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XCOM 2: Base Mode & The Return Of The Avenger

I suspect our Adam will be filing a fulsome hands-on XCOM 2 report from the Gamescom frontline before too long, but as my frail vegetarian body couldn't possibly cope with another week of watching people eat sausages, all I have to go on in these here 19 screenshots and a video. They're particularly exciting screenshots for me, however, because they focus on soldier customisation, what goes on back at base and how the aliens are now essentially playing XCOM themselves. I want it I want it I want it, and I've written some thoughts about what's been revealed below.

Here's a video, in which an IGNfella interviews Firaxis producer Garth DeAngelis about the new base - set inside a scavenged alien mothership which has been renamed The Avenger (a name to warm olden X-COMheads' hearts), the massively increased degree of unit customisation, how goals and missions are far more unpredictable, and whatever happen to the old gang of advisers from XCOM 1.

I've taken a few notes if you can't or won't sit through that. Also you can click on the many screenshots in this post for bigger versions.

Dr Valen is lost, we don't know where she is (I imagine that will become a story point?). There's a new chief scientist now.

The strategy layer is more open-ended. Things are going to be more unpredictable, no straight strategy - I hope that means no more satellite rush, which is to my mind XCOM's weakest point.

Lots of new and optional rooms in the base. E.g. you can respec soldiers by putting them in an Incubator.

You can assign names and backstories to engineering and research staff, and put them on special projects.

Alarm bells ringing here: "we really want people to be invested in the story... we were really taken aback by how much people invested in the characters." In XCOM and X-COM alike, the former's anti-climactic ending excepted, the storytelling power came from there being almost no storytelling. You told the tale yourself based on your own triumphs and losses. The concept of being told to care for certain characters concerns me deeply.

Ever-anxious Engineering boss Dr Shen has passed away at some point between XCOM and XCOM 2. His daughter has inherited his mantle.

Another optional new facility is The Proving Ground, to work on experimental stuff. You don't quite know what you're going to get - ammo, armour, etc.

"We want you to play through many times and not see everything" is very much something I can get behind.

Gun fans will be pleased to hear you can change weapon decos, name them, legacy weapons to pass on to other soldiers, modify attributes eg. shotgun auto-loader.

Weapon upgrades drop off alien bodies, you can loot them in-map.

The mysterious, Optimus Prime-voiced, chrome-domed council spokesman is still alive. He's an informant for the resistance, but is as shrouded as ever.

We're getting a more dynamic geoscape. Active scanning for next mission. Want things to be more unpredictable, no safe strategy. You're trying to expand the resistance little by little, not just taking on missions as they're offered. Taking on one thing forgoes other things, e.g. responding to rumours, visiting black market.

"Dark Events" - aliens have both long term (i.e. the main plot) and short term goals which you'll uncover as you play. These 'Dark Events' change every time you play; e.g. they're trying to create armour or special ammo for their troopers to make them tougher. They're playing XCOM themselves. You can't stop all of them but you can mitigate them.

They claim it's visually "outstanding". Dynamic weather, destruction etc.

November is only three months away. I can't wait. If you expect me to be in any way objective about this particular game, you're as deluded as those dudes who think their alien overlords are nice guys are.

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Alec Meer avatar

Alec Meer


Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about video games.