Most of what we've seen of XCOM 2 [official site] so far has been in the ADVENT cities, those sinister gleaming metropolises where humans supposedly live in harmony with their alien overlords. Shyeah right. But what lies beyond the spires and sculpture parks? A new load of screenshots from Firaxis show cabins in the woods, overgrown petrol stations, and icy fun. I'm going to assume these are from delightful little walking simulator side-missions where you'll get to swim beneath waterfalls, chase squirrels, watch ducks, and end turn after turn listening to crickets.
You can see full-size versions of these screens over on the XCOM site, but don't pay too much attention to their captions talking about alien ambushes and whatnot - it's clearly a marketing smokescreen. Yes, the wilderness in the first XCOM was filled with crashed UFOs, but I don't see any of those here. No, this is all calm.
This spot, for example, is from an early mission where you head out to the boonies to reclaim Dr. Vahlen's former holiday home from creeping kudzu and set yourself up with a nice vacation spot. It's a lot of hard work, and - spoiler alert! - ultimately you realise that the kudzu is here to stay now, and maybe you should accept this invasive species and learn to live in harmony. Perhaps that's teasing a parallel for the main storyline?
The aliens have their own little holiday homes too. A little flashier than yours, sure, but they're here for the same reasons as you. Don't hassle them too much, okay? And don't go swiping their space-snacks and space-brandy. Remember the story of Christopher Knight, the Maine hermit.
Wrap up warm for snowy hide-and-seek!
If you get peckish, petrol stations might have a few snacks left. Twinkies are nigh-on indestructible, and their hot dogs aren't even legally classified as food. Chow down!
But do remember that the weather can change suddenly. Don't be caught unprepared!
Ominous graffiti might mark this as some sort of rebel hideout. Steer clear of these troublesome folks - they'll ruin your relaxing woodland holiday by blowing things up and attracting alien attention.
Once you've set Vahlen's old home up, you're ready to start venturing deeper into the woods. With high-level trail mix and walking boots researched, you might even reach this lovely little cabin. Rumour has it you can choose to end the game here, giving up on all that fighting and settling your squad down for a quiet life.
XCOM 2 is coming on February 5th, following a wee delay. I'll be ruddy furious if Firaxis change these relaxing levels into shooty battlezones, as I'm sure testers are urging them to. Don't do it! Stand strong!