CustomThere’s an air of white-knuckle desperation about XCOM 2’s post-apocalyptic setting, and it only enhances the tension. Taking place 20 years after humanity shockingly lost the war we played in 2012’s excellent XCOM: Enemy Unknown, we’re now fighting to overthrow a decades-long alien occupation of the planet. It’s a very thematically appropriate scenario for a game about taking four to six-person squads into battle against initially-superior alien forces, and a great backdrop for these unpredictable, tactically deep, and addictive battles.images (1)

Deep inside your flying base is a bar dedicated to fallen soldiers. It has a list of each soldier’s name, time of death, and the operation they died in. It’s a trigger for dark memories. Reading down I remember one soldier crushed to death by a giant snake, another burnt to death in a ruined office. Another shot dead then psychically resurrected to fight her friends. Operation Dismal Window was a bad day for rookie Neel Mehra. Sergeant Flynn Hudson bit the dust in Operation Half-Eaten Tears. If it wasn’t obvious from XCOM’s ominous naming convention for operations, this is a tough gig. But these are the heroes you’ll remember when the lasers stop. These are the fallen stars in this gruelling, outstanding strategy game.images (2)Humanity seems doomed from the outset in XCOM 2. The game assumes you failed in your attempts to repel the alien invasion in Enemy Unknown. Now Earth’s citizens live a coddled life under the totalitarian control of the aliens and their co-opted soldiery, Advent. The resistance lives on only in the form of a few determined soldiers, scientists and engineers who have managed to repurpose a huge alien ship, the Avenger. This is your home.images (3)A detailed cross-section of the vessel lets you zoom into rooms to initiate research and building projects. A central cluster of rooms can be cleared out to build new facilities, and on the bridge you access the Geoscape, a map of the world that lets you choose where you want to park your spacecraft.images (4)To fight back, you must expand your reach from your lone starting territory by contacting nearby resistance groups. Time is frozen on the Geoscape, but when you park over an objective—make resistance contact; acquire resources; contact the black market—you activate a timer and spend precious days to claim it. This is nerve-racking. At any moment your scans can be interrupted by an alien attack, or a mission that will let you attack the aliens. You can choose to ignore some of these, but it’s not wise. Missions net you important resources, give your soldiers a chance to gain experience, and counter ‘Dark Events’—varied alien initiatives that, among many options, can half your income for a month, or send an interceptor out to hunt The Avenger.imagesNot being dead on your first game is one thing – you almost certainly will die as a result of walking into countless unknown traps, especially if you play above the normal difficulty (as I mostly did – normal, or “veteran,” is a cakewalk for anyone who knows XCOM). But one of XCOM 2’s biggest strengths how it resists your efforts to fall into repetitious patterns. By comparison: after the first real-world month or two of XCOM:tải xuống (2)Enemy Unknown, it became apparent that anyone who intended to play it for that length of time would have a base build order down to a science, know exactly what to research when, and memorize the best routes through the pre-built maps and have an idea of where enemies would appear on them. XCOM 2 defeats most of those assumptions by introducing randomness throughout its campaign, so that you can’t count on the route that took you to victory one time to deliver you to the same results the next.

tải xuống (1)Likewise, every time through the 20 to 30-hour campaign you’ll see a random assortment of weapon modifications, soldier stat boosts, special ammo and grenade types, psionic powers, bonuses for covering continents with your resistance network, and more. Will you get incendiary grenades, which are great for disabling enemy special abilities and inflicting damage over time? Or poison rounds, which impair accuracy while also dealing steady damage? Or trace rounds, which increase accuracy on top of their other upgrades? You can’t count on anything, but you will get something, and having to adapt to make use of what’s available is a constant challenge.tải xuống (2)The same goes for the high-quality procedurally generated maps, and a good variety of mission types. Without knowing ahead of time where an objective will be or the location of the enemy, you’ll attack and defend, extract or kill VIPs, and blow things up. Some missions have turn timers that force you to make risky moves, or to make a hasty retreat. I can’t say I ever had a mission where I lost because the map wasn’t fairly laid out (though I definitely had some tough-to-cross stretches thanks to my use of explosives).XCOM-Image-3-Gamplay-Image-sourced-from-IGNNot being dead on your first game is one thing – you almost certainly will die as a result of walking into countless unknown traps, especially if you play above the normal difficulty (as I mostly did – normal, or “veteran,” is a cakewalk for anyone who knows XCOM). But one of XCOM 2’s biggest strengths how it resists your efforts to fall into repetitious patterns.

xcom-2-review-499982-14By comparison: after the first real-world month or two of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, it became apparent that anyone who intended to play it for that length of time would have a base build order down to a science, know exactly what to research when, and memorize the best routes through the pre-built maps and have an idea of where enemies would appear on them. XCOM 2 defeats most of those assumptions by introducing randomness throughout its campaign, so that you can’t count on the route that took you to victory one time to deliver you to the same results the next.xcom-2-review-squad-1024x640

Likewise, every time through the 20 to 30-hour campaign you’ll see a random assortment of weapon modifications, soldier stat boosts, special ammo and grenade types, psionic powers, bonuses for covering continents with your resistance network, and more. Will you get incendiary grenades, which are great for disabling enemy special abilities and inflicting damage over time? Or poison rounds, which impair accuracy while also dealing steady damage? Or trace rounds, which increase accuracy on top of their other upgrades? You can’t count on anything, but you will get something, and having to adapt to make use of what’s available is a constant challenge.tải xuốngThe same goes for the high-quality procedurally generated maps, and a good variety of mission types. Without knowing ahead of time where an objective will be or the location of the enemy, you’ll attack and defend, extract or kill VIPs, and blow things up. Some missions have turn timers that force you to make risky moves, or to make a hasty retreat. I can’t say I ever had a mission where I lost because the map wasn’t fairly laid out (though I definitely had some tough-to-cross stretches thanks to my use of explosives).tải xuống (3)

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