The poster boy for chaos

XCOM 2: War of the Cho­sen

GAX (Malaysia) - - REVIEW - By Ade Pu­tra

Un­like the pre­vi­ous game’s ex­pan­sion, XCOM 2: War of the Cho­sen isn’t an ideal prov­ing ground for new­com­ers. While it does make you start a new cam­paign, there’s so much new con­tent lay­ered on that it’s eas­ily over­whelm­ing. The strat­egy layer in­ces­santly de­mands your at­ten­tion from all cor­ners of the planet, glee­fully spell­ing doom and gloom while the Avatar project omi­nously ticks away. Troop man­age­ment is an even deeper rab­bit hole to get lost in. And if you thought div­ing into com­bat would be some form of re­lief then, boy, do the tit­u­lar Cho­sen have words for you. Ah, the Cho­sen, early-game boogey­men and a con­stant re­minder of alien su­pe­ri­or­ity. Th­ese three su­per-aliens have a knack for ap­pear­ing at the worst pos­si­ble times, and I’m in­clined to call them su­pervil­lains in­stead. They’ll mock your at­tempts to run and hide, and then ef­fort­lessly evis­cer­ate any rookie brave enough to look back.

What’s neat about The Cho­sen is that they’re not just buffed up Sec­toids or re­branded Alien Rulers. Rather, they’re mem­o­rable be­cause they’ll pa­tiently in­ter­ro­gate and kid­nap sol­diers to steal in­for­ma­tion, even out­side of bat­tle, and if left unchecked, will show up un­in­vited at head­quar­ters’ door. With ex­plo­sives, tur­rets, and a raid­ing party no less. Es­sen­tially, they’re mir­rors of the player, grow­ing as you do.

There’ll come a break­ing point, of course. The hunters will soon be the hunted, and this re­ver­sal will not come in a sin­gle, fell swoop but through a se­ries of small vic­to­ries. Even­tu­ally, you’ll find a Cho­sen’s per­sonal hide­out, and there you’ll end the bloody cat-and-mouse chase once and for all. One down, two more to go.

The bat­tle be­tween XCOM and the aliens has al­ways been lin­ear, rep­re­sented via hu­man tech­no­log­i­cal break­throughs and the ex­trater­res­tri­als sim­ply fly­ing in stronger forces. War of the Cho­sen ba­si­cally does what Civ­i­liza­tion VI did: break play­ers from their rou­tines.

It isn’t as mas­sive an over­haul as their other ti­tle, but the in­ten­tion is clear. The Cho­sen spawn on dif­fer­ent con­ti­nents,

and are ran­domly as­signed dam­agetype weak­nesses. The three new hu­man rebel fac­tions – the Tem­plars, Reapers, and Skir­mish­ers – each in­tro­duce hero units rep­re­sent­ing hy­per-spe­cial­ized skillsets. The sol­diers of XCOM now have an ar­se­nal of weapons, abil­i­ties, and spe­cial­ties, such that they’re now less of a mil­i­tary squad and more like the A-Team. To pre­vent that from be­com­ing the new stan­dard, the strat­egy layer has us send­ing squads on covert op­er­a­tions, tak­ing di­rect com­mand only when things screw up or to mount res­cue mis­sions. Com­bine that with a new sol­dier fa­tigue sys­tem, which if ig­nored leads to crip­pling bat­tle­field phobias, and we wind up in the sit­u­a­tion where six of seven aces no longer cut it. We still have an A-Team, ex­cept it’s much larger and heav­ily re­liant on sup­port­ing rook­ies.

You’ve also got the ‘Bond’ me­chanic, a true-blue buddy sys­tem that, at its high­est level, gives the pair an ex­tra ac­tion. In a turn-based game, that’s a mas­sive ad­van­tage. The catch here is that they need to be to­gether to work, and los­ing a buddy spells dis­as­ter for the sur­vivor – they go berserk, which is it­self a hair-rais­ing mo­ment since things al­ready aren’t go­ing to plan.

Then there are in-game posters. Yes, you can pose and dress up your sol­diers

CON­CLU­SION A hearty course of alien pan­de­mo­nium for vet­er­ans. New­com­ers stay away.

in all man­ner of ways, back­drops, quotes, and all. It’s a full-blown pho­to­booth mode and its fan­tas­tic. Fi­raxis knows we’re heav­ily in­vested in our team – strate­gi­cally and emo­tion­ally – and this seem­ingly un­nec­es­sary fea­ture im­parts a great hu­man touch that ex­pands on the cos­metic touches we al­ready tweak. It’s a wel­come break from the mad­ness. Go­ing back to solo posters after a KIA buddy was a mo­ment that com­pletely caught me off-guard.

There’s more to XCOM 2: War of the Cho­sen we’ve de­cided to leave out be­cause th­ese fea­tures – the added char­ac­ters, the rou­tine break­ing, and the im­proved emer­gent sto­ry­telling – are what de­fines the ex­pan­sion. They ig­nite a de­sire to play more, to ex­per­i­ment more, to see what else can be done, to un­cover sto­ries wait­ing to be told.

We’re a lit­tle worried about where Fi­raxis takes XCOM from here. I’m draw­ing par­al­lels to Vo­li­tion’s Saints Row, which raised the stakes so high, the uni­verse ul­ti­mately im­ploded. War of the Cho­sen’s late-game units are so ca­pa­ble of su­per­hu­man feats, that I can’t help but won­der how they’re go­ing to reign it in be­fore Com­man­der Shep­herd or Green Lan­tern needs to show up.

But that’s a prob­lem for later. Right now, we have sol­diers to save and posters to make.

The strat­egy layer lets you send teams out on covert ops, which in turn, means you need to man­age larger teams and keep track of progress.

Fully cus­tom­iz­a­ble pro­pa­ganda poster de­sign and pho­to­booth mode may seem inane, but ac­tu­ally adds a nice hu­man touch to the game.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.