Review of XCOM 2 On Linux; Welcome Back, Commander
Written by Eric Griffith in Linux Gaming on 9 February 2016. Page 2 of 2. 18 Comments

The Review-- "How does it play?"

The Earth is being controlled by a human-alien joint government, people are still disappearing, and even 20 years after the war, tensions run very high among the species.

If you played XCOM:EU/EW, then you will find yourself right at home in XCOM 2. Combat takes place turn by turn, on a tile grid based map, controlling a squad of four to six squad members in their fight against the aliens.

Every soldier will be of one of five (eventually six) classes, many of them are similar to those in XCOM:EU, though not exactly. These classes are: sword-wielding Ranger (replacing the Assault), the Gatling-gun wielding Grenadier (replacing The Heavy), the long-range Sharpshooter (replacing the Sniper), the drone controlling Specialist (replacing the support), and the mind-warping Psi Operative (replacing the Psionic). There will be one more class unveiled at some point in the future, via the future Shen's Last Gift DLC, my money is on the MEC soldier, since those were removed from the game going from XCOM:EW going to XCOM 2.

Given that XCOM headquarters was likely destroyed during the war, the new XCOM headquarters is a stolen alien barge, which looks strangely similar to the Marvel's The Avenger's Helicarrier... moving on!

In XCOM:EU/EW, the XCOM project was an international military force with the backing of most of the planet, rolling in cash, engineers, researchers. This is not the case in XCOM 2-- you are rebels, you do not have a government paycheck, and your soldiers are very much glorified civilians. You will spend a lot of time very little money, very few engineers and researchers, and facing odds that are decidedly not in your favor.

This is a game that makes no qualms about throwing impossible odds against you. As part of that, the XCOM 2 makes it easier for the player to pull soldiers out when things go bad. In previous games, the extraction zone was a defined area at the beginning of the map, in XCOM 2 this has been changed to be a user-defined area mid-mission, allowing you to pull your soldiers out immediately if things go haywire... assuming the entire enemy team hasn't been set for Overwatch, and have shots on your soldiers, that is.

The Advent Coalition isn't simply letting you attack their cities, military bases, and kidnap their VIP's though. While you are researching better weapons, better armor, and genetic modifications, the Advent is researching something called the AVATAR Project. What is it? I won't say. Let's just leave it at: if they succeed in their research, it's game over for The Resistance. The entire game is a race against the clock.

This theme, a race against the clock, is extended into individual missions. Veteran players will remember the canisters of MELD that existed in Enemy Within-- they were volatile canisters of important resources that had to be collected within so many turns, or they would become worthless. A similar mechanic exists in XCOM 2, though instead of losing out on resources, you just lose. Whether it is collecting a VIP, or hacking a computer, or something else entirely, many missions will include a time limit to force the player to move forward. Other missions have more implicit time limits-- such as protecting an important object that the aliens are attacking; if the object is destroyed, you lose.

Reactions to these time limits have been varied. Thankfully mods already exist that remove all turn limits, as well delaying the AVATAR project. And that is probably the single biggest change compared to XCOM:EU/EW-- Mod support. Veteran players will remember The Long War mod for XCOM:EU, a modification that significantly extended the campaign time, as well as added many new items, and other modifications to the base game. This was accomplished despite the fact that XCOM:EU did not officially support mods. Firaxis saw what the community did, and this time decided to listen-- they are officially supporting mods in XCOM 2 and are giving away over 40GB's of art assets, effects, scripts, AI handlers, and more, available in their "XCOM 2 Development Tools" program.

For those who don't want to wait for the mods to come out though, a significant chunk of in-game settings and mechanics are tweakable via a collection of plain text INI files under the game's folder. Want your weapons to do more or less damage? Tweak it. Want more enemies? Tweak it. Want to not worry about the AVATAR project? Change it's duration to 9999 days-- over 27 years of in-game time and don't worry about it. Want to make all of your rookies be super soldiers with more health than the final boss before they even level up once? Tweak it.

Is it a good game? Absolutely. The game is beautiful, the AI is smart, the combat is crisp and varied. The animations are... a little buggy at times, but since this game hasn't even had a first patch yet, I'm not holding that against it too much. The game is solid though, it's a very worthy successor to XCOM:EW and the mod support should ensure it has a very long life. If you enjoy tactical, turn based games, I would consider this game a must-buy.

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