I have a family member who has it, it looks such a nicely polished game, its a shame I can’t get around to buying it at the moment.

  10. poliovaccine says:

    Yknow, up til lately I’ve been happy enough to keep on kicking away at my old copy (well, digital copy) of XCOM EU/EW, and not spring for XCOM 2 in spite of all the rave reviews, because as detailed and pretty and clearly mechanically-improved as it seemed, it also just didnt seem *different enough* to place it on buying priority. But the more I read about this expansion, the more I think it’s kinda sold me on the whole game. I mean just reading about it has gotten me back playing XCOM EW again, as well as Xenonauts AND a few bouts of Invisible, Inc.! Haha, major craving induced. But moreover, the whole resistance angle of 2 intrigued me, but the kinda-comic-book-superhero thing that seems to be going on in this expansion really just completes it. I’m into it anyway.

    • Cyber Ferret says:

      I agree with you about XCom 2. The vanilla game really does feel like a more polished version of the first one, and I got maybe 1 good play out of it before I felt like “been there, done that”. The expansion provides a grab bag of interesting stuff and new experiences to play with though.

  11. mactier says:

    Without ever having been a super-fan, the franchise actually still doesn’t make sense to me after they decided on their own one simply “lost” in the first title. Once I read this, I was like, “yes, well, that’s it then” (not even any strong feelings), and everyone else, “yes, well, alright then” (would have expected much stronger feelings).

    I guess I simply don’t really find the underdog or revolutionary scenario interesting. It doesn’t help that it took such a turn-around.

    • Rindan says:

      You didn’t lose in the first game. You won. You won the first battle. That’s why you are the big hero that they were trying to rescue in the first mission. You won! Then the real fleet showed up, you lost, and it is 20 years later.

      Personally, I think the Xcom as underground resistance fighters was a brilliant move. It actually fits the gameplay better. It never made sense that you have this massive alien threat, and yet you are struggling to save the world with like 20 soldiers and no air support.

      Xcom 2 fixes this. Why are you trying to save the world with 20 fighters and no air support? Because the aliens won, 20 is all you have, and you can only do hit and runs. It also frees the game to be a little less military. You are resistance, not military. Your guys can be weird.

      Xcom 2 is easily the best Xcom game to date, and this update is the best version of even that.

  12. Zombiwan Kenobi says:

    I didn’t find inspirations as enjoyable as this article seems to point out. There’s already a lot of RNG in this game and even more RNG isn’t what i was expecting tbh.

    Too much RNG pretty much kills the strategical aspect. It can be fun at first but some researches will always be top priority so not having an inspiration for them will just slow down your evolution.

    Researching uninteresting things thanks to some random inspiration will also slow down your evolution since it’ll delay more useful things. So this new aspect basically punishes you instead of bringing additional fun.

    For my part i didn’t like much this dlc, difficulty curve is way tougher to be that enjoyable (for me at least) and after a few missions your team will quickly be stased/burned/possessed/cloned/stunned by almost every single opponent without resistance nor cure. A single mission can make you fight regular aliens but if you’re unlucky you’ll also have to deal with reinforcements/losts/Chosens/avatars and ends with a 4 to 6 members team versus dozens and dozens of ennemies.

    New factions are fun though, they are tough enough to deal with the new situations as opposed to standard soldiers who are struggling really hard.

    • Cyber Ferret says:

      after a few missions your team will quickly be stased/burned/possessed/cloned/stunned by almost every single opponent without resistance nor cure.

      I know it can seem that way when you’re first starting out, but theres always a cure. Usually it’s a bullet. If someone gets mind controlled you just have to pop the sectoid before your controlled squadmate gets to act. The enemies that do really nasty things to your team are usually pretty squishy.

      It *is* a drag when the Chosen show up during an already tense mission, but thats what makes the game exciting. Usually if you’re doing your scouting correctly and havent triggered too many pods at once, you have a few turns to accomplish your mission goals before the Chosen starts to act.

      The increased challenge is more than offset by all the options the expansion gives you to turn your squad into super soldiers. By the end game, the aliens dont really have a chance anymore.

  13. crashmonkey says:

    If I have not played Xcom 2 yet (but plenty of the previous versions) should I start with vanilla or just go straight to the expansion?

    • Cyber Ferret says:

      It’s really up to you. Either way, you’ll be playing a pretty good game. There’s probably a benefit to playing the vanilla game first so you arent overwhelmed by too many new concepts to learn at once, as the expansions introduces a lot of new things.

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