It’s been 20 years since the events of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and while you’re sat there wondering where it all went wrong, the alien occupation of the world as we know it is A Thing now. I saved the world the last time round, did I not? I hear you mumble under your breath. No, no one did and that’s the end of it. Get it over it, man.
The aliens are here, they’re up to no good, and now it’s time to get rid of them. This list is the best mods XCOM 2 [official site] has to offer so far and should help you achieve that goal, or at least help you to fail (again) in style. This list is also best served alongside Alec’s XCOM 2 Guide: How To Survive And Thrive.
Drop the front, aliens: we know your occupation ain’t gonna allow humanity to thrive unless we succumb to your sinister New Order agenda, no matter how much you say otherwise. And even if we do, we’re more than likely to get sent up sectoid creek without a paddle. We’re onto you.
But, as I’m sure you’re all well aware by now, blowing the lid off of an evil, technologically advanced totalitarian state’s secret scheming takes time. Lots of time. So much time, I’ve racked up close to 50 hours battling ADVENT forces - and I only started last week.
BlueRaja’s Stop Wasting My Time mod caters to those efficient Commanders who want to minimise time wasted on the battlefield. With this mod, gone is the 1-3 second pause after shooting or lobbing grenades, the one second delay that occurs after making a kill, and the two and a half second halt when you take cover. Unit movement speed is also upped; so too is the speed of the Avenger HQ on the world map, among a number of speed-favouring tweaks. Godspeed, quite literally.
By tracktwo and whoknew, respectively
While we’re on the subject of clock watching, these mods address the needlessly time consuming process that XCOM 2 levies on both exiting the battlefield and entering your squad into Overwatch mode.
Missions in XCOM 2 often follow a similar template that normally involves guiding your team of four from point A to point B in order to neutralise/protect/engage/recover/extract an item, or items, before laying waste to whatever foes might be left loitering around the level. Often, as we’ve already discussed, these bouts can be long and laborious, thus when the time comes to extract your exhausted ensemble, having to do so individually is a right pain in the arse. Evac All, as the name suggests, adds a button that allows you to get the hell out of there in one fell swoop.
Similarly, Overwatch All makes entering your team into Overwatch mode - where your soldiers strike enemies automatically, should they enter their field of vision - a lot more convenient by adding a single-serving button that lets your team go beserk till the immediately adjacent dance floor is emptied.
By Takeru Shirogane
More time-based conceit. Sheesh, there’s more mention of clocks on this list than a Flava Flav meets early 21st century Coldplay get together. While you ponder the preposterousness of such an event, you’ve likely forgotten how torn you are about the addition of XCOM 2’s new mission timers. Sure, they chip away at the Overwatch creep playstyle that plagued forerunner Enemy Unknown; but they also pile a whole lot of undue pressure on players which can come at the expense of intricate strategy.
An abundance of mods that axe the timers completely have begun to emerge on the Nexus forums and Steam Workshop, however True Concealment is the best by my reckoning. Instead of doing away with timers altogether, this mod helps balance play by reacting to the systems already in place: timers don’t start counting down until you crew breaks initial concealment.
All told, this achieves the best of both worlds - there’s still a degree of pressure on players to work quickly, but only after a strategy of sorts is put in place.
Sometimes, no matter how well developed or considered your strategy is, the RNG gods are out to get you. To combat this, I save scum. I load precariously-timed saves as soon as I’ve sent one of my best soldiers to their untimely death, so as to create my own Edge of Tomorrow. What can I say - I don’t play fair. But if you’re here, reading this mods list, there’s a good chance you don’t either.
The problem with save scumming in XCOM 2, though, is that the game remembers previous random number generator results, no matter how many times you reload. This means if a soldier gets felled with a critical hit while covering a certain corner, for example, that soldier will always get felled with a critical hit while stood covering that certain corner if that is the next action that occurs.
Enter Save Scum Roller, a mod that rolls the dice in your favour. With this mod you can “reseed the game's RNG at any time,” according to creator gamedevjosh, meaning reloads weigh battles in your favour. I mean, what’s the point in sort-of cheating if you can’t expect to win, right? With Save Scum Roller you can readjust the fight again and again and again until you’re telegraphing moves with more finesse than Blunt and Cruise during that beach assault. Or Craig David in the Seven Days video. I have no shame. Do you?
By Wasteland Ghost aka wghost81
In XCOM 2, as in any turn-based strategy game, a clear view of the map is of paramount importance when planning your next attack. Which is why it’s a bit odd that Firaxis intended us to view the battlefield in 45 degree angles and fixed zoom increments.
“Those who do not know the lay of the land cannot maneuver their forces,” wrote the military strategist Sun Tzu in his seminal work the Art of War. If I’m restricted to 45 degree turns at a time, I can’t see a bloody thing. Which means I can’t move my forces. Which means I’m screwed, basically. Ol’ Sun Tzu would be turning (smoothly, not in 45 degree increments) in his grave.
Free Camera Rotation is an updated mod carried forward from Enemy Unknown that allows smooth movement of the game’s camera angles. By Simply holding down Q or E, you’re able to turn the view in a smooth, circular motion. Likewise, holding T or K lets you zoom in and out at will as you match the perfect angles for any given mid-combat situation.
By Long War Studios
From the guys who brought us XCOM: Long War, arguably one of the best mods of all time, Long War Studios’ Muton Centurion Pack spices up life (or in my team’s case, regular death) on the battlefield by introducing a much larger, much stronger, much brutal-er muton to the alien ranks.
Sporting a look a wee bit similar to that of a BioShock Big Daddy who’s spent a few months down the gym before ditching the primitive drill arm and swapping the grenade launcher for a laser cannon, these bastards typically make their debut about halfway through the campaign, thereafter marking their territory pretty quickly.
Ultimately, they add a degree of difficulty to battles that’s otherwise missing. Going toe-to-toe with any Muton Centurion is a big ask no matter the circumstance, but do watch out for their War Cry maneuver that buffs any nearby enemy units.
By Long War Studios
Then again, why leave all the buffing to the buffer than buff Muton Centurions? Another mod from the Long Warriors, Leader Pack, grants one chosen player buffing skills that can be dished out to his or her entire team. “This mod adds a development path for soldiers in the Guerrilla Tactics School,” reads the mod’s description. “Allowing them to train special perks that benefit the entire squad.”
The only caveat to this wonderful-sounding leg-up is that only one of your fine soldiers can be named leader in any given mission. If your chosen captain’s got what it takes to bring home the bacon, bonuses and bounties to the rest of the squad, then great. But they ain’t no good to nobody being dragged home in a body bag. Choose wisely.
By Long War Studios
The SMG pack lets you swap assault rifles for submachine guns. SMGs, you’ll learn, aren’t as powerful as assault rifles. Nor are they as accurate at a distance. Nor can they carry as much ammo. Nor can th- hang on a minute, aren’t we trying to win this war?! Why the hell would we want submachine guns instead of assault rifles when they shoulder so many shortcomings?
Well, mobility-wise, equipping an SMG lets you move much further across the map in any given turn, compared to the sub’s bulkier counterpart. They also let you get closer to enemy squads during the concealment phase. And they allow for increased short-range accuracy when you do manage to get all up in the aliens' interplanetary grills.
Donning sub-machineys should never rightly replace assault rifle rigging entirely, but it can act as an alternative means to slaying the sectoid syndicate.
By The Iron Rose and vblanco20-1, respectively
Just when you thought you’d settled your scores with the RNG powers that be, you wind up next to an already wounded ADVENT soldier. You’re almost face-to-face, you can see the glint of evil in his eye, you can smell the Space Raiders on his breath. You unsheathe your blade. You swing. It’s game over, surely. But, suddenly, it’s not. You’ve missed. SOMEHOW you’ve missed. Against all odds you’ve been unable to land a point blank blow at point blank range. You feel cheated.
Accurate Swords understands this pain (or lack thereof) by making every sword swing 100 percent accurate. You feel vindicated.
Katana Pack, on the other hand, understands that swords are the coolest weapons in XCOM 2, so much so that besides making a range of wakizashi and katana blades fully upgradable, it also introduces an uber cool, ultra sexy Energy Katana tier and Plasma Katana tier respectively.
This is a must have for all the Rangers out there.
By Sgt. Nutcracker
New Countries is the Ronseal of XCOM 2 mods in that it does exactly what it says on the figurative tin: it adds new countries into the game’s fold, making its soldier roster far more diversified in the process.
“Each nation has a small set of names (around first and last names per gender),” says the mod’s creator. “I've tried to maintain at least some accuracy in choosing them. Icelandic names for example have separate last names for male and female characters.”
Adding a total of 21 soldier nationalities - at the time of writing, keep an eye out for more over time - New Countries welcomes: Slovakia, Czech Republic, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Switzerland, Austria, Cuba, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Denmark, Iceland, Uruguay, Jamaica, Croatia, Oman. And breath. Round the world in 18 seconds. Take that Phileas Fogg.
And take that alien race; there goes the multicultural, globe-spanning neighbourhood.
You don’t stand a chance.
Here a few lighthearted XCOM 2 mods that might make you smile or laugh, cry or cringe.
Custom Face Paints
The William Wallace a la Braveheart face painting and American football player markings on show here are very cool, but the Aladdin Sane Bowie tribute is the best.
Capnbubs Accessories Pack
Adds berets and ballcaps and goggles and masks.
Dogs as guns. Corgi dogs, as guns. Say no more.
We like XCOM 2, as you may have gathered from our review. You can follow the victories and failures of Team RPS in our ongoing diary. And if you don't know anything about all of this XCOM malarkey, allow Alice to explain.
For more on XCOM 2, visit our XCOM 2 guide hub.