Pixel Arts: 5 Reasons to Look Forward to ‘XCOM 2’


Alex Moreci, Columnist

“XCOM: Enemy Unknown” was one of my favorite games that I played last year, and with its sequel on its way February 5, 2016 it’s finally time to take a look at the new elements and features.


Guerrilla Warfare


“XCOM 2” takes place 20 years after the continuity that the XCOM project failed, and earth soon surrendered to their invaders. What remained of XCOM was forced to join the new world order in shame, or go into Hiding. However when XCOM’s greatest weapon is recovered (Supposedly the ‘Avenger’ mobile base, but I feel as though it might be the commander from “XCOM: Enemy Unknown”) XCOM builds itself back up as a resistance force. Alongside this plot element gladly comes the advent of guerilla warfare and ambush tactics. No longer are the days where you can foolishly stumble into a roaming group of bloodthirsty cyberdiscs, as veiw is increased, and you are no longer attacked on sight. Squad members can now conceal themselves to avoid detection from paroling aliens, potentially unleashing point blank attacks on unsuspecting foes. Flanking also seems to be much improved with this feature, when squad members can move around cover, without risking a face full of plasma.


Random Maps


The Maps in “XCOM: Enemy Unknown” were likely the game’s biggest flaw. It didn’t take much time to learn where the best cover was, and where the enemies would spawn. There were plenty of random aspects, like abduction locations and character stats, but in “XCOM 2” there will be fully random environments… sort of. The maps will be very similar to Bloodborne’s Chalice dungeons, where pre-made areas are strung together. The maps will all be the same in perimeter, with obstacles and other environmental artifacts spawning in predetermined areas on the map. These will vary from trees, to cars, to entire buildings. Presumably, there will be several generation seeds that will guarantee that a tree doesn’t spawn in the center of a parking lot. From what has been shown, the maps still look (and play hopefully) like cohesive designed stages. It will certainly be interesting to see how the random elements synergise with the classic XCOM gameplay.


Carrying corpses


Death is a serious thing in XCOM, not only do you lose an experienced soldier, but you lose any equipment that he was carrying. “XCOM 2” gives players desperate to recover lost loot a chance to risk other soldiers lives to retrieve the corpses of their fallen brethren. In addition to corpses, you can also extract the fatally wounded, saving their life without a medic, and looking like a hero as you run to the skyranger with a comrade over your shoulder. Honestly, i’m just excited that you can move people when they bleed out next to cars that are about to explode. The weapons used while carrying someone will likely be limited, as well as movement distance in order to counteract the advantage this feature provides.




Mod support was a sad omission from “Enemy Unknown” In one of the few games I much prefer playing on PC it’s a shame I wasn’t able to enhance my experience with community content. Thankfully Firaxis has heard and listened to their community, and plans to have full mod support over the Steam Community Workshop. New classes, weapons, maps, and aliens will all be provided by tech savvy members of the community. Firaxis already has the developers of the famed “Long War” XCOM mod working on content, in an attempt to avoid a repeat of “Fallout 4’s” supposed console mod support, that honestly, will never come. “XCOM’s” simple, yet deep game loop provides the perfect opportunity for modders to expand the formula by providing more variety within gameplay.




“XCOM: Enemy Unknown” had four specialized classes, despite the fact that you could have 6 soldiers in a squad. I never minded having a second heavy, because a dual heavy squad can be devastating, but the final class was constantly shifting as it was hard to make this final member usefully synergise with his comrades. XCOM 2 provides a useful remedy with the specializations being spread across 5 (a sixth will be added in future DLC) classes. The Ranger: A fast moving, close quarters combat orientated that will replace the assaults from “XCOM: Enemy Unknown” In addition to shotguns, they carry swords that can be used in the aggressive melee combat featured in  “XCOM 2.” The Specialist: The most important soilder to have is always going to be a medic, a role to be filled by the specialist in “XCOM 2.” With a drone support known as a ‘gremlin’ the specialist will hack into computers, and heal fallen companions. The Sharpshooter: Ah, the sniper, ever reliably putting hot lead into the heads of other worldly baddies from long distances, with devastating accuracy and damage. The Grenadier: There is only one person to call when the cyberdisks start coming at you. Pure tanks, with a reliable machine gun, as well as a grenade launcher, ready to make the most of the destruction engine. Psi Operatives: A buff to a soldier before an important shot can mean the difference life and death in XCOM, and who better to provide such an advantage than the Psi Operatives. Rather than learning from combat experience, Psi Operatives will be trained once you unlock the psionic labs.