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XCOM 2 Guide To Strategy, Performance, Mods & More

Everything you need to know.

XCOM 2 is out, we are playing it, and we are writing about it. You might be struggling to find that writing though because it's being washed away in a flood of other posts. If that's the case, then step inside here for everything we've written about the game so far.

This post will be updated as we write more about the game.

XCOM 2 strategy guide

XCOM 2 is a hard game by design, which is why you might want to read Alec's 16 XCOM 2 tips. He's a bit of an expert.

Overwatch is the bedrock of XCOM: banking your soldier’s action for a turn so that they can instead automatically fire at any enemy which enters or moves within their line of sight. It’s used both for pure caution and to set up elaborate traps, so that an enemy whose cover is removed or who makes a beeline for an apparently vulnerable player soldier ends up getting the Alex Murphy treatment the second he wriggles a toe. Learn Overwatch. Love Overwatch. More on that shortly, but first: don’t use Overwatch too much.

XCOM 2 performance tips

XCOM 2 is great, but not without its glitches and performance issues. This XCOM 2 performance fix might help you some. This XCOM 2 remove delays mod might also help you by making combat a smoother experience. Or you might be wondering why the caps lock keys skips load times.

We asked development lead Jake Solomon about some of the performance issues, including XCOM 2 framerate problems:

“Maybe this is damning on me, but I’m sitting here talking to you now on the laptop I use to play it on,” explained Solomon, “and I didn’t see these issues. We didn’t catch this stuff in compatibility testing. We’re fully, fully accountable for the product in people’s hands, so we certainly take responsibility for it.”

Not all of it is bad, mind you. Alice has found that some XCOM 2 glitches can be remarkably pretty, especially those which happened in the final mission. Warning: the images contain some spoilers for the final mission's setting, when you can see through the pink fog:

XCOM 2 mods

If you're looking for the best XCOM 2 mods, then look no further:

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.

You might also be interested in this review of the XCOM 2 launch day mods, which were made by the same group who made the popular Long War mod for XCOM: Enemy Unknown:

I am incredibly happy that people will be able to mod new aliens into the game – it’ll make that whole Enemy Unknown factor relevant for a long time, if the mods be kind – and this is a lovely start. Centurions look great and they’re just enough of a twist on the existing Mutons to add the kind of overlapping skillsets that XCOM 2 has turned into an artform.

XCOM 2 review

Of course, there's no guarantee that you've even decided to buy the game yet. Our XCOM 2 review might help you make up your mind:

While this is a game to be chewed over and replayed time and time again (I’ve finished the campaign once and started it more than a dozen times), the first playthrough is a wonderful thing. In this post-invasion, and indeed post-occupation, storyline, you might think that the term “Enemy Unknown” no longer applies, but whether you’re facing adaptations of old foes or encountering fresh horrors, XCOM 2 has the ability to surprise and shock at almost every turn of its hefty plot.

Or you might need more information, in which case Alec makes a compelling case for 14 reasons why XCOM 2 is so damned exciting:

I’m a big fan of XCOM 1’s soundtrack; it shares a composer with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and thus has a similar brand of moody synths, evoking Tangerine Dream at their best. But the tone was always “bad things are about to happen.” In XCOM 2, the tone is “OH MY GOD AMAZING THINGS ARE ABOUT TO HAPPEN”, even though the game’s setting is a far more horrific one. Every mission briefing is soundtracked as though this is the climactic encounter. Every Skyranger landing feels like I’ve come to save the day, not just perform a routine intel op. Every post-battle screen makes me feel like my guys just graduated with firsts from the University Of Awesome. It should be ridiculous. Hell, it sounds ridiculous when written down. But it works so well. XCOM is going to save the fucking world, yo.

Or you maybe need a more relatable entry point, such as a comparison to a game you might have already played. For example, Steven Messner's tale of learning to love failure in XCOM 2 and Darkest Dungeon:

My first ten hours in XCOM 2 were some of the hardest I’ve ever muscled through in a video game. No, it wasn’t that my alien adversaries were willing to punish my every move with a barrage of laser fire that cut down every single member of my squad who I had, in a moment I now severely regret, named after the people in my family (sorry, Dad). It wasn’t the harrowing struggle of winning back Earth from an overwhelming force, either. It was that paralyzing reality that I had no clue what I was doing, let alone if I was even doing it well. When Central Officer Bradford resuscitated me and handed me the keys to the resistance, I desperately wanted to crawl back into the cryotube he found me in while screaming “I’m not who you think I am!”

Or maybe you're more interested in where the game is going in the future, and want to read Adam's suggestions for XCOM 2 expansions:

As I said in my XCOM 2 review, the game is an instant classic. It might not shake up the formula quite enough to win over those who didn’t get along with its predecessor but for those who did enjoy Enemy Unknown, it’s a weighty and thoughtful follow-up. It’s also a far more meaningful and consequential sequel than Terror From The Deep ever was. With that in mind, I’ve considered three possible futures for XCOM, with no spoilers whatsoever for XCOM 2.

XCOM 2 diary

If you're looking for an entertaining tale of derring-do and dismal defeat, then look no further than Alec's XCOM 2 diary, in which he plays through the game in 'Iron Man' permadeath mode. It's soldiers are you, the readers and there are four parts so far.

XCOM 2 basics

Lastly, you might simply want to know: what is XCOM 2? Alice and Pip have the answer, and much more:

Pip: So do I need to have played XCOM to get XCOM 2?

Alice: Not really! Mostly it’s a game about making little people move around a grid and try not to get shot in the face. ‘Reclaim Earth from colonising aliens’ is a p. simple pitch, and you’ll only miss out on references to lots of “Oh boy, this reminds me of the last big meat monsters…” and “Oh gosh, you know who would’ve loved to see this meat monster? That guy from the first game.” There are aliens and they’re up to no good, so you want there to be no aliens.

Or you can find out some general XCOM 2 stats, including how many aliens players have killed so far. At the time of writing the answer is 118,643,299, which you'd hope would mean that XCOM 3 is a turn-based strategy games about your soldiers resting on a beach somewhere.

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