En­coun­ter­ing heavy re­sis­tance in the bat­tle to save mankind


Since UFO: Enemy Un­known, the XCOM se­ries has fo­cused on the tension be­tween hard-won progress and in­stant re­gres­sion. The odds are stacked against you, and the gru­elling act of build­ing an ef­fec­tive fight­ing force can come un­done with a sin­gle mis­take. XCOM 2 feels like a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of that phi­los­o­phy. You’re no longer hold­ing off the van­guard of an ex­trater­res­trial in­va­sion. You start from a po­si­tion of de­feat, forming a re­sis­tance move­ment and pit­ting it against the planet’s new alien over­lords. Even the box art re­flects this theme. It’s the fa­mil­iar vis­age of a Sec­toid, but con­structed from a stack of hu­man skulls. This is a dark, op­pres­sive and dan­ger­ous world that won’t eas­ily be res­cued.

De­spite this, each bat­tle in XCOM 2 starts with a mo­ment of pure em­pow­er­ment. In keep­ing with the XCOM ini­tia­tive’s new sta­tus as a guer­rilla force, sol­diers be­gin each mis­sion un­de­tected. From this po­si­tion of con­ceal­ment, it’s pos­si­ble to en­gi­neer a pow­er­ful first strike – an open­ing salvo of con­cen­trated fire that can wipe out an enemy squad. It takes skill to ini­ti­ate. Get too close to an op­pos­ing unit, or smash through a win­dow or door, and your care­ful plan­ning is all for naught. Our first at­tempt ends af­ter a sol­dier is spot­ted by civil­ians. In XCOM 2, the pop­u­lace at large is un­aware of your pur­pose, and will im­me­di­ately trig­ger an alert. It is, af­ter all, bet­ter the devil you know. The most ef­fec­tive way to end con­ceal­ment is on your own terms. By putting the ma­jor­ity of your squad into over­watch, and us­ing your fi­nal sol­dier to open fire, you’re treated to a slick, con­tin­u­ous set-piece that pans be­tween each unit as they take their

You can pick be­tween two new abil­i­ties each time a sol­dier is pro­moted, so even the same class of sol­dier can ex­cel at dif­fer­ent battlefield roles.

The abil­ity to cus­tomise char­ac­ters was a big part of and in it’s been sig­nif­i­cantly ex­panded. You can choose ev­ery­thing from ac­cent to hair tat­toos

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