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Not to alarm anyone, but it seems that the XCOM program has officially launched into Earth orbit. We’re sure this is just fine, and that it does not necessarily indicate our certain doom at the hands of hostile alien entities.
Actually, the XCOM that lifted off from Kennedy Space Center May 4 was part of a suite of experiments destined for the International Space Station. This version stands for X-ray Communication, and it’s meant to demonstrate NASA and the Naval Research Laboratory’s ability to use the X-ray band for signal transmission.
But the name rang a bell for Jake Solomon, the designer of XCOM and XCOM 2.
Solomon might be right to be concerned. Just last year, some former Qualcomm executives split from the company to form their own tech startup. They called it… XCOM. And what did it specialize in? Why, communications, of course.
Coincidence? We think not.
In the immortal words of Kent Brockman, I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.
Standard-issue XCOM 2 is probably my least-favourite of the four different flavours of XCOM now available to us (i.e. including the Enemy Within and War Of The Chosen expansions), but that’s a bit like saying I don’t enjoy 29 degrees of heat quite as much as 26, 27 and 28 degrees. They’re all great! Make it like that all the time, please. Only, y’know, without the heat-death of the planet. And, yeah, keep on releasing more XCOMs.
If you’ve avoided Firaxis’ reimagining of The Greatest PC Game Of All Time (If You’re An Old Man Like Me), XCOM 2 can be a rather full-on point of entry. On the other hand, it’s currently free all weekend (and 75% off if you want to keep it forever), which is the easiest point of entry of all.
XCOM 2's alien menace won't vanquish itself, so 2K and Firaxis have decided expand their XCOM agent recruitment drive by hosting a free weekend on Steam, starting today and running until March 25. Go beat up ET on a budget.
If, after a few days of enjoying it for free, you reckon this is your cup of tea, you can buy it to keep for a significant discount. The base game is 75 percent off, so you can grab it for £8.74/$14.99. The XCOM 2 Collection is also on sale, reduced by 45 percent.
It's absolutely worth your time and one of the best strategy games you could hope to be bullied by. Check out Tom's XCOM 2 review for more. It's even better with the War of the Chosen expansion, which adds a whole bunch of new threats and systems to the campaign.
Along with the base game and expansion, XCOM 2's DLC is also on sale, including Anarchy's Children, Alien Hunters, Shen's Last Gift and the reinforcement pack. It doesn't look like Steam's updated them with the new prices yet, but check back soon.
Urdnot Wrex, Clementine, Elizabeth, Claptrap, HK-47: these video game companions all conjure up distinct memories for the people who met them and played alongside them. Those close-shaves, those funny moments, those last minute saves. These complex pieces of code have transcended their unreality by tapping into our emotions from the very primal to the deeply complex.
Which brings us to the games I'm thinking about at the moment. To me, Red Dead Redemption 2 is the closest thing to VR without wearing a headset. I didn't just 'play' it: the world and narrative of Arthur Morgan completely absorbed me. But it's not the only game I'm obsessed with right now. Cinematic and panoramic, Read Dead seems to offer a huge contrast to the turn-based tactical finesse of XCOM 2, my other current go-to, but while these games initially appear very different they have one thing in common:
I'm talking about family. Companionship, friendship - the best kinds of ships.
"I forget everything between footsteps.
"'Anna!' I finish shouting, snapping my mouth shut in surprise.
"My mind has gone blank. I don't know who Anna is or why I'm calling her name. I don't even know how I got here. I'm standing in a forest, shielding my eyes from the spitting rain. My heart's thumping, I reek of sweat and my legs are shaking. I must have been running but I can't remember why.
Hurry, hurry. There are only 37 Steam sales each year – miss a bargain now and you’ll regret it for the rest of your days. (Until the next one).
As always, the latest Steam Autumn sale is a sensory overload of cut-price delights. We’re here to guide you through the white noise and make a few informed choices.
Fancy ridding planet Earth of its bothersome alien occupation this weekend? Or perhaps you'd rather grow your own grassroots colony that'll one day take over the world? Actually, you can probably afford to do both, as both XCOM 2 and Civilization 6 are going cheap in Fanatical's latest sale.
XCOM 2—the turn-based strategy game best known for letting players mod in voice lines from British comedy Red Dwarf and GTA San Andreas's Carl Johnson—is going for just £7.58/$12.99, 78 percent less its regular price. Tom's 94-scored review tells you all you need to know.
Civilization 6, on the other hand, lets you rule the world. At 72 percent off, Fanatical lets you do so for just £13.99/$18.99. At 42 percent off, the turn-based 4X 'em up's Rise and Fall DLC costs £14.49/$17.39. The latter gives you the freeeeeedom to govern as Scotland under Robert the Bruce. Say no more.
Elsewhere, Fanatical's latest sale includes Borderlands 2 Game of the Year Edition for £6.99/$7.99 with 80 percent off; Kerbal Space Program for £13.19/$19.99 with 56 percent off; and 2010's Civilization 5: Complete Edition for £5.59/$8.39 with 75 percent off.
Check out Fanatical's latest sale in full this way—it's live for the next four days.
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