XCOM2. Fireaxis (2016) PlayStation 4

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I’m a big fan of the XCOM series to the point that I hunted down XCOMlikes in the 2000s to sate my desire during the great Tactical Turn Based Strategy drought. But with the remakes I just sat back and waited for no reason other than stubborn pigheadedness. Scrambles banged on about them and had this whacky idea I’d like them, but I hate that guy because he is never right about things I like (Except Country Music and SoulsBorne games). 

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Seriously the load times are unbearable and it can take upwards of 2 minutes to load a save file or the game. It makes you not want to do missions which goes against everything XCOM is, however you can get a lot done in real life waiting for for the load screen. You can: have a poo, boil a kettle and make a drink, drink subsequent drink, plaster the wall, walk the dog, feed the cat, and whinge on Twitter before the load screen is finished.

This isn’t PC Master Race bullshit and all that, these load times are simply a joke and needed fixing before release. It didn’t even get a post release patch to sort it.

The loading screen look nice, but they out stay their welcome.

Mission variety

XCOM2 doesn’t do very much different from the first reboot, the flaws remain and the only real difference is there are some covert missions. The covert mission add a new dimension and can make escort missions a little easier as you can run around the edge of the map. But the same problem remains and that is if one geezer spots you, everybody on the map is triggered like a Liberal Arts College English undergrad. It would have been better to have an ability to return back to stealth without the one-off abilities and still doesn’t make sense.

Obligatory base building picture

This stealth mechanic also fails slightly on some missions, you can land in an area stealthily, but the enemy have already rigged the target to explode. It makes no sense, as this timer should at least be delayed until you’re discovered. But no, land and have 5 turns to Usain Bolt sprint across the map trying to avoid the laser-ey butt fucking you’ll receive.

Boss characters (Rulers) are an interesting addition but I wouldn’t necessarily say they are a good thing. They are a little overpowered and massively unfair, especially when they counter every time you move. The biggest problem is that they will more often than not lead you to massive wipes and your good soldiers taking a rusty blade up the pooper. Your only hope to kill one without significant loss of life if you pull off a perfect ambush or not trigger the Rulers till you’re a walking god. These Rulers are added with the Alien Hunter DLC so you can ignore them, but if you buy a complete version of XCOM2 as a newb and enthusiastically say yes to all the DLC you’ll have serious issues with these. Especially if you fumble your way into the trigger mission early on.

Obligatory world map picture

Once you kill a Ruler the next one will spawn fairly soon after this. So if you accidentally trigger the Rulers you can balls up your game. I had the Berserker Queen turn up after less than 15 missions, and therefore the fucking Archon King after about 20, it pretty much ruined my save file and extended by play through by about 20 hours due to excessive wipes and resultant save scumming.

My big problem is that XCOM2 is piling too much on you at the start. It doesn’t help that the tutorial assumes too much prior or secondary knowledge on you from the start, but things like the Avatar Clock is a huge nagging mosquito to get you extra twitchy, and with the RNG and DLCs you can have extract missions where a Ruler spawns in room with VIP and have the VIP instakilled. This all happened too often too. An evil mega spawn RNG clusterfuck is annoying once, but 10 or so times in 40 missions is absolute bullshit.

Obligatory game view

Added on top some miserly time limits make it feel like you’re destined to fail and that you aren’t just fighting the usual number generator. No amount of save scumming makes some mission combinations possible and some of these missions you can’t afford to lose. It becomes infuriating when you have to “rescue a VIP in 6 turns, going in hot, and with a Ruler” it becomes Diablo 3 levels of bullshit (Desecrating-Laserbeam-Teleporting-Lavastep-Teabagger Elites) and can be very off putting even to somebody who regards themselves a bit of a veteran of XCOM-likes.

The bald dude returns

Conclusion

I didn’t enjoy my playthrough as the difficulty felt overly punitive. I get hard games, I enjoy a SoulsBorne/XCOMlike, but XCOM2 adds a little bit too much bullshit that starts to feel unfair on top of the bugs that the developers didn’t bother to fix from the first outing.

However, XCOM2 is still alright and my advice is to play it without any of the DLC until you know exactly what you’re doing. The DLC add a new units, and a few story missions, but the shite you go through doesn’t seem worth it to me on a first playtgrough and put me off a second run.

Pros: Some people on the internet really like the load screen artwork.

Cons: The auto rolling save file is less helpful than it should be. The fucking gormless arsefaces on the loading screens. Avoid the DLC like the fucking plague it frankly ruins the game for all but the most dedicated

78%

Also available on: PC and XBox One

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