It's time to put down your world-saving guns and pick up your alien-policing batons, because XCOM: Chimera Squad is out. XCOPS takes a big sidewards leap away from the main series, boiling down turn-based combat into single-room encounters. Developers Firaxis have messed with the turn-order, too, with your troops' individual moves now interleaved with your enemies.
I've already played it, and have mixed feelings. It's only £8.50/$10 if you buy it before May 1st, though, and that's worth a mixed feeling or two.
We're ten years on from the events of XCOM 2. The mind-controlling Ethereal despots have been beaten back, leaving behind a fractured society full of aliens, humans, and hybrids. You're there to foil the plans of city-level thugs, through a familiar combo of squad-based missions and board-gamey chin-stroking. You research new guns and gadgets while unlocking abilities for your increasingly-fancy soldiers. You know, like XCOM.
The changes to turn-taking are a big deal, though, as I highlighted in my XCOM: Chimera Squad review:
"Once your squad is inside, an initiative order appears at the top right. You act with one troop, then the enemy moves one, and you keep going until every enemy is dead or unconscious. This can drastically simplify your tactics, because it’s nearly always best to kill the units that are about to take a shot at you. I found myself running through a checklist: can I polish off the next attacking enemy? Can I kill anyone else at the same time with a snazzy ability? And is it worth using any of my items?
"At times, I felt unpleasantly railroaded. There’s less room for creative plays, and I was often left with little doubt about what was best to do."
That dynamic shifts considerably when you play on higher difficulties, but it's still streamlined - and often not in a good way. I miss the convoluted, rampaging turns of XCOM 2. That said, there are ways to mess with the initiative order, and by the end of the game you get to pull off some satisfying squad combos. I am fond of my snake lady's tongue, which I can use to tug and lick my squadmates into immediately gaining another action.
I'm so averse to talking about value propositions nowadays that I didn't mention the low price in my review, but that was probably a mistake. Sometimes a price is low enough to make some flaws worth overlooking, and for the next seven days I'd say that's the case here.
You can currently grab Chimera Squad from Steam for £8.50/$10/€10. The 50% discount ends on May 1st.
If you're after policing advice, here's Guidesman Dave with his XCOM Chimera Squad guide.