Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

XCOM 2 [official site] isn’t just a big pile of tactical brilliance, it’s also a big mod-friendly pile of tactical brilliance. Theoretically, that means someone will iron out the things that annoy you and build on the things you love. It also means we can expect anything from an increase in moustache variety to a revamped campaign or series of total conversions.

To kick things off, Firaxis commissioned the clever folks who made the Long War mod for Enemy Unknown to produce three day-one mods for XCOM 2. They are neat additions but, more than that, they’re signposts toward an exciting future.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

I don’t mean “I’m excited that this videogame sequel is coming out,” but rather that the game itself works so hard and does so much to create a constant sense of near-euphoric drama. In an age where sequels=darker, because far too many people believe that The Empire Strikes Back is the highest watermark of popular culture, XCOM 2 [official site]s lurch towards brightly-coloured celebratory heroism is a welcome one – and it does this even though, thematically, we’re talking a post-alien-invasion Earth and all the horror that implies. It wouldn’t be unfair to invoke Independence Day comparisons, but it wouldn’t be quite correct either: XCOM 2 does have that hoorah-heroism, but fortunately it’s bereft of flag-waving. This is the bright dystopia, the heroic rebellion rather than the forlorn resistance.

When I play XCOM 2, I feel incredibly excited most of the time, and it’s not just because of soaring military march soundtrack – there are dozens of tiny things it does to make me feel like an action hero (or a least a commander of action heroes).

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

I visited Firaxis in 2014 to see Civilization: Beyond Earth and it was impossible not to wonder which closed doors were hiding the XCOM 2 [official site] team. The game hadn’t been announced but surely somebody was working on a sequel. Would it follow the path of the original games and take to the Lovecraftian depths? Would it reach toward the stars and a battle on various alien homeworlds? Would it take risks or rest comfortably on well-earned laurels?

The answer, as we now know, didn’t quite fit any of the above. These are happy times for the XCOM devotee but I’m hoping for an apocalyptic future. Here are a few ideas and hopes for what the game’s first expansion might be.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

In 2012, Firaxis took on the seemingly impossible task of reviving one of the most beloved PC games ever made. The original X-COM is widely considered to be one of the masterpieces of the nineties golden age, and since its release there have been sequels, spin-offs and unofficial revivals, but Firaxis’ XCOM was a complete, licensed reinterpretation. It was also rather good. Now, with XCOM 2 [official site] ready for release, Firaxis aim to improve on the formula that made Enemy Unknown such a triumph. Here’s wot I think.>

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Alec hasn’t been the same since he returned from the Long War. The celebrated XCOM mod turns the base game’s wee scrap into a gruelling war, chewing through your forces and your resolve with relentless difficulty. Some days we find him simply sitting in a chair by the window, staring out to sea, his bottom lip quivering.

The folks who made Long War are working on their own strategy game now but, also, have teamed up with Firaxis to make a few mods for XCOM 2 [official site].

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

While Adam is larking about in XCOM 2, I’m replaying XCOM: Enemy Within to demonstrate how totally fine and unbothered I am that he has access and I don’t. It’s still really fun! Last night I ordered a cyberlady to punch a robodino so hard it exploded.

If you want to join in with not feeling bitter, the latest Humble Bundle is a cracker. It’s a big merry load of cheap Firaxis strategy games, with your XCOMs and your Civilizations and your Pirates! and your Starships and so on for not very much money at all. We can all be unbothered together.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

Nobody gets left behind. That was my XCOM: Enemy Unknown rule and it was a rule that I adhered to in almost every one of the hundreds of missions I oversaw. If a squad fell in combat, they fell side by side.

XCOM 2 [official site] has made me break my one rule. Repeatedly. Deviously. Tragically. It’s hard as nails, and superbly distorts the tactics and strategies that were successful in its predecessor. I’m smitten.>

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

XCOM’s Long War mod [official site] is, to many, the definitive version of Firaxis’ reboot of the alien-repelling strategy classic. As the title suggests, it extends the length of the campaign, making the fight against the invaders into a gruelling conflict rather than a streamlined series of missions. The campaign structure isn’t the only thing the mod changes – it’s like the biggest and most delicious expansion imaginable – and you can find all the details here, as well as download links.

Now, the team behind the mod have formed a studio and begun work on “a grand strategy game in which the player leads the defense of Earth during an alien invasion”.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

It’s the RPS Horacetide lunch and beverage session today, which is why the entire site smells like eggnog and reheated turkey twizzlers. Here’s an early pressie in the form of a video showing the XCOM 2 [official site] character customisation suite in action. This is taken from my recent hands-on session – I’d made the rather fabulous lady above and she’d survived one outing. I decided to give her a new gun, and ended up giving her a new face and outfit as well.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

Procedural maps, randomised weapons and chain-smoking soldiers. In XCOM 2 [official site], the rules have changed. One seemingly minor addition to the tactical combat might have the greatest impact of all though. In our recent hands-on, we had a chance to test out the new concealment mechanic. It removes one of XCOM’s few frustrations and creates an entirely new scouting phase as each mission begins.

… [visit site to read more]

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