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Just like the Original
This game feels more like a DLC than an entirely new game. Not to say it's not fun, It's just they didn't try too hard. It's more of the same old thing.
XCOM 2 will Hurt Your Feelings
XCOM 2 builds upon XCOM’s winning formula for inducing rage quits and broken keyboards from tears and fists of angry defeat. It’s a fantastic upgrade and story continuation to a classic series with a new life. For the impatient readers: Buy this game, like right now.
I’m guilty of playing the crap out of this game (and Rise of the Tomb Raider) and not editing/uploading vids as planned. So now that ya know this game has my sincere approval here’s why.
No zombies. That’s right, this game is (mostly) free of the “well overcooked zombie phenomenon“. XCOM-2 is about Aliens who have won the war, taken over humanity and are driving the propaganda machine full throttle. It shares elements from Half-life 2 and some book I read 15 years ago.
Take 2 Interactive and Firaxis have really taken the winning XCOM formula and didn’t muck it up like Ubisoft did with Assassin’s Creed. They instead took the lesser elements and made them that much better, while somehow managing to improve the winning XCOM formula of excellence. Not to say there’s issues, but most of them are fixable technical problems discussed below.
Take-2 cut the soldier classes down to the basic four, Grenadier (Heavy), Ranger (Assault), Sniper, and Specialist (Medic). But each class now has two somewhat unique branches to follow. This essentially gives you 4 dual class characters that you can mix skills any way you desire or keep them pure down the line. It’s very similar to how XCOM did it, but each skill branch is better thought out and there’s less of the “go to” skill, even though it’s there (shredder, blademaster…).
The Ranger now has a melee weapon, and wonderful it is at higher levels. You can get a blade that stuns or sets opponents on fire. Add this with the new hell subarmor that adds fire damage and your ninja with a gun is a death machine on the field.
Specialists in XCOM-2 are your hacker, medic or both. One great feature is the Haywire Protocol that effectively stuns or controls enemy robots. Later in the game this is paramount to actually winning battles. The gremlins can also travel a greater distance to heal your soldiers. Once amazing skill will fly to each injured troop and heal them in a single turn. But this is the mastery skill and achieved far later in the game, if any soldier lives that long.
Grenadiers are the run of the mill Heavy with a new name. Their essential skill though is “shredder”. Which strips away armor on troops. Later on this skill is an amazing asset in taking down Sectopods that have 6 armor. Armor is a rating number and subtracted from the total damage to get the damage actually applied. So if you do 10 damage to 6 armor robot, it will effectively receive 4 damage. This is not good when they have tons of health. Shredder fixes this problem. As mentioned, skills in XCOM-2 are far better fleshed out this time around.
Lastly is the Sniper. They’re even more critical in the game than ever before. ALL snipers are granted squad sight right out of the promotion box. A once barely used skill (by me) is now one of the most welcomed abilities in the game. It basically allows your sniper to shoot enemies through walls and other objects if one of your other soldiers can see it. Add in the height advantage and it’s one-shot-one-kill for most of the lesser aliens.
Your base is now a mobile ship aptly named the Avenger. So base building has taken the optimized side of a 3×4 grid. Instead of excavating, you are cleaning out the old alien crap that clutters the area. You only need one of each room and they’re upgradable. Adding engineers or gremlins also increases the room’s ability. No more building 10 adjacent power stations and satellite relays.
Furthering the improvements, passing time no longer consists of staring at a blue globe. You now do your work on the world map, flying continent to continent scanning regions, picking up supplies and other tasks. It grants you a more tactical ( I love that word) overview of the entire game world and the state of your situation.
Lastly for all those dilly dalliers out there, there is the Doom Counter. The Avatar project is XCOM 2’s method of giving a sense of urgency. The game world will not wait indefinitely for you to suck up all the supplies and research as XCOM once did. Now if you take too long, your game is over. This is similar to how the pacing in the board game “Eldritch Horror” is set up.
XCOM’s Bad Side
The Bad in XCOM 2 is that it’s horribly optimized. On a fairly decent gaming rig, frame rates wildly swing between 24 to 40 fps in 1440 resolution (half 4k). The game also spends a lot of time “thinking” (pausing for no reason despite only 30% CPU use). XCOM 2 also spends too much time focusing on an objective. We’re talking creepy stalker length of time staring. It has tons of other weird little bugs. None of these though are a real show stopper, but they’re all quite annoying.
XCOM 2 is very addictive and will mess with your YouTube upload schedule. I highly suggest you buy this game after Valentine’s day is over.