XCOM 2: War of the Chosen (PC) Review

By Eric 18.09.2017 1

Review for XCOM 2: War of the Chosen on PC

The XCOM series (or the original X-COM) has a long reputation as being one of the finest strategy game series ever made. Even the 20-year anniversary of X-COM Apocalypse still holds up well. 2K Games resurrected the series a few years ago, and it was met with positive reception. This expansion for the second game ramps up the feeling of fighting guerrilla warfare with a host of additions. Most interesting, and likely cause for some people's complaints, is the heavy RPG aspects that have been injected.

XCOM 2 went an interesting direction originally when the game came out over a year ago, it presupposed humanity had lost the war against the aliens, and put the player in charge of fighting a hit-and-run war against a superior foe. It introduced concepts like turn limits, operating under cover, and generally a 'light on your feet' style of combat of never getting bogged down anywhere specific. While it was great fun, though, there were still problems with it. As a few examples, the turn limits were often too strict, the missions often were repetitive, and despite being a 'guerrilla' war, it did not capture the feeling of that to the extent it should have been.

Screenshot for XCOM 2: War of the Chosen on PC

The expansion changes that to its merit. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen is not so much as an expansion as an entire redo of the second game. Of course there are massive amounts of added content, but the entire feel has changed. It is not simply the same experience with some new guns - the entire package has been reworked. The most obvious change is the addition of 'resistance factions.'

These are the Reapers, a human survivalist group, the Skirmishers, who are advent soldiers who have escaped mind control, and, lastly, the psychic Templars. The whole thing is much more scripted this time, such as meeting the Reapers first, and having set battles at pre-designed locations. While this leads to some problems addressed later, it goes a long way to truly establish that Earth was destroyed, as many of the levels are fighting in burnt out cities that were almost completely absent in the base game. There are even zombie fights now which are great fun fighting off the 20 or so charging zombies.

Screenshot for XCOM 2: War of the Chosen on PC

Strategic parts of War of the Chosen run almost exclusively around the Resistance and their enemies, The Chosen. These are a group of high-powered aliens that are vying for the leadership position, and act as a sort of 'boss unit' that will occasionally show up in combat. The flow of the game is choosing various Resistance missions to try, whether to stop a supply convoy, or to rescue a trapped prisoner, all the while hopefully prevailing against the Chosen. The missions themselves, gratefully, have undergone a transformation. Many of the outright timed missions are gone, and replaced by new ones that are fun for their novelty.

Recovering a prisoner from a base plays out more like Metal Gear Solid, in that being caught spells death, and it is oddly refreshing to have to beat a mission without firing a shot. Furthermore, the RPG increase of mechanics is prevalent. Soldiers now have an intelligence stat which affects an ability point gain which lets them learn more skills beyond the one-per-rank of the base system. The biggest change is soldiers you receive from the resistance. These are highly specialized with their own skill trees - the Reaper, for example can, specialize in traps, long range fighting, or helping stay hidden.

Screenshot for XCOM 2: War of the Chosen on PC

Having the Chosen now gives a type of story to the game. In between missions they will taunt the player, talking about their victories or close calls. Meanwhile you try to track them down, while at the same time avoid being tracked in the process. Now, some of the RPG aspects will start to border into a strange 'Anime' zone where a Chosen shows up and a battle screen pops up with their various strengths and weaknesses. The ensuing battle is very unlike traditional XCOM, as the Chosen are moving around stunning soldiers and regenerating health in such a way that, while fun, comes off as very strange in a series that was loosely based on combat realism.

As great as the expansion is, there are a few additional problems. One is the fact that the pod mechanic still exists, and although some people like it, it takes away a lot of the original series fun and surprise of that one lone alien hiding in a door somewhere. Furthermore, the music of the game is not improved at all, which is really sad as the original series had wonderful music, from the mysterious geoscape theme to the fast and powerful dogfight track, music was an integral piece of the experience that still goes missing in the expansion. The scripted sections take away from the emergent gameplay element that was so great about the originals. There will always be this mission, or that story element, not the 'here is where you start, there is the end, get there however you can' with which each game ended up different.

Screenshot for XCOM 2: War of the Chosen on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The price and the RPG elements might be a turn off for some players, but it goes a long way to establish a feeling of it actually being post-apocalypse in theme. The new factions and skills breathe new life into the game, and the various new battle objectives are fresh. It completely changes the base game while not straying from its fundamentals, for those that liked the core title and are not put off by some 'anime RPG' aspects this will be an easy recommendation to pick up.

Developer

Firaxis

Publisher

2K

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

It was a solid upgrade, the one thing as I touched on is they REALLY need to up their music game.  The oringinal 3 had wonderful music, and the new games are forgettable and not even noticeable.

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