XCOM 2 STORY
Story-wise, XCOM 2 puts you back in the familiar boots of the Commander, the leader of the XCOM secret project which aimed at defending the planet against unknown forms of life. Eventually, XCOM broke and the aliens invaded Earth. To prevent total annihilation, the humans signed a treaty, named The Advent Treaty, in which the human race is basically under the control of the aliens, being led by The Elders, thus forming The Advent Coalition. It looks good on paper, ADVENT has done much to gradually improve public opinion of the aliens, most notably by the propagation of the belief that the aliens came in peace, and that the forces of Earth retaliated aggressively and with prejudice. The rest of the story will not be divulged, as it contains spoilers.
XCOM 2 GAMEPLAY
The gameplay is excellent, mostly improving on what XCOM: Enemy Unknown already performed on. The soldier classes have changed, but their roles have remained the same, with some additions:
- Assault has been replaced by Ranger, a shadowy, mobile scout that can use melee weapons such as swords to deal massive amounts of damage to enemies.
- The Heavy has been replaced by Grenadier, which still is the tanky class and still has access to big weapons such as laser cannons and grenade launchers.
- The Support is now the Specialist, who can use his drone to offer aid to fellow soldiers or inflict damage to enemies, or can be used to attempt to hack towers or mech enemies.
- The Sniper is being played as the Sharpshooter, who in addition of the Sniper Rifle has a Pistol that can be used to deal damage.
The gameplay mechanics players encountered in Enemy Unknown are still there, such as Overwatch (an ambush-like ability in which you can shoot as soon as an enemy in sight moves) and Hunker Down (increases the soldiers defense while in cover). An interesting addition is Concealment, which allow the soldiers to start off as invisible for the enemy. This lets the player make up new tactics on the move (set ambushes, flanking positions and so on).
The enemies come in a bigger variety. All of them have received a buff, making them stronger than their Enemy Unknown counter-parts. The small Sectoids have received human DNA, making them taller but also improving their psionic powers, being able to revive dead enemies or mind-controlling the XCOM soldiers. There is also an Advent opposition alongside the alien one, represented by Troopers, Lancers, Shieldbearers. The aliens have the Crissalids and tanky Mutons, with the Vipers coming in as a newly added unit.
The difficulty has definetly been increased by the events around the planet. The Aliens are developing a plan called The Avatar Project, which slowly increases in progress if you do not raid the research facilities or ambush alien transports. Some missions only allow a limited number of turns to be completed. If not, the mission will fail and your soldiers will have to force-retreat.
All of the planning, research,engineering and upgrades is being made on top of The Avenger, a battle-ship stolen from the aliens. The player can build new facilities inside the mobile base, which unlock different weapon and armor building, and also upgrades discovered through research.The gameplay overall feels like a breath of fresh-air, it has improved brilliantly from the first game, being harder, but more enjoyable at the same time.
XCOM 2 GRAPHICS
The graphics also suffered an improvement. The mission areas are detailed and varied. Particularly enjoyable are the city areas, having flashy street signs, colorful futuristic vehicles and big buildings in which you can wreak havoc. The soldier’s movements are fluid, more natural. The customization options are always welcome, as it lets the player make his own personal touch to the game. The concept of procedurally-generated levels had been previously scrapped in Enemy Unknown, as Firaxis had reason to believe that it would prove disadvantageous and buggy. They also thought that those procedurally-generated objects did not fit in with the atmosphere. Resultantly, Enemy Unknown features hand-crafted maps that were all designed by Firaxis. While the reception of these maps was generally positive, players complained that these maps eventually get repetitive. As a result, Firaxis decided to introduce a system called “the plot and parcel system” to alleviate the workload of the team. The graphics-engine that has been used in development is Unreal Engine 3.5.
Overall Grade: Excellent
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