Review of XCOM 2 On Linux; Welcome Back, Commander

Written by Eric Griffith in Linux Gaming on 9 February 2016. Page 1 of 2. 18 Comments

Author's Note: I will try to keep this review as relatively spoiler free as possible -- sticking to information that was available in trailers and DevTalks before the release of this game. I have one exception to this, however: anything that happens in the first 15 minutes is fair game.

Coming three and a half years after the release of XCOM: Enemy Unknown (EU), and two and a half years after the release of Enemy Within (EW), Firaxis welcomes back The Commanders of the world with a bit of a slap in the face: you lost the war.

Veteran XCOM players will remember the finale to XCOM: EU-- your squad assaults the Temple Ship, and barely escape just before it explodes in a brilliant flash, apparently ending the invasion of Earth. Everyone goes and lives happily ever-after, right? Not quite.

XCOM 2 takes place 20 years after the ending of EU/EW, the aliens may have lost the battle for the Temple Ship, but somehow they won the war. The result of that victory? The Advent Coalition government-- a human-alien co-ownership of the planet that has ushered in a golden age of technological advancement... but is it as good as it seems? The remains of the XCOM forces, and The Resistance that aids it don't believe so, and they want their planet back.

The Technical Details-- "Does it run?"

Many users were likely saddened to see yet another "Nvidia-only" Linux game, thankfully Michael was able to confirm that the game does function on RadeonSI, with latest Mesa, and with the AMD Catalyst driver.

My own testing was on an AMD R9 290, with the RadeonSI driver, running atop Fedora 23, with the out-of-the-box Mesa/Kernel/LLVM/Xorg. Does it work? Does it play well? Yes... but it is slow.

At low settings I was able to maintain a pretty steady 35 or so frames per second during idle time, and 25 or so during combat, according to the Steam FPS counter overlay. Kicking all setting up to max made the fps drop to about 30 frames per second during idle time, and 15 or so during combat.

Given that there was so little difference between minimal and maximum graphical settings, I am inclined to think that things were not being rendered properly. Unfortunately, there was nothing obviously wrong that I could screenshot and say "this is rendered incorrectly."

For comparison: Under Windows 10 with the AMD driver, I am pulling a very steady 55-65fps at near-max settings.

In defense of the Linux drivers, there are many threads on /r/xcom, and on Steam complaining of poor performance on otherwise powerful hardware. The current prevailing theory is that the game is simply poorly optimized and needs work. We'll see if things get better after the first couple patches.

The game loaded and ran perfectly fine-- no crashes, no workarounds necessary, no errors to speak of. Congratulations to Feral and Firaxis for a solid port of the game.

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