Now that the new, humungous XCOM 2 expansion pack has had a couple of weeks to bed in, the game’s mod community has been steadily fixing up their tweaks to work with War of the Chosen [official site]. Over time, there’ll be more Steam Workshop offerings which take specific advantage of the onslaught of changes WOTC introduces, but right now what I’m interested in is assorted quality of life improvements that remove pointless dead time from the game, offer more tactical detail and generally make the whole shebang slicker and quicker to use.
These, then, are the XCOM 2 War Of The Chosen mods that I just don’t think I could do without. (Well, I could, but I’d be complaining the whole damn time).
Quick note first – if you’ve yet to indulge in the many pleasures and improvements of WOTC, as detailed in my XCOM 2: War Of The Chosen review, but are knee-deep in XCOM 2, you’ll hopefully be not unhappy to hear that most of these mods work in the base game too. However, they do require a separate version of each mod, so check the title and description before you install it.
General housekeeping too, in case you’re new to the Steam Workshop – just click the ‘Subscribe’ button on the Steam page for any of these you like the look of, and it’ll be downloaded and updated automatically. You then need to click the checkbox next to the name of any mod you want to run from the XCOM 2/WOTC launcher the next time you fire it up.
Early hours with an XCOM game tend to entail using your soldiers one by one each turn – move and shoot, next, move and shoot, and so forth. But by the time you’re a few dozen hours in, you’re thinking about them as a squad rather than a set of individuals, which means Tab-to-switch-soldier is your most-used button. Checking, checking, checking – who can do what, who still has actions left, which skills have recharged, who’s wounded or otherwise vulnerable… Tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, many times before you commit to any moves at all. If only XCOM 2/WOTC had an at-a-glance way of seeing everyone’s sitrep, and jumping directly to specific units. Well, here you go.
It takes up a bit of screen space by shoving a row of soldier faces, overlaid with various statuses, at the top right, but it’s well worth it for the time saved. I use it less for switching straight to certain units, and more just as a super-speedy reminder of who’s still in play – it saves a ton of time each turn, and strikes me as something the official and weirdly fragmentary X2/WOTC UI could really benefit from.
Yes, yes, the ‘ant’s nest’ base mode is an impressive sight, especially with WOTC’s various room, propaganda poster and soldier costuming additions, but by God 98% of the visual side of it has zero bearing on playing the game. Slowly panning and zooming around it eats up so much time (exacerbated by the sheer number of interruptions in global view mode), and all it really means is that you’ll see the animations thousands of times across the course of a campaign. This mod rips all the room transitions away – click on a button and you’ll go directly to, say, the Research or Engineering screen. It’s less fancy, and I’m sure it breaks a few artists’ hearts, but it’s so much more efficient. I’d love for this to simply be a togglable option in the game’s official settings.
A returning favourite for many of us XCOM 2 vets, and I’m frankly staggered that WOTC didn’t include an official option for this. All it does is add one extra button to your soldiers’ action quickbars. All that button does is immediately and simultaneously trigger evacuation (er, to a chopper, not of bowels) for any of your units who are currently stood in a mission Evac zone.
If you’ve ever been through the pain of solemnly clicking Evac seven times on hostage/VIP missions, you’ll know what a tiny godsend this is. The cherry on top is that seeing your whole squad boost into the skies in tandem makes for a far more dramatic finish to a mission than doing it one by one.
Given that XCOM 2/WOTC is supposed to concern a global resistance against evil alien overlords, your soldiers hail from a rather small pool of countries, and it’s not long before their names start to become rather homogeneous. This mod adds dozens more nations into the database, as well as many more names to pull from when the game auto-generates new recruits. A Russian soldier will, by and large, have a more Russian-sounding name now, for instance.
Visually, this is only really apparent in the little flags that appear in Armory and soldier bio screens, but it really amps up both the planet-wide feel and the variety of your resistance effort.
N.b. this mod is a combo of two other modders’ efforts – More Nations Mod 1.0 by Astograph and Immersive Names 1.4 by DaggaRoosta, so you could as an alternative install one or both of those separately.
Forgive this its passive-aggressive title – it’s an extremely welcome, if not vital, time-saver for anyone who, like me, has put hundreds of hours into XCOM games by this point. While a combination of patches and WOTC itself has shown the worst of XCOM 2’s weird mid-mission delays and pauses the door, many more still remain. Oftentimes these involve the game telling an attentive player what’s already perfectly obvious, or making too much fuss at showing certain outcomes that, again, a seasoned player can take in with a glance.
SWMT says goodbye to the likes of post-grenade pauses, not-exciting-the-four-hundredth time enemy reveal cinematics and a few of Captain Obvious Bradford’s unskippable observations, as well as speeding up Gremlin and Avenger movement times. Frankly, ‘Stop Making Me Lose My Mind’ might be a better title for this essential.
More about tidying things up than adding or removing things that should/shouldn’t be there, but with the net result of making WOTC feel more unified with XCOM 2 than a layer on top. In the unmodded expansion, soldiers have one of two different skill upgrade screens, depending on which part of the game you’ve reached it from, plus some skills can only be bought with Ability Points if you access the screen from a particular room. This makes it so that the new, slicker, horizontal skill screen is what you see wherever you go, and if you want to buy bonus powers with AP you no longer have to perform the base view dance first to do so.
This one’s a lot more useful for less experienced XCOM 2ers than monstrously battle-scarred veterans such as I, but it has saved me from a few complacency-based fatal errors nonetheless. Essentially, what this does is add a few interface elements that give you a better sense of what situation one of your soldiers will find themselves in if they move to a square you’re hovering the cursor over – if they have line of sight to or will flank an enemy, if snipers’ squadsight will activate, if they’re going to trigger an enemy’s overwatch and similar. It takes a lot of the guesswork and memorisation out of things – though, if you played X2 through a couple of times before tackling WOTC, your guesswork and memorisation should be pretty reliable anyway. (Plus, patches + WOTC have already introduced a few more ways of seeing what’s going to happen before you commit).
For me, Gotcha’s additional quality of life additions, such as directional arrows for VIP locations and hackable stations, are the big win.
There are and will be many more best War of the Chosen mods, of course – please do point ’em out below. Or, if none of these sound like they’ll make the XCOM 2 to your taste, see if you can find a more appealing meat grinder in our 50 best strategy games round up.