Those of you familiar with XCOM 2's Long War 2 [official site] mod will know it needs little introduction. Crafted by Pavonis Interactive (formerly Long War Studios), it's the indirect follow-up to Enemy Unknown's Long War - a total conversion mod that expands upon Firaxis' core concepts and ideas, making just about every little detail more difficult along the way.
Long War 2 offers much of the same, and, as Adam aptly noted in his hands-on last month, stars "tougher recruits for a tougher war." Given its broad size and scope Long War 2 feels as much a standalone game as it does a total conversion, therefore it's of little surprise modders of the base game have been updating their works so as to be compatible with Pavonis' ambitious venture. Shy of regurgitating our best XCOM 2 mods list from last year, the following collection gathers those which have helped me (attempt) to conquer the long, Long War.
(NB - this extensive list of XCOM 2 mods compatible with Long War 2 is a handy resource, should you wish to cross-check the base game's existing catalogue in your own time.)
I said I wasn't going to regurgitate the previous best XCOM 2 mods list, didn't I? Back then, BlueRaja's Stop Wasting My Time kicked off that list because it was easily one of my favourite XCOM 2 mods at the time. The intervening period has done little to change this, however, which is why I'm delighted creator BlueRaja has updated SWMT to work alongside Long War 2.
As is hinted at in the title, Stop Wasting My Time is aimed at those interested in minimising time wasted in battle. Units move quicker out on the field, the Avenger covers the world map at a sharper pace, and gone is the 1-3 second pause after launching an attack, the two second wait as you hide behind cover, and the second or so delay that's triggered in the aftermath of a kill.
Granted respite is scant in Long War 2, but the last thing you need is to waste your momentum performing needlessly tedious tasks. Likewise, every second counts when your back's against the wall. A tight ship is a happy ship.
By TJNome and GrimyBunyip respectively
Right, so you've trimmed the fat from your campaign but require a little more help reading the battlefield. Both Perfect Information and Additional Icons are user interface mods that I admittedly didn't use very often in XCOM 2's base game, however are ones which I've increasingly relied upon during my time with Long War 2.
TJNome's Perfect Information displays hit, critical and dodge percentages for attacks levied by recruits and aliens alike - all of which is handy for tracking how often you land an overpowered shot, or fluff a Sure Thing. Those of you familiar with the first Long War will recognise the similarity between this and LW's togglable Second Wave option.
Additional Icons works in unison with TJNome's work by introducing five new icons: a Loot Indicator, which marks enemies carrying loot; a Damage Icon, which shows the non-crit damage range of the unit's primary weapon; an Aim Icon, which shows the current aim stat of the unit; a Mobility Icon, which shows the current mobility stat of the unit; and a Health Icon, which shows the current and maximum health of the unit. All of the above icons are optional, says creator GrimyBunyip, and in fact are togglable via the mod's .ini file.
NB - it's worth noting that a handful of players appear to have issues with Additional Icons' compatibility with LW2. I've used it without issue, however bear this in mind before you subscribe yourself.
Make All Items Available is another quality of life leg up I've grown to rely on. Purpose built for Long War 2, LeaderEnemyBoss' Make All Items Available mod adds two buttons to the squad selection screen: Make All Items Available and Make Upgrades Available.
I'm fond of mods that are self-explanatory and this 'un fits that bill in that both buttons do what you'd pretty much expect. In making items available, the former removes equipment from all barracks-dwelling soldiers not in the current squad. "This button basically combines the functions of the three 'make x available' buttons, leading to less clicking," explains the mod's creator. The latter simply removes upgrades/weapon mods from equipment that is not be used by your soldiers. A third button - Make Items and Upgrades Available - is optional and allows both functions to be combined.
Pavonis have suggested something along similar lines will be implemented in Long War 2 officially at some point down the line, however until this is the case Make All Items Available should feature high on your list.
By TD Daz and Reality Machina respectively
More, more, more, how do ya like it? Very much, actually, particularly when in relation to More Map Packs and More Cities in Long War 2. Both TD Daz and Reality Machina's (the latter is a name you'll spot several times on this list) mods are another couple of it's-in-the-name Ronseal numbers which, again, is exactly how I like 'em. More Maps Pack brings with it three new level plots, eight parcels and one PCP to the map pool which in turn allows for more varied level layouts. Over time, TD Daz promises to update their work with new procedural elements "for even greater variations", and also provides a handy FAQ on the mod's page that dives a little deeper into the minutiae of what it's all about.
Modder Reality Machina's Steam Workshop page features over 70 mods and is worth visiting on its own, however his or her More Cities adds, you guessed it, more cities. Over to the creator:
"More Cities adds in more cities for the game to use as locations, and gives them a global x offset to adjust them from 3d globe coordinates to XCOM 2's 2d map projection. Hopefully preventing missions in London on the other side of the Channel or other absurdities.
"All math changes use float so you don't have all cities spawning in the exact same place. Won't work on saves with locations already affected. (So in LW2 you'll need to wait a bit because LW2 spawns missions before you can detect them)
"Adds in both the cities Long War added to EU/EW and a number of other cities in places unfilled by the game (Whether it be countries like Italy or entire regions like New Indonesia being left unfilled), adding a total of 292 cities ranging from Jakarta to Madrid."
By Reality Machina and robojumper respectively
Robojumper's True Concealment featured in our best mods list for XCOM 2's base game, however is a worthy addition to LW 2's collection too. XCOM 2's newly added mission timers caused a bit of a stir at launch because while the mechanic tackled the Overwatch creep playstyle that had plagued forerunner Enemy Unknown, it also piled undue pressure on players. True Concealment sidesteps axing them completely but instead helps to balance play by reacting to the systems already in place. In turn, timers don't start counting down until your crew breaks initial concealment - which works wonderfully in Long War 2.
Squad Cohension is a mod I've found to work well with the above in that it incentivises streamlined teamwork beyond, you know, staying alive. Taking a Fire Emblem-like approach, Squad Cohesion introduces a "squadmate score" system that gives small buffs for squads who trust one another. Creator Reality Machina breaks it down thusly: below 300 points your squad operates as normal, between 300-600, a deployed squad gains a buff of +2 Aim, +2 Def, +5 Hacking, +5 Psi Offense, and +10 Will; at 600-1200, a deployed squad gains a buff of +5 aim, +5 Def, +2 Crit Chance, +10 hacking, +7 Psi Offense, +1 Mobility and +15 Will; and above 1200 points, a deployed squad will gain a buff of +5 aim, +5 Def, +5 crit chance, +2 Mobility, +15 hacking, +10 Psi Offense, and +20 Will.
Those who blast aliens together… etc.
By Reality Machina
Another trio of top mods from Reality Machina which add some extra variety to LW2's new scenarios and dilemmas. Firstly, Additional Mission Types adds three mission types which promise to "spice up your campaigns". These include Haven Siege, PR Tour, and Rescue VIP from Rioting City - all of which ostensibly involve chaotic occurrences whereby XCOM - i.e. you - are required to swoop in and save the day against a variety of predetermined criteria. Full details can be grabbed on the mod's page.
Avenger Events asks a simple question: "Ever want the quintessential Paradox event of Comet Sighted in your XCOM game?" The answer to that is or course YES, which is why this mod recreates its own variations of Events as random decision points that may help or hinder you on your way. Following the first supply drop, expect events once per month with AE packing 18 of 'em. "Events should spawn anywhere from seven to 35 days after the first resistance recap, and will have randomized intervals from there," so says Reality Machina.
Lastly, Additional Dark Events adds a host of dark events because Advent has "gotten tired of XCOM spontaneously developing new and even more dangerous abilities". As such, it's been "working on new plans to counteract XCOM's advances." I won't say anymore besides this: if you thought Long War 2 was challenging before, try it with this mod installed. Best of luck!
By Musashi and Reality Machina respectively
Onto the proper fun stuff - like glowing axes, lightsaber-like swords and moddable weapons. Listen, if aliens are taking over the planet we may as well enjoy ourselves, and everyone knows sword fighting is over and above the coolest way to take down extraterrestrial hordes.
I'm therefore happy to see Musashi's Katana Pack given the Long War 2 treatment. Its range of wakizashi and katana blades are not only fully-upgradable, but this mod also includes an ultra-cool Energy Katana tier and Plasma Katana tier that just look so cool. Mushashi's AxeMod adds similar levels of flair to instruments otherwise associated with chopping down trees, plaid shirts and beards, and while the creator provides an exhaustive breakdown of these weapons' stats, I'm quite content revelling in how wonderful they look.
Reality Machina's Moddable DLC Weapons is a simple but effective mod that enables upgrade slots on SPARK Rifles and Alien Hunters weapons such as the Boltcaster, the Pistol, and the Axe. This one's set to follow vanilla rules by default, however this can be adjusted in the mod's .ini files.
The most self-explanatory of them all, but it sure does make your soldiers like pretty. "This mod adds all the primary armor colors to the secondary ones," so reads the mod's description - which in turn provides a colour palette similar to the one pictured in the above header image. There are loads of these mods kicking around the Steam Workshop, however I've found Carman's the most streamlined and straightforward which, when faced with impending alien invasion doom, is rather nice.
LW2 WWE Squad Icons
This is just fantastic.
By The Dreamer
Stick some Sectoids on yer side.
Tier III Grenades
Mass Effect N7 Ranks
With Mass Effect: Andromeda just around the corner, this one might tickle your fancy.
Seriously, though - how cool is Aliens' Vasquez?
If you've made it this far you might, just might, have the grit and resilience to outlast Long War 2's brutally unforgiving campaign. If you think there are other mods out there which could make the gruelling journey more bearable, dear comrade, I'd love for you to share them in the comments south of here.