Xcom 2 returns with an expansion that changes up the game and introduces far more foes than friends. The Chosen exist to hunt you down, slow you, letting the Elders complete the Avatar project. Yet, the Reapers, Skirmishers and Templars are there for you to use, to help you in the fight against the alien invaders. More technology needs to be researched, more autopsies need to be performed and far more aliens will need to be fought, to drive Advent from Earth, reveal the dark truth of the plans of the Elders.
Returning the world of Xcom you get exactly what you are promised by the title. You are in a war with the Elders and their Chosen. Now you’re actively being hunted by agents of the regime, other than Advent. These Chosen are easily the core of the new experience. They are tough combatants and only grow in power if they are left unmolested. They are never a minor annoyance, their appearance in a mission never welcome.
Where you have three Chosen, you also have three new chapters of the resistance against Advent. It’s hard to have a favourite, each has potential in different situations. The Skirmishers are agile and dangerous close range combatants. They are able to fire twice in their turn, not just once. Reapers are the next group, scouts and snipers, they are lethal at distance and allow you to dominate the battlefield, with their claymores and intelligence. The final group is the Templars, psychic warriors able to rapidly close and assault their opponents. Each is important, as they can do great harm to one of the Chosen.
It’s not just the Chosen which has been shaken up with this expansion. Calling it a DLC is almost an insult for the many changes it brings. Perhaps the most obvious, useful to me was the new technologies present. These breakthroughs, upgrade your weapons, equipment. From extra upgrade slots, to additional damage, these quickly add up. They affect both the type of weapon and the family of weapon. You could have an upgrade for beam weapons and for assault rifles, both working together.
There’s a new room available for you to use as well. The Resistance Ring is the structure which you co-ordinate the covert ops you run. These are quite useful and are the first part of bringing down the Chosen. Other missions grant you bonuses in other aspects, from PCS, modules and ability points. These can be useful and working towards them can change a mission from difficult, to quite simple.
The other big change I welcome is the addition of ability points and the far less random nature of abilities. The Training Room allows you to train your soldiers in additional abilities, not from their class. These abilities can be quite random, unfortunately can damn an otherwise good soldier to the second line, because of a bad combination. Or bring an otherwise unremarkable soldier to the forefront, for the lethal combination they have.
The other function the room has and perhaps the one I am most torn on are the soldier bonds. As two soldiers work together, fight together on missions, they can develop a beyond. A bond has many benefits and the more it develops, the more powerful it becomes. While the ability to grant another action is by no means a small one, when you reach the top level, the abilities are even more powerful. Free actions allowing the bond mate to attack being one example.
Audio and Visuals
When I started playing this and unlocking the different resistance cells, was that it sounds like an episode of The Next Generation. All of the voices seemed to be ones I knew from when I was watching Star Trek. This is both a strength and a weakness. While a distraction, having so much more voice acting, these additional cast members only added to the resistance in a way I appreciated. Balancing their needs, supporting them in missions. This time, the resistance is that much more lively, active, wide spread.
Visually, this game does step up from the previous. I felt there were far more locations to explore. Not just different shades of locations. From the ruined cities, to sewers, to inner city streets. It’s hard to get two missions which are entirely similar in design, feature. As well, the many pictures taken appear as posters, holograms and more. Not just yours appear, those made by the Chosen appear quite frequently if you look for them.
New foes in the Chosen and the Lost are well detailed models. The new Priest from the Advent, a psychic that you can face, is also wonderfully in character. What stands out the most is the Chosen though. Frequent, frustrating and quite dangerous, these can haunt you, hunt you, as you attempt to stop the Avatar project.
The same multiplayer features and difficulties I had with Xcom 2 I had here. Mods are a very welcome return and it’s that much easier to just get them and start up your game. A new feature here is the Challenge mode. Attached to a leaderboard, it offers set scenarios and unit choices, the goal to complete them with the best score possible. These missions are quite different and with the seemingly high variety of missions keep this fresh.
Unfortunately, for everything this adds, the core frustrations I had with Xcom 2, still remain. That unfortunately has gotten in the way of me really getting into the spirit of running the resistance. I still don’t feel I have the power to say no, to risk reprisal, more without so many warnings. Especially when I’m running well ahead of the Avatar program. Canned responses and warning just plain grate after a while. However, the underlying game is still there, still lethal and still dangerous. More so, even with the need to develop far more of your soldiers than before. Not only that, more soldiers makes each mission different, tactically, strategically and logistically.